The House of The Demon
Sur, Oman, 2009-12-08 12:00 by Martin and Laerke
Our road trip through Oman took us to Wahiba Sands, a huge body of sand covering 12,500 square kilometers. Here we put up our tent on the soft orange sand and fell asleep to the sounds of the wind. The next morning we were woken up by some voices. As we emerged from our tent, we were met by a group of young boys. They asked if we had had breakfast and proceeded to offer us pepsi – lovely breakfast :-) Afterwards they helped us take down the tent and carry our stuff back to the car, by now we don’t get so surprised anymore when we are met by the friendliness of the Omani people, but we still forget sometimes. When trying to cross a street one day on foot, a taxi stopped just before us on the road. I waved for it to pass, as I was sure he simply wanted to pick up the tourists (us) and get paid well. When he didn’t pass, I gave him a stern look and waved impatiently again – then I realized that he hadn’t stopped to try and pick us up, but instead was simply very courteous and stopped so we could cross the otherwise traffic crowded street. It’s so easy to make stereotypes and misjudge…

Our next stop was Sur a quiet sea side town with a very pretty corniche; Sur is famous for dhow building and we did see some of these big wooden boats bopping around in the waters around Sur. Close by is the famous beach of Ras Al Jinz, not famous for swimming or anything – but for its turtles who come to nest here. It was interesting to see the big turtles come ashore to lay their eggs, but even more fun to see the little ones make their way down to the ocean for the very first time!

We travelled on to Wadi Shab that is known for being one of Oman’s beauty spots and it really is beautiful! Wadi means something along the lines of a river bed – these are often located in a gorge. We walked into the gorge with towering red cliffs on each side, water flows through the wadi throughout the year and has created several pools big enough for swimming. The water was crystal clear and we saw many little fish (and a big one too…!) swimming around alongside us. The locals use the water to irrigate small, small plots where they grow grass for their animals as well as date palms. It was so nice to see greenery again after the drives through Oman’s very dry and barren landscape. Our long walk winded through the gorge, and even along the cliffs high above it – looking down on the greenery was amazing...and a bit scary at times, when the footpath narrowed into less than a meter wide, with a vertical drop of 20 meters to one side and sheer cliff face to the other, offering little handhold and even less comfort :-)

We spend that night on a nearby beach called Tiwi Beach or White Beach named so because of its beautiful, white sand. A lovely place to camp!

Our very last stop before returning to Muscat was “The Sinkhole” it sounded a bit strange when described in the guidebook, a sinkhole is a natural depression or hole in the surface topography caused by the removal of soil or bedrock, this removal is often caused by water. Moreover, according to local legend, a demon lives in the water, the sinkhole is actually called “Bait Al Afreet” which means “house of the demon”. Of course we had to visit this “house of the demon”! When we got there we were very pleasantly surprised, it turns out demons have excellent taste in houses. The sinkhole was about 40m x 20m big, and apparently the depth has never been measured, we descended down a very long staircase made for some mythical breed of giant people; if you were to judge by the size of the steps. The water had an amazing blue color and in my opinion it has to be one of the most beautiful spots in Oman! We swam and snorkeled, Martin even found some lost money (about 15kr all together). I just hope that the locals don’t treat it like a wishing-well and that we will be forever cursed for having picked up the money… Well at least we had a lovely day in the demon’s hole!