Oman sounded like a relatively unknown and exciting destination at the time so we had decided to give it a go. And it turned out it was true. We chose February as that was supposed to be a month when the temperature seemed to be bearable.
We spent the first day wandering through the old town of Muscat, enjoying the old shopping market, buying souvenirs and listening to the sound of Muezin calling people to pray. Needless to say, we got quite a bit of staring as the number of tourists in the city was surprisingly low. That is obviously nothing uncommon in this part of the world and we are getting used to it.
The following day, we paid a visit to the famous Sultan Qaboos Mosque, one of the most beautiful mosques in the world. Although I almost melted under the pile of clothes I put on to cover myself, I was not let through because ”my wrists were visible”. This left me quite angry as I always respect every culture and religion and I wanted to show appreciation towards their national pride. And I got this. Despite of that, I could take pictures outside, haha.
The next day, we visited the town of Ras al Hadd. It is famous in Oman thanks to turtle watching. Hundreds of huge turtles come out to the beach to lay eggs every year. We stayed for a night to see it and unfortunately left totally disappointed. That is where the tale of an unseen turtle begins.
At first, one of the only two hotels in Ras al Hadd forced us to pay in cash. We gave them our last money and were left without dinner and breakfast. Still trying to remain optimistic, we were told there were no turtles for us today. At 10 pm, I answered a phone call announcing that a guide found a turtle. The guide was rude, not willing to speak English, wanted to drive our car himself and took to us to a beach with only one turtle covering the distance of five meters before diving into the ocean. The cherry on the pie was his question: ”how do you like it?” Why not. Of course we paid in advance. Laughing at our own bad luck and this self-confident guy we went to get some sleep (not much of it, damn, you stupid morning roosters). Oh yes, and we were asked by the receptionist to write a very positive review about this hotel that ”everything (was) perfect, sir”. Sure. Close enough, haha.
We needed to get some real rest and food so we headed for the only hotel with card terminal and ended up at the beach. Thankfully, the beaches are still undiscovered by tourists and locals do not visit very often so we had them all to ourselves. Long white sand beach which stretched along the whole town with many beautiful shells and turtles and dolphins in deeper waters. That’s what our souls needed!
Next, we headed to the town of Sur as we were left without any money. After arrival to Sur (41 km), we realized it was Friday morning and everyone was praying in mosques. Not possible to change any money, haha. Our bad luck sticks with us for now.
The day before departure, we visited Nizwa Fort, famous fortress which serves as a market today. We had a chance to buy traditional souvenirs. Suffering under 100 degrees celsius outside, we wandered around, grabbed some food and left quite early. Although, the views from the top of the fortress deserve a visit!
The last two things we wanted to check out in Oman (except the desert, which deserves a separate blog post) were Wadi Bhani Khalid and Wadi Shab. Both are beautiful natural lagoons where you can enjoy a swim in amazingly crystal clear water. Just be aware and dress properly even if in water, otherwise you will feel uncomfortable among locals.
For now, that was all from our Oman roller-coaster trip. Its ups & downs kept us interested at all times and it was a great experience. I would say this country still needs some time to get used to western tourists and improve the level of services, but real travellers should visit Oman asap, before the masses of tourists discover their pristine beaches!