Wednesday, December 15, 2010

December 6th – Exploring Beyond Muscat

Today I ventured into Oman's bleak interior, to visit the town of Nakhl – a green oasis of palms in a sea of barren gravely desert. The town is protected by yet another 17th century fortress – I'm endangered of getting "fortressed-out" on this cruise, but actually this was one was quite interesting, because it's very well preserved, and it has an imposing position, perched high up on a rock 200 feet up, dominating a view of the palm plantations and town spread out down below it.

On the way there, we visited the coastal town of Seeb, to visit its fish market. As soon as you get there, you get a good idea of how fertile the seas are off Oman – there was an amazing variety of fish on offer. The whole market made a good contrast to the sanitised atmosphere you find on the manicured streets of Muscat. Stinking piles of fish covered in flies were stacked up on the beach, while in the market itself, the floor ran with more blood than a Quentin Tarantino film, as the fishmongers hacked up their produce and scooped off the blood and guts into piles by their feet.

As ever in Oman, everyone was very friendly and welcoming – in my unofficial surveys of the passengers, almost everyone rated Oman as their favourite country in Arabia.