Hello! After a somewhat hurried blog post previously, sit back and enjoy its successor, enormous as it is crafted.
At the end of March, I attended two more events at the Royal Opera House Muscat, which was hosting an a capella festival . On the 27th I saw Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares, a female choir from Bulgaria, who performed in national dress. Of course recordings or photography were not permitted, so Youtube will have to suffice. The following night, I returned to ROHM, this time in dishdasha and mussar (alas, no photos), to see Cantus, an American male choir. Their performance was truly spectacular, and this was my favourite song (not a hint of bias). I wholeheartedly recommend that you attend any performance of either of these groups!
On Friday 29th of March, my colleagues and I sailed east of Muscat on a plushly decorated dhow, a ship of ancient Omani heritage (a dhow roundabout is pictured in my second Oman blog post).
With a nod to the British Ambassador, we sailed east for about two hours.
Reaching an exact place known only to our captain, we dropped anchor and surveyed the scenery around us.
At this point we had a few hours simply to enjoy the peace. Some swam, some snorkelled, there were even kayaks. Until the jetski arrived! A friend of a friend of the captain (which seems to be the dynamic for most opportunities in Oman), gave rides both on the back, and on a rubber ring dragged behind at high velocity – a bumpy ride! After some hours had passed (all too quickly), it was time to sail back, which at sunset provided some fantastic views.
Now then, this is where the real blog starts, as the next day (30/03/13) marks the first day of the famous ROAD TRIP. Unlike many of the Western schools in Muscat, the Sultan’s School gets only one week for Easter/Spring Break, and so we utilised our short time as efficiently as possible.
Starting in Muscat, which is in north Oman, we drove south-east, to a fantastic sink hole. As with everything magnificent I see in Oman, I was shocked that there were so few people there.
After a few hours of relaxed swimming and sunbathing, we proceeded further south-east, to Sur, the proverbial ‘one-camel’ town. It was entirely deserted, other than a herd of goats roaming the streets. We passed this fort, and hoped to look inside, but of course it was locked. Nevertheless its external aspect was lovely in the sunshine.
We journeyed further along the coast, to the eastern-most point of Oman,the famous Raz al Jinz beach. I say famous because it is on this beach that droves of sea turtles are found to lay their eggs. Sneaking onto the beach out of hours, we saw no such thing, only boats.
Slightly disappointed, and aware of the oncoming sunset, we went a little further and set up camp on an empty beach.
The next morning, we had breakfast in the village of Juwaic. Sitting on a rug accompanied by a cheerfully football-obsessed Omani, I had a kebab for breakfast, and very delicious it was too. We then continued our journey along the coast, to the port town of An Nadjah. From here we embarked (just about) on the car ferry, and spent two hours travelling to the island of Masirah, which, we had been told by many, was a very beautiful area. We were unable to identify this however, as sunset was almost upon us, and we swiftly set up camp on a beach on the north side of the island. It was on this beach that we had the biggest and probably best surprise of the trip; on a nocturnal walk, we came across a turtle on the beach! To top it off, she was digging a hole, in which she would later lay her eggs. Alas, it is considered distressing to a turtle to use flash photography at night, so there are no photos.
The next morning, we set off on a perimeter drive of Masirah, to see for ourselves its natural beauty. However, having driven right around the north and east sides of the 40km long island, we saw nothing but dust and road. It must be beautiful in the centre. Stopping at the port (the only centre of habitation on the island), we had a wonderful breakfast, accompanied by little Abadi. Probably the closest I’ve ever come to kidnap.
After the ferry back to An Nadjah, we stopped following the coast, and instead headed into the interior, in order to reach Salalah more quickly. Passing through Haima, we camped just south of the town, and though we were only 100m from the road, it seems that the desert in the dark is a dangerous place to go wandering! Suffice to say, we got hideously lost on a ‘short’ walk into the desert, and took a long time to find our camp again. Onto the next day!
We had breakfast in al Ghaftayn, a walled village which felt very much like a compound, but they served some excellent breakfast, so no complaints here! After this we finished off our hard slog to Salalah, arriving and promptly getting lost while trying to meet our contact there (a teacher from the Sultan’s School). Eventually we made it to the recently opened McDonalds (the first in Salalah!), and after lunch, we moved on to the al Baleed archaeological park. It reminded me very much of Knossos, in that it was hot, and there wasn’t much there.
After that, we had a short journey east of Salalah to a lovely beach, under the shadow of an extremely welcome, and welcoming expat clubhouse.
The next day, we ventured into the centre of Salalah, which for the country’s second biggest city, has but a small number of shopping streets: two in fact. In its defence, the streets are quite long, and filled with many curiosities.
Resisting the urge to get that second mussar, or that second kumma, I was however caught sufficiently off guard to accidentally get a haircut, along with head massage and wash, facial exfoliation, back, shoulder, and hand massage, and valuable life tips (one girlfriend is not enough, get three).
We then explored some wider parts of Salalah, which the pictures will detail better than I.
We then visited the Frankincense museum, which was actually a lot more interesting than it sounds, as it also covered Oman’s extensive history, particularly its long tradition of international diplomacy. Culturally enriched, we met our Salalah contact once again, and proceeded over mountains to a beach west of Salalah, in fact only about half an hour from Yemen (yikes!). The views on the journey were spectacular.
At the beach we met up with some engineers and a logistician from the nearby Thumrait airbase, and as such got an excellent fire going!
The next morning, after an excellent breakfast of bacon (!!) and eggs, we took one last look at this beautiful beach (which was so dazzling that I forgot to take photos), and turned for home. This time, we just wanted to get home as quickly as possible, so, briefly stopping for probably one of the best photos I have ever taken, we drove all the way up through the interior, making the 1000km distance in about 11 hours. After this mammoth journey, I had just enough energy for a glorious shower, then bed!
Well done for making it through to the end! It took just about as much energy to write it up as the week itself , but I hope it was easier to read. I’ll leave you with my favourite photo of the trip…
I think I’ve been very lucky this summer, having had two fantastic holidays, and having seen some amazing things. By far the best scenes of the summer have been the landscapes, so I thought I’d share a few!
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!
I recently went on a school trip to Greece, so naturally I took my camera, hoping for some nice shots. Unforunately, in my opinion at least, what can be a fantastic view on the first day, can very quickly become ‘same old, same old’ by the fifth day, but hopefully I’ve managed to keep my pictures different and interesting at each location…
Hmm, I don’t imagine I’ve thought terribly outside the box here, and I’m loathe to name my favourite until I see eveyone else’s entries, but I think I’ll enter the first photo; I like the reflection in the puddle.
This week I went with my family to Dovedale in the Peak district, hoping to test out some new filters for my camera. It was a lovely walking route, and I hope I captured it as I saw it.