Adventure Time

The Great Crack | Insta Inspo Adventure

November 6, 2018

‘The Great Crack’ is another adventure that came from ‘Insta Inspo’. What the heck is that?

In simple terms, It’s when you view something on Instagram and it sparks an inspiration in you – And believe me, It’s a very real thing! That is exactly how and why I ended up heading out of town in search of a crack in a rock… I’m crazy, I know.

I had seen on Instagram a kickass picture of a woman standing high above an incredible crack in a rock. The picture lit a curiosity in me that I had to follow. After contacting her and leading on to contacting some other people I knew what I had to do.

The information was a little vague, All I had was a picture of where I wanted to be and a Google pin. Thankfully that turned out to be everything I would need.

Following the Google pin I headed out of Muscat for Rustaq and followed the directions from there. Dramatic mountains and contrasting fluffy clouds filled the landscape beautifully making it an enjoyable car journey – Oman is a country that I never get bored of experiencing.

Eventually the tarmac road disappeared and we were heading uphill at a very steep gradient with sheer cliff drops and winding turns. This is not a road for the faint hearted or the erratic. When I say “steep gradient” I’m not joking. This is a twitchy ride for those who don’t enjoy mountain roads.

Eventually rolling into the sleepy town of Wajmah it was a welcome relief to get out of the car and stretch the legs. Quaint and sweet this is a traditional village almost like it is a preserved way of life from years gone by. Apparently 300 people used to live in these little houses nestled into the crevices of Jebel Shams but to this day only one family remains.

The silence was both bizarre and beautiful, never have I been in a habituated area where all I can hear is birds & bumble bees – Not even the noise of a car or a machine. My car was the only one for miles around.

The view of the village from the hike. Spot the red car, the only one around for miles at the time.

If you are also attempting the hunt for ‘The Great Crack’, There is nothing in the village directing you to the location and it’s unlikely you will find anyone to ask either – You have to use the Google map and your brain as you snake your way through the almost abandoned village streets and out the other side next to the falaj. The empty streets & houses are so quiet it’s almost eerie.

The crack in the rock is visible on the high mountain side for miles around. I could see it but had to figure out how to get to it. But isn’t that part of the fun when you have to figure the route out on your own?

After around 3km of uphill hiking and scouting the way the pin takes us closer to the point. As the rocks dramatically change from loose shale to the black, volcanic looking, rock thats when we know we are in the right place.

First laying eyes on that crack in rock I had imagined from Instagram and travelled to see was so worth it.

It’s dramatic, impressive, dangerous and so perfect. The cliff side drops off 80 meters into the rugged rock & darkness below.

Toking for something more thrilling? It is possible to abseil into the crack, and it has been mapped out by people before. You might have to find yourself a good guide for that one.

So that’s it, The challenge is set for you. You have the pictures & the pin is detailed below, So what are you waiting for? Grab some friends, a 4wd and try a new adventure! If you find it I would love to see your adventure pics too.

With thanks to Ahmed Alrahbi for helping me locate this area.

How to get there:

This pin takes you right to the crack location: https://maps.google.com/?q=23.214657,57.307714

Head out of Muscat for Rustaq following the pin. Remember you have to attempt the incredibly steep road to Wajmah village. A 4×4 and a driver with a steady nerve is a must.

 

Other Stuff

Hiking the Al Amerat Hill

November 1, 2018

If you have ever been to Muscat, the chances are you have seen the Al Amerat road as it snakes up the high mountain above. It’s a daily commuter route for hundreds but I’m certain not many people look at this route and imagine what it looks like from the top.

Sometimes you have to go off the beaten track to find the beauty in life.

I first blogged about this route back in 2016, read here, and recently I have been back here a few more times for fitness and bringing people to see the world from my point of view.

This week I took a group of ladies, and my trusty dog Luna, to this location for some great exercise and an excuse to be outdoors. What isn’t awesome about that?

