A Travellerspoint blog

The answer to the quiz

Dear friends

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The answer to the quiz:

According to the man who was selling them, one opens them up into a tripod, (quatropod actually) lights some incense underneath, and then one drapes one's clothes over it to give them a nice smell!

There were various styles, and a large number of shops selling them. We never saw them for sale anywhere else.
Are they particularly smelly in this town?

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Posted by AnnieBusch 02:13 Comments (2)

Markets and a Mosque

Our last day

We set off this morning to Mutrah, the part of Muscat which is the port and home to the Fish market and the Souq.

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Parking beside the modern fish market was easy.

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Interestingly, it was mostly men doing the shopping.

large_a5bcc6f0-297b-11ea-b916-591a38553590.JPGa53ce890-297b-11ea-9845-a9e790908b49.JPGThere were lovely mosaics on the walls of fish and fishing boats.

There were lovely mosaics on the walls of fish and fishing boats.

We then walked along the corniche, past the Royal Yachts again, to the Gold Souq.

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The gold Souq is full of bridal jewellery, and most of the shops were well attended.

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Note the knuckle duster type bracelets which seemed to be a popular design!

The Gold Souq merged into the tourist Souq, and every shopkeeper wanted to lure us into his shop. We wandered along behind a big group of Italians. Pashimas in cashmere and silk (allegedly) for all sorts of prices, fro £2 to £40. Finally I was tempted and bought a cashmere one for £12. It feels nice anyway.

Otherwise there were men's hats, lamps, coffee pots and other souvenirs to be had.
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We stopped for a mint and lime juice and some lunch, and watched the world go by for a while before heading south to find Old Muscat. We stopped outside a Mosque and found an entrance to the old quarter. It wasn't very interesting, and after spending some time in the cemetery, we headed back to the car. I was taking a not particularly good photo of the mosque....

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When an elderly gentleman asked us if we would like a "shufti" inside the mosque. With alacrity we said yes! Thank goodness I had bought my scarf in the Souq (I had just taken my scarf out of the boot last night!) So we donned our scarves, removed our shoes and followed him inside. It was quite a simple affair, and as he didn't speak more than 3 words of English it was quite hard to understand what he was trying to tell us. He encouraged us to take photos, and even gave us a personalised call to prayer over the loud speakers! The board which looks like a currency exchange board, is actually showing the prayer times!

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As we left, he said something which we took to mean "wait a minute", and moments later he returned with two bottles of mango juice. What a sweet man!

We then took the long route home, over some mountains, which were host to giant electricity pylons.

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And then we stopped to take photos of this Indian suburb of Muscat, before heading back to our hotel for our last night before catching the plane home tomorrow.

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I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse of Oman.

Posted by AnnieBusch 01:34 Comments (1)

To As Suwayq in the Morning, and the Ballet this Evening

December 27th

As it was Friday, the souq in Muscat was closed - this is still unvisited and we will 'do' it tomorrow. So we decided to travel along the north coast to As Suwayq, a traditional fishing village, where there is also a castle.

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Well, the traditional village has morphed into a town, with dozens of tailors, barbers, laundries and electronic repair shops. The little souk was also interesting, and there is a prize to any one who can guess what these are for!

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There were some interesting ready-made dresses for sale.

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The castle was closed, as it was Friday.

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There was a small market just closing down, but the guys there were friendly, keen to chat and happy to have their photos taken by Janey.

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At midday everything shut and the faithful went to the mosque. There was quite a traffic jam outside all three of them. We wandered the back streets and discovered where the less affluent live. For how much longer though? Much had already been demolished, making space for new villas for the wealthy, we imagine.

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The coffee shops were all shut and we were worried we'd go hungry. But a bit out of town we found one open and happy to do us a wrap each and a mint smoothy for me and a banana milk shake for Janey.

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Back home we got ready in our glad rags for a visit to the Royal Opera House of Muscat where we had tickets for the Georgian National Ballet.

We called a taxi and arrived at 5.30 in time for an early supper before the 7 pm performance. The building is stunning; both outside and in.

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The performance was wonderful; beautiful dancing, lovely costumes and brilliant music.

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Posted by AnnieBusch 05:57 Comments (4)

The Dam and Urbanisations

Boxing Day

Having read the following about Al Amerat, we set off full of hope.

