Tuesday 1 December 2009

Oman: the new Tiwi?

With a few days of the Eid-National Day holiday remaining, we headed for the relatively unexplored eastern coastline near the Wahiba desert.

The drive eastwards to the edge of the Arabian Peninsula is pretty fast nowadays using the (still not) toll road and a short cut to avoid Sur. We had to detour around a convention of the stupidest people in Oman who were meeting on the hard shoulder of Wadi Shab bridge. They've even erected barriers on the central reservation to stop the members of this expanding club that park on the west-bound carriageway from crossing over. You have been warned if you’re heading that way.

The car was very confused when we reached the main T-junction south of Ras Al Hadd as it would normally turn northwards to the Turtle Beach Resort. Instead we turned south onto the road that runs along the coast to the south-eastern section of the Wahiba (and soon all the way to Masirah). Ten kilometres past Ras Al Jinz, we encountered the roundabout under construction for the new international airport (which will have a runway longer than Muscat International).

We made a collective ‘what are they thinking?’ sigh (see article) and continued through numerous villages that haven’t caught up with the rest of Oman. There were common themes; ramshackle houses mixed with new, goats, large numbers of telegraph poles, goats, speed bumps and quite unbelievable amounts of litter (being eaten by goats). No men in orange overalls in these parts obviously.

We picnicked south of Al Ashkharah (named after a poisonous desert plant, don’t you know?) before continuing for another 80km on new tarmac. Just after Ash Sharkh, we turned off the road onto a long beach with a mixture of hard sand-encrusted rock and deep soft sand. This will do nicely – just ignore the hideous amounts of fishing boat flotsam.
Ian proudly erected his new 3.5 Rial ‘Wenzel’ tent which was the same design as a nylon food cover (and only slightly larger). With tyres deflated to the point where they just about stayed on the rims, we scoured the beach for firewood, returning with big manly smiles.
The evening was spent around a fire in total solitude, drinking, grilling, eating and, inevitably, ‘smoring’. This is how it’s meant to be.

As high tide crept nearer to our camp, Ian finished the day with some late night fishing. A struggle with ‘something substantial’ eventually ended with the loss of some very expensive fishing tackle. All part of the sport, I believe.

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