Safe in Oman: Polish-biker couple stranded after land and air access suspended

MUSCAT: Globetrotting couple Marta Zajchowska and Lukas Gorniak had been longing to cover the Arabian Peninsula in their quest to travel the world on a bike. They were on their way to Australia via Iran stopping by Oman for a supposedly six-day visit to what was their 93rd country to explore.

The Polish bikers were in Salalah enjoying their time exploring the Dhofar Governorate’s beaches and attractions while living in their tent when the Covid19 situation exploded forcing countries to close borders and cancel land and air access.

Arriving in Oman on February 25, 2020 with worsening pandemic happening globally, the couple found themselves with no place to go trapped in a country with the barest of their things and their motorbike to help them cross cities.

By next week, they will be in Oman for a month and a half.

“The Middle East was not in the plan initially. We were to travel to Iran, Pakistan and India.  But when we were in Turkey, Saudi Arabia has just opened its borders. Last year we had wanted to come to the Middle East after the African Tour.  So we thought this was a perfect opportunity,” said Marta.

Since January 2,  the couple had been in the Middle East.

“When we reached the United Arab Emirates, we ventured to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and then to Oman.  From Oman we were planning to go to Jordan,” Lukas said.

When they reached Oman, they went through Suhar, explored Muscat after, with their final destination being Salalah which they drove to on March 14.  They camped every day and it hasn’t been a problem but when their stay in Oman was extended more than the days they planned, they were forced to find temporary shelter in hotels in Dhofar.

“Now of course the plans have changed,” Lukas added.

“We actually wanted to continue the journey. But now, that is not possible as we can all see it is going to take a long process before all the borders open up,” the couple said.

The couple, despite their situation, is happy to have found themselves in Oman during their trying times.

“We feel very safe in Oman. [But] we need to go back to Europe. We do not know how [to go about it] as direct flight to Poland only comes from the UAE… we have to pause and would like to be near our closed ones,” they said.

Enjoying the opportunity

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The couple’s passion to travel the globe began in 2015 by taking short trips within Europe, but since 2017, they have been on the world trail.  They have covered five continents and  did not want to go to Antarctica for logistical reasons that they travel on a motor bike.

Marta and Lukas write extensively about their travels and the articles are translated in several European languages.

“Our friends are excited that we are at such beautiful place with beaches.  We feel safe here but we are also missing home and family,” said Marta.

They have a huge following on social media platforms boasting around 40k followers on Instagram through their account: @lookaroundtheglobe. Their channels showcase the highlights of their journeys which started in Europe, moving on to Asia, the Americas, Africa, and now the Arabian Peninsula.

“Initially we were travelling just in Europe.  But in 2017, when we started our journey during our three week vacation, it was a full travel to Asia from Poland to the Chinese border through Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and then we came back.  In 21 days we did about 15,000 km.  That was about 800 km a day.  When we returned home, we decided if we want to travel extensively we must make another plan and maybe quit the regular job,” said Marta.

Within three months they were out on the bike heading to explore the Americas.

“The idea was to go to South America and then North America.  But we did it quite fast and we still had the savings.  This is when the idea came to go to Africa,” said Lukas.

This is the third part of their journey – the intention  to head to Australia.

“Lukas wants to travel the whole world in this very bike,” Marta said.

Their stop over in Oman has definitely been memorable.

“There are so many beautiful spots in Oman to camp especially near the beach,” the couple said.

The special moment for the both of them was when they completed the 200,000 km drive on Salalah Beach on their BMW bike.

“For many of our friends in Poland [who have seen our photos and updates] Oman is in their bucket list now. Oman tops the list. It has a varied nature. It is also when you are having conversations with the locals that you realize how open the people of Oman are. They want to help you with everything,” they shared.

When Lukas was asked if he was picking any Arabic words, he replied “Karrak.

“Everyone uses ‘InshaAllah’ and ‘Shukran’. The hospitality is tremendous,” he added.

 

The Secret to Bike Travel

With their experience, the couple shared a few tips when travelling like they do.

“Minimalism is the best policy.  But our bike is a bit overloaded because we are packed for two and people. When we travel across the world, the climate can vary and we have to be ready for all situations,” they said.

As for the food, Marta said that they should be fast and easy.

“Noodles or oats. Anything that can be prepared in hot water,” noted Lukas, adding that they explore street food.

“We carry four to five liters of water daily,” said Marta.

“Food is available everywhere and we like to try something new.  So where we are, we connect with the local people and ask what we must try from the local cuisine.”

“Maybe the time is a bit harder now but we will overcome it and soon it will be better,” they concluded.