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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

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

Expat Life, Family Life

Three Years

September 3, 2015

Three years ago to this date I landed in a foreign land to begin a new life.

It was sink or swim.

I’m not sure if I am celebrating three years in Oman itself or three years of surviving away from the home nest. Either way, today feels like a reason to celebrate. I didn’t sink, I swam and I’m still swimming.

For those who have never made the daunting leap from “home” and everything you have ever known then it probably doesn’t sound that exciting to you, in the grand scheme of life what is three years anyway?
But for those who have made such a drastic life change they may be able to relate, every month and year that goes by is a success – You haven’t failed and you haven’t run home crying. You’ve got this.

01 Sur heart hands

The past three years have been so crazy, weird, wonderful and given us so many oppertunites we would never have had otherwise.

I would love to know what the next step is for us but only time will tell. All I can hope is that for every year that passes we can embrace it and make the most of these crazy adventures in life.

Heather x

Expat Life

Water you doing to help? I-Care’s 14th Success

October 2, 2014

Every single day thousands of manual workers across this city work tirelessly in the blazing sun without adequate hydration. Sadly for them, this is a very harsh reality.

In stark contrast, most of us in a more privileged life wouldn’t even think twice about reaching into the fridge for a cool, refreshing bottle of water. I cannot imagine a life where water is not easily accessible and not to mention working in the intense heat.

Last week I took part in iCare’s 14th water distribution in Muscat. The aim was simple – to distribute 10,000 bottles of cool water to manual laborers before lunch time.

For the full story please check out this week’s Y Magazine.

Continue Reading…

Expat Life

Ramadan for beginners

July 18, 2013

Ramadan Kareem to all my Muslim readers! 

Sorry I know that you guys are at least a week into Ramadan already but I have been a bit slow on the blogging front recently.

Being my first ever Ramadan as an Expat in a Muslim country I am naturally aprehensive of what it is going to bring my way. This is something far from what I have experienced before so this blog post is aimed at other Expats like myself who want to understand how to behave during the holy month.

A brief explanation of what Ramadan is to people who are unaware:
“Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is a time of fasting for the Islamic people. Each day during this month, Muslims all over the world abstain from eating, drinking, smoking, as well as participating in anything that is ill-natured or excessive; from dawn until the sun sets. Fasting is intended to educate the Muslim in spirituality, humility and patience. It is a time to cleanse the soul, focus attention on God, and put into practice selflessness. Ramadan is a time for Muslims to fast for the sake of God and to put forward more prayer than is customary.”

Some basic rules for non-Muslim expats:

  • Do not eat, drink or smoke in public places during sunlight hours when people are fasting. Use your discretion and be respectful to people fasting around you. People exempt are young children, pregnant women, the elderly and those not of a sound mind but still exercise discretion.
  • Greet Muslim friends with “Ramadan Kareem” or “Ramadan Mubarak” which is a nice way of saying Happy Ramadan. I was really impressed in December when people made the effort to say “Happy Christmas” to me which was a nice gesture.
  • When the fast breaks usually just after 7pm, there is a meal called Iftar where people can be with their families and feast. Don’t go harassing your Muslim neighbors at this time about where they have parked their cars, just let them eat first.
  • Working hours are reduced from 7am to 1pm in most places. 1pm will be a busy time on the roads with workers travelling home to sleep for the afternoon.
  • People who are fasting are of course going to be tired and possibly a bit crabby through the day, it’s very hot out there and no food or water only makes it worse. Be more tolerant to people’s situation.
  • Be careful on the roads, with people dehydrated and driving is not a good combination. Be especially careful in the evening just before Iftar as people are rushing home for their first meal of the day understandably.
  • Expat Women should dress more conservatively during the holy month and remember that people are trying to refrain from sins. So ladies that means more clothes, less make up, not an over powering perfume that turns heads. Sex and other forms of self pleasure are not permitted during the day for Muslims so women try not to be too alluring to the opposite sex. They should be thinking of God only but it’s not easy when your walking around in a tank top and short shorts with your hair swishing, to these young guys that’s as good as porn. You will attract unwanted attention.
  • Don’t have music blaring from your car/house. I’m not sure if it is forbidden or just frowned upon during this time, maybe someone could clarify this? I have read so many different opinions online about how it keeps people from their prayers and makes them want to dance so is considered sinful?
  • Halitosis is going to be a real possibility here with people in the heat and not drinking any water. Be discreet and stand a step back from the person if talking. It’s not pleasant but it’s a fact for some people depending on how strict they take their fasting, some people believe that toothpaste & mouthwash is not allowed as there is a chance you might swallow it therefore breaking the fast.

For the people in town who are not fasting, you have tried eating out for lunch the past week you have probably been quite disappointed so far, hardly anywhere is open during the day for a sit down meal but there are still some options for take aways. Here is the list compiled by the lovely Muscat Mutterings:

1. Mackenzies Deli – MQ – Open for take away from 9am-3pm – you can call them on 9777 6111
They are also doing “Home Alone” home-cooked dinners each night from 7pm for RO 3.500

2. Glacier Cafe – Al Khuwair – Open for take away from Noon  – 3pm – you can call them on 9800 7111 to place your order then head to Zakher Mall to pickup and take away.

