Gladlee of Guernsey
Oman October 2005 – January 2008
We arrived in Oman for the second time (Julie’s fourth) just before Ramadan, staying in the Majan Hotel for a couple of weeks before moving into a company apartment in Al Hail North. Fortunately early on we bumped into old friends, Maureen and Paul Bowditch, in Lulus, and they took us under their wings supplying us with liquid refreshments while all the drinks shops/bars were closed. Ron settled back into working life while Julie renewed her friendships and started playing bridge again.
Over the Eid holiday (3rd -4th) after Ramadan we went camping down towards Ras al Hadd, staying the first night in the middle of nowhere near Jinz. Unfortunately we were not properly prepared and had an uncomfortable night on a very hard ground. The following day we pottered up towards Ras al Hadd and took a look at the bird-life at Khawr al Jaramah before heading on towards Sur. From there we continued up the coast and turned inland at Wadi Tiwi and explored the area and found a small space amongst the palm trees to camp for the night. Next day we headed further up the coast, past white beach to a camping area on the beach under some constructed shades. We had a pleasant afternoon before turning in quite early. Unfortunately, Julie, a little later got up to move the light and managed to stand on a snake which bit her on the outside of her right foot. We realised that we would have to get medical attention, so quickly packed up, Ron meanwhile having caught the snake with the BBQ tongs and placed it in a small coolbox, and started driving towards Quriyat. Due to road construction works we soon lost our way in pitch blackness, but shortly afterwards another vehicle passed us and we followed it up into the mountains. After some time we managed to get it to stop and asked for guidance to Quriyat, to the hospital, which was willingly given by two Omanis. Julie was given some anti-venom and was able to go home but by this time was unable to walk. The next day we went to the Royal Hospital where she was admitted and given more anti-venom. A couple of days later, at home, she was still unable to walk so went to Muscat Private Hospital where she was again admitted because of a blood infection and given intravenous antibiotics which did the trick. The snake was identified as a saw-scaled viper or carpet viper by Ron, and was very poisonous with 80% of people bitten, dying!!
December saw us starting to dive again with Muscat Divers based at Marina Banda al Rowdah.
Dec 23rd we went to Sifah for the day. Christmas was spent at Maureen and Paul's at the Dolphin Residential complex and New Year's Eve we went to PDO.
New Years Eve saw us enjoying the night at PDO’s Ras Al Hamra social club with a few friends. A very enjoyable night with good entertainment. Just after midnight, Julie wanting to go to the loo and the queues being quite long decided that the best option was the Golf Club just about 150 meters away. Finding it open we went in and found the place pretty well deserted. At that point, outside, it started to rain with a torrential downpour which pretty well put paid to the outdoor activities for the night. But not the Golf Club activities. As part of PDO it is a “sign the chit” club with no cash payments so the first order of business was to talk the club committee into opening the bar and then finding someone who was authorised to sign as we were not members at that stage. All duly done we managed to stay there until about 3.30am. Not quite ready to finish there we phoned Maureen and Paul knowing they would still be up and invited ourselves to finish the celebrations at their house.
Feb 2006 Julie's Mum visited for a couple of weeks. We spent one weekend at Ras al Hadd, and visited Nizwa, Misfah and Jebel Shams on the following Friday. During the Ras Al Hadd trip we had an almighty storm which sort of lifted the beach up. We had planned to drive back on the coast route but found parts of it had been washed out so had to go back by the main road.
American friends Frank and Tari visited for about 10 days from the 25th. As with most people when they first come to Oman they fell in love with the place. Trips out to the beach (saw a turtle laying its eggs), the mountains etc.
Ron's brother, John, and his girlfriend (wife to be) Rachael, visited 14 -19 April. John finished off his diving course with Bluzone divers while Rachael, already qualified, enjoyed gaining more experience. We did a couple of day trips to Sifah, Nizwa and Jebel Shams.
Sept 22nd was Noreen’s 60th birthday and we did a surprise lunch for her at the Barr al Jissah resort.
In October we were on leave from Oman and we spent two weeks with an RV in America. This was in reality a trial in case we decide to buy one while in the US after leaving Oman. It was incredible. We managed to camp in quite a few out of the way places and managed lots of hiking. Basically we picked up near Washington (Manassas) and drove to Deltaville to check on Gladlee. From there to the Blue Ridge Mountains, West Virginia and Virginia. Lots of wildlife to be seen including an encounter with a Black Bear. Also lots of bird watching for Julie. A really enjoyable holiday. For the full story go to RV Trip 2006.
Eid holiday back in Oman, trip up to Saiq Plateau.
Christmas Day was spent on Sifah Beach, starting off with a shallow dive and then a BBQ back in a wadi as it became too breezy on the beach. New Year's Eve was spent at Lottie's in Qurm with friends.
End of January Julie's Mum visited again. Julie and Mum flew down to Salalah for three days and stayed at the Crowne Plaza.
Also a weekend trip up to the Saiq Plateau staying at the Jebel Akhdar Hotel overnight.
29th went on a Diving camping weekend. Good dives and pleasant site at Banda Khayran. Neil, Ron and Julie did a night dive in the early evening, and although only ended up in 5m, we did have an excellent view of an octopus. Unfortunately in the night the wind picked up and we had almost gale conditions to return to the marina.
In April we went for a week to Cyprus to complete the purchase of our new apartment in Larnaca. Should really have know better - not quite finished. However it was completed enough for us to be comfortable and we did actually sign the property over. It meant that we or Julie would have to go back to finalise things with the property rental company. No big deal - we arranged "white goods" ourselves and also the blinds and then booked a furniture package from the letting company.
