Today I was going to go to the east coast of the UAE for some scuba diving activities.
I was going to the resort of Fujairah.
Fujairah is approximately two hours drive from Dubai and is popular with tourists who want to get away from citylife.
Many watersport activities can be conducted from here.
Diving on the east coast of the UAE is mainly reefs and a few small wrecks.
This was to be a short introduction to scuba diving before crossing the border at Dibba and into Oman for some boat diving along the Oman coastline of the Musandam peninsula.
The sea temperature in Fujairah was a staggering 29 degrees Celsius. In addition, the sea had a lot of planktons and thus the visability was poor. The sea was very green underwater and photography was therefore poor.
I saw a seahorse of approximately 20cms in size. A quite rare encounter for scuba divers.
After my two dives in Fujairah, I was going to cross the border at Dibba and into Oman.
The Musandam peninsula is the most northerly province of Oman and marks the entrance to the Arabian Gulf via the Straits of Hormuz.
The port in Dibba was where I was going to get onto our converted dhow boat.
Diving in the Musandam peninsula is mostly drift diving and therefore not recommended for novice divers.
The Musandam coastline itself is carved into countless fjords, bays and islands.
Marine life expected to be seen off Omani waters are five species of turtles, Eagle Rays and Devil Rays, and reef sharks. Occassionly Whale Sharks can be seen during the summer months. The colourful corals attracts tropical species such as Parrotfish, Batfish and Lion fish.
Omani water is plankton rich and therefore water visibility is reduced from that of other diving destinations.
After two days of diving from the dhow we head back to Dibba and eventually back to Dubai.
Arriving back in Dubai it was time to buy some tacky souvenirs to annoy people back home.
I brought a naff Shake my Sheikh salt and pepper shakers.
This was going to be given to my boss in the hope that I will get some extra overtime shifts at work (as well as a promotion!)
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For more information on Oman please visit:
I am back from my six days visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). I was able to do some sightseeing and cross over the border to Oman for scuba diving.
In summary, I spent two full days in Oman and three full days in the UAE sightseeing and shopping.
It was hot at this time of the year. The temperature was 39 degrees Celsius whilst the sea temperature was 29 degrees Celsius.
My hotel was in the old part of Dubai known as Deira and was near to Dubai Creek.
Dubai itself is a city famous for its modern architecture and luxury shopping malls. The city has expanded at an enormous rate over the last few decades and the population now stands at 2.5 million (mostly expats and immigrants). In the 1950s the population was 20,000 people. With the discovery of oil, the city rapidly expanded and it wealth has led to ultramodern projects such as the Palm Jumeirah artificial archipelago project. Many of the construction projects in Dubai are now on hold due the 2008 banking crisies and the current decline in oil prices.
When I arrived, my first sightseeing was to Dubai Marina. This is a residential district of Dubai where many westerners expats live.
Many of the skyscapers here are residential blocks.
Having known many expats living here over the years, a lot of these residential towers were built by dubious developers and many expats have lost their investments to these crooks. That is typical of how things are done in Dubai. So becareful if you are considering investing here.
The Torch Tower had a twenty storey fire last February. At the time of construction I had spoken to many expats who purchased off plan into this tower and many expressed concerns about the poor construction of the tower including lack of fire protection coatings. Their concerns proven to be correct.
All over the marina, new towers are still being built.
I took a small RIB boat from the Marina to visit the artificial archipelagos.
Taking the boat out, I saw the Palm Jumeirah artificial archipelago project and also the Burj Al Arab hotel. The hotel was opened in 1999 and it is a symbol of modern Dubai.
This hotel is the world’s only 7 star hotel. Living on my £145 per month army pension, I was not able to afford to stay here for my holiday.
With gold plated toilets and personal butlers to chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce services, this hotel has been repeatedly voted the world’s most luxurious hotel.
From the marina, I had to cross the famous Sheikh Zayed Road to get to the metro station.
I took the metro back to the old city.
Whilst on the metro, I passed the Burj Khalifa tower. This is the tallest tower in the world, standing at 829.8 m (2,722 ft) tall. The building gained the official title of “Tallest Building in the World” at its opening on January 4th, 2010.
Arriving in the old city of Dubai, I first went to see the Creek.
Dubai Creek is the old part of the city and was originlly a small port for numberous dhows that traded with East Africa and India. It is still used for trade using the traditional dhows.
A short walk later, I came to the Al Fahidi fort.
The fort was built in 1787 and is the oldest existing building in Dubai. It is now a museum and is 3 AED (£0.60) to get in.
After my sightseeing, I went to do some late night shopping.
The Dubai Mall is the world’s largest shopping mall based on total area. Opened in 2009, it has over 1200 stores.
In March this year, more than a hundred foreign labourers protested in front of Dubai Mall due to overtime wages not being paid. Despite all the ultraluxury developments in Dubai, there is a lot of poor pay within the city.
