VENTURIDE Newsletter #7 - December 2016
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3rd Month On the Road!!! A happy Rider on a Fragile Bike

Welcome back to my Seventh Newsletter. I hope you are well since we last spoke in November. 

Since we last spoke I have spent some quality time in United Arab Emirates and Oman. I hope the photo album I have uploaded for you will give you a good impression of the breathtaking landscapes Oman has to offer. If you enjoy hiking and warm temperatures do not penalise you, then book a flight for at least 10 days (Visa on arrival). Make sure you choose the right season as getting outside in the summer may be a bit too ambitious;) !
It is with no doubt that I would recommend Oman instead of UAE, unless you have a fantasy for luxurious holidays, and in that case Dubai and its surroundings have a lot to offer. The choice of activities to do in Dubai will simply depend on the season and your preferences, but everything is on offer. 

As I have now been on the road for just over three months, I've tried to be a bit creative by creating a small ranking of the 19 countries I have visited so far, since leaving London on September 3rd. More on that below but my aim is for you to open up 2017-2018 calendar and start booking some holidays! 
Check Out my Updated Detailed Travel Blog

An Attempt to Rank the Countries

Hopefully I came up with some criteria which are meaningful to you but if you like the idea, I will refine it over the coming months, and would welcome your input. You may have additional criteria that you would value in seeing.

Suggested Ranking
  • Variety of Landscapes
    1. Turkey
    2. Iran
  • Concentration of Cultural Activities
    1. Albania
    2. Turkey
  • Friendliness of People
    1. Iran
    2. Oman
  • Degree of Safety
    1. United Arab Emirates
    2. Oman
  • Adventure Break
    1. Iran
    2. Oman
  • Relaxing Break
    1. Croatia
    2. Greece
  • Family Trip
    1. Oman
    2. Slovenia
  • Romantic Trip (With me everywhere ;)
    1. France
    2. Italy / Switzerland
  • Budget Trip (once there - excludes flight tickets)
    1. Bosnia
    2. Italy
  • Cash Rich Trip
    1. United Arab Emirates
    2. Switzerland
  • "Off the Beaten Tracks" Trip
    1. Turkey
    2. Iran
  • Shopping Trip
    1. United Arab Emirates
    2. England
  • Culinary Trip
    1. France
    2. France ;)
  • City Trip
    1. Albania (Tirana)
    2. Turkey (Istanbul)
  • Countryside Trip
    1. Turkey
    2. Slovenia
  • Short Term Trip
    1. Bosnia (Sarajevo)
    2. Kosovo
  • Medium Term Trip
    1. Oman
    2. Greece
  • Multitude of Seasons
    1. Iran
    2. Turkey
Spotlight on United Arab Emirates

I arrived in UAE by boat very tired after many kilometres covered in Iran and Turkey but also because I had spent a total of 17 hours dealing with all the paperwork linked to exporting and importing a motorbike. Luckily my friend Sylvestre opened his apartment to me in one of the dynamic areas of Dubai, where I was able to relax for a couple of days and benefit from the Jacuzzi and Sauna. 

I must admit that I've really enjoyed Dubai and even though it is easy to make a long list of all the negative things in this Emirate, I was impressed and fascinated by the modernity and dynamism of Dubai. You can basically find everything you want and this is actually one of their selling point. With a bit of analysis, I think I was even more impressed simply because I came from Iran where all western brands do not exist and where there are countless laws and rules imposed on the day to day of the people living there. On the contrary, Dubai is the "liberal" actor of the Golf region and the leadership in place is mixing between western laws and Islamic laws to its best advantage in order to attract foreigners and investments. 
Abu Dhabi, where I have also been is also pro business but is more conservative. If you go to Abu Dhabi, I would strongly recommend visiting the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. 

Aside from the modernity and dynamism of Dubai, I was also impressed by the diversity of the people. Not only can you find more nationalities than in the London Underground but there is such a big gap of wealth between them. There are basically a multitude of worlds in the same city, where the people live next to each other but don't interact. You can find the Indian and Bangladesh Immigrants working in construction under extreme heat, the Philippians working as cleaners or as Cashiers, the Pakistanis as heavy duty drivers... and then you have the British, American and Europeans working in the skyscrapers built by these same Indians...and then the Emirati people spending their cash on luxurious cars.... I am conscious of the big shortcut I've just made but you get the idea. To illustrate it in a better way, UAE works in the following way: The shareholder is Arab, the Manager is Indian and the Advisers are British. 

