Mobile phones
Getting around

Part 7: Salalah, Mughsail, Muscat

24.12: Munich -> Istanbul -> Muscat
25.12: Muscat
26.12: Muscat
27.12: Muscat -> Rustaq -> Sohar
28.12: Sohar -> Ibri
29.12: Ibri, Al Ayn, Jabrin fort, Nizwa 
30.12: Ibri -> Bahla -> Misfat -> Ibra
31.12: Ibra, Al Qabil, Wadi Bani Khalid
01.01: Al Qabil -> Wahiba desert
02.01: Wahiba desert -> Sur
03.01: Sur, Ras Al Hadd
04.01: Sur -> Muscat
05.01: Muscat -> Salalah
06.01: Salalah, Taqah, Mirbat
07.01: Salalah, Wadi Dawkah, Nabi Ayoub
08.01: Salalah, Mughsail
09.01: Muscat -> Istanbul
10.01: Istanbul -> Munich

08.01: Salalah -> Mughsail -> Salalah
Hotel Hamdan Plaza, Salalah. 
Weather: sunny, blue sky, warm.

We finish breakfast at 10am, then short discussion about what to do. I tell Shirley that I'm planning to visit the Al Baleed archaeological park and then the city, total time two hours, leaving immediately. I can bring Alissia with me, Shirley could go to the Centrepoint shopping centre with Natasha for some shopping. Some discussion and with the Centrepoint closing at 12pm (only reopening at 4pm), Shirley decides to follow me.

So at 11am we drive to the Al Baleed archaeological park. With some stop in between, we arrive at 11:30am. There is a museum about the region which we visit. Kids under 6 years of age not allowed in, so Natasha has to stay out. We joke with the guard if he would like to take care of her, while we are in. The halls contain high quality exhibits, which probably a small kid might damage. Quite interesting.

Then we walk to the archaeological site. This is an open air area, with ruins and stones lying around. Quite poor preservation status, very few structures are left. I end up spending just 10 minutes at the site, also because Shirley is not following me and just waiting for me somewhere in the shadow.

So we drive back, and on the way back into town, at 12 something pm we briefly stop at at a fruit stall where we buy some bananas and drink some coconut milk.

At 12:40pm we briefly stop at the incense souk for some photos, then drive back to the hotel.

On the way back Shirley spots a Pizza Hut restaurant. We have a lunch there between 1 and 2pm. I'll probably try to avoid Pizza Hut restaurants for a while - have eaten too many times in a Pizza Hut restaurant here in Oman.

At 2 something pm we are back in the hotel. Now the idea would be to rest for one hour or so, then drive around 3pm to Mughsail and enjoy the beach there. The guidebook lists Mughsail as a special place to visit (nice beach, bird sanctuary) and the boy I met on the  beach yesterday mentioned that it is easy to spot dolphins there.

At 3:20pm Natasha is sleeping and Shirley is not in the mode to go to some place. But Alissia is enthusiastic and full of energy and wants to go to the beach. So I leave together with Alissia for Mughsail at 3:45pm.

Mughsail is just 40km from Salalah and the road is mostly motorway or a straight empty road with few curves, allowing high speeds. However for some reason we only arrive at 4:25pm. Since there are no shops or cafes or anything at all, except for some houses, we drive to a petrol station and buy some drinks and food there.

Mughsail is mainly a very long beach (6km according to the guidebook). White coral sand, clear seawater. We only see some fisherboats on the beach and perhaps 2-3 people. It's a very empty and peaceful place.
The beach is not as nice as the one in Salalah, because it is less wide mainly because there are mountain cliffs very close to the sea. The socalled bird sanctuary is missing (or perhaps we can't find it). There are just some birds along the beach in a number of spots. If I knew the place was like this, I probably would not have driven the 40km from Salalah to get here.

We are on the beach until sunset (6pm). Alissia plays in the sand and in the sea. The sea water is not cold - swimming would be no problem. While there I see no dolphins.

