Date: 25th March 2013, Waypoint 126
We wave our goodbyes to our Egyptian friends Tharwat and Magda from their beautiful apartment overlooking the Sualtan Qaboos Mosque, the mosque is a magnificent structure beautifully laid -out with its wonderful surrounding green gardens. The smell of Frankincense in the local shops is one which your nose will never forget walking around Salalah which has many Frankincense trees along its green Wadis. It would be a fantastic place to visit during the Monsoon season when everything turns to lush green the Salalah Mountains would look outstanding…another time for us we hope.
A sign Post which really changed our adventure in Oman……..read on.
Beer Can Bay just outside Salalah Port our first night of freedom after 4 days locked down in the port Victor being unable to drive in Oman as we are RHD…….but that all changes.
Oman Desert camping
Elayne is worried about the black Horizon sky closing in slowly.
Oman Victors fantastic Australian tent takes a buffeting from the changing desert weather
Oman desert sunset the weather closes in and makes for a very dusty night.
Victor has a new Omani Owner……but we refuse to sell…lol
Oman we are invited to a wonderful Desert home.
Victors new potential owners discuses Victors good looks….lol….they think he is a very fine Camel which is a very good compliment…..I think.
We are very please we have made so many Omani friends.
Victor receives a beautiful Camel coat.
Eating Omani style.
Oman evening light washes the desert colours around us in a magical light show.
Morning Dew soaks us to the skin a typical foggy desert morning.
Victor is a star in Salalha where ever we park we are swamped by Indians and Pakistani workers all wanting a picture with their friends and us, if this is an Indian Continent pre run we are exhausted already…yikes so friendly but just to many pictures of Victor.
It is by far one of the most intense interests in Victor we have ever seen and it really is difficult just to try and walk around Salalah before we are swamped with 50 plus people all wanting to know our adventure, and take endless pictures as I have already said.
It was time to leave Salalah after we had managed to repair the bottom control arm for around $35.00 we hope the welding holds but who knows…at least we are heading for India, where I am sure you can fix anything …lol
You make a steep climb out of Salalah heading on the main road to Muscat some 1000klms away. We climb 500mtrs and the air cools in the mountains as we take one last look at Salalah before we head north to Muscat. We had made some fantastic friends while we were held up in the Salalah Port it was sad to leave this adventure behind arriving on a Dhow with 449 Somaliland Cows for USD $100.00 would be hard to replicate.
Elayne and I have a few contacts in Dubai and we hope we are able to ship Victor in another Dhow heading for Mumbai. Elayne is not keen but I am sure it will be fine as we have heard shipping in a Container from Dubai is expensive, so our Dhow option may be the only option.
Our first nights camp off the main road in a quite desert…well the whole place is a desert only the oil and gas industry is at work here the occasional pipeline with most of the desert surveyed steel pegs are a common feature along the road, with dirt tracks disappearing into the distance. WE pull off and Victor struggles with his road pressure in his rear tyres, but we eventually find an elevated spot which gives us some view across the desert plains.
The weather is grey on the horizon the wind was picking up our tent already getting buffeted. It was great to be out camping again in our favourite spots…Deserts are just wonderful the scenery mesmerizing for me…not sure Elayne loves the open air cooking with constant dumping of sand into our scrambled eggs ,but to have cooler weather is what Elayne loves, and the wind is constant cooler breeze.
A storm is approaching just on dusk, but we batten down Victor covering the snorkel air intake and do what we can to stop Victor blowing away, we climb into our tent hoping the desert storm will pass us by. It is the first time we have been on our own for some weeks it feels and we are enjoying the freedom of wild camping once again. Lighting is flashing with huge thunder roars across the open desert plains it is getting closer Elayne is worried our poor old tent will not withstand this onslaught.
I have to agree our tent is 6 years old and has done a fantastic job…but how long could it last is the next question. I drift off to sleep the tent being battered by now warm winds which are looking to be gathering speed. I woke coughing and gasping for breadth, Elayne wakes with me Crickey you could hardly take a breath the tent is filled with super fine dust which is everywhere. Our eyelids were full of the stuff our hair in a worse state. Our sleeping bags felt as if the were fine sandpaper this superfine dust was everywhere you could imagine. Yuk Elayne exclaims…Chris what do we do….It was too late to close our tent up completely zipping the inner canvass closed we had already filled up with sand. Luckily for us the super fine dust cloud past quickly but the wind was pretty strong and I believe we were a victim of a huge slow going desert dust devil which just pumped our tent full of this superfine sand. Well just as the superfine dust went past down came the rain…YIKES it was torrential but lasted only for 20 minutes or so, but now we have mud in the tent….lol
Well that settled the dust at least outside but we were still struggling with the stuff inside. Our tent held up fantastically even with its battering we had little rain in our tent so not so much mud yet.
THE STRANGE EVENT.
I will not go on and bore the pants of you if you are trying to read these accounts they are not that interesting, but I have to include part of the boring events to lead this story to a fantastic conclusion some weeks into the future. It’s difficult to explain a boring event …but it is very interesting how something so insignificant can lead to such a massive change later.
I am sure we have all been along one of these events in our lives, but for us it was a pretty amazing chain of events which lead us to a wonderful conclusion…..so here goes.
Victor ambles along still heading for Muscat and we are about 700klm from Salalah entering a small town called ADAM.
Elayne tells me to pull over and take a picture of our son’s name Adam in Arabic as the town was also called Adam which is both written in English and Arabic on the large blue road sign.
Victor rolls to a stop it is extremely hot outside hitting high thirty’s with no shade whatsoever. I exit Victor and stand back to take a picture of Victor’s rear and a huge Blue road traffic sign with the name ADAM in Arabic.
I snap my happy snap for Elayne and just about to climb into Victor when a new 4×4 pulls alongside. A beautifully dress young Omani man in his early thirties approaches me……..”What is this car”…..his hands go up in the air his beautiful head dress and face express shear delight, he has stumbled across some unknown car in Oman, his questions come in rapid fire and I struggle to keep up with his enthusiasm……..How much you sell me this car……Clearly he was a very well healed Omani, as he had just purchased some new 4×4 which I was not vaguely interested in…..How much…please I will buy from you…..He truly wanted to buy Victor which was causing some amusement for some other local people which had also stopped to investigate Victor…..Sorry I go on to explain Victor is not for sale. He is truly disappointed in my refusal to negotiate a price, but still persist in trying to get me to send Victor back from Australia when we are finished our trip.
He goes on to explain he is a 4×4 enthusiast who belongs to a club in Muscat and there is a huge car show on in Muscat in the next few days. You must go to the car show the young Omani man exclaims you must go you will be very well received by my club they will look after you both unfortunately I have other business and will not be able to attend. I will phone my colleagues who will help you in Muscat if you go to the show.
Well what could we say to our young Omani friend, only that we would try and attend the car show in Muscat in the next few days.
We say goodbye and Elayne and I then drive on to find a beautiful Wadi to camp for the night. It is very warm during the day and we are only a few hundred kms from Muscat, Saeed has told us to investigate a possibility of checking out the Dhows from Muscat and to contact him when we arrive so he too can follow up his shipping agent contacts.
We arrive at Muscat the following day it is a stunning entrance from Salalah main road to the centre of Muscat, it is as if you are driving through a park like setting lush green grass so immaculate and weedless, so green, so, so …the superlatives will keep us going on for some time. It is just hard to describe how everything is so beautifully done even the motorways fly-overs are beautifully constructed and they have totally painted the concrete free from any blemishes, it looks like plastic sculptured concrete winding its way through an immaculate park…..wow you have to appreciate the effort and expense ….but I am not convinced it is money well spent.????
The architecture is just as stunning the Arabic designs amplify ever facet of house design with just glorious features which we can only find in these very wealthy Gulf Countries. Thousands and thousands of Indian and Pakistani, Pilipino workers, which basically do everything when it comes to working outside are constantly attending this parklike setting the effort to keep this looking like an Oasis must cost fortunes.
We pass Saltan Qaboos Mosque in Muscat which is even on a grander scale, but again mesmerizing architecture a must visit. Muscat is far bigger than Salalah it is a modern metropolis in everyway the traffic is challenging and you can spot some amazing luxury cars weaving through the multi lane highways we spy the owners of these very expensive vehicles beautiful Arab headdress flash by their owners cocooned in their air –conditioned monsters blasting along at break neck speeds with not indication just weaving across multi-lanes with little respect for anybody else…may be that’s what happens to you when you can afford anything.
Muscat is a well frequented Tourist destination with several huge tourist vessels moored in the old city of Muscat. Victor finds a parking spot but it is over powering for us so many photo’s we head to the hills to find some peace.
Eventually after driving into several exclusive hotels we find an almost deserted Wadi with one Mercedes taxi parked in the sand with 2 people enjoying a small picnic.
We wave as we pass, and enthusiastic waves are returned as we decide to move further away and give each other some space. Victor has a perfect spot and we relax just with our friendly neighbours. Elayne makes a light supper as the sunsets and a huge full moon appears. We just finish our supper and cleared up when our neighbours come and join us, he is Omani in his early 50’s with a Pilipino lady in her late 40’s they are very pleasant and want to welcome us to Oman. It was very nice of them and we thanked them for their hospitable welcome.
They asked if we needed anything, as they would bring what we needed from their house, we declined their kind offer as best we could, and we said our farewells. The Mercedes taxi had bravely entered some softer sand were we had parked and it was obvious when the Mercedes taxi tried to pull away … it didn’t go anywhere….we felt so sorry for our Omani friends who had come to welcome us to Oman.
The taxi which was the owner’s car was completely stuck and no amount of pushing would shift it. As I was standing behind the rear wheels I was totally covered in dust from head to toe….YIKES
Elayne and I had just settled down for the evening and now we were hot sweaty and covered in dust. The older Omani man was so apologetic, but Victor was the only solution to try and recover the Mercedes taxi from its sandy grave.
30 minutes later Victor had towed the Mercedes taxi from its entombed state.
They left thanking us for our help, but really we would have done it for anybody. Elayne and I returned to our dug up campsite repositioned Victor and tried to dust ourselves off the best we could. Just as we had enjoyed another hour of complete solitude we heard a 4×4 coming along the same entrance we had followed. It was heading directly for us headlights blazing we were unable to see anything, except hear the roar of the exhaust pipes heading straight for us.
Oman 200klms from Muscat
To our utter amazement the 4×4 stopped right outside our tent entrance, their lights still blinding us, I was just about to loose my temper thinking we have some young hooligans to deal with when we saw it was the Omni taxi owner and his wife we had just helped with their bogged taxi.
We could not leave you they exclaimed after your help to us, they called out from their now 4×4 Cherokee jeep struggling slightly with their English.
We have bring you Pilipino cooking hot spicy fish soup, fresh bread, and several BBq fish and a special Omani Halwa cake (which we must say is to die for)….. plus we bring you 60ltrs water for you to shower.
What could we say to such kindness and generosity …we were just about to hit the tent for bed, but it looks as if we have another giant meal to consume…..yikes this will be tough just after we had gorged ourselves with a big supper.
What kindness people show, they were more concerned about us and what problems they had caused us to endure, they could only think of bringing us all their food and water from home so we would not go hungry, and we could have a shower/ or a good wash!
It was a very pleasant evening now quite late Elayne and I were exhausted trying to make best the conversation which struggled at its best. Due to our lack of Arabic and there lack of English. It was all well meaning and we thanked them for their generosity and warm welcome, at least I can take a shower when they left around 12.00pm
IT’S CAR SHOW DAY MUSCAT.
Lou lou’s was a huge shopping mail chain scattered over Muscat more than 20 stores existed and we were not sure how far we needed to go to find the car show which was being held at one of the Lou lou’s , eventually we find the right Lou Lou’s which is about 10 km’s away.
Victor and crew are welcomed to Muscat our new friends find their taxi a little stuck.
Victor pulls out our new friends Taxi.
Our new friends return with a beautifully cooked meal and 60ltrs of water.
Victor spends a very special night in Muscat
Victor at the Car Show Lou Lou’s Muscat where we meet The ‘’Oman Automobile Association’’
Victor and Crew receive an award for our motoring achievements around the world.
The Cool ‘’V Cool’’ car tinting team in Muscat….thank you so much for your generosity and a wonderful hotel we really needed….thanks.
Oman Muscat Victor gets his own Cool Visit from some car show friends.
Victor arrives mid afternoon and we weave our way to the car park where the show is 75% as it will start around 5.00pm, already underway several huge displays were packed full of new cars displays and large suv’s, with some old exhibits including a beautiful 1926 Bugatti roadster.
Victor gathers a crowd of assistants and we are told to pull over by the ‘’V Cool” exhibit tent where we can take some shade with our chairs under their erected open-sided tent. Perfect Elayne exclaims that will do just great.
NOW FOR THE STRANGE BIT
We are told to wait as the exhibit organizers will come and introduce themselves to us as they were currently arranging the huge stage with a live band, lights, and micro phone checks for the special guest one of the royal family of Oman.
Elayne and I settle in talking to the early arrivals as Victor is holding the stage with the local’s very interested in this car made from recycled parts driving all the way round the world for the last 6 years.
I was explaining to 20 or more people about our trip around the world when one of the assistant for the car show quietly ask me weather he could introduce the main hosts of the car show. I turned to find a slightly built very athletic figure, with a polished bald head, around late 40’s.
Salim was not in the usual Omani dress but with expensive running shoes and tailored jeans. My name is Salim and I am part of the Oman Automobile Association….CRICKEY I thought that’s a strange coincidence ……….Well we have just been talking to the Oman Automobile Association in the last week I tell Salim.
Salim and my eye’s meet ….Salim exclaims “ are you the Australians which were stuck in the Salalah port’’…….Yes That’s us I reply………Well I never thought we would meet Salim exclaims…but here you are.
It was an amazing coincidence Saeed had been talking to the very man I was now talking. We are very embarrassed to what happened to you, Salim goes onto say, The Oman Automobile Association was very upset for the actions the Police took in Salalah not letting you leave the Port.
Salim went onto explain……We have never had people entering a sea-port in a Dhow before, I am afraid the Salalah Police had no idea what to do with you and your Right Hand Drive car. They told us it had been more than 30years before when the last car had entered Salalah Port on a Dhow, You ar the first for a very long time Salim exclaims.
Elayne and I where amazed at this strange coincidence why we had stopped at the road sign to snap a picture of the village called ADAM, we thought our eldest son Adam would be interested in seeing his name written in Arabic……just at the time this enthusiastic 4×4 Omani guy decided to take a fancy to Victor and stop………and here we are. ???
Please stay Salim exclaims, please stay for the show we will look after you if you wish to stay…..yes I reply thank you Salim we will stay for the 2 day show without your input we may still be in the Port of Salalah…….we all laugh now but it was a strain on us a week camped on the wharf not being able to move Victor more than 20mtrs.
What was then even more amazing Saeed phoned just at that very moment …….Saeed I answer It’s Chris here…… Chris ……how are you my friend….where are you…… Muscat I reply with Salim from the Oman Automobile Association…..you have good timing I explain to Saeed who tells me he is in Muscat in the next few days so we must catch up…..Yes I tell Saeed that will be good. Elayne takes the phone and asks me ’’where are we going to stay for the next few days’’……mmmmh I am not sure I reply to Elayne concerns…….I am not really sure.
I turn my attention back to Salim who tells me he needs to carry on with organizing the car show but will talk to us later to arrange a meeting and dinner with the Oman Automobile Association…..great I reply we will look forward to that.
It was a fantastic car show the crowds pouring in later in the afternoon, and I was loosing my voice we had so many interested persons. It was not long before the Omani motoring press arrived covering the event, they had asked for an interview which we obliged. Al Syraat Newspaper managing editor Ayman Mansour conducted a well thought out interview and supplied a great photographer to take some shots of Victor and crew. ‘’V Cool’’ the car tinting company in Oman where we were hiding from the sun was also very interested in our endeavours and wanted to tint Victors front screen with their super new product free of charge ……..
It was very nice of ‘’V Cool” but I tried to explain our tinting laws in Australia are much different to those here in Oman where you can nearly black-out the front screen., so this may cause me a problem returning to Australia. They did say they had several different shades but I stuck to my guns and declined there gracious offer to tint Victor. J
But ‘’ V Cool’’ was still very persistent and offered to pay for our hotel this evening if we would like and then take us out to supper after the car show had finished its first day around 10.00pm …..Yes thank you so much that would be great we reply. …Well done ‘’V Cool’’ Muscat Oman
We had a great meal with the ‘’V Cool ‘’ team they were just great guys and girls we hope your product grows with climate change I’m sure you are on a winner trying to keep our vehicles cooler ….well done …..‘’V Cool”
Elayne was over the moon a beautiful hotel paid for by ‘’V Cool’’ it was just what we needed
Safeer Hotel Suites was an expensive stay indeed Usd 250.00 per night Yikes ….but it was great and we could get cleaned up. We had met so many people at the car show but one person stood out from the crowd his name was Sultan a young man in his early thirties who would help us with everything bringing lunch and cold water he was a real gentleman who was so interested in our adventure and wanted to be part of it in anyway he could in a very mild mannered way.
Sultan had organised to take us around the sites of Muscat the following day as the car show was only starting around 5.00pm so we had plenty of time to visit some tourist stuff which Sultan insisted was his duty to show us. We had a wonderful morning visiting the fresh fish market and a wonderful Omani Art gallery, ending up in a Yemeni restaurant with a beautiful fish and multi rice dish.
Back to the Car show and the Oman Automobile Association had organized an evening meal with some ministers from government plus the highest member of Traffic from Oman Royal Police …wow this is going to be a nervous event. Sultan was organising it with Salim so everything was under control except we again had nowhere to stay……. again………..!!!!!
Al Syraat Newspaper/Magazine comes to the rescue the news paper we had offered to do an interview with at the car show was more than willing to pay for a few more nights at the same hotel we had been staying…….GREAT we were able to meet our now growing schedule of meetings…lol…. (and would now be able to shower each day ……great ) especially the meeting with the Omani ministers and the Oman Automobile Association.
It could not have worked out better for us Sultan was just the best guy to keep us in check and a very good tour guide at that showing us all what was possible in Muscat In the time we had, the only trouble was we were to meet Saeed and I wanted to bring him along to the meeting with the Ministers and OAA so Saeed could bath in some glory for helping us out of our difficult situation, but again we run out of accommodation that evening when we meet the minsters and OAA….we will sort it out when we cross that bridge I tell Elayne, its no good worrying about it now something will come I am sure it will.
OMAN AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION MUSCAT
Sultan guides us there to our meeting with the ministers and head of Traffic Oman, on the way we were able to collect Saeed it all seemed unbelievable we were once again together a 1000klms away from Salalah Port meeting the very people Saeed was speaking on the phone when we were desperately trying to find away to free us from the stupidity of the Salalah Police chief’s stupid decision to ban RHD vehicles from driving in Oman without checking with the Oman Automobile Association Muscat, or his command chain which is governed from Muscat the capital.
