10.2010 U.A.E. and Oman

Tsiklonaut

GS pervert
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If not for the poor, literally taped-up bike, we would have given Dubai a big miss. Already the USD 216 that we both had had to pay to obtain the visas had given us a clear signal that this stopover would not be easy on our pockets, so our aim was to get things done and move on as soon as possible. After all, what could a shopping Mecca, which Dubai undoubtedly is, have that we could like?

However, having spent there two weeks, it is difficult to stay indifferent. The city sure is created for blowing you away, for being totally over the top, leaving it up to everyone to decide if it is better to rave about this magnificent human experiment or to bash it. It is not an easy decision to make.

It is in Dubai that right next to Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, is located the biggest mall in the world. We were lured there by the Guinness-record aquarium, containing sharks and rays and fish you had never seen before, but because the mall itself is mainly dedicated to fashion, selling almost everything from Armani to Zara, we limited our shopping spree to the only (but surely a big one!) book store there, leaving with an Oman road map in hand.

Now one might wonder, what do you do with Armani and Zara in an Islamic society where veils are a norm? In fact, one can find hijabs and abeyas adorned with golden "Gucci" logos, but the majority of stores are mainly geared towards visitors and the massive expat community. According to different estimates, expats make up some eighty to ninety per cent of Dubai's total population, leaving Emiratis just a tiny (but filthy rich) minority. Complaining would be futile, because without those bikini loving infidels Dubai would never have become what it is now, standing out of the crowd with its biggest and tallest.

The construction is in fact still going on, regardless of the recession. The white race is in the lead, while the immigrants from the developing world are working their asses off in the blazing sunshine who pay back the loans their families have taken to send them to work in what is often referred to as slavery. It does not seem to be an exaggeration, because workers are only officially given a day off it the temperatures rise above 50 degrees Centigrade (122 degrees Fahrenheit). But then again, when have the laws stopped someone from ignoring them. Anyways, if you quit your job, you are punished by a three-month ban from entering the country.

What they have built is quite amazing, sometimes right from a set of some space era science fiction. And just to think that there are high rise buildings with fancy restaurants and even fur shops where there was nothing but the sand dunes and camels walking around them just recently. Yes, you heard it right - fur shops! You can buy an expensive fur coat while glancing at the turquoise blue waves of the Persian Gulf just a hundred meters way, with air temperatures soaring in the high thirties (on the Celsius scale, that is).

The United Arab Emirates is a country of great contrast. It is seemingly very liberal, being at the same time very traditional. You can only buy alcohol with a license (and a fat wad of cash), you may never eat or drink in public during the daytime while it is Ramadan, and if you are a male, do not think of even walking through a ladies' wagon in the metro train. It does make you think how they manage to keep the act together, and how long it will all last.

It is in Dubai, right at the foot of Burj Khalifa that we heard one of the most beautiful calls to prayer so far:








At the same spot we stubled upon a magnificent performance of the so-called "dancing fountains". Surely, it is performed by one of the most expensive piece of equipment available of the market suited for that purpose, and quite frankly, together with the spicy Arabian music it succeeded in leaving an impression (sorry, no photos, because there was too much water in the air).



..::: LISTEN :::..








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Dubai at night.














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Dubai Marina.














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A metro station just like out of Arthur C Clarke's sci-fi novel!












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Ferocious sun rising over Dubai.














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Nicky's cat Tara - a youngster who always wanted to play with us while we were around.













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Minimalist architecture in Dubai Marina.














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Some more Dubayy-style'd things














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A peek into Guinness record awarded aquarium - too much stuff in there and too big. :lol3













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Typical modern Dubai.














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Burj Khalifa - at 828 meters it's the hightest building on planet Earth.














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Wash me - Russian community is very large in Dubai.














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And as usual in Islamic country - stuff like this is censored (all the books/mags/TV shows have the sensitive stuff removed while imported into the country).