This is the kind of mission where you have to use your brain & initiative – There is no actual route to follow, no mapped out path and no safety measures – the mission is just to climb to the highest point possible and enjoy the stunning views.

On this particular day the cloud was a welcome barrier from the harsh sunshine but on a clear day to view over the city is spectacular. It also allows you to spot your favourite landmarks like The Grand Mosque and Fahal Island.

Doesn’t it look intriguing? If you are in good health and ready to explore I would advise checking this one out.

Want to try it for yourself?:

When driving from Muscat up the hill towards Amerat there is a parking area half way up the hill on your right side. Pay attention because its a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ kind of thing.

This Google link will take you to the place where you can park your car: https://goo.gl/maps/yAbmm5CsZbF2

Get out your car, walk to the large Oman flag blowing in the wind, turn around and look at the high peaks behind you. Start walking uphill & best of luck.

The terrain is extremely loose and dangerous so I would advise to wear proper shoes & take it slowly. If you are in decent fitness it will take you around 1 hour & 15 mins each way.

Adventure Time

The Wonder of Al Ain Sahban

October 29, 2018

What is a weekend without a little adventure? This weekend was no exception, The place I was headed for was Al Ain Sahban, a sulphur spring near Al Buraimi.

Ain Sahban is a place I’ve heard stories of and seen pictures of but the 3 hour drive from Muscat city was always a little off-putting but in an effort to tick more locations off my list I made the effort. Believe me, I wasn’t disappointed. It really is an amazing world when you take the effort to venture away from the built up areas.

The place is incredibly beautiful!

And on this particular day it was incredibly peaceful and serene – Just what I was looking for!

 

There are reported health benefits of sulphur springs like relief from arthritis, fibromyalgia and skin diseases like psoriasis and eczema. Never one to pass up an opportunity, I lathered it on too. I’m not sure if it helped my health any but it certainly was amusing to be even whiter than usual, something I’m always teased for; Six years in the Middle East and I still don’t have a sun tan.

 

This beautifully tranquil location proved to be worth the three-hour drive from Muscat just for a slice of nature with not another soul around.

 

How to get there:

You can reach Al Ain Sahban by a regular sedan car but it is best to cross the off-road bumpy landscape in a 4X4.

Google map link: https://goo.gl/maps/sE3Uc39igQr

Take the road from Muscat to Sohar. After arriving near Sohar, take the turn that leads to Al Buraimi, passing by the Crowne Plaza Sohar. Follow the road for some time until you find a brown mosque, enter the small tunnel to your right. There are small, sporadic green signs in Arabic that lead you to the destination of Al Ain Sabhan spring.

Please be sure to be respectful to the local environment when visiting – The charm in this place is the serene nature and impressive lack of human touch.

Adventure Time, Expat Life, Family Life

Life Lately 2018 | Adventure Time

June 6, 2018

“Do you ever sleep?” A question someone asked me recently which I take as a great compliment.

Yes, I do sleep. No where near enough but sometimes the fun and adventures come first.

Where have I been? Where does the time go? Why am I a lazy blogger? So many questions and time is marching on. Let me fill you in, mostly through pictures, on what has been going on in my crazy world.

Let’s go from January 2018 to June 2018 and recap on the whirlwind life…

If you caught my post before you will notice that I broke my ankle at the end of November 2018, but don’t panic – it’s ok and please don’t feel too bad for me – with all the stupid shit that I do it was inevitable that something was going to happen sooner or later. So retraining my ankle became my priority if I wanted to continue my adventures.

The end of 2017 looked a lot like this. Regular training, determination & nutrition healed the injury quickly.

The best way to heal is to get back outside. On a long hike from Jebel Hatt to Misfat Abreein.

There were some mountain trips with some hairy friends, some goats too..

Zip lined into the sunset at Millennium Hotel in Mussanah

Hunted for dinosaurs in Wadi Al Khoudh with Spencer. Weirdly, we didn’t find any.

