Within a month in Abu Dhabi I was required to go to Oman for a visa run. Due to lack of work I was allowed to spend a weekend in Oman while my work permit was sorted out. This would be the first time I would be travelling somewhere where I didn’t know anyone. I would truly be on my own. Truth be told I was slightly apprehensive about it but this was a fear I needed to conquer. So armed with my backpack and iPod, I boarded my flight to Muscat.
The flight was practically empty and I noticed two other ‘Europeans’ on the flight. So I arrived in Muscat and made my way to Mutrah bay where I would be spending the night. I spent the day sightseeing walking kilometers around old Muscat and the bay taking photos and enjoying the solitude and freedom. That evening I decided to have dinner at another hotels’ rooftop restaurant which according to Lonely Planet offered some great views of the bay.
I had sat down with a book and iPod, when I saw a guy walk past in a kilt. I had to do a double take to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. Yes. There was a man in a kilt in this restaurant, though not any man. This man was on my flight! He recognized me. He walked towards me. “You were on the same flight as me, weren’t you?” he asked in an almost undecipherable Scottish accent. I said yes. He then asked me if I wanted to join him as he was on his own. (Alarm bells went off in my head! Crazy Scot in Kilt going to rape you!!!). Okay, maybe not exactly that, but something along those lines. I didn’t want to be rude and say no to invitation to join him at his table, so I said yes and took my things to his table. (what’s the worst that can happen?!?! Actually I didn’t want to think about that answer)
His name was Martin and yes he was Scottish. Obviously the first question I asked him was, why the kilt. His answer surprised me. “It’s a good way of talking to people. They know it’s a Scottish thing so they always ask about.”. Interesting way of having people open up to you. He then went on to tell me he more about himself and love for travelling. He had been travelling for four years now. Only made possible by his job, working on an offshore oilrig in Scotland, with a rotation of three weeks on, three weeks off. So every three weeks he travelled as much as he could. He would pick a region and try to see as much as possible.
He went on to tell some interesting travel stories including one where he’s backpack including passports and money had been stolen while he was sleeping in a field in rural Bosnia. To cut his long story short, he got back his passport and travel documents, through the help of some UN officials working there, who he met by accident while on a school bus trying to find his way to the closest town. From thinking he was insane, I started to admire him and his devil-may-care approach to travel. We ended up chatting for hours about the place we had visited and where we wanted to go.
At the end of the evening I went off to my hotel to sleep while he went to the hotel bar for some more interaction with people.
It was an interesting lesson that taught me some more lessons about solo travel and also to never judge a fellow traveler by his kilt.