Sunday, May 20, 2007

Incense, silver and perfumes in Salalah

Oman, Oman. I could shop for Britain here. I should have obeyed this sign (I LOVE the Aramaic script) but I could not help myself. We got the shuttle to just outside the port terminal, where the ubiquitous haggling over cab fare commenced. The men, all clad in white from head to foot, started at $100 US for a two hour tour, and eventually we settled (with the help of our good friend Sasha who was en route to the Hilton for some beach and sun-lounger R&R) on $50 for the whole trip.

Nobody was willing to take us to Job’s tomb, because it was over half an hour away. I was more than willing to drive for half an hour to see a prophet’s grave, I brought my head-covering and everything, but alas I was not going to have it my way this time.

I am tickled by the way the name Salalah reminds me of the words comediene Molly Shannon uses when she does one of her character sketches as a Joyologist (Iloveit! IlalalalaloveitIloveit!)

So we were taken to the Al Haffa Souk (so many of these places are wicked for wordplay, ie. “Al haffa bottle of that perfume then please” etc. was going through my head while we walked around) where Eric tried on a few traditional hats and I met this wonderful woman in this perfume shop. Many of the stalls sell frankincense. The owner of this stall had temporarily shut up shop to pray, but here it is.
I bought from the lady some of the perfumed lotion with the pink top you can just see in the picture (this was my most expensive item, at $8), plus this packet containing charcoal burner, frankincense, perfume, incense and all you need to burn the stuff, and a tin of special incense. She gave me one tin of a different incense for free and wrote the name of it in Arabic as you can see in the picture, it was interesting to see her write from right to left, it’s pronounced Kenootz, and my grand total was $15 US.
In another store, I bought these two pretty bottles filled with different Arabic perfumes (ie. oil-based with no alcohol content) for $5 each, because as well as smelling good, I think they make a great addition to the hybrid shrine (Hindu, Muslim, Jain and Buddhist elements) I’ve assembled in my cabin. You can just see it. I hope this isn’t a bad thing, I just love the intricacy of all the pieces of art and images I’ve collected when placed all together, and I find it peaceful to look at.

Eric found this great juice bar, where we had a sugar cane juice and a Mango-pappaya juice, you can see our drinks on the bar, (I have no idea what half of these fruits on the menu are, Shamam, Falooda and Aboodi sound interesting) which were gorgeous and only $1 each. Oh, to be able to have it every morning!

Eric was bored of incense I could tell, so we drove on to the Gold Souk. On the way we passed this store. Some words written in Arabic look to me like beautiful mini-pictures of old long-boats or the fishing boats we saw in Ho Chi Minh and Yangon, with people sailing in them. No, mum & dad, Becky's not on drugs(!)

My sister was actually born in Bahrain, and her birth certificate is written in Aramaic. I've always been jealous of this fact.

Due to the fact it was a Sunday, many of the stores were closed, but the few that were open benefited from my custom. Although gold was available, Oman is known for very good quality silver jewellery which suits me fine. I bought my friend Carla a silver bangle, and a few presents for people back home (I don’t want to spoil it as my folks read this, see above!)

However I can show you this pair of earrings I bought for myself (I decided I deserve them….sort of) and this beautiful silver pendant with a tiny paper scroll with writings from the Qu’ran inside it. All of the jewellery is sold by weight, not workmanship, and haggling was civilised, done over a complimentary mango juice and a calculator, soft-spoken and polite.

Back at the ship, I bought another present from a stall right by the gangway. I’d spent all but $3 of my money, which now has to last until the 26th which is the earliest I can get paid again! Oman, Oman….

1 comment:

Runaway Rubber Duckie said...

Sounds almost the same as my day!! I loved the stop signs as well. Didn't get a chance to photograph one, though!