Hours before Oman took on Saudi Arabia in the Arabian Gulf Cup final, globetrotter Gary Arndt arrived in Muscat on a bus from Dubai.
Tired after the journey, he went to sleep early but was woken up by the loud cheering and continuous honking of car horns later that night. It was only the following day that he found out the city was celebrating the home team’s triumph.
“I picked the right day to come to Oman,” writes Gary in his blog called Everything Everywhere (http://everything-everywhere.com).
The 39-year-old, who set out to travel around the world in March 2007 after selling his house in Minnesota and putting his possessions in storage, posts a photo a day from whichever country he finds himself in. “I wasn’t really planning to visit Oman, but I’m glad I did,” he says.
He has visited 46 countries in the last 22 months and hopes to see more including Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Italy, France, the Netherlands, England and Iceland before returning home this April.
He doesn’t stick to a fixed itinerary and takes each day and each country as they come. “I am not planning to go to either India or China during this trip because these are large countries where I would need to spend long periods.”
When we catch up with him at the Sun City Hotel in Muscat, he tells us that he has yet to buy a ticket for any destination. “I am thinking of taking a ferry to Musandam some time tomorrow and then taking a bus to Dubai. From there, I will probably go to Doha,” says Gary.
An incident touched his heart when he visited Nizwa fort. A stranger, who spoke only Arabic, offered him a ride in his car. “As an American, you are raised to be suspicious of anyone offering you anything,” he writes in one of his posts from Oman.
“I had no idea if this guy was a serial killer or what. Then again, only an American would probably assume that someone trying to help was a serial killer.”
His new-found friend not only drove him 160km but also bought him kebabs and played the only English CD he had. “He neither accepted any money nor expected anything in return,” he writes. Another revelation for Gary during that journey was how Oman’s roads were among the best in the world.
“The Nizwa-Muscat highway is as good or better than any stretch you will find in the US.”
Gary says 1,100 people have subscribed to his blog, which gets 25,000 hits a month. Nearly 4,500 people follow his updates on Twitter. “I never thought the accounts of my travels would inspire others to follow suit. Recently, I had a reader telling me that he also wanted to quit his job and travel the world.”