Day 1 - Sat 6 May
Tour starts Meet up in Muscat
Farther on, there are mountain villages around Nizwa and Jebel Akhdar where life goes on much as it has for centuries. Afterwards, we travel through the desert to Dubai, with its futuristic towers of silver and glass glistening in the bright sunlight.
Check in to your hotel and meet your Tour Leader and the rest of your group in the hotel lobby at 5pm for your Pre-Departure meeting.
In the capital, we find ancient watch towers still standing vigilant over the bustling port and admire the impressive Grand Mosque as well as the Palace of Sultan Qaboos. In the bazaar the distinctive aroma of frankincense conjures up images of slave markets and exotic spice trading from long ago.
Today is mainly free so went dolphin watching and snorkelling 10 tp 2, Just 35 deg. Really enjoyed the trip. Water about 29 deg and the fish were the big hit for me. Watched the parrot fish do their thing noisily chipping away at the coral. Heaps of life.
Oman seems a very safe friendly place. The world clearly is giving this country an unfair wrap.
Half Oman's people are Arabic; The rest are mainly from Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines. About one third of the population is female. (don't yet know why)
Tourism provides 10% of the income. It seems to me there is an exciting future for Oman as tourists realise it is really safe, accepting and so stunningly different. I heard from a local that they fully accept and respect that other peoples of the world have different histories, beliefs and ways of doing things. In return they ask that other peoples will respect them in the same basis.
Met the group at 5pm, only 4 others. Dad and daughter from Vancouver (and previously Beijing) a lady from Australia and the tour leader from Russia. All are seasoned, intrepid travellers so there could be some great experiences, ideas and stories passed around over the next 26 days. No one wanted to pay the very high prices at hotels and top restaurants when meals are on own, (nice). First meal together was at an Indian place around NZ$5.