Monday, May 14, 2012

Five Things about Oman

I made a little map generally outlining where we went on our trip to Oman. While I feel like we did a decent amount of things while we were there, like Australia, the map says, you suckers, you barely scratched the surface! The red line is my guesstimate of the driving route, while the red-and-white flag is the area where we went diving.

And in summary, here are five travel tips I picked up about Oman:

    1. WEEKEND: In most Middle Eastern countries, the weekend is Thursday and Friday – so if you’re planning visits to avoid crowds, be sure to keep this in mind. (The United Arab Emirates apparently changed its weekend to Friday and Saturday in 2006 to better align itself with Western businesses; Wikipedia says Lebanon is the only Middle Eastern country following a fully Western calendar.)
    2. MONEY: Everything will seem expensive in Oman because of the currency exchange (1 Omani Rial equals $2.6). If you decide to travel there, I think you just have to accept this and think instead in terms of relative value.

    3. FOOD: From what I saw, Oman doesn’t seem to have its own national cuisine, making Indian food the go-to choice. However, several websites say that Omani food is an amalgamation of that of other cultures (as a result of its geographical location and, I would imagine, its rich trading history), and is often a combination of some meat (chicken, fish or mutton) with rice, and “prepared with liberal use of various marinades, spices, herbs, onion, garlic and lime."

    4. VISA: Most visitors need a visa to enter Oman, but it can generally be bought upon arrival. (See the list of nationalities this applies to here). Confusingly, you have to buy it from the Travelex Foreign Exchange desk in the arrivals hall, which is not immediately obvious, before getting in the immigration line. The website says you can pay by credit card or in most currencies, but when we were there, it was cash only.

    5. ENTRY/EXIT: Omanis like their doors. Even in the smallest villages, I would see the most elaborately carved wooden doors (or sometimes, elaborately shaped plastic grills) on houses. I wasn’t able to take any good photos as we were driving along, so the doors at the Sultan Qaboos mosque and the 1,001 Nights Camp will have to suffice to prove the point:

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