Mapping with a view of the Al Hallaniyat islands

Geologist Rod Carlson’s recent trip to Oman

We continue our interview series this time with Rod Carlson, Geology Manager at AMC’s office in Brisbane on his recent assignment in Oman.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did at your most recent trip?
The splendid vision of the Al Hallaniyat islands appearing like magic on a beautiful clear day as I was mapping on the southeast coast of Oman. The area is renowned for its Khalifa season (which brings constant fog and mist for 4 months of the year) and then the hot dusty winds off the Arabian peninsula for the rest of the year that reduces visibility to a murky hot sweat box.

The Al Hallaniyat islands in Oman.

How long did it take to pick up some of the language?
Arabic is not the easiest language to pick up! But As-Sa’alam Alaykum is essential.

What was the scariest moment?
Trekking 2 km from the nearest access point in the northern Batinah mountains of Oman, up a steep ravine and finding that by 7 am it was already 39 degrees and I had only 1 litre of water left and a colleague who was throwing up.

What were the locals you met like?
The Omani locals are a generous, friendly and devoted people. They hold trust as one of the highest forms of honour. I was privileged to meet a local in the small town I was working out of who was just so generous with his time and fish! He had no English and I had no Arabic, but his generosity of spirit and desire to see something happen for his township from the work we were doing was genuine. He gave me some amazing woven baskets made by his wife. This boat was given to the client.

Boat handcrafted by an Omani local.

Did you find any sights or activities a bit off the beaten track? Beyond the tourist traps?
The sights of northern Oman in the mountains and on the southern coast where I was mapping are beyond amazing.

What was your favourite meal?
The fish and squid in Shuwaymiyah in southern Oman is straight out of the ocean and is genuinely delicious and served in the traditional way simply with a light paprika dusting and lots of local flat bread.

What was the strangest thing you ate?
Not too many strange things in Oman food, although fermented unpasteurised camel milk is not something I plan to try. Although I did not venture into this establishment either!!

What was the funniest/strangest/most insightful thing a local said to you?
The funniest thing is that as a geologist I always know where I am, and telling the locals where the next turn-off is before getting there always gets strange looks.

Where would you revisit? Would you ever move to any of those cities?
The capital Muscat is a beautiful city with many modern conveniences. I would happily live there, although the long very very hot summers would be a challenge.

Is there anything else from your trip you would like to share?
Consider Oman for a holiday, it is genuinely a fascinating place to visit, with some amazing tourist attractions and beautiful locations.