02 October 2005

Musandam Boat Trip

The view is of the sun setting over the mountains lining the Strait of Hormuz, colours soft and pale after a hot and harsh day. Winter is coming, time to get out of town!

As a treat for the hard-working DIFX staff and their family we were invited to a dhow trip around the fjords (yes, really! They call it the Norway of the Middle East - except for the snow and the conifer forests and the ice cold water and the 6 months of darkness, and...) of Musandam, a tiny Omani enclave on the Northern tip of the Arabian peninsula. We had been meaning to come up here before (but never made it), as it is known to be a great winter weekend getaway for Dubaians.


Musandam Beach View

We decided to make it a weekend and booked a room in the Golden Tulip Inn in Khasab. After the usual fun encounter at the Omani and UAE border posts - where you have to pay to leave the county - we arrived just in time to get on the boat in the dusty little harbour. After that it was one breathtaking surprise after another: Majestically craggy mountains sloping unhindered into the sea; dolphins chasing our bow wave, occasionally cutting the water as they come up for air; an old British fort glued precariously to the hill on Telegraph Island, the location for the first telegraph cable connection to India; the most remote fishing village ever, only accessible by boat, crowded into a gap in the cliffs.


Our Lovely Boat

After meandering through a series of islands and inlets we eventually stopped to go snorkelling. Stuart and I could try out our recently (as in yesterday) acquired diving kit - snorkel, flippers and all - which we bought in anticipation of our soon-to-be-completed diving qualification. Near the rocks we saw blue fish, black fish, turquoise and yellow fish, neon-bright fish, orange fish with brown stripes (must get a fish identification book), and some dangerous looking sea urchins.




Everyone Enjoyed Themselves in Their Own Way

Lunch was a feast of salads, curries, fish and meat grilled on a barbecue crammed into the stern platform of the boat. The dhow had an upper and a lower deck laid out with cushions and rugs so we could all flounce about once we had stuffed ourselves. There was more swimming, including some bravado jumps off the upper deck into the water, before we headed homewards. The breeze as we were whisked past the craggy rocks was welcome after a pretty hot day, and we were treated to another sight of dolphins, although this time they paid us little attention as they were busy corralling a school of fish for their dinner. 'Magic', as Mike would say.

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