Wandering about Misfah

Misfat Al A'Briyeen Travel Blog

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Falaj in Al Hamra

Our destination after lunch was a return through Al Hamra to Misfah Al A’briyeen, an inhabited village that hearkened back to the Middle Ages.  But driving through Al Hamra we stumbled upon an amazing section of town which was largely deserted.  This would our first ‘abandoned village’ --- because the mud brick dwellings here are not terribly durable, we concluded it must be common practice to simply abandon buildings once they deteriorate.  We would cross similar areas in every town we investigated and this is what leads me to doubt we actually saw the bombed out portion of Tanuf (upon recollection it seemed strikingly like the other abandoned villages we encountered).

 

*** Abandoned Villages footnote:  heard back from Naseeb and wanted to set the record straight on my faulty hypothesis that Omanis abandoned their mud brick buildings.

Old town in Al Hamra
  With proper maintenance, Naseeb shared these structures are quite durable and can be around for 400-500 years!  It has been the introduction of modern materials and construction methods that has caused the traditional homesteads to be walked away from…and without loving care they do start to wear down.  So please ignore my misguided rambling in this journal! 
J

 

 

The scenery in the old town was splendid and the only difficulty was turning around.

Misfah, Oman....wow!
  Mark had taken over driving once we reached the Golden Tulip and had to execute a tight 180 to point back out of an alleyway we had parked in.  An Omani approached me as I was giving assistance to Mark and after I responded to his greeting in Arabic he fully engaged me in the now familiar Omani spirit of friendliness.  I looked up just in time to yell for Mark to halt as he was inches from driving into the falaj!

Misfah is a wonderful place I am hesitant to share.  It lies a few kilometers up a twisty mountain road outside of Al Hamra, and there is no admission charge.  As you enter there is a map displaying two different routes to follow through the village: one going up through the village and the other heads down to a date plantation.

Visitors are requested to stick to the paths, highlighted by Omani flags painted here and there.  We headed towards the village and almost immediately passed through a group of children playing.

Picturesque falaj in Misfah
  They hurled some comments at us and I don’t think they were too kind.  However, I had to consider what it would be like if my back yard was deemed a national treasure and random individuals could stroll through at will.  I felt like an intruder the rest of the time in Misfah.

There was a substantial hoard of visitors and I was surprised most were fellow Omanis.  We were greeted frequently and learned this was a popular day trip for nearby citizens.  The ‘star towers’ were an amazing facet of Misfah: cairns built upon a ridge just outside the village permitted telling time at night by how stars progressed across the piles of rocks.

A substantial falaj system was equally intriguing.  Very photogenic, we noticed quite a few folks walking along the falaj and agreed they provided much smoother passage then the rocky and somewhat muddy pathways through town.

Star Towers on the ridge outside of Misfah
  At one point we opted to follow a couple guys down a falaj to get back into town.  Our frequent stops to snap pictures allowed our trail blazers to get away and we wound up being confronted by a sign asking us to avoid the ‘ladies area’ without clearly indicating which direction to go!

We briefly debated, reached a consensus and marched up the stairway to the right.  Everyone was immensely relieved when we confirmed we had made the right choice.  Followed Omani flags back into town and then checked out the other trail to the date plantation.  A charming destination, but I personally felt a bit guilty trespassing on folks just trying to live their lives.

Rebounding from Misfah we ducked into the Falaj Daris in Nizwa for a drink.

One of many interesting views in Misfah, Oman
  This is Mark’s favorite hotel in Oman, but they were completely booked and we had to default to the Golden Tulip.  This is a super lodging option so I’ll give it a separate review.  After a drink we continued on back to the Tulip.

Back home at the Tulip, everybody showered, but we let John go first and permitted him to scout the options on campus for dinner and entertainment.  When you permit John to pick an entertainment option you are definitely living on the edge, and his choice was Al Wasit, one of four bars on the grounds of the Golden Tulip.  It was a strange affair that reminded me of the night Mark, Samia and I experienced at Liwa Oasis in the UAE six years ago.

Once again there was a somewhat sinister looking dude sitting behind a synthesizer with three scantily clad ladies in front.  Please remember we are the Middle East and by ‘scantily’ I mean everyday western dress, lol.

Let's follow those guys!
  None were Arabic, my guess was they were mostly Slavic.  They performed a collection of pop tunes and oldies that were re-makes.  We never reached agreement whether the vocals had actually been sung by the group on stage.  Clearly lip-syncing (only the dude and one of the girls made a half-hearted effort to mimic), the vocals were not top notch and may have been pre-recorded by the people on stage.  The performance was punctuated by frequent breaks and the only interesting set was when one of the ladies appeared solo and did three belly dances.  She was actually quite good and it was an anomaly because she pretty much stood around when the entire group was together.

Al Wasit was crowded, almost entirely Omani men.  When we first sat down an older Omani was out on the dance floor making poor attempts at modern moves.  I would have felt sorry for him, but he seemed to be really enjoying himself!  After a couple rounds and some crappy chicken tikka for dinner we retreated back to our room, where I overcame an early burst by Mark in Spite & Malice to add Nizwa to my list of card conquests.

You'd have to be an ass to just walk along the pathways in Misfah!

Africancrab says:
Ha-ha! thanks Vance
Posted on: Mar 20, 2010
vances says:
Yes, Harriet...mostly Bedouin culture in the mountain regions of Oman. I will e-mail Naseeb after I post a review extolling his tour services...I e-mailed him constantly trying to arrange the hikes but it doesn't seem right to ask him questions anymore, lol...but I'm sure he won't mind!
Posted on: Mar 19, 2010
Africancrab says:
They seem to have a kind of normadic life style that most of the ancients had. Looking back at the history, that is true for all the lands surrounding Oman, no?
Posted on: Mar 19, 2010
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Falaj in Al Hamra
Falaj in Al Hamra
Old town in Al Hamra
Old town in Al Hamra
Misfah, Oman....wow!
Misfah, Oman....wow!
Picturesque falaj in Misfah
Picturesque falaj in Misfah
Star Towers on the ridge outside o…
Star Towers on the ridge outside …
One of many interesting views in M…
One of many interesting views in …
Lets follow those guys!
Let's follow those guys!
Youd have to be an ass to just wa…
You'd have to be an ass to just w…
Misfah is a gorgeous opportunity f…
Misfah is a gorgeous opportunity …
Old town / abandoned town in Al Ha…
Old town / abandoned town in Al H…
Many beautiful vistas in old town,…
Many beautiful vistas in old town…
Misfat Al A'Briyeen
photo by: vances