A last minute invitation to a Holi party ended up like this.

Afternoons like these, flying over the golden beaches of Sawadi

This was VERY cool, being driven in a water taxi by double Olympian Roman Hagara

Then on board with the Redbull sailing team at the Extreme Sailing Series 2018

When training for Everest, I made the Duncan crew join in too

And of course everywhere I go, my mini adventurer wants to come too. At 4.5 years old he has a real taste for adventures, the outdoors and danger! Here we are loving life at the Jebel Shams Challenge.

 

With summer in Oman in full swing, what do we do when it heats up again? We continue the adventures, of course! You just have to think outside the box and accept the inevitable – you will get very sweaty!

Kayaking is a great way to stay active and keep cool

Strapping my wake board on again after a broken ankle felt amazing!

Nothing like head butting the ocean a few times to wake you up! 

We have been loving Trampo Oman, the indoor play area for children and bigger children like me. The shade and AC  whilst staying active is very welcomed sometimes!

Or you could head out and find yourself a plunge pool to cool off. Look out for the nibbling wildlife!

So that takes me too the present day, the start of June 2018. We are now well and truly under the smothering blanket of summer time in Oman where most people either leave for the summer tend to go into hibernation for a couple of months.

How do you cope with the summer if you don’t like outdoor sports? Here are some suggestions..

  • Try a new gym class like UFC Gym
  • Start a new season or 4 on Netflix
  • Feed your brain with an online learning course
  • Try out an indoor play area for kids and adults like Trampo Oman
  • Volunteer your services with someone who needs you
  • And if the heat gets too much then head to Salalah for the Khareef season or the cooler mountain altitudes.

Have you got an activity to recommend to me? Get in touch and I’ll try it out.

Until the next time, it’s Cheerio from me and my squad of crazies!

Heather x

Other Stuff

The World’s Most Dangerous Airport

June 6, 2018

Perched precariously on the edge of a mountain cliff side, I recently flew from the World’s most dangerous airport and survived to tell the tale. Phew!

Despite the short flight time of just 40 minutes from Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, to reach the modest mountain dwelling of Lukla – this is not your average plane journey. Lukla airport has the hefty reputation of  being the world’s most dangerous airport!

There isn’t any luxury service on board the 18 seater plane

You cannot pinpoint one particular reason why it has earned this fearsome title. It is a combination of many small things from the changeable weather conditions to the airport set up. All factors combined it strikes fear into even the toughest of travellers.

The town of Lukla is the starting point to many spectacular hikes and adventures in the region including the Mount Everest Base camp and the Annapurna circuit, this tiny little mountain hub is almost essential for all visitors during the Nepalese trekking seasons.

Nestled into the mountain side at almost 9,500 feet above sea level, it’s not your typical runway.

Built back in the 1960’s by the famous mountaineer and Everest legend, Sir Edmund Hillary, there isn’t much wiggle room for error with a runway measuring just 1,729 feet long. Barely enough length for a plane to gain elevation, it also helps that the runway is built on a downward slope; this means that your plane starts the engine and you almost swoop off the edge like a children’s slide.

With 2,000 feet of sheer mountain drop below, it’s sure to get even the bravest of travellers’ stomachs in a vice.

With pilots flying on expert skill without any visual aid, this is definitely not your average airport.

The majority of flights fly between 6am and midday due to more stable weather patterns in the turbulent mountain air. What the tour guides don’t tell you is that flights are almost always fully booked and if you aren’t lucky enough to get a seat on one of the prized morning flights then you can guess that you may have to wait until the following day to fly… or perhaps the day after that as we soon learnt.

Sitting waiting in the airport with no visual screens for information or any direction from the airport ground staff it can be a frustrating wait in this extremely basic airport. Think so basic that the window frames don’t have any glass and there isn’t even a tannoy for information.