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A ferry in Creek - it's the proper Dubai, the original old Dubai.














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Wooden boats still go strong in Creek, despite the skyscrapers rising around them.













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Traditional dhow.














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Wind tower in Dubai - a technology probably "borrowed" from Iran.















Panorama of the Creek (click to enlarge)






Two weeks would seem like a very long time to spend in the Shopping Paradise, but we were there for a business. We found us a cool host, Nicky, over the Couch Surfing who did not mind to let us stay in her three-bedroom beachside apartment as our base camp for such a long time. Otherwise we would have spent the last bit of our money on hotels (forget about budget range in Dubai!), no doubt.

But even more importantly, we stumbled upon an Indian guy, Nelson, who owns an Enfield dealership in Dubai, who allowed us to use his five-star workshop and store our bike there for free. The crew there were fantastic and trying to help us any way they could. What a hospitality! We owe the Dubai people something big, that is for sure.


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First time in this trip (actually in my life) I could work in modern conditions.














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Our GS finally get's some love and care...














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By the way, Nelson too has traveled on a motorbike Pan America, but do not tell his wife! He had told her he was going to a conference instead!!!



As for the "business", we got done quite a bit of things in preparation for the last leg of our journey.

Our pannier manufacturer, Vern, had proposed to send us a set of brand new panniers in exchange for our old ones. To be hones, we had developed quite an attachment to the latter, and if really needed, we could have rolled on with them. But we donated them to Vern's museum and installed new sleek ones instead. If the rain comes, it is better for our stuff and electronics inside (see below)! Massive thanks to Vern! We'll try not to crash in things anymore ;)



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Old ones, still going strong.














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New ones.














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As always, build quality is just stunning.



The dented fuel tank had been repaired and repainted so it looks like new, and some emerging cracks in the frame had been welded. Big-big thanks for that to Vijay and the Max Garage (the place to beat up your oldschool or muscle car in Dubai, they can do everything, even make new parts) who refused to take money for the job.


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Like a new tank!














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With Vijay (and behind there's somewhere a Rolls Royce)



The oils got changed, some seals and other bits as well.

And last, but not least - the shock absorber! The old one fell apart with a loud bang as I was trying to detach it - the body had cracked completely, and it seems that only the spring and weight over it kept it from collapsing - amazing that it carried us through Pakistan and Iran.



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Old poor Öhlins dropped out in 6 bits!








Having done some research and having listened to the advice from Colebatch and some others we decided to give the money this time to... Hyperpro!!!



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Shocks arrived - probably the best packaging of all the shock makers, a good sign.













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Isn't it too early for the Christmas?!














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No, it's not! :clap













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We've finally have the real things - progressive springs to avoid bottom outs and frame cracks, ultrastrong bodies to take the bottom outs if they happen and exposed external reservoirs to give better cooling (overheated shocks has been an issue for us as well).











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We can finally hit the road again - a happy chappy?! :lol3


Changed both the rear and the front one, as this one had still been stock. Fingers crossed!

In between the repairs the people from the Royal Enfield's dealership took us to a desert camp one night, which seems to be a popular activity among the tourists and the expats alike. For the first time in our life we could ride ATV-s (great fun!), sit on a camel, slide down a dune on a sand board, have a henna tattoo and watch belly dancing. Touristy thing? For sure, but nevertheless good entertainment, and got our thought taken off the stress of getting the bike roadworthy.


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Decent slide power if you swich to 2wd!














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I'm happy Kariina managed her first ATV ride so well.














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Sandboarding.














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Oriental dances...


When we finally had all sorted it was time to say goodbye. With so many having lent us a hand and shown their hospitality, it definitely was difficult. Riyaz, who had hosted a fine dinner just a couple of nights before, had designed a t-shirt for the occasion, which... well, we just did not have words!

We joined the local bikers' Friday morning (an early one!) ride, and were escorted to the border with Oman, with new experiences awaiting.



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Our bike ready...














