Saturday, April 07, 2007

Air and water

Last weekend I took some advice often given to bloggers and got out more. Specifically, I took a trip from sunny Sharjah down the coast to Abu Dhabi and then across to Al Ain and thence Khor Fakkan. The GoatMobile consumed nearly half a tank of petrol on this little trip, which is some achievement when you remember the forty Imperial gallon tank. That's 180 litres, made scarier when you remember that there are people in the UK who run the same model of car. Ouch, expense.

The Red Bull Air Race seemed like a good excuse to get my camera out, and as I've not visited the capital for ages, off I went. Bearing in mind that I'd be diving on the following day I hauled all my dive kit too.

Traffic on Abu Dhabi corniche was predictably chaotic. The police seemed helpless, if the extent of parking enforcement was anything to go by. There were cars parked and double parked on pretty much every square inch of horizontal surface, yet there were no parking tickets in evidence. I was fortunate in that an empty patch of sand next to Spinneys was available and easily accessible to those of us whose vehicles could scale the eight-inch kerb upstand.

Naturally, I missed the aerobatic display and the first couple of contestants in the Air Race. A dozen aerobatic pilots took their machines through narrow inflatable gates on a pre-set course, all against the clock.

Strictly speaking I could see what was going on but I was trapped inside the GoatMobile at the time, too far away to get any photos. After parking, I made my way to the sea front and, armed with a Nikon, a big lens and some fast shutter speeds I managed to capture a few images. Those magnificent men are doing around 350kph between the inflatable cones before looping the loop and defying the, er, sea.

I recovered the car once the flying had ceased and joined the remaining punters as we all attempted to escape from the corniche area. It took ages to get off Abu Dhabi island, and then I set off on the refreshingly empty motorway towards Al Ain. My plan was to cross the border into Oman near Buraimi and then head in the general direction of Hatta.

I've not been to Al Ain for ages either. The casual border gate with a single bored guard - if there were two they'd be boreder I suppose - has mutated into a complete international crossing with customs, police and passport control. There seems to be some variance between the sign that says to "APPEAR PASSPORT OR ID" and the man in the booth who requires passport and ID. Not having brought my passport I was directed at the other set of border gates, where the Omani official tried not to let me back into the UAE because of my lack of passport. "But that's why they won't let me leave. So I'm not entering the UAE because I never left."

Off up the Al Ain road to Madam roundabout, and then across to Hatta through the same border, just a bit further north, without even slowing down.

Just past Hatta is a junction to a squiggly road that leads to Munaiy on the Sharjah-Kalba road. Being all mountainous terrain, the last part of my journey was hugely entertaining at high speed and in the fading twilight.

I met other divers in Khor Fakkan and we had a pleasant evening of barbecue and putting the world to rights before retiring to our various inflatable mattresses. Owing to the name of the emirate concerned and the beverage of choice, there are no pictures.

The diving on Saturday was very refreshing. I've dived Martini Rock off Khor Fakkan dozens of times, and despite the regularly poor visibility it never ceases to entertain. But I've not dived Inchcape 10 before. Lying just off Fujairah, I hope to dive it a lot more. The wreck is teeming with life.

I saw a new species of nudibranch (well new to me, unless it's a variant of these)

and the biggest nudibranch I've ever seen.

Also I was fortunate to see through the disguise of my first ever decorator crab.

The moray, hiding in an old tyre, was crying out to be photographed.

The water temperature is still a little chilly. It's in the low to mid twenties Celsius. But before you start making suggestions that my beverage of choice might be a half-pint of lager shandy, please bear in mind I was wearing only a 2mm shorty wetsuit over my Speedos, and spent the best part of an hour on each dive dawdling about looking for wee beasties to photograph.


secretdubai said...

Oh those Morays are HORRIBLE - I've seen them in aquariums before - huge great creepy malicious looking things. Give me a pretty seahorse or angel fish to take the ick away ;)

Taunted said...

The goat is Speedo's OMG, some things should never be mentioned....

CG said...

Morays scare the poop out of me. I came face to face with one once....

Grumpy Goat said...

Back in 1997 when I was a young and inexperienced diver, the club went to Muscat for a long weekend. We dived a site where no-one goes (apparently it's the Sultan's private bay)


So the enormous curious moray we disturbed had never seen divers before, and it came out of its hole in the coral to investigate. Me and my buddy swam as fast as we could to escape this leviathan that was about ten feet long and had the cross section of an elephant's leg. It chased us right across the bay and we eventually surfaced miles from the boat.

I try to convince myself that it was lonely, curious and only wanted to be friends. Hahahahaha!

~ Ms. Cute Pants ~ said...

Oh all those years in DXB, I wish I had been brave enough to snorkel! Perhaps on my next visit there! But Bda is making up for lost snorkel time. Here's Bermuda's Green Moray Eel


The opinions expressed in this weblog are the works of the Grumpy Goat, and are not necessarily the opinions shared by any person or organisation who may be referenced. Come to that, the opinions may not even be those of the Grumpy Goat, who could just be playing Devil's Advocate. Some posts may be of parody or satyrical [sic] nature. Nothing herein should be taken too seriously. The Grumpy Goat would prefer that offensive language or opinions not be posted in the comments. Offensive comments may be subject to deletion at the Grumpy Goat's sole discretion. The Grumpy Goat is not responsible for the content of other blogs or websites that are linked from this weblog. No goats were harmed in the making of this blog. Any resemblance to individuals or organisations mentioned herein and those that actually exist may or may not be intentional. May contain nuts.