My 30-day visitor's visa was to expire on the 28th, today. So, I needed to cross the border and come back in to get another 30-days. Alan and I planned the day to hop on a bus and shimmy over to Oman, cross, stamp, and spend the day in Al Ain, an oasis city next to the border of the UAE and Oman. We left the Abu Dhabi bus station at 11:30am and enjoyed the 2 hour ride, munching on some extremely random sandwiches I made before hand (banana with sour cheese, fish & chips, and omelet with sour cheese). The landscape changed beautifully from Abu Dhabi city construction to vast iron-red sand dunes and occasional shrubs or palm trees. We passed by some date farms too.
Upon arriving in Al Ain, we hopped into a taxi and made our way to the border. The taxis are not allowed to cross, so we hopped out and walked through, getting my necessary stamps. There are illegal taxis that offer to take you over...we hopped in one at first and we asked how much, you can haggle with these guys since they do not have a meter, and he says "a cheap price of 200 AED." 3.6 AED to $1 by the way. I laughed in his face and Alan and I said no way and got out. The taxi driver immediately took it down 50%. We decided to try our luck without him. Once over the border I was instructed to go to the Oman legal building and get the entry exit stamps from Oman. This required a taxi as it was about 50 km into Oman. We found one and haggled him from 200 AED to 70. Ok. It cost me 200AED to get the stamps and we booked it back to the UAE with my new 30-day visa to visit. Score. It was something like 4:00. We scouted out for a restaurant and found ourselves in a very typical Lebanese place. The food was delicious of course with lots of fresh veggies and mint tea. After that we took a detour to the pharmacist to tackle Alan's hay fever. Then we took another taxi, legitimate this time, up the tallest mountain. It is a very beautiful place, and we stayed at the top for about an hour watching the stray cats and the view.
Today Mariam left for Egypt. Anwar and I drove her to the airport and she asked a million times if we would be able to find food and water without her. It was very cute. Everything went smoothly getting her 3 HEAVY bags full of gifts for her family through check in and she departed, to return in 2 weeks. I will be staying with Anwar to cook and prepare food for him and keep him company. After the airport, we went to my cousin's place to visit my aunt Ilham who is visiting from Jordan. We picked her and my cousin Ismael and his adorable daughter Aya and went to an old family friend's house, Mosa. Apparently I knew her when I was very young, though I do not remember. Her and her house keeper, a lively Indonesian woman, thought it was wonderful to see me all grown up. :D Awwww. They prepared a feast for us followed by more typical Egyptian goodies and mint tea.
I have to rush off as I am using an internet cafe that is about to time out on me. I have pictures, but they do not upload fast enough here nor there, so they will have to wait unfortunately.