Last day in Oman
23.02.2018 - 23.02.2018
Taqa Open Air Museum
A small collection of replica dwellings shows how local people lived in the Dhofar mountains in the old days. The hut on the left would have housed the family, while the building on the right was for the animals.
Built in the 19th century as a private residence for the Sheikh and his family, the castle was restored some 15 years ago.
Barza – the vestibule where visitors would wait to see the governor.
Issa shows us the type of bowl used when milking camels. Camels are majorly fidgety animals and have to be milked quickly as they won't stand still for long. Stones from the fire are then added to the bowl to 'sterilise' the milk.
The responsibility for the camels is usually the men's domain, while the women look after the sheep and goats.
This room was used as a store for household items and as a workroom for grinding wheat, pounding spices, churning milk, and grating coconut.
They seem to have left behind a prisoner in the cell.
As we make our way towards Wadi Dirbat, we see a number of camels in the road; creating the quintessential Middle Eastern scene of my imagination.
There are camels everywhere and they are all heading the same direction.
This is what they have come for: the water. And this is what we have come for: to see them in the water.
Sumhuram Archaeological Park
The ancient site of Sumhuram dates back to the 3rd century AD and is the most important pre-Islamic settlement in this area.
Built near the harbour of Khor Rori, it was once a wealthy port situated on the trading route between the Mediterranean and Asia.
The city gate of Sumhuram was an imposing defensive structure. The access was tortuous, steep and blocked by three successive wooden doors.
The fort was protected on all sides and almost impregnable.
Khor Rori Port - the approach to the fort from the sea - the walls on this side did not have any openings, thus making it very secure.
Flamingos in the bay
The fascinating and informative Audio Visual show in the Visitors' Centre brings the whole place to life.
Bin Ali's Tomb
Originally from Tarim in Yemen, Bin Ali came to this region in the beginning of the 12th century to teach Islam and build schools. A mosque has been built over his tomb, which is still used for prayer and mourning and this is now one of the most important Islamic sites in the region, partly because Bin Ali is said to be a descendant of the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad.
The tomb and mosque are surrounded by a large traditional cemetery.
Issa explains how the female graves have three headstones and those containing the remains of a man have two.
Once the capital of Dhofar, Mirbat is now primarily a fishing village with many old decaying merchant houses.
I find the crumbling old buildings quite charming despite some being in a badly dilapidated state.
We take a little wander around the old town, and again I am drawn to the ornate doors and windows, some of which are in a better state of repair than others; but all of which could tell a story or two about the people who once lived and worked here.
The Old Town is deserted, and the busy working port is not exactly bustling either.
When we get back to the hotel, we are informed that our flight this afternoon has changed and is now 5½ hours later. We manage to secure a late check out and have a snooze followed by something to eat and then listening to piano music in the lobby before trying to check in on line for our flights. When we get an error message stating “Flight Cancelled” we panic ever so slightly, and email Undiscovered Destinations (who arranged our trip) to see if they can find out for us what the situation is. They quickly come back to us to confirm that the flight is indeed running, so we assume the error message is just a computer glitch.
Salalah Airport is a joy. There is no queue for check in, and I chat up the guy on the counter who gives us window and aisle seats and blocks out the middle seat so that we can spread out. Success.
At Muscat Airport we have to collect our bags, but again there is no queue to check in. Just like we did on the way to Salalah, we are made to wait in the bus while they finish off getting the plane ready to board.
The flight back to the UK via Istanbul is uneventful and at Heathrow we get plenty of exercise walking from the gate to the main terminal building – I swear it is at least half a mile!
And so ends another successful tour with Undiscovered Destinations. If you are interested in travelling to some of the more little-known places off the beaten path, check them out. They can arrange group or private tours and have a huge selection of destinations to choose from.
As for Oman: we absolutely loved it! The country as a whole has moved directly into our Top Three list of favourite countries, with its friendly people, cleanliness (including a number of fabulous public toilets), good food, nice hotels, stunning scenery, and a host of interesting historical and cultural sites. Go now before everyone else discovers it.