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Published: December 28th 2019
I arrived in Nizwa after driving from Muscat at about 10am. As my hotel room was not yet available I headed straight out for a ride. My plan was to follow part of the Haute Route Oman Route, needless to say without any navigational tools to do so, and also, stupidly, without even jotting down where the route went. Far be it for me to let such minor details get in the way. I had at least looked at how to do as little time on the highway as possible to get out of town - just one short section of it, which resulted in one new member of my fan club!
The stretch of road up to Tanuf is a busy main road, straight as an arrow so not very interesting. I turned off of it in Tanuf into some quieter back roads through a mixture of barren terrain with herds of goats cropping the thorny bushes, to lush oases of dates palms and well irrigated paddy like fields. I missed the turn off for the Haute Route final climb, and didn’t have the inclination to do the full back route up Jebel Akhdar, so after a couple of hours I just turned around and headed back more or less the same route.
My guesthouse is right in the middle of Nizwa, so the perfect location for an afternoon of meandering around the souk, fort and castle. It is pretty shabby outside of the touristy area, but it would be worth a visit for sight seeing for those who have no interest in the available sporting pursuits.
At this juncture it is probably worth commenting on a couple of cultural points. Before arriving out here I had been a little unclear about what sort of attire a lone female cyclist should wear in a country where, outside the capital at least, women rarely seem to leave the home (today for instance I have only seen two local women in the six hours or so that I have been out and about), and when they do they are usually clothed in a floor length black “abaya” and potentially a burka. Clearly not ideal cycling kit.
On a bit of further research, I determined that something loose fitting and preferably elbow length or below the knee would be advisable. I dug out a couple of saggy old tops that had been consigned to the status of under garment only, just one step away from being chopped up into bike cleaning rags. I also packed a couple of knee length shorts to wear over my lycra. In the end I didn’t bother wearing those as it was too darn hot to layer up, but I can’t be sure whether some of the beeping horns were on account of being out in a public in a state of near nudity, instead of merely offering a little extra encouragement as I slogged up a hill.
In spite of my uncustomary attire all the Omanis (all men) that I have met have been very friendly and often quite charming. The religion is uniformly Islam, but they seem to adopt a gentle interpretation of this, as opposed to using it as a tool for inciting the uneducated to offer themselves up as cannon fodder. So in spite of some less than savoury neighbour, Oman is an oasis of calm and it certainly feels to me a very safe place to travel.
Tot: 3.083s; Tpl: 0.043s; cc: 11; qc: 53; dbt: 0.0454s; 3; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb