Al Sawadi to MuscatMonday, 7 February 2005
The coast road is dual-lane highway, almost continually built up and with moderately heavy traffic, some of it moving way faster than the 120 kmph speed limit. Pull off the highway into a town and suddenly the calendar winds back to markets and a seemingly inexhaustible supply of tailor shops.
Half of Oman appears to be employed as tailors. ‘Sale of Mutton’, ‘Sale of Chicken’ were other common shop signs. ‘Sale of Ice Cubes’ was less usual and in Sohar I’d spotted a shop called ‘Troubled Waters’.
Muscat started to appear a good 50 km before we actually arrived, with extravagantly tended flowerbeds and gardens lining the freeway for km after km. When Oman’s capital finally did show up hotel rooms seemed to be in short supply, Maureen and I ended up in the luxuriously stylish new Chedi while Tad found a room 10 km down the road. It was 10 km further again to the old walled city of Muscat where the sultan is busy building a major extension to his palace.
A few more km brought us to the Las-Vegas-meets-the-Arab-World glitz of the Al Bustan Palace Hotel where a sign proclaimed a convention on Sustainable Tourism was underway, outside sat six empty buses with their engines rumbling to power the air-conditioning. In fact the climate is very pleasant at this time of year, warm but not hot during the day, slightly cool at night.