The long road that leads north from Muscat is just that. Long. But with a bit of inspiration I set off to go see Sohar and the northern parts of Oman. Myth has it that Sinbad the Sailor was actually based from Sohar, rather than Baghdad as is in the classic book Arabian Nights. Either way, armed with the audio book of Arabian Nights, I spent 2 hours driving up to Sohar, hearing about the seven voyages of Sinbad the Sailor!
With an early start under my belt, I arrived in Sohar in good time for the main reason I travelled: the fish market. Perched next to the sea, the fish market encompasses everything that the souks of Muscat do – bartering, crowds, smells, sounds and locals. Admittedly, the smells are not as pleasant as those in the souk.
An Omani lady wearing the traditional bedu face mask and abaya directed a shop owner to fill a bag with sardines, whilst another man bartered the price of live crayfish down. Judging by his arm movements, he wasn't too happy with the original price per kilo. Further up, two children ran past with toy airplanes, nearly knocking a bucket of fish flying across the walkway.
Towards the back of the market hall, a row of men, speckled in scales and blood, filleted fish that had just been bought by the locals, like a tailored service for the buyers. There was no forgiving their enthusiasm for getting the job done. With a flick of the cleaver and a crack of a bone, a kingfish had it's tail separated from the rest of his body. A few extra swings with the cleaver and some added force from a hammer and the kingfish was in four parts.
Outside along the beach, three fishermen had stretched out the nets across the sand, carefully unpicking the knots and tangles created by the day's catch on the boats. Seagulls swooped down for the remaining fish that hadn't quite made the pass mark to go to market. Scales glittered in the sunshine on the sand from fish that had been taken out of the nets. This really was a fishing town, and if Sinbad had originated in Sohar, he must have ate well!