Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Great Adventure in Central Asia

Hey folks! I am currently on a great adventure covering the 5 stans in Central Asia and those are: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. I started in Kazakhstan and for some reason my blog kept being flagged as an unsafe website so I couldn't even log in to write about my adventures. I am constantly on the move so it's been hectic but I am loving it! Once I get some down time I will write more. In the meantime, check out the map below to get an idea of where the countries I am visiting are situated.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Chill Birthday Vibes

Happy Birthday to me! for the past 14 years I have been celebrating my birthday in different countries but this year I am staying put. The initial plan had actually been to take a big trip during my birthday but circumstances had me postponing the trip to April so watch this space for an epic post birthday trip.

In the meantime, take a walk down memory lane with me as I share my birthday adventures over the years.

2010 - Portugal (first solo trip, I was so scared and I remember trembling on my ride to the hostel from the airport. Who knew that this was the beginning of amazing adventures over the years).

2011 - Israel (had a great time in Jerusalem but Tel Aviv rubbed me off the wrong way. Taxi drivers kept stopping by my side asking for my price, initially I couldn't understand what they meant till it finally dawned on me, yikes!)

2012 - Peru (this trip opened my eyes to what South America had to offer and I wanted to see more. Visiting Machu Picchu was an unforgettable experience).

2013 - Colombia (this trip planted the seed of long term travel through South America, I met several solo female travelers who had been traveling for several months through South America and they inspired me to want to do the same).

2014 - Panama (honestly, Panama wasn't on my radar but it was conveniently located on my way to Colombia to start my long term travel through South America after having quit my job. Venezuela my first choice wasn't safe so I settled for Panama, I still had a good time so no complaints).

2015 - Galapagos (I was living in Ecuador at the time so it made sense to visit Galapagos, I had a good time as usual and when I came back from that trip, my then boyfriend proposed and we got married a few months later).

2016 - Mexico (I stayed with a local family and they showed me such a good time. Had all the delicious Mexican food imaginable, had food poisoning later but that's a story for another day. Mexico City won my heart and I could totally see myself living there.)

2017 - Guatemala (this country was such a pleasant surprise! it exceeded my expectations)

2018 - Cuba (for the longest time I had romanticized this country and was so excited to visit. I met great people that I am still in contact with but seeing the hardships that regular citizens go through, quickly slapped me into reality and got me off the bubble I was in).

2019 - Jordan ( I had read about Jordanian hospitality and got fascinated to learn more about the country. I was warmly received and met good people along the way. Can't forget the sweet taxi driver who took it upon himself to show me around during his free time. We actually became buddies and are still in touch).

2020 - Japan (who can forget this year, went to Japan just as news of the pandemic was spreading. I am so glad that I didn't cancel the trip because it was amazing and I loved Japan. Lockdown started just as my plane landed back in the US).

2021 - Puerto Rico (many countries still had tight rules concerning covid so options were limited, figured it was about time I visited Puerto Rico since I had always wanted to visit and it presented an easier option at the time).

2022 - Lebanon (my fascination with the Middle East led me to this country, such a beautiful country despite the economic hardships being faced by majority of the citizens. Great food too!)

2023 - India (while I appreciate the historic and cultural sites that I visited, this is one country that I wouldn't want to re-visit, I will just eave it at that).

That's it folks! it's been quite a ride and I am grateful for all the experiences that I have had over the years, the good and the bad. I really don't take it for granted and as long as I am able to, I will continue with my adventures. As I mentioned before, watch this space for my next adventure, it's going to be epic! in the meantime, let me enjoy my birthday cake next to my husband as we binge watch movies on Netflix (it's the simple things folks).




Sunday, November 26, 2023

Oman Day Six - Muscat

Today being my last day in this wonderful country, I just wanted to take it easy going around Muscat for the last time as I bid the city goodbye. Here are a few photos that I took along the way...

Enjoying a morning walk by the beach before the sun REALLY comes out.

Spicy Karak tea with traditional Omani bread filled with cheese and honey became my breakfast staple.

Enjoying some sweet Omani halwa (a type of confectionary). This show called Al Diwaniya sells halwa and they always have samples laid out for anyone to stop in and taste with no obligation to buy. There are many stores that do this, be it with dates or other sweets.

Went up Muttrah Fort to enjoy an aerial view of Muscat. It wasn't fun climbing the stairs up with the sun beating up on me, but the views were worth it.

Behind me to my left hand side is the Sultan's personal watch. It is huge if you see it in person.

