Monday, December 19, 2011

It's time to say goodbye ....

...... no, not me! :)

I'm talking about Kim Jong-il (aptly named, it seems). Gone at 69; curiously the same age as Muammar Gaddafi and Sadam Hussein. Do dictators have a sell-by date? How old is Putin?

So, what now for that strange, whacky, dangerous country known as North Korea? Are we to see a rogue state put in the hands of his son, Kim Jong-un, an inexperienced twentysomething only because they practise hereditary communism there? I doubt it. He's been "groomed" for the position, but getting stars on your epaulets without earning them doesn't make you fit to rule. Some of the more knarled generals who often stand on the balcony on auspicious occasions will feel a little put out with having to take orders from a neo-adolescent. I smell a palace coup coming on, even if the youngster stays as a puppet ruler, he'll be having his strings pulled by those who really have their fingers on the nuclear button. The uncertainty is just who gets to pull the strings - a dove or a hawk.

What is certain is that the world is a slightly less safe place right now. Put the Doomsday Clock one minute closer to midnight.

2012 - the year the Mayan calendar is supposed to end. The most unpredictable nuclear state in the world with a novice in charge, the arab world still in turmoil, Iran on the verge of a nuclear breakthrough with Israel and the US watching closely and the biggest financial crisis building up in Europe and the West since the Great Depression.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to one and all. Eat, drink and be merry. It may be the last we have with the way of life as we know it.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It's almost time!

Less than 6 weeks to go before I'm heading back to Oman for a holiday with my partner. I have a few questions which some may be able to answer or give advice on. It's been over 6 years since I lived in Muscat and over 4 since I have been back for a vacation. Knowing how fast things change there, it'd be good to get some advice. So here goes:

  • We're looking to go scuba diving. Is ODC still the place to go? Any other companies and/or locations reliable and good?
  • How do you get to go see the turtles these days? Last time I went, I drove down with an Omani friend of mine and we slept on Turtle Beach at Ras al-Had to wait for the turtles to come in, which they did. I imagine that's way too "unofficial" these days;
  • Is Jabrin Fort finished yet? Would love to go as it looked very interesting;
  • Best bar in town? I liked Al-Ghazal at the Intercon so we will likely go there for old times' sake. But other ideas would be welcomed;
  • How can we get to play a round of golf on a grass course? It was all sand when I lived in Oman!
  • Best shopping experience? I lived in Qurm and I see there's a City Centre there now. Is it better than the Seeb City Centre? Always felt a bit short changed there;
  • I hear A'Seefah beach is being developed. Is it still worth a visit for a day out at the beach? If not, where's the best place to go? I used to go to Qantab Beach but I hear it has declined lately;
  • Is Wadi Shab still a not-to-be-missed experience? I know there's a black top all the way there these days (what a shame) so it is well within striking distance, but if it is not as it was then we'll give it a miss and go somewhere else;
  • Any other advice?

Thanks a lot. See you in Oman (we may pass each other in the street - or the beach - or the shopping centre) and never know!