Let me give you some advice after we were stuck there for 2 days: Expect to spend at least a few hours here. Bring something warm to wear & sit on – those plastic chairs are cold on your tush which you have already dragged up a mountain and back down! You will need plenty of snacks to keep you going as the only food place sells Pringles. To curb the boredom bring a book, crossword or pass the time by saying your prayers before you swoop off the end of the runway.

Sounds crazy, right?! What if you don’t fancy your chances of flying at the world’s most dangerous airport? You are limited to just two choices.

(1) You can take an 11-hour bus ride from Kathmandu to the town of Jiri and endure the 5-day-up-hill hike to reach Lukla.

(2) Perhaps dig deep in your pockets for a few more hundred dollars to pay for a private helicopter transfer.

 

The relief of landing safely in Lukla airport after a VERY bumpy ride!

Despite all of this, the novelty and anticipation of flying from Lukla airport is all part of the adventure of visiting the region. Surrounded by dramatic mountains, goats roaming the runway to keep the surrounding grass in order, and the buzz of excited travellers, there is something incredibly endearing about this mountainside wonder.

 

Stay tuned for the full Everest story coming soon!

Heather x

Expat Life

Should I move to Oman?

May 30, 2018

“Should I move to Oman?” – Without a doubt the most popular question that appears in my Mailbox and sliding it’s way into my Instagram inbox.

I’m not going to tell you that ‘Yes, you should move to Oman’ because one shoe does not fit everyone. But I can certainly tell you about my life here and then let you make up your own mind. But seriously, yeah, you really should move to Oman – It’s awesome!

It is almost 6 years since I left my little life in the North of Scotland and took the gamble on a new life abroad. Even though it was the craziest thing that I’ve ever done in my life my attitude was perhaps a little blasé, it probably still is. “What is the worst that could happen? We move home” I told myself, and I’m probably still telling myself that. Now years down the line I still didn’t move home because this is a country that I’m still exploring and enjoying every single day.

 

Let’s just be real for a second: Every location in the world will have it’s ups and it’s downs. There are good and bad laced through every society and I’ve had my fair share of shitty days in Oman but I can honestly tell you that there is not one single part of me that regrets starting a new life here.

So what has 6 years in a forgein land taught me?


  •  Find your passion. I’m actually embarrassed to admit that I literally had no interests in life. I had no motivation or hunger for anything, apart from food. That changed when I met new people, expanded my circle, saw what they were doing. It’s possible now that I have too many passions from Kayking to Hiking and Wakeboarding.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. You are hundreds, probably thousands, of miles away from home. Of course things are going to be different. If you can’t embrace them, just accept them and don’t sweat it. You will only end up exhausted and frustrated.
  • Ignore the Jonses. Especially in the Middle East it’s easy to get into the lure of a fancy life with fancy cars and fancy trips all to impress others. Have fun but live within your means.
  • Go with the flow. Life is constantly changing, people are constantly coming and going. Expat life especially is very transient. The people who are your besties right now might not be in the same country as you in 6 months – make the most of your time with them. They leave but right around the corner there will be someone else destined to come into your world.
  • Do you. This is your opportunity to be who you want to be, a fresh start of sorts. If you want to salsa dance then do it. If you want to learn a language then do it. Heck, if you wanna go all Britney Spears from 2007 and cut all your hair off then do that too (Just remember a sun hat, you don’t want to burn). Just do you.

What is my favourite thing about Oman?


The people and the outdoors life.

The Omani people are so kind, curious and welcoming. If you make an effort to learn even a tiny bit of the Arabic language in a greeting it is so well received. It shows that you, the alien from a strange land, are trying. And so you should, we are visitors after all.

But for me the standout thing about Oman that keeps me passionately in love with the place is the outdoors. From the rolling golden dunes of the Wahiba Sands to the underwater paradise of the Damaniyat Islands and everything in between, Oman is insanely beautiful and simple with it. There aren’t trashy aqua parks and European style resorts – This is a country with raw, precious nature that is accessible to all.

