5-7 All Dubai to 11th
Early 6am to bus (across street from Al Wafa), these buses are very much on time! 9:30 we stop in Sohar for 10 min break, otherwise,straight thru on freeway (also under major expansion/construction) to Buraimi. Once past Sohar we head into mountains and rocky, barren, dry landscape other than infrequent hollows and walled/irrigated compounds with largely date palms.
Easy taxi ride from bus stop in Buraimi, Oman across border to bus station in Al Aim & bus to Dubai. Had agreed upon 9 rial but as usual, if you lack the exact amount the drivers are claiming no change, and in this case he was saying he never agreed to 9 rial! Bus trip back to Dubai goes thru lots of red/orange - strawberry blond sand dune desert. Very beautiful. Once again, easy Metro trip to the hostel, this time in the new part which is nicer but a bit more $$$. We go to see the fountain performance at the mall & have dinner in food court. Bon had tried to get in contact via Skype with our friends in Missoula to help a cyclist arriving there soon (he's been travelling for 14 years!), but what should have taken 45 min to return from the Mall ended up an hour and a half due "to traffic and slow bus connections. Internet with Skype was closed, bummer!
Still trying to connect with Iran tour company, not answering Bon's emails so she's going to Skype. Folks in Australia re: Greyhound passes have been very nice/helpful, but a costly travel option...maybe we'll rent a car or? Met a young German gal at hostel breakfast on her way home after her 'gap' year travelling ending with 4 months in Australia. Got good info from her. Today is Mari's last day with us, flying home this eve to her seasonal work in CA.
Went one last time to Souk to maybe find some gifts...only things there were either from India or China! Nothing indigenous to any of the Arab countries! Walked with Mari to the Metro after a quick packing and checkout from hostel...heading to airport 4:30, she should be there in time. We (Bon & I) went to the internet but I couldn't get photos uploaded so I quit. Bon still there trying to get Skype to work with little success. Back in the room later it seems strange not having Mari here - travelling 24/7 for past 3 months kind of makes 3 a company, ha!
We all agree, these Arab countries have added a lot of building and glitz, but haven't developed much of the background/redundencies which have been built up in the Western economies over the past century. Good example is internet connections...probably excellent for the wealthy 1% but the general public has little access and what is there is poor quality. Same incredible increase of traffic due to private cars crowding the inadequate road system, now being upgraded everywhere. No real mass transit that can keep pace with the increase in passengers, especially at rush hours. I say 'hours' because they have 4...in the morning 7-9, noon 12-2pm (much is closed 1 until 4:30), and then 5-7/8 and finally, late evening 9-11pm. The heat has alot to do with these times, open early, closed during worst heat of day, & finally eve when cooler.
Today we attempted to work out the logistics for getting $$$ to cover our Iran tour, beginning with finding an internet with Skype! After Googling different sites and discovering UAE blocks all Skype use, we found some info giving us hope. We took the Metro to Ibn Battuta Mall but no luck there, then to Marina Mall, strike two! Bon decided to follow some instructions setting up a defacto phone # for kids & bank to call us but after some mulling fell back to just emailing the necessary folks back in Missoula. It will require some coordination and timing since it looks like we won't get the final visa approval until the day before we're scheduled to fly to Tehran! Just hoping that their consulate will issue it in one day once approved! Since Bon is doing all the communicating it is a might stressful for her. I've tried doing some research before but it seems she feels better getting the info herself (many times she just repeats what I've done thus not saving any time).
More internet today, this time getting Greyhound schedule worked out for travel from Darwin to Cairns in November. Pinning this down now is important because there will be a lot of visitors there for the eclipse and we don't want to get stuck in Darwin or end up paying tons of $$$ to make the trip. Heard from the Greyhound gal and both options she presented were 3-4 days in transit and most at night with a couple long layovers! Now looking at flights!