I beg your pardon, this is my Secret Garden

Normal life has resumed here in the land of endless sun, and for as dramatically as the situation at work has changed in the last few days, everything is just about the same.

I had a fantastic break from Saudi over the holiday travelling and exploring in and around Muscat, Oman. I was joined by my parents, who were able to experience all the wonders of the Arab world while still enjoying most of the conveniences of the West (toilets sometimes being one of them).

 Qur'm Beach

Greater Muscat and the Gulf of Oman from Sama Terrazza, a rooftop bar.

A street at the back of the souq in Muttrah

The city of Nizwa in the interior of Oman. Palms as far as the eye can see.

 The streets in the walled section of Nizwa just before the shops open.

Generally speaking, the people of the Arabian Peninsula are genuinely nice (Saudis are a notable exception). Muscat is a prime example, and most everyone from cab drivers to club bouncers were warm and personable. This eclectic mix of East and West gives Muscat a very metropolitan yet laid back feel. Cool busy mornings are followed by warm laid back afternoons, and, come sundown, the city comes to life with all the lights and sounds of a bustling nightlife.  

 The Muttrah souq. 

 One of the many souqs in Nizwa.

 Sultan Qaboos Mosque before the throngs of cruise ship patrons arrive.

A cafe near the souqs in Seeb.

A nearly empty Corniche in Seeb.

Life in Oman is dominated by a rugged mountainous interior hugged by a relatively barren semitropical coastline. It gets a fair amount of rain compared to the rest of the Peninsula. The coastline is broken up by hundreds of wadis, or riverbeds, which either flow rich with water after a decent rain or otherwise lay dry and barren. It’s a land of extremes, though much more beautiful than one would anticipate.

Typical beachfront views.

Several kilometers into Wadi Tiwi we arrived at an oasis village.

Wadi Tanuf after a long drought.

Wadi Nahkur, the Grand Canyon of Oman.

In perspective.

 Village ruins in Tanuf.

 Ras al Had, the corner of Arabia.

As great as it was to experience another beautiful place, it was nice to come back to something familiar. The idea that familiar means coming home to Saudi and all the absurdity that comes with it is a bit weird.

The only negative part of the trip started with some questionably prepared food at the Muscat airport, followed by a bumpy plane ride which was tainted by an individual who got a bit overzealous with the spray hose in the bathroom and covered the room in their own waste, and culminated in spending these last three days overcoming a bout of the Teheran tummy.

Once again my life is dominated by shit. 

Why wouldn't it be.