I could honestly talk all day about the amazing places in Oman and my wacky experiences along the way. There is just something so magical about exploring here that it never gets old.

Where is my favourite place?


There are two places that jump out at me for different reasons- Jebel Akhdar and Wadi Arbeein.

Jebel Akhdar, or known as the Green Mountain, is just somewhere that makes my soul feel calm. I don’t know why but I just feel happy to be there. Don’t fancy camping? Check out the luxury Anantara Hotel also, it is divine.

For adventure I love the mountains, ocean and desert but one place that always sticks in my mind is Wadi Arbeein. It is one of the rare places in the world that I have travelled to where I didn’t see one single piece of trash along the way – I pray that it stays like that!

Swimming in the fresh pools it is so clear that you can open your eyes underwater, or just relax and let the little fish nibble away at your feet. For the more adventurous people you can try and find the secret waterfall (around a 5 hour strenuous adventure).

What do I dislike about Oman?


Living in the 6th hottest country in the world is no joke, this summer is brutal and long.

If you can perservere with the hot air burning your eye balls and endure the 1st degree skin burns from your seatbelt then you totally deserve the winter months. The country comes alive with fun and positive vibes!

How do you survive the summer? Pretty much just stay indoors – Watch Netflix, Join a gym, Water activities.

 

Sounds good, right? Now this is the part where I need you to use your brain…

Oodles of excited new Expats, possibly much like yourself, send me questions about which area of the city to move to, which phone network they should use, which car rental place they should try – Remember, Google is your friend. I can help to recommend you in some things but in others if you are taking the plunge to a new life you have to figure these things out for yourself. Enjoy the adventure. Be independent.

 

Have you got any more questions that Google can’t answer? Drop me a mail or come find me on Instagram.

So, what are you waiting for?! Accept that job, take a risk and see what the world has to offer. What’s the worst that can happen?

 

Adventure Time, Fitness

The Road To Everest

March 30, 2018

“Aren’t you scared?!” The question I’ve been asked several times this week. In just a few days time I set off to Nepal in the hope of a ‘trip of a lifetime’. Oh, and tackle that tiny thing called altitude as I embark on a 14 day trek to Everest Base Camp.

The answer is no. I am not scared. I am excited, eager, grateful and ready to get started!

The Mountain Vibes:
So why do I crave the mountains?
I believe that everyone in life has a happy place, the place where they feel calm and content. For me, it seems to be out in the wild with a backpack on and usually covered in dirt, although the dirt isn’t necessary – it just happens. My stresses melt away and things that bothered me before seem insignificant after a good dose of the outdoors life. 

For years I have dreamt of visiting the iconic Mount Everest but I have to be realistic that my body would be unlikely to handle the altitude of something so momentous as summiting the highest mountain in the world. After reaching the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in 2016 I became very sick from the effects of altitude. Thus, my sights turned to the famous Everest Base Camp.

Whilst some people scoff at “just” Base Camp as opposed to making it to the mountain summit, the life journey I dream of doesn’t necessarily mean standing on that mountains summit. I don’t have to achieve that to find happiness. For me, it is the journey – Being in the Himalayas, on an incredible adventure with amazing people and experiencing things with my own eyes. 

At an altitude of 5,364m, Everest Base Camp is 500m lower in height than the height of Kilimanjaro, where I have previously visited, but that doesn’t mean that is going to be an easy journey. Hiking for 14 days is physically tough on the body so this requires some training to prepare.

Training:

Although you don’t need to be super fit to visit Base Camp I want to give myself the best possible chance of achieving my goal so staying strong & healthy has been important over the past few weeks. After breaking my ankle 4 months ago, and spending 6 weeks of that in a cast, the main focus to prepare for the journey ahead is to strengthen my ankle and surrounding muscles again.

Training outdoors so frequently has given me so many amazing opportunities to see new places in Oman and try out new trails. From the top of Jebel Shams to the boulder field of Wadi Arbeein and dozens of places in between I’ve hiked it and climbed it in persuit of physical fitness.

