Sunday, April 4, 2010

Salalah Oman


Saleem Alay kum (not sure if that is how one would spell it)

Peace be with you.

The traditional greeting in the Arab world. For most of us, Oman was our first experience of the arab world and a very surprising and pleasant one at that.

Our guide Ali was dressed in the traditional disdasha and cap. The disdasha is the long “dress” that you see men wear. He was a very smart man and understood the psychology of touring and men and women. What do I mean, you ask? The first place Ali took us was to the souq, arab for market/shop. Of course it was early in the morning so most of the shops were just opening. The men were relieved because the women could do minimum damage and yes the girls were pleased we got the shopping out of the way, pashminas being the purchases of the day and could then relax and fully enjoy the rest of the day. Very smart man!

Salalah is on the coast of Oman and so has more of a tropical climate, but none the less is surrounded by desert. Although Oman has oil and gas it is not as rich as it’s neighbours. The current sultan is credited for modernising Oman. The infrastructure is amazing and the place is pristine. The country side is stunning, imagine sparking sand and turquoise seas. It is a very religious land with Moses and Mohammed having passed through. Part of our tour was visiting the ever patience tomb of Job.

As one might think camels are everywhere and are very valuable. Farmers let their camels wander throughout the day and the camels bring themselves home at night. Believe it or not, they milk the camels too. Imagine milking a camel! Ever heard of camel bras? Yes they put a bra on the camels when they are lactating to stop their young from suckling. So there you have it… camel bras. Camels have right of way and we saw them everywhere, including on the road. Their equivalent of the kiwi traffic jam. If you hit a camel during the day there is a hefty fine, if you hit a camel at night the farmer is fined.

As we arrived back at the port, what looked like a small boat was off loading some cows that apparently came from Somalia. The boat didn’t look that big, imagine an ancient looking vessel, open to the elements, but it kept on discharging cows. We figured there must have been a couple 100 cows. An incredible sight.

All and all a wonderful and enchanting day.

We have just passed through pirate alley and all of the excitement of being part of a convoy and seeing the naval frigate sail close by and the Orion fly by. We did have a bit of real excitement when 3 fishing boats came zooming up. Everyone on board was on heightened alert. You will all be pleased that our Ukrainian security staff were on guard with water hoses and all.

We are now in the Red Sea sailing to Aqaba and the forgotten city of Petra.
It is tough, more sitting by the pool, playing games and eating.

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