The Mall comes with a interior aquarium so that shoppers can stare at the fish whilst shopping.
The Mall of the Emirates has over 700 stores and a ski slope! The Middle East’s first indoor ski resort and snow park.
After buying my sexy gal a sexy skirt and several dresses, I headed back to my faulty air conditioning hotel room.
The next day I was going to visit Al Ain, the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
To be continued….
For more information about the UAE and Dubai please visit:
Today I was going to visit Dalyan and the river delta.
At the town of Dalyan, traditional turkish boats take tourists along the river delta to the various attractions for 35 TL (approx. £8.75). Along the way I got to see the rock tombs, the mudbaths and Iztuzu beach also known as Turtle beach as well as Kaunos ruins.
The small boat was packed with over thirty tourists and was very crowded. Most of them were inconsiderately smoking in such a small confined space!
On the way to Iztuzu beach, we passed the Lycian Tombs.
After a few kilometres, the boat arrives at the back of Iztuzu beach.
Iztuzu beach is a reserve and turtles lay their eggs there, it is lovely and unspoilt.
Turtles can be seen in the waters around the boats.
The beach is very busy with daytrippers from all of the nearby resorts.
You can walk the 7km along the beach from one end to the other, but take plenty of water as there are only two beach cafes on the beach and very little shade.
The beach is closed to the public at nighttime due to turtles activities.
Beach wardens protect the nests.
After spending a few hours on the beach we headed to the mudbaths for a quick bath in the mud.
The mudbaths are said to have mineral properties to rejuvenate the skin.
Our last stop on the boat trip was to visit the Kaunos ruins. Kaunos was an ancient and important seaport. It has both Greek and Roman influence. The ruins date back to the 10th century BC.
Due to the silting of the bay of Dalyan, the ruins of Kaunos are now located about 8kms from the coast.
The theatre is still used for performances.
A little lake forms what used to be the main seaport.
The city was abandoned in the 15th century AD following a malaria outbreak.
On my return back to my appartment I was horrified to see a Praying Mantis (Mantis religiosa) on my balcony.
Fearing for my life, I had to run away! Something that I am well used to from my army days.
On my last day of my holiday I was going into the mountains to Saklikent Gorge. It is 50kms from Fethiye. The gorge is 20kms in length and 300 metres high.
The gorge is one of the longest in the world and I was going to walk several kilometres inland. With the water running down the gorge, the walk requires wading through the water up to waist height or in my case (as I am only 30 cms tall) being totally submerged.
A wooden walkway at the start of the gorge is the entry point into the gorge. After a few hundred metres, the walkway ends at a cafe. From here onwards, tourists must wade through the water. Safety ropes are in place for handholds. Tourists can only wade through the gorge in the summer months for safety reasons.
Finally, I went white water tubing down the river. After a knackering day at the gorge I headed back to the apartment where I spent my last night to a night of love with a sexy gal (I had to pay her fifty Euros). Then it was back to work the following Monday *sniffs*.
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For more information about Turkey please visit:
Today was day 3 and I was going to trek from Rowardennan to Crianlarich, a distance of 32 kms (20 miles).
It began to rain during the early hours.
This stretch is mostly forestry track following the eastern shore of Loch Lomond with occasional diversions onto a rocky path with crags and boulders.
Soon I arrived at Inversnaid – a village on the east bank of Loch Lomond, near the north end of the loch. It has a pier and a hotel. A small passenger ferry runs from Inversnaid to Inveruglas on the opposite shore of the loch.
The village became notable in 2010, when Inversnaid primary school was deemed to cost £54,000 per pupil, making it the most expensive primary school in the UK on a per capita basis.
The next section of the walk is by far the roughest section of the Way. The path is very rough going through the forest with many up and downs as one climbs over boulders, rocks and fallen trees.
About 1km north of Inversnaid is Rob Roy’s Cave. This is not a cave but a pile of rocks on top of each other forming a crevice. This was one of the bandit’s hideouts.
Eventually the Way emerges on an open gravel shore bay.
By now it was raining very heavy now and my cotton fur was getting very soggy.
I put the stove on for a quick coffee whilst sheltering under a tree.
Carrying on in the rain, the Way leaves Loch Lomond. Across the loch was the village of Ardlui where a ferry can be taken during the summer months.
The path follow an old pathway towards Inverarnan. Here is the popular stopping point the Drovers’ Inn. It is a favourite with walkers with its range of good value meals and selection of beers and whiskies. It is well worth a visit, if only to see the collection of stuffed animals and birds.
Leaving Inveraran, the path starts a steady ascent out of the Loch Lomond basin.
The path follows the river Falloch through a succession of gorges, rocky rapids, short cascades, cauldrons and wide dark peaty pools with short stretches of smooth water in between.
The path follows the river.
