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Travel Series: Oman November 16 2021

Note that recommendations in the Busty Girl Travel Series are based on my opinion. I paid for the trips with my own money and I was not given any compensation nor sponsorships.

In the second part of my busty girl travel series, I will give some tips about the lovely Gulf country of Oman. Oman has been on my list since I watched an episode of Anthony Bourdain's (RIP) Parts Unknown. The food looked great and the people looked great, so I was sold. I did some research on the history of the country and, unlike most other Gulf countries, Oman has a long history. It was a Portuguese colony for 150 years between 1500 to 1650. Then it colonized Zanzibar in 1698 and established trade on the eastern part of African. Oman was also at war with the Communists for 10 years, 1965-1975. Al Jazeera did a fascinating documentary on the history of Oman

The two most popular cities in Oman are Muscat and Salalah. They are 11 hours by car from each other and each has its own flavor. I only visited the northern part of Oman within a few hours drive of Muscat, but I heard that Salalah is more chill and conservative (no Western swimsuits allowed). Sightseeing in Muscat can be done in a few days, but what Oman is truly famous for is its natural environment. The country has deserts, lush forests in the south, mountains, and beaches with coral reefs. Its wadis are world famous and beautiful. Wadis are the bed or valley of a stream and, in my opinion, are the highlight of Oman, which has many. Some are easy to get to while others require a 4WD and hike through the mountains. I recommend renting a 4WD because there are many sites worth seeing off road. In terms of driving, my friends looked at me like I was nuts when I said that the driving was decent in Oman. I responded, "Oh, you haven't been to Qatar or the UAE." 

In terms of dress, like any Muslim country, modesty is required. The golden rule for women is that your shoulders and knees should be covered, and no cleavage should be visible. It's hit or miss in terms of bikinis, some places allow them and some don't. Knee length bike shorts and an athletic baby tee are fine for swimming in public areas or if you want to go full burkini, I recommend Lyra Swimwear.


My Lyra Swimwear burkini. I should have brought it to Oman.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS

Visa on arrival for stays up to 10 days, e-visa for stays longer than 10 days
Pre-registration
Negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival

RENTAL CAR

Enterprise Muscat Airport booked through CarRentals.com

SIM CARD

Ooredoo at Muscat Airport

SHOPPING

Bargain 30%-75% off the asking price at markets and rug shops

Frankincense 
Handmade rugs from nearby countries
Rose oil/water
Ceramics

MUSCAT

Sightseeing 

Old Muttrah Souk
National Museum
Al-Alam Royal Palace
Watchtower/Muttrah Fort
Royal Opera House
Bait Al Zubair Museum
Armed Forces Museum
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque (open for visitors 8-11am, ladies bring a hijab and abaya otherwise you will have to pay for one at the gift shop in order to enter)

Restaurants

Ubhar
Al Angham
Dukanah (breakfast)
Copper Roastery (not a café, but will let you sample the coffee)
Mani's Cafe
Windrose Cafe
Rozna 
Zuwadeh 

Tours

Daymaniat Shells (book well in advance!)


Al-Alam Royal Palace


At the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque wearing my tall friend's abaya

NIZWA

Nizwa Fort
Jebel Akdhar (need 4WD)
Birkat Al Mouz Ruins
Nizwa Souk (known for ceramics)
Tanuf Ruins

OTHER SITES

Bimmah Sinkhole
Wadi Bani Khalid
Wadi Shab
Wadi Tiwi 


Wadi Bani Khalid


Wadi Bani Khalid, modest swimwear required

PCR TEST

Muscat Airport drive through testing (follow signs for long term parking), results within 24 hours, need Oman phone number


Travel Series: Jordan November 05 2021

Note that recommendations in the Busty Girl Travel Series are based on my opinion. I paid for the trips with my own money and I was not given any compensation nor sponsorships.

Besides my love of providing my kindred spirit full bust ladies with nicely fitted attire that does pull or gape, I love to travel. Travel has been my passion ever since I graduated from college and got a real job that could pay for my trips. I recently visited Jordan and I wanted to share some tips to help others enjoy this beautiful country. What does this have to do with fashion or Exclusively Kristen...nothing. I am a multi-faceted woman who wants to help my supporters in more ways than one.

Jordan is a beautiful country with lots to do, but you have to be savvy. The sellers can be pushy and make sure that you bargain 50-75% off the asking price at the markets. I would avoid sellers at tourist sites. You can get better quality items at better prices in downtown Amman. Also, know that any local who approaches you to take your photo or show/explain sites to you, will demand a tip whether you asked for their services or not.

If you plan to do a lot of sightseeing, the Jordan Pass may be a good investment. Included with the pass is free entry to many sites and a waiver for the visa fee. Also, be sure to rent a car. Public transportation is negligible and Ubers can add up.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS

Visa on arrival: 40 JOD
Negative PCR test taken with 72 hours of arrival
Visit Jordan registration and QR code
Proof of international health insurance

CURRENCY

Jordanian Dinar (JOD) 
1 USD = 0.7 JOD

RENTAL CAR

Reliable Car Rental
Monte Carlo

AMMAN

Amman is the capital of Jordan and has some interesting sites. I suggest going on a free walking tour with Mujallie, which isn’t actually free. The fee is tip based, but it is a great way to get insider knowledge on the history of the capital and he's well worth a nice tip. The guides of most tours that I've taken sounded like a stale robots, but Mujallie made us feel like we were friends checking out the city.

Things to see

Roman Theater 
Citadel 
Royal Automobile Museum
Jordan Museum

Restaurants

Mamma Mia
Jordan Heritage Restaurant
Jadal for Knowledge and Culture

JERASH

Jerash is the largest and most preserved Roman ruins outside of Italy and is definitely worth visiting. After you enter the site, past the Hippodrome, there is a booth where you can hire a professional tour guide. However, you will probably be approached by sellers who will (uninvited) begin talking about the sites and won't let you get a word in or who will want to show you the moving columns. Just cut them off and say that you have no money for a tip.

THE DEAD SEA

The Dead Sea is definitely worth going. There are a few free or cheap public beaches, but I chose to get a day pass at Movenpick for 65 JOD, which included a food voucher. The Marriot was a better deal, but they were always sold out of day passes for non-hotel guests. Day passes at hotels are 40-65 JOD and some do not allow single men, so it is recommended to call before going. Also, some hotels do not have direct beach access. Bikinis are okay, especially at the hotels. However, if you choose to go to the public beach, be prepared for a lot of stares if you wear a Western style swimsuit. Be sure to rub the salt and clay on you. It's good for the skin.

PETRA

Petra is gorgeous and usually crowded, so it's best to go really early. I recommend a 2 day pass, which is 55 JOD. There's a front entrance and a back entrance. The front entrance is closest to the iconic Treasury while the back entrance, which is down a steep hill, is closest to the Monastery. The sellers at Petra are VERY pushy, but it is worth getting a ride on a mule up the 1,000 stairs to the Monastery. A fair price is 7-10 JOD. Those photos that people take looking down on the Treasury will cost you as well. The authorities closed easy access to the locations but you can pay a "guide" to take you up. There are two spots to get the photo and I paid a boy 10 JOD to take me to both locations. It was worth it because it is a steep climb and I wouldn't have been able to do it alone. Also, in one of the locations, there's a guy with a shop and if you don't buy anything, he will want a 2 JOD fee.

One of the highlights of my time in Petra was a friendly stray kitten. I only had water but she followed me 3/4 of a mile after I gave it to her and played with her for a while. I eventually scooped her up and took her to the security booth where they gave her food.

Hotel

Petra Plaza Hotel: Wonderful hospitality and the owner is a local who will give useful tips.

WADI RUM

Wadi Rum is definitely worth visiting for 1-2 days, but bring enough cash for your stay. There are no ATMS and everything, including tours and camps, are cash only. I recommend Wadi Nomads tours and camp. They are professionals and helped me when I was dealing with a scam artist at a different camp. Note that many camps require a 4WD ride through the desert to get to the camp and have little or no Wi-Fi. I will relay to you my review of a different camp as a warning: 

"Staff are pushy scam artists and I do not recommend. Prior to my check in date, I got emails and pushy WhatsApp messages about tours offered. It was off putting and I should have went with my gut and cancelled my stay. I told them that I had already booked a tour and they asked questions about the other tour company and continued to push their tours. The guy seemed offended and kept asking why I didn't book his tour. Also, I had amended my booking from 5 days to 2 and I was asked why I changed. The excessive questioning about why I didn't book their tour and why I amended the booking was intrusive and unprofessional. The cherry on top of my experience is the camp is a 5 minute drive via 4x4 from the parking lot. I asked for a ride the next morning to my car because I had to drive to the tour company office for the tour. He said that free rides are only at check in and check out and demanded 20JOD ($28 USD), which he later dropped to 15JOD ($21 USD) after I objected and he refused to go lower than that. A 1 hour Uber ride from Amman to the Dead Sea is about 20JOD, so I knew that I was getting ripped off. I checked out the next morning, further amending my stay to 1 night instead of 2, and had a wonderful tour with a reputable company with lots of excellent reviews. The facilities are nice, but the way they treat their guests is awful."

The staff at Nomads were very accommodating and helpful given my situation. It is best if you book your tour and camp stay with the same company to avoid issues. Apparently, my experience isn't uncommon.

Tours

Wadi Rum Nomads

OTHER SITES IN JORDAN

Jesus' Baptism Site
Mount Nebo (where Moses saw the Promised Land)
Cave of the Seven Sleepers


Me at the Cave of the Seven Sleepers. An abaya is required for entry.