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Before sunrise rideout with local bikers - early morning in the desert, it's the best time for ridable/livable temperatures.













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Riyaz showed up with a self-designed t-shirt. :clap














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And it was an honour to sign our very first fan t-shirt. :freaky















First glance of Oman. (click to enlarge)








First thing in Oman we landed at another ADVrider, Tim's place in Muscat. Spent a week sorting out our Yemen visas and the ongoing technical issues (our laptop had stopped working as well as our point-and-shoot which had developed a nasty spot on the inside of the lens probably due to condensation). Pretty far from being sorted, we left everything and headed to the mountains to get some fresh air. From what we had heard, Oman is one of those countries where you can pitch your tent almost anywhere you wish, so off we went, in search of winding roads and picturesque camping spots.


The Hajar range is of couse nothing like the Himalayas, with its highest peak, Jebel Shams barely topping 10 000 feet. But it is still decent riding with rocky, sandy tracks - a good testing ground for our new suspension. It is also steep. In fact probably the steepest our GS has had to endure so far, with tracks going straight up the mountains with as little bends as possible. But down in the valley it is what they call the wadis - dry riverbeds that serve as roads most of the year.



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Road on the way to Al Hajar mountains...













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Same pic zoomed in. The road starts to look really syrreal - is this where we are going? Yes!













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Decent tracks in Hajar mountains.​





Not surprisingly, there was relatively little traffic, and as we reached Yasab, a village at one dead-end track, we were immediately surrounded by villagers and their goats. It certainly seemed that there must be more goats than people in this village.


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Goats in the village.














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Some of them are really curious.














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Village men gathering around our bike.














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It's a rare thing to have such a bike around here.



I started answering the regular questions about ourselves and the bike, while Kariina followed the invitation of some colourfully clad girls into their simple home. Soon the men and I followed, although obviously men and women stayed in separate rooms.

By the time I had been seated on the carpeted floor (there is no furniture whatsoever), quite some people had gathered. Coffee was offered from tiny cups, and sweet dates sprinkled with sesame seeds. But no one touched food before I did - such must be the custom.

The men were happy to pose for a photograph, but Kariina was not able to report such success with women. Only young girls stood up before the camera lens, with hijab-clad women hiding themselves shyly at the back.



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Omani girl.














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Current vs the future.














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Omani Muslim.














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Young men.














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Me having chat with the male side of the family.














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A farewall coffee in Oman style. It's called kahwa, black coffee served in a very small glass.










We felt that we had been properly introduced into the local culture as we rolled off to discover what else there was on offer in this mountaneous region.


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Trail back from Yasab.














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Decent tracks with equal scenery everywhere in Al Hajar mountains' remote areas.














Panorama of the trail to Yasab (click to enlarge)












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Typical rocky Omani wadi (riverbed) trails.














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Trail going through the canyon.














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Higher Al Hajars ahead...





A couple of hours before the sunset we stumbled upon a nice canyon and decided that it would be at the mouth of this canyon that we would pitch our tent for the night. Suitably, to say the least, there were some rock pools right there where we could relax at the end of the day, with frogs croaking and tiny fish nibbling on our feet. The beers that Tim had strongly recommended to take with us, although far from being ice cold, came in very handy.


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Camping spot just at the doorstep of a canyon.














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Entrance to the canyon - there were some freshwater pools in just a walking distance.














Panorama inside the Little Snake Canyon.












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Frogs in the freshwater pools inside the canyon - hard to believe there's so much life in such an arid place.













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The stare.














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And we jumped into the same pool - together with hundreds (yes!) of frogs.














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Arabian frog - yes, somehow they survive in the desert.














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Feeling good I guess.














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And soon the fish came to feast on us (people pay crazy amounts of money for such service in spas, we had it for free in the wild)













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Feels strange a lot of small fish eating your dead skin, the intense tickling sense makes you laugh :lol3


The night was hot and humid - what else would you expect if you slept in a wadi? Woke up before the sunrise to get going in the cool of the morning when everyone around was still half asleep.

