Oman is an interesting country. It benefited from the same oil wealth as the UAE, but the effects are much more subdued. Sometimes when I’m out an about in Abu Dhabi, the green and the uber modern towers makes it difficult to remember that I’m living in the desert, the dusty sky the only reminder. The desert was evident everywhere in Muscat, in the dry climate fauna, the mountainous terrain running along the sides of the roads. When I get the chance, I’d love to explore the less developed areas more.
I didn’t want to take too many taxi trips while I was in Muscat, since it was pretty expensive and the taxis don’t have meters. You have to negotiate with the driver every time you want to go somewhere, which means a lot of chances to get ripped off. At the airport you don’t really have a choice, but they have a stand in which all taxi fares are prepaid at a stand before you get on a taxi. Anyways, this is how I ended up using the Big Bus Tour.
I wasn’t super impressed with it, since I tried to order the tickets online to save 15%, but for some reason they weren’t able to issue me a ticket and had to cancel my order. Still, it was $50 for unlimited travel on their route for the day, and it ended up saving me some money getting back to the airport because I got off at a stop closer to the airport. Also, there was NO ONE on the buses! There might have been a time or two when there was two other people on the bus, but that was it. Mostly I had the bus all to myself.
The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque had closed for tourists by the time I left the airport, but I still managed to get a shot of it. Opening for non-musims are 8am-11am excluding Fridays. Ladies, cover up that hair (and everywhere else for that matter) and men should wear long sleeves and pants.
The Mutrah Souk is pretty much the same as all the other Middle Eastern souqs I’ve been to, minus all the people. All the shopkeepers were pretty desperate to sell, but I already have enough scarves and trinkets.
This fort was right above the souk. You can see this kind of fort dotting the mountainous ranges all around Muscat.
The Muscat Royal Opera House was quite impressive, and hints at the money that oil has brought in. Wonder what the inside looks like?
There was a stop at the financial district of Muscat, and I thought I might get a bite to eat here. I got off and this was what I saw. Wandered around (it was 110 degrees!) looking for food and didn’t find much of anything at all.
At least I found this clock tower that was supposed to be one of the sights to see in Muscat. Not really impressed. Would not recommend stopping off here.
Green in the desert! And not the carefully cultivated kind of the UAE either.
I joined a tour (provided by Big Bus) of the Sultan’s palace and its surroundings. The tour guide was a local Omani who lived nearby, and basically we walked around while he gave me an overview of Omani history and architecture, although he was much more interested in asking me questions about the United States then he was in the history of the Sultan’s palace and the surrounding forts. It was really really hot by then, and I was seeing spots at the end of the tour.
I’m really starting to see the headscarf as a necessity. Halfway through our tour, both me and my guide had donned headscarves (he’s a man) to protect our heads against the searing heat.
Dates are often found in the Middle Eastern diet. These ones are kimri, or unripe, and I’m told that it tastes disgusting.
Rabbit sponge, signing off!