Good day to you! I hope you’re recovered from trawling through Oman! No.5; I know it took me a few days rest to get over writing it. Ready for the next bout? Then we’ll begin.
On Thursday the 11th of April, we set out early to attempt the ‘Muttrah Walk’, which despite being just ten minutes’ stroll from the largest port in the country, is a rocky and deserted mountain hike; you feel as if you are the only group for miles around. Having returned from a night out just hours before, the walk presented a satisfying challenge, with a teacher and his family, having volunteered to lead us on the route, looking on with bemusement.
Later that day, we met up with the same teacher, to travel to Wahiba Sands, one of Oman’s most visited attractions, being the highest quality desert within a few hours of Muscat. We met Badir, our Omani guide and were led to his camp in the desert.
Badir was an enthusiastic guide, and straight away ushered us into his severely weathered 4×4, to experience what’s known as ‘dune/wadi bashing’. Essentially this is driving very fast and carelessly across bumpy desert, while your Omani guide cackles every time you almost flip over. Fun!
Later, we walked to the highest ridge around, to watch the sunset. From this ridge we spied the only life nearby, that being a Bedouin village in the distance.
We enjoyed the amenities of the camp, including table-tennis and coffee and dates, until dinner time, which was a delicious spread of typical ‘Omani’ food (though there is no national cuisine, Omanis make very good replications of other Asian dishes, such as biryani, porata, and dahl). When the night had truly come, we drove a short way out in to the desert, where the lack of nearby cities afforded an almost unspoilt view of the stars.
The next day, after a breakfast of dahl, I finally got to try something I’d been anticipating ever since I came to Oman; sand boarding. We were joined at the camp by some other Omanis, one pictured here:
It was immensely enjoyable; however the slog up the dune, carrying a board and treading on burning hot sand, was something of a limiter on how many times I came down. Nevertheless, it was an unforgettable experience.After this, we made the journey home.
But the day was not over! That evening, we were guests at the house of our delightful Arabic tutor, AbdulAziz. Of Sudanese extraction, his home was lovely, and brimming with welcoming family members, including some adorable children. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take my camera, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.
Skipping ahead a few days, notable only for a school day cancelled due to a water mains problem, and a hellish trip to the PDO Planetarium with Year 3, we come to the 16th of April, and a hockey match between the Muscat Arabian Foxes and HMS Monmouth, a British Navy ship with an intriguing history.
Before announcing the score, I must say that the Monmouth players were extremely good sports, and that at least four of their players had not picked up a hockey stick before that match. Unfortunately their enthusiasm and astounding physical fitness could not stifle the skill of the Foxes, but the final score of 5-1 to the home team shows the quality of both teams.
This was followed by drinks at the Grand Hyatt hotel, where the Monmouth players made good use of the few hours before their midnight curfew!
The next day, once school had ended, we began an ill-fated venture to Dubai with another member of staff. ‘Ill fated?’ you ask? Well having set off at 4.30pm, and arriving at the Oman/UAE border at around 8pm, our teacher friend realised that had forgotten his passport. ‘Good joke!’ we all cried. We then arrived back in Muscat at 12am. As I say, ill fated.
The following day, the 18th, we had another attempt, at 7.30am. With passport checked, double checked, and triple checked, we made it across the border, and were in Dubai by midday. At this point we parted ways with our colleague, and explored the Mall of the Emirates, famous for its in-house ski slope! However, as noted by one of my colleagues, the only people who enjoy Dubai are there either to make money or to spend it. And as we were unable to do either, Dubai didn’t hold much charm for us. That evening, on an emphatic recommendation, we visited the Titanic restaurant, owned by Marco Pierre White. I’m no restaurant critic, and so all I will tell you is that a small glass of house red cost £15.
The next morning, with considerably lighter pockets, we visited the famous Dubai mall, the largest shopping mall in the world. Enthralled by its aquarium and ice-rink, we were nonetheless still unable to really appreciate Dubai’s attraction. Unconvinced, we turned for home, the much more welcoming, cultural, and real-life city of Muscat.
That’s all for now, and I hope that you’ve either learned or enjoyed something, and maybe even both!
Important note: the tenth photo in this post was not taken by me, nor on my camera. I would give credit if I knew the name of the one who did take the photo!
Further note: the three hockey photos were also not taken by me, but were taken by a colleague on my camera.
Hello! This is the first of my Oman blog/photography posts; I hope that there is something of interest to many here.
However, the very first day was not particularly interesting. We flew from Heathrow at 9.30, and flying via Bahrain, arrived at Muscat Airport at 22.00 local time. Having arrived at the school in darkness, we went straight to bed!
Wednesday the 13th was our first proper day. After a late rise, we had a leisurely tour of the school, which despite its Seventies architecture, looks lovely in the sunlight.
The last photo shows the reception of the school; in front of this there is a large parade ground, where the children line up for ‘Flag’, which is like assembly. I haven’t experienced one yet, but I’ll let you know how it is. Edit: Flag actually occurs inside their auditorium, with a flagpole on stage. A film has been taken and will be published in due course. Ed.
That evening, I played Unihoc with the staff, which was a bizarre experience! But it meant that the ice was broken very quickly, and it was my first experience of high-temperature sport, even if there was air-con in the gym.
Later on, we attended a soiree at a teacher’s apartment (most of them live on campus too), and I got to meet more teachers in a less aggressive atmosphere!
On Thursday the 14th, we were given a tour of Muscat, a long but thin city, with distinct districts. We visited Muttrah, the port district, and saw a few cruise ships, one of which was in fact the Sultan’s personal yacht! Muttrah was a very busy place, and our first proper experience of Omani driving was more than enough to inspire caution when we first took to the road ourselves.
The highlight of that day was visiting the Grand Mosque, which was truly spectacular.
(I am all too aware that this is not quite aligned, rest assured that it plagues me more than you)
Our self-appointed guide in the Mosque told us that this was the largest Swaroski crystal in the world, ‘as tall as a five storey building’ apparently.
There is a massive Indian and Pakistani population in Muscat and Oman, who do every manual task possible. An army of workers keep the mosque clean despite the thousands of tourists who flock to the mosque.
This trip sapped most of our energy for that day, but that evening we did summon the courage to drive ourselves to the beach outside of Muscat. Well, that was the intention, but we accidentally ended up heading the opposite way, and eventually decided that we had had enough experience of frenzied Omani driving for one day.
On Friday the 15th, I started the day by watching an Aussie Rules nine-a-side match on the school’s field. The rules are quite unusual, so I’ll leave it to the experts to explain. The match was between the Muscat Magpies and the Abu Dhabi Falcons, however due to the large ex-pat populations, in reality it was Ireland versus Australia (history does not report the victor).
In the afternoon, I had my own first driving experience; we went to Seeb, a nearby town (by the way, our hire car is a Nissan Sunny Classic, name of ‘Martha’). The souq wasn’t open that day (Friday is the second day of an Omani weekend), but through the wishes of one of our group, we bought two songbirds, Paul and Katie, who are now living in our flat! Pictures will of course come soon.
Hope that you’ve enjoyed the first instalment; perhaps in the future I won’t be quite so exhaustive…
Recently visited my brother Jonathan in Bristol, took my Fuji S5800, but more importantly my Canon EOS 500N! Started with a good old aperture priority on the flower, then some long exposure of the stream..
After this I got to the good stuff, and started snapping on film. I like how dated and old the bridge looks, just because it’s black and white.
Quite pleased with this one.
For this one I used both long exposure to blur the river, but also aperture to blur the whole background. Just an experiment, but I quite like the effect.
Can’t take the credit for the photo, but I can for being damn handsome.
Quite possibly my favourite of the bunch, love how smooth the top layer is, except for the ripples behind the log.
Hope you’ve enjoyed the bumper issue
It was my birthday recently, and my brother Jonathan bought me a camera, a Canon EOS 500N to be precise. These are my photos from the first day of ownership, so don’t prepare to be impressed, they’re all experimental!…First of all, I attempted some tinkering with the aperture to give a nice blurry background.
The next shows an attempt at a long exposure pic.
The next two are portraits, again fiddling with the aperture.
This next one, I have no idea whether this counts as a good photo or not! Either way, it’s a long exposure of my cat.
This one was taken with a short shutter speed to try and get the individual water drops.
Yet more portraits, trying to get using the aperture nailed..
Used a Polariser filter here, to remove the glare from the water to view the tadpoles.
Being sneaky with the focusing.
Well, got to say, I’m very impressed with this camera (really, I have to, Jonathan will see this ). Hopefully my attempts in the future will come out with a little more skill, but I like these ones anyway!