Saturday, March 20, 2010

Summer in Muscat With Toddlers: The Survival Guide.

Does it seem unusually hot for March to anybody else? This isn't the hottest March I can remember, but it seems close. Thus, in the interests of public service, and the continued survival of my own child, I present the Muscat Summer survival guide.

Coping with the heat in the car
  • We have purchased about a billion giant Coleman freezer blocks from Lulu and Sultan Center. Before a trip in the car, we crab a couple of freezer blocks, wrap them in Dish towels, and pack them inside a cool-box. When we get out of the car, we place them in the car seats, and cover the seats with a towel. When we get back, the kids have an Icy Cool seat, free from scalding hot metal clips, and an Ice Block to cuddle while the A/C kicks in. It's totally worth the hassle.
  • Get your windows tinted with the darkest, most expensive mirrored film available. VCool and 3m film will set you back something insane like RO 200, which for that price should include a Blow Job, and application by leggy naked blondes, but does not. Despite the lack of a Blow Job or naked women, it's still worth the price. Also, it's mirrored film is great to stop pervy dudes from staring at you while you drive.
  • Don't buy a car with a sunroof, if you can avoid it.
  • We had a Tailor create a thick, quilted, reflective windscreen cover, which goes on the OUTSIDE of the car and is held in place with straps that I Affix and slam in the door. It makes an Enormous difference, especially if your windshield is really slanted.
  • leave your windows slightly open when you park.
  • And, (OBVIOUSLY) Never, Ever, Ever leave your kids in the car, even for a second, Even with the Engine running.
  • Pools are great. Slap on the sunblock and hide in the cooling confines of a local pool until summer is over. Watch your kids, alright? Don't be an asshole and just leave them there with a maid who can't swim. That's criminally stupid.
  • Air Conditioned Play groups: Buzzy Bees, in MQ, at the Back of Kargeen is a good indoor play area, and there is also a good indoor play area in Bareeq al Shatti. Admission is 2 - 4 rials, depending on the amount of time you'll spend there.
  • Tumble Tots group meets like two mornings a week at the Rugby Club, near the Egyptian and ABA schools in Al Khuwair.
  • Muscat City Center has a really noisy and expensive play area next to the food court, with video games, rides, and a giant climbing and sliding structure. We sometimes go and play there for a couple of hours, and then have lunch at the Noodle House.
  • The Children's Museum is fantastic. It's open in the mornings.
  • Bait AL Baranda art gallery and museum, near the fish R/A in Muttrah, and The Muscat Aquarium, next to the disgracefully unsafe and irresponsible Marina Bandar Rawdah are both good for killing an hour or so of daylight.
  • Sometimes, we just go and walk through the gorgeous hotel lobbies of the Chedi, the Grand Hyatt, the Al Bustan, and the intercontinental. We bring books to read together, have a glass of juice in the coffee shop, and then listen to the way our voices Echo when we yell and run around. The Concierge really hates that.
  • You can always go to the beach, but I find that in the depth of summer, the water is usually too hot to swim in during the day time, and thhere is rarely enough shade.
  • Most of the hotels offer excellent Residents deals during the summer. Use them to the fullest. We spent a week and a half at the Shangri-la last summer, and 6 nights at the Chedi.
Entertainment At Home
  • Last Year, We bought a giant inflatable waterslide from Toys R US at Markaz Al Bahja. It's great, we've literally got like 300 hours of entertainment out of it in under a year, but be advised that it gets really scuzzy in the humidity.
  • Sultan Center has begun stocking a really great variety of kids science experiments, and puzzles and educational board games. The prices seem quite reasonable, in light of my desperation to keep the kid amused.
  • Host a Kiddie Dinner party. Each week, the kid's two best friends, Ali and Hassan come over for dinner and two hours of evening playtime. Twice a week, she goes to their houses. They amuse each other, leaving me free to bask in the cool comfort of the lounge, without endless interruptions.
  • Stock up on Playdough, paints, crayons, facepaints, and stamp sets.
  • Aging US hipsters might be familiar with the Band "they might be giants". They are producing fantastic Kids music and DVD's these days, and we cannot recommend them highly enough. Here comes science is the best. Even Stone and I like the songs. Links Below.

Further Afield
  • Get out of town with a Long weekend in Lebanon, up in the hills. party down in Beirut, and then take advantage of some great off season deals at the Ski areas, a mere hour's drive away from Downtown Beirut. It's gorgeous Up there, fantastic food, and lots of good walks and hikes for the little ones. .
  • Head down to Salalah for the Khareef. Fly, don't drive. Salalah is lovely, despite the fact that it's crawling with really hideous examples of Saudi Males at that time of year.
  • Head up to Jabal Akhdar, and let the kids run around in the fantastic ruined village nearby. Altitude is everything.
  • If you are feeling flush, book a villa for a week or a Month in Bodrum, Turkey. It's astonishingly safe, friendly, and gorgeous, and the food and outdoor possibilities for kids are second to none.
Chapter two in the Summertime survival guide, coming soon.


Anonymous said...

There is also Muscat Mums for under 4 year olds:

The Darling Bud said...

Thanks for posting on this subject, Suburban. I have been searching hi and lo online for some comments on the topic of kids and the heat over there in Oman, but to no avail. We have not arrived yet but are due there around the end of April, just in time for the blazing heat. I have 2 boys aged 3 1/2 and 2+ and I'm dead worried about the weather there and how it will affect especially my children. I've been in temperatures of 40+C but never really 50/60C+... How does this kind of heat 'feel' anyway?! Those tips you gave are really wonderful and I will sure keep them in mind when we're there. In fact, I think I will link your page on OF, if you don't mind, as there are plenty of curious mums and dads over there too!

Suburban said...

Anon, Thanks! I had forgotten about Muscat Mums!

TDB, Thanks so much! please do link, if you think the info is useful.

it almost never gets over 50 in Muscat, like maybe ten days a year, if that. Never, ever, over 60.

Don't worry too much about the kids, they are amazingly resilient. The kids don't seem to mind the heat nearly as much as the adults do. Keep them hydrated, and covered in sunblock. Feed them moisture rich foods during the summer. Take frozen grapes on a trip to the park, serve slices of watermelon, Ice lollies, mango, apples, Salty tomatoes, pickles, Isostar and Pocari drinks, etc...

My Kids hate a hot car, so when purchasing a car, make Air Conditioning, and tinted windows a priority. A decent sunshade that goes outside the car makes a massive difference, failing that, a custom cut piece of foam in the inside does a world of wonder as well. Waaaaay better than your standard sunshade. It's better to park really far away, in the shade, than to park close in, in the sun.

THanks for the comment. You'll love it here, despite the hot summers.

The Darling Bud said...

Phew.. I'm so glad that it doesn't get as hot as that! I don't know where I got those figures from. Your car advise is REALLY useful. I have to tell my husband to make all these efforts too when he parks his car at work. I didn't see any dedicated shaded areas at his office! Just some trees around. The weird thing is we see that they sell models of cars with seat heaters over there? WTH?! ;)