I was always excited when I crossed the border, but this time I felt different because I was a bit annoyed about why this country didn’t give the visa to my cycling partner. So I didn’t smile at the border for a picture to tell I am a little bit upset.
After crossing border, it became dark. When I asked the guard at the border to set up my tent around, he said it was not possible. I cycled a bit more and saw some restaurant and mosque. I asked people about safety and they said it would be okay. It was a bit noisy and I didn’t feel safe actually. So I just cycled back where the gas station was. I forgot that the most difficult on the trip was to find a place to pitch my tent because I had a cycling partner for a few months and it was more relax.
In Oman, it was turning to winter, but daytime was still very hot. When I saw shade, I took the rest.
I was not sure what red meant. If red meant warning sign board, it must be localized heavy rain. Anyway it looked like this area can be dangerous by flood sometimes.
I had never seen this much handsome camel. With only one scarf, it became coolest animal. The real reason was maybe to protect ears or head from the cold when the car moving so fast?
Finally, I arrived at my first city in Oman but I was not sure where to sleep. I went to a hotel to check the price, but it was too expensive for just one night, $50. It seemed like accommodation was expensive in Oman. When it grew darker, I went to a small road and asked local people about setting my tent at their yard. Then they gave me a big room. I was not sure for what this place was usually. I thought it was abandoned place. Local people gave me some bread to eat. Later Ethiopian and Indonesian girl came and talked to me. I was more confused that why people from other countries were here.
At the next morning, I could meet local family from this property that I was happy to have connection with local family.
Omani houses had similar style of architecture.
When I saw camel around local people’s house, I could feel that I was at the Gulf.
It was time to find the place for the night again. When I asked a girl who was standing around the house, she said I had to wait until the family came back. Later her husband came and invited me into a big room again. I realized that she was not his wife, but maid and the big room was Omani typical guest room. Girls from Ethiopia and Indonesia whom I met yesterday were a maid, too.
In Oman, it was difficult to find Omani food that I had only Indian food. There were 4.5 million people and half of them were foreigners in Oman. Half of foreigners were Indian and many of them worked at service area. That’s why I could eat only Indian food on the road.
Before going to Oman, I was worried about prices because it was my first time to see that US dollar was weaker than local currency. $1 was 0.38 Omani rial. I was wondering that then how much I had to pay for meal. But thanks that there were note of 0.1 and 0.05 rial.
It was funny that there were too many foods to choose at a fast food restaurant. But later I realized that most of menu of fast food restaurants were similar that it didn’t take much longer to pick. The price was quite low. The drink was only 30 cents and the hamburger was 50 cents. But the burger was quite small that I had to order more than two. And definitely it didn’t look like the picture.
In Nizwa, which was a little bit touristic and big city, I found American host from Couchsurfing. He lived in Korea for a few years and was living in Oman for many years that it was very interesting to talk to him. Even I made the video of the interview with him, … but my hard drive was broken that I cannot make the video from it. He showed me unique abandoned village.
I was thinking how old this bag was.
There were many palm trees around that it was so pretty. I was so happy to watch my favorite blue birds flying.
I visited the castle which was maintained very well by the government. Architecture was really unique that it was really good to walk around slowly and felt Omani culture.
Photo for 48,000 km!
On 17th July 2010, I left my home to go to Canada just for a year. Then I found fun way to see the world. “Traveling around the world with a bicycle!”.
At the first year after I left Korea, I was too excited to have homesick in Canada. At the second year, I wanted to go home after finishing Americas trip. But still I loved the road, so I kept going.
I didn’t go home over five and half years. I felt too sick when my cycling partner had problem with Omani visa and told me “I miss my dog and family. I will go back home rather than keep traveling for now.” His word made me sick and made me want to go back home, too. But then I had a question to myself. “Where is my home?” My home is the road for now. My parents are the one who take care of me on the road. My best friends are the one I’ve just met and drank tea or beer together. My brothers and sisters are the one whom I’ve spent time together. I am here now with them, not in South Korea. Everywhere there is my home and friend. I want to live at the place where I am in now.
