The 80th Flight!

Flight number 80 would be the final flight of the original “Around the world in 80 flights” tour so this should be somewhat of a great achievement. However, due to the number of diversions and additional flights I have added to my own tour, despite reaching the 80th flight, I have not even reached my half way point.

Since leaving Edinburgh in the UK 3 years ago I have racked up over 54,000 Kilometres which works out at over 33,500 Miles! I have passed through 37 different countries whilst I have covered Europe and the length of Africa, all the way too Cape Town before continuing to The UAE and Middle East. I then covered the entire length of India or order to reach the Maldives Islands before returning North to the Himalayas and Mt. Everest. From the Himalayas I continued to Asia and across to Japan where I have now begun to double back on myself a little. This is simply so that I can loop further South as I make my way through the Pacific Islands and eventually reach Australia.

From my home in the UK, Australia will make my geographical half way point around the world. I feel that this should be celebrated more than the acknowledgement of my 80th flight. After all, I still have many more miles to go with many more countries to visit. Having significantly amended the original route I shall be completing a total of 203 flights before my wheels finally touch down in Edinburgh UK once more.

Whilst not mathematically nor geographically “half way,” I shall be considering my virtual arrival to the island of Hawaii to be the half way point of my Around The World Tour.
Hawaii to San Francisco is by far the longest flight I will have to negotiate during the tour and will need to heavily modify my tiny Beechcraft Baron 58 in order to make the huge distance but this is still some way off for flight number 120.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the entire time I have been completing this tour although I would love to hear from people who live in any of the places I have already, or am yet to visit. See below for the offical route map and for the full list of destinations I shall be visiting (virtually.)

OFFICIAL ROUTE MAP

Blue Pins = Offical 80 Flights Route
Red Pins = Addional Destinations Added By Me
Yellow Pins = Points Of Interest I Shall Not Land At.

Please continue to follow my virtual adventures around the world and leave comments to help me to make it that little bit more realistic.

Flight 78) Tokyo – Hiroshima

Tokyo was a fantastic city to learn about and is certainly on my list of destinations to visit first hand. The culture and technology seems so different from ours within the UK that every aspect of Tokyo life fills me with intrigue. I will be looking to travel to Tokyo for a short visit hopefully within the next couple of years but for now it is time to continue with this around the world tour. Having left Edinburgh and the UK 3 years ago on this virtual tour I have been travelling further and further East around the world. Now that I have quite literally reached the “Far East” I shall be back tracking slightly as I work my way South towards Australia and New Zealand before taking on the huge Pacific Ocean on my way to the USA.

This flight would always have been a sombre one as I would be flying over the city of Hiroshima. It would be impossible not to consider the same flight which took place 71 years ago by the Enola Gay air crew which dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan. I was keen to approach this destination in a positive light however as I wanted to know more about this city other than its infamous history.

Previously flying over Japan on my way to Tokyo from Seoul, I was very impressed with the level of detail within the simulator depicting the winding roads which snaked their way through mountains and hugged the shorelines around the island. I thought at the time that this would look extremely pretty at night time as the street lights would string across the landscape so I decided to take the flight from Tokyo to Hiroshima at night.

Sitting virtually in my Beechcraft Baron 58 at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport at 22:20 I listened to the light rain landing on the cockpit windows whilst I switched on the various components and set up my navigation for the flight. I actually felt rather cosy with the rain and the dashboard lighting although that may also be due to the fact that I was warm at home in front of my computer. I let the engines warm up for a few minutes before beginning my taxi route at 22:30.

The landing lights of multiple aircraft could be seen in the distance as they made their way ever closer to the runway before eventually landing. I actually had to wait in line for another 3 aircraft to take off infront of me before I took my turn on the runway. When I was given the take off clearence, I had to move pretty sharpish as there was already another plane on its final descent.

Tokyo was VERY bright below me as I flew over the city and I also passed many other planes in the sky. These were easy to spot due to the night time sky and lighting on the aircraft. There was a scattering of clouds sitting at roughly 7,000 feet which allowed me to see the snow covered peak of Mount Fuji in the distance. I took note of this as I did not want to fly too close in the darkness. Even so, I took the opportunity to fly a loop around the huge volcano before leaving this destination behind me.

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Further from Mount Fuji I passed many more smaller mountains with their own snow covered caps before flying over another large city “Nagoya.” This would be the last I got to see of the night lights of Japan for a while as by 00:23 the clouds had formed a thick blanket at 5,000 feet preventing me from seeing much of the ground at all. The darkness and blanket cloud made the next hour pass increadably slowly but I eventually made it to Hiroshima Airport for 01:21.

