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Adventure

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

Bucket List Experience | Searching For Whale Sharks

October 9, 2017

With a ‘Bucket List’ as long as my arm I’m always on the prowl to seek out new adventures and continue to challenge myself to achieve my goals.
It has been a dream on my bucket list for some time now to swim with the oceans gentle giants, the Whale Sharks. Other random experiences on my Bucket List currently include flying in a Hot Air Balloon, learn to scuba dive and visit the infamous Mount Everest.

Living in Oman offers many incredible opportunities – from mountain to ocean, there is an abundance of natural and unspoiled adventure opportunities to jump head first into. Swimming with whale sharks is one of those life changing experiences that is possible here if you put in some effort to make things happen.

Just a few weeks ago, I had embarked on a boat trip specifically in search of these famous creatures as their migration brought them off the coast of Oman. Sadly wild animals aren’t always easy to track and the trip ended without seeing any whale sharks.
Just when I thought my dream might be over for this season, my luck changed!

The call came in that a pod of 30+ whale sharks was spotted close to Muscat and was I free to join – it was a no brainer – lets go! With all systems go, I dropped everything I was doing, threw the GoPro, sun cream and some water in a bag and made the dash to the marina praying that today would be my lucky day.

After 20 minutes of motoring the boat out to sea, from the Al Mouj marina in Muscat, we quickly reached the area where these animals had been spotted. It didn’t take long for the first dorsal fin to breach the surface of the water. To my untrained eye, I wasn’t sure if these were perhaps dolphins… it wouldn’t be the first time the cheeky dolphins have tricked me with their fins!
To my luck, it was indeed the much-lusted-after sight of a whale shark! We cruised along and watched as the number of whale sharks around us grew to at least 10 at one point with many, many more on the horizon. Never getting too close to the boat, these creatures swam near enough offering us just a glimpse.
The dream of swimming with these majestic animals was getting ever closer and it was now time to get in the water quickly – but gently – before we lost our opportunity

Whale sharks are the largest fish in the world. Although their size and feeding habits resemble whales, they are indeed part of the shark family. Perhaps just the slower, more chilled out of the relatives. Even though they are documented to be incredibly gentle, it is still a very peculiar feeling deliberately swimming towards a wild animal of this size… especially a shark.
Watching them glide by so gracefully, somehow I lost my inhibitions of the size and the danger of being in the open ocean with a wild animal. As I swam alongside them, I found myself desperate for the experience to last a little longer

After being in the water for around 20 minutes with these amazing creatures, it was time to give them their space and move on letting them feed in peace – not to mention it is hard to keep up at their pace!

This was an experience that will definitely stay with me for a lifetime!

Now to book that Hot Air Balloon, learn to Scuba Dive and tick off a few more bucket list items. What is on your Bucket List?

Adventure Time

Climbing Ben Nevis

September 13, 2017

Climbing Ben Nevis, the highest point in the British isles, has been on my bucket list for the past couple of years; this summer I ticked that trip off my list and after a battle against the Scottish weather, I made it to the mountain summit.
Standing at 1,345m (4,411ft), Ben Nevis isn’t considered one of the ‘Big Boys’ on the world scale but it is ranked the highest mountain in the British Isles and an iconic place in Scotland, my home country.
Combining my mountain-climbing ambition with my summer vacation, I managed to line up  the hike to include the company of a fellow adventurer, my brother. The plan was set.

Although our scheduled climb date was in mid July, the middle of a British Summer, you can never guarantee the weather in the UK as it can change in the blink of an eye; therefore, we had to pack several layers of clothing and weather proof items along with our days essentials. With a good nights sleep and a hearty Scottish breakfast in our stomachs, we laced up our walking boots and headed out for the start of the Ben Nevis trail. The ascent and descent can be attempted in one day making it a great, yet ambitious, day trip. The recommended time is 7-9 hours on the mountain to tackle the 17km/10.75mile round trip.
As we set off from the car park and headed across the first footbridge crossing the River Nevis I could already feel the chill of the wind on my skin. After 5 years living in the Middle East my body isn’t acclimatised to the UK anymore. The initial trail took us along some farm tracks and up the hillside overlooking the stunning Glen Nevis. With miles of rolling green hills, there is no denying that Scotland is an incredibly beautiful place.

Rising up higher above the Glen the crowds and wooded areas begin to thin out as the day-trip-picnic crowd separates away from the climbers with their focus set on reaching the mountain summit. With the tree line far below us we gain elevation quickly climbing the rough steps built into the mountain side – my quads are burning like fire but with my super fit brother leading the pack there is no time for rest. Our trail takes us past a large mountain lake in the hillside, made entirely of rain water running from the high slopes. The rain clouds are heavy  and threatening as we switch to our waterproof gear. As we reached the half way mark the moorland and areas of grazing sheep begins to disperse to make way for the loose rock and gravel slopes leading us up high into the clouds.

Pressing ahead climbing higher we begin passing fellow climbers wrapped in cold weather clothes and already on their descent – some warn us of the weather ahead and some simply encourage us ahead to keep our morale up – which was hugely appreciated at the time as my base layers which were wet with sweat had started to chill my core.
Entering the clouds is a disorientating experience as we walk all we see around us is a white sheet, it’s hard to tell how long we have been walking for and how long there is left to go. I pull my frozen digits back up inside my sleeves and laugh a little to myself that this is the summer season in Scotland. As the fog engulfs us the visibility is down to less than 10 meters, determined to make it to the summit we press on and sing songs to keep our minds focused on something other than the eerie mountain fog and the effort of walking directly into the forceful mountain wind.

Just at the point where my mind was starting to think that this was a crazy idea we literally stumble upon the summit of Ben Nevis like a mirage. We hadn’t seen anything ahead of us other than each other and a white fogged horizon for the past 45 minutes so we were completely unaware that we had successfully reached the pinnacle.
As we attempt to take our ‘summit selfie’, a must of course, I try my best to anchor my legs to stabilize myself against the incredibly powerful wind – especially because the visibility is so poor that I can’t see where the edges are! With the windchill at minus 6 degrees our time on the mountain summit was brief but still an incredible feeling especially that we made it in an impressive time of just 3 hours.

As we begin our descent we pass the encouragement on to other climbers on their way up to attempt the mountain summit in the unfavourable weather. Even though the weather wasn’t ideal and I didn’t manage to catch a glimpse of the scenic views from the top my adventure was still worth every minute. As for the weather, it is inevitable, it is Scotland after all.
With Ben Nevis ticked off the bucket list it’s time to start on some bigger, crazier plans!

Adventure Time

Wakan Village Day Trip

January 11, 2017

Imagine collecting a handful little of houses, rolling them into a ball and throwing them at a mountain side and hoping that they will stick – this is exactly what Wakan Village reminds me of.

The little cluster of rustic abodes 2,000 meters above sea level has been on my ‘must visit’ list for a long time.
January brings amazing winter weather here in Oman and it has motivated me to get outdoors to explore new areas and show you all what the country has to offer. This week my travels allowed me to finally visit Wakan Village and tick it off my list.

The drive to reach the village was dicey to say the least. Uneven terrain, single dusty track road and steep drops down the mountain side left me screeching like an injured animal – this definitely seems to be my kryptonite.
The drive from the main road to the village only takes 10-15mins but due to the road condition I would suggest that you travel in a 4×4 complete with a competent driver.

Climbing uphill from the carpark the path leading you through the narrow village streets, passing right by peoples doorsteps and their kids playing outside, on more than one occasion I wondered if we were on the right track or if we would end up in someones living room. We carried on and as the houses were soon behind us we found ourselves amungst the crop plantations dazzled by the colors and basic agricultural life that provides the mountain people with food and produce to sell.

After more than 4 years of living in Muscat city I am incredibly excited to see a different variety of different trees and plants that are not date palm trees. The green crops and pomegranate trees were a treat for my weary, dust filled eyes – mostly because I had the car window open to film along the dusty, bumpy road.

Leading up the mountainside the path is well maintained and accessible for the many tourists that march along here every week. With 700 steps up the walk itself is not too difficult but be prepared for the steep climb. There are plenty of rest points and benches along the way to get your breath back and enjoy the scenery.

Upon reaching the vantage point where many visitors turn around, it has been an easy hike for us so far, we decide to travel a little further along the path as we are told by the locals it is another 7km hard hike to reach the village at Jebel Akhdar – this is definitely a hike I would like to return for another day when I have the chance…. and more food.

Chilling out on the snout of a lion, would you dare to try?

One of the major tourist attractions of the area is the flowers in bloom where the whole mountain side is alive with beautiful blossoms, Although the flowers were not in bloom when we visited (January 2017) it was still an amazing place to visit and one that I look forward to returning to.

