Thursday, July 16, 2009

Prasheel goes to Salalah, Oman

The Journey

Left my place around 1pm on Sunday afternoon, headed to the Ottawa train station to catch a bus to the Montreal airport. 2h bus ride, followed by a couple hour wait, then a 6.5h flight to Amsterdam. Once there, met up with Will Fisher, one of our BMX ramp riders, who introduced me to our inliner, Julian Deschamps, who happened to be on the same flight as me. After that, the three of us wandered around the airport for a while as we had a couple hours to kill for our layover. As well, Will was trying to find out other BMX ramp rider, Devin Szmata. We eventually found him after we did some shopping and checked in to our gate.

We arrived in Muscat, Oman on Monday night, after another 6.5h flight, which went by really quick in comparison to the 9h layover we had there. We started off by going through customs and getting our visa paper work sorted, then picking up our luggage (which we were told was going to go straight to Salalah for us), and then checking in to our next flight, which was early Tuesday morning. We made use of the 24h Dairy Queen and the terrible internet connection in the cafeteria for a while, then wandered around outdoors for a while.

Despite it being really late out, the heat in Oman hits you extremely hard as soon as you walk out the doors. Even at 3am, I think it was about 27C (probably 35C with humidity). Will shot some photos, and then we sat on some benches and conversed for a while. My favourite part of Muscat was when this old dude that was sleeping on the bench next to us woke up and proceeded to yell at us for talking to each other next to his bed.

We headed back indoors, enjoyed some Papa John's pizza for breakfast (I got a chicken shawarma pizza, it had potatoes on it!), and finally got to check in for our 1h flight shortly after. Having heard that it was difficult to obtain alcohol in Salalah, we all stocked up at the duty free, with both hands full either with a 1L bottle of vodka, or a case of beer.

It was about 6am when we arrived in Salalah, and we were all greeted by two men as we were waiting for our luggage to arrive on the carousel. We threw all our stuff in the cars belonging to these men and they drove us to our new home for the next month. They made a phone call, and our managers, Pat, Andrew, and Ben (who is also one of our riders), greeted us. They and our skateboarder, Mat, were in Salalah for almost a week at that point, as they came early to build the ramps for the shows. We were shown around the house, and then I promptly took a shower and headed to bed, as I only got about 3h of sleep the past two nights.

Tuesday night, we headed to the show site to check it out and test out the ramps. Despite the fair only opening the next day, there was no shortage of young children there to cheer us on or heckle us. It didn't help that the festival they brought us over to perform in (khareef festival), is on to celebrate the monsoon season. So, likely, we had to deal with a small amount of rain, which dries up quick, with it still being so hot out, even at night.. After our 'show', which ended with kids demanding to see backflips over and over (after they were shown several times), we headed back to the house, showered, ate, and proceeded to get liquored up.

On Wednesday, the fair is only open to government workers, who were coming to see a giant production show that was to be performed only one time and called for two weeks of rehearsal. With that being said, we were not only not performing that night, but we were not even allowed in to the fair, so we filled our time with various other tasks.

Some of the guys headed to the Crown Royal plaza hotel, which is apparently like a resort over here; pools with swim up bars, beaches, ocean view restaurants, etc. I was too tired in the morning to go for that, but stayed productive, and did a photo shoot with Ben on our balcony in the afternoon. I quickly realized how great it is that we're only doing our shows in the evening after the sun goes down, because even after just a 20 minute session, I felt like I was going to pass out from the heat. We got a few good shots though, hopefully get some on here soon, as well as take more throughout the month.

After that, most of us headed out for some shopping in various markets. Hit up a couple malls, looked at random shit, then to a couple outdoor markets, and looked at more random shit. Went out for dinner, then came back to the house and had a team meeting, going over stuff about shows and such, since Julian and Devin haven't performed with us before, as well as details about payments.

Other interesting details include the fact that we have a driver, who may or may not get us in to an accident very soon. This dude is crazy, just drives however he wants. He also tends to rush us when we're gone out to drop us home quicker, but then also occasionally just drive incredibly slow around town, and has already picked up random people while we're out with him so he can make some extra money.

As of last night, we are now getting a per diem for food, instead of the twice a day deliveries we were getting until now. This will allow us a bit more freedom over what we eat, as they tend to just pick up what they think we'd like to eat, oppose to taking our orders. The per diem is a decent size, and we're supposed to get it at the end of every week, so I might end up making a little bit more than I was originally told.

As of now, our house is still internet-less. We stopped at an internet cafe last night, but it was a bit of a sketchy operation, as half of the computers were not functioning, or functioning really slow. As well, they demanded our labour numbers, which posed a problem as we are not from here and don't have such; so Ben gave them '546777', which seemed to make them happy.

Oh yeah, our breaker went off last night sometime around 4am, meaning the air conditioner and fan in our room stopped working. Furthermore, it also meant that despite having my laptop plugged in, my batter died, prohibiting me from finishing watching my Jessica Alba movie for the evening, sigh. Our room got insanely hot, and I only managed to get about 2h of sleep before I heard the power come back on around 8am.

We start shows today, so I'll make another post soon. I wrote this post in notepad, and am now using the wireless internet at the fair to inform you all.

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