Bargaining for Taxi's in Muscat

Muscat Travel Blog

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BIG MISTAKE!! (Continued from "Abu Dhabi blog entry)

The bus from Abu Dhabi to Al-Ain was probably the most uncomfortable bus Ive ever taken with no legroom and hard seats. My friend managed quite ok, but Im around 15cm longer than him and I was in pain for the betterpart of the busride.. In Al-ain at least ten taxi-drivers shouted ”TAXI! DUBAI , Abu Dhabi” over and over again until we finally managed to get into a silver cab with a meter.. The other drivers didnt have meter and would have ripped us off even after bargaining for half an hour.

We took a taxi from the bus station to the border for GGC-member states and where told to go to the border for internationals.. Another taxi ride.. then we crossed the border by foot and realized that there where no busses passing here.
. We had gotten wrongful information and stood there without any transport either here or there and had already gotten the ”exit-stamp” from UAE in our passports.

Then someone saw that we needed transport and ”kindly” said that we could pay him 500 DHS to take us into Muscat. He wasnt just a nobody, but rather a general in the Omani army being in charge of the border controll.. How cool isnt it to be guided by an Omani general into Oman?

After 10minute of bargaining I managed to get the price down to DHS 300, but thinking back on it I might have pushed it a bit to far since we where first dropped off in Sohar to change car to get into a shared taxi to Seeb , just to having to pay another driver 4 Rials to take us to our Hotel (Ramee Guestline in Qurm,Muscat)
Arriving at the Hotel they had not received our reservation and the troubles continued.
After 10minutes of arguing the guy in the reception said that he would give us a room , but if we didnt have the reservation tomorrow we would have to pay for the room.. We contacted the company we had used (WWTE / Expedia) and everything was sorted out in the morning 

DAY 10 – Muscat
As we found out Muscat is not one city, but rather several enclaces of buildings linked by road. We decided to focus on the more touristic stuff the first day and started our day in:
Old Muscat. This is simply known as Masqat (Muscat) for the locals is where the original city was located and this is clearly vissible today with the old fortifactions on almost every hilltop and the old city gate which marks the entrance to Masqat.
Things of interest:
Bayt Az-Zubair – Museum containing lots of items about Oman’s history including photographs , national dresses , firearms and traditional handcrafts.
Its closed from 13:00-16:00 , and this was the time we visited and we didnt want to wait a couple of hours just to go inside a museum so we skipped this one.
Gate Museum. This museum is located in the old city gate which was used upto 1970 to keep people out. This also markes the end of old Muscat and you begin to realise how small the orginial city really way. Even if you dont like museums a climb up this city gate offers quite good views of Muscat =)
To summarise what this museum is about i quote the sign on the door: It is hoped that this museum , through its exhibits , will contribute to the awareness of future generations in appreciating the heritage of this ancient city.
Sultans Palace. This is the residence of Sultan Qaboos , and whilte its not extremely impressive its well worth a look and a trip to Masqat will not be complete without a visit.
When youre at the Palace you can see the two forts Al Mirani and Al Jalali. We tried to go up to these forts, but they where both closed for maintenance when we visited.
Omani French Museum. This was also closed at the time of our visit , but it is supposed to be about the relations between Oman and the French.

Muttrah is the place most tourists sees as the large cruise ships docks here and unloads the cargo of several thousands tourists. Even its Muscat has around 1million inhabbitants Muttrah seems like an small fishing village because of the classic architecture , lack of high-rise skyscrapers and the best souq we visited where locals
actually go shopping.

Things of Interest here:
Muttrah Souq can be seen as the best souq we visited in the Middle East.
Some parts of the souq is filled with tourists , but the souq is like a maze so just try at get lost and youll see places tourists never see. Its well worth a visit, but just dont buy anything in the touristed areas since you will get ripped off no matter what you try to bargain for. I wanted a sexstant to have on the wall just because I use such instruments at work and this seemed antique and was probably used many years ago. The salesmen wanted 90OR which is about 280 USD..
The beautiful Cornishe is well worth a look and a walk from Muttrah to Masqat is a couple of hours well spent. The Cornishe is also very pictureesticqe--- and dont miss the observation tower and the forts along the cornishe. We just jumped over the fence over to the white tower since it was closed, but there where no guards there to stop us.

