Oman - Day 1 and 2 | Photography by Simon

Oman - Day 1 and 2
Sun, Feb 14 2016

As the plane flies over Oman, I am gazing down at the amazing landscape of this country. Rugged rust coloured mountains to the east that descend off into a desert that stretches for hundreds and hundreds of miles to the west. As we approach Muscat the area is peppered with thousands of white flat-roofed buildings, exactly as you would imagine in any Arab country. The main airport is surprisingly modest considering the wealth of the country, and the temperature is a cool 24 degrees when I arrive.

5 Rials and 15 minutes later I have my visa, luggage and I'm waiting outside - one of the fastest exits I have had from an international airport. It's dusty, and warm and I'm greeted by the familiar sounds of taxis and the hustle and bustle of an arrivals area. I'm politely approached by lots of taxi drivers offering me a 'very good price' and 'where are you going sir?', all dressed in white dishdasha clothing, kumma and sporting a welcoming smile.

Fortunately, I am being collected from the airport so I have time to sit back and observe airport life for a few minutes. Everyone is polite and friendly, and I am left to my own devices without any concern. There is a pleasant calm about this place and I am already excited to explore. Although, for one poor unfortunate soul - his airport visit cost him more than expected as he was handed a ticket for parking in the wrong place. What was surprising was the very polite conversation between the two men. Although I don’t speak arabic, it understood what was going on. 

Jen and Brian kindly picked me up from the airport and give me details of what's what and where's where as we drive towards their home (I'm hoping I get a chance to see the locals come out to play in the evening where they show off their sports cars - lots of Ferraris, Lamborghinis etc etc etc). My eyes gobble up the surroundings like a kid in a candy store as they drive me around. We stop briefly at the local shopping mall in an area known as The Wave, before arriving at their place. I'm pretty sure someone that knows me has told both Jen and Brian about me as not long after we arrive - I’m eating!

The following day, Jen drops me off in Mutrah with a cousin and friend of hers - both of whom are going to the wedding. We wander around the souk market in Mutrah for a few hours, your typical tourist market that sells the usual stuff - pashmina, perfume (fake), souvenirs, clothing, post cards, 100 year old coins (fake) and the like - you could even buy your very own Aladdin’s Lamp, in various sizes and colours, if you like. It’s a lovely place though, the people are very friendly, all trying to entice you into their little store with a hope that you will buy something.

Hunger and thirst eventually gets the better of our trio and we take our places at a little outdoor cafe - just in time as the cruise ship in the harbour has just shed it’s load of tourists into the market and the place was starting to fill up.

I was delighted to try a ‘lemon mint spicy’ drink (large size of course) with my falafel and humous. A refreshing drink with a wonderful kick to it. An educated guess says there is pepper, lots of pepper, mixed in but we are all convinced there are other spices. Sadly, I forgot to ask what was in the drink before we left. The next chance I get, I’m having another one and I’m going to find out what gives it the kick.

There was a beautiful little stray cat that sat very patiently waiting for food that had one blue eye and one green eye - I found it regretful the cafe owner did not find the poor thing so attractive and scared it away.

The day finished off with a BBQ by the swimming pool where I get to meet more family and friends of Jen and Brian, and I am feeling stuffed from all the food. Without doubt, a wonderful introduction to this country, and I know my week here will not be long enough.

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