Salalah, Oman and Aqaba, Jordan.

Tuesday 16th April 2019

Our ship docked in Salalah, a place we have visited before. It has the Dhofar Mountain Range behind it, the sea in front of it and white buildings as the middle of the sandwich. Today it is hot 34°C of blistering dry heat; I can feel my edges drying up within minutes of going out on decks. Unusually we decided to stay on board today whilst 1200 of the 1400 people got off.

With the ship to ourselves, we got our bits and pieces together. We took them up to a sheltered area on the sun deck that had a lovely breeze. We could not believe how lovely it was in the shade. I got on with writing my story which flowed like a knocked over jug of milk. Florie read a book finding it wonderful in the slight breeze.

We couldn’t believe our luck at lunch time, we had steak and kidney pie. Our favourite, and came complete with a large cold beer for me.

Afterwards we continued our rest in the shade until people started returning to the ship at about 1.30pm. It began to get noisy and the breeze we had was now was being spoilt with the arrival of the smokers. So, it was back to the cabin for a rest before the rigours of the afternoon and evening entertainment.

Plum tuckered out NIB

Aqaba, Jordan.

Monday 22nd April 2019

I’m sitting out here on deck 12 under a veranda in the shade, it’s about 26C with a slight breeze. As I look up from this diary, there are mountains round the ship. The ship is berthed at the end of the Gulf of Aqaba; and for me this is a most wonderful sight in the bright morning sunlight. It is picking out the different coloured sediments that formed the mountains and I can see the lines of erosion that run down from each peak.

This picture from our ship across the dock.

Aqaba across the dock.

The town lies at sea level in a small plateau nestled in a flat area of the surrounding mountains. Aqaba is famous to us older Brit’s for its portrayal in ‘Lawrence of Arabia.’ In the film, he and the Arab tribes attacked the town from the dessert side and conquered it. There was picture of him on a camel at the edge of the sea where we are now.

Florie and I went into the town today not knowing what to expect. We were pleasantly surprised to get off the ship and into town very quickly on the free shuttle bus. It was 9.35am when we got off the coach and the town had a lovely relaxed feel to it. Apart from the aggressive taxi drivers looking for fares, they had compunction about standing right in your face and asking you if you would like to taxi ride out to Waddie Rum cheep. This was also featured in the film

Having left behind the tenacious taxi touts, we had a leisurely and very pleasant walk round the town. As we walked, I was reminded of Kirkenbosch in Cape Town, a lovely memory of a beautiful place. Also because we had a most spectacular view of the Gulf of Aqaba and that reminded us of our visit to the Canadian, ‘Bay of Islands’ in Cornerbrook. Another place bathed in brilliant sunshine just like today.

After walking for a while, we stumbled across a Tax Free Shop where we thought to buy some beer and chocolate, ‘man cannot live on beer alone!’ At the checkout, there was also an official in uniform who didn’t want to accept our copy passports the ship had instructed us to take ashore. We stood for a long, long time while this official spoke on the phone. I was fed up waiting that long for just a few items, so I went up took my papers and told them to stick their goods. All of a sudden everything was fine, they accepted our ID and took our money, putting us in front of some locals who were buying thousands of cigarettes for just a few dollars.

We continued along the road adjacent to the shore, and came upon the remains of Ayla the original port town that was built in 605 AD. The stone remains were there excavated with the help an American university grant.

Notice about Original Town.

We walked round the site at leisure for about twenty minutes then just as we left, four coaches of tourists turned up and filled the site with people and noise. We hastily walked away and crossed the road to some local shops where Florie perused the Arab jewellery, none of which would go with any of her outfits, so we left away empty handed.

It was getting towards lunchtime by now, we were lucky when we came across The Royal Yacht Club menu in a fancy notice board on the road. It was a long walk on the boardwalk to the club, but worth it. We sat looking out at the Gulf in a shaded area with a slight breeze. I could see the mountains rising up at each side, I was in heaven. Florie was using the free Wi-Fi to catch up on her emails.

The view from our lunch table.

Royal Yacht Club and the mountains.

Then it was time for lunch; our waiter brought hot freshly made bread and cold white wine and water while we chose our meals. I chose shrimps and when they came they were the size of baguettes. Florie had chicken escallops, which she assured me were delicious. My shrimps were scrumptious; washed down with a second glass of wine. I was sat with the woman I love, eating a delicious meal with stunning vistas, what more could I ask of life?

Afterwards we slowly walked back to our coach pickup point, where luckily, there was one waiting. The whole area was quiet now; all the taxi drivers had gone.

Back aboard the ship, I filled the fridge with beer and chocolate ready for later.

Then went up to have a coffee in the buffet area before coming out here and sitting in the sun looking at these beautiful mountains each time I look up from my writing pad. Isn’t life wonderful sometimes?

Nib aba.

About Don Graham 333

Word blind in one eye, bad tempered and only a broken pencil to write with, I don't stand a chance!
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