Oman - An unexpected journey

Trip Start Dec 25, 2012
Trip End Mar 27, 2013

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Flag of Oman  ,
Sunday, January 6, 2013

Our week in Egypt's Sinai region was filled with all sorts of interesting experiences.  Diving the Red Sea turned out to be better than expected, and we made a lot of new friends in the desert in between dives.  We slept in tents in the desert, and the stars were breathtaking.  We even got the royal treatment with full military escort because we left the city boundries for the Bedouin campsite, and were the only Americans on bus full of Russians and other Europeans.  However, because of the recent kidnappings, the Egyptian Army is required to escort all Americans (I guess they don't care about the other nationalities).  We were a little embarassed by it, but felt a little safer with an armed guard.

The flight back to Cairo was uneventful...but Cario to Bangkok flight (still in progress at the time of this post) has proven to be another adventure that neither one of us was expecting.  After a two hour delay out of Cairo, we missed our connection to Bangkok by about 45 minutes.  That meant that we would have to stay 24 hours in Muscat, Oman.  Normally, this wouldn't be a problem....except we arrived in Oman at 3AM, with only the backpacks on our back - as all our luggage was checked through to Bangkok.  Again, normally, not that big of a deal...because airlines usually put you up in a hotel when it's their fault and there's a full 24 hour delay until the next flight.  However, Oman Air's policy is to only pay for hotels if you purchase a business class ticket (even when it is their fault).  On top of that, they said we would need to apply for a Visa to exit the airport before getting a $250 (cheapest) hotel for a few hours.  Barring that, we were welcome to sleep on the airport benches for 24 hours.  To add insult to injury, we were forced to rebook our connecting flight to Chiang Mai from Bangkok, the next day - costing us another $200 (but that one was my fault for not giving us an extra day cushion in Bangkok before flying to ChiangMai).

We are gradually learning that the concept of customer service is just about non-existant in this part of the world....but after lengthy persistance, we managed to get them to pay for our entry visas, put us up in a nice hotel for 24 hours, and feed us breakfast, lunch and dinner.  We're still wearing the same clothes on our backs (going on 36 hours now), and are still 24 more hours away from arriving in ChiangMai, Thailand...but we're glad to have seen a few unexpected sites in Oman before we leave.  We just hope our luggage makes it to we are switching airports and airlines before going to ChiangMai.

This has definitely been an unexpected journey...but we are anxious to leave the Arab world behind (there's no doubt where you are when you are woken up at 4AM by the prayer speakers coming from the nearby mosques....or in the airport you see security signs telling you not to bring hand granades or AK47's on to the airplane - seriously!! - I wish we took a picture).

Anyway, here's hoping we make it to Asia tomorrow....(with luggage, please!).....
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