This time the track took us to even greater altitudes, so the ride was very refreshing. Our senses were instantly ready to take in all that the landscape had to offer - craggy boulders and smooth slopes, as well as terraced villages hemmed with palm trees.


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Sunrise over Hajar mountains...














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High up.














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Panorama of Hajar (click to enlarge)













Panorama from the road.












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Trails cut into cliff.














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Very good quality gravel part of Hajar trail.















Panorama from the road (click to enlarge)













Panorama of Balad Sayt village (click to enlarge)













Panorama of Balad Sayt surroundings (click to enlarge)













Panorama from the road.








But nothing really compared to the majestic layout of what they call here the Grand Canyon. Maybe not as great as the one in the US, but still breathtaking to say the least.



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Panorama of Jebel Shams canyon (click to enlarge).












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A little more and 2000ft+ straight drop...















Panorama with the canyon (click to enlarge)












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Some goats roamed around on the canyon side.














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Picture time...




Since one can camp virtually anywhere we pitched our tent right on the edge of the canyon - where else would that be possible? Of course, wandering around the tent in the pitch black of the night would have been highly inadvisable due to the risk of dropping a few hundred meters straight, but the goats who came to check us out during the day also hung around at night. I guess dropping into a dark void is not as scary as actually seeing what's beneath.


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Goat checking out our Vern panniers? :lol3














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Sunset colours over Jebel Shams.














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A lonely tree...














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The Moon and a star...














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Camping under the Milky Way. Arabian "1001 nights" style...









This time the night temperatures dropped to the point where we could actually get into our sleeping bags and not just sleep on them. Once again we got up before the sunrise to savour the play of light.


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Just moments before sunrise the colours got stunning...














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Sun rising...















Panorama of Sunrise over Jebel Shams canyon (click to enlarge)






Full of energy, we packed our stuff and got going back towards Muscat. Here are some towns and villages we spotted along the way:



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Omani village.














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Mosque.














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Minaret.














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Fort Nizwa.



As with Dubai, our stay in Muscat ended up longer than expected, but Muscat is not quite like Dubai. It is actually very different. The buildings are low and their colour so white that it is almost blinding.


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Typical architecutre in Muscat.














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Blue Mosque.














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Sultan's palace.














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A cruise ship docked in Muscat's port.















Panorama from Muscat's seaside.


Most of our time in Muscat was not spent on doing something rather than on waiting. Waiting for our Yemen visas, waiting for the new laptop to arrive that another biker had sent us, and last but not least - waiting for a new photo camera.


Yep, our Apple laptop had decided to pack up in Dubai. A known Nvidia graphics card chip fault we already once experienced in Argentina - back then we had waited some 2 weeks and paid to hotels and the same repair in Dubai would have taken minimum of 4 weeks to repair ("thanks" Apple!). Obviously that would have been out of question since our visas would not have let us stay so long and we would have had to pay multiple times a full laptop worth price for the accommodation while doing nothing and waiting for it to be repaired.


So we contacted our good friends David and Francine (Dr. Rock and La Donna Fugata and aka The Mobius Trip) in NYC, since last time we were visiting them, they had all the world's best Apple shops nearby in Manhattan. If he maybe could organize and ship us a new motherboard more quickly, ... or so we thought.


As it turns out, the result now is: they had sent us a complete, basically brand new Apple MacBook Pro laptop!!!


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The sticker on the laptop is unmistakable! :thumb






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Even an ultraneat "repair invoice" included by them that helped to clear the computer through the Oman customs without paying import tax :augie




Worlds just fail us. They wanted no money in return, just said that they throughoutly enjoy reading our ride reports and also said that if it was the same catastropic computer fault for the second time on the road, they'd take it personally :lol3 . Call it a true ADV riders synergy or what ever, but it really is the very definition of good people!