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I wanted to take a sight seeing flight over the city of Hiroshima during the day so decided to do this a couple of days later. There were several landmarks included in the software although the most recognisible had to be that of the Atomic Dome. One of the very few buildings which remained standing after the bomb had dropped. The reason that this building specifically remained standing was due to the fact that the bomb detonated directly above, marking the epicenter of the explosion.

Whilst it was re-assuring to see that Hiroshima is once again a thriving city it really was impossible to forget the horrific event which made this city so famous. I watched several documentaries about the fateful day and have to admit that my mind boggles as to how the threat of any country ever using a nuclear bomb could even be a possibility in todays society. I’m certainly a supporter of scrapping the UK’s Trident program and strongly believe that stockpiling of such weaponry is not only a waste of money and resources but also an unnecessary danger for future generations. If only mankind would learn from our own history.

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Hiroshima Today

Welcome to Hiroshima – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_1_ZQiGhcA
Hiroshima City – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_3awSTnoqs
WELCOME TO HIROSHIMA! Hiroshima Tour Pt. 1  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vgpCQQVmbvc
Hiroshima today, Japan tours 2016 (HD 1080p) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsD5IQb_Ruk
Japan Vlog – Hiroshima – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6A2HU-tw9o

Dome & Peace Garden
Hiroshima Atomic Bomb Dome 4K – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2V-tugvjUYQ
Hiroshima Memorial Museum and Peace Park | Virtual Tour – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yx3RdOyRfL0

Atomic Bombing
Hiroshima – 70 Years after the Bomb  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IlMh-uMf3go#t=294.372
The Day They Dropped The Bomb | War Documentary – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xp9cgm4Dkzg
1946 film shows how the atomic bomb destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki Japan – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2rEhYS46EA
Hiroshima: Why the Bomb was Dropped (1995) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-WnLNLe3sk

Flight 77) Seoul – Tokyo

Upon my arrival at Incheon Airport, just outside of Seoul, I took the opportunity to fill my fuel tanks. This saved some time this morning as I entered a fully fueled waiting Beech Baron on a rather chilly 14 degree day. A Large “Orbit” jet taxied away from me during my initial checks and set up. Orbital are a fictional airline that enhabit the FSX simulator.

I was due to set off for Tokyo at 09:00 and with a flight time of 3 hours 26 minutes I was expected to arrive in time for lunch. I would be very interested in visiting Toyko first hand to sample the variety of foods on offer. The Baron 58’s twin engines were started at 08:52 and shortly after received my clearence for taxi and eventually take off. I had to wait for 2 larger boeing jets to land before me and I could already see further planes queuing in the sky behind them. In the middle of a lot of radio traffic I heard my take off clearence come through at 09:15. A little delay wasn’t too much to worry about.

The first 30 minutes of the flight was full of consistant radio traffic and I was swapping from channel to channel very quickly all whilst climbing to my designated altitude of 10,000 ft. I felt that this was rather too high although I was keen to keep the rate of fuel down as much as possible.

The first view of the ocean came at 10:10 as I approached Pohang. By 10:16 I was flying over the water although I could not see any sign of Japanese land on the horizon. The sky over the water soon developed clouds which prevented me from seeing the horizon at all. Still, the GPS advised of 32 minutes until I reached the following shore.

By 10:45 I though I had seen glimpses of land ahead and at 11:00 I made radio contact with Tokyo Center. I was beginning to get more excited about this destination as I would consider this to be a bucket list travel destination in real life. I decided to drop altitude to get a better look at Japan’s terrain although the odd cloud did it’s best to spoil the view.

Flying over Japan I was impressed at the quality of the mapping in this part of the world. The roads seemed to have much more detail to them than the majorty of the world I have already covered. Europe, Africa, India, and the most part of Asia so far had not been as detailed as Japan. I though the lighting from the roads would be great to see at night.

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The detailed landscape below peaked my interest so I opened the Maps application on my phone and followed my route as I went. I covered many interesting sites such as Koyamaike Park, Tottari City and Tasima Airport near Toyooka. I flew over some very cozy coastlines and wanted to see more of these small towns. Yosono and Miyazu certainly looked pretty.

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Toyooka Bay

By mid-day I had crossed another time zone so had to recalibrate my clocks all the while still flying over “Obama City” and a large lake call Biwa with Mt. Ibuki

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Mount Ibuki

 As impressive as this 1,377 meter tall mountain was, I was still looking forward to seeing Mount Fuji. I could see the hills getting higher and turning into more and more mountain capturing clouds inbetween their peaks. The taller summits were covered in snow although Mt. Fuji was by far the largest.

