In August of 2008, we had a 3 day weekend for Eid and till the night before, I hadn’t a clue as to what I would be doing for the holiday.
Around 10 pm, I got a call from my friend and a plan was impulsively formed (these are still my favourite kinda plans! ) to go to Salalah. Right after the call, I went out to the store to buy some provisions. On my way to the counter, I saw a humongous pack of puffed rice as well, which I randomly added to my trolley (to this day, I can’t eat puffed rice without being reminded of this trip! ).
I got home, did some research online on all the places to check out in Salalah, (including a magic road! And yes, it’s pretty cool!) packed an overnight bag and went to bed all excited about my first road-trip! :D
The road to Salalah from the border is a two-way road that stretches around 1000 kms across the desert with no barriers in between. Also, no streetlights.
So basically, you drive in pitch-black darkness (cos we went at night) with nothing but the headlights of your car to illuminate your way. Occasionally, you get oncoming traffic and hope to God they’re not sleeping or drunk cos if they make a wrong swerve, you’re done for!
There were 5 of us, and one 4wd (which is NOT advisable btw. Always go in two cars when you head out into the middle of nowhere). Our only pit-stops were the petrol stations that we could not afford to miss, cos it would be the only one on the road for the next 400 kms or so. So if you don’t fill up, you’ll run out of gas and be stuck in the middle of nowhere.
After daylight hit us, we went off-road and did a bit of dune-bashing ( we had an off-road enthusiast with us) and afterwards stopped for breakfast at one of the petrol stations. There was pretty basic stuff on offer- shawarma and falalfels, not much else. And it wasn’t all that great either. It’s best to carry food with you. But since we only had our seemingly inexhaustible supply of puffed rice and some cold pizza left over from last night, we silently ate our shawarmas and washed it down with juice, with my friend pushing the accelerator down, aiming to reach our destincation faster than ever!
The most amazing part about going to Salalah via road is the abrupt change in scenery you encounter within minutes of going up the mountain (don’t ask me which mountain! A mountain that suddenly crops up after your 1000 km journey through endless desert!).
It’s a sudden transformation from brown-nothingness…
… to lush greenery!
After 10 hours of staring at sand, we drank in the soothing greenery like parched souls in an oasis! There was a cold mist around us as we were quite literally walking in the clouds! I breathed in the cool air and could feel myself relaxing already.
This was gonna be good!
But now that we were in Salalah, we needed to find a place to stay, which, due to our last-minute planning, was an issue we’d completely disregarded.
And unless you’re one of those who’ll go knocking on doors in a strange places asking for accommodation (and those kinda people exist! I know exactly one person like that), you need to book in advance! Of course, this may seem obvious to you, but look at what happened to us with our lusty impulsiveness to get away! We didn’t have a place to stay!
Of course, we eventually found a place… but that is fodder for another, more whiny post!
For now, let’s just enjoy the greenery!