One day I will go back to real my home, but definitely on my bicycle. My wish is to make the photo for 80,000 km in South Korea.
When I was familiar with Oman, I arrived at Muscat, the capital.
Capital of Oman was not much different from Dubai that there were lots of expensive cars everywhere. I saw quite often the car on the right of the bottom. I didn’t know about car well, so in my eyes I liked red car more.
I found another host in Muscat that I stayed with a kind family. After dinner, we rented a bicycle at the park and rode around together.
They showed me Bazaar, local market as well and it was interesting to see Omani interior design.
At the day I left Muscat, I visited the beach and it was just so beautiful.
I bought a few things from a fast food restaurant and ate at the bench. Then I had some nap. I must have understood why Omani closed the store at the day time about two to four hours because it was very sleepy during day with the hot weather.
After sweet nap, I visited a lovely park and then I left to cycle to go to the south.
To cycle in Oman was really fun because the scenery was really beautiful and it had so many different things to show around the eastern part. Eastern part was quite small that it was easy to visit.
I had nap when it got hot at the day time. Actually I was not comfortable to lie down on the street usually because I was afraid that someone would touch my body and run away. So usually I dozed off while sitting. But I was really sleepy and it was middle of nowhere that I saw there was no people walking around. If the car stopped, I could hear the engine, so I thought I didn’t need to worry about lying down.
After two weeks in Oman, I was used to their culture. When I asked for pitching my tent, usually they gave me a guest room. But I’ve never get out of this guest room that I didn’t know how look like their kitchen and living room. Toilet was just next to the guest room, so I didn’t have any chance to see their deep culture.
It was unique morning scenery that camels were walking next to the sea.
I heard that there was sinkhole in Oman. It was lucky that the sinkhole was next to highway on my way. After this downhill, I would see it. I saw only the picture of sinkhole on accident news. So I was curious how Oman’s sinkhole would look like.
Unlike my expectation, it was not threatening, but so beautiful.
At the front which was emerald color, it was swallow. But just after one step, suddenly it went deeper that I must be very careful because I didn’t know how to swim well. So I was just playing at the front. It was said that there is a hole which is connected to the sea at the deep inside of water.
I was so kind and generous person that I fed poor fish. This fish was everywhere in Oman actually. It was a bit tickling and prickling.
The park of Sinkhole was clean and nice that I thought I could set up my tent. So I was relaxing and took the time to enjoy. Later when I asked the guard for my tent, he said it was not possible. So I had to hurry to find the place to sleep before darkness fell.
When I arrived at a small village, fishermen were working near the road. There was some rest area with a roof. So I asked local people about safety to sleep there. They said it would be alright. But then one of local people invited me into their place.
They gave me dinner as well. They usually brought dinner on a tray like this to the guest room. The white thing was one I ate often with bread in Oman. It was kind of cream.
At the next day, I saw springbok while pedaling and I felt amazing to cycle in the wild.
When I was in U.A.E, I heard lots of times from people that “Oman is so BEAUTIFUL.” After coming to Oman, I realized why many people told like that. Oman was really amazing beautiful places to travel.
When sea and desert were together, it was just paradise.
I visited Wadi Shab after sinkhole. Wadi means valley in Arab and there are many wadi in Oman.
I had to cross the river with the boat to hike and see the cave. It was only 30 cents and took five minutes.
What an amazing oasis in the world! This was just heaven that it was so beautiful ever. At the end of hiking, there was cave but had to swim to go inside. It was very deep. Thankfully some local guy gave me a life jacket before. It was really fun to swim between very narrow valleys to go to the cave. The cave was small and it had nothing to see. But when I thought about how the cave was made, I felt amazing.
I was really happy to visit Oman. I didn’t expect that Oman would be so beautiful. Oman was not much developed for tourism that there was no bus between touristic places. People had to hire a driver or rent a car that there were not many tourists. So I felt more adventure to find beautiful natures.
After having fun in Wadi, I went to a small village for the night.