Inside My Kit Bag:

My bag is almost packed and ready to go with my trusty mountain gear once again. I say almost because I’m a girl, I’ll probably cram a few more last minute items in and worry about the weight of the bag.

Thankfully most of my outdoor & cold weather kit survived, and still fits huraaaaay, from the last Kilimanjaro trip so that has saved a lot of money. Decent kit doesn’t come cheap!

If you ever embark on a challenge like this my one piece of advice, well I’ve got oodles but this is important – Don’t scrimp on the cost and quality of your boots & socks! You need these babies to take care of your feet & ankles. A rolled ankle or even a blister could cause you immense pain and ruin your trip.


Trusty and well worn boots from The North Face

One thing I have learnt to pack better this time around is a medical kit. Last time I just brought the basics like pain killers and plasters but this time I have the things that really come in useful like tweezers,  probiotics and coconut oil – It can be used for just about anything! Like, really almost anything. Google it.


Kit bag packed with many helpful items

With every trip and adventure I throw myself into, I find another piece of my puzzle in life. Eventually I will know who I am supposed to be as an adult, so my hope with this trip to Nepal is that I find a couple more pieces of my puzzle.

Stay tuned on my Facebook & Instagram pages where I will be updating at the slightest whiff of cell network to share my adventures and random shenanigans along the way.

Heather x

Adventure Time

A few hours in Salalah

March 16, 2018

Arriving in Salalah after completing the crazy World Record Attempt we had just a few hours free to explore. Located in the south of Oman it is famous for it’s annual monsoon season,called Khareef, banana plantations, lush landscape and amazing scenery. I’m embarrassed to tell you that after 5+ years in Oman I had never been to Salalah before so I was determined to enjoy it!

Bearing in mind we had been on the road for 48 hours + with just 4 hours sleep, the exhaustion level was real! But, that never stops me having some fun and finding new & random things.

Do you follow my page on Facebook? You may notice the recurring animal selfie theme…. I found these beauties chilling on the beach so tried to feed them some watermelon.

We headed from the city up into the Dhofar mountain range overlooking Salalah. Taking a walk through the rugged landscape we spotted a BaoBab tree, known as an ‘upside-down tree’. I had never seen a tree like this in real life before!

Scrambling down the side of the cliff I had my sights locked on to fruits that had fallen from the tree to the ground below. Marvelling at my find these were shaped like maracas with a velvet outer skin, it was almost so strange that it seemed fake. Cracking the shell open on the a rock I peered inside to find white seeds that reminded me of garlic gloves. Assured that this was perfectly safe to eat and not poisonous I took a bite – The initial taste wasn’t pleasant but it soon turned sweet like a candy and I found myself eating a second piece. Apparently these fruits are very popular in Swahili cooking.

The fruits looked like cloves of garlic inside the shell but with the consistency of chalk.

The four faces of trying a new food, it was surprisingly pleasant.

 
After a quick hike in the mountains the sun set quickly and we returned to the city lights for dinner and some much needed sleep, it was going to be a long drive back to Muscat in the morning!
It was a great experience to finally visit the beautiful Salalah, hopefully the next occasion will allow more time and less exhaustion, Insh’Allah.

Have a great day!

Heather x

Adventure Time, Fitness

The World Record Achievement

March 7, 2018

If someone asked you to join in a World Record attempt, would you?!

That is exactly what happened recently as I joined the incredible endurance cyclist Jonathan Shubert as he cycled across Oman from Muscat to Salalah, a total distance of 1,200km, in UNDER 48 hours!

To describe it as a “crazy trip” doesn’t even do it justice! Let me rewind a little….

After meeting the very humble Jonathan just a few months ago at a chance meeting through a friend I did not expect to be swept up in the whirlwind of what he was planning but something about this crazy man made me believe in him since our first meeting. Plus the idea of a nice little jolly to Salalah sounded interesting. Before I knew what I had agreed to I was signed up as the new member of his support crew.

