Diving 2014

Diving
     

Photoalbum Oman

Oman Daymaniyat Eilanden Al Sawadi Beach Resort Euro Divers

 

 

Sunday August 17, 2014: Departure to Al Sawadi Beach Resort Oman

The plan is to leave Bornem, then reach Frankfurt via Amsterdam, Abu Dhabi to Muscat, Oman. It all seems easy when you say it and we hope that everything will be OK. Ju picks me up at home at a couple of minutes before six. Of course heís late as usual, but the drive to Schiphol on a Sunday morning should be OK. I say goodbye to Evy and check on Arne, because heís still asleep and I donít want to wake him up. Then Ju arrives on our driveway and we can pick up Roel. Here everyone is awake and we leave to Schiphol. The parking was reserved and we directly drive there. No problems with the GPS in the Audi and in less than two hours weíre there. They take us immediately to the airport and after fifteen minutes we can check in. Yesterday we had been sending texts and were calling, because we wanted to check in online to avoid a queue here and to choose the seats on the long flight. The seats were not so good, so I picked other available ones, but did not change anything for the flight to Germany. For the almost nine hours to Oman itís better not to have three out of the four seat in the middle. So I changed it, but they canít scan our boarding passes. They print different ones and then we can go to the passport check. Everything goes well: not. Every bag needs checking; thatís normal because there are regulators in there, housings for the camera and electronic devices. But we can take everything.

We already walk towards our gate B27 and stop at the Sports Bar on our way, drink a beer, or better a Heineken. We Belgians canít call Heineken a beer. And then itís time to board, a bit later than planned, but still not too late. An hour later weíre in Frankfurt. Also there it goes fast and itís necessary too because we only have on hour here. We quickly get on the bus to terminal 1, then one floor up and there we take a train to gates B, C, D, E and F. We need to be at gate C14, so we get off at the correct stop. When we get out of the train we need to rush, because theyíre already calling our flight number. Quickly to the gate, a fast check of the luggage. They wanted to test something, but I intervene and then itís no longer necessary to test it. About fifteen minutes before departure weíre there and then weíre on the aircraft for about five hours to Abu Dhabi. First we get a snack, then decent food and continue to spend time until we have about twenty more minutes to fly. These twenty minutes take about forty in total, because the pilot missed the airport twice. In the end we land too late, but weíre staying here anyway for an hour: fill up the kerosene, have a drink and then back in the air to Muscat. Also this flight goes nice and easy, only takes forty-five minutes, so really short. We land there and also here everything goes well. Letís hope we have the same on our way back home.

A small bus takes us to the terminal, there we buy a visa for five OMR (Omani Riyal), pay in Euro and get OMR back. They stamp our passports, I have a chat with the guys and then we collect our luggage. We need to have everything scanned again. But it does not really mean a lot, because nothing gets detected. Then we walk out and we see someone with a sign for Al Sawadi for Minnebo Desmedt and Bellon: thatís us, so we check with the guy if heís taking us to the hotel and yes that was the whole idea. We need to make sure we can follow the man in the turban and the white clothing, because there are dozens like him here. When we lose him itís over and out. But I keep close to him and the others follow me, so everything is OK. Then we get in the van with the full air conditioning, from forty degrees to twenty, thatís a huge difference, especially knowing that Ju and I are still earing long trousers. Roel was better prepared, because he was wearing shorts, but I did not want to do this on the airplane. Driving like crazy the guy enters the highway and follows the coastline, but we canít see the shore; itís dark and already past eleven. About an hour later we arrive at the hotel, so he kept a high speed. Then the only thing to do is to check in. also here everything goes fast: copy our passports, hand over the key and then we go to room 154 and unpack. Or maybe not, wait a bit. There are only two beds, so we return to the reception and explain our problem. OK, Iím sorry, weíll be there in five minutes.

Fifteen minutes later we hear noises at the door and five minutes later knocking at the door. There they are with the third bed. Everything is OK now, so we change and then go to the reception to check if we can have a drink here. The bar is already closed and we can only take some refreshments from the minibar. Apparently they hotel has lost its alcohol licence and that means no beer in the hotel. Weíre going to find a solution to that tomorrow. At about two weíre going to bed and itís really difficult for me to fall asleep. Iím not giving any details, so you can guess. Sleep tight, Oman.

Monday August 18, 2014: Daymaniyat Islands: diving on Docís Wall and Wall

Weíre here to dive, so letís do this right away, if we can manage of course, because we havenít seen or heard anything about the dive centre. Youíd expect a full welcome package for divers like us. But we need to find out everything ourselves. Roel woke up early and just returned from breakfast when Ju and I woke up. So we prepare for breakfast at the restaurant and have an omelette, a sandwich with cheese, drink some strong good coffee and then check whether Roel has returned. He just arrives when weíre ready so then we go to the diving centre to see what their plans are.

We get a bag to collect our gear from the room, fill out the necessary forms and then weíre ready for our first dives in Oman. Weíve done really well. Everything is going well, maybe too good to be true: something is going to happen that we wonít be so happy with. We return to our room, get our stuff and return to the centre. Weíre on boat one, but five minutes later it becomes clear that there is no boat two today. So instead of just eleven divers there are sixteen divers on this small boat. Thatís going to be busy. Everything is loaded on the truck and then on the boat. They drive the truck to the beach and we wade to the boat with all the gear. We load it and then get on the boat ourselves. They say we should get everything ready and then we look for a free spot and can leave. There is quite a crowd on the boat, sixteen without the captain and the instructors. The boat should be for like ten people, but not everyone can sit with all the extra people. We have a free place, so weíre OK.

Then we leave and have chosen s place in the shadow, because we donít want to get sunburnt the first day here. To be sure we put on some lotion and sit down staring at the sea in order not to get sea sick. The first part is OK, because then we pass the small islands of Al Sawadi and there the waves are still low. A bit further we like it less and the boat hits the high waves regularly, what fun. We donít see anything on our way to the Daymaniyat Islands and after about an hour we arrive on our first dive spots: Docís Wall; this is on the Island Junn and for the next dive we head for Cira Island. Itís not too far and we do our first dive here on Junnís Island. Everyone is almost ready, so itís easy to start diving fast. Two Germans guys coming from Dubai have the habit of either standing in the way or just hitting other people. We canít be bothered and wait until we get our briefing. Itís not really a briefing, because the only thing that is said is: enter here, follow the reef and come out there. Weíre three divers who know each other pretty well, so that should not be a problem. Once we actually start looking for marine life, theyíll have to provide better guidance. We enter the water almost last, stay on the surface for a while to make the last arrangements and then we can descend. None of us has problems equalising and we stay close together, not as close as in the Oosterschelde of course, but close enough. A few seconds later weíre on the reef, which we can easily find because there is visibility of about fifteen metres. We start the dive and follow the reef on our right shoulder. The densely populated reef is the first thing we notice. Yu can compare it to Egypt, but there is a mild current everywhere. We can handle that. Some large table corals get my attention and just like on dive number two I spot many citron coral gobies who are hiding between the branches. This is an ideal moment to get the right focus of the camera. We check whether everything is OK, so then we can dive. We notice that there is a lot of soft coral, in quite great volumes. Emperor fish are very likely to be spotted here as almost on every dive. The sea is loaded here. A nice view are our friends the clown fish, anemone fish. These fish live between the tentacles of the anemones and at first they look at you what a strange fish is coming closer, but then they get more assertive. They swim to your mask, camera and are checking you out. On a small surface we have a couple of them and although weíve seen them very often, we still love them. A completely white tube worm is living on the rocks. You donít see these white versions that often and this one remains opened a long time. Then a lionfish is floating above the sandy bottom and enjoys our attention. We spot a large amount of damselfish, black and white dots, a great sight. Parrotfish in normal blue or many colours are nibbling the reef and then suddenly swim away when you get too close.

