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January 29th, 2011 | Asia

Charging into Sharjah…

Final roundabout before we hit the highway to Barka...

Sultan Qaboos, in a fetching blue number... I gave him the thumbs up as I exited Muscat...

Time, in the greater scheme of things, was running out for me…

While checking through my documents, I suddenly realised that my Indian visa expired on the 19th of February…

That was less than three weeks away…!!

I had never intended to spend much time in India anyway, as I had heard that if the drivers there didn’t kill me, then the corruption would…!!

I made up my mind to get back to Dubai as quickly as possible, and checked out of the Beach Hotel the next morning…

It had been a very pleasant stay, made special by the friendly staff and great service levels…

I could have ridden directly to Dubai on the new motorway, which would have taken about four hours, but that option didn’t interest me much…

I set course along the coast, and then turned inland at Barka, and headed for the edge to the mountain range I could see in the far distance…

Detour to Al Rustaq...

This little detour would add more than 100 kms to my day’s ride, but was well worth it…

I was enjoying the scenery in Oman, and any chance of seeing more mountains and riding in more remote areas, was an attraction I couldn’t resist…

We bombed south, the Big Fella humming contentedly to himself, while my outstretched fingers beat a tattoo on the stone guards, in time to the Bob Dylan’s “Modern Times” album, singing the words when Bob sometimes forgot them and took to mumbling… As he sometimes does…!!

...and into the stark mountain landscape of north-central Oman...

The road followed a wide, dry riverbed, dotted with Acacias and low scrub, through the villages of Wadi Al Maawi and Nakhal, turned west, and then took us into Al Awabi…

The wide dry riverbed on the road to Al Awabi...

Traffic was almost nonexistent, and we attracted a lot of attention when we cruised through the town… People waved and whistled, urging us to stop so that they could get a better look at us…

Which our egos let us do from time to time…!!

Celebrating the Sultan....this time with "balanced" drinking water...

I searched in vain for the fort that I wanted to see there, but eventually gave up after the directions I was given took me down one too many narrow alleyways and dead end cul-de-sacs…

A dusty haze hung over the foothills of the mountains, caused by the many stone crushers that laboured away to make gravel for the building industry… Plumes of dust identified the positions of these crushers, and at any one time I could see half a dozen of them, off in the distance around me…

We stopped for fuel in Al Rustaq, after the Big Fella’s humming began to sound more like a series of grunts and coughs…

While he took on his usual 20-odd litres, I made do with a bottle of “40 Glorious Years” mineral water…

Half an hour later, we hooked up with the coastal highway again and headed northwest for Sohar, the largest town between Muscat and the U.A.E. border…

The town stood baking in the noon day heat, and entering the final traffic circle, instead of heading back out onto the highway, I went looking for something to eat…

Another impressive roundabout, this time on the entry into Sohar...

Lunch at the Damascus Flower...

Striking a pose with one of the Restaurant's managers...

The Damascus Flower Restaurant was the first to attract my attention and I parked the bike is what little shade was to be had, before trudging into this bustling establishment…

The service was excellent and the mixed grill I ordered was a tasty mix of four different meats…

My question, “Which one of these is camel…?” was greeted with horrified looks by the waiters, and I was assured that no camel was served there…!!

“Why not…?” I asked…”Camel is good…!!”

“Yes…” they finally grudgingly admitted, “but we do not serve it here…!!”

Before we got back on the road, I was pressed into a series of poses with the bike… Even the chef came out in his apron to have his photo taken…!!

Camel Carrier, Oman...

Forts and castles abound in Oman... More than 400 of them...!!

Barging through traffic at the border...

An hour later I was at the border, this one a very nondescript example of a border crossing, but an extremely busy one nevertheless…

I paid an “exit fee” of about R40, had my passport stamped by yet another friendly Omani official, and then rode across a dusty open stretch to the Sharjah Emirate border a few hundred metres away…

Construction of new roadways and a snazzy border post were in progress, and this caused a huge disruption to the traffic passing through…

Vehicles were squeezed into three narrow lanes, and with the weekend approaching, many Omanis were heading for Fujairah, the coastal resort town further up the coast…

I pushed and barged my way between the cars, shoving the Big Fella’s nose into any gap that opened up and before long was at the head of the queue…

My insurance for the U.A.E. was still valid, and with a minimum of fuss, my passport was stamped, my Carnet handed back to me, and I was on my way…

Back in the U.A.E. ...

Sharjah is one of the seven Emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates, and stretches across the peninsula from the Gulf of Arabia in the west, to the Gulf of Oman in the east…

This eastern part is very popular with both the Emirati and the Omani as a holiday destination of sorts… I had heard that Fujairah was a fun place, and headed further up the coast to see for myself…

I discovered that “Fujairah” is a term loosely used for the entire area, stretching from the town of Fujairah itself, right up the coast to Dibba, on the border of Oman’s Musandam Enclave…

Oman actually consists of three separate parts; the main part being the country itself; then there is the small enclave called Madha, north of the town of Fujairah, and the third part being the very tip of the Arabian Peninsula, known as Musandam…

Fujairah town was not much to write home about, and I wondered what all the fuss about the place was… It was just another sprawling seaside town to my mind…

On the northern edge of it, was a large roundabout, and located on one of its exits, stood the Fujairah Beach Motel… A series of bungalows led off the main entrance road, and the place looked neat and its gardens well kept…

After a 480 km stint from Muscat, the Big Fella leans wearily on his stand while I check into the Beach Motel...

A strong breeze had got up to blow clouds in from the sea, and while I was checking in, the sky turned an angry gray…

An hour later, with rain pelting down, I stood on the patio outside room 211 and watched the water gather in the narrow walkway where the Big Fella stood…

Rain seemed to be following me again…!!

With a strong internet connection, I spent the evening updating my website and making plans for my last ride on the Arabian Peninsula…

I planned to take it ” slow and easy”, back to the glitz of Dubai, to get the bike into its crate and ready for our flight to India…

I would have liked to visit the very tip of the peninsula, but would have to buy another visa for Oman, and probably pay for insurance again, and with the high costs of getting the bike to India on my mind, I aborted this plan and plotted a route back to Dubai that would keep me in the Emirates, but allow me to see as much as possible…

My route from Muscat in Oman to Dubai...

It began to dawn on me that I was almost through with my ride in the Middle East, and a completely different set of cultures awaited me…

Another change of mindset would be required…!! And a self imposed bout of patience therapy would need to be indulged in…!!

©GBWT 2011

3 comments to Charging into Sharjah…

  • Brandt

    How many km’s did the Big Fella do? Thanks for the update.

  • Hi Brandt… On this particular “little trip”, he’s done just over 55 000 kms, but in total, his 100th birthday is only a few thousand kms away…!! Buggers getting a bit long in the tooth…!! Check out the “TRIP STATS” tab on the top of my homepage for all the details…. R.

  • Mark Behr

    Oman really seems like the hub of friendliness and hospitality, so I suppose anything after that is a bit ordinary.

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