"A mini adventure" Muscat by grets
Muscat Travel Guide: 425 reviews and 1,174 photos
As we had a six hour layover in Oman, a group of six of us decided we’d make the most of the time here and do some sightseeing.
The first step was to get a visa. A video on the plane talked you through each step of the way, and the whole process was very slick indeed. Forms were available in the arrivals hall, and you take your completed form to the visa counter where you pay your $20. Next is the immigration controls. I am assuming they don’t get many Norwegian visitors to Oman, as the clerk had to look my passport details up in a book and ask a colleague. At neither point was there a queue.
We’re in. Next step is to arrange a taxi. We can’t see a taxi desk in the hall, so we go outside the airport building. Our luck is in; there is a minibus right there in the taxi rank. We approach the driver, he confirms that he does indeed speak English, and we explain that we would like to see a little of Muscat for around three hours. ‘Sit inside and I will sort for you’ he says. We find it a little strange that he can’t just drive off, but do as he says and get into the van. He makes a few phone calls, wanders off inside the terminal building, calls another taxi driver over and walks off. Every now and again he comes back and reassures us that he will sort it for us. We are getting quite confused at this stage, and wonder if we should just get two normal sized taxis.
A business man appears from inside the airport terminal, walks over and gets into the front of the van. Feeling a little guilty at having hijacked his taxi, we ask if he’s pre-ordered it. ‘No, it’s the company car’. Oh. What now? The driver zooms off, in the opposite direction to Muscat, and enters a residential area, where he drops his company passenger off. He is still reassuring us that he will sort our taxi. OK.
As we re-join the main road, he flags down an empty min van travelling in the opposite direction by blowing his horn, flashing his lights and waving his arms out of the window. The van turns around, but he is already booked to take some children to school. Spotting another mini van dropping a passenger off at the roadside, our driver rushes off after him on foot and manages to stop him from driving off. Arrangements are made for us to meet up with this van again at another point, once he has dropped his other passengers off.
We set off to the arranged meeting place in a suburb of Muscat, but even after five minutes, the other driver does not show. Our driver is getting impatient, and continues back onto the main road. There, he sees a van stopping to pick up a passenger, an opportunity too good to miss. He dashes over to the van, turfs out the passenger, and hires it on the spot for us. He is a happy man; he has managed to fulfil his promise. All from the goodness of his heart. What wonderful people the Omani are!
The new taxi takes us back past the airport and towards Muscat, our original intended destination. It has taken us an hour to get this taxi arranged, but it was worth it just for the adventure. The look on the businessman’s face when he saw his company car full of tourists will stay with me forever!
Muscat is a very clean and tidy city, with some magnificent modern architecture. Our new driver does not speak a word of English, but we manage to get him to understand that we want to stop and look at Sultan Qaboos Mosque. Unfortunately we are unable to go inside as there is a service on. He carries on towards Muscat, where road works prevent us from approaching the fort. Trying to convey the message that we wish to see the port proves rather difficult until Kevin makes a beautiful little drawing of boats. Success!
What a wonderful way of spending a few hours, rather than wandering aimlessly around Duty Free. It has certainly whetted my appetite for a return visit to Oman.
- In a nutshell:A great little unexpected adventure
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