Sit back and enjoy the video from the trip, including my hilarious fear of mountain roads;

Have a great day,

Heather x

Adventure Time, Expat Life

Al Sawadi Tower

September 6, 2015

Standing tall and proud above the bay is the tower of Al Sawadi.

Al Sawadi has been a destination on my to-do list for a long time, Located around 50 minutes drive from Muscat, past Barka, it is easily accessible for the masses and doesn’t take a whole day of travel. In my previous adventure post, read here, I had mentioned that we planned to visit the previous week but the tides were unfavourable – when you read this post you will understand the importance of getting the tides right.

Parking at the beach car park the plan was to wade across the bay to the near by island to visit the tower of Al Sawadi. We loaded ourselves up with the essentials – Water, Camera, Dry bag, Shoes and sun cream etc..

As we left the car park in the late afternoon it was still low tide which gave us a window of a couple of hours to cross and get back safely before the channel would be too deep for us (we are both competent swimmers but always be safe, the currents are very strong) This is a good website to check tide times, click here.

Arriving on the peaceful island we headed for the stairs and began the steep incline – Great cardio in the sunshine! I was feeling very thankful that I had remembered to bring shoes with me as these steps were incredibly hot after a whole day in the baking sun.

001 Sawadi Stairs

The climb to the top is steep and hard going in the heat but the view from the top is so worth the effort. There are plenty of resting points along the way to stop and enjoy the beautiful coastal scenery.

001 Sawadi Scenery

Unfortunately on the way to the tower we seemed to attract 4 creepy young men who followed us all the way from the beach to the top of the rock. I don’t have many pictures of the tower itself because these guys were lingering in every shot and I didn’t want to give them a reason to try and engage us further.

These situations really annoy me because I’m certain that the guys would not behave like this if we had a male friend with us, they seem to think two girls on their own means it’s fair game. They are probably too dumb to understand that it can be an intimidating experience to be followed and outnumbered on an island where there is no one else around – This can happen anywhere in the world but always be aware of your surroundings and let people know where you are going and when you will be back. Better to be safe than sorry.

Eventually, after about 45 minutes of pursuit and annoyance, they got bored and realised that these two chicks were not going to take any sh*t from them without a fight and made their retreat.

001 Sawadi Tower close up

001 Tower Arches

In the picture below I have marked the car park where we set off from with the yellow star to show how far and high we travelled to reach the pinnacle.

001 Sawadi look to car park

After a rest in the shade and plenty of water we started the descent back down enjoying the ocean breeze to cool us,

001 Sawadi descent

Wading back across the channel the water level was up to our waists, deeper at some points. Although we could stand and the ocean looked peaceful the under current was strong and could easily take you off guard.

Back on the mainland we moved to a semi quiet piece of beach, well as quiet as a coastal town in Oman gets at sunset HA Ha!, to relax and cool down in the ocean as we watched the sun set over Al Sawadi.

This is another example of a great adventure in Oman that doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
Life doesn’t have to be about expensive brunches and fancy clothes – I’m pretty happy in my shorts with a backpack climbing up a big ass rock somewhere 🙂

Any suggestions of places I should explore next?

Heather x

Adventure Time, Expat Life

Extreme Sailing with Red Bull

March 16, 2013


Last week Muscat was the host of the first stage of the 2013 Extreme Sailing Series (ESS). With 8 boats competing to be the first stage winners of the 2013 competition the atmosphere was tense. The victorious team from 2012 was Muscat’s very own home team, “The Wave” and they were hoping to make it two years in a row.  The competition attracts some of the worlds best professional sailors and Olympians all competing  to take the title of champion. Chances are you have never seen sailing like this before- it is exhilarating, intense and action packed.

And guess what? I was invited along to join in the action!





Let me start by telling you that these are no ordinary sail boats. At an impressive 40 foot these twin hulled catamaran’s called “Extreme 40” are slick and designed with pure racing in mind. There is no luxury seating or a place to perch and have a cuppa – these guys mean business! With a top speed of 46mph/74kmh and no protection from the weather elements this is intense sailing. The whole boat, including sails, weighs about the same as a Mini Cooper!! It is not unusual to see a whole hull (or leg as Colin calls it) raised out of the water as the boat turns and zig zags across the water, the fact it is light weight and sleek in design makes it impressively fast and not to be underestimated.





