Saturday, May 09, 2009

Nizwa, Oman

Ops Jalan Sakan (Mission: Travelots) - UAE and Oman, Spring 2009
Part 6

April 5th, 2009.

We left Al-Mintirib, the small town bordering the vast desert of Wahiba Sands, at around 10am and reached the town of Nizwa at around 12pm. By that time, the adzan for Dzuhr prayer had been called, and most of the shops in the souq are closed. In one of the souviner shops that was opened, though, we coincidently met with one of our friends who happened to be holidaying with his family. Zarul and Kak Rosnah had just come from Muscat, and they were spending the day in Nizwa and Al-Hamra. Zarul had hired a local guide and from him we found out that the souq is closed from 12pm to 4pm, just like in Saudi :P Since the souq is closed, we decided to have lunch with Zarul's family in a restaurant on the outskirts of Nizwa.

After lunch we said our goodbyes and safe journeys to Zarul and his family, and we returned to the center of Nizwa. We performed our solat at the nice Nizwa mosque that had a not so nice little shack at the back as an excuse for the ladies' mussollah (prayer room). After solat, we decided to explore the Nizwa fort. Fortunately the fort was open till 4pm. I can't remember how much the entrance fees were, but they were not expensive.

Nizwa fort is bigger than its facade presents. Inside there are several stairs that lead to the different levels of the fort. On the ground level is the courtyard with stables and such. There's a basement level with storage rooms and a prison. The mid-level houses the kitchen, sitting rooms and bedrooms with secret hiding places. Then there's a rooftop where the guards would sit and look out for approaching enemies.

The fort had quite sophisticated defense mechanisms, with secret peepholes to view who's at the door, to hot oil/water/date syrup channels that runs from the roof to the entrance to scald enemies, and trap doors on the stairways that gives way and plunges unsuspecting intruders into deep wells below. Looking out from the fort to the date filled valley surrounded by mountains, I could imagine why someone would guard Nizwa like a precious jewel.

I'm sure Nizwa has a very strategic historic significance, but meh.. I'm not Lollies... you can go read her entry on Nizwa, if you want to know :) All I could think of is what the blueprint of the place must've looked like, how they constructed the place with all the channels and trapdoors and wells and hiding rooms. I imagined what life in the fort must've been like in those days. I wondered what noises and smells must have wafted around when it was bustling with all the different activities, both military and mundane.

The Nizwa fort also has a small museum that displays artifacts on daily Omani life, from how the falaj works (i.e. how water is pulled out from wells or springs and distributed along channels to irrigate the plantation), how metal smiths forge their wares and the different potteries and weaved items. It was interesting to note that much of the traditional way of life is still practiced in Oman today. I also got an idea of what souviners I want to get ;) tee hee.

After exiting the fort, we had a drink while waiting for the souq to open.
The souviner shops sold a lot of pottery ware, and I would've gotten one of those earthen water jugs, but I kept thinking of how it might break on our drive home (we still had 4 days to go), so I decided not to. Taufik got another teapot for his collection and Ihsan bought some stamps and a postcard to mail to his Nenek.

By the time we were done browsing and shopping (more browsing than shopping), it was almost 6. We had promised to drop by a friend's house for dinner in Muscat by 7:30pm, so we decided to make a move.
As with any highway in Oman, the view was breathtaking.

As we reached Muscat, we had our first view of 'modern civilization' after several days of seeing traditional houses and unspoilt nature. We waited for our friend at a McDonald's and encountered a traffic jam on the way to his house. Sutan and Fatimah treated us to a wonderful dinner, and we regtretfully had to say goodbye at 10pm to head to Nuzha Hotel Apartments in Darsayt.

Next: Muttrah Souk, Sultan Qaboos Mosque and around Muscat.


  1. Salam Elisa,

    I love all your travel writings and pictures. Like I said before you should have them published.

    Happy Mothers Day Elisa!

  2. Thankyou Mak Teh :)

    Rasa macam tak worthy to be published lah pulak.. :P

    Selamat Hari Ibu dan Selamat Hari Guru to you!!

  3. kak lisa,

    I've been bz as you can see..hehe..but promise to read your travelog. happy belated mother's day 2 u.

  4. i love all these old buildings because they are genius. They are made to shelter and protect and to allow them to sustain themselves. rasa macam nak morph aje time tu to see what it's like. But neehh I need the electricity and tap water and internet too much.

  5. oit makan mc'd?

    the fort and mosque made with earthen bricks/ masons?

  6. pu3,
    And a belated mother's day wish to you too! Love love love the kebayas on your site!

    kan kan kan?
    When I peered into their 'kitchen', macam boleh bau bau aje masakan diorang..

    Bukan makan kat McD, we just waited for our friend there because we didnt know where his house is, and what other landmark is more visible and universal than a fastfood joint?
    And yes, the fort and mosque were made of bricks and date trees. Most fittings were metal though.

  7. cantiknya the pictures....Oman is a beautiful country. Reading the stories about your roadtrip, I think u should join globe trekker on Travel channel lah!!

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  9. NoorSham,
    I memang bercita-cita nak jadi Ian Wright! But no one wants to pay me to travel :P
    We should have a show for travelling with families, kan?