Category Archives: World

Local Shopping in Muscat

Spices available in Muscat

Pick and mix of spices. Around the back are nuts, dates….

You can get pretty much anything here –  some stores even stock pork in sections for non-muslims (the local version of turkey ‘bacon’ does not appeal I must admit).

There are also a lot of western clothing shops – Next, Monsoon, Matalan etc, along with the usual assortment of techie, chemists and jewelry shops etc.

What I was completely unprepared for were the local supermarkets or hypermarkets as they are called.  They are truly enormous and filled with all sorts of local and international brands.  

One of our local hypermarkets, Lulu, has a huge food and outdoor section on the first floor, with household and furniture on the next floor up.  Why is this relevant?  I had no idea what to expect on moving here – from what sort of clothes I could buy to what food would be available in what is essentially a country in the desert.

There is a big English and American influence here – I’ve found Marmite (happy days), Vegemite (yuck, but Matthew loves it), Skippy’s peanut butter, Twinings Tea, McVities digestives, and many brands I’d forgotten about – for me a home away from home. 

Greek slow roasted Goat

Greek slow-roasted goat

However, of big note are the veggie and spice sections – AWESOME. There are mounds of pulses, spices, nuts, kernels, herbs, olives and soooo many different types of dates – a pick and mix of anything you could wish for – and many items I don’t yet recognise.  

So, in my first few weeks I have found Oman is the place to learn new dishes, and play with old favourites – so far I have messed about with chicken, experimented with Za’atar (its a funky middle-eastern spice mix), nibbled on cheeses with names I cannot pronounce, cooked Greek-style slow roasted goat, made a delicious buffalo goulash and created a rather unique hummus from scratch – which came out a little green, but tasted fantastic.  Next I will attempt to concoct some new Indian curries.

There are also some brands I am less familiar with…

Needless to say, Matthew is feeling right at home 😉

Tombs of three kings

Located in the grounds of the old Ayutthura city is the temple of Wat Phra Si Sanphet.  It includes the tombs of three Kings.

Wat Phra Si Sanphet was the holiest temple on the site of the old Royal Palace in the ancient capital.  It housed a gold Buddah 16 meters high (over 300 kg of gold) and also included three Chedi’s where the ashes of three kings are buried.  The city was destroyed by the Burmese in 1767 (and the gold taken).

Ayutthura tombs of 3 kings

The three Chedis of Wat Phra Si Sanphet

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And here’s more on the history (according to Wikipedia) if you want to know more:

In 1350 King Ramathibodi I, ordered the construction of a royal palace in the same area that Wat Pra Si Sanphet stands today. The palace was completed and King Ramathibodi established Ayutthaya as his capital. The palace contained three wooden prasats named “Phaithun Maha Prasat”, “Phaichayon Maha Prasat”, and “Aisawan Maha Prasat”.  However, in 1448 King Borommatrailokanat built a new palace to the north and converted the old palace grounds into a holy site. His son, King Ramathibodi II had two Stupa, which in Thailand are known as Chedis, built in 1492 where the ashes of his father, King Borom Trailokanath, and his brother, King Borommaracha III were buried.

In 1499 a viharn, or hall of worship, called “Vihara Luang” (Royal Chapel) was built on the palace grounds. King Ramathibodi II gave orders for a gigantic image of Buddha to be cast, and installed in Wat Si Sanphet. This image of Buddha was 16 meters high, covered in gold, and the pedestal was 8 meters in length. The core of the statue was made of bronze and weighed approximately 64 tons. The surface was covered with approximately 343 kilograms of gold. This statue, called “Phra Si Sanphetdayan”, was the main object of veneration within the royal chapel.  Another Chedi was built under King Borommaracha IV in 1592.

The city of Autthaya including the temple compounds were completely destroyed in the Burmese invasion in 1767, with the exception of the three Chedis that can be seen today.

Reference

Wikipedia – Wat Phra Si Sanphet https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat_Phra_Si_Sanphet Accessed 19 Sept 2015

Port Arthur

Port Arthur is a small town and former convict settlement on the Tasman Peninsula, in Tasmania, Australia.

The site forms part of the Australian Convict Sites, a World Heritage property consisting of eleven remnant penal sites originally built within the British Empire during the 18th and 19th centuries on fertile Australian coastal strips. Collectively, these sites, including Port Arthur, now represent, “…the best surviving examples of large-scale convict transportation and the colonial expansion of European powers through the presence and labour of convicts.” – Wikipedia

Port Arthur is officially Tasmania’s top tourist attraction. It is located approximately 60 kilometres (37 mi) south east of the state capital, Hobart. In 1996 it was the scene of the worst mass murder event in post-colonial Australian history.

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