shanlung (shanlung) wrote,

Katie & Dommie at Buwah//Good to be a cowardly wimpy traveller

Katie & Dommie at Buwah//Good to be a cowardly wimpy traveller

In that book by David Gemmell that you saw me reading in my last visit with Dom to Buwah, he wrote something that touched my heart.
“What you loved and have can be removed and taken away from you. What you enjoyed can never ever be taken away “.
He summed up my philosophy in words that I cannot come up with. And likewise, what you enjoyed of your life, and reading of us here in Oman cannot be taken away either.

That while we are still together, we will enjoy the company and fun with each other for now, and just disregard the future (which I kind of taken care of in a way).

We had not taken Katie with us the last time we went to Buwah as she was not around when I called for her. As you all know, she is still my favourite kitty notwithstanding her trying to kill me with her figure of 8s weaving around my ankle.
Why I am in the office in flipflops today (or how my kitty tried to kill me)

We were also a bit scared of taking Katie on trips with us because of one incident when she threw tantrum.

Do not pass go, do not collect $200// cutting entangling line //Katie threw tantrum

I felt that time was exceptional and more likely than not, poor Katie had a heat stroke and was out of her mind. Katie had joined us subsequently on some trips to the beach. Even if she refused to join us at the water edge the way Dommie did.

Katie was in the house and sleeping with her brother on our bed on Thursday 31 December 2009. Since the four of us enjoyed that trip to Buwah the last time, I decided Katie must joined us this time as well. I popped Katie into the cat carrier. Dommie would jump into the car at cue and loved his car rides. In fact, Dommie loved car rides so much that he gave me a shock yesterday, Sunday 3 Jan. When I drove home from work yesterday, I heard tiny meows and then saw his head popping up in my rearview mirror. Idiot Dommie jumped into my car when I drove back to office after lunch yesterday.

Everything we needed for picnic at Buwah, including Katie in carrier , were loaded into the car. Dommie jumped in and I drove out of the gate. Then Katie was released from the carrier. She enjoyed the car ride this time, climbing about the car seats, looking about outside the windows and only hiding beneath my seat sporadically.

That woodlands between Harban and Buwah was not that far away and just 30 minutes drive. The wadi at Buwah was more favoured by the locals. But with us bringing our cats, I rather avoid favourite picnic spots that may have stone throwing kids as well.

I parked under a tree for the shade. We set up our chairs and tables and Riamfada’s perch. Dommie got out of the car. Katie looked from the opened door and gathering her confidence, came out of the car as well. There had been a lot of rain in the few weeks since we were last here in Buwah. No lush growth and wild flowers everywhere. But there was this patina of green on the ground, especially under the trees which provided some protection from the brutal sun. Even though morning temperature now in Oman is a chilly 15C, the sun remained very brutal and hot. Tiny grass shoots, herbs , and tiny flowers had taken advantage of the rains in the shade of the trees.

more photos in flickr folder "Buwah with Dommie and Kattie "



Riamfada was on her perch hanging from the fifth door of the car. Katleen had brought gifts for Riam when she came back from USA. So Riam had almonds in the shell and brazil nuts in the shell. Riam could not handle the shells directly. I found if I use a plier and make a very slight break in the edge of the shells, Riamfada would then be able to break the rest and get to the almond or brazil meat inside.

Riam enjoying brazil nut

I suspect Riam could handle the whole nut. But she got used to me making that slight break with my plier. So any whole nut would be thrown by her to the ground and taken only if I made a partial crack in the shell. She would hold it in one foot and then chew and chew away in gainful occupation.

The kitties were roaming about that area near the car. Climbing up the trees, or checking out the tiny burrows. From time to time, if I could not see one of them or the other, I would call out and eventually a black and white head appeared from under a bush or on top of a branch. A further shout would get him/her trotting back to us on our chairs.

more photos in flickr folder "Buwah with Dommie and Kattie "








The kitties had their eyes on us all the time. Eventually I stopped calling for them. Now and then, we would go for walks and to fly Riamfada.