We enjoy this dive and the underwater life in Oman. A strange rectangular starfish is laying quietly on the sand and a detail of one of the arms is beautiful and funny at the same time. The soft coral is colouring the reef with its beautiful tints: marvellous purple, striking red and outstanding yellow. We see all of this here. If there is a part of the reef has been broken there are soft corals and many fish taking this space up: yellowbar angelfish, emperor and a large sea bass have found shelter amongst other fish in a small cave. When diving over the rocks and the coral we see blennies and bass and other fish dancing over the reef in a beautiful balance. And then itís time for the first nudibranch. White, black and yellow an animal with small warts crawls over the rocks, but itís very beautiful. A crown-of-thorns starfish is waiting in the reef until he can start breaking things here. I donít feel very tough to kill this one, because every diver should live to look and not touch. We see many types of coral and fish and a couple of butterfly fish are super. Also the coral fish follow the rhythm of the waves on the reef. Weíre half an hour in this dive, all three of us have about hundred bar left and then we spot a cuttlefish. Check! A beautiful animal that lies on the sand and it almost looks like heís waiting until Ju and Roel arrive to have his picture taken and to be filmed. Then he leaves the sand and dives away behind a huge rock. When I called Roel and Ju, Roel had seen a scorpionfish, even two. Luckily he could find them back. One of them was almost completely white. Well don, Roel!

And then is see that Roel is checking out a dark spot on the reef and there are two lizardfish lying on top of each other, thatís a funny sight. Then itís time for a species we havenít seen yet: a moray eel. Not very special, but you need to see a couple of them during a diving vacation. A mega porcupine fish and a puffer fish greet us during our safety stop. We hang above the reef and wait for about five minutes, ensure the buoy can be used and then Ju shoots it to the surface. I take the rope and roll it and we come out of the water with plenty of air and a dive of exactly one hour. This is a great start.

Then the next part is not so pleasant: swim to the boat, because he canít pick us up. We throw ourselves on the boat, prepare everything again. Iím describing it in short, but it took over ten minutes before we could start. One of the German guys was blocking our way all the time, so we had to stand and wait with our equipment on our back. We drink some water, eat something small and then rest against our tank. Itís nearly impossible to rest, because the boat is rocking back and forth even though we are at a better spot now. Time goes fast and I can send a text home saying weíre OK and then we start preparing for the second dive of the day. Itís again time for people running around and blocking the way, but we canít be stressed and do everything calmly and enter the water as last buddy team. The waves have ensured that nobody actually feels very well, so weíre happy we can be in the water. We easily descend; it took a bit longer, because we noticed that one tank was not properly fixed, so we check it and fix the problem. We put our head under water as the last ones. We immediately see the coral gobies as I already said. We dive into a small canyon and follow the reef as advised during the briefing on our left hand. Itís just a huge rock and maybe we could dive all the way around, but we probably wonít get there. The dive is a direct success, because when we enter the canyon we see a couple of cuttlefish. A bit further we see boxfish. Theyíre not that special, but always nice and during out first dives here we see different species. Especially the blue and brown one with the black dots at the belly side are nice. A group of snappers has checked out the protection of the reef and they spread out when I come closer. We notice that also: many species and in large numbers. A large black ray has found a place below a rock; heís difficult to spot, but we manage. Then we see a moray eel with white dots and stripes on the side. And then a metre further I see a smaller camouflaged panther ray. We think itís magnificent how many different animals we see here right next to each other.

We slowly continue the dive. Roel has some problems with his mask, but he does not react to my question whether he wants to stop the dive. At the end it will become clear that the mask is broken. In the meantime the soft corals pass, the fish and especially this dive the scorpionfish. And then Ju asks me how many air I have left and Iím ignoring him completely, because I have spotted a turtle and I still have more than hundred bar. Ju was diving straight in her direction, but did not see it. The turtle is busy breaking parts of the reef, but stays against the wall. Weíre enjoying this scene and can take some great pictures and make some good films. Unbelievable! She has been on the same spot for a while recently, because he has stuff growing on her back. Some algaeís and other things are on her back. Especially Ju and I can come close and concentrate and love the moment with this animal. When the turtle leaves she directly swims over my head, really great. We remember specifically there was an angelfish right next to it. Weíve never seen so many angelfish as these two first dives here. In the past weíve seen some of them a couple of times, but now we see them every dive. Our dive time is increasing and the air is getting lower, because weíve been with the turtle quite a while. Roel is not diving so comfortably with the problems with his mask, so we start to think about the end. Weíre already at fifty minutes, do our safety stop and then we can blow some air in the buoy. We take the rope and swim in different directions; we donít have a weight yet to put at the end of the rope. When weíre far enough away from each other I put some air in and it shoots up without the rope. I did not even notice it was no longer attached, but Ju saw it and he goes after it and we go to the surface. The boat picks us up and itís a bit difficult to get on board, a small fall and some sea water and motor oil in our mouth are not really the most pleasant things. We managed to get on board and now we need to pick up the last two who started with us. Pick them up, put all the gear away, make room for the others and then start our way back.

Itís a bit strange the captain now returns to the beach via the other side of the Al Sawadi Islands. He needs to turn off the engine, because one part is too shallow. We only float a bit, get out, put everything on the truck, walk to the diving centre and clean our gear and hang it to dry. Weíre trying to make plans to get our hands on a cool beer, but it wonít be easy. Actually we should have bought something before we passed immigration, so we had something to drink. We speak to Daniel from the diving school, he canít help, nor can Mario, so weíll have to pass this week without a single beer and without aprŤs dive. Tomorrow is Jurgens birthday, which is the worst. And to have it imported through DHL via Abu Dhabi or Dubai is also not an option. We try at the reception and at the bar and at the restaurant, but nobody can help. These are some bad scores for Oman. The rest is very nice, because there is free Wi-Fi available at the reception. We go to have something to eat at about seven and I start to Lync with Evy and Arne. Theyíre both happy that we can hear and see each other and then we return to our room, write the report, read a book or play a game. I return to the diving centre, because when I was writing up the report, I remember that I did not store my regulator properly. Weíll see in the morning then. Maybe somebody from the diving centre put it away, weíll see. At about eleven we go to bed, because weíre pretty tired. Hopefully I can sleep well and I wonít be thinking about the regulator that often. See you tomorrow Oman without any alcohol.

