Saturday, March 09, 2013

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Muscat

Posted by Hippo Bean at 12:07 AM
Touching down in Muscat was refreshing. The city was surrounded by hills. The Dubai haze was gone. The air was good. After the ultra modern skyscrappers of Dubai, Muscat was a welcome site and feel. On my way from the airport, we passed by the marble white Grand Mosque and it was very impressive. I took the Big Bus tour around the city which took me from the Muttrah Souk to the Shati Al Qurum, the hotel resorts area, to downtown, to the Marina, to old Muscat. At Al Alam I got off to get into the free tour of old Muscat, which had nothing old because all the old houses were rebuilt. The Sultan Palace and the finance buildings were all built in 1979, when Oman struck oil. Behind the Palace, it was the most beautiful part of Muscat. Two Portuguese forts, Al Jalali and Al Mirani, were located at the mouth of the small bay, looking like where Perseus struck the Kraken in Clash of the Titans. Graffiti were on the side of the hill and one even said Perseus with a Norwegian flag. The Gulf of Oman was blue. Our young guide told us that the omanis manually pollanize the date palms, climbing up to the trees and depositing the seeds. The Bait A Zubair Museum on the old city was one of the best museums I've visited. Beautifully restored ceramics, copper dishes, traditional costumes, and miniatures of the major forts/castles. I wanted to visit all of them! Pity they didnt allow pictures to be taken. And double pity their souvenir shop had very few postcards of the museum items. In the evening E and I walked the Muttrah corniche and all the houses along the waterfront were illuminated and the colors switched from pink to purple to blue and green. The giant incense burner on the hill shot a green laser and displayed a magnificent laser show. At the port, the grand Sultan's yacht was docked. The corniche was alive at night with locals strolling. All women wore the hijab or abaya. The souk was also vibrant at night. I bought some frankincense. We dined at one of the waterfront restaurants and had this white fish called hammour that was super delicious. The Omani currency was higher than the US dollar but everything was quite cheap. My meal cost me less than $5USD. Our hotel the Haffa House is about 15 mins from the corniche, offered spacious rooms but it had no view. The meals at the hotel were super grand and delicious. the capital city was very clean and all the workers were local, as contrast to UAE, where Indians, Phillippinos and Nepalese were imported to do service work. Muscat, a beautiful city. I've quite enjoyed it.



The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque was very different in style and design and not as beautiful as the one in Abu Dhabi, but every bit as grand. The central dome though was so ornate that reminded me of the ones in Uzbekistan. I immediatly shot myself to the center of the hall to look up at this dome. The halls were lined with mosaic paintings, every one unique in design and color. The women's hall was also decorated grandly and with chantiliers. there was a working library inside that included internet stations and hardwood floors and wooden shells filled with arabic books. Several young men were there while we're visiting, and they had books open and were writing in arabic. Beautiful library.

See Muscat photos


See Sultan Qaboos Mosque photos

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