A Travellerspoint blog

Wadi bashing

Contrasts in Oman

sunny 39 °C
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Yesterday it was time to see some of the contrasts, which exists in this country. We started the day by a two-hour drive to the Wahibi sands, on arriving we were greeted by camels who weren’t planning of moving and so we drove around them, which is no problem in a Four-wheel drive. After this minor setback :-), we hit the sand dunes and I was happy I fastened my seatbelts. If not I would be bruised on places I didn’t even know I had. But after the drivers were trough playing, and got struck in the sand a few times, we reached a Bedouin camp were we had a cup of coffee.
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After this stop it was off to wadi Bani Khalid, there couldn’t be a greater contrast than this. Water here was all around and our drivers had a hell of a ball with it, they looked like little boys again. It’s unbelievable to see the amount of water that is flowing trough this wadi, well off course it helped that in resent days rain had been abundant but still. There were children playing and swimming in the water and women doing the dishes and we were spraying everyone by driving fast trough it :-)
Well that’s all folks, well for Muscat that is, tomorrow I fly to the southwest of Oman and will bore you with stories about what else you’re missing by not coming to Oman.

Posted by erodrigo 00:41 Archived in Oman Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Around Nizwa

How many forts can one handle

sunny 36 °C
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Today we toured around Nizwa, to begin with we visited the souq of Nizwa. Our visit yesterday was after all brutally interrupted by some raindrops. The souq's in Oman are nice, you’re not bothered by pushy merchants who want to sell you something. Only if you ask the price, negotiations begin. If you say yes to the price the merchant is asking, you will be hailed in his prayers and laughed about in talks with his friends. After this we paid a visit to wadi Tanuf, because of the rain of the last week the wadi was full of water and not dry which it is most of the year, this gives it just that little bit extra. The former town Tanuf was destroyed in 1957 by order of the father of Sultan Qaboos (the present Sultan of Oman). He asked the English for this destruction because a Madi had decided he wanted to be independent and started his own Madinat. Which didn’t fell well with the former Sultan, because he strived to a united Oman.
After a short visit to this destroyed and abandoned village we went to see yet another fort, the one in Bahla, this one’s on the UNESCO world heritage list and is presently closed for public because of the renovation. Most of the fort is already reconstructed; only one last part is still being worked on. This gives you a nice view on how rigorous reconstruction can be, because the color is quite off from the part that is already reconstructed and you can still see that the original fort was very much destroyed.
To top the day off we visited the palace at Jibreen. It looks like a fort but was really a palace and it’s the only palace in Oman. The great thing about it is that it has a lot of stuff in every room so you get an impression how simple live was in the 1700’s.
After this we had a long drive back to Muscat, but we made a coffee stop at the restaurant we ate the day before. Food is great and cheap in Oman, when you go to a restaurant, outside your hotel. For a meal of soup, main course and drinks you only pay 3 Oman Real, which comes down to about 6 Euro.
So now I’m back in Muscat and tomorrow we go into the dessert to ruff it up a bit and after that it’s off to Salalah on Saturday, where it must be very green and cool by now (25 C) at the end of the monsoon season.

Posted by erodrigo 07:22 Archived in Oman Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Omani hospitality

Something to be learned here

all seasons in one day 38 °C
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Yesterday we were treated to another display of hospitality by the Omani people. We were visiting the oasis Birkat Al Mauz (Were you’ll see new houses standing very close to old abandoned houses, who were traded in for the new more comfortable ones, with running water and electricity.) and he came up to us started to ell about the oasis he lived in and then invited the entire group to his house for coffee and would not take no for an answer.
So we went and were shown the sitting room, which consists of tapestry and pillows, very comfortable by the way. After we had all settled we were treated on Arabic coffee (very strong, just the way I like it), fresh dates (fresh from the palm tree) and oranges. After about an hour of talking and meeting his wife, children, mother-in-law and sister the visit approached his end when he gave us a glass of water. We extensively thanked him and since he didn’t want anything in return we all gave the children some pocket money, because we were not counting on this visit and had no proper gifts.
What you should know though, if you ever visit an Arabic family, are some basic rules. One bottom feeder in our group refused to, but we told him off. Always take your shoes or what ever footwear you’re wearing off, sit down and make sure you don’t show the soles of your feet, never refuse food and if you’ve had enough then just hold the last thing you were given in your hand until the water arrives (to clean your hands) and make sure you eat with your right hand, the left one is used for other things (you know what I mean).
It was a really nice day and we loved it even more because of the visit, the day had one more surprise for us, a humongous thunderstorm. At the end of the day we where in Nizwa and about 17.30 hours when we where walking trough the old Souq a thunderstorm broke lose. So everybody fled in the bus and we went back to the hotel. Very slowly by the way because of the huge amounts of water everywhere you looked.

Posted by erodrigo 05:38 Archived in Oman Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Omani people

so friendly and open

semi-overcast 38 °C
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Yesterday we visited the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, which is an impressive piece of architecture. The praying hall for men is very large and very beautiful. It is the only mosque in the land you can visit if you’re not a Muslim.
After this monumental visit we moved a bit more inland to Nakhal and Rustaq where we visited some of the many forts that are around in Oman, there should be over a 100 in Oman. Both forts are situated in an oasis and if you want a good view over the oasis you should climb the fort. Especially the one in Nakhal, because this one has artifacts of the people who used to inhabit these forts, the one in Rustaq is impressive just by the size of it and the many opportunities it gives you to take a wrong step and therefore a deep fall, so be careful here.
The Omani people are so very friendly, our guide talked to this one girl who was getting water and she told everything about herself. She is 23 was married at 16 and had four children, she was accompanied by her 8 year old brother and her 19 year old sister who just finished high school and wanted to do some more studying. Her marks weren’t good enough for University but she was looking for some other college. So it’s not that women have to get married right away produce some kids and be done with it, no in Oman over 50% of the students in University is female.
After only a short talk with out guide she invited us in her home, we declined as our group is 12 persons big and this would be to great an inconvenience, but still it shows how open and friendly the Omani people are, an other example was in a small village where we were standing and some woman came back from doing the dishes, our guide spoke to them and immediately they started a conversation with her as if they had known her for years. Also Omani men are very friendly, the only thing you have to know is respect, if you respect them in their customs they will respect you in yours. It’s a simple; well it would be if you spoke some Arabic :-).

Posted by erodrigo 23:55 Archived in Oman Tagged air_travel Comments (0)

Lost luggage


sunny 33 °C
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Yesterday evening I needed a pick-me-up, because I still had received no word about my luggage, I heard a lot of people cheering in the garden of the hotel, so I went over. Ordered a beer and found out I crashed the employee’s party, but they invited me to stay and I had a blast with very friendly people who came from a lot of different countries, Sri Lanka, India, Austria, Sweden, Holland and even Oman. The Sultan tries very hard to keep the expatriates limited to only 25% of the population of his country.
After many more beers it was time for some sleep and today I had my first excursion, a city trip in Muscat, we visited the museum and the palace of Sultan Qaboos, which was home by the way, because his flag was in top of the palace. The last stop of the day was at the souk in Muttrah.
Luckily my luggage has arrived today so I could put on some clean clothes, which is advisable here, because you sweat a lot. Which off course you compensate by drinking a lot of water so you can do some more sweating and so on and so on.

Posted by erodrigo 10:41 Archived in Oman Tagged air_travel Comments (2)