Thursday, 11 February 2010

Oman, Bandar Jissah. Jan 2010.

When planning my trips abroad, I normally spend many hours researching the country I am about to visit. This means that I usually have a good understanding of the geography of the chosen country, if nothing else! This trip to Oman was so spontaneous, (booked upon arrival to Dubai, two days ago). That I seriously over estimated the distance from Qurm to Bandar Jissah. What I had failed to realise is that they are both 'suburbs' of Muscat.
We left the Crown Plaza Hotel at around 10.00am, it took about 15 minutes drive into the City of Muscat. We drove through the Gates of the old city and the Muscat Gate Museum, into a very clean and orderly city, with the mountains on one side and the sea on the other side. The area around the Sultans Palace looked to have been recently renovated.
This area, the old port area, is the site of the Sultan's palace. At the back of the Palace, Two forts, Jalali and Mirani, which were built by the Portuguese in 1587 and 1588 respectively, dramatically guard the entrance to the port of Muscat and serve as sentinels to the Sultan's palace. Fort Jalali, also known as the East Fort, was built to strengthen the Portuguese defences and sits on the foundations of an earlier construction. Fort Mirani, known as the Western Fort, lies at the end of the west wall overlooking the sea.
The Palace Gates.Because we did not visit any of the many museum in Muscat, it was not long before we had walked around the Old City. Still over estimating the distance we had to travel, we set of to Al Jissah Beach.
Passing the Al-Bustan Roundabout, with its Dhow on it. We passed my favorite roundabout to date! This roundabout was covered in golden Arabic coffee pots, and because it was a water feature, the pots were pouring water. I was getting obsessed by theses decorative roundabouts in Oman! We turned left onto a very new road, this road cut through the mountains. This side of Muscat was so different from the Qurm side. Gone were the long unspoiled sandy beaches, here rugged red mountains plunged into the clear blue sea. Oman is truly a beautiful country, and we had only travelled through a very small part of it.
We drove past The Oman Dive Centre, I would have stayed in one of the Barasti Bungalows on this beach but it was fully booked. The Dive Center is next to The Sangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa, this was our next destination. This rambling hotel complex is set on a lovely long beach, with the Sea Arch at one end of the Hotel complex.

Even though we had arrived early, the hotel was happy to let us check in. We spent a relaxing afternoon on the beach. Then we set out to explore this area. The next bay along seemed to be undergoing some kind of development. A lot of houses were knocked down and it looked as if a great deal of ground work had been done. I think this is for The Salam Resort & Spa, Yiti. Disappointed with this area, we drove towards Bandar Khayran and Al Seifa. Along this rout we encountered some magnificent scenery, The Khors, or lagoons and sheltered bays fringed in places by mangroves.We even saw a tidal football pitch along this stretch of road. We went to the village of Al Shaikh and snorkeled from this beach. The only down side was the presence of a very intrusive Man, he made very rude and suggestive comments to me! This made swimming, for a 50 + woman (in a full wet Suite) near to the shore rather unpleasant, and I don't think this would be a safe place for unaccompanied women....especially younger ones. This is possibly the reason the large resorts do so well!?