{Travel Post} Oman – Sur

Season’s Greetings to the readers of my blog – Slice of my lyfe. 

Another year’s leaving us. A new year beckons with exciting new prospects on the horizon.  I hope to travel to a few places that I have so longed to visit and I hope the new year makes it possible. Meanwhile, I will get down to detailing my visit to Oman in this post.

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It is quite possible to underestimate something that is easy to access. Just as I did, when we planned a trip to Oman. Something this close of a neighbour held little charm as a vacation destination. But during the last short-long Eid holidays, Oman seemed like the ‘optimum’ choice for a vacation destination.

To my pleasant surprise and later my unsurpassed delight Oman was just splendid with its natural scenery, pristine beaches and rugged mountainous terrine. It was all that a vacation package should ideally be. Also, it was starkly different from Bahrain. It was modern yet had maintained its traditional vibe.

In this post I shall share some pictures of the places I visited in Sur in Oman with my family and friends and will try and fill in details from my memory. . We landed in Muscat late in the night and then checked into the hotel to rest. The next day, we checked out and got ourselves a car on rent from the airport and set out on our way to Sur. 

 

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Wadi Dayqah Dam

 On the way to Sur, we stopped by the Wadi Dayqah dam which has breathtaking views. This is is the biggest dam in Oman and is surrounded by mountains from all sides. It was heavenly to see the clouds descending down on the mountains and the weather that day was lovely. It is an ideal place for a picnic with family and friends. 

Wadi Dayqah Dam
Wadi Dayqah Dam

From there, we travelled for several hours before we reached Sur. It was quite late in the night before we reached our resort – The Turtle Beach Resort.  The resort is a rustic setting against the seaside with shacks and huts fitted with all modern amenities. After a restful night, we made plans to spend the day exploring the resort and the places around Sur. 

The turtle beach resort
The turtle beach resort
The turtle beach resort
The turtle beach resort

The next day, we spent the day cruising along the coastline in Sur, where the rough beaches with their choppy waters made us stop every now and then to admire them. 

PicMonkey CollageOman has many ‘Wadis’ / Valleys which are natural water bodies flanked by mountains. Most of these wadis have sweet water and make great picnic spots.

Dhows (in Sur)
Dhows /boats(in Sur)

Every few kilometers of anywhere in Sur  is endowed with natural beauty. This coastline is worth a visit. Looking at the Dhows bobbing up and down in the waters, one can only marvel at the simple life.

Wadis in Sur
Wadi AlShab

Wadi AlShab is located in Tiwi. Its characteristic is fresh water cascading from tops of the mountains meeting the salt sea water on its banks, creating a unique natural diversity. We took a boat ride along the water body and enjoyed the sights of the green water shimmering in the afternoon sun.

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Sinkhole

The other attraction apart from the wadis was the Bimmah Sinkhole. This sinkhole in Oman is so stunning it has been turned into a tourist attraction where people come for a swim in its waters. The beautiful limestone hollow, in Bimmah, has many legends and unbelievable stories surrounding its creation. The locals believe that a large meteor fell and created this crater so huge that all the land sunk and the water beneath it came on to the surface. But it has been scientifically proven that the ground beneath the holes is made of easily-dissolved rocks such as limestone and carbonates and when the groundwater flows through these rocks, it erodes away at the rock, leaving behind subterranean holes and caverns. When the roof of one of these caverns collapses, the land above it falls in too, giving rise to a giant sink hole.

The biggest attraction apart from the Sinkhole in and around Sur is the Turtle reserve. 

The Ras Al jinz Turtle reserve was the highlight of our Oman Trip. This is one of the best kept secrets of Oman and a must – see for all nature and animal enthusiasts. Rightly named the The Circle of Life, this reserve is the safe haven for turtles to lay eggs. We weren’t allowed to click pictures and so I have none of the actual turtles. We saw a 65 year old turtle digging a large pit to lay eggs. We also saw baby turtles scampering off to meet the sea and being devoured mercilessly like ghost crabs on the shore. Such is the truth of life and death that we were witnesses to, on a full moon night at the reserve beach.

Turtle reserve
Turtle reserve

Some of the highlights of our trip to Sur were:

1. The Wadis/ valleys

2. Pristine coastline

3. Stunning weather 

4. Helpful locals

5. With little wifi connectivity even in the hotels, which ensured that we really experienced everything through our eyes rather than our lenses. 

Some of the downers of our trip to Sur were:

1. Food was less than palatable even in the hotels. We were looking forward to great food moments and were met with none. This was unfortunately the story throughout our trip.

2.Very few signs on the roads. Without a GPS, it is absolutely impossible to reach anywhere. You can keep going round and round in circles and you wouldn’t know one spot from the other. Expert navigators such as my husband would disagree but for an average navigator, road signs and directions were absolutely inadequate.