3. Pizza Hut – All over – delivers all day – call on 24 822 500

4. Subway – Al Hail (near the Wave) – open 24hrs, but during the day takeaway only.

5. Shakespeare & Company – The Wave – Open for take away all day

6. Pizza Express – The Wave – Open for take away all day

7. Al Mouj Golf Club – Open all day from 7am – Dine in available (No alcohol)

8. Chowking offers take away during Ramadan from 10am to 11pm. Phone 24470907 

Anyway that is my Ramadan low down for Expats. Please try to enjoy the holy month if you are Non-Muslim, in the evenings once fast has broken it is a fun time and these Omani’s love to throw a party! If you are invited to their home for Iftar or a feast be sure to go it’s a real experience and you will be treated like royalty.

Expat Life

Crime in Azaiba

May 28, 2013

The stories of the rise of petty crimes in my neighborhood have been on the grape vine for a few months now. There has been nothing too major as yet but last weekend something quite scary happened.

Azaiba is generally a pretty safe area of the city to live in, the whole of Muscat is a pretty safe place really, but there will always be someone who wants to ruin that. The neighborhood (North Azaiba) is a mixture of large family villas and apartments with nothing that particularly attracts crime to the area.

In a nutshell without giving too much information into an ongoing police investigation- a house had an intruder for the second time in the space of a few weeks where a man jumped the outside wall and approached the house maid. He had a rag in his hand which he proceeded to attempt to smother her face with it, possibly drenched in a substance such as chloroform. Luckily she managed to get away from him and he escaped without further harming her or the family inside the house.

It’s crazy that someone would attempt to get into the same house for a second time but this time he came back with an attempt to quieten the house maid. Whatever way you look at it, this guys intentions were not good.

My protector heard the commotion the night before and ensured that she stayed on full alert into the next day, no getting past her!

Please be safe people, look after one another and ensure that you lock your home. Or maybe get a guard dog like me 🙂

Would you mess with these teeth?!

Expat Life, Food & Entertainment

White party at the Hyatt

May 28, 2013
Telling my husband that we were going to a “white party” didn’t go down too well, he questioned the point of the whole thing. I explained that it is just a bit of fun and an excuse to get together with friends. “Well I don’t have anything to wear” he retorted sounding more like me rather than himself. I had already preempted this situation and taken the liberty of laying his clothes on the bed for him, what a good wife.. I did let him off with wearing jeans in the effort of not turning him too into a Miami Vice extra 😉
My original outfit included white jeans but now the summer temperatures are rising, tight jeans just weren’t practical for me to wear at an outdoor event. I chose thin black & white leggings from 
H&M and a loose white blouse. 
So off we trotted to one of the many events to celebrate the Grand Hyatt’s 15 year anniversary. We met our friends in the lobby of the hotel to compare outfits, and yep everyone was dressed in white funnily enough. This is important as entry to the party was free if you wore white, yay for us!
Here we are with our good friend, Peter, wearing our white outfits.
The party was outside on the Marjan terrace by the pool which is always a lovely location for a party. The event was run by the Coco Latte promotion team and they did a fab job with the music and event.
Unfortunately the temperature outside was a sticky 38 degrees and high humidity making it a bit uncomfortable to be outside for too long, I could literally feel my make up sliding down my face which is never a good look. Many people moaned about the cost of water at such a hot event at 2.6 rials/£3.84 for a bottle of water people were fading fast. A little crazy when water is more expensive than beer. Hopefully next time they have this sorted..
I showed Colin this picture of us that i had uploaded onto Instagram thinking that I was being all cute, his reply “why have I got hearts and sh*t all over me?” Men!!! haha.
A good night was had by all as usual and I was sure to drink plenty of water when I got home, these outdoor events are sadly calming down now due to the summer heat – Roll on winter time!
Food & Entertainment

Sssshhhhhh! Secret Party in Muscat

May 21, 2013
Last weekend I had the fun experience of attending my very first ever secret party. How fun is that? I’ve never been much good at keeping secrets so maybe I’m not the best person for secret parties?

Myself and a group of friends all met up in the bar before hand, afterall we didn’t have a clue what kind of a party we were attending. Strength in numbers and all that 😉 All we had was an invitation via Whats App, we could have been walking into anything…

There was no charge to enter the event and the only rule was “Don’t invite anyone that you would not like hanging out with, because we probably wouldn’t like hanging out with them either”. This sounds like my kind of party!

That was pretty much all we knew or all the information that we had been allowed to know.

All dressed up and ready to go party!

Members of the party had to sign in at the door using the computers provided, entrance bands secured round our wrists and then make our way through the solid wooden door. Who knew what was going to be on the other side?!

Shhhh secret party….

Unfortunately I can’t tell you anymore about the secret party because then that would be telling, wouldn’t it?!

The girls at the event

It was alot of fun, with lots of dancing and we are told that there are plenty more to come through the summer. What might be next? I don’t know because it’s a secret but I’m hoping for an email soon to explain more!
That might be the most exciting thing to happen this summer, the temperature is heating up and my activities are dwindling…Boooo!