So we now own our very own Cyprus apartment. Nice feeling.
Ron had to go on a business trip to Houston to the big International Oil Show there and very nicely the company paid for Julie to accompany. While Ron was working, Julie flew over to Washington and down to Deltaville to check on 'Gladlee'.
Ron also did trips to Holland (with Julie) and to Germany. It was actually during the Holland trip that we found out that our apartment in Cyprus had found a long term tenant - even better a company. Ron flew back to Oman while Julie stayed on and went back to Cyprus for a week to finalise the apartment and for Carrie's wedding.
First Saturday of the month was Carrie and Owen's wedding. After attending the wedding Julie flew back to Oman on the 4th of June just in time to meet up with Gonu who arrived on the 6th. Gonu was in fact a Category Five Cyclone - equivalent to the same force in the better know Hurricane scale. Oman was severely pounded by the wind and rain with most of the huge amount of damage being inflicted by the vast amount of rainfall. Overall, Oman lost the lives of over 1,200 people, thousands of vehicles and buildings destroyed, business premises wrecked, roads and bridges severely damaged and untold damage to the coral reefs in many places around the coastal areas. We were very lucky and only lost power for about 24 hours. Water supplies were down but the company ensured that tanker deliveries were made until mains were back in order. A very memorable month but for all the wrong reasons. Sad times.
July 22nd saw Julie's 50th birthday, Ron organised a surprise evening at the Golden Oryx restaurant in Ruwi.
Ron had to go to China on business and yet again the company very nicely paid for Julie to accompany. This was the first time in China for either of us - a bit of an unusual event as we between us seem to have done everywhere. Anyway, it was somewhat different to what we expected. Arrived in Shanghai and then flew down to Wenzhou which is a modern but industrial area about 400Km south of Shanghai. Of course once the business was done we did manage to get out sightseeing accompanied by Steven, one of the employees of the company Ron had visited. Back in Shanghai we had a day or so to enjoy the sights though it is pretty polluted as you can see from the photo below. After walking round for a few hours a very cold beer was called for but we had not really seen a bar anywhere. Lo and behold the Shanghai Bund Brewery came into sight. After sinking a few it was back to the hotel and an early night ready for the flight back to Muscat the following day.
During the August holiday we went to the Saiq Plateau camping. We were on leave again from the end of the month.
Sunday lunch (2nd) with Mum and her sisters and offspring in Rothwell. This was a real family get together with nieces, cousins etc and their partners. A very pleasant lunch. We also flew down to Almerimar to spend a week with friends Geoff and Jenn and staying on their boat "Sooty Albatross". During this time Frank and Tari arrived back to Vision which was also being kept in Almerimar. It was actually here that the major decision was taken on when we would be leaving Oman. Our original plan was March 2008 but having had the offer from Vision to crew with them in the Caribbean during February and March what else could we do but leave Oman in January and fly out to the Caribbean. No Brainer as they say.
During this month we knew we would be having some local holiday after Ramadan so after some discussions with friends Liz and Paul we joined up with them and three other vehicles to cross the Wahiba Sands. This is an area of Oman in the Northwest which is 100 meter dunes with just the occasional track to find your way through. The route is a north/south route covering some 140Km over soft sand all the way. This was something we had wanted to do but it is simply not possible to do this without four or five vehicles fully equipped with rescue equipment. It was truly brilliant and inspiring. Having got through with only a few digging outs we camped on the beach at the southern end for the night. The next day was a road drive back to Muscat. Memorable.
Patricia and John visited Oman for a month and we went out one Friday (9th) for a picnic up the mountain along with Maureen and Paul, and Noreen and Keith. A real nice day out with good friends.
Nov 28-29th we went to Hikmen, staying a couple of nights in a small hotel. Hotel may be a bit of an exaggeration but it was OK. Hikmen is a very special place on the world map of bird watchers. Home to many migrating birds during the different seasons this was one of the places that had to be "ticked off" the list of to do's.
Dec 25th 2007 Christmas at home. This year we hosted Christmas dinner for Maureen and Paul and Noreen and Keith. Great time with good friends. Friends Linda and Seamus arrived on the 30th and we went with Noreen and Keith and Chris, to the Dolphin Club for New Year's Eve. Also managed to "tick off" another one of our "to do's"!! Along with Linda and Seamus we went up into the mountains and did the "over the top" route. This is an off road track up the east side of the mountains - definitely not for the faint of heart!!. Up through Snake Gorge and then on through the village of Hat to the very top of the range - at about 8,500 ft. From there down on tarmac road to Nizwa and back home the next day.
This month sees us leaving Oman finally. Conflicting feelings abound over the decision. Ron's company are having problems because of one of the brothers but is basically doing very good business. Many of the staff have relied on Ron to support them during a difficult period and many may leave because of our departure. Overall our time has been excellent. We have done lots of things we wouldn't have had the opportunity to and enjoyed out time. We have had visitors at frequent times, have seen friends in Dubai and travelled. Ron has travelled on business to the USA 3 times (once with Julie), to China (again with Julie), the UK about five or six times, Germany, Holland, Spain, Italy, France, India four times, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Dubai countless times. We have travelled the length and breadth of Oman and seen more of the country than the majority of Omanis would do in a lifetime. We have dived to our hearts content - especially Julie. Most importantly we have managed to furnish the Cyprus apartment and paid for much of the work on "Gladlee". All in all a very successful two and a half years.