Distance: 2,492 km Duration: 58 hours Vehicles destroyed: 0
All in all, having already been hit twice while driving during my first three months on the peninsula, the first real road trip was a resounding success.
It’s exactly 1,000 kilometers from my home in Muscat to Salalah, the tropical (it has trees) southern resort city near the Yemeni border. Separating Oman’s two cities is the scorching Arabian desert, one of the harshest and most unforgiving topographies on Earth. It’s vital that the hardened, intrepid adventurer possesses not only the skills but also the tools necessary to survive such a perilous journey, so after careful consideration of the vehicle in my carport I chose my trusty rented Suzuki Swift as being appropriate, and set out with the morning sun.
The treacherous mountain passes south of Muscat are fraught with photo opportunities…
…but I pressed on… and after a couple of hours the mountains gave way to seven hundred kilometers of this.
Apparently, driving hour after hour through the desert is not everyone’s idea of fun. I can’t imagine why. It’s not like the entire trip looked exactly like that.
No, I lie. Pretty much the entire trip looked exactly like that. Oh, there were also a couple of these…
Eventually though, the terrain once again began to change and I finally reached the tropical jewel of the Arab world… Salalah! …which, according to Google, looks something like this…
I presumably arrived at a different time of year, via a different road (or possibly a different dimension) and drove straight into the city itself, which looks like this…
Like pretty much everywhere in Oman, Salalah has every amenity you could possibly need. …provided all you need is a haircut.
But I jest. I saw many other stores of course, catering to all the men who already had a haircut. For some reason though they only seemed to sell curtains, which would be mildly irritating for consumers actually in the market for new curtains, because they were all closed.
Wandering the deserted streets of the nation’s second largest city (pop. 200,000), it began to dawn on me that something was missing – namely the supposed 200,000 residents who I hoped were not busy fleeing the approaching tsunami I hadn’t been notified of.
I headed for the beach, figuring maybe the conspicuously absent Omanis would be hanging out there, drinking in the view and the local coffee. They weren’t there though, and the Salalah waterfront wasn’t exactly as I had expected.
Being new to the Arab world (perhaps like a recently transplanted Muslim driving into a small American city on December 25 and wondering where everybody went) it took a few minutes to realise this was the day of Eid al-Adha, and that all the Omanis were at home preparing to celebrating the Feast of the Sacrifice with their families.
Well, not everyone was at home. A few of the Salalah men were out on the street, preparing for the feast in accordance with ancient custom.
Other men were sitting around in small groups on one particular street, cutting and categorising various goat chunks, presumably in accordance with ancient custom.
I headed South toward Yemen. A goat farmer was taking his goats out to feed on some delicious rocks (I guess).
There were some crazy mountains to climb, by means of some crazy mountain roads.…and of course there were camels to dodge.…but the view from the top was quite something.
I realised that if I kept travelling south I would end up in Yemen, which I hadn’t planned for, so, I turned the car around and… well, I drove home (there’s not really any other way to end road-trip stories, except perhaps stories of road trips that go tragically wrong). The end.
I love to visit this so captivating places someday somehow!!
Also people can’t be forgotten. they’re so friendly I would say!