We arrive at Saeeds hotel and it is a warm welcome as old friends meet after many years not just a week…lol…but Saeed was such a positively nice guy you could not help but hug him.
Saeed has a friend with him who is most interested in our story and now sees Victor in the flesh….wow….what a beautiful car Saeed’s friend exclaims, he is a real car nut so Saeed is so pleased we were able all to meet up and show Victor to his friend.
Sultan collects Saeed his friend has other business so off we go once again following Sultan to the OAA. We eventually find the venue and it is massive, they have the own race track with a super club house and offices. Victor and crew are directed to centre stage everybody is superbly dress in the national dress (dish dash’s) even with their small daggers hung from their belts. Salim greets us and gathers us around some journalist who would like to do another article on Victor visiting Oman for the OAA.
It is not long before 20 or more beautifully dressed men arrive in various luxury cars and come down to meet Elayne and I standing next to Victor with the Oman Flag draped from Victors tent down to his bonnet.
Cameras clicking away the distinguished guest’s arrive and I find myself repeating our story over and over again. Two journalists and members of the OAA are constantly asking questions. Finally we are presented with several huge books on Oman from the OAA. WE also received many other gifts from the Head of Traffic in Oman, we felt very humbled by all the fuss but we also felt that this was something which was meant to be in a strange way, all because we stopped and took that picture of ADAM…????
We had several Omani business men who also had rare vintage cars which were RHD, they too had difficulty in driving their cars legally on the roads in Oman. It was a very relevant subject and all the right people from the Oman government and the OAA were here. We were able to explain our story and it was gratefully received by the head of Traffic, Brig. Dr. Mohammed Awadh Al- Rawas, who personally apologies for the police chief in Salalad. Brig. Dr. Mohammed Awadh Al- Rawas was adamant the rules would be clearly explained to the local police force and he personally gave his cell phone number to me if we were to have any further problems in Oman. Sultan eyes light up…Chris he exclaims …Oh I do hope you get stopped by the local police and you can call Brig. Dr. Mohammed Awadh Al- Rawas it would be so cool to see the faces of the local policeman which pulled you over….lol
Sultan was so impressed with the company we had gathered, we are so very grateful for Salim to organise such a meeting in a very short space of time.
Saeed had to leave early but it was great to catch up and conclude our troubles with the very people Saeed had managed to talk to.
As for our accommodation the Oman Automobile Association payed for another 2 nights in a brand new hotel ‘’ Al Reef Hotel’’ it was beautiful indeed.
Our evening was a real cherished memory with Elayne and I crossed leg on a beautiful carpet surrounded by distinguished guests dressed to perfection, beautiful food it was a night we will hold very dear to our hearts.
It was concluded at our meeting a new round of talks must take place for the revised laws re classic RHD collector cars in Oman, just to think we were part of gathering the relevant authorities to further discuss this issue was something worth doing for all the old RHD cars in Oman was satisfaction enough, and to think we can pass on the correct information to any future Overlander which intends to drive a RHD vehicle across Oman….drop us an email we have the best connection possible ….lol
All this for just stopping to take a picture of a village called ADAM so we could show our son Adam how his name was written in Arabic…strange indeed….we think……to continue Victor gets invited to
‘’ The Caledonian College of Engineering’’….where we find a most interesting Lady.
Oman Automobile Association gather our very distinguished guests ,Salim is clearly spotted in his jeans, Thanks very much Salim for your passion and kind gifts we will always remember that very interesting gathering.
Victor proudly displays the beautiful Oman Flag.
Sultan directly to the right with his very fine hat…….thanks Sultan
Victor has another new admirer who wants to keep him in Oman…..thanks Ali for all you help with our gifts from Oman.