Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving in Oman

Today we celebrated Thanksgiving in Oman.  For those of you not familiar with American Thanksgiving, it was first celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621.  They were celebrating the first harvest in the New World.  It is a day to spend with family and friends, give thanks for what we have, eat lots of traditional foods, and these days, watch football on tv.


This is the day before Thanksgiving.  I spent most of the day baking.  These are the crescent rolls I make every year.  They are such a Holmes family tradition that now my daughter and son in the US make them for their Thanksgiving.

I always double the recipe and make 48.  It is really never enough, but like I told Austin, I only have one oven!

This is the adult table.  We invited two families to spend the day with us.  Several of these friends had never experienced an American Thanksgiving, so Austin wrote a little paper to explain it to them. 

The kid table.  It is very traditional to decorate with pumpkins.  I brought several with me from the US.  I did find real pumpkins at Al Fair in Muscat, but I was not going to pay $25 for one pumpkin!

The dessert table.  I made a carrot cake and two chocolate pecan pies.  We also had the traditional pumpkin pie.

We set up the food buffet in the kitchen.  We had turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli and peas, dressing, fruit, and the crescent rolls.  We bought the turkey already cooked, since I have a very small oven.  I can't believe I didn't get more pictures of the actual food, but I was very busy making sure everything was ready.  I was able to get just about everything to make our meal.  A friend brought us some mini marshmallows from the US for the sweet potatoes.  The only thing we lacked was cranberries.

We all took a walk on the beach before dessert.  I am holding a pumpkin.  Don't know why I felt we needed a prop, but I just did.  :)  It is very difficult to tell the time of year on a beach.

Our whole group

Well, there was not any American football on TV.  Joe had to make do with rugby.

Oh, I mentioned in my blog post about National Day that today is a national holiday in Oman.  That is how our British friends were able to attend.  So, thanks, Sultan Qaboos!  And Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia!

For the past year, all my trips have taken me west.  Last week, I went east, to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia!  It was a six hour direct flight from Muscat.  I love direct flights!

I really need to brush up on my world geography.  I wasn't sure where Malaysia was.  This map is a little small, but it gives you an idea of Malaysia's location, close to the equator.

Joe and I stayed at the Shangri La Hotel.  I just love their resort in Muscat and this hotel did not disappoint.  Actually, I just tagged along on Joe's business meeting.  This was not one of our normal cram-as-much-as-you-can-see-in-four-days vacation.  Much more relaxed.

The view of KL from the 21st floor of the hotel.

It is very interesting to see what one finds on breakfast buffets around the world.  One of my favorite foreign breakfast buffet staple is Nutella!  :)  In Oman, you can find hummus and other Arabic food, along with baked beans and mushrooms for the British.  In Malaysia, there is Chinese food!  And sushi.  For breakfast.  Really.  :)

I went for a walk while Joe was still at meetings (after my massage.)  I have to say, I really enjoyed seeing the Christmas trees and Christmas decorations!  But don't let the Christmas decorations fool you.  The temperatures were in the low 90's, with plenty of humidity.

It was a short walk to the Petronas Twin Towers.  These towers were the tallest buildings in the world, for about five years.  I think they are currently #6.

This is not the best picture, as I was too close.  You can see the Skybridge connecting the two towers.

Retail therapy at the mall at the base of the towers.  I did hear my first Christmas music of the year.  It sounded great!  So, Malaysia and Oman are both Muslim, but you won't hear Christmas music in Oman (except for the Christmas section of Sultan Center.)

Ducks (or maybe chickens) in the food court.

I just LOVE the dancing fountains at the Dubai Mall and The Bellagio in Las Vegas.  KL has its own version, on a smaller scale.

The next day, we went up the Petronas towers, to the skybridge on the 41st floor.

Views of KL

Here is a model of the twin towers

After the Skybridge, we went up to the 86th floor.  A cool picture of the other tower.

Good thing I am not afraid of heights!

The dancing fountains way down there.

And later, up close.

Here we are, waiting at a crosswalk, on our way back to the hotel.  There are lots and lots of these motorcycles on the highways and roads in KL.  They weave in and out of traffic, and are quite dangerous.

Malaysia is officially a Muslim country.  Here is a mosque, but they are not near as prevalent as they are in Oman.

A beautiful sunset on our way back to the airport.  It was a very interesting few days in Malaysia.  Lots more to see and do.  Next time!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Happy National Day, Oman!

Today is the birthday of Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said.  He is 73.  But it is the day Oman calls National Day, celebrating the Sultan's years in power.  43 for this year.  The whole city is festooned with Omani flags and lights.  It looks like a combination of the 4th of July and Christmas!  I was not sure I had enough pictures to do a blog post.  Most of the interesting things I see are while driving.  I have culled photos from a couple of other sources, to give you a taste of National Day.

These first two pictures come from my friend, Mary, who works for Occidental Oil.  All public buildings have a portrait or picture of the sultan.

I took this picture at the City Center Seeb Mall in Muscat on Saturday.

Here is a balloon flag at Toys R Us, in the same mall.

Most of the medians have flagpoles with Omani flags.

A little harder to see, but there are flags and light along Sultan Qaboos highway.  Check out the beautiful mosque in the distance.  (I didn't take these pictures, Savannah did.  I don't want you to worry.)

Same lights at night.

Then, today, I had to go to pick Savannah up from school for an orthodontist appointment.  I had thirty minutes to kill, and was just going to sit and read.  Imagine my delight when I found out that there was a National Day celebration going on in school for the parents!!  Not sure how I missed knowing that.

This whole atrium area was set up like traditional Omani tents.  We had Omani sweets to eat.

I forget the name, but this was tasty.  You scoop some up in a spoon and then you use your fingers to eat bits of it.  It had the consistency of softer jello.

There was a henna artist available.

She uses what looks like a cake icing tube.

The completed design.  You wait until the henna dries, and brush it off.  Underneath is an orange design.  It takes a little time to darken.

I was so excited for this next set of pictures!!  I rarely get the chance to take pictures of the beautiful people of Oman.  I got some great ones today.  These two cousins were adorable.

 Little Sister


 Even the principal and teachers got in the National Day spirit.

 This was outside the orthodontist's office.  There are quite a few cars decorated for the day!

And finally, click on the link below for a few great photos from the newspaper.

Although today is National Day, it is a work day.  The official holiday will be celebrated on November 27 and 28, so most Omanis will have the day off for Thanksgiving!