Wednesday, March 12, 2008

YBOD3 Fame

Well its official, YBOD3 is so sexy that even ICON want to bask in the associated glory by putting her on their front page to show off their handy work.
And given how good a job they did, proud they should be.

WHAT!! Gazza eat your heart out!!

I don't know what to say, I can't believe these things even exist!!


Its just wrong!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Charge of the Headlight Brigade - ME4x4 GPS Challenge

What a day, and go which way?
What a day and onwards
Into the Emirate of Sharjah
road the three Toyota
Forward, the Three Toyota
Charge for the dunes we said:
toward Falaj a Muwallah
rode the three Toyota.

‘Forward the three Toyota!’
With GPSs they're dismay’d?
Not tho’ the others knew
some other teams they blundered:
Theirs not to see us fly
Theirs just to wonder why
we attempted dunes or die,
Across into the Emirate of Dubai
Rode the three Toyota

Dunes to the right of them
Dunes to the left of them
Fences in front of them
Slip faces a sundered
Storm’d at with low ratio and well,
Boldly they drove like hell,
Into the jaws of death
and past big red as well
Rode the three toyota

Thrashed all their gears bare,
Thrashed as sand flew in the air
Grunt and Octane there,
Charging a dune while
All the others wonder’d:
Plunged in sand ‘n smoke
Along a dead line they rode;
Cuiser, Prado and Fortuna
Reel’d from engine stroke,
Shatter’d and sunder’d
On to the next coord'nat, and still
The three Toyotas.

Dunes to the right of them
Dunes to the left of them
Dunes in front of them
High and steepened
Storm’d at with low ratio
while other teams they fell,
They that had drove so well
Came along the shorter path
Right through to point 4 as well,
Every bit left of them,
Unbroken the three Toyota.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild drive they made!
All the world wonder'd.
Honour that drive they made!
Honour the three Toyota,
The second placed Toyota!

Original Version

O-man I love Oman - Part 3 - Tiwi Sink Hole

After the diving was called off, the kit was cleaned down and we had a sterling Indian take away we made plans for the next day. With diving out of the window I suggested a trip down to Tiwi, a fantastic sink hole I visited a few years before with Mr Jackson.

Next morning we were up with the sparrows fart and hit the road south for Tiwi. Sadly there is now a new road under construction from Muscat to the sink hole (and beyond). I say sadly because when Mr J and I did the trip about 3 years ago it was a four hour drive through wadis and along dirt tracks. Now it is a little easier reach it some how seems less of an adventure. Still, it was well worth the trip and, with Gonu helping the contractor with the road construction there was still plenty of off road and graded track sections.

When we got there we were treated to the site of the sink hole in all its glory, and a refreshing swim in the near fresh water (it is slightly brakish).

They have also built a little landscaped park around the pool as well as some ladies (or Eadies) toilets for changing into swim suits.

And after our swim we headed down to the beach for a picnic and watched the turtles swimming, Moray Eels hunting and two devil rays breaching.........or one breaching twice but we'll leave that argument will alone because of course it was two different rays.

O-man I love Oman - Part 2 - Diving....well sort of.

Next morning it was up for a cracking breakfast and then off to Al Sawadi for a days diving......well, sort of.

We rocked up at the dive centre and loaded up on the boat and off we went out to the Domaniates. The sea was pretty rough, to say the least, and the boat pretty darn full.

The first chosen dive site, the aquarium, was canceled because the sea was too rough, so we went on to an alternative site that was more sheltered. However, more sheltered didn't mean divable for all and after rolling in with the waves breaking over our heads we did one dive and called it a day. We did see a few sights including a nice big ray (apparently locally called stumpy) and the site of Bob practicing his mating rituals with a cuttle fish. Believe me it isn't something that should be retold.......but Bob respected her in the morning.

Following the dive we headed back to the center, paid up, backed up the Dive Masters who were getting some grief for going with the dive call and then headed back to Chez Gould. Diving done and made plans for tomorrow.....that no longer involved diving.

O-man I love Oman - Part 1 - The Journey Down There.

