Oman: a wild adventure

Bikinis, check. Dresses, check. High heels, check.

For a self-confessed layabout, I expected a holiday to Oman to be similar to a trip to Dubai. I thought I was going to lie by a five-star pool and bathe in 30 degree heat while being waited on hand and foot. I thought I would spend, spend, spend in air-conditioned shopping centres and be pampered beyond my wildest dreams.

Thank god for The Boy Wonder and his parents. If it wasn’t for them, I would never have seen “the real Oman”. Having lived in Oman for over twenty years, they knew all of the places that were worth seeing and gave me a completely different – but amazing – perspective.

Jebel Shams, the highest peak in Oman, proved one of the scariest experiences of my life. Sitting in a 4×4 driven by TBW, going further and further above sea level, I suddenly wished I had written a will before travelling. However, on reaching the summit, I realised I felt exhilarated and was amazed by what lay in front of me. I could see villages thousands of feet beneath me, I could see a buzzard circling the cliffs and I could see an inquisitive goat coming right towards me.

After fending off the goat, I got behind the wheel and drove down the hill. Near the base, we stopped to offer a couple and their baby a lift to the summit (this happens a lot in Oman; everyone is just so kind and helpful). I declined the return trip and, with TBW and his mother, waited in a shack containing an English-speaking taxi driver and an elderly Omani rug-weaver. The driver kindly offered to act as translator while we held conversations with the rug weaver. This man, with his long white beard and inability to speak English, surprised us all by telling us he had travelled to London and Spain to showcase his traditional Omani embroidery.

The trip to Jebel Shams wet my appetite for adventure and the following few days were packed with trips to Teiq sinkhole, one of the largest sinkholes in the world, Wadi Shab and A’ Thowarah Hot Springs. We saw more traditional villages, featuring amusing goat fights. I took a boat trip across a wadi.

We visited deserted beaches, spotting turtles and rays. I visited the port and souks, spotting inappropriately dressed tourists and tutting – oh, how times change.

On evenings, I enjoyed shisha and shawarmas, sitting on the patio listening to the mystical call to prayer in the distance. I never wanted to leave.

Yes, there was shopping, and pampering as well as lazing around in the sun. There were staff who would do anything to please you and there was multinational chains to satisfy every fast food whim. But there was so much more than that. Oman helped me discover my sense of adventure.

The Boy Wonder says next time, he wants to take me camping on the beach but that would mean no actual toilets. I might be changed, but surely I‘m not ready for that?

Vic x


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