This was my first New Year holiday week spent abroad. I tried to combine a comfortable climate (+25 in January, can you believe it?!) with cultural learning. And this idea worked out pretty fine!
The destination was the Arabian Gulf. I’ve got 3 days in Dubai/UAE and 4 days more in Oman. These two periods were so contrasting! Skyscrapers vs. traditional architecture, expat-friendly vs. traditional, urbanism vs. nature! The list of “mutually exclusive paragraphs” between two locations may go on endlessly!
But let me try to explain such experience as I usually do: by 10 thoughts.
The combination of long ways and (still) immature public transport makes the Dubai backpacking-unfriendly location. It’s nice if you have a driver license and opportunity to rent a car. Where you can drive for 30 minutes, the public transport time will cost you around hour and a half! Also driving in Dubai is a pleasure because of high limits on the road (120-140 km/h) and perfect roads on highways.
Even if we get out of vehicle traffic, it’s definitely visible that Dubai lifestyle is very busy. Even in place when you can ride 30 kilometers for 20-25 minutes people seem to have a lack of time. The locals are always hurry up somewhere and can barely wait for someone 5-10 minutes. Can’t say that wrong but that’s the thing you’ll learn in Dubai quickly exploring the area out of beaches.
2. New Year celebration
I’ve got mixed impressions after NY celebration in Dubai. Most of the people as inside as outside of the Emirates wish to see large-scale fireworks and light shows. Finally it makes crazy traffic. No idea why, but we went out with my friend to Burj Khalifa experiencing such madness.
The local police managed the traffic perfectly all the night. They used just a little of power having around 1 copper per thousand men. The problem is that they treated most of the people like sheeps.
We used to watch the show from official “bachelor viewing” and the way we did was frustrating. We had to reach the place in an hour from the Khalifa. Police didn’t allow anyone leave the area before the light show. So, you just have to sit in the asphalt for 2-3 hours falling asleep, walk to the metro for 40 minutes after and choke on the crowd one hour more to enter the station.
But, well, this was my choice. And, at least, nobody died or damaged. Thinks that’s more important.
The Al Qudra Road Cycle doesn’t seem to be the popular attraction for tourists. But for me this one was charming. Riding a speedy road bike through the plain road in the middle of desert. It’s a kind of never-to-be-forgotten things.
But I’ll remember more the messed up stuff this day. Everything was out of mind! Missed turn to the bike store and extra 20km riding! Bike pick-up by Pakistanian truck after! Forgotten stuff on the store and the extra road-trip back! taxi ride laying on the floor (because the lack of money)!
Waste of money! Waste of time! Waste of nerves! Awesome experience! Recommend everyone!
4. Dubai rectum
Not kidding. By its structure Dubai looks a human rectum. This emirate is roughly a couple of highways you have to ride on going somewhere. The metro map also has this structure as well.
To tell the truth, I’m sometimes upset travelling on this kind of towns. Because you can’t reach the point B from point A by multiple ways. You have to go the long way sometimes riding through the whole town. The circle town structure absolutely wins at this competition.
Oman was my first personal experience with camping. Won’t say the dozens of charming words, but it was definitely awesome! You have the gulf in the front, mountains on the back and time to relax and no one around a couple of km. Your mind is going to free up. Such moments gain more value in the world where we count every single minute.
Oman is a strongly natural place when you can explore the places you’ve never seen in your life. The Oman itself is the highway between the mountains. Red mountains with no greens and trees on them. But this means a lot! Omani mountains are plain as a local people. There is no trick to go, your vision is pretty clear. The same thing in interaction with Omanese: your conversation will be plain and no one is going to cheat you.
Also Oman is a country of wadi’s. The Wadi Shab is quite recommended for anyone coming to this country. There are some cool places like Misfat Al Abriyeen to dive into the history of customs. Actually 4 days are not enough for full Oman investigation. There are much more places to visit.
One more thing I’ve been quite amazed in Oman is a lifestyle. They have almost everything different from Europeans. Different housing, customs, dressing. Almost everyone wears traditional suits. Their life is pretty simple and relaxed. Probably, soft climate and the stable present with clear future makes the deal.
The people are really friendly and appreciate anyone for coming to their country. Don’t hesitate to meet someone of them, you’ll learn a lot!
Also I used to visit Omani villages. Their life is even more simpler. The people are happy without 21 century communications, dress-codes and attractions. This kind of things is a great food for thoughts about the meaning of life. We measure the quality of it so different!
8. Arak Zamota
That’s the thing I couldn’t Google after comeback to home. The name was written by local, so probably this one is right. Arak Zamota is a special green-color homemade drink used to help the stomach after meal. It has a freezing effect making you better after hard times if you have any.
Probably, this was my first and last time I tried it, but would be cool to save it in my blog. Maybe someday I will be in Gulf area again and try it one more time.
9. Gulf cup
I’m happy to visit Oman at the time I used to. There was a football Gulf Cup final Oman-UAE. The Gulf Cup is going once per 2 years since 70’s and Oman won there only one time before this day. And it won the second time!
Goddammit, what was happening on the streets! Dozens of people went out more happy than ever. Traffic jams of cars with flags and songs, celebration on the National Stadium the day after! I felt like I came back to 2008 watching the Russia-Netherlands in Euro!
Yeah, sometimes the moment you come into worth more than all places you could visit.
One more thing I learned from this trip is the goal of it. And the goal is not visiting everything, relax as you can or spend all money you saved.
There are actually two goals. The first one is a diving into the local culture of destination. And the second one is to feel the pleasure. I’ll try to explain the means of pleasure on my next post, but travelling can be treated like the way to feel the pleasure. And pleasure couldn’t be measured by number of places you’ve been.
I visited around 40-50% of places I planned. You might say that’s nothing, but I don’t care. I felt the pulse and mind of the target destinations, got some kicks to my ass and that’s really enough to get better. Trust me 🙂