Friday, November 16, 2012

Foto Fridays: Oman (10 best pix)

Here are what I hope can be considered the 10 best pictures I took in Oman that are not repetitive and showcase what is unique about that amazing country.

As usual, this is not the kind of trip report you'd find in WikiTravel or Lonely Planet. I've linked to each of those travel reviews above.

Rather I just want to provide my perceptions of Oman.

While my travels in the Middle East are not extensive, I can safely say that Oman was my favorite country in the region to travel through. Of course, I want to travel to all Middle Eastern countries and feel that now is an amazing time in Muslim history. But back to Oman.

When I first went to Oman, there were less than 13,000 hotel beds in the entire country... though the Al-Bustan Palace hotel was the first 6-star hotel in the world (with the Burj Al-Arab having recently opened and the Palm Islands of Dubai years away from completion). Road construction, while not as rampant as in Dubai, was quite extensive... and at the time I learned the mistake of trusting printed maps, which showed future roads and not the present conditions... when trying to drive from Muscat to Sur. I didn't make it there, as the road disappeared into a rocky beach and I had but a sedan.

Oman was quite expensive to travel through at the time, and I'm sure it still is, and hotels were hard to find. However, I found a genuine-ness to the people there that I did not feel in more touristed spots like Dubai and Egypt. Hospitality still meant something to a stranger met on the street for a chance encounter.

I definitely want to get back to Oman, where I first climbed mountains with gypsum and crystals coming out of the desert. The monarch is very environmentally oriented as well and the version of Islam practiced there is unique to the region. Old spice markets abounded without the chaos and throngs of Egyptian population density. Everything seemed untouched, preserved, more sanitary, and generally development seemed to fit in with the region quite well.

I would certainly recommend Oman and long to get back there as well, perhaps this time to make it from the northern Musandam Peninsula and offshore islands in the Straits of Hormuz to the far south and cross over into Yemen... though next time I'd go with a truck!

See the full gallery on Flickr

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