Space can be tight between the boats while racing and I mean literally inches from hitting each other which leaves a huge potential for disaster and this is what makes it all the more thrilling to watch! High speed crashes, wipeouts and capsizes are a really possibility and all part of the game.



What is most unique about this competition is that the teams permit guests onboard whilst they are racing to give outsiders of the sport an insight into the intensity and attraction of extreme sailing. I was lucky enough to be invited to sail onboard the Red Bull boat during Friday’s race and let me tell you that they call this “extreme” sailing for a reason!!

My entire life I have been on boats both big and small as my father was a Captain and we even competed in some races in the UK but no matter how much of a professional I pretend to be, nothing prepared me for how exhilarating yet terrifying it was to be on an actual Extreme 40 racing boat mid race. My heart was pumping faster than it has done in a long time, my eyes were as wide as saucers trying not to miss one second of the action but I was extremely cautious not to get in anyone’s way and hinder their chances.










As a guest on board your role is very simple: Hold on for your life, don’t get in anyone’s way and enjoy it while it lasts! Each race lasts around 12-15 minutes and it is worth all the build up. I couldn’t have been in better hands with the Red Bull Captain being none other than Roman Hagara, a double Olympic gold medalist! What a legend.



              Me on board with the crew after the race, my legs were shaking quite a bit by then.





So after the 1st leg of the competition in Oman the home team “The Wave Muscat” were in first place, very closely followed by Red Bull in second place. Third place were Alinghi. The competition now moves on to Singapore’s famous Marine Bay for the 2nd out of 8 stages.



For me it was an utterly unforgettable experience and I am privileged to have been a part of such an event so a BIG hank you to Red Bull for letting me get involved! Good luck for the rest of the competition.


Adventure Time, Uncategorized

Hiking in Muttrah

March 9, 2013

When I think of the Muttrah area of Muscat I picture the Souk (market place) and the Corniche along the sea front, little did I know that there is a hiking trail very close by.

In serach of this trail I rounded up a couple of friends together, packed a picnic and headed off on an adventure.
Oman’s Ministry of Tourism is promoting these kind of outdoor activities for people to get out of their cars and explore this beautiful country. To make it easier and accessible to people, the trek routes can be found on their website. So there really is no excuse not to pull on some sturdy shoes and get hiking. You can find these routes by clicking here.

We chose the Muttrah hike as no one in our group had done it before and it was listed as ‘easy’ so we thought it was worth checking out. At 2.5km we set aside a good 2 hours as us ladies like to walk and tallk 🙂
This particular hike begins from the parking area at Riyam Park in Muttrah. Look for the big gold coffee cup things, maybe they are jugs?, on the roundabouts.

Once you are parked, it is not obvious at all where to go. There are steep mountains all around. Luckily, Rach figured it out, the map forgot to mention the part where you should cross the road out of the car park and go up the small hill in front of you. You will reach a yellow house with a wall all the way round the perimiter, follow the wall all the way to the back of their house and you will see a stone path going steeply up the hill next to an old diesel pipe. This is the start of the hike up the hill alongside the rusty pipe, this is a reminder of days gone by when supplies of diesel oil were pumped from a ship anchored in Muttrah harbour.

This initial hike is possibly the hardest part of the entire walk. It was worth every step, though, for the spectacular views. From the top, the next landmark you can see is the distinctive Incense Burner monument. 




There are ‘flags’ painted onto the rocks along the way guiding you where to go, though some are a little faded so an eagle-eye is advised. Here are a couple of examples of what you should be looking for:


The route cuts through a wadi (valley) area for a time. This could be quite treacherous if it had rained recently, with bigger water pools and a slippery surface underfoot, so watch your step.
We stopped for a snack and a well-earned drink of water whilst in the wadi, where you can shelter from the sun.




Though it’s rated an ‘easy’ walk, I would personally give it more of a ‘moderate’ rating. They should really recommend that you wear sensible footwear as it can be pretty steep and there are lots of areas with loose rock underfoot. Perhaps the person who rated it ‘easy’ had the balance and coordination of a mountain goat. I don’t. At times, we found ourselves having to scramble and hold onto higher rocks for balance while moving our unsteady feet down the path. I sensibly wore sneakers, which were perfect for the job.

