Thursday, November 24: Today is the first day of our 5-day National Holiday and I am taking my Canadian/Filipino friend Kathy to Muscat. I find out as we’re driving that she hasn’t yet been to Muscat at all, despite having been here for 2 months! I’m surprised about this, as I’ve been to Muscat too many times to count during this same period.
Our first stop is the Mutrah Souq, one of my favorite places in Muscat because of its traditional winding alleys, its textile, silver, pashmina and frankincense shops, and its picturesque location along a corniche overlooking a balmy little harbor. We park quite a distance away and then wander along the corniche, where we pass by the Mutrah Fort, built by the Portuguese in the 1580s.
We make our way into the covered market, where I buy a couple of scarves and two khanajer, the traditional daggers of Oman, curved and sharpened on both edges and held in a sheath decorated in silver. These are gifts for my sons for Christmas (a surprise ~ luckily they never read my blog!). Of course, being unable to escape my mothering tendencies, I can’t help but worry that one or both of them will get hurt if they play around with these extremely sharp weapons. I guess I will have to attach a caveat to these gifts that they are not to be used to fight duels or for hand-to-hand combat or to poke each others’ eyes out.
I also buy two Indian kurtas for myself that I can get plenty of wear out of in Oman.
Kathy enjoys wandering about as well, and she buys a wallet and some white Indian cotton pants. She’s a hard bargainer and comes away with greater discounts than I’m able to get.
After a long while in the souq, we take a drive to the Oman Dive Center where we’re hoping to swim. We don’t plan to swim long, so we’re put off by the 4 rial entrance fee, double the normal fee since it’s a weekend day. We decide instead to go to Qurum City Center where there is a Carrefour. I need to return a DVD I bought there last week, The Tourist, because it doesn’t work in my DVD player. Come to find out the reason why is that it’s Blu-ray and I don’t have a Blu-ray player! Hmmm…. They don’t have the normal DVD version of The Tourist, so I get 3 other DVDs in its place. I guess Blu-rays are expensive (!)
We then take a drive down to Qurum Beach where we bake in the sun for a bit under a little thatch-top umbrella thingy. We don’t really feel like swimming as there is no facility where we can shower off. Instead we just sit and talk and cook until we’re well toasted.
Finally, we go for an early dinner at Zanzibar Island Restaurant, a little hole-in-the-wall with Zanzibar paraphernalia littering the wall. There’s a little buffet in a small room and we tell the proprietor what we want. My food is good but Kathy is not so pleased with hers.
Everything we did today I’ve done before, except for the Zanzibar Island Restaurant, which I found in the Budget listings of “Restaurants and Cafes” from Time Out Muscat magazine. Little by little, I want to get to know EVERYTHING that Muscat has to offer.