Today was the day. I finally feel like I am in the Arab world! Muscat is everything I wanted in this trip. We pulled into port this morning and the glorious mountains, blue sea and white buildings were a majestic site. And what the hell is that 60’s looking acid hut? I would come to find out it is a sculpture of an incense burner! Since they are so popular here they decided to build a gigantic one.
But that is the only gigantic thing in this harbor. Unlike Dubai, residents aren’t allowed to build their homes higher than three stories.
And put your fears to rest, we have not seen any violence here. There was talk of some protests against the Sultan recently but everything in Muscat is perfect from what we can see.
We took a tour with the cruise ship and had a delightful day seeing the mosque, souq and museum. Our guide, Kallil was terribly informative (and cute!) and told me all about the male national dress of Oman. He even taught me how to tie a turban Omani style! Get ready this summer people.
First stop was the Sultan’s mosque. He had it built in 2001 with his own money and nobody knows what he spent but whatever it costs, it is astounding. The grounds reminded me of the Taj Mahal with fountains running in every angle and beautiful grass and flora. Women of course have to be robed. Luckily I had an Abaya that was a gift from a friend from Dubai when I was living in London so mother had that. Kallil taught her how to tie it around her face for maximum discretion.
The inside of the mosque was spectacular. It is the largest in Oman and the third largest in the Middle East. The chandelier is Swarovski crystal and weighs eight tons. The rug was woven in Iran by 400 women in sections, then brought to the mosque and sewn together. It weighs 21 tons. I could have stayed in there forever. I wish one day I could pray along with the other men in such a place but I don’t think that day will come. Such a spectacular place to be at one with God.
(Kallil showing us how they wash up before prayers)
Next stop was the souq. It’s right on the lovely Corniche and I went hog wild buying the local hats, head wraps, Frankincense incense and oil (divine!) and other assorted gifts. This was the best souq I have ever been in. Not only were there loads of interesting things to look at and buy, but everyone was so nice. I will never forget the harassing I experienced in Istanbul.
Next stop was a former home that was converted into a cultural museum. There was a whole section dedicated to the men’s dress. Who knew those things that look like bullets on necklaces were actually full of kohl and used as eyeliner to protect from the sun! (Same as Football players just much chicer)
The last stop was the Sultan’s palace, which is only used for formal occasions. I want an invitation! It looks so swinging 60’s.
Finally it was back to the ship. As soon as we were in our suite I had peeled off my western wear and slipped into my dishdashah and scarf. I am finally in my element. Mother and I had a quick lunch and then I glided back out to the city in my new attire. It was so lovely just strolling the Corniche, watching the fish, bird and boats bobbing.
I went back to the souq and spent two hours just strolling around, talking to vendors, touching fabrics and inhaling the thick scents. Everyone loved my native embrace and kept yelling, “Salaam Said!”
(The Sultan's yacht)
Finally I ordered a freshly made juice and just sat staring at the sea sunning. This is my heaven. Relaxation and wind whipping up my drawers.
I came back to the ship to rest before drinks and dinner. It’s a ‘white party’ tonight on the ship so I guess I’ll be staying in this dishdashah for the duration!