Fridays and Saturdays are the weekends in Oman which I call “Fun Days” that I treat myself to a road trip, beach hangout or a food trip depending on the weather conditions. Yesterday I chose to do a road trip to Wadi Al Hoqayn which is located near the town of Rustaq.
Wadi Al Hoqayn
For everybody’s understanding, “wadi” is an Arabic word for a valley or a dry river bed where water flows after the rain, there are wadis in Oman where the water is abundant throughout the year and some are filled with water only after a heavy rain. We were impressed with the reviews, images and write ups about Wadi Al Hoqayn which arouses our curiosity to see for ourselves.
Following the instructions we got from the web, we reached Wadi Al Hoqayn, a parking lot welcomes the visitors which looks like a terrace overlooking the date plantations on the other side of the wadi and the ruins of Al Hoqayn Fort is towering above it. The lush greenery was a relaxing sight in this part of the globe where desert and dry land occupies the major part of the country.
We took our stuff from the car and walked down to the wadi but to our dismay, the water level was very low contradicting to what we have read from the reviews and the images posted. Having grown up in an archipelago of 7107 islands, we would have not bothered to drive here if we knew that this is what waiting for us. However, the other side of me was saying, that there is always something to appreciate in everything, and indeed…. the water was crystal clear, the stones were of different colors and the big boulders of rocks scattered around are all part of mother nature!
We had our lunch under the shade of date trees and afterwards immediately left the place to maximize the time so we can still go to other places which was not part of the original plan. We planned to spend the day by the wadi, dip in the cool water and have a relaxing day until sun set but not feasible anymore as the place was not what we have expected.
Rustaq Hot Spring
I decided to go to Rustaq town proper and along the way saw the signage for Rustaq hot spring. I’ve been to Rustaq on several occasions as I did my driving lessons here but never had the chance to see what treasure this place has. We drove to check on the hot spring since it was only 1 km from the main road, the road led us to a place where I drove several times but didn’t see what is behind that wall near the mosque and this is what I found:
It is not allowed to bathe in the main pool, they built some kind of chambers next to it for those who wish to have a dip in the hot water and as always, male and female are separated. The hot spring water is believed to have therapeutic effect.
From the hot spring we proceeded to the Rustaq Fort which is another site that I haven’t visited yet despite the fact that, as mentioned earlier, I’ve been to this place before a couple of times. Oman is a country where forts, or at least the ruins, can be found in almost every city or town and most of them were built in the ancient times and Rustaq Fort is one of them. Rustaq Fort is one of the historical landmark and was built prior to the birth of Islam. A short history of the fort is posted at the entrance:
What impressed me were the wooden doors, and ceilings with its intricate design.
Climbing up the tower would give you a glimpse of the outside view which pays off the effort of taking the ascending steps of the staircase…..
Another Omani hospitality experience at the entrance of Rustaq Fort when we paid our entrance fees. The cost was Bz. 500 per adult or RO 0.500 (RO 1 = USD 2.59), Jun gave RO 2 for 3 adults which is a total of RO 1.500. The “baba” (literally means “father” but being used to address an elderly man informally) has no change for RO 2 hence I searched my wallet for Bz. 500 which unfortunately I got only Bz. 300. The “baba” took the Bz. 300 in exchange for a Bz. 500 entrance ticket, he said “no problem”. As the ticket is accounted, “baba” will pay Bz. 200 from his pocket to cover for the shortage and I felt guilty about it. Another “baba” was relaxing in the area and he took from his wallet Bz. 200 to cover for the discrepancy and he said also “no problem”. Omani hospitality is very remarkable that the guests would really feel a different experience in these kind of encounters with the locals especially in the interior parts of Oman.