Tuesday August 19, 2014: Hayut Run and Three Sisters dive sites

A nice night. We had been good to each other and did not wake anybody up, or just exhausted. In any case we slept well and can start our dive day number two. Just like yesterday first thing is breakfast: some bread with cheese and ham and also fries and chicken dips. A heavy breakfast. I did already check the diving centre and someone indeed had locked up the regulator. Great initiative. After breakfast we return to the room to get the last things and then to the diving centre, the second time for me. There we put everything in bags, on the truck and after a final check we go onto the boat. The sea looks great, as flat as a pancake. We can get on the boat a lot easier and itís more comfortable because there are less people now. There is only one instructor with us, Lea and the rest are the three of us, two Germans and about five Italians. We take a seat and then are ready for the ride after we prepared our tanks. Dive number three and four. We go a bit further to the next islands. On our way there we stop for a moment: we see milkfish and then a whale shark should be close. Close by we do see sea snakes on the surface and two fishermen. It looks like theyíre stranded: problems with the engine. We go to them, the captain makes some calls and then we move on. No whale shark, but weíll see that. And then we continue to our destination. It takes about fifteen more minutes before we reach these, first pass the islands where we were diving yesterday and then we see an island with a house. This is the coast guard, or better the guards who check on everything that goes on in the national park. They ensure everything is OK: nice job here.

So with a short delay of fifteen minutes we arrive at the first dive spot: Hayut Run. Here we dive with the reef on our right side. The briefing is very short; descend, follow the reef and then surface back with the buoy. Thatís easy. We enter the water as last buddy team and descend to the reef easily. I have a mission today: take a nice picture of a citron goby and after five minutes into the dive this is already OK. So I continue over the beautiful coral gardens. The corals are very abundant here: soft and hard coral and itís all equally beautiful. A couple of butterfly fish follow us the whole time until we stop and they continue. Ju has spotted a species of chromodoris: two even. I like it a lot and Roel and Ju also look at these nudibranchs with attention. And then we hear mmm, mmm. Roel has seen something in the blue water. An eagle ray passes us by clapping with its wings and then says goodbye. Weíve seen it for about ten seconds and thatís already great. A moray eel hides in a cavity in the reef, a black one with white stripes on its body and they turn into white dots on its head. We spot another moray eel a bit further than the purple coral fields, much larger: a laced moray. Itís a very nice animal, but very large too, so we come closer with caution. We even see a cleaner fish who is eating stuff from the moray eelís body, mouth and head. We dive closer to the wall and I suddenly Iím startled by a huge porcupinefish. He comes out of nowhere and swims right in front of me. I did not see it coming and he did not see me either I assume. Then we see the same slugs as earlier, but now I donít call the others for this. The pictures are better than the first time, because in the dark of the reef the external flash works better. Weíre already diving for fifty minutes, dive shallower and notice that the time has passed very rapidly again. Fifty minutes, but only at a depth of ten metres so we have plenty of air. During our safety stop we see another scorpionfish and then we roll the rope of the buoy and let it up. We need to find a better way of doing this in the future. We slowly go to the surface and climb back on the boat. We set everything straight for dive two and have a drink, a small piece of bread of the buffet this morning and then wait for the start of our second dive.

I send a text home, but Iím not sure this is working every time as good as itís supposed to. The surface interval of on hour passes quickly and we already move to the next spot of the day. They had parked the boat in a small quiet bay for the break with crystal clear blue waters and gulls flying around, a great location. Five minutes on the boat and weíre at Three Sisters. Here we get the same briefing as this morning. Hopefully we donít miss a shark like we did this morning: a leopard shark. We start the dive last again and slowly god own. I look at this underwater life and enjoy every moment. The first couple of minutes itís the usual stuff: butterflyfish over the coral garden, emperor angelfish, small damselfish and a couple of smaller fish too, like for example the goby on the sand when weíre diving close to the bottom. And then I spot a peppered moray eel, light grey with small dots, really beautiful. Itís been a long time since Iíve spotted it, so Iím very happy. The small moray eel sticks its head out of the reef and then we continue. A turtle is scrubbing its back against the rocks. You can even see the marks the rocks left on its back when she leaves for another part of the reef. She swims towards a large collection of corals and also some butterfly fish are there. They are very pretty, not so colourful, rather dark, but especially the fact there are so many here makes it impressive. The next challenge to take a nice picture of a pufferfish is met a bit later and we continue over the marvellous reef gardens. In this area there is some damage done, but itís difficult to say whether this is due to divers or due to storms. On top of the reef we see the juvenile of an emperor. Also this one was a long time ago. Blue rings with a white edge, a very nice fish. And the adult version is there too, great scene guys.

While Ju is filming and Iím taking pictures, Roel calls us. Whatís that? He has spotted a large ray. I had seen the same one yesterday, but this spot is so much better. Flat on the sand. We cross the thermocline at twelve metres and then to the ray. Well done Roel.  When we reach warmer water we see a batfish swimming along the wall and continues and on and on. We take a swimthrough and then arrive at the other side. Logical no? I signal Ju. This lobster is dead; he thinks for a moment Iím out of air, but I clearly indicate that Iím talking about the lobster. Iím able to take a nice picture of a lobster. Nobody needs to know that this one is dead. And then our dive is almost at the end. We do our safety stop where the unicorn fish do their thing on the top of the reef. We donít see anything special anymore and then can unfold the buoy. Easier said than done. Ju and Roel descend to ten metres en I stay at five. When we arranged everything, also the unfolding of the rope in between Juís regulator they ascend too quickly and need to do another safety stop. Four minutes this time. Iím waiting at one metre and then on the surface and they are at five metres for four minutes. This means that whatever they were planning, it did not work. Today is his birthday, so let him be, everything will be alright. We put everything in the bags and then return to the diving school.