But together with our old laptop packing in, also our trusty Canon Powershot camera we had been using for the past year had developed a nasty dark spot on the lens due to dust and humidity (visible on the pictures), the only way to fix the problem according to the local service centre would have been replacing the whole lens assembly. Dust and humidity are of course not a warranty case, and anyway the international warranty is never actually international, so it would have cost us. Thought about it, and also about the time it would have taken to have it fixed, and decided to invest in a new one - Sigma DP2S. See for yourself on the following pics if it is worth it!


The Yemen visa took us some two weeks to organise, and was not so much of a headache as we would have thought, but it was still the most expensive visa we have had to obtain. The thing is that since the beginning of this year the condition for obtaining a visa is that you must be on a tour organised by a Yemeni travel agent. Of ten or so travel agencies that we contacted only one agreed to organise us visas without us buying a tour (which would have cost around USD 1500 for two weeks, not including food or accomodation), but it meant we had to pay USD 200 each to the agency and USD 26 each to the embassy to get the visas actually placed into our passports. Otherwise no hassle really, just the great uncertainty.

Many would warn us not to go to Yemen, but the fact is that it is the only way for us to reach Africa from this point and the truth is that the country has an immense appeal for us. Hopefully we will not have to be disappointed.

But back to Muscat. As said we did not do much, but one of the highlights of our stay was participation in a local supermoto race organised by Tim, our host. Sure we were not the ones racing - I was trusted the task of documenting the race in pictures (it's the very first time to shoot racing for me), and Kariina was given the flags which she was very excited about. The excitement, however, soon turned into the sense of responsibility as one of the competitors, Ahmed lost control of his bike and ended up with a fracture in his thumb. Waving a red flag was not in the original plan, was it?


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Son and father.














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Our host and ADV inmate Tim - the organizer of race as well.














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Kariina giving start.














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Round the bends - KLR rider (Rob) was exceptionally brave to keep up so long with light and powerful bikes.













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Andy taking curve.














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Ahmed after the crash - broken thumb and other bruises, but he raced on. Good man!













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Audience.














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Tim's father Howard inspecting the action on the circuit.














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Ahmed pulling a wheelie for the camera - with a broken thumb and a bent handlebars he still kept a good balance and race pace.













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Clubman class guys leading the first lap, soon to be overhauled by more powerful and hell lot more nimble dedicated 450cc supermotos. :lol3













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Ahmed coming off the curve offroad style.




In addition to racing, one of Tim's exciting hobbies is amateur radio. Once he allowed me to use his equipment to listen to the radio waves - Morse code, modems, speech and music. It is fascinating how you can speak to people from far away places - from Europe to Russia, South-East Asia to India - big amount of it is still recieivable in Arabian Penninsula. I also managed to record some sound, part of which might seem quite abstract.



..:: LISTEN ::..







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Tim's turnable (dipole?) antenna.














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A decent amateur radio setup.














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Going through different frequencies with transceiver.














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Double Morse swich (double fast and Tim clicks Morse code with incredible speed indeed!)


Big thanks to Tim who so kindly let us stay at his place and helping us out on many things, looks like we were finally ready to roll on all fronts.



One of the more popular attractions of the east coast of Oman are sea turtles that show up on the beach at night to lay eggs. Viewing turtles used to be unregulated but with the increase in environmental awareness one can now only go see turtles on an organised tour. Well, since we ourselves have become quite disorganised during our trip with not many deadlines knocking on our door, we decided to go and try our luck spotting a turtle outside of protected areas, on our own.

So from Muscat we headed south with the idea of finding a camping spot on the beach where we might see some action.

Seeing the little towns and villages on our way a thought struck my mind that there is less and less architecture (not only in Oman but in the World in general) that can please one's eye. The visual attraction and harmony with the environment of the buildings give way to practical ways, and only those traditions survive that are deeply rooted in the availability of building materials, and ergonomics - which are too losing their importance in the globalizing, consumerist world. How long will be the days of wind-towered mudbrick houses or thatched huts with no floor than earth that so well fit into the landscape? Or how long will the city of Muscat stay blindingly white, distinguishing it from other cities in the world?

