Sunday, January 11, 2004

Back home

I am so jet-lagged - waking up at 5am to watch infomercials.

Pictures are up!!!

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Three words - Intercontinental Bustan Palace!!!!

This made the four-hour torture drive on the unpaved coastal roads all the more rewarding. You must at least visit this place if you venture to Muscat. Don't get me wrong, the Intercontinental Muscat is great, but this is ..... opulence!!! Plus, the price was great considering the plush surroundings - approximately $130/night. An equivalent hotel in New York City would easily run $400 minimum. God Bless Internet Rates!!! The beach is splendid, and the lobby is great for high tea. Try the Arabian. I felt like an Omani Eloise with my book, Arabian-blend tea, and Middle Eastern pastries.

Do I have to go home?

Monday, January 05, 2004


Today we went "swekking" in Wadi Bani Khalid

It's amazing how quickly the Bedouin kids zip along the rocks, while I took the slow-and-steady route so as to avoid bashing my skull against a cliff. This wadi is pretty tough, especially considering I've never been rock climbing before. The hiking and swimming were the easy parts. Note for all you swek wannabes - bring AquaSocks, wear shorts, and for God's sake, if you don't have a waterproof backpack (darn lying salesmen in Chinatown), wrap EVERYTHING in Ziplocs. It looks a lot like a smaller Grand Canyon. The pictures came out great.

We didn't get to see much of Sur, but it didn't seem like there was much to see, except the beach with tons of trash scattered about (hello Jones Beach), and Russian singers with a Mafiya goon backing them up on keyboards flirting with locals (who were drinking!!! Bad Muslims!!!!) in the dinky hotel bar. The hotel bartender had no concept of a double vodka with tonic. My aunt's fiance was quite frustrated. Here's another tip - import your own potables!!!

Sunday, January 04, 2004

Camel Jockey

Today we went for a camel ride in The Wahiba Sands

What a way to recharge after a week of wedding parties! Weddings are celebrated much differently here than in the West. Men and women have functions separately, and there is no alcohol(obviously), music or dancing. I guess this eliminates drunk relatives doing the funky chicken. The food is fantabulous, and there were 700 women at the henna and the wedding ceremony. One interesting tidbit - there is no concept of lining up politely for the buffet. No matter, my years of boarding NYC subways prepared me for this.

Before we arrived in the desert, we saw the local market in Sinaw. They have an open-air square for everything you could need, from fresh fish to frankincense. The women wear a strange mask to cover their face, almost like a Batman Halloween costume. They tried to sell one to my aunt, and Michele almost bought her one as a joke.

Truth be told, this isn't completely a desert, as there is some vegetation, albeit very sparse. We met up with a Bedouin family who offered us coffee and dates. Riding a camel is quite fun, except for when the camel gets up and sits back down. I got a huge cramp in my side when it got up. My uncle affectionately referred to his camel, and all other after that, as Joe (God bless American advertising). Afterwards we arrived at a campsite for the evening. It was comfortable yet rugged, the cots were sleepable, and there was running water, though I avoided the cold shower.