Like a daring flicker amongst wild dessert, Oman takes over my mind and soul throughout the mysterious and mesmerizing trip, totally living up to the label people often call Oman, country of wonders. To me Oman can be describe metaphorically as beauty of a Islam woman, trying to hide her charm behind her veil on crowded streets, the way I heard and read from magazines and novels.
Where is Oman? That would be one question you would like to ask if you’re like people I told about my business trip to this still unknown place to most Vietnamese people. After 13 hours on the air and Doha transfer, we landed on Muscat capital’s Seeb International airport around midnight. Lights still shone brightly on the streets we passed. The night was warm, nothing like Hanoi’s cool breeze. Oman welcomed us with its quite roads, a mixture of mystery and thrill, for most of us were just brand new reporters, never ever set food on a Far East country before.
Even with my Far East countries – friendly intuition and observations, I still sensed some surprises and curious thrills were going to happen. To me, this trip would feel like no other Far East trip I’ve been before.
When first ray of sunlight sneaked through my hotel window, I decided to give myself some intimate moment with the city sight. I opened the doors and stepped out to the balcony, set my sight as far as I could get at Oman dawn. No skyscrapers-filled spaces like Doha or Dubai, no usual heavy city traffic scenes in developing countries like Vietnam, Oman start to converse with me with its beauty.
Since the rebirth of Oman since 1970, Emperor-leader-reformer Sultan Qaboos bin Said led the country out of poverty to peace and great prosperity, changing the whole face of the country in 40 years.
Salim, our tour guide from Information Ministry of Oman shared with us, most public services here were free, from education to medical care. We got very surprised, we had to ask him so people here only have to go to work and find out ways to help country grow? “That’s true. We are always proactive about how we can develop the country while maintaining our cultural cores.”, Salim calmly answered us. Besides, all state-own companies employees wear dishdasha, a kind of traditional formal outfit. People can also bring “khanjar”, swords for celebratory or important formal events by hooking them to the side of their Dishdasha.
Information Minister took turn to share with us about Oman stable development; there were strategic economical area, especially Duqm, with its advantageous location at Hormus channel. Emperor of Oman had put commercial economic sea trade center from/to Asia and Europe, and international airport. These proved to be a practical clear strategic plan, but not to be achieved at all cost. Oman traditional cultural theme appears in all parts of life, in all people, from clothing, gastronomy, to local cultural activities, making any foreign visitor feeling pleasantly lost in a maze of pretty colors and modern sights.
As large commercial buildings, constructions lessened as rode on, we ventured into new adventures between cultural sites and natural masterpieces.
Two hours by car from Capital Muscat, these desserts under 40oC heat and geological change for thousands of centuries, Death holes was formed. Unlike what the name” Death holes” implies, they store vast amount of fresh cool waters in between burning sands. Isn’t that a miracle? They are favorite attraction for tourists all year, where they can swim, hide away from the sun, witness for real from the mind-tickling name.
“There are still many other thrills and attractions to discover in our countries, please take your time to enjoy them!”, our friendly Salim cheerfully told us to take our minds off thinking about death valleys in desserts.
Our stories continued in the next dessert.
If stranded in a dessert, what would first cross your mind ? The answer is obviously « Water » ! That’s fact, if you’re unfortunately lost in the dessert, the only thought consumed your whole mind, the only thing you are obsessed with all through the moments, put you in a haze of oasis illusions is water, as those who had survived the cruel occasions to tell the tale. Though we have read in books and seen in movies, but the idea never come to us that the devastated situation would be true.
We wouln’t hink we can have a glimpse into the world of dessert wanderers. But we did. After 3 hours of driving then another hour walking heavy steps and sweat wet shirts under the burning heat, a miracle came for us. We reached an oasis, for real ! 100 percent real, no joke ! Not fiction, not movies, this is physically really, and for us. It was a clashing contrast to look at the heavenly greenery against the vast dessert.
Not waiting for another word of consent, we along with some Western-looking tourists run to the blue waters and happily yell at each other that we weren’t dreaming up yet another illusions. This oasis is called Wadi Shab, a famous attraction in Oman. It wouldn’t sound signification to you just reading or hearing about being in these waters, but if you really exprience all that we did, all kinds of magical sensations are yours.
We were at times at a loss of words to tell everything wonderful and magical in Oman, because Niza with centuries age old fortreses and stories just as old as time, dreamy beaches where you can witness millions of turtles breaking out of their shells,… are too exciting to describe in words.
Even with those who can only stay in Oman for a short time like ourselves, people in Oman’s Muscat wouldn’t disappoint. We made the time to visit Oman’s largest Islam mosque, a grand construction Emperor Sultan Qaboos bin Sultan had poured his heart and soul into seeing it become a reality. Finished in 2001, Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is a symbol of hard labor, patriotism and devotion. We went from suprises to suprises wandering and watching the contrustion. Oman won us over not only natural beauty but also great human-made constructions that brought us into a whole new world where economical developent goes hand in hand with perserving national core values. The cultural charm still lingered in us all the time we were on our plane back home. It’s like Amouge perfume blooming around us whenever we think about Oman, and a rush of Oam people, culture, colors come over us. Besides lessons we had the luck to uncover with curiosity, we also found out Oman was such a friendly country, despite its conflicting reputation. There was something we didn’t told each other, but we all silently knew, we would definitely come back here again.
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