Here are some pics of our journey south, with some examples of modern buildings incorporating traditional elements:


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A building on the beach in Oman.














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Omani gravel road.














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A fishing boat waiting for a high tide to get back into open waters...














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A gift from Indian Ocean.














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Little monster, or what's left of it.














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Big mosque.














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A minaret.














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Mosque in Sur.














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Typical Omani seaside village - a sticking out mosque's minaret and a fort is almost always in the mix.




Soon it was clear to us that the Omanis are once again a special kind of human species, making us wonder where the "bad boy" image had come from. Wherever we stopped we were greeted with warm smiles, and one young Arab, having heard that we were planning on going down to Africa, gave us his water bottle that he had just bought. Must be that water is quite an essential thing for the people of the desert.


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Young Arab.














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Just had a swim - you rarely see arabs topless and without turbans.














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Arab.














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Funky Arab.














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And old Arab in traditional clothing.














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Portrait of the same friendly man.














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Young Arab.














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Giving a nod.














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Kids in a fishing village...














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By the time the sun was setting we had found a place to pitch our tent by the beach. After having consumed a can of potato and leek soup we took in our positions on a stretch where we thought turtles might show up, and so we waited, admitting that our knowledge about that turtle thing was pretty superficial.

At one point we actually saw a turtle emerging from the waves - a small one, size of a soup bowl. Or maybe it was indeed a soup bowl, there was no way to tell as regardless of the intense moonshine it was still quite dark. It seemed to have made a couple of steps on the sand before being swallowed by the sea. It was the only sturtle we saw that night despite returning to the beach many times.


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Sandy track to our wild camping spot.














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Indian ocean in movement after the sunset.














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Soup cooking strong...














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Next day the road ended at one spot.














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Typical fishing village - men seem to live there seasonally.














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Omani dunes.














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At one point there was brand new unmarked pavement, a road that even wasn't on our new map. Things evolve fast in Oman.














Panorama from the road (click to enlarge)








The next morning we set out with the aim to catch a ferry to the island of Masirah, also a possible turtle spot.



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Ferry to Masirah island.














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Local on the ferry.














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Reddish rusty chain versus emerald green Indian ocean.









We were right on time (and timing is crucial since the ferries only leave during the high tide), so before we knew we were already on our way to the island.

Some glossy brochures try to depict Masirah as an idyllic retreat, but what we saw in front of us did not appear to be much more than a dry, barren piece of land emerging fro the waves of the Indian ocean. The thing is, however, that with very little population it is great fun to discover different corners of it, and they are different indeed!



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Bike and boat on the same ground in Masirah island.














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Traditional wooden boat on the beach.














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Strange red coloured pools on Masirah island.














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Pools closeup.














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Wild palms, this is how they are supposed to look. Mostly you see palms "shaved" by human hands in Arabia, not on an Masirah tho.













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Shipwreck on Masirah island.














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Slowly being swallowed by the sand...














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Landscape in the centre of Masirah reminds some other planet.














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Took a lot of sandy tracks on the island.














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A gift from Indian Ocean.














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Some of them are very nice.















Panorama from Masirah (click to enlarge)













Panorama of traditional dhow boats on Masirah (click to enlarge)






Once again we camped on the beach, and once again we had to brave quite a long sandy track leading us there. The brand new tyres mounted in Muscat made the task more than possible. Once again made some soup and went "patrolling" on the beach, but no luck this time either.


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Another sandy track leading to our wild camping spot on the beach of Masirah.













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A decent sunset with a beer.














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A night-shot from the beach - lit by the Moon and the light comes from an oil drilling platform?













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Nighttime camping under some abandoned building on Masirah island.