I thought the reason I was denied a bit often when I asked to set up my tent at local people’s yard was because of their hospitality culture. It seemed they had to treat guest well. So there were maybe only two choices to them when I asked about the tent; say no or invite into the house.
The place I got was near the sea that I saw cockroach running on the carpet. I was scared that I slept at the tent without poles near the door.
I visited another wadi. The water was crossing the road. But it was not deep that I tried to cycle slowly. But suddenly I fell off. The road was covered by thick moss that it was same as cycling on the ice. I couldn’t lift up my bicycle because it was too slippery. Thanks that a few local people came and helped me to cross the road.
My clothes were wet and it was really painful.
I had to cross the road with water flowing again that I was really afraid. I got off from my bicycle and checked the ground. It was not slippery that I pushed my bicycle carefully.
There were many tourist 4*4 white car passing. Country road was too steep to cycle that I left my bicycle just next to road and started hiking with my drone. It was endlessly going up and I started worrying about my bicycle. Also it was too windy to fly my drone that I decided to go down without seeing other wadi.
I came down and swam at small wadi. All tourists went up that wadi pool was only for me.
When I was about to leave Wadi, I saw a big picture of Oman’s King. Oman was similar to Iran that they put the king’s picture everywhere as much as they can. In the Gulf, it is really common that the king has many wives. Usually ordinary citizens also have more than one wife in the Gulf. But they have to be rich because everything must be equal. If some guy has three wives, he must have three houses and cars. So poor people cannot have two wives actually.
Oman’s king doesn’t have any wife while King of Saudi Arabia, neighbor of Oman, has 30 wives. He got married long time ago but divorced and never got married again. So there is rumor that he is homosexual. When people type about his name on google, one of recommended keywords is homosexual. I heard that to talk about King’s gender identity is illegal in Oman.
In the Middle East, many country hate and fight each other. Oman is always at the middle. When Saudi Arabia and Iran had bad relationship, Oman acted as a mediator. So Oman doesn’t have such an enemy and it is known to be peaceful country. Oman is not richer than Dubai, but still it is rich place because of oil.
I was about to set up my tent at rest area next to the sea, but I was coward that I couldn’t do it. I just went to the town and looked for the house. It was getting dark that many houses already closed their gate. There were a few children playing outside and the house’s gate was opened. I asked about the tent for a night to their mom.
Then they gave a big guest room to me. It was really interesting that they always had a guest room whatever big, small, luxury or simple. But at some moment, I felt it was too big wall to go beyond. Usually when I was invited in other countries, I ate at the kitchen and talked at the living room. But I ate, talked, and slept at the same place, the guest room in Oman. I could not see any other rooms.
I guessed there were some reasons. One was maybe they wanted to protect their family members from the stranger. The other would be they wanted to give guests comfortable and safe place. I wished I became their friend than the guest.
At the next day, when I was leaving the town, some local people coming for picnic greeted to me from far away. Actually I was nervous before going to Oman because there was riskier at Muslim country about physical sexual harassing in my experience. I really didn’t like to get flirting on the street as well. But unlike my experience, Omani were very gentle and generous. In my trip, Omani was the gentlest Muslim. I really couldn’t meet local people in U.A.E, so I cannot compare Emirati to Omani.
People could see turtle hatching at summer time from July to August. When I was there, it was winter season. But I heard I could see a turtle if I was lucky. The resort area was so expensive that I decided to sleep at some town where local people came for picnic.
I pitched my tent at the picnic area which had the roof. But there was so strong wind that I fixed my tent with strings. There were local family around, but once the night came, they left. I could hear young people having party near and I was scary to sleep here. But I really wanted to see the turtle that I had to be brave.
I went out to see the turtle at late night, but I couldn’t see any trace of turtle.
At the next day, I could see that the place I slept was really pretty. I wanted to enjoy beautiful morning but my tent was getting really hot that I couldn’t stay longer.
I saw some cliff when I passed the highway that I must stop to see what there was. To cycle in Oman was so delightful because the scenery was just gorgeous.
