DSC_0567

Kid’s Day Out or Dad’s Day Out?

This trip has  no preparation at all, we just decided to go to Bimmah Sinkhole and Wadi Tiwi on a Friday.  The arrangement was to pack your own lunch and snacks and ….GO!

Four  pax from the  gang cancelled last minute, final goers were Jun and family, Farooq and kids, hexebella and Lau.

Agreed meeting point was Wadi Adai Shell Station before 8AM, scheduled departure was 8AM.

We set on the trip using the Quriyat – Sur  Road, we were on 2 cars, hexebella with Jun and family, Farooq with his kids and Lau.

We found the exit on the  highway  that says “Wadi Tiwi” and as we went out under the  bridge of the highway, we were welcomed by this pristine blue waters………….

DSC_0254

Everyone’s impulse was to jump out of the car and do photo shooting, Farooq suggested to do it on the way back as we still do not know what is ahead of us, no one from us has been to Wadi Tiwi yet.

We continued the drive and entered the road in between rocky mountains, the road is  2 lanes and paved. Date trees are lined at the foot of the rock mountain, it felt like entering another world…..

DSC_0404

DSC_0262

Along the way, we passed by a bunch of locals  who are trying to rescue a Pajero from the wadi….I think….they tried to test the Pajero in the wadi and didn’t realize that it is deep.

DSC_0267

The road became narrow and single lane as we entered a small village. The drive was steep with blind curves, I was following Farooq’s car, and another car was ahead of him and there was another car behind me. Somehow it was a relief to be in the middle, it was my first time to drive on this kind of tough and challenging road.

A few meters more, we crossed the wadi to enter again a narrow, sharp curved and steep road. The SUV ahead of us stopped as it was about to turn on the curve, we decided to stop on the road side and find out what is ahead.

Jun and Farooq went by foot to check on the road before driving through it, they found it to be steep and single lane. One SUV ahead of us came back and warned us with his hand not to proceed, hence we decided to pull back.

DSC_0276

But before going back, we paused a while to feel the beauty of nature around us, crystal clear fresh water, date trees, wild grasses, green trees…all are evidence of life coming from underneath.

DSC_0272

DSC_0280

We found a place to picnic where we passed the time with the gift of nature, awesome weather, cool, clean, fresh wind brushed our cheeks and hair and stirred up our senses….just blissful moments…..

Lau in his own world…..

DSC_0277

Hexebella and Farooq were snooping at something…………

DSC_0275

The kids discovered fun ways to enjoy and got themselves preoccupied for a couple of hours, throwing stones into the water!

DSC_0340

And Rio was very busy stealing these pictures that she is nowhere to be found!

And before I forget, just right during our  set-up for the picnic, we all jumped and screamed in terror, a snake touched Rio’s foot and went under the mat! The Dad’s were in panic for the kids and I grabbed my  back pack, zipped it up with the fear that it might go inside and I might take it home back to Muscat! The snake crawled away from us, it is around 1 cm in diameter and maybe 2 feet long and grayish green color.

When the  tension subsided, we settled ourselves on the picnic mat and feasted on our take away snacks and lunch under the shade of camachile tree. We were lucky indeed to get this spot ahead of the others as the other groups settled themselves even in the open areas. However the weather was cool and the sun was a bit sleepy that day….

DSC_0307

We had noodles, fried rice, steamed rice and chicken with shitake mushrooms in oyster sauce….DSC_0373

After lunch, the famous “chai” as the Indians call it, basically a sweetened black tea with milk, manifested through Jun’s special gadgets….camping burner and small pot.

DSC_0336 (1)

The tea went perfect with Rio’s home made pastillas, unfortunately no image was taken.  Pastillas is a type of candy made from milk which is soft and chewy, originally Filipino sweet.

Before 2PM we packed up and drove back out of Wadi Tiwi, hang around a bit by the beach and inhaled the sea breeze. Again, the kids were very busy with everything and with anything…..

DSC_0436

We continued the trip to Bimmah Sinkhole….the place is called Hawiyat Najm Park.  The park is surrounded by barren dry land and few young trees. There are some hut-like shades with benches but  very few.

DSC_0475

The sinkhole is surrounded by stone wall with one entrance going down through a stairway…..stairway down to the sinkhole!

DSC_0470

DSC_0560

Before leaving, we sat on the picnic mat again in the park and had another round of “chai” (Indian tea) with the pastillas. At 4PM we decided to pack-up .

DSC_0577

The day was full of fun and indeed relaxing, no strenuous activity done, kids, dads, mom and singles had their own share of bliss!

Oman is a beautiful country, gifted with nature, peaceful and quiet. To some it may appear boring and laid back, but one has to look through the beauty of what this country has and definitely, you will enjoy and you will be thankful “living in Oman”.

 

DSC_0071

Shuwa Experience in Izki

It was the 3rd day of Eid al Adha  when Musalam (an Omani ex-colleague and friend) invited me to his village in Izki for the shuwa which I haven’t tried yet in my 7 years stay  in Oman.

In the morning of 6th October, Monday, I took along my friend with me, Piya, and we set off to Izki. We arrived in Izki at 11am.

For the information of those who haven’t heard of it, shuwa is an Omani dish which is normally served whenever there is a festivity. It is a meat of goat or beef cooked underground, covered for 24 hours prior to the expected time of serving.

First House

We went to Musalam’s house first where his Mom and sisters gathered together along with the young girls. We were welcomed with sweets – Omani Halwa, dates, nuts and of course Omani Kahwa (Omani Coffee).

20141006_120110

One of Musalam’s sisters and her daughter speaks good English so we were able to communicate with them. They were all wearing vibrant colored clothes, mother and daughter wore the same fabric so they can easily identify who belongs to who. Unfortunately, can’t post the pics due to privacy reasons.

