On the first day of the new decade, we met up with our friends to kickoff 2020 together. We had a nice al fresco lunch at Nolu’s followed by a few glasses of Champagne back at the Samuel’s place. It was nice to hear how everyone had spent their Christmas holidays.
Laurie’s dad arrived later that month and Spence and I were invited to join them for a round at the Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai. There are two 18-hole Greg Norman designed courses there, Fire and Earth, and I finally got to play the Earth course that hosts the DP World Tour Championship every November.
Bec was also happy to make the journey to Dubai to meet up with a friend who happened to be passing through town on a quick business trip.
The last highlight of the month was an adventure in Oman. Rebecca had a voucher to use up and we set our sights on the mountain area of Jebel Akhdar. Neither of us had been up Jebel Akhdar, but you could say it’s always been on the list. We left after work on Thursday, January 23rd, making the drive to Ibri, Oman where we spent the night at the Ibri Oasis. We left early the next morning, stopping in at the Jabreen Castle, a historic landmark built in the 17th century, before continuing on to Akhdar. We had to pass a police checkpoint at the base of the mountain where they ensure that only 4x4s get past. They also highlighted the importance of engine braking for the return back down the steep mountain road. We arrived at the top around 12:30 pm and set out on another one of Oman’s official trekking routes, the W18b or “Villages Hike”. It is described as “an interesting walk through mountain villages with terraced farms and ancient falaj irrigation systems; with magnificent views over Wadi Muhaydin. Look out for fossilized coral, and a chance to see a rose water distillery”. It took us about 1.5 hours to do the there-and-back scenic hike. We jumped into the Jeep and set off for the Alila Jabal Akhdar hotel. Driving up to the resort, we were amazed at how it was literally built on the top of a cliff and resembles the stone, mountain houses of Oman’s past. We still had a little energy so we did the Butterfly Walk around the hotel’s property that provides some information on the mountain’s floral and fauna. We then sat down in the Rose Lounge for a sundowner just as the fog was rolling in. We went for the Omani set menu that evening for dinner featuring the national dish of shuwa – meat marinated in Omani spices, wrapped in leaves and cooked in an underground sand oven.
The next day, we had breakfast followed by some pool time. It was a little chilly up there so we had to make a few runs to the hot pool to warm up. Checking out, we put all of our luggage in the Jeep and set out for another hike – Mirage in the Mountains. Although it’s not an official Oman trekking route, the map and trail markers are done in the same fashion as the official routes. I believe Alila was instrumental in establishing several of these hikes in the area. The hike followed a wadi up to a picturesque dam, through the abandoned stone village of As Sarab, and back down to Alila. We did the 6.5 km’s in about 2.5 hours. After a quick refresh in the hotel, we hit the road around 3:30 pm. We shared the drive home and were back in AD by 10:00 pm. A great weekend trip to ring in the new decade!