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Old 30th September 2009, 14:59   #1
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Default Oman adventure

Prologue:
This experience occurred in Aug 2007 in Oman where I was posted. It is the period when temperatures deep inside this beautiful country can get pretty high. On an official visit to a place called DUNK, I have practically measured 62 celcius in my Mondeo (I can understand that it may not be easy to believe for those who have not been exposed such climates)

Part I:
After his routine weekend break, my younger brother was preparing to move back to his camp at Sohar, which is around 290 kms away from Al Khuwair in Muscat where I was stationed. A sudden onrush of adventurism saw us both gather a few snacks and soft drinks, getting ready for a small deviation in the route. Rather than take the routine highway along the coast (a 2 hour drive), we decided to take a different route to experience the new road across the Hajar mountains and then reach Sohar through a different approach via Buraimi. Little did I realise that it would be the start of a marathon 11.5 hour 1200 km drive! We left home at 13H00, crusing along the Muscat- Sohar Highway. Vehicles generally do a 120, the top limit of this stretch.

I turned left at the roundabout before Khaburah and we drove along facing the Hajar Mountains. A wrong turn took us off track for almost 60 kms. Added to it we lost an hour before we came back to the correct road. The road was wonderful, newly laid, going up and about the heights of Hajar. The road was newly asphalted as the attached pictures would confirm.
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Last edited by Technocrat : 30th September 2009 at 15:04. Reason: Removed font & Size tags, please avoid copy pasting content from a word processor, thanks
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Old 1st October 2009, 12:55   #2
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Part 2
Oman is a country blessed with nature in abundance, beaches, mountains, deserts and lots of greenery. The mountains, though bereft of trees, can be seen in different shades of brown. Jebel Akhdar, a hill station 300km south of Muscat enjoys a temperature of 15 to 20 degrees celsius even in summer!

Stopping by in between to enjoy the scenery, we continued the trip.It was 18H:30 by the time we turned right at the IBRI town junction to proceed north west. I utlised the stretches without speed cameras to drive close to 140 kmph. My mondeo indicator was showing 25% level. We thougt we will drive further and top up at the town of Buraimi. After crossing the towns of Sunaynah and Hafit we turned right and drove 30 kms further in the direction of Buraimi. (Note: google earth will be able to provide an idea of the terrain and the route better than mere words can express!) Enroute, we were perplexed, getting welcome messages from Etisalat, the telecommunication service provider of UAE.

After a while, we hit a check post. The very fact that there was a check post did not give me a comfortable feeling. Requesting my brother to stay back in the car I walked towards the check post and explained to them our intention to reach Sohar via Buraimi. I also evidenced him our residence cards showing that we are bonafide residents of the Sultanate of Oman. The guard was courteous and explained that the border was porous with no proper delineation between UAE and Oman. Hence, if we wanted to cross the check post we need to produce our passports.

Oh No! I never imagined that our luck would reach such a precipice. Unlike in India, where you can talk/ plead/ bribe your way, here nothing of that sort was possible. Silently I walked back to the car, my mind meditating on that small needle of the fuel gauge that showed near empty. The fuel warning lamp was not yet on, though. We reverted back, dreading the thought of getting stranded with a dry tank.

On reaching the T-junction, instead of turning left I turned right on seeing a village towards the border with Al Ain of UAE. Not finding any fuel station there, we approached the Al AIn check post to try our luck. The ROP (Royal Oman Police) guard told us that if we drive back towards Ibri, we can find the next station 5 kms ahead. Back on the road, the low fuel level indicator came up, prompting us to save fue by switching off the aircon and reducing the speed to an optimum 80 kmph.

The fuel station did come but there was no fuel. When we taked to the attendant he mentioined that if we drive approx 50 kms the next station will be able to serve us. At this juncture, I called the manager of Budget rent-car from whom I had leased the Mondeo an an annual basis. He took the required inputs from me regarding the trip meter reading, amount of last fuel filled etc and came up with the info that we could perhaps still make it to the next station.