Second House

After the refreshment we moved to the second house which belongs to Musalam’s cousin where the shuwa is being cooked. Most of the gents are sitting in the living room waiting for the time to open the shuwa. After 15 minutes, the most awaited time came, the shuwa will be taken out of the pit.

From the surface and in the eyes of a stranger, it looks like just a pile of junk ……

DSC_0047

The stone, sand and a piece of a G.I. sheet on top was removed first…..

DSC_0049

Then the wooden cover was lifted, it revealed a steel covering. For each layer of covering, sand is there to keep the heat inside the pit and prevent it from coming out to ensure that the meat is cooked properly.

DSC_0050

After clearing off the sand on top, the steel cover was lifted up, it was the last layer of covering……

DSC_0052

Inside the pit were several shuwa, each belongs to one family. The shuwa was wrapped in a sack cloth-like material and again wrapped with GI wire net.

DSC_0054

Then one by one the shuwa were taken out of the pit with a steel rod….

DSC_0056

Each shuwa has a tin can bundled onto it as markings to identify to  which family the shuwa belongs to……

DSC_0055

Once identified, the shuwa is put on a small wheelbarrow for delivery to home where the rest of the family are waiting to have a share of their shuwa.

DSC_0057

According to  Musalam’s brother, shuwa preparation requires a lot of work, aside from the pit which has been ready long time to be used whenever there is a festivity, they  will start gathering the firewood and killing the animal the  day before the shuwa is to be served. The shuwa is placed in the pit and covered for at least 24 hours and to be cooked slowly underground. Those who do not have their own pit, they can use the village’s pit and has to pay RO 1/- for each shuwa, but the disadvantage of the common pit, the meat might not be cooked well done due  to the number of shuwa placed inside the pit, hence they made their own  pit for their family and relatives requirement.

Third House

After the shuwa for Musalam’s family was identified, it was taken home to his brother’s house where we moved next. All the ladies are already gathered in front of the house, Musalam’s mother and sisters, and sister’s children and the family of his brother. His brother started to open the shuwa by cutting the wire net  and removing all the wraps of the meat including some leaves while all ladies and children are watching.

DSC_0065

DSC_0066

DSC_0068

DSC_0069

After all the wraps has been removed, we all started to eat the shuwa with bare hands. The meat was very soft that it fell away from the bone, softer than tenderloin! But….. this is  not the finale…..this was just like an appetizer or sampler.

DSC_0070

Fourth House

After having sampled the shuwa from Musalam’s brother’s house, we moved to his another cousin’s house. There was a separate hall for ladies and men, we were led  to the  hall for  the ladies. All the ladies and children are gathered, they are all dressed with bright, lively  colors and golds were worn  by ladies and children, and even the toddlers. It was indeed a festive atmosphere. Some ladies are giving money to children, drinks are being distributed, everyone is chatting with each other while sitting on the floor.  Children are moving around and very curious about us being different among them. They struggled to talk to us with their little English.

After half an hour, some ladies started to bring the platter of rice with shuwa on top. This platter is shared by around 6-8 persons and to be eaten with bare hands. The meal went with green salad.  I was really full afterwards.

DSC_0071

Both Piya and I went back to Muscat with happy memories of a very unique and wonderful experience.

If you happen to be in Oman, make sure to try this food, I heard some restaurants are serving shuwa, however, the village shuwa which is freshly cooked is  still the best!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSCN0281

Muscat EBs Attacked Wadi Shab

 

24th October 2014 was the scheduled date to Wadi Shab. The group assembled at Wadi Adai Shell Filling Station at 7am and after welcoming the new joiners departed the place at 8am.

pic1.1

From the Wadi Adai R/A (roundabout), take the Amerat Road on the way to Sur. After Quriyat, signage for Wadi Shab will be seen, approximately 140 kms from Muscat.

Reaching the entrance to the wadi, there is a public toilet at the parking lot which is a relief after the one and a half road trip. Boats are waiting for passengers to board and cross the wadi. The boat  ride cost RO 1/- per passenger for two way, going and coming back. The boat will drop the passengers at the other side of the wadi.

Pic10

Off-boarding the boat, the journey started on a dusty ground, then to pebbled ground which I believe to be part of the wadi but dry in between the rocky mountains or canyons. At the entrance, there are date trees and  young banana trees, apparently the water supply comes from the wadi. We started our walk along with our personal stuff and the barbecue paraphernalia.

Pic9

As we go inside, the trek becomes narrow and rough along the cliff side, then the pathway came to an end and needs to  climb over and walk in between boulders of rocks. Along the way is the view of the serene waters…..

pic12

We found a very good spot for our barbecue, a cave like hole on the rocks which is approximately 3 meters above the ground and one side have a direct access to the pool.

IMG-20141025-WA0025

IMG-20141025-WA0012

IMG-20141025-WA0016

After barbecue lunch we started to proceed further inside the wadi, crossing again big boulders of rocks for approximately half hour…………

DSCN0287

….until we reached another pool. This is the entrance going to the partially submerged cave where one can find the water fall, the highlight  of Wadi Shab.

Pic11

The route is only through the wadi, no other way, there are parts of the wadi that needs to swim, hence some of us who can’t swim stayed in this pool and enjoyed the dip while waiting for the tough explorers.

dip

After an hour, they came back with amazing stories of what they have seen and experienced inside the cave. Unfortunately, no pic was taken. We went back to our barbecue spot, tidy up the place and walked back to the wadi entrance.

All of us went back exhausted but the experience is one of a treasure in one’s lifetime.