Time for a birthday road trip!

Time for a birthday road trip!

Ok, so, I have a lot to catch everyone up on! From being sick, to my birthday, to seeing sea turtles!!! Let’s get started . . . .

As some of you know I was really ill last week and I am still recovering. Basically too much stomach acid, but I have some medicine and am getting things under control. Each day I am feeling better so that is all I can ask for! I’m glad, however that my sickness was bearable by last Thursday because Scott had planned a birthday surprise for me. My birthday was just the other day (Saturday, June 29) and I have a little funny side story to share about that if you don’t mind (if you do mind just skip the next paragraph lol!)

I have a minor freak-out a couple weeks ago because I thought that I was turning 27 instead of 26! I was convinced that I was one year older that I really was! And really, what’s the big difference between 26 and 27 anyways? Either way I freaked out – thought about moving back to the states and starting a family – thought that I was really becoming an adult now in the scary kind of way – but, reassured, Scott reminded me that nope, I’m only turning 26 : ) So I have one more year because I need to freak out about almost being 30 and grown up! Lol!

Driving on the road to Muscat

Driving on the road to Muscat

Okay, back to the story (wow, this post is a mess already!). So, feeling much better on Thursday and able to go to work for the first time in three days, Scott and I left from work and headed to Oman (remember our work week is Sunday-Thursday so Thursday is like Friday for us). I love driving in Oman – so many beautiful mountains and the scenery is a welcome relief from all the sand dunes. It is still quite barren but the terrain is different. The drive was supposed to be about 6 hours. We were going from Al Ain to Ras al Hadd. We would pass through Muscat and continue on through Sur and on to Ras al Hadd – sounds easy right? Well, no, no it was quite terrible and while Scott likes to call it an adventure I was pretty much terrified at points. We know the drive to Muscat well so we had no problems there. We hit a lot of construction in Muscat but nothing too bad. It was then onto Sur where all the problems started. Here is a map to help you get your mind around our travels:

Turtle MapAs you can see, Sur is circled on the map and that is where all the problems happened. The road up until that point was clear, lit, and well labeled. We don’t have a GPS and were able to rely on maps that whole way to that point. A little advice for anyone reading and wishing to repeat our trip:

1. Don’t leave after work – plan to arrive during the day because after Sur the roads are not lit, are not labeled, and wind all through the mountains.

2. Use a GPS! All the hotels in the area have GPS coordinates and I’m sure we would have been able to find the place much easier with a GPS.

3. The drive is really like 7 or 7 and a half hours so if you go on a long weekend plan on stopping at a hotel in Muscat first to break up the travel. From Muscat, the journey is only about 2 or 2 and a half hours.

4. Omani people are so caring and friendly. Do not be afraid to stop and ask for directions.

Ok – back to our trip. On the map it doesn’t look like its much further to Ras al Hadd from Sur but it was still a good 40 minutes – for us it took another hour and a half! The map we had of Sur was just plain wrong. We got so turned around. At this point it was also about 10:30 at night! Each time we saw a person we would stop and ask for directions. Once when we stopped, an Omani man was drinking a Coca-Cola outside of a cafe. He had little English and we have little Arabic. His friend tried to translate and Scott used up all his Arabic trying to understand. Then the man said “Hallas (finished) follow me.” He proceeded to get in his car and he drove us to the road we were looking for! Once we got to the road he got out of his car and drew us a map for the rest of the way!! How nice is that???

Now the drive was very dark – there was no moon, no stars, it was just dark. The road was like a windy back country road – we would see donkeys and goats on the side of the road. I was very scared. When we finally got into Ras al Hadd we still had trouble finding the hotel. At this point it was about 11:30 at night. We saw a sign for Turtle Resorts and decided just to follow it. I said even if we can’t find our hotel maybe we can stay there. So, we turned left at the round about and the road became even more terrifying. At one point we saw a sign that said “Diversion Ahead” and sure enough, in front of us the road was block off because it had sunken into the ground and the diversion took us on a dirt road down a little valley and up the other side. So, we continued and saw ANOTHER diversion sign. This time we didn’t think our little Volvo would make it down the dirt road and back up again so we turned around. At this point I thought we’d just be stuck staying in the car for the night. We came back to the round about, went the other way, and found some people to ask for directions again. They pointed us in the right directions and we were able to finally find the hotel!! It was the only lit building on the road, there was no sign for the hotel, but we had seem a picture online so knew it was the place. At this point it was now midnight and we were just thankful that the reception was still opened so we could check in and get some sleep. The receptionist was so friendly. He said that they usually close the reception at midnight but he saw that we still hadn’t arrived and knew the roads were bad so he was going to wait up for us. He apologized for the restaurant being closed (which we didn’t care we just wanted to sleep) but said we have a plate of fruit and water for us in the room. He even said that since we got in late at night we could leave late the next day if we wanted to. Well, that’s the first night of travel and I’ve written quite a lot so here are some pictures of the hotel (Ras al Hadd Beach Hotel) and the road in the daytime . . .

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View of the beach from our room

View of the beach from our room

The hotel during the day

The hotel during the day

The hotel is on like a point so there is a beach both behind and in front of the hotel - this is the beach area in front of the hotel

The hotel is on a point so there is a beach both behind and in front of the hotel – this is the beach area in front of the hotel

DSCN6689We checked out of the hotel and drove around the area to do some exploring. The town is extremely small but the landscape is so beautiful. We missed all of it driving in because we got in so late and it was so dark. We had no idea we were even near water!!

goat crossing!

goat crossing!

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We even drove to the road that was closed and had all the diversions to see what it looked like in the daytime . . .

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In the daytime it wasn’t so terrifying but at night it was really scary!

turtle trip 3We then drove to the turtle reserve. Scott booked the second night of of trip there. When you stay at the Ras al Jinz turtle reserve, the cost of the stay includes two turtle excursions and breakfast. Can’t wait to post about the turtles in my next post . . . stay tuned . . .

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