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Location: Muscat, Oman/ Bangalore, India

Round Peg....in a square hole. That describes me! All my life I have never quite fit in ... now I have just given up trying to live up to the expectations of the square hole or trying to find a round one!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Road trip to Dubai

An unexpected bonus about the road trip to Dubai is the greenery!

Drive out of Muscat and soon the landscape is dotted with orchards full of date palms, banana plants and even mango trees apart from scattered patches of green vegetable gardens.

The Neem trees that line the road near Sohar are tall and proud, you see the red of the 'Gul-Mohurs' and the yellow of the Acacia (?). You also many many bales of hay. Somebeing carried on the head by Omani women and children!

At a village before Sohar, we saw kids on scooters - there is probably a market here for robust two-wheelers!

Around noon, there was this bunch of kids racing home on their bicycles - school had probably closed!

It was cooler as we got away from Muscat but hot nonetheless. This did not seem to deter people and the marketplace at Sohar was bustling with activity.

Amazingly the entire stretch almost until the Walaja Crossing is inhabited.

I was very impressed with the Walaja border crossing. Impressive gates and you stop near the window and your papers are processed within minutes, without your having to get out of the car or the officer having to get out of his cabin. A great plus when the outside temperature is a blistering 43 C!

In contrast, the UAE border crossing is tacky. Porta cabins, roads with pot holes and you have to park your car and walk to the porta cabin and wait your turn outside in the heat.

We ended up waiting for almost 45 minutes and were turned back because the official at the Walaja crossing had forgotten to stamp the brat's passport. So much for first impressions!!

But the officials at both the places were very courteous and I suppose such things happen - maybe the guy at Walaja was having a bad hair day! Still, we ended up wasting almost a hour and a half.

It gets quite mountainous near Walaja and beyond the UAE border. I wonder if these are the Ras Al Khaima mountain ranges that received snow last winter?

And it is here that we saw a stream of water, small stream but water nonetheless, flowing in a 'Wadi'. Just imagine a stream of water at the height of summer in the middle of the desert!

Cross into the UAE border and suddenly you see a Al Maha petrol bunk and a Shell petrol bunk on the other side. We were quite confused because we thought we had left Oman behind! I suppose there is a stretch of Oman that abuts into the UAE border.

Come UAE and the dunes soon catch up. There are a few patches of vegetation but for most part it is desert land. At Hatta you see the roadside shops selling clay pots and carpets and the shops are not air conditioned. I never see these pots in Muscat which is strange because the Omani Souk in Doha was full of them.

Go on some more and the city begins to make its presence felt. We saw a drycleaners shop - very curious about that unless the people from Hatta village frequent it.

The giant hoardings loom into view - they are being built just now, and you realize you are into the commercial capital of the region.

The jargon changes and you hear about interchanges and underpasses and freeways and so on. If you are driving for the first time to Dubai, that's when you have a pang and get withdrawal symptoms for Sultan Qaboos Highway!!

Pity we had put away the camera in the boot, otherwise I would have interspersed with pictures.


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