I never expecting that a spontaneous plan to Oman turned to be the best trip ever in my life. Initially, I did not considered Oman a worthy destination until I visited the country during new year. This country is just so beautiful and heaven! I fell in love with the Oman on my first day I started exploring the places around Oman. I touched down at the Muscat International Airport after 10 hours flight from Kuala Lumpur, transit in Bangkok and then route to Muscat, Oman.
Muscat is a vibrant city made of many locals who have moved from the villages. I have seen some amazing views from top of the mountains, visited a very old village near Nizwa during a day tour to the enchanting Forts of Nizwa. The tour starts with a spectacular drive through the Hajar Mountains via the oases of Fanjah and Birkat Al Mauz, to reach Nizwa and the impressive 17th century fort. Nizwa is located about 1 and half hour drive from Muscat with its historical buildings and imposing fort built in the mid-17th century by Imam Sultan Bin Saif Al Ya’ribi. Nizwa’s palm oasis stretches for 5 miles along the course of two wadis.
I also found the most beautiful and calming mosques I had ever been before. The Sultan Qaboos mosque quietly imposing from the outside, this glorious piece of modern Islamic architecture was a gift to the nation from Sultan Qaboos to mark his 30th year of reign. The main prayer hall is breathtakingly rich. The Persian carpet alone measures 70m by 60m wide, making it the second-largest hand-loomed Iranian carpet in the world; it took 600 women four years to weave.
The Museum I visited is the Bait Al Zubair museum which is a must. The center displays the family’s collection of Omani artifacts, which is considered to be the finest that is privately owned. With its growing collection, Bait al Zubair now houses one of the largest heritage and permanent art collections in the country and serves as a real window on Oman’s rich heritage and culture. Other than that, Mutrah Souq which is also known as old market in Muscat is an awesome place to visit and walk around the coast. Shops selling Omani and Indian artifacts together with a few antiques jostle among more traditional textile, hardware and jewelry stores. Bargaining is expected although discounts tend to be small. Navigating the souq takes a bit of practice. I entered by going slightly uphill away from the sea. That said, getting lost inside the souq is part of the fun.
During this trip, I didn’t missed an adventurous part to Wahiba Sands, which is famous for its huge undulating dunes. These mountains of shift red and white sand rise to over 200 meters and stretch out as far as the eye can see. There is also a variety of unique desert plants and animals that I see as our 4×4 drives up and down through the dunes. The guide took me speeding across the sand to show just how much fun the desert can be. The desert is the traditional home of nomadic bedouin, who can still be seen traveling across the sands with their camels. I went to Wadi Bani Khaled to see the other vital part of life in a desert, an oasis. Wadi means ‘valley’ in Arabic and Wadi Bani Khaled hosts fresh water springs that transform the dry desert into a beautiful landscape. I explored the palm groves and relax in the cool shade next to a spring.There are also traditional villages scattered throughout the oasis on the slopes of the mountains sides.
Another highlight during this trip was a visit to the Sultan’s Palace.I stood by the harbor wall on Mirani St, the building to the right with the delightful mushroom pillars in blue and gold is the Sultan’s Palace. On the inland side, an avenue of palm trees leads to a roundabout surrounded by grand royal court buildings and the new national museum. Although the palace is closed to the public, I easily pause in front of the gates, at the end of the colonnaded approach, for a quintessential photograph.
For some reason Muscat reminded me of my frequent island trip where I could walk around the beach and enjoy a coffee in peace. There are plenty of cafes and areas where I can do this freely. I truly enjoyed Turtle Beach in front of the hotel I stayed, located along the Arabian Sea in Oman. I am glad that Oman is picking up as a tourist destination with great places to offer. It is a very beautiful country and has amazing views and it is diverse as I cannot categorize it as a desert country. It such a memorable, fun and adventurous experience I had in Oman. I definitely will come again….