Sometimes it pays to go off the beaten track – and, in this case, we didn’t have to venture far to discover a unique locale where nature meets the water’s edge. Al Amerat Dam, a natural reservoir for rainwater runoff from the area’s surrounding wadis, is a gem of a hidden find. It melds the best of its natural splendour with the convenience of being relatively close to the city.
A short drive from Muscat it makes an ideal day-trip, the hilly terrain surrounding the placid waters of the dam is a great spot to lace up your hiking boots for a trek.

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Our first attempt to find it led us to the public cemetery, a huge place, but we didn't linger!

Eventually we got on the right road, but when we reached the dam, we were rather mystified, it didn't quite match the description. The dam is a magnificent piece of engineering and we were admiring it when a guy approached us and told us we could drive up onto the walls and look at it from on high.

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So we did, expecting to find a large amount of water...

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....but there was none.

On our way back to the main road we passed an intriguing burial site, quite close to, but not part of the main cemetery.

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The graves have just got numbers painted on the slates. One was open, dug, and ready for the next occupant. Are they for people who have died and no one knows who they are?

In order to get to the dam, we had driven through a huge urbanisation of new houses. It fascinates us how these huge houses are built on such relatively small plots, with little space between the house and the boundary wall. Also, how few of them plant any trees around their plot or inside it, and how they seem to be just plonked down in the middle of nowhere. There is no attempt at landscaping the surrounding area, and often no asphalted roads leading to the houses.

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The same house seen from above.

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Some had very smart gates.

We saw several blue water trucks delivering water to the houses, so we assumed they do not have piped mains water yet.

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We stopped in Amerat for lunch. The first coffee shop had a large picture of wraps in the window, so we asked for that. He said "No", so Janey went inside to see what he did have. Inside several people were eating wraps, so Janey asked why we couldn't have one too. He just said "No" again, so we left, and drove a bit further down the road, and found a place which served us excellent wraps and chips!

Another thing that is unusual is the takeaway culture. A car drives up and stops in the road beside the restaurant, then blows the horn. A dedicated waiter runs down to the car and takes the order. If it's a good coffee shop the driver gets a small cup of coffee while he waits in his car for his order to arrive in a little plastic bag, generally blue. Judy will remember shopping like that in Aden with our Yemeni lady friend.

We drove home through another Wadi, stopping frequently for photos.

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We noticed that many of the villages are situated at the feet of the mountains.

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A convoy of jeeps raced past us kicking up the dust, making it impossible to see the road. So we pulled off the road and waited for them all to pass.

We arrived back at our hotel just as it was getting dark.

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Posted by AnnieBusch 06:31 Comments (1)

Caves and an Abandoned Village

Christmas Day

We tried, without success to book a time for visiting the al Hoota caves, 200 km away.

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We decided to go anyway. Stopping to say hello to some camels grazing beside the road along the way.

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We arrived in plenty of time to join the 12.30 tour. We paid our entry fee and then learnt that we were not allowed to take photos and that there were 230 stairs to climb up and down. We followed our guide past the electric train which doesn't work at the moment, and walked for 5 minutes to the entrance of the cave.

Someone managed to sneak a picture:
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The caves were discovered in the 1960's, and of the 4.5 kms, about 500 metres have been opened to the public, with concrete and metal walkways the whole way round. It was very hot and humid, but the steps were not as onerous as I had feared.

We left the caves and headed for a coffee shop Janey had noticed on the way up. It was beside a very pleasant pool in a wadi, and there were several family group's having a picnic in the shade.

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The young Indian lad, (all the coffee shops so far, have been run by Indians, most from Kerala, but some from Bombay as well) made us each a wrap, filled with meat (goat, camel?) what-ever, they were very tasty.

Our next stop was an abandoned and ruined village, not far away at Tanuf. We had no idea what to expect, and were pleasantly surprised by the state of the village; much more ruined than we had expected. It was bombed by the RAF at the same time as the Nizwa fort - or at least, in the same war.

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That brought us to 3.30 and it was time to head back home for a cuppa and the little "Christmas cakes" which the hotel gave us last night.

Then we will open the bottle of Champagne which we brought with us for tonight, before going for a meal in the nearby Iraqi restaurant. We have eaten there before, it has a nice ambiance, we hope we can chose something better than the lamb we had there the other night, and which we didn't like at all.

Posted by AnnieBusch 06:30 Comments (0)

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