When my wife and I walked away from our base camp, before we were 20 meters away, one kitty and then the other would be trotting alongside with us. I called out to the kitties the first time. But on subsequent walkabouts, I did not call to them. The kitties knew we were going for walkabouts. And they would just appear. We headed West, and the kitties would kind of follow us with their side trips here and there, but kind of near us. I decided to be perverse to them moved on North and the kitties would then changed and followed us in that same direction. It did not matter where we were going, they would be with us until we came back to base camp.

That was how that day passed by. We all had our lunch. I was finishing book 4 of Dave Duncan “Man and his words” I read ten years or more ago. I was into Dave Duncan phase and re-reading this series. My wife found for me book 3 & 4 when she was last back in Singapore. I got my son to bring book 2 when I met him in Budapest.

I could not find or buy book 1. But since I recently read DD continuation of this in his “Handful of Man” , I decided I could do without book 1. I found book four had some pages missing. Those were old books, and kept by me. Wear and tear and to be taken in its stride.

Eventually it was time for us all to pack and go home. Katie was high up on a tree 30 meters away. I was a bit concerned as that time when Katie Threw Tantrum, she was up a tree refusing to come down. We packed up, and I walked a short distance to Katie and called. She immediately appeared high on a branch and proceeded to jump from one branch to the other until she reached ground and trotted towards me. We all got into the car.

I decided to drive back by way of Wadi Fanja. We first passed the Wadi Buwah with pools of water and with many families picnicking there. Driving towards Fanja, we passed on roads over culverts with the drain bottom about 4 meters below road level. Yet we saw branches and other debris stuck on top of the railings on the road edges. With no vegetations on the slope of the mountains, rain just ran off the side of the mountains in sudden flash floods.

My wife was driving. The car went over a serious of massive breaks in the road surface. Riamfada perch was rocking and swaying away at the back. Then a sudden swing flung Riamfada off the perch. No reflection or innuendo on my wife driving by the way.

Katie was under the driver seat at that time. And Riamfada dropped right on the floor and in front of Katie and between her paws. I was shocked and stunned, and I guess so was Katie and Riamfada. I was frightened too as Katie is unpredictable and flighty. While I was confident of Dommie, I was less certain of Katie. I told my wife to pull to the side of the road and luckily no other cars were around. Riam and Katie looked at each other in the eye. I hold a stick down and got Riam to step up and placed her back on that perch.

We reached Wadi Fanja, a place we came to often last year before it got too warm. Waters were back there, even if not at levels before. We will see how it will be later on.

more photos in flickr folder "Buwah with Dommie and Kattie "


Good to be a cowardly wimpy traveller

more photos in flickr folder "Exploring Umq, Bima, Wadi Arbieen "

Friday 1st January 2010, the first day of this decade broke on us with the clearest blue sky in the morning.

I had been told of this beautiful place up in the mountains along the road the Sur shortly after Bimah Sink hole. That the turn off will be a few kilometres after Bimah, and to drive on the track for 20 km up that mountain. I did some preliminary check in a 4WD guidebook but found nothing of this. A sketch map there indicate some kind of track to a place called Umq.

We invited Katleen to join us warning her this trip was speculative and a drive to the unknown. She said that sound exciting and accepted.

No kitties with us as we set off from home. You see now a ‘foraging cup’ on the travelling perch for Riam in the car so she could have a munchies while viewing the passing scenery. I thought I try her with almond in shell as well. To my delight, she was very happy with almond in shell. She perched with one foot on that swaying perch and holding that almond shell with the other foot to bite away the shell to get to the meat.


We picked up Katleen along the way and she was delighted to see all of us after a few weeks break. I think Kat was more delighted to see Riam munching on the almond in shell she bought specially for her.

We drove down to Amerat and went on to climb the Eastern Hajar mountains to Quriyat. Then we were on that new highway to Sur. Bimah sinkhole came and I kept a lookout for that turnoff on the right side. Km after km went and then I saw the turnoff to Bamah and Umq Al Rubakh known also as Umq. So scrabble fans, Umq is a real place and might be useful for you to know.