After sunset we drive back to Salalah and have a dinner at 7pm. Alissia only goes sleeping at 11pm. She woke up at 9am, didn't sleep the whole day.

09.01: Salalah -> Muscat -> Istanbul
Hotel Ibis, Muscat. 34 Rial for a double room. This time they give us a standard size double room. High quality place, good value for Omani standards. The only problem is that this time the WLAN connection does not work inside the room.
It turns out that this hotel is very far away from everything. The nearest beach is the Qurum beach and getting there by taxi costs 5 OR one way. The hotel is in the middle of a commercial/business area, which somehow explains the low price. It is therefore nor really suitable for tourists visiting Muscat, and not for tourists who have no car.
Weather: sunny, blue sky, warm. A bit fresher in Muscat.

After the breakfast we return to the room and pack our stuff. When I get the bill there is an unpleasant surprise. The price that the booking portal venere.com gave us for the room (45 OR/day) does not include the taxes (17%), so in reality the total price of the room is 52.65 OR/day.

At 12pm we drive to the airport. There we return the car and proceed to the check-in counter. Everything proceeds smoothly. The Oman Air plane takes off shortly after 1:30pm and lands in Muscat shortly before 3pm.

We retrieve the luggage, go to the exit and jump into a taxi to the hotel Ibis. Despite the distance being half of the distance to the hotel Mutrah, the taxi costs 7 OR (vs. 8 OR for the trip to Mutrah).

After checking in the hotel I ask in the reception if there is anything interesting near the hotel. There is nothing near the hotel, everything is quite far away. So I just stay in the room until 6 something pm (while Shirley and the kids take a rest), then take a walk in the area around the hotel.

I find a place with many shops and restaurants, right along the main street near the Shell petrol station. There are western style places (McDonalds, Subway) but also local restaurants run by Pakistanis and Indians.

Back the room at 7:30pm Shirley wakes up the kids. At 8pm we get out of the hotel and walk to this Pakistani restaurant I spotted. There we have a delicious dinner with Pakistani/Indian dishes, spending just 5.3 OR for the four of us.

At 9 something pm we walk back to the hotel and stop briefly in the shops area, in the bakery I spotted before. There Shirley buys some local cookies - we'll eat them in Germany.

It's almost 10pm when we are back in the hotel. In the reception I arrange for a taxi to pick us up at 1am. Cost will be 7 OR.

At 1am we leave the hotel and drive to the airport. At the gate we buy some drinks in the duty-free shop. Surprise, two bottles of water and one can of sprite cost only 0.40 OR (=80 Euro cents).

The Turkish airlines plane takes off on time. We are in row 25, the second last row of this A320 plane. My seat does not recline. Great, how to sleep like this. In addition, the hostesses are using the overhead compartments for all kind of stuff: newspapers, bread etc. This space should be available for passengers. The Turkish airlines hostess even puts my bag with the computer, the camera and the harddisks very close to the edge to make space for the newspapers.

10.01: Istanbul -> Munich
Home, sweet home
Weather in Munich: some snowfall, overcast, temperature probably slightly above 0C.

We land in Istanbul shortly after 6am local time, then it takes a while until the plane reaches the parking position. Outside we retrieve the baby stroller and get on the bus which will bring us to the gate. It's quite fresh in the early morning in Istanbul.

Then, once in the terminal, it takes some time to get through the transit gate (they check if you have a valid boarding card) due to the large number of passengers. It's 6:55am when we finally make it to the departures area and we are right next to the food area. It could be an idea to have a small thing before proceeding to the gate. But the prices for everything are absurd - sandwiches for 16 TL (8 Euro), soft drinks for 7 TL (3.50 Euro) - and in any case there is almost no time. So we just proceed to the gate.

The flight to Munich (Turkish airlines code sharing with Lufthansa) is on a bigger A321 plane. It takes off with a delay of 15 minutes. The flight and the rest of the return trip proceed smoothly. We reach home a bit before 12pm noon.

Copyright 2011 Alfred Molon