Mt Fuji stands at 3,776 meters which works out to be 12,388 feet. This was almost as high as my aircraft so I decided to climb just enough to be able to see the distinctive creator at the very top of the volcano. I passed by the south side of the volcano and was tempted to do a full loop although being pressed for time I decided to continue to Tokyo and I knew I will be passing back this way in a few days time.

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Mount Fuji

Mt Fuji – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPBbccjw1rQ
24 Hours on Mt. Fuji – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1uqNsj2Ubw#t=757.853812
Climbing Mount Fuji | 8 Hours of Hell – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtt583ruGAI
Mt. Fuji Japan – GoPro HD – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qttyhOSPOJM

I finally reached solid ground at 14:16 (13:16 when allowing for the time zone difference.) having waited for 12 other aircraft to land and depart. Tokyo is obviously a VERY busy airport. Just what I had expected to find in this amazing city.

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Tokyo – Japan 2016 4K – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aANLWsATis8
Tokyo Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cS-hFKC_RKI
Tokyo Travel Guide 2016  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxfoIb26NQs
Tokyo night drive 4K SONY 2016  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_l4MyDUi8Rc
Tokyo’s Best Cherry Blossom Spot: Meguro River – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAVmCUmCuR8
Tokyo Capsule Hotel Experience ★ ONLY in JAPAN #26 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0-oNv51j9o
Japan / Tokyo (WOW Amazing!!!) Part 1  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvZod-Zr8jE
Japan Travel Guide 2016 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lnyda3ei4o
Beautiful Kyoto: The Most Amazing Autumn Momiji Leaves in Kyoto  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pV_YXad978k

Flight 75) Shanghai – Beijing

It had been a long time since my previous flight and I had enjoyed the time spent learning about Shanghai. I really hadn’t known what a huge city this place had become, although now it was time to leave the futuristic lights and skyline of Shanghai for Beijing. I included Beijing on the tour mainly so that I could see the Great Wall of China.

I started by checking the weight and fuel load of my small Beech Baron 58 and made sure I plotted a suitable route north. This didn’t take long and before long I was requesting taxi to runway clearence by 10:00. The rain and fog wasn’t very inviting but made for a rather reflective concrete surface around Shanghai Airport. Unfortunately my take off clearence was denied as the airport was operating IFR only due to the thick fog still in the air, so I created an alternative IFR route and was soon give the clearence I was looking for.

I had to “hold my position” many times during the taxi route to the runway as this really was a very busy airport with other aircraft landing and taking off regularly and many other planes maneuvering to and from their own gates. All of this movement made the radio buzz constantly.

Having almost lapped the main terminal building entirely I finally took to the skies at 10:25 and soon cleared the low clouds. I didn’t want to fly too high as I wanted to get a look at the infamous Shanghai skyline. As the flight sim FSX is a fair few years old now, it is clear to see the rapid expansion of this city as many of the key buildings now standing were not featured in the original software. Still the city looked wonderful with the cresent moon keeping watch.2016-5-29_10-36-15-758.jpg

Flying North-West from the city I passed over the Hung-Tse Lake and then straightend to due North for the majority of the flight. My next waypoint was 1 hour, 45 minutes away.
I flew lower and the speed of the land below gave the illusion I was travelling faster than at higher altitudes.

An hour later and I was approaching the coastline and could see hills and mountains in the distance both infront and from my left hand window. I flew lower once again to have some fun with the hilly terrain below but soon found myself surrounded by mountain fog. Passing over a few unknown cities and lakes with anouther hour and a half still to go until reaching Beijing, the weather finally cleared up.

I suffered with radio confusion between Beijing Center directing me to contact Tianjin Tower and visa versa. This bounced to and from for far too long until I was able call my landing intentions and touch down at 14:38 slightly off center. The few previous runaways I have landed on have belonged to very large international airports. I will look forward to visiting smaller landing strips in the future. I find these can be a little more challenging.
The Beech Baron was parked up by 14:45 and I was looking forward to seeing the sights of Beijing.

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Whilst here I really wanted to see the Great Wall of China which can be seen to the North of Beijing. Whilst I took a short flight around the area, I was unable to see the wall at all. Many maps show there to be many sections of the Great Wall. Maybe this just simply isn’t included in the standard FSX simulator software. This was rather disappointing. Nevermind.