Sur, was beautiful and seemingly untouched by the human hand. When I close my eyes, I can still feel the early morning wind in my hair. 

In my next post, I shall share some pictures of places in and around Muscat – the capital of the Sultanate.

 

 

 

A small update and a decadent chocolate lava cake recipe

Should I start with the cake recipe first?

I feel some people come to my blog only for the recipes and it is quite unfair that they have to wade through so much rant and literature before getting to what they want.

Rachel Khoo is my absolute favourite food person on this planet after my mother and Nigella Lawson. So far all her recipes that I tried have been fail safe that encourages me to keep trying more of her recipes. I have  her cook book – The little Paris Kitchen – which is a visual delight to say the least. I made this decadent chocolate lava cake for a set of friends who came to dinner last night and the result was near perfect. Choice of bakeware made a huge difference in the texture of the cake and that is a new baking lesson I learnt. 

The cake was soft and moist while the center was a chocolate mess. Topped with vanilla ice cream it is a show stopper dessert. I do not have great pictures of the lava cake and here I share with you the one I took with my iPhone.

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 Here’s the recipe.

Dates & Almonds raw balls
Yields 20
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Prep Time
15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup fresh dates
  2. 1 cup almonds
  3. salt ( optional)
  4. vanilla essence /almond essence(optional)
Instructions
  1. Process all the ingredients in a food processor until its a one, good homogeneous mix.
  2. Roll out balls and place them on a plate
  3. Roll the balls in cocoa powder, roasted sesame or even desiccated coconut.
  4. Enjoy at room temperature. They store well in a fridge if you do not plan to use them in 5-6 days. Mine are gone already.
Sliceofmylyfe - a Food blog based in Bahrain http://www.sliceofmylyfe.com/

 Now that the recipe has been shared, I would move on to share with you a few interesting things that have happened and will happen in the near future.

1. Citibank Fact Restaurant and Dining Awards:I was asked to be one of the jury members in judging the best restaurants in Bahrain by the tCitibank- Fact Restaurant and dining awards. It was an interesting experience and I got to know the new ways of looking that what makes a restaurant the best in its category. Ironically, it also made me realize that I haven’t ever given myself the opportunity to go an enjoy a brunch at the best places in town and I would like to correct that immediately. The award function was in the timeless La Fountaine ( French restaurant) in Bahrain and was very well organized. So kudos to the organizers and the La Fountaine staff. 

Also, congrats to the winners in each restaurant and dining category. Some of my favourites won and that made me very happy.

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 2. More of my Beautiful Bahrain: The other bit of exciting news is that More of my Beautiful Bahrain has released within which you’d find my contribution covering – The top 10 things to do in Bahrain. It is always an interesting experience to pen down my thoughts about living on this island for the past 5 years. You will find similar stories that talk about living and life on the island from and expat’s perspective ( mostly). It is available on Amazon and you can download it on Kindle. Go here. I for one, can’t wait to download it.

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3. Social Media editor at Food and Travel Arabia Magazine – I run a digital marketing agency out of Bahrain and the last six months have been a roller coaster ride that is normal for any start-up to experience. I have been a social media editor for the Food and Travel Arabia magazine for the past 6 months but to see my name in the flannel panel was exhilarating. 

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4. Judging the Masterchef competition at Cucina Italiana ( Italian restaurant in Bahrain) – I was a judge last year for one of the heats and it was a fun experience. This year I was invited to be the judge again and dare I say, I enjoyed the experience even more. It has more to do with the other members of the judging panel who made the experience really memorable.

We had our moments of utter hilarity when one of the contestant brought forward a sauce that was so salty that one of the judges nearly barfed in front of the contestant.

Then there was another contestant who made a Spanish dish for an Italian cooking competition and when we asked him why he did not bother following the rules, he quipped, he used olive oil in his cooking and so it was perfectly Italian in his opinion. 

Huh!

Anyways, the deserving one won the contest with a little disagreement among the judges but it was a whole lot of action and drama which was made more entertaining by Chef Yusef from Bahrain TV, Marie Claire ( local RJ) and Peter Lyons ( GM – Cucina Italiana)

I am looking forward to attend the finals on the 9th of December with a group of foodie friends.

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5. The Dilmun Odyssey – an illustrated novel  – It has been two years that I have been on the look out for an illustrator for my fantasy fiction for young adults called The Dilmun Odyssey. Finally, after a long and a painful search, I managed to convince one of the best illustrators in the region – Ashraf Ghori. And what is more, he has started his work on the illustrations and I cannot contain my excitement! Need plenty of prayers and blessings for this project to come together quickly and succssfully

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… and with that I am done with the update and will be back with a travel post about Oman.