When we came here the last part had a lot of wind, but now itís choppy and windy the whole time. We need to look for a good position, because otherwise the boat would not be in an upright position and the captain already seems to be in trouble. Then he should have taken a different profession. After forty-five minutes weíre back, unload the bags and clean the gear. Now Iím not forgetting my regulator. I even think I have everything, great huh? We try to arrange a night dive, but that wonít be good for today. Mario suggests that we do a night dive on Thursday and that looks like a good plan. We need to look for something else to do this evening. First we take everything to the room and try to make plans. Roel is mission bear, Ju is key bear and Iím just T bear. So Roel is going to look for a trip for the birthday of Key Bear to Hotel Millennium. The plan is then to drink a beer there and the return to our own hotel. It will be a happy beer-day after all for Ju. First we drink a mocktail at the bar, return to the room and then have dinner in order to leave to the other hotel with licence. And thatís how we planned it and thatís how we do it. First we need to exchange some currency. The exchange rate is 1 Euro for 0.480 at the hotel. We change 150 Euro at once for the taxi ride and the beers for Juís birthday. Dinner is nice, but we only have half an hour and canít really enjoy it at the full extent. We start dinner at seven and half an hour later weíre at the reception to drive to the Hotel Millennium. The taxi is not an actual cab with a sign and so on, but just an Omani theyíve called at the reception, but he takes us safely to the ATM (Ju has no luck here) and then to the hotel. The driver explains some stuff to the woman at the reception and she will try to arrange our return. Weíre escorted to the first bar and immediately order three beers: a Carlsberg pint. And then suddenly someone appears who we know and sits right at the bar and orders a beer. Yes, itís our driver. Actually this is quite funny.

We mainly enjoy our beer, have to share this to the world via Facebook, enjoy the yellow fluid and then drink a second one. We have the second one outside, everyone agreed with my suggestion. Evy notified me today itís only fourteen degrees in Belgium, so thereís no issue in getting some warmth and sun. We drink our beer and then ensure we have a taxi back. Our return is 5 Rial (we know this as Zloty), so costs us twenty instead of fifteen Rial. That does not really matter, we make it a good evening. We enjoy on the terrace a well-earned beer. A person can receive worse punishments. Time flies and itís already ten to ten when Ju pays. Cheers, mate. Happy birthday. We walk to the recption and ask for the taxi to take us back to our own hotel. Everything is well arranged, a real taxi driver takes us back in thirty minutes. We use the Internet some time to call and mail home and then at eleven thirty we go to bed. Tomorrow another day of diving and then itís already Wednesday. Sleep tight Omani.

Wednesday August 20, 2014: Dive spots Police Run and Cyprea Reef Run

After a good night we get up at six thirty and at seven and immediately take everything to the restaurant for breakfast. I already take my back pack and Roel has all his gear in a special bag, so after breakfast we can directly leave to the diving centre. Weíre with the early birds today, because itís only eight thirty when we arrive there. Weíre getting better every day. Everything into the bags and then we can prepare mentally for the next dives of our vacation. And then I notice: itís dive five and six today. Jesus, time flies. The day starts and itís quickly three or four oíclock. Then surf the Internet, have a drink, dinner and donít go to bed too late. Just before quickly Skype or Lync home and then the day has already ended. The evenings are a bit longer than during the day, because weíre not having a party here every day. On the other hand itís closer to see my two darlings back. Itís difficult to be here without them, but Iím trying not to be in a bad mood. We load everything onto the truck and they take it to the beach. We walk up there and load it to the boat. It will be busy today, because there are many divers. We need to push out the boat, because they had anchored too far yesterday, I mean too close to the beach actually. The boat is stuck on a sandbank, so we get out and give a push and then we can leave.

We go again to the most distant islands, first pass Junnís Island and then continue to Police Island. As stated, this is the island where previously the police was located. We donít stop this time, because we encounter nothing. We see some sea snakes submerging when we come closer and a lonely turtle comes to the surface to breathe. It takes a bit over half an hour before we arrive and itís hot in the boat. It must be over eighty degrees here. The wind on the boat makes it bearable, but itís hot thatís for sure. We receive a short briefing: get in the water here, follow the reef on your left side and after sixty minutes or fifty bar come back up. Nice and easy again, great. We take it easy and descend to the reef together. We can already see the many small fish that swim around us, a magnificent sight. Ju is a bit behind, because he has filmed us when we were descending: letís see what this reef has for us. Weíre just away for five minutes and we already see a turtle. We canít keep up, but can have a good look at her. Even when you see turtles very often, itís still great to spot another one. Iím the moray spotter at the moment and see a peppered moray eel, then another one and then a large laced moray. Ju is a bit behind, so we canít follow the cuttlefish that Roel spotted. The theme of this dive is moray eels and scorpionfish. Once you see the first one, the next ones automatically follow. You need to adapt a little bit and we see more than five this dive. Also moray eels as in a zoo. Itís been a long time since I had seen the peppered ones. The Daymaniyat Islands are really amazing to dive, number of fish is huge, and the coral is great and the abundance of everything. Really great! We follow the coral garden with the wall at our left side and arrive at the thermocline at twelve metres and also at a swimthrough. That was also mentioned during the briefing. I try to take a good picture of Roel and Ju, but I come to the conclusion that the external flash has one dive too much. Replace the batteries this evening for sure. Now we follow the wall all the time until we need to go back to the direction of the surface. But before that we spot some things. I see a lobster, I think itís a slipper lobster, but Iím not sure. A new species, yes, great! Then I do an attempt to take pictures of the many angelfish. Especially the yellowbar angelfish is a challenge. Let me check later on what that will result into. Iím still busy doing that and Roel and Ju already started their safety stop. Not really a problem, because then theyíll stay two minutes longer. On the surface there is almost no wave at all, so we can easily go to the surface and then on board. A second boat comes out to check on us, theyíre the park rangers, but then we were still under water. Dive one is done and it was excellent.

We have a surface interval of about an hour and then go to a small rock a bit further. We enter the water right in front, dive northwest and follow the reef at our left side. OK, another time easy diving. This dive is often above sand and at the end a bit more corals and reef, but thatís also fun. We spot again many scorpionfish, but thereís not much to it. Right in front of me I see two nudibranchs again one behind the other. Apparently love is in the air for the nudiís. A purple mantle side on a white background and orange dots. Lovely nudibranchs. Iím watching out for the sea urchins, because the first dive one had punctured my wetsuit with four stings and I really felt it. Between the urchins there are small black fish with and orange edge. Then another peppered moray, scorpionfish and so we continue the dive over the sand and the corals. Itís really great here, because there is little damage. Itís not like we saw in Hurghada two years ago, so weíre very happy. A bit further I see a strange mini carpet on the sand: a large type of flat fish; I need to search what it exactly is. In the meantime I always continue my struggle to get the angelfish properly photographed and in a small cave there are three together. I have one straight on, the second side view and then third one is unclear behind the rest. We now dive over rocks that are almost unrecognisable as being a rock. Theyíre all covered with large cauliflowers. Between these there are many fish: damselfish and sergeant major. They swim here in large amounts and shoot in schools from left to right. Weíre almost part of the schools. We see a juvenile of an emperor, for a change also a scorpionfish. Between the two there are some picasso triggerfish, blue triggerfish and weíve seen them a lot during this dive. Especially with the blue version you need to pay attention, because they are known to attack when theyíre defending their territory.