Want to know more about Jon? Read his exclusive interview here.

So where did I fit into the record attempt puzzle? I trained with the Ultra Marathon Cycling Association (UMCA) to be approved as one of Jon’s ‘Race Officials’ insuring that he stuck to the rules along the way. Sounds easy but believe me, the 42 pages of rules to learn wasn’t straightforward! I also found myself a lot more involved in the media side of the challenge handling enquiries from national tabloids and sports sites who wished to follow the incredible journey. Soon it consumed our lives as we gave everything to help Jon achieve his dream.

Preparations along the way including the amazing team from Prismic Media who flew in from Kuwait to film the event, Jon’s great friend Chris who flew in from Dubai, Jon’s Omani friends who gave 24/7 assistance and the incredible Sukhee from the Husaak team who never complained even once. Seriously, not even once. Everyone played a vital role & selflessly gave up their time to make this happen.

The night before disaster stuck as Jon picked up food poisoning! In constant pain and already losing valuble fluids this was a bad situation but we couldn’t change the plans – The show must go on! Determined to succeed we stuck to the well planned schedule – Unfortunately for Jon, I don’t think any of us quite appreciated how much he struggled as he set off from Muscat at 6am on that first morning.

The first few hours on the road were exciting and dramatic as we travelled away from the capital city of Muscat and through the smaller towns and further south away from main civilisation. The scenery soon changed from craggy hills and mountains to the seemingly never ending desert highways.

By 1.30pm on the first day we found ourselves in danger as Jon stopped his bike and asked to lie down as he felt dizzy, his condition quickly deteriorated as his body went into severe cramp and at the point where he lost the ability to speak we knew it was bad. We had planned strategies to keep him cool along the way but the temperature in the desert had creeped over 30 degrees which had a major impact on his body.

Miles from the nearest clinic or hospital we were all alone by the side of the road with a man who is seriously unwell.
Jon admits now that he knows he was close to death lying there on that desert highway.

Frantically trying to help your friend when they are so close to death is an experience that changes you as a person. In that moment you become fundamental to their survival. It’s a horribly scary thing.

Thankfully Jon was able to recover and he shocked us all by getting back on his bike again and kept going as the rest of us stood by the side of the road overwhelmed at what has just happened.

He has incredible determination to succeed and he certainly proved it right there.

As we continued on the journey we travelled huge distances through the Oil Fields and desert roads without stopping and without seeing a town or a gas station for hours. It certainly was a different way to see Oman!

Every so often Jon would have to stop due to the heat that was affecting him, combined with his food poisoning it was a tough trip for him. We knew that we would have to make up a lot of distance after the sun went down! Jon would lie down in whatever shade possible to take small power naps of 15-30 minutes to recharge as us, the support crew, would anxiously wait until he gets back on his feet again to check his health.

Being a part of the support crew was physically and mentally more challenging than I would ever have imagined it to be! Constantly on hand to feed, care for and asses the athlete becomes your main focus! things were not straight forward but Jon was our focus so we ate our food on the road as we travelled and poured the last of our drinking water into a bucket to cool his feet. At one point all we had was 1 Pepsi between 3 of us. Life on the road is not glamorous!

But….. After completion of my 6 hour shift staring at Jon on a bike I have never been so happy to lie down in the dirt with an ice lolly when we FINALLY found a shop (also the same shop where someone tried to negotiate a deal to buy me, weird). I’m sure Jon  was delighted with 5 minutes peace without me smothering him!

The heat and exhaustion was affecting us all but you try to keep your spirits high!

 

The full cycling story from Jon’s side can be found here. Or you can come and hear us in person on Sunday 11th March 2018, more details here.

Rolling into Salalah at 4.30am felt amazing, like we had all survived something that even now I would struggle to explain to people. The crowds of people out on the street cheering and throwing confetti was so humbling.