About two kilometres after the falls is the farm of Derrydarroch.
Here at the farm the Way crosses the river at a bridge.
The Way passes under a railway and road by a “sheep creep”.
The weather was getting worst with the rain.
The path takes another old military road going uphill towards a conifer plantation.
At the fence of the forest, the path spilts into two. The Way leads to the left whilst a path to the right leads to the village of Crianlarich. This is the half way point of the West Highland Way.
It was raining very heavy now and it was 7pm.
I was soaking so I put up my tent for the night in the forest.
To be continued….
For more information on the West Highlands Way please visit:
Today I was going to walk from Drymen to Rowardennan on the east coast of Loch Lomond. This stage was to be 25 kms (15 miles).
I spent the night camping in the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park. The Queen Elizabeth Forest Park was first designated as a Forest Park by the Forestry Commission in 1953 to mark the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
I watch the sunrise.
The forest is a conifer plantation and is currently undergoing harvesting.
The park is managed by the Forestry Commission.
After walking a mile or two through the forest tracks, I stopped in a clearing for breakfast. From the clearing I could see Conic Hill in the distance.
After breakfast, I return back to the track heading towards Conic Hill.
Through a clearing I see my first view of Loch Lomond.
The path goes along the edge of two fields before crossing the Burn of Mar and emerging onto open moorland heading up the ridge to the summit
It was a steep climb to the ridge line.
The Way follows a natural ledge just below the summit. The Way does not go to Conic Hill summit but to reach the summit, take the obvious path to the left of the Way path for the short, steep climb to the top.
Looking towards Loch Lomond, I could see the line of islands following the Highland boundary fault across Loch Lomond.
I then begin the decent towards Loch Lomond.
The forest path leads to the car park at Balmaha.
Balmaha is a hamlet on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond.
Balmaha is a popular tourist destination for day trippers from Glasgow as well a trekkers on the West Highland Way.
Boat trips leave from Balmaha for the villages of Balloch and Luss as well as nearby Inchcailloch Island.
I stopped here for a coffee.
The view across Loch Lomond was great.
I set off on my walk again following the path to the top of a hill, known as Craigie Fort.
The path then follows the east shore of Loch Lomond towards Arrochymore Point and then ontowards Milarrochy Bay, a popular picnic and boat launching spot.
It was a sunny day when I trekking here despite being October. I could be happy wearing my shorts.
I found a caterpillar on my boots.
The Way continues along the shore between and up a steep stony path into Ross Wood.
The mushrooms in this wood were very colourful….
….and very big!
This mushroom was about 20-25 cms across.
The Way continues along the shoreline to meet the road just south of Rowardennan.
Rowardennan is also the start point for the ascent of Ben Lomond, Scotland’s most climbed mountain. At 974 metres (3195 feet), it is the most southerly Munro (a name given to mountains over 3000 feet, approximately 914m).
That night I set camp in the woods. As I did so – five Red Deers crept near my campsite.
I was knackered after two days of hard trekking but the worst was yet to come.
To be continued….
For more information on the West Highlands Way please visit:
Today I was going to cross the Øresund Bridge by train and into Sweden to the city of Malmö.
The Øresund Bridge links Denmark to Sweden and was opened in 2000. It is a dual railway/road bridge and is almost 5 miles in length with a 2.5 mile tunnel preceding the bridge from the Danish side. It only cost 78 DKK (approx. 9 Euros) to cross the bridge by train.
The journey time from Copenhagen to Malmö is approximately half an hour.
My day trip to Sweden was to visit the city of Malmö. This is the third largest city in Sweden and the most southernmost city in Sweden.
In recent years, Malmö has become known for it rape crime wave and has earnt the reputation of the rape capital of Europe. A sad reflection on the failings of modern politicians. Putting this aside, Malmö centre has a number of interesting historic buildings and a castle from a time when this part of Sweden was part of Denmark.
My visit to Malmö was to start in the city centre in the square.
Near the square is St Petri (The Church of Saint Peter). It is a Gothic style in which construction started in 1319. It has a 105 metre tall tower.
After seeing the church, I was off to Willys supermarket to get my sandwiches. I like Willys.
Malmö is the host for the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest. This is the yearly contest to find Europe’s worst song and then promote the song in as a song of European unity. The contest is a mismatch of awful singers who had past their time many years ago (or in some cases decades ago).
I was walking around the historic centre of Malmö.
Near the centre of Malmö is the castle.
The castle is now a museum.
The castle is near the city park.
It was getting late on the afternoon. I was wearing my newly knitted daisy wooly hat.
I was off to the harbour for the sunset.
The harbour is a major port for Scandinavian shipping.
After visiting the harbour, I watched the sunset over the harbour with the Turning Torso tower in the background. The Turning Torso is the tallest skyscraper in Sweden.
For more information about Malmö please visit: