My internship at KAUST has come to an end and I am now back in the States. But instead of heading straight back home to California after my last day of work, I changed the date of my return flight to two weeks after my final day in lab and I wrapped up my second stay in Saudi Arabia with a two week trip around the Middle East. I visited a few countries during this time, and the last 4 days of my trip were spent in Oman. I went with my friend Daniela (another American girl who was finishing up her research internship at KAUST), which worked out incredibly well given our mutual respect for water activities and eating things.
Coming from the States, Daniela and I had heard very little about Oman as a tourist destination. Even though a sizable component of the Omani economy is centered on tourism, a combination of distance from the U.S. and the general wariness that American travelers feel towards the middle east meant that neither of us had encountered many people back home who had visited Oman. As we began our limited planning for the short trip, we also realized the extent of our own ignorance as every piece of information we received about life in Oman was news to us. The currency is the Omani riyal? There are nice beaches? The place we want to go is full of spring-fed canyons and sink holes? The capital is Muscat? Good to know.
After rendezvousing in Muscat (Daniela was flying in from KAUST/Jeddah and I was coming in from my most recent leg of the trip in Jordan), we drove a few hours south to a tiny coastal town called Tiwi (a liberating activity after living as a car-less woman in Saudi Arabia for the better part of a year.) Tiwi, we had read, was surrounded by wadis (canyons with rivers running down them), and based on the fantastic photos we found on Google Images, we expected cool blue pools creating oases in the middle of the desert. We were not disappointed. As we hiked and swam through the wadis and at the beaches that looked like they had been plucked straight out of a travel magazine, the line that Daniela and I kept repeating was, “Everything looks just like the pictures.”
Most of our trip was spent jumping into pools of water (a blissfully refreshing activity in an area that reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit by 11 am), and as millennials determined to flood social media with travel photos, we had our GoPros out at every turn. I compiled a video of some of the clips from our adventures in the wadis and waves. If you are anything like we were before deciding to take this trip and don’t know much about Oman, I hope that this can give a small look at some of the beautiful areas that are on that little strip of the coast in Oman.