It was sad that I could not see turtle after overcoming my fear to sleep at the beach. So I wanted to try again at the other beach on my way. Every shelter was far to each other. There was local family having picnic and they shared the food with me. After dark, they left and I became alone again. When I asked that it was safe to sleep here alone, local people told me they would never let their daughter sleep alone here. It made me so chicken.
When the night grew long, I went and walked to see a turtle.
I saw something while walking around. I was so excited. But actually it was dead one. I was wondering how old this turtle was.
At the next day when the sun came out, I flew my drone to take a beautiful beach.
(Unfortunately, I dropped my external hard drive and it was broken that I lost all the video. I sent it to South Korea to recover the data but it was failed. I will try to send to other country. But there is not much possibility to recover.. )
Once I was far from the sea, I was entering to the desert area and saw warning sign of the sand dunes.
Local people at the northern part was gentle, but as I moving to the south, people was a bit different. Two kids threw stones at me. A taxi driver on the picture was chasing me. From my experience, this kind of people were chasing on purpose. The road was a bit empty that I stopped and watched he drove away. Once I started cycling, he stopped moving. After a few times chasing, I didn’t want to give him any chance that I took the picture of him. Usually when I took the picture of them, they disappeared. After this picture, I didn’t see him again.
The sand wind was really stronger. But it was not like all day but only some part was.
I stopped to watch astonishing sunset and then I forgot that I had to find a place to sleep.
After sunset, I arrived in a small town. When I asked to put up my tent at local people’s yard, the guy gave me $50 and said sleep at hotel. Usually I didn’t take the money in this kind of case, I said ‘no thank you’, and I tried to find other house because I just wanted some space to sleep that I didn’t need fancy hotel. But this time I didn’t know why I took his money. In Oman, food was cheap that I could eat nice meal with this money many times. So I wanted to set up my tent at other place and save money. But I was thinking if I were him, whether I would be happy that some traveler took my money but just slept at the tent. I concluded that it would be against his trust that I decided to sleep at the hotel. It was simple hotel but it was very expensive, $50.
It was good that I could have my own time though.
The uphill was really steep to other wadi. It was really hot day that I got easily tired. I took the break almost one hour at the middle of uphill. One car stopped and some foreigner came out. He told me he was cycling too before with his brother and he wanted to invite me at his family house in Muscat. He gave me his name card.
After some hard hills, I reach to Wadi Bani Khalid. If the dictionary needs the picture for the word of Oasis, this picture must be so good for that. Wadi is very deep usually. There was warning sign of “No swimming”. But many people were swimming. There were many safety guards and I talked to one of them. He said actually every year people died here. He said Caucasians were good at swimming that it was no problem for them. But real problem was other race because they didn’t know how to swim well but they just swam with conceit. After hiking, I just played where the water was swallow. I promised that I would learn swimming properly in South East Asia on my way. In Korea, many people don’t know how to swim because school don’t teach it and people just use life jacket or tube.
I was wondering where to sleep for tonight. When I asked safety guard for sleeping at the park, they said it would be safe to sleep. Later when I was about to set up my tent, someone told me it would be not safe to sleep here that I should sleep at his house. In Oman, there were many foreigner workers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines and so on at service area. If it was local, he would live with a big family. So, I asked him living alone. He said he lived in one room alone and said he was very trustful and nice person that I should not worry about to sleep at his place. It was about the sunset time and I was afraid to sleep alone at the park because already many people did know I would sleep here. But I couldn’t trust him more. So I just said no.
After the park was empty, I set up my tent. But there were some local guys visiting park. I hoped they didn’t come to my tent. Thankfully they didn’t stay longer.
(Later I talked to some Korean backpacker who had similar experience at the park. She was about to set up her tent and this guy suggested her to sleep at his house. She chose his house rather than the park. Then the guy asked and begged her to sleep together. She said no and nothing happened. But she couldn’t sleep all night because of being worried. Usually when the guy said “I am very trustful person. You don’t need to worry.” Then they were hiding something behind. There is no such a reason to beg for helping other people who treats them as a suspicious guy.