Between the soft corals and the hard ones and the cauliflowers there are many fishing nets. That is not so good, because theyíve damaged the reef and the corals. The fish donít seem to mind it at all. Weíre at about ten metres now and we think of our safety stop. But first weíre enjoying the abundance of fish that are swimming next to us all the time. We swim away from the reef so we can use the buoy more easily and have our safety stop then. The reef stops at about eight metres, so thatís a bit too deep for our safety stop. This morning we used a wrench that I used for the underwater housing and wrap the rope around it, so weíll test the usage of that now. We go to six metres and then Ju drops the key, but it gets stuck in the coral. Roel goes down and loosens the cord and then we continue. Some air in the buoy and then we slowly go to about five metres for our stop. Two other divers of our group are also there and do the safety stop with us. Eventually weíve been under water for 68 minutes and we end the dive. The boat is pretty far from us, but comes closer when they notice us. A buoy is really something useful. On the boat, everything in the bags and then head back for the land.

Just like the past few days itís pretty choppy on our return, so it takes a bit longer and we donít spot anything. Back on shore we load everything to the truck, clean all the gear, hang it to dry and then we can talk about the dives some time with a Swiss guy and a German. Nice people here. They told us that the licence of the hotel was due today, but soon we notice thatís not the case. We drink ice tea and then go back to our room. We write the reports, check on the movies and pictures weíve taken and then after a shower we have dinner. The rest of the report is to be continued.

And indeed: after the shower we eat. The food is very good. Today we have Indian Mix and you clearly notice the Indian influences here. The chicken they serve is marvellous. It looks like a chicken schnitzel, but then not German rather the Indian style. Really great. Afterwards we have a drink at the bar and surf the Internet. I already upload some data to the website and Ju reads while Roel checks out whatís happening in Belgium. Iím going to have a call with Evy and Arne and then itís about time to go to bed. Itís almost twelve, so pretty late. Tomorrow another couple of dives and who knows: a whale shark or a seahorse...

Thursday August 21, 2014: Aquarium: The day of the seahorse?

We get out of bed a bit tired, but in a good mood, we prepare for breakfast and then go to the diving centre. Breakfast is the usual stuff, we eat a bit of everything and drink good Omani coffee with it and then already can head to the diving centre. I was already mega relaxed on day two, but now Roel too, only Ju makes from time to time some silly efforts. Heíll get there. When we arrive at the diving centre they tell us there is a chance weíll be diving at Aquarium and see whether we can spot a seahorse there. It will depend on the circumstances at sea whether we can dive there or not. We put everything on the truck and on the boat and then we leave. There is less effort involved today to start, because the boat is further from shore. Of course the water is deeper then and our bag get a little bit wet. We prepare all our gear and can leave. There are less divers than previous days, so that is nicer for one thing already. Aquarium is further away than the other dive sites, we pass by Junn Island and the other rocks next to it, then Police Island and we stop close to another boat and start making the last arrangements to dive. We all go together under the guidance of Stefano, our Italian instructor.

Everybody goes into the water and we descend. We go down between a large school of batfish, really magnificent to be able to dive here. They swim close to us and these batfish are unbelievably great. We already had seen one earlier, but when you can swim between about twenty of these animals and go down to the plateau at nine metres. A dive can start worse. We reach the nine metres quickly and we immediately see a couple of cuttlefish, very nice start indeed. But we came here for a seahorse, but if you would not spot the seahorse you still need to enjoy the dive and everything else here. That is no problem for us right now. Then we see a cleaning station of the batfish and itís a large queue so the cleaner fish can swim into the open mouth of the other fish. Again a great view here. Between the cauliflowers we see a large moray eel and again a bit further. Itís already a super dive and we havenít even seen a seahorse. Iím looking at one pufferfish attacking the other one and tries to scare the other one away. When they see me coming, itís over, because they have a new and bigger mutual enemy. Before we go to a depth of twenty metres we pass a canyon and there on the top we see a cuttlefish, a scorpionfish and many soft corals. We also see the first feather starfish of this vacation and dive along the wall to no miss on the seahorse. Instead we get to see a mega nudibranch, pink with some white and yellow dots in the middle of a separate mantle; it least that what it seems to be. This mantle has another tail where normally the tentacles are supposed to be. The upper mantle has a blue edge, a beautiful species and first time weíve spotted it and I also donít know the name of the animal. Snappers are abundant here too, swimming along the wall and in large schools. We need to pay attention to our deco and our air, because both are going down fast.

Then I see a large school of divers between the rocks and I want to have a look what they are looking at. When a couple of divers go away I can see a seahorse from a distance already. I quickly signal Ju and Roel and theyíve also seen it. Super! Mission accomplished! This is a marvellous animal and not a small one either. We estimate it to be about twenty five centimetres. I wanted to say eighty, but that was a bit of an exaggeration. The motive on the head is very beautiful with a star around the eye and you can see the gills behind it opening and closing. Itís pretty busy here, because everybody wants to take a picture of the seahorse. We take some pictures and film while we constantly enjoy the look of the magnificent creature. An unbelievable sight. We immediately do a high five when we leave the scene. Just on the edge of the canyon where the seahorse was located we again see such a large nudibranch. This slug even thinks itís necessary to glide over sea urchins, what an idea. I quickly return to see the seahorse to be certain I have a couple of good shots. Magnificent. All three of us are very happy and apparently also the other who were diving with us. Stefano signals that we need to keep an eye on our computers and indeed weíre already four minutes to deco. We say goodbye to the seahorse and maybe till next time and then go swimming shallower. We first ascend to fifteen metres and then to ten, so weíre OK with our deco time now. On the plateau a large stingray is lying on the bottom and we again see the batfish here. A couple of moray eels en when we reach seven metres we need to start thinking about the end of our dive. A long deep dive along the wall with the excellent apotheosis of the seahorse. After so many years of diving we finally saw our first seahorse.