But then we had to get back in the car and keep going, we hadn’t reached the GPS coordinates yet….

HE DID IT! We stopped the timer at an amazing 47 hours and 31 minutes, just under the 48 hour mark!

Finally arriving at the Sultans Palace in Salalah felt like a HUGE relief, we were all exstatic to have achieved what we set out to do but the exhaustion had taken the best out of all of us by this point.

We grabbed some quick pictures draped in the Union Jack flag of Britiain (Jon is English and I am Scottish) and the Omani flag and packed the bike into the back of the truck and headed off in search of much needed sleep. Only a few hours was permitted before the media side had to be completed and soon the story was national news.

Helping someone else to achieve something in life is an amazing feeling! I’m so proud on Jon and the team.

Those 48+ hours on the road were certainly a life experience I will never forget and something that I am extremely grateful for. I can’t wait to see what challenge comes up next!

Heather x

Adventure Time

Desert Camel Crossing

March 2, 2018

Would you attempt to cross the desert on a camel? I love to do the random things in life so you don’t have to….

“When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Well I’m not in Rome, I’m in the Middle East but the saying still applies. Recently, I did as the Omani’s do and tried out a traditional Bedouin-style experience crossing the desert on camels.

Bedouins date back to ancient times when cars and other transport weren’t available. They travelled on camels and navigated using the stars. Pretty neat, right?

When I explained my latest adventure plan to people they scoffed at the idea of anything longer than a 10-minute tourist camel ride. Determined for a cultural experience, I ignored their judgement and persuaded the ever trusting Sarah & Hayley to come along for the ride, literally, and we headed out of town in search of something new. Three girls heading into the desert, what could possibly go wrong?!

The PowerPuff girls take a Siesta

Requesting a camel that wasn’t likely to throw me off, I let our guide, Abdullah, choose a camel to suit me. He sent me in the direction of handsome young camel called Shaheen, which means Falcon in Arabic. He was around 5 years old and had terrible breath, but that was ok. We were soon to be firm friends.

 

Setting off along the track the first 2km was hilarious as we laughed and took pictures of each other. Soon after this, it started to hurt. Travelling by camel really isn’t comfortable! Abdullah has grown up on camels all his life and certainly looked comfortable as he tucked his legs under his body and got into the swing of things. Those of us who haven’t grown up on camels were shifting in our seats and adjusting to fit the comfiest position as we headed into the deeper sands and navigated the golden dunes.

I think you get the point of the discomfort, I maybe don’t need to elaborate on that without giving you visuals.

Attempting to make friends with Shaheen

The up was fun, the down was terrifying!

Squeals of both fear and excitement wailed from the riders in their back of the convoy as their camels attempt to gain footing in the sand with a long drop below them.
As the last dune approached our guide, Abdullah, looked back at us with a cheeky grin on his face; he knows this area like the back of his hand so he knows exactly what is next. Then, over the crest of the dune the incredibly steep descent is apparent. This kind of dune is perfect for running down, perhaps not holding onto a camel for dear life… At this point you can imagine my friends are pretty pissed at me for getting them into this adventure.

After just having the cast removed from my broken ankle one week prior to this, my leg is still to weak to jump from a camel if they start to roll down the hill. Petrified to injure myself again, It was time to attempt some broken Arabic to express my fear. I’m not entirely sure if it was correct but by his amusement and laughter he got the point as he gestured for the camels to lie down so we could all dismount. Phew!

Out of 5 people riding on camels, only 1 remained on board for that final descent. Naturally the most confident of the gang, but even for Abdullah he soon dismounted also.


At camp that night everyone was feeling a little tender as we enjoyed a meal round the camp fire swapping tales of wild camels and near death experiences – none of which was exactly true. We all had an amazing time but it made us sound slightly more badass and took our mind off the sore ass.

This was a very cool and great experience but perhaps my last urge to be on a camel for the next few years.