Oman – First Impressions

Salalah (Oman), 31.12.2014

Before this year ends, here come some impressions of the first days in Oman. This time I won’t blog properly. The trip to Oman is just 10 days, there are plenty of things to see, places to visit, km to drive. And I’m lazy admittedly. So here come just some bullet points fresh from the road in Oman:

  • Cities are quite different from what I expected. Vast, extended, with no clear center, no old buildings and no obvious structure. You need a car to get around.
  • The Sultan’s palace seafront has what seemed to be Flak guns looking at the sea.
  • The western concept of a restaurant or bar is not know here. Coffee shops offer snacks of different cuisines (Arab, Indian, Chinese, Lebanese), most of them are very dirty and not well frequented. There seems to be more take-away or delivery business then eating in the restaurant itself.
  • There is a lot of investment in infrastructure on the way. Differently to many other countries expanding their roads, here the trucks are Mercedes, MAN or Volvo, the bulldozers all of European brands. Few Chinese trucks around.
  • The difference between super rich and super poor is very big.
  • Cars, resorts, hotels, shopping malls, coffee shops a la Starbucks, restaurants a la McD and KFC all remind a lot of the US.
  • Most people in hotels and restaurants are Indian, Paki, Philippino.
  • The Jebel Sham mountain range, its canyons, wadis and valleys are simply amazing. Both for off-road driving as well as for hiking.
  • The desert from Nizwa to Salalah is 850km of flat sand and stones. There are few dunes, few inhabited areas. The road is perfect, gas stations plenty. So are the speed cameras close to towns.
  • Coming from the north, 100km before Salalah the yellow-brown desert suddenly turns reddish, a little later mountains appear, and then comes a steep descent to the sea plain. Nature changes from the moment you reach the mountain area.
  • Trying to find a souq to go shopping for some souvenirs I had no luck in Muscat or Salalah so far. Let’s hope to find out the trick before the vacation is over…

More to come in a few days…