Oman, the home of Frankincense, its tree sap and has been traded for over 5000 years.
Very different from Abu Dhabi and Dubai, its mountainous and with its commanding position on the Strait of Hormuz it has been a cross roads for thousands of years.
This is reflected in the many different currencies that were in use and until 1970 the Gulf rupee was legal tender, printed in India its serial number was prefixed by a Z to differentiate it from the Indian rupee and it was worth more.
The ethnic mix is about the same Indians and Pakistanis, fewer Filipinos and more locals. Not as well developed, no high rise buildings or fancy shopping centres but lots of old Forts.
Muscat is spread out along the coast, the older part is near the Harbour, Old Muscat, Mutrah and Ruwi. Public Transport is practically non-existent, taxis are cheap and are the norm, they are not metered and negotiable, the fare from the airport to Ruwi is 10 Rial or $25 and takes about 30min.
There is also a compound for other regions where there are some very plain Churches and a Hindu Temple and the services for all religions are all held on Friday.
The bus from Dubai to Oman leaves from behind the DNATA building in Deira, Dubai (see map below), all the Taxi drivers know where it is or you can take the Metro to Al Rigga station and walk. There are 2 bus services Al-Khanjry and ONTC and the one-way fare is AED 60 or $16. They both have 2 services per day that leave about the same time 0700 and 1500, be there an hour early to make sure you get a seat, though when I travelled the bus was half empty. The busses just park on the road, there is no special Bus Stop you put your luggage in the storage area under the bus, get on, sit down and someone will eventually sell you a ticket. They are air-conditioned but the leg room is tight and there is no food or water so bring your own.
Along the way the bus stops 4 times, first near Hatta as you pass through a kink of the Emirates into Oman where the Emirates guy gets on the bus and checks your Entry visa, second stop is where you get off the bus and get your Emirates Exit stamp, third stop is Oman Customs where all the luggage is removed from the bus and opened up on tables and checked by a human then its moved to the ground and checked by a dog, back on the bus and the fourth and final stop is for your Entry visa into Oman, fill in the form and pay 5 Oman Rial or AED 50, there is an ATM here if you need Oman cash, then back on the bus. As you enter Muscat, the bus stops on demand and people get off so its best to check the location of your hotel and ask the driver to let you off at the closest stop, it will save you time and taxi fare. Finally the bus arrives at the Ruwi Bus Station at 1300hrs (6 hours), this is the Business District of Muscat.
awesome post…….good pictures