[‘Friends of the road (Vrienden van de weg)’ bestaat enkel in het Engels, excuses hiervoor]
It’s amazing how many wonderful people I meet on my way to Taiwan. I give them a special place, mainly in my heart but also on my blog.
This page is dedicated to those friendly people I met in Oman and the Emirates.
People who offer me a night stay in their garden, stable, garage or flat. People who offer me a shower, breakfast, some food for the road, homemade tidbits, water or a nice chat. People who put an effort in showing me the right direction.
People who mean a lot to me.
People I instant like and love.
People who make my journey memorable.
People who deserve a special thank you, bedankt, merci, danke schön, děkuji, dzięki, спасибі, mulțumesc, благодаря, teşekkürler, …
People I call friends.
Thanks a million!
On the boat from Qeshm Island in Iran to the Musandam peninsula in Oman, I met Monica and Mikhail, a very kind cyclist couple from Romania. Iran-perceptions were exchanged. At dusk, we arrived in Oman, we decided to camp together on Bassa Beach. I was extremely glad I didn’t have to camp alone and enjoyed good company. Thanks a lot, guys! #oman
Day two on the peninsula. Monica and Mikhail were gone, so I had to camp alone, I was afraid (after all the things that happened in Iran). I checked hotels, but prices of minimum € 70 a night were not possible for my tiny budget. I asked people if they knew a free place to stay or camp. Nobody answered positively. I started to become pretty sad. But suddenly a car stopped, the man inside asked if I wanted to change money. ‘Uh, no, I don’t.’ He continued by asking if I needed any help. I doubted a second but then said: ‘well actually, yes I do :)’. Momo (Mohammed) let me stay at his sister’s place. The house was full of women and five enthusiastic, joyful kids. Just what I needed. Selma, Momo’s sister, offered me a lovely dinner and breakfast. The kids, full of energy, gave me some of theirs. I’ll never forget my time with these little sunbeams and super sweet Selma #oman
On my way back from Khor an Najd, I had to find a place for the night. One big open space and only huge houses behind walls, no hidden place for camping. I rang bells and asked if I could pitch my tent. People said ‘no’, I asked in the mosque, a ‘no’ again, finally I ended up in the ‘garden’ of this family. An instant ‘yes’ made me very surprised and happy. Good night and thanks a million! #oman
It became a constant, being afraid around camping time and asking people if I could camp in their garden. A man entered the gate of his house. I asked him if it was possible to camp on their territory. Many Omani houses exist of huge rooms and the first one is made for guests. I couldn’t camp in the garden because the man insisted on sleeping in the guest room (with a bathroom included *wow shower time*). Once I was in the house the man disappeared and all the women and children of the house showed up. The next morning I was spoiled with a yummy breakfast. And afterwards, I went walking on the beach with the girls #spoiled #cosy #grateful #oman
Another village, another night, another fear. I could sleep near the mosque, under a shelter. Suddenly this guy showed up. ‘You don’t have to sleep here, please come to my house, you can have a room and I’ll introduce you to my sisters.’ Another girly night and another hearty breakfast. Oman’s hospitality is endless #oman
Oman’s children are one bunch of enthusiastic, cheerful, lively kids. Once they notice you, they start smiling, waving or saying ‘hello, how are you?’. This group of sweeties started yelling: ‘I love you, I love you, I love you’ #toosweet #melting #love #oman
I always like it when I see people in other countries cycling. I also love to see their bikes and how they customise it. These cute kids cycled with me for some kilometres, just like that, because it’s fun! #oman
The coastal stretch consists of a string of villages. Hard to find a hidden camp spot. I could camp in this (sandy) garden. In the evening all the sisters of the family came sitting around my tent and took pictures. The next morning the children of the house were my alarm. Thanks for letting me camp here #oman
Wow, sometimes I just can’t believe how warm and hospitable people can be. Like in Muscat, Oman’s capital. A city where hotels are unaffordable and my Couchsurf address was a last minute no go. My wonderful friend Tom contacted his ex-colleague Erwin, who is living in Muscat, and asked if I could stay there for the night. One night, became two, three, four, ten and more. I could enjoy a fresh beer (which wasn’t possible in a very long time *heaven*), having my clothes washed in a real washing machine and sleeping in a real bed in a big room with my own bathroom. It felt like I was staying in a five-star hotel. After my bad experiences in Iran, it was good to be surrounded by warm people, speak my own language and feel at home. And as if this wasn’t enough they organised a charity barbeque for trientrapt. Amazing, isn’t it? 21 warm and very kind friends of the house showed up and donated the incredible amount of *B AN G K L A N G B O O M* € 582 (241 OMR)!!! Can you believe that? I felt truly spoiled and fortunate not only for the charity bbq but also for my days in ‘The Wave’. I got back on track and after a month I had to leave the country because of my visa expiry. Once I returned I went back to Muscat, back to Erwin, Daniëlla, Matthys and Maite. We went on a boat trip to the beautiful Damaniyat islands where it was lovely to scuba dive. What an experience, what a day and what a good time. Thanks a million family Mortelmans. You can’t imagine what all this meant to me. Hope to see you in Ghent. Gin tonic will be served and an episode of ‘Thuis’ will be shown, especially for you ;-P #oman
After 10 months on the road, even my cycling cap couldn’t camouflage my destroyed hair. Hairdressers in Oman are expensive, so my wallet said ‘no’. Nadia, a friend of Daniëlla and hairdresser, cut my hair for free. Just like that, to support my project. Wonderful isn’t it? #oman
Planning my route in Oman was much easier thanks to Ahmed, a really kind Omani and nature lover. Without exaggerating, he really knows every corner, every mountain, and every wadi his amazing country offers. Thanks to him and the ‘Offroad Oman’ book I made great gpx-tracks to cycle on Oman’s many dirt roads #oman
I needed some nuts and bolts for my new bike, and also some customising. These guys helped me out. Just like that, just for free. Welcome in Oman’s DIY store #oman
My new pair of pants that had to be made smaller. My saddlebag that had to be adjusted. These Indian tailors gave me a nice reduction, just to help me with my project #oman
Pushing my bike up the mountain village was so much easier with the help of these super enthusiastic kids. They were laughing, running and pushing my bike and waving me goodbye #sweet #oman
Oman has a countless amount of wadis. You can cycle into the wadi and back. It happens you can cycle further but most of the time you just have to return the part you’ve cycled already. Sometimes there’s just no time to cycle the whole stretch back. That stretch you cycled all the way up (and down and up and down and up, and in the end much higher). Because I wanted to save time I hitchhiked the first stretch ‘down’. This car stopped. A sheikh with his wife and daughter were keen on riding me the whole way down. Because they were so kind and it was so interesting to talk with them I just said thank you instead of saying: ‘Stop stop, from here on I cycle further’ #oman
Cycling up Wadi Fins is though. What did I say? Cycling up Wadi Fins is extremely though. Especially with temperatures over 40 degrees. Pushing my bike, gliding down in the loose sand, pushing up, being thirsty, sweat all around, and then this jeep with three people showed up. Ready for a weekend of camping. But next to wood, camping seats, tent and plenty of food, there was also place for my bike. Don’t know what happened… Normally I reject such offers, but I was completely exhausted (blame it on the sun ;)). So I said yes for the last few kilometres. The last stretch of the sandy, bumpy road towards the Salma plateau #oman
The only way is up! But that way is much harder without food and water. Luckily a fleet of Omani jeeps passed by. They stopped and asked if I needed water or food? ‘Oh, did you read my mind?’ ‘Yeah, that would be wonderful, thank you so much’ #oman
A German couple on a tour of Oman. They used to live for a couple of years in Brussels. The woman even spoke some Dutch. I met them near the beautiful Beehive tombs. They were having their lunch break. If I wanted to have some of their yummy lunch? Wow, great, a cyclist never says no to good food. Thanks a lot #oman
Looking for a camping spot near Sharqiya Sands, Oman’s desert, I found a place. But unfortunately, it wasn’t really possible to pitch my tent in the loose sand. Suddenly a jeep passed by, it was Mohammed (right on the picture). He asked me if I wanted to stay in his house. I said ‘no, thank you’. Five minutes later another jeep stopped near my wannabe tent. It was Mohammed’s wife, sister and their kids (beautiful Omani children with super long eyelashes and kohl around their eyes). The women insisted on staying in their small weekend Bedouin house next to the camel stable a couple of meters further. I ended up saying ‘yes, thank you’. Half an hour later I was extremely glad I accepted their offer. The daily sandstorm blew sand all around, even into the Bedouin house. The next morning Mohammed was there again. He invited me to go to the desert, meet his family, who is living there, see the camels, ride on them and stay in the desert Bedouin house (see picture). But first, I could join him and watch the training of racing camels. All this was an unforgettable experience and an example of Bedouin hospitality. Being treated like a king/queen, being offered food and getting a place to rest. Just like I am a Bedouin passing their settlement #oman
I met Bader (Mohammed’s brother) and his cute little son Said in Sharqiya Sands desert. Mohammed invited me in their Bedouin house. I could stay there as long as I wanted. They offered me food, I could see and feed the camels, sleep in their Bedouin house and have a small desert tour in their jeep. The second morning Bader was sad, he just came from the souq and sold only one goat instead of three. Hard times! I suggested to make pictures and set up a website and Facebook page for him. Like that he could rent the Bedouin house for tourists. Just what he wanted. It’s a lovely place, not like all the other tourist camps in the surroundings. If you’re in Oman and interested in a unique experience by sleeping in your own Bedouin house in the middle of the desert. Eating (and/or cooking) Bedouin food on a campfire with Bader and his family. Getting to know the secrets of the desert and following traces of scorpions or sand fishes. Don’t hesitate, check out his website! While making it Bader overloaded me with food and drinks. Thanks a lot, dear Bader #oman
I cycled along the beach/sand dunes in Oman. I suffered from sunstroke. I met a group of expats camping in the dunes. Perfect timing to ask for water. After just half an hour of chatting, Cédric (one of the expats) handed me money for my project. Can you imagine? I hardly knew them and they donated all together for trientrapt! I went back to my bike, noticed a flat tire. The sun set and they suggested to camp with them. The next day I still felt sick and I could stay with them (again), join their campfire and bbq. The following morning we all had to leave. For me, saying goodbye was a bit emotional. Moments like these I truly appreciate, they make me weak. Feeling some warmth, interest and help do good, correction, do great! A couple of days later I received a mail from Katja and Sylvia. There is a school bake and they’ll bake in favour of trientrapt! What? That’s amazing! I couldn’t believe what I read, but a week later I received a new mail with the amount of the donation… SO-O-O… IT WAS REAL! In total (with their own donation too) they raised € 460 for trientrapt!!! Moments like these they make me blush, warm, feeling emotional, grateful and smile… to the moon and back. Thank you so much Cédric, Katja, Sylvia, Juliana, Michael, Santiago, Arrange and your sweet little kids. One month later, back in Muscat, I gave a presentation of my project in Michael’s school and could stay for a couple of days at Cédric and Katja’s house #sograteful #oman
It was in Duqm that I really realised I couldn’t cycle all the way down to Salalah. Meaning I have to hitchhike some hundreds of kilometres – sniff sniff – This man told me starting at the benzine station in Duqm wasn’t a good idea. He insisted on driving me 10 kilometres further to the perfect spot with ‘lots’ of traffic. I didn’t see much traffic, but a passing car gave me a ride. Thanks a lot, kind stranger #oman
Hitchhiking in bits and pieces, covering a couple of hundred kilometres and being grateful for getting to know something of expat life as an Egyptian English teacher #oman
These guys were truly great. Although it wasn’t allowed to drive during their lunch break, they insisted on bringing me 40 kilometres further. The company allowed them only to drive 20 kilometres. So at kilometre 19, he stopped the motor, waited for five minutes and then we drove further for the next 19 kilometres. Funny and extremely good guys. Nice conversation in the desert #oman
I saw a bunch of camels sunbathing at the seaside. Since I got to know the camels in the desert, I’m really hypnotised by them. When I see them, I have to go to them, caress them or just observe them. They are so amazing, they make me zen. So I hung around with ‘my friends’. Only two other people were there too. It was Alexi and Aditya from Quebec (travelling every year for seven months -wow-). They told me that now, there are many dolphins in the sea. Swimming and jumping around in the water. They told me how you can swim with them, how they come towards you, how sweet they are. They offered me goggles so I could experience the lovely feeling of being surrounded by them. Later in the afternoon, we decided to camp together #goodtimes #oman
In Salalah, I stayed with my super friendly Egyptian Couchsurf host Akram. Together with his friend Ahmed I spend some time outside and got to know the little Egyptian community in Salalah, in the south of Oman #oman
I met Rodi and Jona, two funny, crazy Belgian guys, near Jebel Shams in the beautiful Hajar mountains. They invited me to join their hiking day. They are the kind of guys that see a summit and say: ‘let’s go there’. Just straight uphill. One day became two with lots of sweat and laughter. And because I really don’t like selfies, we said goodbye and made our own ‘smellfie’ (check www.instagram.com/trientrapt) #oman
Sylvia, dear Sylvia. I met her at the beachside when I had my sunstroke and my flat tire. She’s a doctor. So she gave me the right medicine and care. When I returned to Muscat she insisted on helping by driving me around and showing me a bit of Oman’s immense capital. Also, her two sweet boys were very good company #oman
I arrived in Dubai, in the Emirates, another city of expats. I could stay at Scott’s place. I’m always surprised to see how people easily trust others. How you can feel at home in no time, just because they open their door. Thanks a lot for your hospitality Scott and Laura #unitedarabemirates
It was great to meet Marcos at Scott’s place. While Scott and Laura went to work, we were in theory updating our blog. But it was constantly interrupted by nice chats about life on the road. Good to meet you Marcos. Pedal on! #unitedarabemirates
I couldn’t stay my whole Dubai stay at Scott’s place. I moved to Christoph’s house… What can I say? Christophe was a wonderful host, one you feel immediately at ease with. Somebody who likes a chat, laugh and beer. His daughter and friend were there too. Two nice girls who invited me to join them to see the light show in Marina district. A cosy and yummy evening. Thank you so much for the two, uh sorry, three, four,… nights at your place Christophe. Wonderful you gave me a ride to the airport, and great I made it in time 😉 Always welcome in Belgium. Enjoy the road! #unitedarabemirates
It was in Christophe’s house I got to know Lucie. A very funny and kind cyclist from France. I was hoping to meet her further on the road, but our paths didn’t cross anymore. But never say never 😉 Enjoy the road sweet Lucie #unitedarabemirates