From beach to mountains to the sandy desert
Trip Start Jun 13, 2010
35Trip End Jul 17, 2010
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I did the driving at first. We went south down the coast for 90 km to the beach town of Al Ashkharah. On the way we had to take a few detours as the wadis had washed out a few roads. It was a two lane road so we went through many small towns and they all had some major speed bumps. At Al Ashkharah we drove on the beach for a little relaxation at a concrete pavilion next to the crashing waves. One of the only few things I do not like about Oman is the amount of trash that is just thrown anywhere. There are too few trash cans around could be part of the problem
From here we drove northwest back into the interior of Oman through some desert. Hilal and I got out of the car to take some close-up pics of some camels on the way to the next town of Jaalan Banu Bu Ali which had a cool looking domed mosque. Then to the twin city of Jaalan Bani Bu Hasan which had the best fort so far in Oman.
The GPS did not have this fort marked so we had to follow the signs (sometimes they are not too good) but after many turns we found it. The walls were very long and in one corner of the fort was another smaller fort with tons of rooms and hallways and towers and lookouts. There were interesting ladders to get to the top of the towers that had sticks of wood coming out of the plaster. Pooja, of course, crawled to the top to get a look. In my mind I'm wondering what would go on if I took a group of 7th graders here to the fort – it would be crazy!!! As of now, every fort we visit we have been the only ones at the time. Now summer is pretty hot in Oman so it is not the tourist season.
From the fort our next stop would be Wadi Bani Khalid which was only 30 min. away
I drove most of the way up to the wadi as it was a twisty road but paved. Our first stop was an irrigated oasis area for tourist. However, we saw women in the pool so Pooja did not want to go, but Hilal was saying go on as it is a tourist area. So big fight on whether to go or not. After 10 min. we just drove on without seeing it. Too bad, it looked pretty cool – but the cultural sensitivity thing won out.
So we went on to the pools of Wadi Bani Khalid. The pictures in the guide book made it look like a nice park – but the recent storms had unleashed a flood in the area and destroyed half the tourist areas
We walked back to the car for 25 min. which dried us off pretty good. We found a food stand and got some Dews and a tea for Pooja. By the time we drove out of the wadi it was dark. The road to the Sands was only 15 more km. Hilal tried to make some arrangements for us to stay in the middle of the desert but no one was answering as it was past 7:30
he first camp we reached was closed. So we continued to the sign that said 1000 Arabian Nights Camp. We drove up this huge dune and took more twists and turns going this way and that or wherever the sands took the car. For a few min. Pooja and I thought we saw light but it turned out to be the rising moon!!!! We turned around after the 20th sign that said "1000 Arabian Nights Camp this way." I think some Bedouins were playing a joke on us to see how far these visitors would go in the sands. We were expecting a sign that said “Welcome to Saudi Arabia” at any moment. Back on the main road (if you want to call it that) we saw a truck in the distance. Hilal got out and talked to the man in the small Toyota truck with his entire family in it. He said that we were close to the camp before turning around. So back in for more crazy desert driving in the middle of the night. And again, we passed what seemed like a million of these signs to the camp – but none of them said how far. We just kept going and going. Finally we saw some buildings – this must be it!!
So we decided to drive another km more and breakout the tent. What a perfect night to do it. Nice soft sand under a full moon. This has to be one of my life’s top 10 experiences. The only thing breaking the silence was this huge herd of goats. At first the wind was blowing a little so it was tough putting up the tent. This was the first time we put up this Coleman tent but it was very much like the one we have at home. After the tent came the airbed for Pooja and I and a traditional Omani mat for Hilal. Now usually I cannot sleep on the ground but I bet I could tonight – but the airbed was still better. Hilal made a campfire and we could not go to sleep as we just wanted to soak in the moment of this place. As the hours went and the moon rose in the sky it became brighter and brighter illuminating the perfect contours of the sand. Finally, I knew I had to get to sleep as we would have to rise with the sun and move out as the heat in the desert would come quick.