I went down to Mutrah last week to see a good friend of mine from South Korea whose ship happened to be in Mutrah Port. As I walked around Mutrah, I was amazed by how many sailors were in town at that particular time. I realized that it makes sense as Sultan Qaboos Port is right there but it was my first time seeing all the teenage boys walking around Mutrah talking pics of one another and buying souvenirs from the souq. This is the front gate of the port. If you ever meet a friend here who is in the navy, you can’t go too far beyond the gate (there’s a waiting area there) and photography is obviously prohibited past the gate. Is it just me or are some of those prices astronomical?! The funniest to me is that the sign says 5 Omani rials to get to Mutrah Souq which is a 10 minute walk – the same price they charge to get to the International Airport. (?!) This is my good friend, Bruce, from South Korea. He only has about a month left on ship and 6 months left in the navy! It was great listening to his stories about his adventures on ship and the challenges of life at sea. We talked about the tragedy aboard another Korean vessel about a month ago and reflected on how it’s only by the grace of God that something similar hasn’t happened to him. The sailors that come in off ships from every corner of the globe make for good business at Mutrah Souq! If you’re ever in Mutrah during the day, there are sure to be plenty of sailors walking around. I learned that most of them are not there at night (the usual time I experience Mutrah) due to a normal curfew of 7pm which ensures that the men are back on ship for safety reasons.
Some lines from The Sailor’s Prayer: (1st stanza) This dirty town has been my home since last time I was sailing
But I’ll not stay another day; I’d sooner be out whaling.
Oh Lord above; send down a dove,
With beak as sharp as razors
To cut the throat of them there blokes
Who sells bad beer to sailors.” (last stanza…Notice the change in heart from the 1st stanza!) “So for one last trip from port I’ll ship but next time back I’m swearing
I’ll settle down in my hometown and go no more seafaring.”