Wednesday 22 November 2006

Oman: Wadi Bani Khalid

Taking advantage of an extended weekend for National Day, we headed to Wadi Bani Khalid, about 250km south-east of Muscat. One guide book claims it is renowned for its natural beauty, protected by locals and donkeys concerned about the influx of strangers. Far from it.

On arrival at the car park we noticed numerous bodies in blue overalls strewn around the construction area sleeping in the midday sun. After a quick sandwich, we walked to the waterhole, accompanied by a local boy who selected himself as our tour guide, pointing out fish and trees. That is precisely what he did point out, 'fish' and 'trees'.

First impression at the pool was that the place was being 'Disneyfied' for the sake of tourism. The unfinished breeze-block construction overlooking the pool added a particular sense of impending doom. We clambered over the rocks along the ravine encountering several other teenage boys offering their services for money which unfortunately some tourists were giving. We strolled around the milky-green pool before heading back to the car somewhat disillusioned.

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