After our episode of swimming fully clothed in the Wadi to preserve our female modesty, we boolled off in our Chevy with our 20p a litre petrol down the brand new pothole free highway. We headed to Sur which nestles on the South coast next to the dreamy Arabian sea. This part of the world is home apparently to the largest animal on the planet – the blue whale -although we could only take the Lonely Planet guide book’s word for that, but I’m sure they wouldn’t make something like that up. Would they? Part of Sur and its charming lighthouse is on a little island which is connected to the mainland by a suspension bridge. You drive over it past the dhow wooden boat building yard and the children playing and the goats gangs roaming around like groups of Croyden teenagers.
Here’s Looking at You kid!
More Arabian Adventures Back in Muscat shopping in the souks beckoned. Frankincense and other spices are top buys and all the perfumes of Arabia are available for a fraction of the price of Fenwicks. The names are a bit different though. Men’s aftershave is called things like ‘I’ll be back’, ‘Obama’ and there were three different types of ‘Roger.’ Which naturally made us chuckle.
Love the great smell of camel
We bought lots of essential CK one and dozens of beautiful crystal bottles which we planned to decant the oil into when we got back for Christmas presents. There was no end to the creativity shown in the perfume container department. Perfume was displayed in the shape of dollar bills, the Burj Khalifa – the tallest building in the world – and of course perfume in the shape of a camel. Luckily it didn’t smell of camel – well not really. You don’t see many Omani ladies around the place. They don’t work in any of the shops or bars or restaurants. They are largely confined to the domestic sphere it would seem, but they do venture out into the souks in the evening and glide down the alleyways in their long black dresses which cover everything except their faces and hands. The men wear long white robes and if you see them together they look like sets of black and white piano keys. I can’t help feeling that as Oman is one of the hottest countries in the world the men have got the better of the black and white deal. The souks have lots of shops which sell long black dresses which are exactly the same apart from sparkly detailing. It doesn’t make for a lot of choice for the ladies alas. Coloured clothing is available but you have to make sure you wear black over it. Talk about missing the point. It is a very male dominated culture but women are educated here, and we were about to meet one who had a very good job indeed..Oman – tourists this way please!