For the heck of it

Monday, October 30, 2006

My Trip to Oman

Spent my Eid / Diwali holiday in Khasab, Oman. The road trip was awesome. Perfect roads for a long drive beside the seafront winding over the mountains surrounding it. We were eight and so used two cars for the entire journey: a Ford Focus hatchback, which was driven by Anuj - my room mate Solomon's colleague and a Honda CRV, which was driven by Solomon.

We were supposed to get to Khasab, which is first town you hit as soon as you enter Oman's border. We were then to take a boat to a place called Mussundam, which is a small collection of islands. However, we didn't know that Oman infact shared two different border with the UAE. One is the border which is used to enter Khasab and the other is a border which is used to enter Muscat.

The Muscat route is used by people who are travelling to a place called Salalah, which is being claimed to be a kind of hill station in the Middle East. To reach Salalah, one can expect to travel about 1,200 kms by road, one way, from UAE. Thus, it is always advicable to take a flight to Muscat and travel to Salalah by road. However, we were first timers to Oman and so we didn't know the two border secret, and thus ended up losing our way.

We were supposed to leave by 5:30 in the morning. However, we only left at around 6:30 and by the time we reached Ras al Khaimah (an emirate in the UAE), it was about 8:00 in the morning. We then asked a few local people and one guy told us that there were two borders for entering Oman through road. So we asked around and we came to know that to go to Mussundam, we should be travelling towards Khasab and not Muscat.

Fortunately we were on the right track - we were travelling towards Khasab and by the time we reached the UAE-Oman border, it was about 10:00 am. But there was another surprise in store for us. Being Eid holidays here in the Middle East, it seemed as if the entire Dubai was travelling towards Oman for a holiday! We had to wait for three hours, just to get our visa!! Don't believe me? Check out the queue of cars below.

Finally everything was sorted out, visas granted and passports stamped. We spent AED30 to get the visa, which was quite cheap. We continued on our way and finally reached Khasab by around 2:30 pm. We were hungry and so headed straight towards a restaurant to have our lunch. However, yet another surprise was in store for us. Though Eid had been declared in the UAE, it was still the holy month of Ramadan in Oman. This meant that most restaurants only allowd take away meals. For those who don't know, it is against the law to eat and drink in public during Ramadan.

So we had to settle for a lousy burger and had to finish it in the car with the windows up! Lunch done, now time for some fun. our next stop was the Khasab port. We bargained and we booked a entire boat for AED250 for our trip to Mussundam. The boat cruise was amazing. The trip turned out to be special because we saw lots of dolphins swimming around. Guess we were lucky, because according to boat owner, the number of dolphins we saw that day was far too many compared to other days. Guess, our 12 hour gruelling journey to Mussundam, Oman was worth it.

Some Pix:

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Is this the Future of Digital Entertainment?

Years back, when digital audio players such as the iPod took the industry by storm, people wouldn’t have imagined that these players would soon mature to chic looking gadgets that could pack in much more capabilities. The world of the iPods is finally being eclipsed by a new breed of digital entertainment products called personal media players. These are a slew of devices that let you do it all on the move: play games, watch movies, listen to music, browse through snapshots, and even—if you insist—connect to the outside world.

And I’m not complaining, since I myself own an MSI Megaplayer 566 and I love the gadget already. It lets me play videos, listen to music, browse through my digital album collection and most importantly, record videos or music from any source. For instance, I can now directly record MiniDV video footage into ASF file format directly from the television, using the MSI Megaplayer 566. This really is a relief, as I would not have to spend hours trying to convert MiniDV footage to a video format, which I can then use to burn onto a CD or a DVD. That’s awesome!

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