We do our safety stop with Stefano and two others and then can swim to the boat. We get on it, stay on the surface for about an hour, but already move to another diving spot. This one is close to Police Island. Itís not so deep so we donít need to check our computers that often. Everyone is thrilled with the first dive of the day and theyíre happy Roel, Ju and I constantly were asking to dive at Aquarium. If they pay us three beers we see their debt as closed; LOL. The second dive is more like the other ones. Descend, reef at the left side, at the end the safety buoy and surface. When weíre ready we fall of the edge of the boat, check our masks and then start dive two of the day. Moray eel: again, chromodoris: again. If youíre already diving day four, youíve already seen a lot. Thereís a playground of triggerfish who are defending their territory, not against us, but against each other. Right behind each other we see four chromodoris. Then a large moray eel and then we continue to take an easy dive. At first Stefano passes us with two other divers and then four Italian. This is typical: are we getting too easy-going? A large pufferfish is resting and waiting until a cleaner fish has eaten all the parasites away. Heís on the top of a rock, just lying there. I then again see a flat fish like we did before and thereís a second stingray of the day. Heís half hidden beneath the sand, but weíve seen it. We take some pictures and check everything out, but mainly enjoy the view here under water: itís amazing how many fish you see here. Then I see a small mini nudibranch and JU even must search for what Iím pointing to him. I can hear him think: what the hell has he seen now. Itís a small one, but very nice: orange all around the mantle, then a band of light blue with black dots and on top there is a white line and that upper part is almost translucent. Me happy with this finding. We need to dive shallower, because our time is getting lower. Iím reaching four minutes from deco time. From here we dive over seas of hard coral, fire coral to be exact. My eyes suddenly focus on two small crabs between the branches of the fire coral, hiding there until Iíve spotted them. Then I see a blue fish with white and yellow lines, similar to the other juvenile, but not the same. I think this would be the one of the royal angelfish, but I need to confirm this. From this point on the main attraction are the damsel fish and the sergeant major, especially the large numbers. They dance on the rhythm of the water and the parts where we have some current. A triggerfish looks as if heís hypnotised, but suddenly shoots away when Iím coming closer. Weíre already diving for an hour, so we decide to do our safety stop. We do this together with the Italian group that was right in front of us, so we donít need to raise the buoy. Wes top the second dive with a great feeling after sixty one minutes. We put everything back where it belongs, pack and can return to the hotel. When we arrive there we make the last arrangements with Mario for the nightdive and we need to be back at about six. We can make sure that happens. We stop at the bar for a mint tea and a burger, so we have already eaten, if we would be too late at the restaurant after the dive. We would probably make it, but now weíre sure. After lunch we return to the room, save the pictures to the PCís hard drive, rest and in the meantime Iím already making the reports.

By six oíclock we reach the diving centre. There are five divers and one instructor: itís again Stefano who is guiding us. Then the usual stuff loading everything to the truck and the boat. We still have some time, because itís not dark yet. And half an hour later we can start: everything is ready on the boat, we put our suits on and leave with the boat to the islands right a few minutes from the shore. Itís only a short trip and we receive a short briefing. We need to follow the reef and get out after forty-five minutes or fifty minutes. So we can start. We look towards the island and then we go down. During our descent an eagle ray passes a couple of metres from me, but the others did not see it. At ten metres we reach to sand and then we can start. We always take the same direction, but nobody did remember the correct wind direction and degrees. The landscape is flat without any indication where the island is and we see mainly dust in the water. After five minutes we see a large net, but still no differences are seen, so we decide to go back up, check where the island is, take the correct direction and now we can finally start the dive. After diving above the sand for five minutes we start to see something that almost looks like a reef, but the visibility is not so good. My torch is not the best one either, so Iím not really having fun. The pieces of dust are hanging from the spine of the sea urchins and there is not a lot of marine life, apart from the lonely fish coming by. Then we see a couple of fish and a cuttlefish. Not a small one, but a large mature one who is hunting. Thatís nice to see: he or she sticks out the tentacles a couple of centimetres and then suddenly shoots it away and picks a fish from the reef. A moray eel a bit further has a hook in its mouth and is squirming. Normally I would save it, but during a night dive in these circumstances I decide not to. Right next to us there is an anemone hermit crab, but weíll see that one again later or even maybe a different one. Then I spot a strange kind of fish, similar to the tadpole fish in The Netherlands. It has a thick flat head, then the body gets smaller and finally ends into a tail. A long stretched water drop is the best comparison. This one has some wart-like bumps on its body and I think itís a kind of toadfish, but Iím not sure.

Then we see another cuttlefish and a small catfish that is hunting. Iíve heard itís a poisonous one, so I donít come too close. A long elegant fish with white-yellow stripes on the body and then the typical barbels at the mouth. Another hermit crab is filtering food out of the water, then comes towards us and crawls from a rock. Itís not the best dive ever or nightdive, but we make the best out of it. After about forty-five minutes we end the dive, because that was about the maximum dive time. Weíve already done our safety stop and can go to the surface without any problem. The boat picks us up and we return to land. We clean everything better now and then have a shower and go to eat. The restaurant is open until ten and we only returned to our room at nine, so everything has to go fast. It works out perfectly, we enjoy our dinner and then have a drink at the bar. Weíre pretty tired after three dives, so weíll sleep well. A quick chat home and a call home and then into bed at twelve thirty.

Friday August 22, 2014: Two normal dives: Garden of Eden and Cira Island

We get out of bed at about seven as every day and at quarter to eight we receive a call from the reception. It was Mario: he forgot to tell us yesterday that we had to be at the centre at eight, so then we need to rush. Load everything, then go to have breakfast and then on to the diving centre. Quickly load our gear and are pretty much on time and get a thank you from Mario that we could be here so fast. Apparently there are two boats now and weíre on the first one and leave to the first islands for a dive. We just pass along these islands and continue to Garden of Eden: weíve been told itís a nice dive spot. We descend, follow the reef on our left side and then dive. Thatís the plan. First we check whether weíre all OK and then we start. We immediately see two nudibranchs just like the days before. I notice that our Italian friend is waving wildly. He seems to be completely alone. I check whether heís OK and he confirms, while I clearly see heís looking for his buddies. I point right behind him and so he can find the others back. We follow the reef and see beautiful small fish dancing above the coral and the rocks. As ever this is magnificent. I see a strange situation: under a large ridge there is a large moray eel and a big stingray. It seems like one is waiting on the other one to move and then to attack. We look at it on a distance and leave them be.

We continue our dive and on a coral whip a small fish, itís great to see this goby here. People have made award winning photographs of this, so I enter the competition. You almost canít see it on the coral, so itís quite nice. We see another juvenile of the emperor and thatís a very beautiful fish. We stay here for a moment. We try to take some shots of things we did not have before, but there are not a lot of special things at this moment. The dive site and the reef are great with plenty of fish and hard corals, really great, but you start to get used to it after a couple of days of diving. Also the parrotfish are super, because they were not yet mentioned before. They have found a small cleaning station, but later on there will be a bigger one. Very small fish seek protection between the coral. We see miniature versions of butterflyfish for example. And then there is a great ending of the dive: a mega ray without a sting is having its body cleaned by butterflyfish. We stay here and see it swimming away, a really marvellous animals that gives us a great experience. Ju has a great movie of it. The ray measures four metres, so thatís not something you see every day. What a great moment. Then we do our safety stop between a large school of fish and can surface without any issues.

