A Travellerspoint blog

Upcoming events

sunny

So here's a rough idea of what our group has ahead of us for the next two weeks:
Tomorrow: Going to the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque to hear a lecture about Islam in pre-Columbian America (seriously)
Friday: Formal dinner. This is at the house of our sponsor, Dr. Salim Ismaili, the key Omani diplomat in the recent Oman-US FTA. Half the diplomatic corps will be there, including the US ambassador, whom I'm told I'll be meeting. Fun times
Next weekend: We fly to Salalah, the major southern city, where they still make traditional dhows.
The weekend after that: Desert excursion to go play in the dunes at the Wahiba Sands in the Sharqiyya region. I full intend to roll down a large dune.
In between all this, I have to apply for graduation at OU, apply to a program in Yemen, post my NSEP resume and get a job through them, and do major original research on Omani infrastructure development and it's affect on Middle Eastern foreign policy. Without regular Internet access. RIIIIIGHT. No wonder I'm so tired these days.

Posted by mc327503 08:50 Archived in Oman Comments (0)

Homestay family

Sorry about the delays between new posts, looks like it might become regular. Anyways, I'm finally moved in with my homestay family. They're great, and pretty fun too. Any worries I had about staying with a family are pretty much erased. They have a young daughter Fadya, who is the same age and acts the exact same as Lindy back home. I've even accidentally called her Lindy on a couple of occasions. Her new favorite preoccupation is watching the screensaver on my laptop, which is set to the aquarium, with a bunch of digital fish floating around. So, aside from the fact that I live 45 minutes from school, everything is pretty cool. Of course, getting to know the homestay family reminds of family and friends back home, but mostly SIT has us so busy that we don't have a lot of time to think about it, which I suppose is the point. But I am missing y'all back home.

Posted by mc327503 08:50 Archived in Oman Comments (0)

Shatti al-Qurm

I visited Shatti al-Qurm, or Qurm beach, yesterday. The area is unbelievably beautiful. If more authoritarian governments had places like Shatti al-Qurm, the people wouldn't be so pissed off (why DO I always study in authoritarian countries?). If you walk along the main road, out of your left eye you can see the mountains of Muscat, and out of your right eye, you can watch the waves roll in. There is a Starbucks, which has wireless Internet. For a small fee, you can connect and use the wireless for as long as you want. So, I've found where I'm going to do my ISP research, since the cab ride from where I'll be in Ruwi is half a rial away. Between al-Qurm beach and the Yacht Club, plus all the shopping centers we've been going to (for research believe it or not), it's hard to believe we're actually studying abroad, and not on holiday.

Posted by mc327503 01:31 Archived in Oman Comments (0)

Kamikaze cabbies

Like I said in an earlier post, the name Muscat actually refers to a whole stretch of cities along the Omani coast. For example, our hotel for the first week was on the Muttrah Corniche, and our school is in al-Hail, which is about 45 km, or 40 minutes by cab or minibus. The cabbies and minibus drivers are crazy, as they have a tendency to be in developing countries. Forget about terrorism, the biggest danger in the Middle East is auto traffic, which kills the most people each year in Oman. We just found out about our homestay placement, which I'm very excited about. I'm going to be living in Ruwi, which is literally in the middle of everything. Ruwi itself is changing quite quickly and is a very cool neighborhood. Also, it's close to al-Qurm, which is the beach, embassy row, Starbucks (thank god), and many of the other really fun places in Muscat. It's also close to Muttrah and the Yacht Club. The homestay coordinator here in Oman is the founding member of the Yacht Club in Muscat, and we can get in for free, so maybe I'll manage to get a tan. All in all, I feel very comfortable navigating the city at this point, and the cabbie bargaining skills I picked up in China are coming along quite well. I've managed to get them down to near-native prices. So, good times all around.

Posted by mc327503 01:25 Archived in Oman Comments (0)

First thoughts

Welcome to Muscat

So, upon reflection of my first full week in country, I'd say things are going pretty well. Muscat is a pretty crazy. Muscat proper is really actually only about the size of downtown Chagrin Falls, not large at all. The city Muscat refers a 50 km stretch all along the Omani coast including Muttrah, Ruwi, al-Qurm, and al-Hail (pay attention to the names, you'll need them for later). Our flights went decently well, and we got into Muscat at about 10 PM and went to our hotel, which was right on the Muttrah Corniche, literally overlooking the water. Driving into Muttrah, it really strike me how similar Oman and China felt. The signs look similar, it smells similar (although Oman is much cleaner), it really feels like Qingdao in China, but with Arabesque architecture. Having been here for a week, the energy feels rather similar also. In both countries, you can sense the desire to be moving ahead, to get things and to hurry and catch the developed countries. It's pretty interesting.

Posted by mc327503 01:14 Archived in Oman Comments (1)

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