It was scary to stay but it cannot stop doing things I wanted that I cooked some food to eat. One time I posted on facebook page about I have fear with the dark. And people were surprised how come I could take many night sky pictures then. I just live with the fear and do things with fear. The moonlight was softly shining Wadi that I enjoyed beautiful night scenery with my fear.
I was so happy when I woke up because it meant nothing happened last night. And it was such a big gift to wake up with this amazing scenery.
I heard many Brit came to Oman for touring. But still there were not many tourists. Most of people do know Iceland is so beautiful, but most of them don’t know how Oman is beautiful. So I felt more adventure to travel in Oman. I wanted to rank Oman the top for holiday place. I loved to visit here with my family again for a vacation later.
After seeing lots of water, I decided to see desert. The more I closed to desert, the harder I peddled. Later it was impossible to cycle anymore. I became a bit brave after sleeping at some nights at the park alone that I wanted to sleep at desert. I asked local people to leave my bicycle at their house for one night to sleep on the desert dune. It thanked that they let my bicycle and things leave at their yard.
I had the tent, sleeping gears, and drone to carry. Kids were happy to see me that they wanted to carry my stuff to dune together. It was fun to walk with them on the sand.
It was incredible to see sunrise at the desert.
Desert in Oman was so gorgeous.
Desert looked simple, but every desert was different.
I had seen the desert in a few different countries and so far the best desert was Oman’s one.
It was my first time to see that the color on the top of desert was different. The weight of the red sand was different. That’s why it was on the top of other sand.
I was so excited to explore my lovely desert that I jumped with joy. Actually the sand became too hot to walk with bare foot, so I jumped. Does it make sense? haha.
In the morning, I was walking with bare feet, but later it was not possible because of too hot sand.
It was the time to leave after exploring desert.
When I came back, kids were welcoming with smiling.
Many Omani families had lots of kids and had one or two maids.
They showed me their camels that I could touch it.
I made stupidest mistake ever in my trip. I crossed the road to eat at the restaurant. After lunch, I didn’t cross road but kept cycling because I forgot that I crossed the road. It meant I was cycling back for one hour. That’s reason the wind was suddenly changed from strong head wind to strong tail wind and I saw desert again. The most annoying thing is when I make stupid mistake. I cycled at the same road three times and wasted my energy and time. I was trying to train my mind on my bicycle to not be much upset.
At the next day, the distance to Muscat was quite far, 160 km. (100 mi)
When I came back to Muscat, I was hosted by the family whom I met on the uphill to wadi. My host was the principal at the international school that I looked around his school when he played Ultimate Frisbee game. I played the game with people a bit together as well.
After a few days thinking, I decided to rent a room with $300 from my ex-host because they had extra room and I got behind in my blog that I wanted to write my journals.
My 30 days no visa entry was about to expire that I took the bus to U.A.E border for visa run. But the problem was there was no any bus on the way back from the border and I didn’t want to go to Dubai and back to Muscat. I was just about to hitchhike from U.A.E border. Then luckily at the border I met Korean workers who did visa run too that they gave me a ride to Muscat.
My host family got tickets for yacht race that I followed them. By the way the ticket price was very expensive.
I’ve never watched yacht race even on TV that I was excited to see new thing.
Local lady invited a wedding banquet on Couch surfing for foreigners to share local culture. She was so kind that she borrowed her clothes to me.
It was my first time ever that I visited this kind of party on my trip that it was so much interesting to see.
Later I was invited at the wedding again and she borrowed me another beautiful dress. Local people’s hijab and dress were so colorful. But I was told that I shouldn’t take the picture of them. So I blurred them on the picture.
Indian host who hosted me in Dubai lived in Oman for long time that they came back Oman time to time. When they came, we went to a bar and had fun together.
In Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Muscat, I went to some clubs with friends and realized that clubs in the Gulf were not fun because there were many prostitutes. It was difficult to figure out who is doing prostitution or not. Many of them had same skin color as me. If I went to club alone, people must think I am a prostitute. Some guy told me that it was not much fun for him too because for example he found a nice girl and danced and drank together and when he wanted to go out for another drink, girl suddenly asked money.
I was against prostitution before, but after I got the friend who did that job, my mind was changed. The government maybe should legalize it, make the law strictly that they should had the service only at some area, take tax from them, and protect their human rights. In some country, prostitution are illegal but actually it is more common than any other country that even many tourists come for prostitutes. And then prostitutes are everywhere and it looks like losing moral.
In Abu Dhabi, there was the street where prostitutes were standing. But they were 40 to 50 years old Asian or African girls with very casual clothes. In Muscat, there were young Asian girls with short clothes standing around very expensive hotels and it made heavy traffic there because guys were busy to ask the price. In Dubai, there were prostitution near clubs asking guy.
In Gulf, there were many different kind of prostitutes. Some girls got expensive bags, clothes and so on from long term local customer. Meanwhile, some girls only got money from short term customer. Price can depend on skin color.
After traveling the Gulf, I realized that it was different than what I saw on T.V that actually prostitution is common.
My next destination was Central Asia which was known as a highly repressive state. I thought it would be the problem to fly my drone there that I decided to sell it. Some local guy bought my drone through the website. He said he had drone before when he was studying at the university. But his father didn’t like it because he wanted his son to concentrate on the study. Now he got a job from some company that he was about to buy again. He said to work under government didn’t make much money that he was happy to work under a private company.
To carry drone was not really comfortable because of security law. Some country asks people to register. I wanted to register to fly my drone in U.A.E. But I didn’t get any message back from drone department of U.A.E that I just didn’t use my drone there. To cross border with the drone is not comfortable as well. To take the picture from the sky is really different than to take the picture on the ground because of security reason. Also I was nervous every time I used my drone because it was so expensive but I could lose all my money by one little mistake or some small problem like losing signal or wind. I felt free after selling it.
Another reason I sold my drone was because I needed money to go to Budapest, Hungary. I found very cheap flight that it was only $200 for round trip from Dubai. I wanted to go there to write my journals for my blog and had a new experience.
Photo for 49,000 km.
I was worried before coming to Oman, but it turned to beautiful memories that I was happy to find Oman. Now it was about to leave to U.A.E.
I cycled really hard to get to Dubai on time to catch my flight to Budapest. When I arrived at U.A.E border at 10 pm, I could not find a place to sleep.
So I kept cycling after the border, but then after 1 km a police officer on a car stopped me. He said it could be dangerous to cycle on the hill because there is no shoulder. And then he escorted until the top of hill. While cycling to the top of the hill, I realized it was my first time on the trip that the police escorted behind me. I was impressed. After the downhill, he stopped me and showed the place where I can pitch my tent. He told me nobody would come to this place.
But at 5:00 am, I heard car came and shouted at me something. I was in panic.
But then I realized it was a police officer. He just put breakfast in front of my tent before I opened zipper and disappeared quickly as saying “Hey, this is police. My duty is finished. I am going home. Here is breakfast. Take care. Bye”
What a good experience. The local population of UAE is only 15% in UAE and most of them are super rich. So, UAE was the only country I had few contact with local people. Local people never worked in a restaurant or something that there was really no chance to meet local people in UAE. I was sure the police man was one of that rich guy in UAE.
Many travelers have told “I like poor country, because poor people are much kinder.”
I got different opinion after meeting many different kind of people. Whatever rich or poor, kind people are just kind without any reason.
As sun went up, I cycled to Dubai. I would leave my bicycle at my ex Indian host in Dubai and fly to Budapest.
I was not sure what kind of experience I would have in Budapest. It was my first time to leave my bicycle and fly to some place for a few months. My main goal was to write all delayed journals. I hoped things are going well in Budapest.
My cycling route in Oman
I entered to Al Ain, cycled through Nizwa and Muscat, headed to South, came back to Muscat, and went out from the other border.