Oman Travel Report 1996, by R. Manns
(mit Geo-Tours)

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I am back from my adventure OMAN since some weeks - but my mind is still walking through the sands............

We didn’t meet ‘Sindbad’ or the Sultan but we spent a wonderful time with so much new impressions that I need some times to turn my experiences into a novel!

After we arrived we spent one night in Muscat, a little bit sightseeing, a one-day trip with a "Dau" (the traditional ships of the Omanis): dark blue water, flying fishes and a wonderful view to the coast. In the evening we visited the Suq or basar - unmatched!

Next day to Nizwa and than right-hand off-road into the mountains, 2000 meters tall. Eagles, wind and a breathtaking look-out. This night we camped nearly 2000 meters high up, watching sunset like in the cinema.

The following days we traveled off-road through the sands, on unpaved roads, through the empty quarters, red dunes 200 meters and higher, camping 120 meters high up in the dunes, warm nights, shooting stars the whole time during our journey. And than the flats - nothing, only little broken stones, from horizon to horizon. Fascination! There is nothing which could interrupt my thoughts and that view, it's the same feeling to me to sail over the oceans! I love it!

I never thought:, that cars are able to drive off-road through such kind of landscapes. Often we got stuck in the sand and had to help us with muscular strength!

During the first time we saw many camps of the oil companies and I was shocked, that these people are able to destroy an area like that so horribly. You can see the tracks in the sand and in the metal-landscape up to 10 years. People with big cars and seismologists drive all across the country, square Kilometers for square Kilometers

But the other side of that country:

The inhabitants are very hospitable to the visitors. We got invitations from the Bedouins in their tents for tee and coffee and camel milk (like long-life milk) and dates.

Our guide Musallam is a Bedouin from the southern region. He simplified many things for us. He is a man with one women and five children - he wants a second wife from Europe! He lives half a year in a tent and the other half, when his children must go to school, in a stone house.

His wife has 40 goats and she is a traditional Bedouin wife. The women of Oman have equal rights, they earn as much money as the men, they don't need to wear the veil but you don't see many women walking through the streets of the towns.

Musallam can't understand, that the "crazy Germans" want to drive 18 days through the empty-quarters (that means the whole west part of Oman)!

Tourism in Oman begins to expand slowly, so we were an attraction at all places we went to!

In the map you can see that: we in between made a short trip to the coast. Surprise, surprise! How wonderful to take a bath! White sand, blue water and nobody else around... We camped directly at the water and the breakers sang a million years old song ...

All the tour I slept without a tent, only my sleeping bag!

Here and there we had some chances to take a little bath or to wash under running water - and the rest of the time we cleaned ourselves with moisture paper. Nobody ever smelled bad during the time. The heat of 330C in the shadow and 250C in the night is very dry and therefore very agreeable.

We could take drinking water in some camel-water stations and in every little village, if there was a Restaurant or in foodstuffs in bottles - deep cooled!!!!

In the Restaurants our lunch continued rice, fish, salads, bread and water or Coke. And we have learned to eat with our fingers!

The whole service industry is covered by people from India and they are very friendly, only sometimes it was difficult to communicate and so we had a lot of fun.

Once we got an invitation in the police-station near the border to Saudi. They could see us before on their radar and when we passed the station we had to stop and the captain came out and said that the lunch would be ready! We were the first people ever visited his station - except people from the oil camps.

Another time we passed a little village with new, but empty houses. The Sultan tried to settle the Bedouins - but unsuccessful. So only some people from India are now responsible for the drinking water for the whole area.

They invited us to take a shower bath and in the meantime they prepared lunch for us: cooled melons, cooled water, rice with lamb, dates, coffee and tee (tee and coffee always spiced with ginger, cardamom and sugar - very interesting!).

We always used to take our lunch in the evenings, we cooked by ourselves, rice and meat out of tins and so on (in one car we had a gas-cooker). Our table was a strawmeadow on the ground. After the meals we had our "sun downer": warm Whisky !, full moon at night, and silence - so that you could hear your own heartbeat, free from all ballast, forgetting the world around......

I always had my walkman with me and felt a little bit closer to heaven. In such nights tears ran down my face and I never wanted to end that time!

it is a wonderful feeling to need only a minimum of comfort, you can put it in one bag! Life like that is very intensive because I am just by myself with air, wind, dreams and sky - everything which means eternity!

We met hundreds of camels during the journey and they were so funny. They are so unflappable with all-knowing smiles in the faces and every day we had photo sessions with these animals.

One night I slept on a scorpion! He didn’t bite me and after all I think that he was more afraid than me. When scorpions bite, it is only very painful but not fatal - only if you have a bad circulation.

The other morning I had a little lizard in my sleeping bag but we both slept very well....... This is just normal and I am not afraid.

The closest contact to the border of Saudi Arabia we had was approx. 30 km and in this area we drove through wonderful yellow sand dunes.

In the southwest we stayed very close to the border of Yemen, the check-point there was existing of some empty barrels! But we were not allowed to take photos of the station, as well as of all public places. Its also not allowed to take photos of woman and girls. If we wanted to take pictures of other people, we had to ask them. Generally, we had to be very careful and with the right feeling. But this is acceptable and goes without saying.

The southern region of Oman is green with trees and grass, and mountains again. Wonderful views from above down to the Arabian See. Steep coast 1000 meters deep. Paradisical!

,And than the last free night announced itself, at the shore again.

It was a long night. The moonlight dived the sea in dreamlike lights, thousands of prawns were running and working in the sang - it was again one of 1001 nights! Our adventure passed revue and we felt us negligible and small in this world.

And everybody was a little bit afraid to go back to reality, because we came out of freedom and went into civilization so suddenly.

We spent: the last four days in the "Holiday Inn" in Salalah with air-condition, buffet and swimming pool, people, gin-tonic and palmbeach and water pipe, visiting the gold and silver suq, talked to people on the streets, bought incidents and fragrances of "1001 nights" and tried to get the shock under control.......

Saturday evening came; we flew from Salalah to Muscat and took a last view from the above. We spent some hours in Muscat at the airport and went than back to Zurich in Switzerland and in the morning to Hamburg.

Matter-of -fact.

The end of a 3-weeks-adventure, 21 days of absolute freedom. Life!

And like every year it took only a short time to fly away into another world!

November 1996


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