July 26, 2010

Norway of the Middle East

That's the nickname for Musandam, because of its spectacular fjord-like coastline. It is an enclave of Oman, separated from the rest of the country by the United Arab Emirates.
I wouldn't know the region, if not for my sister who wanted to go diving over there. She said it is paradise for scuba divers, the best in the Gulf.
Khasab, the town of Musandam, is only 180km away from Dubai and there is a modern coast road connecting both places. So we rented a car, and drove from Dubai. 
The drive down the coastline was really enjoyable.
The scenic beauty of the mountains and the sea made the 3 hour journey less tiring.
Approaching the UAE border at Al Dhara Check Point...
Here, you need to go to the immigration building and pay AED25 per passport for exit fee. I'm not sure exactly what the fee was for but I think this only applies at that checkpoint because I didn't have to pay anything leaving through the Abu Dhabi International Airport heading to Muscat.
After our passport was stamped with the exit stamp, we were in no man's land for almost half km until we reached Tibat border for Musandam entry checkpoint.
As we've already got our visa in advance from the embassy in KL, the process was very fast. Otherwise, you can get visa on arrival for OMR6.
Soon after we cleared the UAE-Oman border, the stretch of road awaiting us was very interesting. Stark and parched mountain on one side, the deep blue sea on the other.
kambing gurun berjalan-jalan
From the border, it took about 45 minutes to reach Khasab.
Tourism in Musandam has only started to develop, thus there weren't many hotels in the town yet. In fact, there were only 2 options for us when we were there, Khasab Hotel and Golden Tulip Resort. We spent the night at the former as it's cheaper.
hotel lobby
twin room
The next day, we went to the only dive centre in the area, Extra Divers.
I didn't have a diving license, so I could only do snorkeling.
We were brought to Salamah Island and Abu Sir Island Coral Garden, both of which offers magnificent underwater views.
Ready for the dive...
Bye bye you snorkellers.. we're going underwater now..
OK. Enough of being vain on the boat. Time to hit the water..
alien from the sea
Swimming around the beautiful colorful reefs surrounded by schools of fish was really an experience of a lifetime. Too bad I didn't have underwater camera to capture those wonderful moments. I spotted a turtle and swam with it for a while.. that was like my most amazing encounters!
sea sick...
I always thought I was good with the sea. But recently I discovered I am prone to seasickness. I felt dizzy the last time I was in a ferry ride to Shenzhen. And during this snorkeling trip, the seasickness had unleashed the dragon. I vomited a few times after having lunch on the boat. Pity those marine lives because I left them with souvenirs from my stomach. FTL.
Anyway, seasick or not, I am going to get a diving license one day. And buy an underwater camera. *checks bank balance*


My name starts with M said...

souvenirs from stomach = :))
anyway hotel dia mcm rumah kat malaysia lak rase.. hehe

rara said...

a'ah.. hotel dia punya interior macam rumah2.. tengok carpet, almari dia etc