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Arriving At Muscat’s New Airport Five Hours Early

Evaluating my condition on the way back to Bulgaria.

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MUSCAT, Oman- Ever since that woeful event a few years ago on a flight from Urumqi to Almaty I’ve been a little paranoid about getting ill on airplanes. It’s to the point where I try to sanitize my diet a day or so before flying, trying to eat only stuff that appears low risk — which is a fool’s endeavor, by the way.

However, the food in Oman is good, cheap-isa, but not really what I would consider low risk.

I’ll put it this way:

I was standing out in the burning noon sun in the Ruwi district of Muscat looking at a Pizza Hut to my right and some local restaurant to my left. I already wasn’t feeling very good. For some reason the heat was getting to me — which is highly unusual and is something that I blamed on the McDonald’s breakfast. But I realized that it didn’t really matter what  restaurant I chose that the result would probably be the same.

I went for the local place and feasted for two rial — $5.

I ate too much. I walked back out into the sun and then retreated into a Costa Coffee. I blogged, then went out with the intention of going to Ruwi High Street — which I was told by Moni was an interesting commercial area.

I walked down the street in the sun.

Muscat has a distinct lack of shade, which seems to be by design: you’re not supposed to walk in this city, you’re supposed to drive. When you see someone walking down the street here you wouldn’t be foolish to assume that they were either somehow distressed or a migrant worker from South Asia on the job. The people here left walking in their nomadic, camel herding past. They don’t walk anymore — especially in the middle of the day.

But Americans walk.

By the time I arrived at High Street I just wasn’t feeling it anymore. I had no interest in being there. I didn’t feel well and feared that I would soon feel worse. I turned around and went to the bus station and got on bus to the airport.

I arrived five hours early.

I went through my options and put together a plan in case I did become ill. Everything checked out — there was only one obstacle: don’t end up sick in Dubai.

I have a 12 hour layover in the Fly Dubai (budget) terminal in Dubai. This isn’t the worst transit den in the world but it is definitely not a place that you’d want to be ill in. Think crowded bathrooms here, with long lines of dudes waiting outside the crappers. No, I can’t go to Dubai if there is even a remote chance of being sick. No way. I would stay in Muscat and book another flight if it came to that.

So I sat in the Muscat airport and evaluated my condition. I had time.

This is definitely not the worst place in the world to be in this state. The airport is brand new — having opened hardly a month ago — and it is beautiful, very low density, and, at this juncture, uber-comfortable. There is an entire floor for dining and hanging out with big long booths and tables, but there is hardly anyone here using it. I can lean back, work, and rest.


Funny, as I’m writing this another guy sat down at a nearby table and put his head down. His be-robed friend just walked up to him and asked what was wrong. He said he wasn’t feeling well. His friend offered him some Benadryl. He looked like complete shit — like, really sick.

Humans tend to view the world through a framework of relativity — relative to that guy I’m chipper, spry, and … ready to fly.

Somehow that makes me feel better.

I’m going to get a coffee.


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Filed under: Airports, Oman, Travel Diary

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3723 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

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