Crashing Waves, bad service & relaxing in Salalah

Trip Start Jun 13, 2010
Trip End Jul 17, 2010

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Where I stayed
Salalah Hotel

Flag of Oman  ,
Monday, July 5, 2010

    Although daylight hits around 5 in the morning, our crew did not get out of the tent until around 8:30. Since the monsoons are going to hit this area soon, the morning clouds had covered us in the morning. So no direct sun in the morning and not very hot (still humid). We ate a big breakfast of apples and mangos. The kids did much of the breaking down of camp as possible so they would know how in the future. We went pretty slow, not in a rush to do anything. We 4x4ed it down the hill and then I did another hill like that instead of the road just to get a little training in. I'll try to do some more wadis when I get back to the northern part of the country where the very high mountains are. 
    We drove for about 45 min. back through Salalah and on to the east side of the city. This was mostly desert areas with mountains directly hitting the coast. We saw many more camels on this side of Salalah, more total than I have ever seen. They were crossing the road, walking in the road, drinking from watering holes – just everywhere. We drove along the beach area and saw the crazy waves hitting the area so yet again, no swimming for the kids. 
    Off the road a little was a sign for a park. My guidebook said there was a blowhole here. A blowhole is where a crashing wave goes through an underwater cave and spouts the water through a hole on land. Like a geyser but without the hot water. We parked in another construction zone (as everything in this part of the world seems to be). Right away beyond the parking lot was a small blowhole spewing a little water every time a wave hit. I thought this small one was pretty cool (as it was the first time I’d ever seen one), but Hamid wanted me to go further. So we all took the bricked path up a hill through another cave like overhang. Then I saw where the big show really was. Below was a series of boardwalks leading to a few overlooks of the ocean. The overlooks were around 25 feet above the ocean. The middle overlook included much larger blowholes than the first. If the wave was big enough the water would spout 25 feet in the air (felt a little like Yellowstone). The first overlook gave you a front row seat to crashing waves on a 25 foot cliff. What a show as the waves were fanatical. One time, we all looked left at this crazy wave and did not see the rogue wave from our right which crashed into us with a surprise. Luckily I had the camera in my pocket and quickly took it out before any harm was done. But we were all soaked. However, in this weather, you quickly dry off. The third viewpoint gave another fascinating show of the waves with this huge "Rock of Gibraltar" like mountain in the background. I could stay here for hours enjoying this place. But I knew people would get hungry for lunch soon so we needed to head back to Salalah. 
    In the car I drove right on the beach for a few km just to get some more 4x4 training. It was pretty neat to drive on the beach with these crazy waves. I did not get too close where the waves would hit the car and drag us in. From here Pooja drove the 30 min. back to Salalah. For some reason she drove very slow. 
    In Salalah we drove down a street that the Lonely Planet said had many Indian restaurants. But we could not find any (one of the few times Lonely Planet was wrong – though the book is 4 years old). We did find what might have a little Indian food at a place called the Taj Arab. It was a tiny little place with only four tables but a menu that took 20 min. to read over. Our seats were very retro 1967 type with right angle back. We order our meals with the kids getting hamburgers and Pooja and I getting Indian style wraps and onion rings. I also got a lemon-mint juice. Service is interesting in Arabia – it is more like European with the waiter right on your tail as you sit down (like I know what I’m going to order in 2 seconds from a textbook sized menu). But if you don’t order right then it might be another 30 min before they come back again (even though you’re the only ones in the restaurant!!!!) The way the food came out was interesting also. The kids got their burgers in no time. However, it took another 30 min. for Pooja and I’s food to come out with the Lemon-mint juice also (now how much time does it take to make a juice – I guess they had to go pick the lemons themselves!). The onion rings came out before our main meal. But this time Pooja and I were so hungry. We asked the kids if they wanted any. When they said no, Pooja and I finished them in no time. I have noticed that the kids are very picky with their food. So in this way they are similar to our kids back in the States. Finally we got our main meal (after 45 min.) My tandoori style chicken wrap was very good and spicy with the chili sauce. 
    After lunch we drove back to the same hotel, the Salalah. We paid our 15 Omani and back to relaxation. But before I could use the restroom and take a shower the boys had already invaded it and got water all over the place (I don’t think they know how to use a western toilet yet – time to train!!!) So finally I got my shower and went downstairs to use the best internet in Arabia (at least where I have been). I did this for several hours as the boys plugged their iTouch in my computer and played games. Pooja took a long nap (she already slept 10 hours in the tent). Something about Arabia that makes you sleep a lot. 
    Around 6 I took the boys to the main souk in Salalah. The place had as many shops as a large mall back home but most were the same – you had the Frankincense/perfume shops, tailor shops, handmade Omani hat shops, & watch shops. There had to be 100 Frankincense shops in the place most measuring the size of a bathroom. And I only saw one other tourist in the place. Hamid used his money to buy everyone in his family a gift (that’s a lot of gifts). I did buy a one kilo bag if high grade Frankincense for 6 Omani. This stuff smells so good. Can’t wait to burn it at home. 
    From here we drove around the various drags of Salalah looking for places to have dinner. I found three – Turkish, Chinese, or veggie Indian. The kids wanted Chinese, but Pooja picked veggie Indian since she has had meat the entire time in Arabia (not many Arab vegetarians). The place was only 1 km away and in hindsight we should have walked. It took me 4 kg of driving to get there as it is hard to turn left on these streets. The restaurant, called Udipi (just like a veggie Indian place back in Atlanta), was not the best. The service really sucked. Again, huge menu and the waiter expected you to order right away. When we didn’t, we waited for 30 min. until we finally had to hunt him down (this time the restaurant was busy with 4 table occupied!!). The boys had Chinese rice but it was too spicy for them. They really liked my naan bread (just like the kids back home) so I had to order some more. Pooja order some Chenna (curried chickpeas) and I had Kashmir curried potatoes and a Mysore Dosa. The dosa was very good but the service and price just put a damper on the meal. We then drove to Lulu’s to get a kettle since Pooja had misplaced the one from camp. Back at the hotel we rested for a bit before taking Pooja out for her evening shisha. I was so tired that I did not want to go but knew I had too. I did a little typing on the laptop while drinking my mint tea. After 30 min. we went back to the hotel and crashed.
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