Monday, November 28, 2022

 Muscat to Bush Camp, Oman  November 28, 2022

Happy birthday to me!  61 today - it’s quite a different birthday from last year’s party-

however, it’s also Mark’s 68th birthday-

I read somewhere that in a room of x number of people, and it’s not an exhorbitant number, someone will be born on the same day as you and here, in a group of 16, there are 2 of us today.  There have been 5 birthdays in the past 20 days - that’s weird, but apparently Sagittarius people are adventurous and like to travel, so here we are.

But….. and then there were 14.  Not only did we leave Carole behind this morning - she has an Antarctic cruise booked and always planned to end her overland in Muscat, but we also left Old John.  He has been quite sickly the whole trip - sleeping continuously on the coach etc, but he said this morning his skin is cracking, so he’s left the trip to head home to the U.K.

I spent yesterday working on my plans for Israel and India.  All websites say we Canadians can apply for an online evisa for India but when it comes down to it, we can’t!  156 countries can and according to CBC, even though India has been our largest source of immigrants since 2016, it’s very complicated.  I’m hopeful the site will be restored very soon but I will probably have to visit the Indian embassies in Kuwait or even Tel Aviv, but that’s leaving it pretty late.  Visas on arrival are not possible either so if I can’t get a visa, I can’t go to India.  That would suck big time.

After leaving the hotel, we headed for Nakhal Fort which was closed due to renovations.  It’s quite amazing how they originally built on gigantic rocks.  Unfortunately their reno will change everything about it-

Preparing rocks with a sledgehammer-

From here we went to a nearby hot spring.  The water was not hot but certainly warm and comfortable to sit in-

The bark-

on this palm is interesting-

A local restaurant had Salaya’s “famous” coconut -

drink which is really just the liquid inside-

and then they chop it up so it’s easy to eat-

We are heading for the Saudi Ramlet-Khaleh border which has never seen an overland group before.  Along the way-

The country of Oman is a huge rock pile.  The only vegetation is in the wadis (river valleys) where water flows in the rainy season-

There are such magnificent colors and a huge variety of textures-

And then-

We think Saudi will let us in because we are in a Saudi plated coach.  

We are bush camping tonight-

and will get to the border in the morning.

I bought 3 small cakes -

and Karen bought 2 so we had lots-

Bush camp #1 of 4!   Adios Oman!


Sunday, November 27, 2022

Muscat, Oman   November 27, 2022

I did very little today except get some Saudi riyal, buy my own birthday cakes for tomorrow and pick up some Coke Zero and bananas.  That’s it.  I’m hoping to watch Canada beat Croatia later tonight and we will be on the road at 9 am tomorrow heading towards the Saudi border.  We will be bush camping 4 nights as we make our way through the Empty Quarter - sand, sand and more sand in Saudi heading towards Bahrain.  It may be a long 4 days, probably without a SIM card or any wifi at all.  

Saturday, November 26, 2022

Muscat. Oman   November 26, 2022

After a great breakfast- the hotels all have huge buffets, six of us headed out to see the sights.  Of course we soon split up and went our separate ways.  My first stop was at the fish market-

and what a selection! 

Prawns for $17/kg.  I thought that was a great price and when I told the fishmonger I had no place to cook them, he pointed across the road that they would cook them for me in that restaurant.  If I hadn’t just eaten like a pig at breakfast, I might have taken him up on that-


Conch and squid-


The people are so friendly and helpful-

My plan for the day was to walk the Lying Planet’s suggested itinerary to hit the highlights.  I did it in the blazing sun but it was okay.

There are many statues in the roundabouts-

My  next stop was the gold souk where they sell 21 carat gold jewelry-

The main souk-

 is connected so I just followed the little streets and was constantly hassled by the merchants.  Kummah-

What an outfit!  All my clothes were at a laundry so I’m wearing the leftovers- my sports bra, my fanny pack around my waist with my camera attached, my runners, my sun hat and a string keeping my sunglasses on ….. and a kummah-

Beautiful scarves-

Notions for sewing-


and cooking pots-

I’ve seen most if not all of this before so what I like the most is to visit with the people.  I found a teacher’s store and spent a good half hour visiting with the workers - one from India and the other from Bangladesh.  The Arabic alphabet-

and the numbers from 1-100.  They start on the left side and read to the right so the capital E is a 4-

Leaving the souk I was back on the corniche which is the walk along the water.   I met a group from Iran and the first thing they asked me was if I had heard about the protests they’re having about women’s rights.  I said I had and they were so pleased.  They said they too were protesting as they were dressed in Western clothing.  We had to have a picture-

Next I came across Mutrah Fort which is high on a hill-

and the gigantic incense burner-

That’s another interesting thing about Muscat.  It’s built around the mountains so your business or home might be just on the other side of a mountain but it’s impossible to get there over the mountain. It takes a long time to go around and because of the valleys, the city is really spread out-

Entering old Muscat-

Probably the biggest surprise of the day was a small art gallery called Bait Muzna.  Oh my!

Tahira Fida Al Lawati -

The largest kummah measures 1 metre in height and 1.62 meters across.  It has a circumference of 5.16 meters.  There are over 200,000 stitches in it and it took five women 18 months to make.  They used 27.43 meters of fabric.  Scenes depicted are the incense burner, the Khanjar which is the traditional dagger and the Grand Mosque-

Debjani Bhardwaj - The Air That I Breathe II is a handmade paper cut-

Juma Al Harthi’s Doors III measures 106 x 70 cm-

Also Jibreen I, my favourite, which cost $2200-

There were paintings by Anna Dudchenko and my favourite is called Sunset Catch-

The walking tour suggested I stop at a restaurant.  I usually wouldn’t because I have always thought that the restaurants pay Lonely Planet to put their business in their book as a form of advertising. I had delicious mango juice and was sitting with the owner. I asked him if he knew his restaurant was featured in the LP but he didn’t have a clue what that even was. I showed him the reference and map. He was quite surprised and pleased!

Funny things: a perfume shop-

Carrying on…….  People can’t enter the Sultan’s Palace but there’s nice architecture and pretty gardens-

Lastly I stopped at the National Museum to cool down and use the bathroom.  I don’t need to see another museum - maybe ever!  The woman behind the counter ended up figuring out how I could catch a city bus home.  She wouldn’t stop looking until she had it figured out.  People are so kind!  The bus stop was just out the door but I had to make a transfer.  I don’t mind taking the bus sometimes because then you see more of the city because it’s not usually a direct route but it took me an hour and a half! instead of probably 20 minutes.  I could have caught a cab for $17 but the bus only cost $2.43.  The best part was the Indian student who heard on the bus where I was going, actually everyone knew, but she took it upon herself to walk with me crossing busy streets, through a shopping mall to show me where money exchange shops were and she walked me right to the exit where I needed to go.  So nice.

I had a wonderful day seeing the sights and interacting with some lovely people!  Looking forward to tomorrow and its surprises!

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