Took a ferry back to the mainland from Masirah island, and it happened to be just the ferry we had arrived with the day before. The crew greeted us as old friends and before long we were already invited to the captain Omar's cabin.


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Omar on the helm.














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Controls.





It seemed that not many foreign tourists come to visit as many of the passengers were very eager to have a chat. Of course, their English was very limited and my Arabic even more so (quite honestly, even this being an overstatement), but we managed it nevertheless.


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Curious Arab.














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Trendy Arab.














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Young Arab.














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Transporting a camel across the sea.

Back on the mainland we once again took the direction south where a couple of hundred kilometers away I had spotted a shipwreck on Google Earth. It was a must to see because they tend to be utterly photogenic. So we pushed on, passing both fishing villages and dry desert landscapes on the way.


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Silent oceanside.














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Arabian portrait.














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Coming from fishing.














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Arabian fisherman.














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Desert nature.














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Typical landscape.














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Portrait of an Arab.














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Then the wreck's waypoint appeared on our GPS screen. Soon we got off the main road onto a track that looked like it might lead us to where the shipwreck was supposed to be. Instead, we arrived at some military installation with huge antennas. There was no shipwreck in sight.


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Good smooth roads.














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Military site.














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Situated right above the ocean.















Walked around the fenced compound and found ourselves on the edge of some 1000 metre (3000 ft) cliff with totally unexpected but equally breathtaking views. No shipwreck was included (click to enlarge the panorama).




As the sun was setting we were pressed to find a place to pitch our tent. Vicinity of the radar station was obviously not an option so we rode off and onto some smaller tracks that led us away from it. At first we had hoped to find a track that would eventually lead us to the shore, but many of the tracks just ended in a wadi or simply vanished before we even could smell the ocean breeze, so in the end we just pitched the tent in the middle of nowhere. There were no views, but it was also very quiet so we had a good sleep.


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Coastal trails...














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Early morning colors on our camping spot, time to move on.


The next day we made another attempt at localizing the wreck. Went all the way down to Ras Madrakah and asked the fishermen for directions. Some of them pointed to the right, some to the left. Go figure! We tried some more tracks, but no sign of the shipwreck!


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Different trails around Ras Madrakah.














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Father and son (siting on our GS) in one fishermen's village.















Panorama from the coast (click to enlarge)













Panorama of the Indian Ocean and Oman (click to enlarge)




Then we decided to ride back and have another good look around the radar station. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts to find a reliable track we finally did, and it took us right to the edge of the plateau. No shipwreck, of course, but what a spot for camping! So we pitched the tent even before noon and spent the day watching the tides somewhere far-far below.



Panorama from our camping spot (click to enlarge)












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Flora.














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A little bit of green in the desert.














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A Moon's rise in the Sunset above the Indian ocean.














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Moonshine in the nighttime.














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In the morning there were some clouds - first ones we had seen for quite a while! - which looked pretty dramatic combined with the rising sun.














(Click to enlarge the panorama)





We packed our stuff and got moving. Further south along the coast we spotted a cargo boat wreck in the distance. Made an attempt to reach this one but almost got swallowed by the sand. It would not have been fun digging the bike out at some +40 C (+100 F), so we called it quits with the shipwrecks. May they rest in peace.



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A couple of meters further the hard (err... soft) stuff began...



Everyone we met had told us that Salalah in the southern part of Oman is quite different from the rest of the country, and after hundreds of kilometers of desert it is different indeed. The dry, windswept landscape gives way to green mountains that host fields and meadows reminiscent of our home. Or maybe it is just because we have been away from home for too long, because hey, the highest point in Estonia is only 318 meters whereas the Dhofar mountains around Salalah reach over 1700 meters. Culturally too, Salalah did not disappoint, so by the time we left for the border with Yemen we were fully loaded of positive emotions.


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The bright town of Salalah with palm plantations giving it a tropical feel.















Panorama (click to enlarge)













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Lit up road in Dhofar mountains - obviously Oman has lots of fuel (both oil and gas in abundance) to spend on energy in less used places.