We get on board and then prepare for the second dive. We chat with the others on board and then already move to Cira Island. Weíve had a dive there already, but now go to the other side. The trip already takes half an hour, so we donít need to wait long for our second dive. When we arrive there, the boat stops on a quiet place so we can prepare easily and then jump in the water. Weíve just left for less than five minutes and there already is a turtle. There is a little kid learning to dive so I take a picture, one of his dad and another one from him and the turtle. Weíre diving at about fifteen metres over cauliflower fields and after fifteen minutes we take the turn of the island, but we continue to follow the reef. A moray eel, another one and a couple of anemone fish and weíve seen it at the tip of the island. Itís just great. How many times you see these fish, theyíre still cute as hell. On our right hand side we have canyons and rocks and caves and something must be sitting here. In one of these canyons triggerfish have found shelter. You only see the tails and a small part of the body. In this area there is a lot of yellow coral, a special kind one Ė at least I think it is coral. The long feathered arms are waving in the water. We continuously follow the reef and look at our air and deco, because after three dives yesterday and a whole week of diving weíll get there faster. The minimum I see is eight minutes, so we need to dive not so deep from that moment. If we would spot something later we would still be able to go deeper. A school of snappers is with us and the Italian and Thomas (dad of the kid) come to us as well. Quickly take a picture of a nudibranch, a starry moray eel, a couple of striped basses hanging below the corals and then we arrive at the caves. Next to an angelfish there is a group of batfish inside the cave. Theyíre not hanging from the ceiling, but swimming in the dark part. There must be like twelve of them. Theyíve found this cave and donít seem eager to leave. Under a ridge at the other side there is another ray. Also these you can see here often, but not as big as this morning. Weíre now at eight metres, but are already diving for over fifty minutes, so we go up through a sandy canyon. On the sandy plateau we can do our safety stop. We stop here for five minutes and then let the buoy to the surface get on board and return to the hotel.

Another forty minutes on the boat and then talk about the dives at the centre and at the bar with an iced tea in good company. Weíre back earlier than the other days and can enjoy a relaxing afternoon. I write some reports, check movies and pictures and just do nothing after that. I call home, because Iím starting to miss Evy and Arne a lot now. The time before noon flies, but the afternoons and evenings are slower than I would want. Iím counting down a little bit to go home. Tomorrow the last two dives and the day after see what we do during the day and then at night take up our return home. We return to the room, have a shower and then go to the restaurant. We drink and eat and enjoy the BBQ tonight.

Afterwards we go to the bar, but just for the record: thereís no beer yet. So we have ice tea, which is very good or a mocktail of some kind. Luckily we have some choice otherwise it would always be the same taste. We chat with the people home, check on pictures and call home. At about elven weíre getting tired and we just go to our room and go to sleep. Tomorrow the two last dives in Oman.

Saturday August 23, 2014: Last two dives

We get up at about the same time as before, about seven oíclock. When we get up itís already time to have breakfast. Jurgen eats a very nutritious meal with a pancake of seven millimetres and on top a bit of chocolate paste. According to his recipe the total thickness canít be more than one centimetre. If that would be the case it would no longer be a diet pancake. Roel and I have our usual stuff: chicken nuggets, chicken sausages with egg, cheese and bread. This type of breakfast is nice with a good cup of coffee. Then we go to the diving centre to pack our stuff and to load it onto the truck. A bit later a snorkeler arrives, two divers together and another one from the Royal Navy. They also load everything to the truck and Mario introduces our instructor for the day for our last two dives. Mark, a French guy. We walk to the boat, climb on it and then can leave. They ask us if we have a preferred dive site and we say Aquarium, but the captain needs to check the conditions and heís only going to decide which dive site weíre on today when weíre at sea. We donít go to Aquarium, because he takes a completely different route than the time before. Mark tells us he did not bring the GPS so no aquarium today. It does not matter a lot, because weíve already seen the seahorse. We mainly would do it for the others. We stop at Coral garden, but donít dive the normal way. Usually you would follow the reef at the left side, but now weíre taking the right side.

We fall into the water and do our thing. We see stuff we already saw this week. All the fish pass us another time: the angelfish, emperors, large schools of snappers that swim away from us when we approach. Itís again magnificent to see. We donít dive very deep now, about thirteen metres. And then I see a dark shadow about five metres deeper. I yell very loud and theyíve heard me: I signal Ju a shark, so we swim towards the direction where I saw it. Quickly we see it again, but then donít see it anymore. We wait for Roel and check the surroundings. He had seen pretty late that we were gone, so he had to swim fast to keep up. He just missed the shark, but it was clearly a blacktip. A great way to start our dive. I check the reef, but canít locate the shark anymore, so we return to about ten metres. Thereís no use in staying at seventeen or eighteen metres, because we could only see white sand and some corals from time to time. We head for the part that gave its name to the site: the coral garden. Iím now especially looking for pictures that I could not take before and Iím very curious how they look like later on. Because our Ďexcursioní to the shark and the speed we sued to get there our air supplies are sinking. But we mainly enjoy the dive. The site is beautiful, one small disadvantage is that youíre diving against the current and there quite some here today. Especially towards the end of the dive when we approach the corner of the island. The idea is to end the dive here and do our safety stop, so thatís what we try. In the deep we see a stingray floating above the sand and a bit further we see two more resting in the sand. We check them out and Ju films them. Once leaves the scene and then the other one into the blue waters. We return to the reef and there we see a beautiful moorish idol. A fish from a cartoon: black, white and yellow stripes with a long wisp and a long pointy snout. As always a great discovery.

Then Roel signals that he should start his safety stop. Apparently there is some miscommunication, because I wanted to have the safety stop behind a rock outside the current, but Roel is already gone. When Ju and I figure it out we also let go and float to Roel for our safety stop too. Everything goes well, also the buoy-release and so we stop for three minutes. We notice that there are some waves but we donít care. Apparently the captain thinks differently, because when everybody is on board he goes to a place with quiet water at the other side of the island. A great idea to switch tanks. Or not. The captain thinks the wind is going to pick up and itís going to be too dangerous to dive and especially to return to the hotel safely. We donít like this. We thought to be back at the hotel at about three, then check some pictures and correct some reports and only tomorrow a day of doing nothing. We need to add another half day to this now. Upon our return it takes about fifteen minutes until they notice weíre back. Eventually I suggest if someone needs to notify them and Ju does it. Great plan actually. Five minutes later theyíre there, but without the truck: someone else took it. We load everything on the canoe and take it to the beach and then wait for the truck to return to get the rest. They already bring a couple of bags so we can start to clean the gear already. We do this very thoroughly, because everything needs to be clean and dry to take it home. It takes a bit longer than the other days, but thatís good, because then we passed another thirty minutes. We wait for some weight belts and ask if we can leave everything here to dry. Thatís no problem and weíre happy itís kept behind closed doors. We can return here tomorrow for the extras: nightdive, extra dive today and rental of the torch, which was not really very good.

We return to our room and discuss what our plans are: go to the bar, have a drink and a snack. A hamburger and a club sandwich are OK for now. Then we surf the Internet, chat, update the site, finish the reports, have a drink and at six we go to our room. Ju and Roel go back first and stay inside with closed curtains. I go and sit outside, because I want to enjoy the sun some more. Iíve heard that Belgium has already cold weather, wet and dark, so I want to take what I can. I call home through Lync and everybody is happy again. A quote from the conversation. Arne, say something to daddy; ďBwjah, Bwjah, Bwjah, Bwjah.Ē And then smiles all around. Itís an emotional moment. I donít know whether Iíll be going this far away from home without my two loves in the future. We take a shower, I take a short walk and then we go back to the bar and the restaurant. Dinner at the restaurant. Today is Italian night, so we take a salad first and then pasta. They prepare the dish a la minute, which is nice. We drink some water and after dinner we go to the bar and drink something non-alcoholic: tonic, ice tea mint and ice coffee. Weíve drank this often this week.

