A beach in Khasab, on the Musandan Peninsula, a small section of Oman, separated from the rest bythe UAE. A large flat area of rocks and shells and rubbish – the remains of seafood and bonfires, lots of sunflower sees, ring pulls and plastic bottle tops, minimal glass and cigarette butts, no condoms or needlse but one suspicious batch of shining brass bullet shells. It’s bounded by the beach on one side and mountains on the other. The mountains are amazing, rocky and bare, dynamic in their stillness as you can feel the movement over eons, the formation of the earth present in the different slopes and changes of the sedimetary layers, lurchingfrom angle to angle and overlaid with evience of rockslides, a few tenacious little trees and a hint of huan involvement. A mother and baby goat bleat in conversation as they find eachother, wandering up and down the almost vertical slopes with ease.On the flat, there is road with barriers so you can ony see the tops of the decorated trucks. Cars drive in, though, and slowly make their way to one or another of the palm-rooved pagodas set up along the edge, just before the sharp drop as it is eroded into a pleasant sand beach which is completely submersed at high tide. The water is green near the edge, with the occasional jumping fish; blue further out with dhows – elegant local fishing boats – all lined up on the hazy, close horizon which offers not a hint of Iran across the Gulf. Even the mountains that frame this small inlet fade out to nothing in the middle of the sixth rise.Cars roll by and stare at us through heavily tinted windows before rolling right back the other way. A small bus appears, and another, and suddenly there is a legion of schoolgirls on the shore. Black pinafores, some as high as the knees but mostly to the ground, with white headscarves, sleeves, leggings and stockings, perfume wafting in their wake. Hopscotch on the sloping beach, running around and swarming the play equipment at the back near the road barrier, especially the many swings. Those with shorter skirts are generally most active, they may also be the youngest but it’s hard to tell. Shreiks of laughter ring out. Headscarves gradually slip off heads but shoes aren’t removed, overseen by two figures in full black, only eyes and hands uncovered, not venturing from the shade of the pagoda.Goats wander, cars roll through, measured waves crash neatly on the beach, mountains stand. We sit on the edge, on our packs. one girl approaches fro the beach a metre below us. She greets me ‘how are you?’ and I reciprocate, then we exchange names- hers is Mira – before she grins and runs back to her friends, ignoring Michael just as many men we’ve met have ignored me. Only a few girls have braved a jaunt to our section of the beach, two pagodas from theirs, before one of the buses comes back and they file on, scarves adjusted. A man comes in a red and white turban, white shirt and saffron pants to pick up their rubbish as the rest of the group huddle with their teacher under a pagoda. The second bus arrives, most cars leave too and the beach is left empty but for us, some goats and the garbage picker wandering into the distance. It’s 10am and the day will soon be heating up.
Hi everyone, I arrived in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, after fourteen long hours in the air. I met up with Michael and we went straight back to Dubai where we could afford to sleep – Abu Dhabi having no youth hostels. After a day seeing Big things in Dubai, including the Palm Jumeira, a dancing fountain and many incredible buildings and giant malls, we moved on to Sharjah. Sharjah is much more approachable than Dubai, with a beautiful town centre and lots of dusty space. From there we got a bus to Ras Al Khaima then started to hitch, across the Omani border and up to Khasab. The town isn’t much, but we spent a whole day on the beach and took a dhou ride up the fjord to Telegraph Island. Some of the most beautiful scenes I’ve seen in my life and worth all the travel! After two nights in a tent then a day on the water, we were eager for a shower and electricity so we headed back down to the UAE, since there is no way for a visitor to cross from the peninsula to the rest of Oman without doing so. We managed to get a ride all the way down to Muscat, which was supposed to take five hours but was much longer. Now we’re ahead of schedule and can relax a while! Hope all is well at home,