Sunday, April 27, 2008

Al Ain and Oman

This weekend was pretty eventful. We bar-b-qued on Thursday night as usual, which was a blast. We went to bed WAY too late though. We had a pretty lazy morning on Friday and then went clothes shopping at LuLu’s for a few shirts for me. Tried to find a bathing suit but there were like three (total) to choose from and they were way too big. I got a sarong though!
Kaden playing on the roof during the BBQ.
Look at those feet!
Stu and I got KFC for dinner which was totally weird. I can’t remember the last time I ate anything fried and it made us both feel kind of icky. But here, they don’t have those fabulous KFC biscuits… you get hamburger buns that are just not sliced. I’m not kidding… hamburger buns. Ok. Then there is also no such thing as mashed potatoes and gravy, you get the Arabian version of coleslaw, and French fries that appear to have been boiled, not deep fried. So it was interesting to say the least. But we watched a movie while we ate. King Arthur. It was pretty good.

About half way through our movie, Lucy came by (the movie lady) and we got some DVDs. So at least now we have something new to watch. That makes me happy.

On Thursday, Josh had mentioned that he was probably going to Al Ain on Saturday, if we wanted to come. Al Ain is a little city an hour and a half away from Abu Dhabi, where they are putting the new guys who come here to work with our guys. So they have an hour and a half commute every single day. That has to suck. Anyway, so we got up on Saturday and Stu and I decided we’d go ahead and go with him.

Al Ain is situated up against the Omani border so we figured since we’re getting close to our visas expiring, we’d just run across the border, thereby leaving the country, get new stamps and be on our way. Not so much. (story later)

Al Ain is much "shorter" than Abu Dhabi, as seen here.

This is a large sand dune... typical Arabian Desert. Very pretty.

Al Ain has a zoo and we decided to go ahead and see what they had. First of all, I should note the idiocy of our decision to “go to the zoo” right at 12:30 until like 2… the hottest time of day. I had sweat droplets literally running down my back and poor Kaden looked ready to kill me. We got some pretty decent pictures of the animals though. Once you get past the whole “should these animals really be out in this heat?” the zoo is very pretty and, in the winter, I’m sure is a very pleasant visit.

I had another “bathroom” problem at the zoo… no potties again, and no toilet paper. This time though, I was prepared for such a thing and brought some baby wipes in with me! Haha

Here, kitty kitty.

This "kitty" is ready to pounce on a bird he sees outside of the cage.

Pink flamingos!

A really weird bird... in really gross water.



Just about the biggest ostrich in the world!!!

A rhinoceros

After the zoo Kaden decided it was too hot to function and started wailing (making himself more hot and sweaty) and was literally inconsolable. We decided it was as good a time as any to grab lunch and found this little random Arabic restaurant that turned out to be a lot like the Flower, as far as choices went. Kaden got to have something to eat, in air conditioning, and the rest of us got to dry out and relax some. The food was fabulous and I wish I would have remembered to note the name of the place. I only remember it was the something (insert common Arabic name here) bar-b-que, but “bar-b-que” was spelled something like “barb-q”, that’s all I remember. Anyway, it was very nice to sit and enjoy the food and the air.

We found this guy tied to a tree... in this pic he was moving toward us and we started to flee! haha

Then we decided to go ahead and do the “visa run” now so we set out in search of a map. After three stops, it turns out that there must be no such thing as a map in Al Ain. I’ve googled it just fine, but nothing in print. Right on. So we ask the guy for directions to Oman and “eet is seemple, my friend.” (sure it is) He points this way and that, and eventually we start seeing signs to Oman. We find a border crossing and the guy confiscates Stu’s passport and tells us in heavily broken English to turn around. We do so and he informs us that we are at the wrong border (Qua? This isn’t Oman?) and we must go to Hili border crossing to immigration to get into Oman. Now, I should note here that often, in this country, lots of information is lost in our inability to communicate in Arabic. We head to the Hili border (unsure why) and try to go through again… A new border guy tells us we must “just turn left” and go to immigration. We miss the turn and end up on the Omani side of the border looking toward UAE… luckily the border is not strict and we just cross again and go back to Immigration (the second trailer on the left). This guy makes us fill out a pink sheet of paper so we may get an exit stamp. After a good 20 minutes we got said stamp and then after getting lost again with directions and turned around twice more, a police officer gives us directions to the Omani border (where we were previously told we’d just need an entrance and exit stamp, then we can come back to the UAE). His instructions are “go true geet, saycon roun-bout, go left, turd roun-bout go right.” I asked him to repeat them to be sure. He did. Thankful, the gentleman (who mercifully spoke English well) at Immigration previously told me the Omani border was about 32 kilometers away, so I assumed it would be a slight drive before we found it.

Now, let’s consider something, UAE says we can leave their country, but Oman hasn’t actually said we can be in their country yet… now we are supposed to go 32 or some kilometers for them to tell us we can be there. Cool. So we take a left at the second round-about and there are signs to Al Ain. Cool, there must be an Omani border between where we are now and Al Ain, right? So we head that way. We cross the Omani side of the border and there is no one there. No one. There is a single police car but it is unmanned and there is NO ONE else patrolling their border. (I begin speculating about our own borders back home and am entertaining theories about our illegal immigrant problem…)

So of course we get to the UAE border and the agent tells us we need an entrance and exit stamp (yeah, we can’t FIND a border agent, buddy!). “Yes, shukran, do you know where we can FIND an Omani border that has said stamps?” He points behind us, toward Oman. “Shukran.” Sighhhhh.

So we stop a man walking down the side of the road and ask him where to Oman border is. “Go to round-about and take right, go straight, only road, it is there.” He tells us it is about 18 kilometers from where we are. “Shukran.”

So we make our way through Oman, which is very different than UAE. It is very rocky and there are hills!!! On our way to Al Ain there were sand dunes as high as some of the Boise foothills, but no actual rock formations. Oman is pretty in its own way.

Thankfully at the end of about 18 kilometers we go up and then down a mountain and see the Oman border!!! After spending a good half hour there, filling out more cards for visas, we are stamped in and out and are on our way back to the unmanned border, to head back to UAE. I think the next time we go will be easier since we know what to expect, but it was an interesting experience.

These are pictures of Oman.

On the way back we ran into a herd of men on camels. So cool. That made the trip for me! We got home at about 8 at night after having left Abu Dhabi at 10 in the morning. Pretty long, sweaty day for the most part.

The Omani Border!


  1. Um, why are YOU wearing a seatbelt and HOLDING the baby on your lap in a car?? Please tell me Kaden has a car seat? Love, concerned Aunt Mo!

  2. Kaden has a carseat (you can actually see part of it there in the left hand corner of the picture) and he was in it for the trip. Fear not.