With hanuman chalisa on our lips, we stretched the miles as best as we could and finally managed to reach the next fuel station. I told the attendant to top the fuel to full tank. The vehicle gobbled up almost 65 litres of fuel! With the time showing 21H:00, we picked up a sandwich and drove back on the same road across Hajar mountains. Night driving on the ghat section on a wonderful road with proper cat's eyes and reflectors installed was a pleasurable experience.

We turned towards Sohar and on reaching the camp I dropped my brother. He was concerned that I had to drive another 300 kms to Muscat in the middle of night. I allayed his fears and told him I would call him on reaching home. On the way back, despite the superb road to muscat, I realised I was not alert enough due to fatigue. I stopped by at a road side tea shop for a break. Feeling better, I drove further and reached home in the wee hours of the morning. Needless to say, after a quick call to my brother, I fell on my bed and slept like a log.

Lessons learnt were:
1. Talk to someone who has already done the route ( a la T-BHP members)
2. Carry your passport along if you are going near the borders
3. Never let the fuel go below 25% level. Procarastination can prove disastrous.
4. India is not the only country where road directions need to improve.
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Old 1st October 2009, 15:20   #3
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Dev it was nice reading through ! Brought back some memories of Muscat with the place names and road descriptions. I was in Muscat from 2001 till the end of 2005. Our main time pass was going for deep sea fishing on weekends as a hobby. I also managed to do 3 road trips to Dubai (road-permit card was enough that time, no idea about present docs).

Although its a country with almost everything around (mountains, beaches, deserts, streams, very hot and below 20 degree C areas in the same country), somehow my life there didnt bring me any good fortunes. I can go back there at the cost of a phone call, as there are over 50 nationals who were juniors to me, but running own business or working for ministry departments now, constantly in touch through messengers and phone. I want to go back as a visitor, may be when kids are aged enough to enjoy this trip. Thanks for the post and wishing to read more from your mid east travelogues !
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Old 1st October 2009, 15:27   #4
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Dev,

Awsome write up. I was in oman till 2006 and pics and place names brought a smile on my face. Please do post more pics if possible. I was in Nizwa and then moved to muscat, riwi street.
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Old 1st October 2009, 18:48   #5
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Sajands, nice to hear that. So we have few members here who have gone through similar roads. I was staying at CBD area (heart of the country) beside Baldia Shopping and Saving, a 5 storied building called 'Al Amal Clinic building'. My office was next to Muscat Security Market (MSM) building, above NBO.

How I wish I was a team-bhpian while I was there. I could have done travelogues only to post here. Because whole of middle east takes a break on Thursday and Friday, I used to have the international weekend Saturday & Sunday. So, wherever we go on our weekends (be it shopping, deep sea or beach or park or mountains) it would be all ours, without any disturbances by pubic.
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Old 1st October 2009, 19:36   #6
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thanks for the mail. same here pal. I opted to move out since my HQ at Bahrain sent me to start a branch at Oman but later didn't show interest in developing business. On the positive side, since I had a lease with Budget, I had the opportunity to drive a wide range of vehicles- Subaru Legacy, Hondo Civic, Honda City, Audi 4, Audi 6, volkswagen Jetta, chrysler concorde(too big for comfort!). Added to the fact, the roads were fantastic.

BTW, is anyone interested in photos taken by me during the cyclone Gonu?


Quote:
Originally Posted by shajufx View Post
Dev it was nice reading through ! Brought back some memories of Muscat with the place names and road descriptions. I was in Muscat from 2001 till the end of 2005. Our main time pass was going for deep sea fishing on weekends as a hobby. I also managed to do 3 road trips to Dubai (road-permit card was enough that time, no idea about present docs).

