Bandar Abbas was the ending point of Iran for Thomas and me, an overnight ferry took us across the disputed Persian gulf (for some it’s called the Arabian gulf) in to the Emirates. We landed in a modern and busy city, its pace reminded me very much of the UK. Luckily for us though, we managed to find a quiet place to stay, once more the wonderful warmshowers community helped us, this time it was Scott, an Aussie teacher that "never says no to a cyclist" and as a consequence the house was full of cyclists (as many as seven at a time), together we enjoyed one of the best weeks of the trip so far.
Despite the emirates not being the kind of country I look for touring, I have to admit that it was much better than I thought. With a local population of just over 10% we didn't meet any locals, however we did meet many interesting people: Mikel and his family for example, we didn't know each other before but coming from the same town was a good excuse to meet, I enjoyed a nice evening with him and he invited for a nice dinner so I could keep my strength for cycling. We also met Mary, a Keralan journalist that curious about our trips decided to host us, cooked a delicious meal and even took a day off to show us around Dubai or Piet and Ann from Belgium that stopped us on the motorway on our way to Oman extending our stay in Dubai for two more days. Unexpectedly (as most things are when you travel) the emirates turned to be a great experience thanks to all the interesting people we'd met!
After saying goodbye to all our new friends we finally set off towards Oman, just before the border another surprise awaited us, we bumped into Fernando and Veronica, Thomas could not hide his excitement and run into them shouting and jumping. Together we crossed the border and spend the first evening around a nice campfire. On the following day we had an opportunity to meet a very special family, Ivan, Audrey, Lucas and Emily have been living in a camper van for some time, the van has a big banner on the side stating "Iran is great", as we would learn later, their love story with Iran began when someone broke into the van and stole all documents. The Iranians helped them so much that they decided to promote the country to show their gratitude.
After enjoying their company for couple of days we were ready to hit the mountains...or not? In Oman when building roads they apply the technique of "shortest distance between two point is a straight line" this saves lots of tarmac but is not good news for cyclists, 30%+ gradients which were nearly impossible to cycle up with a loaded bike.
Hills aside, Oman is actually a great country for cycling, unlike the emirates they've preserved their unique culture and day after day they allowed us to shower in the mosques and camp nearby. All this was followed by a delivery of food, usually dates and fruit.
The last week we went to Muscat to process the Indian visa, Richel and her filipino friends hosted us in their apartment. They were most helpful and friendly, along with Ivan and his dog Diesel, we visited Wadi Shab and had proper chicken adobo to celebrate Richel's birthday.
Now in Goa, India, enjoying the variety of this beautiful country but missing the quietness of Oman.
As usual I edited a short video, cheers!
UAE & Oman ENGLISH from lander on Vimeo.