Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Ibra, Oman

Ops Jalan Sakan (Mission: Travelots) - UAE and Oman, Spring 2009
Part 3

April 3rd, 2009. Evening.

We still had another 3 hours drive ahead of us before we reached our accomodation for the night. We did not want to drive at night because even though the larger highways are well lit, the smaller roads are not. Tarmac retain heat very well, therefore are warm and comfortable rest areas for wandering animals, especially camels. You DO NOT want to encounter a camel on the road at night. Especially when the camels are as black as the night itself.
We reached the town of Nizwa at around 5pm and we got a peek of the Nizwa Fort and the souq surrounding it because the GPS told us to drive that way even though it was jam packed with people. I took the opportunity to call the accomodation and tell us what time we were estimated to arrive.

The GPS brought us through really mountainous road that was like riding a rollercoaster at times. Too bad my pictures didnt turn out so good because it was getting dark. We had to drive on really winding and dark and empty roads to reach Ibra (not to be mistaken with Ibri, which we passed earlier in the journey). It was quite creepy and scary, because not only did Taufik need to watch where the road is going, he also needed to watch out for any huge obstacles in his way (read: camels).
We finally reached Nahar Tourism Oasis at 7:30pm and was very happy to find dinner waiting for us.

We were served halwa muscat and dates with hot arabic tea while we wait for them to bring out the buffet items.
'Halwa muscat' is a type of sweet unique to Oman. The closest thing to it in the west would be Turkish delight (except it's not rolled in powdered sugar) and the closest thing to it for malaysians, would be dodol. The difference is that halwa muscat is very very fragrant, from the spices and rose water used in its preparation. It's almost like dodol spiked with arabic perfume. In fact, i felt as if I was biting into the ample flesh of one of the fragrant arab women I often pass by at the mall. It is really an acquired taste.
Dinner was quite good, or maybe we were just really hungry. They served rice with lamb curry, fried chicken, salad, and this really nice fried eggplant dish.
After dinner we were directed to our rooms. It was a little bit away from from reception/restaurant area, so we had to drive a bit there.

I had booked two 'Omani House Suites', and they were just as the name implies, the suites were fashioned and decorated, I assume, just like a traditional Omani house.
Our suite had a long living room with a settee made of wooden cabinets with cushions on them, a cabinet with a TV (with a sattelite decoder), a small coffee table for two, and a smaller side table with an electric kettle and tea/coffee making sachets. Two single beds are situated in an enclave in the 'house', with an antique looking side table and a mirror on the wall in between them. The closet was also an old looking cupboard. The bathroom, fortunately, was not old looking and had hot water :)
On the walls were old potteries and an antique looking shotgun.
I slept that night looking up at these rafters and wondering what the phrases mean..

The next morning we got to see what we didnt see when we arrived that night. Our room was surrounded by rocky hills! There was even a lookout point on a hill behind our Omani house where we could climb up and look at the view. This picture really does not do justice to the scenery.

Looking at the surroundings of this 'hotel', with its traditional concept and antique decorations, I see a potential of it being a tourist attraction. We were the only customers there that day/night, however, and I don't know why it is so. Perhaps the location is not conducive? Ibra is situated right in between Wadi Bani Khalid and Muscat/Nizwa, and it is only a 2-3 hours drive between them. Perhaps people would rather drive straight through to these locations instead of stopping halfway at a small town.
I am glad that we spent the night there though, because it gave us a chance to leave and reach Wadi Bani Khalid earlier than if we were to stay in Muscat or Nizwa, especially since we were travelling with children, who can be unpredictable in their punctuality.

At the hotel's Al-Kous Whisper Restaurant, we were served breakfast of arabic bread, sausages, foul (beans in gravy), scrambled eggs, coffee/tea and juice.
After taking pictures of the old doors near the restaurant and the tented majlees (middle eastern sitting room) and settling the bill, we left Ibra and headed towards Wadi Bani Khalid.