Then a problem arises: theyíre doing construction works at the reception and disconnected the Wi-Fi. Theyíll have a solution for us in five minutes. Weíll see. They ask the room number, so I have no idea what theyíre planning to do. They still claim it remains Wi-Free. Eventually after fifteen minutes Wi-Fi is available again, so I can chat with Evy. Roel and Ju are occupied setting the movies by theme. They look at all the movies and change the filename. Theyíll need some time for this. We canít do this with the three of us, so I move closer to the router and call home. We speak when Arne is eating his milk and at the same time Evyís pizza is heating up. He eats everything very quickly and I can hear him talk, very nice. We only call fifteen minutes and Evy has put Arne to bed and her pizza is ready. After our call itís already ten thirty and Iím starting to get tired. A diving vacation is tiring, maybe best they did not serve any alcohol here. We go to bed and then our last day of diving has finished, which ended badly because we only did one dive.

Sunday August 24 and Monday August 25, 2014: Al Sawadi Beach Resort and departure home

I wake up at six thirty, a bit too early for the other two, so I leave them to sleep. I make a short walk to the other parts of the resort. All rooms are square blocks with a terrace, all with ocean orientation. Some have a direct view on the Persian Gulf, others have their view blocked by the other rooms and the garden. I pass at the diving centre and have a chat with Mario who is already working here. Itís a nice chat and I learn how difficult it has been for them. The diving centre was left by Extra Divers as if a cyclone had come by and rebuilding this on such a short timeframe is not easy. Everything is starting to run smoothly now. We had some remarks when it came to organising everything, but we can forgive that. Whether weíll still think that when we get the bill is another question. Yesterday it was not so well-arranged to come on shore; Iím curious whether theyíll charge met for the weights that could not be found anymore. Ju had looked for theirs because the belts were their own. Weíll see. I return to the room and relax on the terrace. A bit after eight I hear noises from the room, so I check whether weíre going for breakfast. We go to the restaurant and take it easy. We have a big breakfast, because we wonít have supper here and our lunch will be late. Maybe weíll grab a snack at the airport, but weíll see about that. That will still take a while. We have an omelette just like day one with some bread and cheese and coffee. Then we go back to the room check if we can already print our boarding passes at the reception and according to the friendly lady it should work. But now we first take our bags and go to Euro Divers to pay Mario. We do everything very slowly now. We buy (Ju gets on for free for his birthday) a T-shirt of Euro Divers and pay. All in all the extraís cost me 73 Rial, this is for the night dive, the extra dive yesterday, rental of the torch, the reef taxes and the T-shirt. Itís not cheap, but not too much either. We have a chat, enter the stamps in our logbooks and write something on the Guestbook for 2014. My Kingdom for a seahorse. Mario jokes that he can annex Belgium now. A German guy who is saying that of course gets some comments, but this is being censored here.

Back to the room, drop the bags and back to the reception. When we check in online we canít choose our seats, which is surprising. Just two seats are free to choose, but theyíre far away from each other, so we just print the boarding passes: canít print because there is an error. What did you expect? So we save it to a memory stick and ask them to print at the reception. It does not work, because Adobe is not installed. Letís install it and then it works. What a surprise. I already went back and forth to Ju to tell him to send the file via mail and then when I go back I receive the boarding passes a second time. Now we have two. I try to chat with Evy and Arne, but the Wi-Fi is down again, so I quickly call them. Itís more expensive than free, but Iím happy I heard Evy. Everything is still OK at home and theyíre looking forward that Iím coming home. And so am I of course. Now the countdown is done in hours instead of days. Today is a very hot day again, a bit of wind. Weíre not staying outside, but go to the room to pack. We put most of the stuff already in the suitcases and the hand luggage. Weíre finished pretty fast, because within the hour weíre ready. I continue the travel reports and then i donít do a lot anymore. Iím also starting to make a selection of the pictures and then do stuff and pass the day.

At three in the afternoon weíre hungry and have a snack at the bar: fish and chips, something with scampi, rice and curry and I have a healthy scampi salad, all every nice. We have a drink, check if the Wi-Fi is available, which is not the case, so we go back to the room, sit on the terrace, Ju takes a walk and Roel goes for a swim. Time passes slowly now, but itís already six, so we need to start thinking about taking a shower, put the last things in the bags and go to the reception at eight for our airport transfer. Theyíll pick us up at ten to eight and just like when we came here they drive like mad men here. In less than an hour weíre at the airport, check in and pass by tax free. But first they need to check our hand luggage twice and then we visit the Irish pub at the airport for a beer. Thatís been a while and it tastes marvellous. We drink two and have fun. In the end we need to hurry up to go to the gate, because theyíre calling our flight already. We could do everything on time, only Ju was too late to buy something at the tax free. But more important: we are on the flight to Abu Dhabi. A flight of not even an hour, so not really worth mentioning and we arrive on time. The flight is pretty full from here and we stand one and a half hour. Then the pilot needs to wait even more because a family of six is too late: they were waiting for the flight of Etihad and had to come to Lufthansa. Because of that weíre stuck even more than an hour, because the airplane canít leave. Another plane has spilled a fluid on the runway. After a delay of more than one hour due to the family of six we eventually can leave: what a disgrace!

The travel from Abu Dhabi to Frankfurt is supposed to take six hours, which is more or lee the case, but the majority of the flight we try to get some sleep, which is working for us. The arrival at Frankfurt means that we have missed our connecting flight to Amsterdam. They tell us we have another flight and we have been re-booked onto LH 988. OK. Great. We quickly ask what we need to do. We should walk to the gate and get a new boarding pass there. Not: we pass through customs (57 Euro fine, because I had a carton of cigarettes too much) and try to go further, but they lady at the counter wonít let us. We need to go to a different terminal to collect a new boarding pass. Eventually we find someone to give us a pass, need to go through security again and then in the end find our correct gate. Luckily we had an hour time, otherwise we would have missed this flight too. We leave on time, have a short sleeping flight to Amsterdam, there taxi for half an hour to the gate, but everything works out fine. After twenty minutes the luggage is there too, so they can pick us up to the parking. Everything goes very smooth, to the parking, get the keys to the car and then drive one and a half hour home. Evy returns home from work early and together we can take Arne home. Iíve slept for about an hour already and have taken a shower. Great, especially since Iím back home with my three loves: first I see Cartouche, then Evy and then the smallest one of all, our little Arne.