I turned off the highway and very soon found I was on a rough track winding up the foothills. It was a very rough track , barely enough for just one vehicle , and the view was awesome even at this early point just a km from the highway. I engaged all 4 wheels and made our way slowly up the track which was 25-30 degree slope at some point winding in a horrendous way. I turned a curve to see even more of the road. To be more accurate, I saw the timber posts carrying power lines that ran alongside of the road. Those power lines curled up around the side of the hill and I thought my god! Another 18 km of this to go. In the meantime, there were only us, and what if rains damaged the track later on.




My wife and Katleen agreed with me to look for a shady tree to have our picnic and not drive another hour and half in our quest to Umq. Riamfada hold her peace and not uttered any disagreement. I drove on and we all decided the trees being only a meter high were not useful for shade.

I decided to turn back. I had to drive on a bit more for find a wide enough spot to do a U turn.

Just as we neared the highway, I saw a pickup coming up. They nicely waited at a wide spot for us to come down. I shouted greetings to them and asked if they stay up at Umq. They shouted warmly back to us that they live in that beautiful place up there with water and pools and invited us to go back up with them. I smiled and told them I will do that the next time.


The next day, I was curious enough to fire up Google Earth to find out more on Umq. Take a look at this place. I was glad I turned back. If I was driving a real 4WD instead of my pseudo 4WD, and if another 2 real 4WDs with muscular knowledgable 4WD drivers accompany me , I would continue all the way to this Umq.




more photos in flickr folder "Exploring Umq, Bima, Wadi Arbieen "

We drove to the Bimah Sinkhole which was also a park with pavilions. I been to that sinkhole a few times, and it was time for our picnic lunch. We went to one of the pavilions to have our lunch. And some flights for Riam.



In the flights I did with Riamfada, you can see how blue and clear the sky was at this stage with some fluffy clouds. We then decided to head back. On the way here, I saw a turnoff to Wadi Al Arbeieen from the highway. I seen this a few times before and I thought I check this out. After a km on a beautiful road from this turnoff, the road became a track with sign the wadi was 15 km away. The sky became a sombre grey and I was worried if it rained. I turned back and decided to head for home.


With every passing minute, the sky got darker and darker almost as a switch was pressed. When we reached Quriyat just 15 minutes later, the sky opened up and the downpour started. With an intensity that I could not have believed in. The downpour was as heavy as any of the tropical downpours I encountered. As heavy as any rain in a typhoon.

I turned on the 4WD and drove down highway with so many cars flashing their emergency signals. Many cars parked on road side flashing away not ready to drive in that pouring rain. My wife remarked on how beautiful the waterfalls that she saw coming down the side of the mountains. I was glad I was a wimp and decided not to go to Umq or the other wadi.

We eventually reached home.

And read in the papers the next day of villages in wadis near Quriyat all cut off from the rest of the country as the roads to their villages were washed away in that horrendous downpour.

I saw a photo in the newspaper showing half the modern road to Yiti and Seifa washed away in the torrential rains.

That was why I wrote to Harry that I will see him this coming weekend if that road is repaired.

No news yet of Umq.

more photos in flickr folder "Exploring Umq, Bima, Wadi Arbieen "


I like to say the photos of that visit from Sulaiman to see Riamfada at my place have been uploaded at Flickr. Sulaiman is one of the two family on Riamfada’s reserve list. Harry is the prime candidate, from both me and Riamfada.

This is just in case if anything goes wrong with Harry, I have other families to fall back onto. We will be visiting Harry and his family this coming weekend.

more photos in flickr folder "Suleiman's visit"


explaining to Sulaiman how to get Riamfada to step up in her room


doing neighbourhood walkabout


doing neighbourhood walkabout


If what I wrote help you and you like to help, give a thought
for the wildlife sharing our planet.
Do write that cheque to Gerald Durrell wildlife trust

I am a life member of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. Do join us to do
whatever we can for the wildlife that shared our planet.

or to any wildlife conservation body of your choice

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