阿聯酋(6) – Chasing numbers

In the movie “Up in the air”, George Clooney wanted to accumulate airline mileage for the sake of earning 10 million miles. In real life, there is a website www.mosttraveledpeople.com for people to claim themselves to have travelled to the most places out of the 872 countries and territories recognised by them. I can’t guess the motive of those people who have travelled over 800 countries, apart from travelling for the sake of country count. Closer to home, many people chase the number of friends on Facebook. How many of them are really friends in the true sense?

I don’t chase numbers, I travel because I enjoy it. I don’t mind revisiting nice countries even though the trip wouldn’t increase my country count. Travelling shouldn’t be about numbers however, I made an exception on my recent trip to the United Arab Emirates.

The UAE borders with Oman. The boundaries of the two countries are not very clear cut with pockets of Oman surrounded by the UAE in many regions. In some places, in order to travel to certain destinations in the UAE, the road runs right through Oman. This is great for increasing country count, because people can claim themselves to have physically been to Oman by driving through 20 km of highway, even though they might not set foot on the ground. The tricky thing is, many car hire companies prohibit their cars to enter Oman without separate additional insurance, or at all. This restricts the movement and the choice of destination somehow. If one is unlucky enough to encounter an accident on the Omani stretch of road, uninsured, it can cause a major problem and will be very costly.

We are law abiding citizens and didn’t risk driving to Oman, especially knowing that the UAE and Oman have the world’s second and third highest number of road deaths annually. But it is so tempting to cross the border when we are so tantalisingly close. Quick fact – Oman and Brunei are the only two sultanates in the world. I just had this fetish to visit both of them. Don’t ask me why other than for the sake of it!

We read some guidebooks and found the perfect destination on the east coast of the UAE. Dibba is a little town governed by 2 emirates and 1 sultanate, Sharjah, Fujairah, and Oman. People and car can freely move across different parts of Dibba. Bingo! We drove there, parked our car and walked towards the border. The border guards were friendly and nice and told us we could drive across. We said we only wanted to walk across to the other side, which looks identical to the UAE side. The guards must think we were crazy foreigners. We walked across the border, “ding”, our country count has gone up. We took a few pictures and satisfactorily walked back to the UAE, claiming we have been to a new country! It’s the shortest visit in a country for us, ever!

I feel a bit shallow and silly to chase the country count like this, but at least I am not sad enough to pin it on the Facebook apps and tell everyone how many cities I have been to.


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Comments (2)

2 Responses to “阿聯酋(6) – Chasing numbers”

  1. Alan Dowling says:

    Dibba, situated on the Indian Ocean is quite peaceful and remote. The coastal stretch is still not developed, but new hotels are springing up here and there so eventually it will become less appealing. We enjoyed one night along the east coast. Highly recommended on any trip to the UAE, if you can aford the time!

  2. Alan Dowling says:

    Country count reminds me of Irish students who go Inter-railing in Europe. The train pass allows visits to many countries. On a well-planned itinerary, one can visit many countries but you are unlikely to experience anything of substance and possibly return home really stressed out. Chew off less and enjoy more!!