The end of the walk will take you through what is actually a grave yard, although it doesn’t look like the kind of graves we are used to, and back into the streets of Muttrah again where you can stop off for refreshments. If your heading back to your car then get back onto the main street again and turn right and follow the road back to Riyam Park.

This is the grave yard:


Surprisingly, we only saw two other people during our trek. It seems that people are unaware of this amazing hike in the city and tend to head further out to places like Wadi Shab for their adventures.
If you are interested in trekking this Muttrah route and others then you can find and print the route map on the activities section at www.omantourism.gov.om



This week my article on hiking has a two page spread in Y magazine or you can read it online by clicking here.

– If you have any adventures that you would like to recommend or want me to try for you then please feel free to get in touch by using the “contact me” icon. I love a new challenge!

Expat Life, Family Life, Other Stuff

Importing your dog into Oman from the UK

January 25, 2013

I was recently asked by the Expat Arrivals website to write a piece about importing dogs to Oman from the UK as I have recent first hand knowledge of this. The article is now online and you can read it by clicking here.

The lack of information online can be quite frustrating when you are trying to make the difficult & expensive decision whether to ship your pet here or not, what information there is online is generally vague and years out of date. Hopefully this article can help people to make the right decision.

Penny with her pet passport all ready to travel.



My dog, Penny, loves it here and she has a great life but that doesn’t mean to say that every dog is going to have the same. When making the decision you need to separate the emotional and practical side of it, don’t be selfish and really think about whether your dog can actually handle the change of temperature and lifestyle. Sometimes I think the fact that she is a German Shepherd is a blessing for her, although people are terrified of her size they know the breed as the Royal Omani Police use this breed also. If she was some kind of other dog such as a Pitbull or Doberman they may be alot more frightened due to the stigma attached to these breeds.


This was the crate specially made for Penny, due to her size, for the long trip from Scotland to Oman. This is not a nice experience packing them into here and leaving them in a cargo building not knowing how they are until a full 24 hours later when they arrive.




If your dog (or cat for that matter but I don’t have much experience with them) would not handle the temperature or a complete change in routine and lifestyle then you need to leave them behind, just remember that Oman is a Muslim country and dogs are not widely accepted here. Do your research!

Some people feel that they cannot live without the company of a dog which is completely understandable but there are other options than stressing out your dog transporting them here. There are hundreds of animals here waiting for a loving home, try contacting Qurum Vets or the Oman Animal Adoption Agency to see the animals they have available for fostering and Adoption.

Hopefully this article can help you to make up your mind what will work best for you and your pet.

Expat Life, Family Life

What a year 2012 has been!

December 31, 2012


With the year 2012 coming to a close it is the time where we all reminisce about the year past with the highs and the lows. For me personally the year 2012 has brought me more than I could ever have dreamed of and will always be a year to remember.



                                     Here is a small summary of my past year:


Back in January Colin realized that I am the best thing that ever happened to him, obviously, and asked me to marry him. Yippeee!














My beautiful puppy, Penny, is 14 weeks old here and can go on lots more walks. She is growing up soo fast and such a clever dog.











A new job and my new work schedule means I can spend alot more time with loved ones doing normal things instead of working all the time and having a work phone stuck to my ear all the time.
For so long I have been a social hermit, I need to try and remember how to be sociable again!








In May I had my second holiday to Muscat, Oman to visit Colin who was working here at the time while I still lived in the UK. I loved Muscat and they way of life, we hoped one day we could live here, little did we know what was just down the line for us.






In June & July Colin is working away in Oman for an 8 week trip, he gets a job offer for us to live there permanently .. Very good news but I only have 6 weeks to sort out our lives, ship the dog and get ourselves there…oh yeah and organise our wedding!!! 

It was all kept hush hush but I pulled it off and on the 9th August 2012 we got married 🙂




One week later Colin is back in Oman to work and it’s upto me to finish everything up and get myself there. Saying goodbye to Penny at the airport was really difficult but she managed the trip with no troubles.









So on the 3rd of September after some emotional goodbyes and tears at the airport I was on my way to Muscat for the first day of the rest of our lives.

We are a long way from home!




                                                  Here we are now and life is good 🙂





Well it’s been quite a year and we are truly blessed to be where we are and be be doing it together, every day I am thankful for what we have. I am looking forward to what 2013 has to offer.

Do you have any New Years resolutions? Maybe mine is to write more interesting and well thought out blog posts instead of my usually slap dash style 😛