Beijing Travel Guide – Beijing official city guide HD – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHCab5_BArI
Visit Beijing – 5 Things You WIll Love & Hate about Beijing, China – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZVSii6rB5g
This Is My City – Beijing  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hx35kanMWh0
BEIJING Modern City – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RH3PvfI7ELQ
Discover Beijing III: A Modern City in Motion (Full Episode) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PrcMFLQ5IQ

[Documentary] The Forbidden City of Ming &Qing Dynasties (1368 – 1912 AD – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QvsCr_xK3c
Beijing Travel Guide – Forbidden City Documentary (Palace Museum) Part 1 “Secrets” HD – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHypO2ISPas

National Geographic – The Great Wall of China – Documentary  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjlydnRqcmw

Beijing 2008 Opening Ceremony – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ii-n_QSS0og

Flight 73) Hanoi – Hong Kong

I had been looking forward to my next destination of Hong Kong for a long time. When I was a child, my uncle visited Hong Kong and brought me back a hand made, paper kite in an ornate bird of prey design. This gift instantly cemented Hong Kong in my mind as a far away exotic land, very different from that of home in the UK.
Earlier on my around the world tour I stopped off at Dubai. This dynamic and exciting city was made so much more impressive when flying over the incredible detail included within FlyTampa’s “Dubai rebooted” add on scenery for the FSX Simulator. I was lucky enough to be provided with a copy of FlyTampa’s Hong Kong add on scenery by the fantastic FlyTampa support team. Massive thanks to the team at Fly Tampa!

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FlyTampa Hong Kong – Kai Tak
The add on scenery covers the city as well as the infamous older airport Kai Tak. Whilst this airport was actually closed in 1998, I wanted to tackle the challenging approach of flying extremely low over many buildings before making a right hand turn to touch down on the runway myself.
Before I left Hanoi International, I made sure to plan the flight first. Covering 522 miles I could expect to have a flight time of roughly 2 hours, 40 minutes and that was without any detours for sight seeing. I had expected to start my journey at 09:30 and would be able to make it to Hong Kong in time for lunch. Unfortunately this departure time was not to be met as the niggling issue I had previously noticed with my rudder controls were back with a vengeance. I could not taxi in a straight line at all which made it impossible to reach the runway. It would have been silly to try to fly this leg of the tour on full left rudder the entire way.
I suppose the technical troubles I had would have been the equivalent of finding some physical maintenance required on my aircraft. Luckily, I had saved my previous joystick and new that it was hiding in a dark box somewhere in my garage. By the time I had dug it out, given it a clean and configured it with my PC and FSX a good few hours had passed.
I glanced at the clock and at 11:10 I took off from Hanoi to complete a short circle of the airport in order to test the new control system. Everything appeared to be working perfectly once again and with one more successful landing I parked up and requested a visit by the fuel truck to fill my tanks.
At 14:00 I finally radioed in my IFR request and began to taxi behind another larger twin propeller plane. I passed other aircraft looking for their gates and could see how active this airport was. When I had first opened the flight simulator, the weather was rather misty and cloudy although now, in the afternoon, this had mostly burnt off as I headed rather steeply into the skies.
It didn’t take long before I had climbed to 5,000 feet and was just about touching the base of a thick layer of cloud hanging above me. I requested a flight level of 10,000 which was granted and I trimmed the aircraft and adjusted the fuel mixture so that I could fly steady at this new altitude. For much of the flight, I was simply fighting the wind forever trying to blow me off course whist enjoying the view above the clouds. Some clouds were lighter but the large majority of the sky was grey and heavy which were impressive to look at even if I could not see the ground below at all.
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It wasn’t until 16:00 when I dropped below the clouds and finally saw the terrain once more. A river caught my eye snaking its way across the landscape, so I decided to follow this a little lower. Seeing boats on the river below I could hear rain hitting my windscreen and thought about whoever would be on those boats in real life, currently getting rained upon.
I declared my approach at 16:43 whilst still surround by clouds and had pretty poor visibility. I spotted a small airport out of my right hand window with a bright turquoise bay framing the tarmac but this runway was dwarfed in comparison when I passed by the newer Hong Kong International Airport. That place was huge! I would certainly return in order to say I had landed at HKIA but for now I was to take on the infamous Kai Tak approach and landing.
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As the sun began to set I glided over parts of the city in my small twin propeller Beech Baron. I was able to take the approach very slowly but could gain a real sense of appreciation for those huge passenger jets having to skim the tops of buildings whilst pointing directly for a hill before turning sharp right to actually line up with the runway. Even in my plane I was nervous at how low I needed to be over the buildings.
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I must say that FlyTampa had certainly done a fantastic job at modelling the scenery and including the recognizable details. A large checkerboard on a hill is all that guided me in to my approach but I knew to expect this. Being an aviation fan, the Kai Tak checkerboard has a reputation of its own. This had to be one of the most exciting landings of my tour! Whilst Lukla landing strip near Mount Everest certainly had the fear factor, this notorious landing had certainly been built up in my own mind. It is a shame that this amazing airport is no longer active and that I will never get to experience the same landing for real.
I touched down with my wheels either side of the white center line and spent a long while taxiing to my parking spot, surrounded by many huge jets in appropriate liveries. Watching the sun set I was really looking forward to flying over Hong Kong in better weather as well as embracing the food by ordering our own local Chinese take away.
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Kai Tak Airport

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Hong Kong Kai Tak Airport (1925 – 1998) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PCOcyt7BPI
The Last Hurrah for Plane Spotters at Kai Tak Hong Kong Airport Airplanes – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBYVc8083PM
Planes Over Hong Kong (1998) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyU9OLqQ8XA
Whilst researching Hong Kong I have found a new fondness for this place. I can safely say that Hong Kong is well and truly on my bucket list.

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Hong Kong , Best of Hong Kong HD – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htuj-fmfKcU
Hong Kong – City Video Guide – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaTcRZK0PRM
Jackie Chan’s Hong Kong – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eIF7-opXYo
Megacities – Hong Kong Full Documentary – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcbyQ_1GhYk
Hong Kong (China) Vacation Travel Video Guide – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1vQnNnsT48
Top 10 Things to do in Hong Kong – HD – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPNxBSAw0Yw
Hong Kong Central District Skyline at Night *HD* – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrJG3yc0WDk

Flight 45) Masirah – Seeb International, Muscat

Masirah appeared to be a very remote place to visit. I found that there are many trips taken to Masirah Island although I was eager to move on to parts of the world with a little more population as I gear up to my arrival in Dubai!

Whilst I knew I was to be flying over desert and sea, without a lot to see, I wanted to enjoy the challenge of a night time flight so set off rather late. Taking off from the runway at 8:50 pm I looked over my shoulder at the island below and could make out the main road which runs a complete loop around the island. Still, there were not many buildings or lights to see from the air.

I continued to fly north over the Arabian Sea and soon passed over the shore line at 6,000 ft. The brief but heavy turbulence notified me that I was over warm land again and I turned to a heading of 030. It was nice to see the odd cloud speckled through out the dark navy sky. It was equally nice to be flying above them as I climbed to 8,000 ft and continued to 10,000 ft. The dark sky allowed me to enjoy a different kind of view as my eyes were drawn to the brighter parts of the sky and I realized I was looking at Earth’s view of the Milkyway from my left window.

I was tuned to Muscat center and was surprised at how little radio chatter there was as at 9:20 I heard the only other aircraft in the sky, a Bombardier. I decided to gain some speed and requested a decent to 6,000ft. To really enjoy the challenge of night time flying I stuck to flying by instruments only. By the time I looked out of the windows once again I could see the opposite shore line coming into view on the horizon, dark shapes describing mountains to my left with a lot of desert floor below.

By 9:36 I had reached my second way point and received my landing instructions from Seeb International airport for runway 26. It wasn’t for another 15 mins of flight before I saw the lights of Muscat City come in to view and I saw another aircraft in the sky.

My first approach was missed as I failed to hear my landing clearance being given over the radio so I entered a downwind left landing pattern and looped over the city. Even the simulator FSX made Muscat appear to be a substantial location.

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Muscat City FSX

As I lined up for runway 26 I could see the airport was buzzing with aircraft and ground vehicles.  Just whilst taxiing to my parking spot I watched 4 aircraft leave Seeb International Airport and take to the night’s sky.

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Time to see what Muscat City has to offer.

muskatcity092_270_muscat_site_view downtown-muscat-waterfront-muscatMuscatRoadGate

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Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

Muscat 02 Muscat 07 Al Jalali Fortroyal-opera-house-muscat19521814_600x400 The front of the Sultan's Palace.

Landing OOMS Muscat – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7saH-nDyMc
National Geographic Channel: World Traveller – Muscat & Nizwa – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wFZMcIbg3c
Muscat capital of Oman – Unravel Travel TV – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZZAnxAmg_w
Muscat City Tour – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=op1ZHk_qoG8
Oman Muscat 2013 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kp8SCdTBu9w
Amazing Oman Muscat, Nizwa – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ufi-z_fgJ4
Oman Travel Guide and Tourism 2014 ( Full Video HD)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjVD1izlwNQ