Category Archives: World Around Me

The Ultimate Checklist for Beach & Mountain Camping

As I promised on the Musandam camping post, here’s a complete checklist for your next camping adventure. If you have any favorites that I missed, please note them under comments, and I’ll merge them back.

Barbeque

  • Barbeque*
  • Skewers*
  • Tongs*
  • Firewood/Coal briquetes*
  • Matchbox/Jet flame*
  • Lighting Fuel
  • Blower/Fan*
  • Meats/Veggies*
  • Greasing brush
  • Plastic plate or metal containers
  • Clamp grill (for smaller items like prawns & veggies)
  • Cleaning brush
The flame torch is a blessing! Fires up the coal in minutes
The flame torch is a blessing! Fires up the coal in minutes

Food & Beverages

  • Drinking water*
  • Spare water*
  • Drinks*
  • Laban/Milk (great to cool down your system)
  • Ketchup/Dips*
  • Garlic bread
  • Salt/Pepper
  • Bottle/can Opener
  • Lemon juice
  • Chips
  • Coffee sachets
Don't forget to include a cheesy garlic bread!
Don’t forget to include a cheesy garlic bread!

Accessories

  • Tissues
  • Newspapers
  • Swiss/Kitchen Knife
  • Disposable plates/cutlery*
  • Cooler box/Thermal bag
  • Ice cubes
  • Dish washing soap
  • Hot water kettle

Continue reading The Ultimate Checklist for Beach & Mountain Camping

Camping trip from Dubai to Musandam, Oman

Long weekends are hard to find in the UAE. And with the weather getting better for a change, it was just the right time for camping. As amateurs, Balan & I picked up the entire kit from Lulu and packed it in the trunk. Yes, the camping list is planned for another post.

After a lazy start, we set on the road to Khasab via Ras Al Khaimah. We got a bit lost and instead landed on the road to Jabal Jais – the highest mountain in the UAE. It’s a 30 min detour that goes uphill through rocky mountains and serves a view from the not-so-high summit.

View from Jabal Jais
View from Jabal Jais
I love bakeries!
I love bakeries!

We headed back to RAK to join the coastal road and stopped by at a local bakery for a quick bite. The freshly baked pizza & assorted fatayer were just delectable – only to release that the delivery boy had baked them in absence of the chef 😉

Next stop was the border. On the UAE side, we had to park to get exit stamps. This is where they verify that the visa is eligible for visa-on-arrival in Oman. There’s an exit fee of 35Dh per head, only accepted via the e-Dirham card. So if you have one, carry it along. We were given a slip mentioning the number of people & vehicle number which we had to give at the UAE border exit.

Omani Border post
Omani Border post

We stopped again in about 100m at the Omani border to get our visas. Lucky for us, there were no queues. The visa fee of OMR 5  (~50Dh) is not accepted in Riyals, so we paid by card. A 30 day permit was stamped in exchange for the fee and a small form. Back in the car, Omani customs took a quick peep in the boot and let us go. 5 minutes in to Oman and the views were heavenly. We were just in time for sunset.

Sunset at the border
Sunset at the border

We kept driving on the coastal road for the next 40 kms and kept finding camping spots that we’d marked on GPS. We thought Continue reading Camping trip from Dubai to Musandam, Oman

Day 8: Princes Island, Taksim & Istiklal

After a saddening experience in Izmir, we were back in Istanbul for the last day of our Turkey trip. Weather was once again not reliable, but we still headed to Princes’ Islands after breakfast.

Funiculur to Kabatas
Funiculur to Kabatas

We took the cheapest ferry to Princes’ Islands for 6TL one way.

Horse cart stand on Buyukada
Horse cart stand on Buyukada

Continue reading Day 8: Princes Island, Taksim & Istiklal

Day 7: Saddened by Izmir’s refugee death boats

On the train from Selcuk, I was reading about how close Greece was to Izmir. With daily coast-to-coast ferries, I regretted not  planning a trip despite of a valid Schengen visa. On arriving, we were all extremely hungry and headed to a cafe on the main street connecting Basmane station with the coast.

Delicious lahmacun & pide with lentil soup

We noticed an unusual transition in the anthropological scene. Instead of an European influence, we noticed more Arabic features. We saw garment stores selling life jackets & tubes. Some suspicious men were walking in and out of the cafe. In a flash second, all dots connected in my head. Izmir was the starting point for refugee death boats headed to the Greek coast. The unraveling of facts and accompanying images only saddened us.

Shops selling life jackets & tubes
Shops selling life jackets & tubes

We woke up in the morning to go around the city, Continue reading Day 7: Saddened by Izmir’s refugee death boats

Day 6: Kusadasi, Euphesus & Artemis, Selcuk

Our bus from Pammukale took us straight to our seaport hotel in Kusadasi. The view from the room was to die for. But the room itself seemed to have been designed for the 60’s; no one had imagined there would be personal devices that would need additional electric points in the room.

View from our Kusadasi hotel
View from our Kusadasi hotel

We negotiated with Ondur the taxi driver, to drive us to Virgin Mary, Euphesus and drop us at Selcuk railway station – for 120TL.

Virgin Mary house
Virgin Mary house

Continue reading Day 6: Kusadasi, Euphesus & Artemis, Selcuk

Day 5: Aphrodisias & Pamukkale

From Kayseri, we got off the bus near Pammukale and were driven to the city on a free feeder bus. It later turned out that this was an agent selling his own local services. We teamed up with Balan & Kavita to rent a car and head straight to Aphrodisias.

Stadium
Stadium

Panoramic view
Panoramic view

We headed back to Pammukale to visit the world heritage site of Hierapolis.

Located on hot springs in classical Phrygia
Located on hot springs in classical Phrygia
Walking down through the travertines, barefoot
Walking down through the travertines, barefoot

From here, we headed to Kusadasi for Day 6 of our Turkey Roadtrip.

Day 4: Balloon flight & cave hotel in Cappadocia

After a 125 km drive from Kayseri to Cappadocia, we had one of the most beautiful hotels I’ve ever stayed at. Of course, because I never lived in a cave before.

The Artemis Cave Hotel
The Artemis Cave Hotel

On enquiring about the ballooon flight, we were told that no flights were being operated on account of weather. We had almost given up, but something made us step in to a travel shop. We were more than delighted to learn that flights were being operated, but in an equal dilemma about spending €100. But we realized it was now or never and booked ourselves. The rest was beyond imagination.

Balloons being readied
Balloons being readied

At 6a, we headed to the site where balloons were being readied for flight. After a brief safety explanation of safety procedures, we were airborne with captain Jemal. His maneuvers Continue reading Day 4: Balloon flight & cave hotel in Cappadocia

Day 3: Mount Erciyes & Kayseri

After 2 days in Istanbul, we were now headed to Kayseri. Being on a budget trip, we took a taxi to Taksim around 3am to jump on the Havatas airport shuttle to Istanbul Sabiha airport. Lucky for us, the Pegasus flight to Kayseri was light and I got an entire row to stretch out. Our hotel was booked in Cappadocia and we didn’t want to carry our backpacks with us, so we rented a car at the airport. It was a pleasure driving through the scenic passes.

Breakfast at a tiny tea shop, tea for 0.5TL
Breakfast at a tiny tea shop, tea for 0.5TL

Continue reading Day 3: Mount Erciyes & Kayseri

Day 2: Markets, Galata and more of Istanbul

Traveling in the low season, we carried the risk of bad weather. While our 1st day in Istanbul was nice and sunny, day 2 was forecasted cloudy for most of the part. We thought of using the time indoors at the 500 year old Grand Market.

The Grand Market
The Grand Market

Since we didn’t want to leave anything to the last day, we headed to the Galata Tower. At a 25TL entrance fee, it was a bit hyped (locals pays 5TL).

View from the Galata Tower
View from the Galata Tower

We picked up a grilled fish sandwich on the bridge below the Golden Horn – it was fresh no doubt. We didn’t want to spend on an expensive Bosphorus cruise, and found a cheaper option for 12TL for a 2 hour ride. Here are some shots Continue reading Day 2: Markets, Galata and more of Istanbul