With visa in hand my co-pilot and I headed off down to Muscat. We set of in the early afternoon, around 4pm, and flew down to Hatta for the border crossing. Now I know from past trips that you have to get an exit stamp from the UAE followed by and entry stamp into Oman. I also know that the Oman step is always straight forward, with the border post clearly obvious and the desks/windows in a logic sequence.

The UAE border control on the other hand is far from obvious. At one time you had to got to the Hatta Fort Hotel; buy a main meal for want and a refreshing glass of non-alcoholic beverage and with receiot collect a voucher which you exchanged for a form which was copied and stamped, in triplicate and then thrown in the bin and you went on your way.....OK I might have exaggerated a little there. But you did used to have to go to the Hatta Fort Hotel to get your exit stamp. Then having exited (officially according to your passport) you then drove a fair few km down the road to the actual border, where they had an officer who checked you had the stamp, and took great pleasure in sending you back if not.

When I arrived this time I had been forewarned that the Hatta Fort Palerva had been removed and that you now had to get your stamp from a little kiosk on the border, just after the Ali Bin Daylight Robing Insurance Company offices. So I duly drove down to the border, found the insurance offices, parked my car and wondered around aimlessly for ten minutes trying to find the said kiosk. Eventually I found a prota-cabin/building thingy only to find it was explanation instruction on what I should do otherwise. I asked around other people just shrugged and said “Everybody just driving straight through now”. And sure enough there was a steam of Dubai and Abu Dhabi plates driving straight through past me. I decided I had better things to do that wait at a border post that was closed so carried on to the Oman border with a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I was going to regret not getting my exit stamp.

At the Oman border post, as usual, a completely different experience. Whats this, a large clean white building, with clear signs (in Arabic) and a number of windows at which to get the necessary stampage, all set at a height and offset that you cna easily reach from your car. The guy behind the counter is polite, smiles and takes the pastports with a friend “Salam Ali Coumb” (apologies to the Arabic speaking world as I am sure I have spelt that wrong). He then taps on a computer, stamps the passport and hands them back with a smile. I tense, and wait for it......the inevitable “ah wait, problem”........he smiles again, I smile back and he goes to speak.......he it comes.......”Hallas, you are finished”. “What, I can go? That’s it?” “Of course, hallas”. I thank him kindly and drive away remembering why I love leaving the UAE and love arriving in Oman.......but I am still looking in the rear view mirror expecting to be called back.

With the border cleared its off to Muscat, guided by the GPS and looking forward to one of Lou’s cuppa’s. And apart from a short detour as it seems the Garmin is programmed to believe the quickest way in to Muscat is to leave the freeway and go through a supermarket car park and then rejoin the freeway (I have no idea why, but it did) we had no hassels

After a good cuppa and a few beverages at 'Steve's Bar' Bob and Jan arrived and we bid them all good night and went to get a good nights sleep.

O-man Visa

I have been planning for some time to take a trip down to Muscat to visit a friend (and dive instructor) and do some diving. In my typical style I have been totally lax and disorganized about getting anything organized about this. I therefore decided today to do down and apply for an Oman visa to speed up the border crossing process which, if you have ever tried to get through before it can be....erm......challenging one time, easy the next.

Anyway, with three days to spare I went down to the Oman Embassy with my form pre-filled out as instructed by our PRO. Upon arrival I was advised that the form I had completed was out of date and that I must purchase the new (and presumably improved) version.......which was exactly the same except it is a slightly light shade of green. Still, I have been in the Middle East long enough to know the importance of the “correct form” and argue at all, and politely purchased my new form and copied all the same detail across. I then, as logic would dictate, when to the Indian Embassy to get all the forms copied (I had not read about this bilateral agreement between India and Oman to improve trade ties in the photocoping market but clearly it is there).

With my new form, duly copied, I returned to the Oman embassy and submitted my forms. I discussed with the (unexpectedly polite and patient) official behind the counter that I would travelling in three days and that it was possible to have the visa ready by then. “Maybe” he replied. “Do you mean ‘En Shallah’?” I asked. “Maybe” was his calm reply.

Still can’t complain. It is this calm, no hassle attitude of the Omanis that makes Oman such a good place to visit.

And yes, my visa was ready without any worries and waiting for me on the day of travel.