More pictures on Facebook Photo Album: 2009 Spring Road Trip - Oman : Ibri, Bahla, Jebel Shams, Ibra

Useful Information:

Nahar Tourism Oasis
2-bed Omani House Suite OR38/night, OR5/extra bed/night
They also have rooms.
Price includes dinner and breakfast, freeflow of water/juice/soft drinks.
Clearly the cheapest acommodation during our trip.


  1. i love i love i love the architectural details you took! ada lagi? upload lah dalam FB!

  2. i forgot that you are an architect, and would love these kinds of pictures.
    Adalah dalam FB:

  3. That place looks nice. I'll have to stay there when I'm next up in Nizwa.

  4. unique house.. macam ada zaman purba lak.. cuba spoil sikit sebab ada tv kat situ hehee..

    tak boleh tahan gelak bila Elisa describe halwa muscat tu.. biting halwa spray dengan arabic perfume hahaha!!!
    somehow, baru ni Neeza ada makan this donut.. arab yang buat. My friend describe 'bau kel*ng'.
    tapi rasanya memang ada rose water tu and rasa yang semacam tu laaa...

    seronoklah nampak Elisa and the group tour cam tu.. kalau we all nak pergi, I surely will read your blog again ;)

  5. lovely pictures! and thank you for very informative post hee hee hee. lepas ni boleh buat mini travel guide lak ;)

  6. Priceless experience kan. Bestnya jalan2 ambik gambar. Mini travel guides for Malaysian in middle east erm.. menarik tu

  7. sukanya sukanya your suite...nice!

    ehh u takde pulak ambik gambar that halwa tu?

  8. Anonymous4:29 PM

    sungguh racist sekali kata2 kamu wahai neeza shahril.."bau keling" is not a nice word to use.

    Senah Dungung

  9. Ian,
    Thanx for stopping by to read! I must urge you to travel there with friends though, just in case there are no other guests around...
    I wouldnt want to stay there if I were the ONLY guest.
    I'm a scaredy cat.. tee hee.

    Memang seronok bila travel ramai-ramai.. ada banyak input and banyak entertainment (from the variously different perangai of kids *and* adults). And mak bapak pun seganlah sikit nak bergaduh depan orang lain.. so bersabar lah sikit kan.. heheheh

    Mari mari mari .. kita ke Oman!

    Aza a.k.a BF,
    Tapi macam tak cukup masa aje nak travel ke country lain.. :P Camner nak buat travelogue ;)

    Masa I mula2 masuk tu , I was like, wah.. macam masuk rumah orang kat kampung2 ... I'm glad we stayed there, at least dapatlah experience duduk rumah orang Oman, sebab tak tahulah bila a real Omani would invite you for real (but I heard they are really friendly).
    Gambar halwa?? rupa dia macam dodol lah.. usually sold in a tupperware (and looks like dodol), and we were served it all cut up (like dodol, but lembik).

    Maafkan lah.. I'm sure she didnt mean it in a deragotary way.. :)

  10. Anonymous3:53 PM

    kak elisa,
    i was your silent reader all these while...
    your description on halwa muscat..it really reminds me to halwa maskat (suka sangat makan dulu2 kalau gi raya kat rumah org lama2....tp skarang ni susaaaaaah sangat nak dapat....pernah jumpa kat Pekan Rabu...sedap)

  11. nice photo of the door :)

    has to google for the exchange rate of omani riyal. and that's clearly your cheapest accommodation? mahal jugak accomodation in oman eh?

  12. kiki,
    I have never tasted halwa maskat in malaysia. Does it look like dodol (brown) or is it white with pistachios in them (macam nougat)?
    Because in Saudi, their halwa is almost like nougat.

    Exchange rate is OR1=SR10=RM10 lah lebih kurang.
    Generally, accomodation across the middle east is expensive. They dont offer mid-range accomodations. It's either no-star prices for no star accomodation (really cheap, behind the petrol station, god knows what smell), or 4-5 star prices for what is not really 4-5 star accomodation, or 6-star prices for 5 star accomodation. You wouldn't believe how much some hotels charge per room over here.
    It is always a good idea to rent apartments as much as possible.

  13. Anonymous11:40 PM

    Great info & photos! Planning to visit Oman on March 2010