We flew out of Heathrow on the evening of 18th February 2005, on Qatar airlines. A very efficiently run airbus. Steve watched Thunderbirds on the plane, while Rosemary watched Criminals. Had supper and breakfast on the plane, landing at Doha at 6:30. A short flight from Doha to Dubai, and another breakfast.
No one from the hotel or Explore were waiting for us, so we waited around catching up with others from the Explore group. Eventually, the hotel bus from the Sun and Sand hotel arrived to take us to the slightly run-down hotel. First thing was off to the bank to get some money, before washing and meeting up for a tour in the afternoon.
Dubai – Saturday
After a shower and snooze, we met up for a walking trip around Dubai. We split up into four taxis to meet at the ferry to cross Dubai Creek. Alas, no taxi ended up in the same place. We waited for 30 minutes at the ferry crossing before deciding on striking out to the museum. Walked through the textile souk, and we eventually met up with the others at the museum, learning they had all come different ways.
After an interesting visit, we had a ferry trip around the Creek seeing some magnificent hotels. Then it was time for supper at an Egyptian restaurant. We ate a mixed set of starters, and I ate a mixed grill for my main course.
Back to our poor hotel, Sun and Sand to go out for an evening sightseeing. First stop was the Emirates Towers Hotel, where we went to the 51st-floor bar for a cocktail. Here we had a bit of a problem with one member of the group being rejected because of trainers. Eventually was allowed to stay. You could feel the building sway in the wind. The great lift rides down from the 51st floor in a glass lift over the reception area.
Caught another taxi to see the Burj al-Arab hotel, (the hotel build like a sail), here we could not get in unless we had a reservation, so just admired the building illuminated by a changing blue and purple light. We walked to the nearest hotel, The Jumeirah Beach Hotel which overlooks the Burj al-Arab. The hotel supports the Wild Wadi water theme park. At this hotel, there was an English bar called the Dhow and Anchor. Would have taken a picture for our local Plough and Anchor pub, if only there had been some worthwhile signage to be seen.
Found the time was nearing midnight, so back by taxi to our hotel.
Trip to Oman – Sunday
Sunday up and out on a coach to drive to the Oman. The driver was Mohammed, and the guide was another Mohammed. Rosemary commented on the lovely roundabouts planted out with marigolds.
On the way stopped off at a modern soukh and town centre of SharJah. Here there was an 18th century fort, recently renovated.
Later stopped at an off-license to load up with wine and beers, before crossing into Oman. Entry into Oman was slow, visas are available at the border. The scenery was now mountainous, and the road took a course along the side of the sea.
We arrived at Khasab, and met our boat. We soon were loaded and away on our trip.
As we set off we had lunch, chicken curry, rice, salad, hummus and fresh fruit, cold drinks and coffee with optional evaporated milk.
Cable Island – Sunday
We travelled along the coast, going North East. Stopped in a bay for a swim, then continued on along the coast, before turning into a fjord. This was a very long fjord. Part way along we saw Telegraph Island. This is where we were going to sleep for the night. There was a tent on the island. Telegraph Island was used by the British to relay the first telegraphic messages from Karachi to London in 1865. It was not the best posting you could have in 1865, with most people driven mad by the lonliness of the posting and hence said to “go around the bend” (there being a bend in the fjord before getting to the Island).
We continued up the fjord admiring the scenery and the flying dish. Turned around and headed back to Telegraph island as the sun was sinking. Rosemary spotted dolphins. She reckons on seeing some 15-20. They were very elusive to photograph, especially with the light going. The crew whistled and clapped trying to attract their attention.
We moored up off Telegraph Island. Supper was on the island, cooked on the boat and ferried out. Hommous, salad, rice, aubergine hommous, BBQed fish, garlic mushrooms, and vegetables.
Eight of us slept on the boat, while the other six slept on the land. We arranged ourselves around the deck, Steve for some reason slept side ways to the slope. The bilge pump alarmingly started up every now and again through the night, sounding like someone having an enormous wee. The crew slept on the top of the boat, and cold not have been comfortable. Beautiful view of the stars at night, with no light pollution.
Straits of Hormuz – Monday
6.30 the crew were up making breakfast for us. Hommous, hard boiled eggs, salad, honey and instant coffee. We then set off back out of the fjord and then right, towards the Straits of Hormuz. We were accompanied by dolphins and flying fish. These dolphins swam alongside and under our bows. Went on past an island where we should not photograph, because of a military base.
We stopped in a bay, just before the bay of Kumzar. Here we swam to the beach. Rosemary found a PAPER NAUTILUS, which she is really proud of. Duncan decided to collect all the rubbish up from the beach. After the swim, we took lunch, the usual hommous and Babazoosh (the aubergine version of hommous), chicken and rice.
We then motored on into the next bay, Kumzar, landed and visited the village. The village has two mosques, and lots of single story dwellings. The village was on mains power, the only access to the village is by sea. One of the crew’s grandmother lived in the village and some of us visited her house and were well entertained.
We continued are trip on, our destination was Khawr Naid, and we still had a long way to go. As soon as we were through the straits, and into the Arabian Sea, a large swell came up. Soon it was dark, and we were all in life jackets. Many people on board were quite sea sick. Eventually we gave up, and headed to a fishing port, probably in the bay of Duhat Shisah.
At this fishing port, some elected to stay on the boat, (no sleeping bags), others (including us) stayed in a local house, owned by an Indian. He and Omanian ran the power generator and desalination plant. Kate managed to negotiate a stay there. We split into several rooms and has a good night’s sleep. The village is a fishing village, and there were no women in the village. Woken at 5.30 by the call to prayer, and then at 7.00 by Kate telling us it was time to go. The owner would not take any money from us to thank him for our stay.
We were told that during the night two police boats had come out to our boat. They had still been expecting us to arrive at the destination. They wanted us to continue with the trip.
Trip back – Tuesday
Breakfast, then it was time to leave, and the engine would not start, flat battery. The captain found some men from the village, and they tried to start the engine with a rope around the fly wheel. Not successful, soon a spare battery arrived and we were started. Amazing they could find one; not like a breakdown on the M40
Long trip back the way we came, rough water again, and sea sick people. Where the military island was, we had to pass around the outside this time. We were stopped by navy launch with guns trained on us. We then stopped at a beach very near to Kassab where we had a final swim and lunch. Lunch being brought out to us by the launch.
Land Trip – Tuesday
Arriving back at Kassab at 3.15 we were picked up by 4x4s and taken for a tour of the Musandam peninsula. This is a mountaneous region, we drove up to 2000 metres. Unluckily the weather was not good with very poor light for photography. We actually saw the bay where we should have been picked up from.
Stopped at various view points and also an old Bedouin house, mostly underground.
The roads are dirt in the mountain, but well maintained, power is around everywhere, and tanks by the road are filled with water.
The trip lasted a couple of hours, we then went back to the coach and back to Dubai, arriving late in the evening. Out for a meal in a local restaurant.