I think this couple was on a date, couldn't resist capturing such a sweet moment between the two.

That's it folks! it was such a nice and fun filled trip. Glad that I got to experience Oman and its wonderful people, until the next adventure........peace!

PS: I have a cold and feel lousy, hence the lucklaster post.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Oman Day Five - Jebel Akhdar

Jebel Akhdar also known as the green mountain, is one of the highest points in Oman as it rises more than 2,000 meters above sea level. It is definitely a place worth visiting as it offers beautiful mountain views, agricultural terraces and wadis, plus if you love hiking then you would certainly get the perfect opportunity to do it here.

Jebel Akhdar is located about 2 hours away by car from Muscat and can be combined with a tour to Nizwa (Oman's former capital). Since I had already visited Nizwa, my main focus today was on the mountain. One important thing to note prior to visiting Akhdar, is that a 4 wheel drive is required to ascend the paved road up the mountain. If you show up with a different car you will actually not be allowed entry, there is a security check point that ensures entry of allowable cars. The infrastructure is well developed so a drive up the mountain is very comfortable.

I could feel my ears getting plugged and it felt so much cooler the higher we went (I hired a driver to drive me to the mountain). Once we got to the top, the first stop was at Diana's Point, turns out princess Diana had enjoyed this spot with her then husband, King Charles during a royal visit to Oman in 1986. The view from this spot is beautiful as it gives you an aerial view of the agricultural Terraces and villages below.

My driver drove me to another spot to begin my solo hike in the surrounding area and below are the photos I took along the way. I really need to invest in a tripod, I had to balance my phone on rocks to get a photo of myself.

See the yellow, white and red stripes? they really came in handy as they are meant to guide you ensuring that you are following the right walking path. My driver had dropped me off and instructed me to follow the walking path while paying attention to these stripes so that I didn't get lost. I have a bad sense of direction so it really helped having these stripes guiding me along the way. PS: the terrain looks rugged but the hike is actually easy to maneuver and not hard.

Bonus stop on the way to Jebel Akhdar was Jabreen Castle built in the 17th century. The castle was an important center of learning for astrology, medicine and Islamic law. I honestly didn't pay too much attention on this stop especially after having visited Nizwa Fort, I just didn't feel like it wowed me but I go t to take cute photos.

That's it folks! I think I am finally burning out from all the none stop activities that I have enjoyed over the past few days and my energy is really low. I almost didn't write this post but the way my dedication is set up.......I just had to do it. It may not be the most exciting post but at least you can enjoy the photos, right? tomorrow is my last day in Oman and I plan to take it easy by visiting some spots in Muscat that I never got an opportunity to visit. I better call it a night and give my body some much needed rest.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Oman Day Four, Nizwa

Today's adventure took me to Nizwa which is one of Oman's oldest cities and was once the capital in the 6th and 7th century. It was the center of trade, religion, education & the arts and its strategic location at the crossroads of various important routes, linked the interior of the country to a larger part of the country.

The city is now the second largest tourist destination in Oman that's not to be missed and it's only an hour and a half drive away from Muscat. Some of the city's highlights are as follows:

Traditional Goat Market - I happened to go on the best day, Friday when the city has its old age traditional goat market early in the morning. How I can best describe the goat market is, an auction of livestock where a large crowd gathers in a circle as the livestock is paraded and it's price is shouted out as buyers bid on it until the final best price is called out. It really is quite the experience that's not to be missed while visiting Nizwa. The event starts as early as 6 am so it's best to plan accordingly. 

Nizwa Souq - One of the oldest market in Oman where you can buy food, household items and jewelry, among many other items.

Nizwa Fort - Built in the 17th century, it is one of the most popular forts to visit in Oman and was once the administrative seat of authority for the presiding Imams. Imams at the time assumed the role of leaders, like present day Sultans. At the fort you get a good opportunity to learn about the history of Nizwa and the way of life of the inhabitants at the time, entry is 5 Omani Rial which is $48 rounded up. Point to note, the fort has been heavily restored and looks good as new but you can see the before and after photos in one of the display rooms inside the fort to get an idea of how it originally looked.

From the top of the fort you can get good aerial views of Nizwa city.

That's it folks! I really enjoyed my visit to Nizwa and love how vibrant it is compared to Muscat which in my opinion is really quiet from what I have observed so far. I have 2 more days left in Oman and as my stay in this country is winding down, I have a couple more adventures to get into so watch out for the next update.