Although its a country with almost everything around (mountains, beaches, deserts, streams, very hot and below 20 degree C areas in the same country), somehow my life there didnt bring me any good fortunes. I can go back there at the cost of a phone call, as there are over 50 nationals who were juniors to me, but running own business or working for ministry departments now, constantly in touch through messengers and phone. I want to go back as a visitor, may be when kids are aged enough to enjoy this trip. Thanks for the post and wishing to read more from your mid east travelogues !
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Old 1st October 2009, 20:34   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dev Iyer View Post
BTW, is anyone interested in photos taken by me during the cyclone Gonu?
I have around 100 photos of Gonu taken and mailed to me by my friends there. Did you mean something like this ? According to my friend (he owns Toyota dealership), around 150 cars were totally damaged from his stockyard alone (20 were swept away by water and never got them back).
Name:  g1.jpg
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Name:  g2.jpg
Views: 4050
Size:  115.1 KB
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Old 3rd October 2009, 09:17   #8
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yes. similar to this.

The first photo, if I remember right, does not belong to the Gonu onslaught. It was previous to that when rains induced a sudden flash flood in the Wadi in Darsait where a reputed rent-a-car Company used to park all their SUVs. 10 to 12 SUVs were washed away.
The second photo of course is of the Toyota ware house of Bahwan in Ghala Industrial area.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shajufx View Post
I have around 100 photos of Gonu taken and mailed to me by my friends there. Did you mean something like this ? According to my friend (he owns Toyota dealership), around 150 cars were totally damaged from his stockyard alone (20 were swept away by water and never got them back).
Attachment 200658

Attachment 200659
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Old 4th October 2009, 19:51   #9
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All these were sent to me after the Gonu settled, so I assume its all same month. Second picture looks like a stockyard shared by multiple brands. I was picking up just random 2 from my set of pics, so not sure of details. As you know, many automobile dealerships are owned by just 2 or 3 familes in Oman, Saud Bahwan being one major dealer with multiple brands, also having many common stockyards.
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Old 5th October 2009, 16:35   #10
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very true. Suhail Bahwan group and Saud Bahwan group together have a tight grip on the automobile market. Others are comparatively smaller players. When I saw the saw the second photo of yours I was reminded of the scene where brand new Fords, Daihatsus, Toyotas were lying piled up in one heap. In fact I saw couple of trailers turned turtle! Can't blame nature. If one were to build a ware house in the middle of a wadi which is essentially a water way from the mountains to the sea, he is surely asking for trouble.
I am attaching a photo taken by me near my office in ghala




Quote:
Originally Posted by shajufx View Post
All these were sent to me after the Gonu settled, so I assume its all same month. Second picture looks like a stockyard shared by multiple brands. I was picking up just random 2 from my set of pics, so not sure of details. As you know, many automobile dealerships are owned by just 2 or 3 familes in Oman, Saud Bahwan being one major dealer with multiple brands, also having many common stockyards.
Attached Thumbnails
Oman adventure-nature-vs-cars.jpg  

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File Type: bmp nature Vs cars2.bmp (332.0 KB, 695 views)
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Old 4th October 2015, 11:50   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dev Iyer View Post
yes. similar to this.

The first photo, if I remember right, does not belong to the Gonu onslaught. It was previous to that when rains induced a sudden flash flood in the Wadi in Darsait where a reputed rent-a-car Company used to park all their SUVs. 10 to 12 SUVs were washed away.
The second photo of course is of the Toyota ware house of Bahwan in Ghala Industrial area.
The Toyota new vehicle warehouse (which was an open area to park / store new vehicles), has been converted to a huge service cum bodyshop station.
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Old 8th October 2015, 15:21   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dev Iyer View Post
Part 2
Oman is a country blessed with nature in abundance, beaches, mountains, deserts and lots of greenery. The mountains, though bereft of trees, can be seen in different shades of brown. Jebel Akhdar, a hill station 300km south of Muscat enjoys a temperature of 15 to 20 degrees celsius even in summer!

