Monday, September 29, 2008

Syria, here we,, NO

We have wanted to go to Syria for sometime; I personally am fascinated with Damascus’ history. To me its one of the last real authentic cities left in Arabia, or at least I think so and I am about to find out.

So we are all prepared to go during Eid and then a bomb goes off near the old town……….its random and it kills 17 people. We change plans and decide to go to Greece, I run around to get the visa documents only to find the visa will not be ready on time, so we decide what the heck, lets go to Syria another bomb wont happen again, then BAM, a bomb in Tripoli, Lebanon.

Was it in retaliation? Was it Random? Whatever it is, we dropped the idea, and we need to figure out what to do for Eid.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Majlis Al Jinn: The Last Decent

Were you lucky to see this?

Many people have not heard of the 2nd biggest cave chamber in the world which is 3 hours drive from Muscat, Oman. I am referring to people locally, regionally and internationally. I can't blame the though, the road to get there is rough and really steep, and once you get there, you don't get to see anything except 2 holes which are not clear and you cant tell how deep or big the place is.

Why should anyone travel up the rough steep road to see this?

The place was originaly called Muqandely, but in 1984 or so a westerner descent into it for the time and announced to world the size of the chamber. People in Oman made up stories and the myth started rolling and the new name came about ‘Majlis Al Jinn’ which means literally the sprits seating area or the spirits hangout. Creepy, scary for most but when we were told that we can decent into it, I jumped on the wagon. How can I miss such a chance, what a feat! An adventure that I will always remember.

Can you see the climber?

Well it was not that easy descending into 160m chamber, because it also meant coming up and that was equivalent to one and half hour of squads! So it’s not only learning the robs, but also being fit, which I am not. I had my thoughts and wanted to pull out because of my fitness level, but my friends told me that we are the last batch of people allowed to go down, the ministry has banned it due the irresponsible act of very few people who were throwing trash into this sensitive eco system that has not been touched by man for millions of years. Less the 200 have been down this cave only according to our guide. Knowing that made me determined to go down and I pushed myself physically for this adventure and learned the robs.

Going into the the unkown........... the dark world

When we got to Majlis Al Jin early in the day I was asked to go down first, there was a batch that went the day before. It was scary by all means, I can not see where I am going down to, I have to go down a tight hole for 15m to 20m, I do not have a guide with me helping or showing the way going down, there was however a guide waiting all the way at the bottom.

Can you see the six guys in the bottom?

So I start decenting knowing that I have to trust the robs and what I learned in the past couple of weeks, it was scary going down the first 20m but after I passed the tight hole, I saw this massive chamber, I was dazzled, in a state of shock, afraid, my adrenalin shot up even more, all alone in massive chamber which is 4 million cubic meter large, I could not describe the feeling since I have never encountered such a thing. My first instinct was to look for the guide below, but he was no where to be found, I freaked out and started shouting asking him to stop messing around and wait for me, but I could hear or see no one.

Ghost or scarifies ?

All I can see is the biggest ‘room’ I have ever seen in my life and I was all alone, I could not go up, the robs were too tricky to handle and adjust, and I needed to go down, slowly or I might mess up the devices that could overheat if went down too fast and if that happened it would not function and it would give way. I shouted and shouted but could hardly hear or see anything, all I can see is some white tissue at the end of the rob.

We ain't in the Ocean this is the Spirts Hangout

I descended slowly looking for the guide and listing to my echo, the lower I went the more I hear a faint noise, no it never crossed my mind it was the sprits, I knew it was the guide but why was he hiding and messing with me, I kept going down and after 15 minutes I saw the white tissue moving and the voice of the guide getting clearer, holy moly, the tissue was the guide’s helmet and he was so far away that I could not see him. How big is this place? Wow by now I have calmed down a bit, and it was time to take photos and get down less nervous…………

The rockallites from another planet

When I got down, my legs were numb from the straps around my legs and robs, it took me 15 minutes to get my circulation back to normal , I walked around cave amazed, flabbergast, stunned at the size and sight of it. The 2 cave openings that were emitting light as if it was a spaceship, I could see carcasses of animals that were scarified for the spirits, with their legs tied up, I saw a few crystallites or should I say ‘rockallites’ that looked as if I was in another plant, I also saw coral ! am I on still earth.

Can you see the people at the bottom trying to pose by the beam?

What can I say? I made it all the way down, I waited for my friends who come down one by one and we took some photos, now it was time to do the start the squads and go up, the boring part, the difficult part but having gone down the 2nd biggest chamber in the world and knowing that this was the final decent for anyone into the 2nd biggest chamber in the world, gave me a satisfaction like no other.