Actually, the interesting thing is that 60% of the country's wealth is still in the hands of the first generation. However, the issue the "government" has is that my generation of Emirati are not interested in working as they are cash rich. They are also not interested in building a family. To combat these issues and to ensure that the Emirati citizens survive over the next generation, the "government" has recently introduced measures to encourage my generation to get married and have children. Talking about age groups, it is also worth noting that you can't find elderly people or students in Dubai (Or UAE), since the Emiratis are such a minority but also because the immigrants who come are economic migrants. 

In UAE, aside from the nationalities I have mentioned above, there are also some Arabs from the neighbouring countries, who migrate in the hope of finding a more stabilised country. I have met a few and some argued that unlike the Arabs from Northern Africa or the western Arab countries of S. Arabia, the Arabs from the Golf region could be considered as culture less and that we tend to forget that 60 years ago, they were ex-nomads living in the desert with their camels. It is a strong statement to make but the conversations I've had with them were fascinating. They also added that between Arabs, due to these big cultural gaps between the regions, the only thing Arabs have in common is not the language but Islam. 

For more information please visit my travel blog
Spotlight on Oman

I have spent nearly 3 weeks in Oman and even though I would prefer to live in Dubai than in Muscat (the Capital of Oman), I strongly believe that Oman has so much more to offer as a holiday destination.

Firstly, it has countless hiking trips on offer in the canyons or in the mountains. If you enjoy diving and swimming with wild tortoise, then the coastline awaits you. If you are interested in understanding how the tribes lived and how the Forts were organised, then you can visit them. 

In terms of my stay in Oman, I have been lucky to be there when the weather was warm but not too hot. It was around 40 degrees but the level of humidity was not too high so even with my full motorcycle kit on, I was only loosing 5L of water per day of sweat so that's ok no? ;) 

Thanks to this good weather and because Oman is a very safe country, I was sleeping outside without a tent. I was sleeping directly on the floor, either in the desert, in the mountains or in petrol stations and parking. I only set my tent up once, just because of the humidity. Yes, this month in the Golf region (UAE and Oman) has been good from an "adventure" point of view as I was washing myself with less than 5 litres of water a day and was cooking my own food with my little gas cooker. On the menu was pasta and tuna with cucumber or cucumber with tuna and pasta...

However, even though I enjoyed this lifestyle, I was still curious to stop next to a Marriott 5 Star Resort and see what they could do for me. Actually, since I spent the last 4 years of my life in hotels, I had collected thousands of points and had obtained the Platinum Status in their loyalty scheme. Upon arrival, the Manager welcomed me with a big smile (unlike her assistant) and upgraded me for free to the Royal Suite. For 2 days, I therefore lived like a little king and enjoyed the facilities. I hadn't slept in a bed for more than one month so the comfort was welcomed. 

Oman has been amazing in terms of hikes and discoveries, and I would strongly recommend a hike in Wadi Shah or Wadi Tiwi, or a hike in Salalah. Moreover, I would encourage you to spend at least 3 days in the Musandam region of Oman. Don't spend too much time in Muscat, unless you want to increase your chances of being interviewed by a local newspaper like I did :)

However, Oman hasn't been great for the bike and I feel she will welcome a bit of rest in the coming weeks. I shouldn't forget that I have been extremely lucky in this last month as I fell at 30 km/h due to a wet tarmac and skidded over 4 metres but ended up with no injuries. Then, a couple of days later, my chain broke after a long excursion in the desert and it didn't block my wheel. At that time, I was also lucky because a local saw me on the side of the road and dropped me at the closest garage by car. A week later, and this time round, in an even more remote area, my motorbike stopped working. The battery was on but the engine didn't start. I was in the middle of nowhere by the sea and had just drove off-road in the mountains. There was nobody around me so the next day I decided to walk towards the closest village situated 25kms away to find help. Luckily, on my way, I found a pickup from the Army and they helped me out by putting the motorbike in their pickup, and we drove to the village...

If you have questions about where to go in Oman or if you want to double check where I have been, please check my itinerary.
From the 10/12, I will be in India. After that I will be lucky enough to travel through Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. More on that in the upcoming newsletters!
Thank you for your interest and let's stay in touch!
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Contact Jean Malissard on + 44 (0) 7880 173 666


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