Stopping by in between to enjoy the scenery, we continued the trip.It was 18H:30 by the time we turned right at the IBRI town junction to proceed north west. I utlised the stretches without speed cameras to drive close to 140 kmph. My mondeo indicator was showing 25% level. We thougt we will drive further and top up at the town of Buraimi. After crossing the towns of Sunaynah and Hafit we turned right and drove 30 kms further in the direction of Buraimi. (Note: google earth will be able to provide an idea of the terrain and the route better than mere words can express!) Enroute, we were perplexed, getting welcome messages from Etisalat, the telecommunication service provider of UAE.

After a while, we hit a check post. The very fact that there was a check post did not give me a comfortable feeling. Requesting my brother to stay back in the car I walked towards the check post and explained to them our intention to reach Sohar via Buraimi. I also evidenced him our residence cards showing that we are bonafide residents of the Sultanate of Oman. The guard was courteous and explained that the border was porous with no proper delineation between UAE and Oman. Hence, if we wanted to cross the check post we need to produce our passports.

Oh No! I never imagined that our luck would reach such a precipice. Unlike in India, where you can talk/ plead/ bribe your way, here nothing of that sort was possible. Silently I walked back to the car, my mind meditating on that small needle of the fuel gauge that showed near empty. The fuel warning lamp was not yet on, though. We reverted back, dreading the thought of getting stranded with a dry tank.

On reaching the T-junction, instead of turning left I turned right on seeing a village towards the border with Al Ain of UAE. Not finding any fuel station there, we approached the Al AIn check post to try our luck. The ROP (Royal Oman Police) guard told us that if we drive back towards Ibri, we can find the next station 5 kms ahead. Back on the road, the low fuel level indicator came up, prompting us to save fue by switching off the aircon and reducing the speed to an optimum 80 kmph.

The fuel station did come but there was no fuel. When we taked to the attendant he mentioined that if we drive approx 50 kms the next station will be able to serve us. At this juncture, I called the manager of Budget rent-car from whom I had leased the Mondeo an an annual basis. He took the required inputs from me regarding the trip meter reading, amount of last fuel filled etc and came up with the info that we could perhaps still make it to the next station.

With hanuman chalisa on our lips, we stretched the miles as best as we could and finally managed to reach the next fuel station. I told the attendant to top the fuel to full tank. The vehicle gobbled up almost 65 litres of fuel! With the time showing 21H:00, we picked up a sandwich and drove back on the same road across Hajar mountains. Night driving on the ghat section on a wonderful road with proper cat's eyes and reflectors installed was a pleasurable experience.

We turned towards Sohar and on reaching the camp I dropped my brother. He was concerned that I had to drive another 300 kms to Muscat in the middle of night. I allayed his fears and told him I would call him on reaching home. On the way back, despite the superb road to muscat, I realised I was not alert enough due to fatigue. I stopped by at a road side tea shop for a break. Feeling better, I drove further and reached home in the wee hours of the morning. Needless to say, after a quick call to my brother, I fell on my bed and slept like a log.

Lessons learnt were:
1. Talk to someone who has already done the route ( a la T-BHP members)
2. Carry your passport along if you are going near the borders
3. Never let the fuel go below 25% level. Procarastination can prove disastrous.
4. India is not the only country where road directions need to improve.
Brilliant write up and i surely learnt a couple of things from your experience. While the post is old, it still has so much to experience to learn from. Hope you had covered much more miles and wonderful experience
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Old 8th October 2015, 20:43   #13
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From Jan 2010 to Oct 2013, I was posted at Ibri. The road that you have posted pictures of, connects Sohar to Ibri via Yunchal. Many a times I have driven this stretch. Must say, there are atleast 4 corners where one has to apply utmost caution. Also 3 ups and downs where it is just impossible to see on coming traffic. At some places the road is really narrow with sharp blind curves.
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