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Pre-sunrise colours...














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Bones.














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It felt like it was about to rain - in Arabia?!














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Funky pink plants in Dhofar mountains.














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Getting greener as we climb higher.














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Even butterflies appear here!














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Very high up the Dhofar mountains we couldn't believe what we saw - it's almost like Europe's green spring in the middle of Arabian desert.













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Once you get down, it's desert again - Dhofar mountains visible.














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Flora in the Dhofars...














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The last call to prayer we heard in Oman was special sounding more like a love song:





A little bit east of Salalah, in Mirbat there is a tomb of a 12th century Islamic teacher Bin Ali. The white tomb is spectacular, and the cemetery surrounding it, with stone tablets bearing ancient inscriptions, is just as interesting.



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Ancient graveyard in Arabia.














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Bin Ali mausoleum itself, 800+ years old design still going strong.


Next stop: Yemen.

Hope you enjoyed it,
Margus & Kariina
 
Wonderful report and photos. I spent a few happy and rewarding years living and travelling around the Middle East and this really brings back memories. I'd love to see the area again from my GS. :thumb2
 
Whao. Superb. Love one of the shipwreck photos in particular.
Great shot of you Kariina and the bike overlooking the canyon. Well captured.
Did the goat take it for you? :D
 
Great shot of you Kariina and the bike overlooking the canyon. Well captured.
Did the goat take it for you? :D

For self-shots, we use 12 second timer on the camera :thumb2

Pity the goats can't take a pics tho, we'd have shots with surreal angles from the canyon since they seem to be able to climb and jump up/down even on almost vertical walls there! :D
 
Thank you for wonderful report, I really envy how you get the portraits - I don't have the skill or the nerve!
Safe travelling!
 
Great report and fabulous photos. I wish I could summon up the nerve to take portrait shots like yours when travelling in exotic places. Looking forward to the next instalment :thumb2
 
Superb stuff. Excellent writing and very cool pictures. The shot of the bike and you on the edge of the canyon is a fantastic travel shot, right up there with the best of them. The portraits, especially with the shallow depth of field and focus on the subject's eyes, are spot on too.
 
you seem to be a very lucky couple - trip of a lifetime, excellent photographers and still getting on with each other :)


keep it up :thumb
 
But even more importantly, we stumbled upon an Indian guy, Nelson, who owns an Enfield dealership in Dubai, who allowed us to use his five-star workshop and store our bike there for free. The crew there were fantastic and trying to help us any way they could. What a hospitality! We owe the Dubai people something big, that is for sure.


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First time in this trip (actually in my life) I could work in modern conditions.














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Our GS finally get's some love and care...














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By the way, Nelson too has traveled on a motorbike Pan America, but do not tell his wife! He had told her he was going to a conference instead!!!


Small world.... We met him on the Canadian / Alaskan border while the 1200's were down for "maintenance" (aka EWS). I think he had made it there in 3 weeks from Argentina and was heading for Prudhoe Bay.

We met him again in a hotel in Fairbanks. He had just ridden up the Dalton Highway to Deadhorse, refuelled, turned around and rode back again. (think 600 miles dirt road each way).

He got through South America very easily as the police thought he was ex-cop (ex-police bike).

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Again Wow... thanks for taking me on a wonderful journey from my sofa on a Sunday evening... just loving it... :)
 
Superb reading and astounding photographs :bow

I have just spent a very happy hour going through this section of your trip and will now go look through some more.

Thank you for taking the time to record it :clap
 
What a wonderful read - and as ever your photography is superb and pure art. I'm glad the 1100 is still rolling along and looks good with the new tank.

It will be a sad day when your journey is complete.

Thanks for posting

AndyT:cool:
 
Utterly inspirational, both words and pictures. Thank you for the time you take to share both.

Please tell me there's going to be a book at the end of it all.

J.
 


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