Musandam Peninsula - Arabia's Fjordland.

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Flag of Oman  , Musandam Peninsula,
Monday, November 24, 2008

Six am saw us standing on the corner outside our apartment building waiting for our booked day tour to the Musandam Peninsula in the country of Oman. Another country, another stamp in the passport..... easily done from Dubai as distances are not great and cars travel at amazing speeds down sleek highways. Our driver's name was......yes, you guessed it, Muhammad! We've lost count this trip of how many Mohammed's we've met. Already in the Four wheel drive vehicle were two other travellers doing the tour, a Scottish girl working in the English embassy in Dubai and a French man of Algerian birth. We enjoyed conversation of travels and time flew as we sped North towards the Oman border at a casually average speed of 160kms per hour.

After about an hour and half we stopped at a seaside resort and picked up another couple. With already five of us in the car this was looking a bit tricky. They were a German couple, he of rather large proportions, and both of them puffed furiously on cigarettes to get a lasting hit of nicotine as the driver did the paperwork. The Scotch & French travellers hopped in what our kids used to call the "back back", the cargo area of the Four wheel drive with extra seats, the German lady came in the back with us, and by necessity of his size, the German man sat in the front with the driver.  Immediately the doors shut we were overwhelmed by the odour of stale tobacco breath and our happy chatter of before slowed down as the German man in the front seat filled the airspace with lots of questions and conversation with the driver, in his loud halting English.  

Luckily we reached the border soon, and escaped the car for the rather unwieldy double exit and entry procedures of leaving UAE and entering Oman. The Germans desperately grabbed their next nicotine hit before it was back into the car to enjoy some dramatic scenery as we travelled mountain hugging roads, with sheer drops to the ocean below, on our way to Khasab the capital of the province.

The Musandam Peninsula, situated on the tip of Arabia, and quite close to Iran, is a land of beautiful fjords or khors as they are known in Oman. It is so close to Iran that Khasab port is used to smuggle US cigarettes into Iran in return for goats via small speed boats. We saw some of these boats racing off at full throttle out to the open sea.

Our driver dropped us of at the wharf and showed us to our colourful Arabian dhow which was to be our tour boat for a full day cruise around the khors. There were about 16 on board from different countries and our lovely hostess Tuala who was fluent in both German and English gave us a wonderful commentary and with the help of two crew, an exceptional hot lunch of delicious Arabian food. The boat was similar to our Felucca in Egypt where we sat or lay on a padded flat base with loads of cushions for comfort. The trip included two snorkel spots but the water was not very clear on the day we went, but we still enjoyed it and had lots of dolphins surrounding our boat at times as we travelled through the khors. We saw fishing villages along the way hugging the shore with high mountains behind, whose only access is by boat for all their needs including drinking water.

The cruise came to an end at sunset and Muhammad picked us up to retraced our journey back, with border formalities all over again then thankfully it was goodbye to the chain smoking Germans!

It had been a great day of travel and another country ticked off. 
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