Salalah by 4x4
28.03.2019 - 28.03.2019 26 °C
Queens Suite - Deck 9 - Cabin 9047
Today we went ashore in Salalah and explored the area by jeep - a totally new experience for us. Salalah is the capital city of Oman's southern Dhofar region and the main port in Southern Oman. Often referred to as "Arabia's Perfume Capital" due to the fragrant groves of frankincense trees, Salalah is a city of contrast, surrounded by a barren desert landscape.
Our Greek friend Aghi's son, Elias lives in Muscat and is the vet to the Sultan's horses and has recently been made the Greek Consul in Muscat. We were going to meet up with Aghi, Elias and his family while our ship was in Salalah, but then discovered it was a nine hour drive from Muscat to Salalah, so decided against it!!
We were up at 6am to be dressed and ready for our breakfast when it arrived at 7am. The ship docked in Salalah precisely at 7am and our breakfast arrived then too. Today's dress of the day - shoulders and knees must be covered. It is also expected to be about 26 degrees which will be very nice. Looking forward to our Salalah by 4 x 4 excursion. Robin and Chris and Yemi and Fiona are doing it too.
All those going ashore congregated on Deck 2 at the Golden Lion Pub to receive our tour group stickers. Ours was the first group to leave.
All our Toyota Land Cruiser 4 wheel drives were lined up on the dock - four per car. We went with Robin and Chris. Our driver's name was Mohammed who was quite a pleasant young chap, with pretty good English. I think there were about 11 cars.
We drove in convoy out of the port area for about 45 minutes east of Salalah to the old town of Taqah on a fantastic road before we turned off onto a dirt road and drove up onto the cliffs. This was just a photo stop but pretty impressive being perched up on some very high cliffs with magnificent views both ways.
We were roaring along the highway at speeds of 130/140 kmh. It is very dry and dusty. The houses are quite large, three and four story and look reasonably new, but there are no gardens, trees or grass around them which doesn't look very nice. Of course I realise that water is a huge issue here.
We were told to wear clothes today that covered our shoulders and knees and yet still one woman was in short shorts and another in our group had her shoulders bare. Some people!
Our next stop was an archological site at Sumhuram. It was originally thought that the Queen of Sheba's palace was here but after they worked out the dates, they were out by about 600 years. This was where the White Gold was grown - frankincense was grown. The bark of the frankincense tree is cut and a white sap leaks out. It is left to harden for a couple of days and then harvested.
It is getting hot but there is a nice breeze blowing which makes it quite bearable.
We visited a spring at Wadi Darbat which is the home to many donkeys, camels and goats. We saw many herds of goats along the way and lots and lots of camels, that seem quite small. There was a warning sign about a snail in the water that can transmit the disease bilharaziasus. There was the cutest little bird nest in the tree.
Our last stop was at another lovely natural spring at Ain Razat which had some beautifully manicured gardens. There was also a cave not very far up and I climbed up there with some other travellers. Nice view from up there.
I actually ventured to the loo here and of course, it was a public toilet, squat style. That was okay except there was no flushing water or any water for that matter and it was pretty smelly, especially because I was squatting, my nose was quite close to the ground!
We have FINALLY met some other Aussies, and would you believe they, Pam and Ron, live at the Central Coast of New South Wales at Terrigal but Pam grew up in Canberra and went to school with my golf friend Jocelyn and knows another friend from Royal Canberra! Small world!
We arrived back at the ship in time for lunch and for the first time since I left home, I was hungry. Even Yemi and Fiona joined us for lunch and they never eat lunch. They were hungry too.
Back to our cabin for reading/resting/sleeping and waiting to leave Salalah port at 3.30 pm. Of course, there are always some people who haven't had their card swiped once they boarded the ship, so after several announcements looking for these people, we were underway just after 4pm. The poor captain must get so sick of this.
Happy Hour, as usual, is a G&T on the balcony, watching the sun set on the horizon. Life is good, very, very good.
Tonight for dinner we have ordered Romeny Rack of Lamb for two. Our table is getting special attention from Osman, the maitre de who is a Turk from Ankara and he and Phil speak Turkish together.
Our lamb for dinner was just delicious and after dinner we went with Chris and Robin to see a show in The Queen's room. It was four young sopranos singing opera and pop. They were four opera singing friends from Scotland, London, Jersey and Somerset. They sang some popular songs and well known opera songs but it was all a bit too screechy. They really needed a couple of altos in the mix as well to balance the sound. But it was nice to see a show.
At the end of the show, I spoke to the young soprano from Scotland whose name was Wendy. She said she had never met another Wendy, but at least knew our name came from J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan and Wendy, written in 1922. In a couple of years, our name will be 100 years old.
Into bed by midnight.