Muscat At A Glance
I actually had no idea what really brought me to Oman. I once heard somewhere that this country is known for their friendly people. It gave me curiosity to prove with my own experience to see how friendly the Omani people are. Later, by chance I saw that Emirates airlines gave its promo ticket to Muscat. Alright, it was not totally by chance. I checked the price of Emirates airlines regularly, tried to find the cheapest one that could bring me anywhere in this planet. And Muscat is the cheapest one that I could find that time.
So, here I am. Sitting on Oman Air, on my way from Khasab to Muscat. I chose Khasab as my first stop due to my curiosity of its cost which is known as Norway of Arabia. After spending two nights there (I could not spend more, even if I wanted to. Khasab was out of my budget), I headed to the capital. We were on the air. An Omani man sat next to me. He just move his seat ten minutes after a woman refused to sit next to the man who was not her mahram. The flight attendance asked me if it’s possible if that guy changed his seat next to me. I told the flight attendance that I don’t mind.
“So, first time in Oman?” The Omani man tried to make the conversation.
“Yeah,” I answered.
“I am from Nizwa, “ he told me. I never heard about that city. Honestly, I did not do so many researches about places to visit in Oman since I just made this decision less than a week from my departure date.
“I am sure, it must be beautiful city,” I said again politely.
“Me, No English. Sorry,” said that man again.
“Please don’t be. No need to be sorry. Since I don’t speak Arabic either,” I said.
However, that man became my good companion during my one hour flight to Muscat. With his limited English, he told me about some places that I must visit in Muscat. When we landed, he gave me some candies written “Love” on their cover. My friends, Aziza and Eno could not stop laughing when I told them about this.
“Nice to meet you. Enjoy Muscat,” he said when we said good bye. Well, I have witnessed one of the nice person in Oman. Oh no. Actually, the second person. The first one was the hotel manager who was so kind to lend me his car and driver to drive around Khasab.
I arrived in Muscat International Airport. The hotel where I would stay was located in Mutrah, moreless one hour journey by car from the airport. I went straightly to the taxi counter, and hop onto taxi in the next five minutes. Muscat has wonderful road. In one hour journey, we passed smooth asphalt road with the width that could be passed by five cars (for one way). So you could imagine how width it is for two ways road.
Muscat is full of rock mountains. During the day in the summer, walking could be unbearable. Taxi was the only options since there was no public transport available within the city. I tried as much as I could to avoid this taxi. Not because I have problem with the taxi driver, but the costs were really exceed my budget. For example, to drive me for one kilometer only, it could cost me like 3 to 4 Omani Riyal. It sounded a small amount. But if I converted to dollar, it would cost me almost 10 USD for one very short journey.
One day, I decided to visit Bait Al Zubair, located not far from my hotel. Seen from GPS, it looked like only two kilometers from my place. I estimated that If I walked slowly, I could arrive there in 30 minutes. So, I started to walk. Unfortunately, the google maps did not work really well that time. The place looked so closed from where I was. But, when I started to walk, it was still far. Many streets were separated by a big rock mountains. So to move from one street to another, I had to take another long walks. And still, I could not find what I looked for. I was thirsty and my bottle water was finished since the last twenty minutes.
One taxi came closer. The driver asked me where I was heading to.
I just answered politely, “Thank you, Sir. But I just want to walk around only,”
I kept walking. But after fifteen minutes, I could not find any sign of museum but rock mountains on my left and right side.
Another taxi came closer. That was previous taxi driver who asked where I was heading to. Okay, this time I gave up. I would taxi taxi, no matter how much it would cost me. I was thirsty to dead. I told the driver about the museum.
“Come inside,” he asked me. I came inside the car. Oh my God. It was the best things happened in this entire day. After walking in the heat for almost one hour, sitting inside the car with the AC on was so priceless.
“I have no idea, why I could not find the museum,” I talked to taxi driver. “It looks really close from the maps,”
“Yeah, It’s close if you could pass inside that rock mountains, but unfortunately you can’t. There was no tunnel. So, we must take another road to get there,”
We arrived after ten minutes driving. Once we arrived at the museum, I asked the price of the taxi.
The taxi driver told me, “You don’t need to pay. I intended to help you since I saw you for the first time. I thought you got lost, walking in the middle of the heat,”
Well, I can’t believe what I heard. I tried to get him to get my money.
“But, Sir. I can’t accept your kindness just like that. And you did this for living. God will curse me,”
“Not at all. Since my purpose from beginning is just to help you. Don’t worry about me. In return, one day, you can do the same thing to somebody else,“ and he left me.
I could not thank him enough. Another proof that Omani people are nice.
To reduce my expense for transportation, there was other way. I took hop on hop off us where it passed most of tourist atractions in Muscat. Compared to the taxi, it was cheaper. The price was depends on how many days you want to have. I took four days since I stayed in Muscat for 5 days. This buss passed many landmarks of Muscat, such as: Mutrah Fort, Mangrove Lagoon, Ruwi Clock Tower, Al Alam Palace,Parliament Building, Mutrah Corniche, Qurum Beach, Royal Operah House Muscat, etc.