RUWI: is the financial center of Muscat and the only place which seems like a city as both Muttrah and Masqat has a good town-wibe going for them. Ruwi is home of several museums , a couple of cinemas showing bollywood movies. The main Bus terminal ONTC is located here and connects Muscat with other parts of Oman and Dubai.
Things of interest:
National Museum is a tiny museum described below
Sultans Armed Forces – Described Below

Day 11
We got up quite early and headed to Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. This is supposed to be the third largest Mosque in the world. The main Prayer hall is highly decorated and even if its not as impressive as the Mosque in Abu Dhabi the Mosque is a must see while youre in the Region.
The Chandeleer is highly impressive and is more pleasing to the eye compared to those in Abu Dhabi.
We managed to join Another American bus-load of tourists on their tour until the guide asked us to leave since this was a private tour. Some of the tourists on the bus said we could just join them on their expense, but we decided to leave..
After bargaining with the taxi for about 15minutes i just gave up and gave the driver 5.Rials to get us into town again. It was quite far, but i stil mean that 4. Rials would have been a more sensible price, but this was a place filled with unexperienced tourists and they probably meant that they could fool them to pay 8 rials , so only one taxidriver out of 5-6 decided that we where worth the hassle.
We got off at the The Sultan's Armed Forces Museum located in the Fort ”Bait al falaj”.
This fort is still under military use and we where guided around the Museum by a decorated officer in the Omani Army which was very proud of his country despite not knowing so much English. I would have wanted to have spent a little longer time in the museum, but he rushed through the entire museum so fast that I had to tell him to wait a couple of times. Its good Idea is to pay him 500baisa or something smilar to spend some more time in the museum since it features a lot of interesting history about Oman and its domestic and foreign relations.
After a hasty tour of the Museum headed left along ”Al-Noor” to get to the Omani ”National Museum” or something. The museum is very hard to find without any signs outside of the entrance and we just found it by a guy hanging out a window and shouting after us.
The Museum is small and worth a visit, but dont expect to much as you would be dispointed.
We then headed to Ruwi to get our bus-tickets to Dubai. The guy at the counter just completely mispelled our names and we came out as ”Chrisian Fredik and Orjan Baebbelurd”.
Its easy to understand why Ruwi is called little India , as when we went to the ”Star Cinema” they where showing all bollywood productions in a rundown cinema. We went to the local supasave supermarket and called it the day.
Day 12.
This was our last day in Muscat. We went to the ”Exploration of Oil and Gas Museum” located near the oil reffinery in Muscat and way out of city in Qurm. The museum is located next to the Planetarium and was by far the most interesting museum during our visit in Muscat and probably in the middle east.
Its a small museum funded by the PDO (Petroleum Development Oman?) , but it features a lot of interesting facts and interacting models about how oil is searched for, extracted and was transported. It even featured something about loading an Oil tanker, but was so simplistic that i had to take a few pictures so that i could send them back to my collegues for a good laugh.
After spending around two hours in the Museum we hailed a taxi , went to the hotel and picked up our bags and got to the bus station. We got on the Bus to Dubai and hoped this would be a short bus-trip , but it after waiting forever for someone to finish their meals at a resturant we stopped on and being inspected by Border controll , customs and at last the army we finally entered Dubai via Hatta-border and was on our way to Dubai some 10hours after we left Muscat and 4hours late.
Our preferred hotel (Panorama Hotel , Bur Dubai) was fully booked so we headed out to ”Dubai Youth Hostel” which was a big disapointment, but more on that later.
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photo by: JP-NED