Sara Thomas


Sara Thomas

We're inveterate travellers, living in London and making at least one long haul trip a year. Our current passion is India - we're gradually exploring more of it on each trip.

Asia » Indonesia » Bali » Munduk May 25th 2024

After arriving at the very crowded and bureaucratic Denpasar airport, we stayed overnight at the incredibly convenient Novotel airport hotel – the only hotel where you can take your airport luggage trolley all the way to your hotel room! . Next morning we set off for Munduk in the north of Bali. Getting through Denpasar was no quicker than it was six years ago. The city gradually gave way to villages, but with no break in the buildings. Our first stop was the Tanah Lot temple, one of the iconic pictures of Bali. The temple is on a small island connected to the mainland by a causeway which is accessible only at low tide, so we could only view it from the shore. There are a number of other temples in a small complex on the ... read more
Bali funeral bull
Jatiluwih rice terraces
Ulun Danu temple

Middle East » Oman » Dhofar February 12th 2024

We left our desert camp around midday, having been assured the journey to Muscat would take hours and the roads might be closed. In fact it took two hours and we were dumped at the airport, very annoyed, six hours before our flight. When we came to check in, we were told that as we had not taken the first part of our flight tickets (Khasab to Muscat, cancelled by Oman Air), we could not be checked in on this ticket. It was only the persistence of Faisal our check in desk agent, who insisted that this was ridiculous and marched over to the ticketing office, that got us on our plane. The next day was spent on idleness at our delightful Anantara hotel, but we resolved to take a trip to see the sights to ... read more
Sumhuram walls
Semi ruined Mirbat Fort
Dhofar plateau

Middle East » Oman » Nizwa February 9th 2024

We enjoyed a much needed day off on Thursday, enjoying the luxury of the Alila hotel, with its stunning views over the mountains. It sits on a promontory of rock with deep gorges on either side, and has been built from local stone to blend into the landscape. We did the one hour nature walk but opted not to do the 5km walk in the local area! Friday required a 7am start so we could visit the cattle market at Nizwa. In fact, all the animals being paraded around the small ring were goats, big ones on lengths of green twine and small ones held in the arms of their sellers. There was no auction, interested purchasers simply asked to inspect the animal then offered a price. Once we’d seen enough goats we didn't bother to ... read more
Sword sellers
Nizwa fort
Wahiba Sands

Middle East » Oman » Nizwa February 7th 2024

We set off to the north of Muscat this morning. Our first stop was a fish market. We’d carefully made sure we had our walking boots on, in anticipation of fishy water and entrails flowing across the floor, but this were a spotlessly clean, modern market like none we’d ever seen before, with a man mopping any small spillages the moment they happened. There was the usual collection of skinny cats gathered outside in anticipation of scraps. Inside, fish were on sale at one end, while at the other end you could, if required, take your newly acquired purchase and get it gutted and chopped to order. Hisham led us out to the back of the building, onto an empty jetty. We wondered why, when he suddenly pointed to a large turtle swimming up. There were ... read more
Shark auction

Middle East » Oman » Muscat February 6th 2024

We met our guide Hashim and set off for the Sultan Qaboos Mosque, which for a long time was the largest mosque in the world before a larger one was built in Abu Dhabi. Hashim helped Sara wrap her headscarf in the prescribed manner, and we marvelled at the number of women having to rent long abbayas and headscarves because they’d turned up in strappy T shirts and miniskirts with nothing to cover their bare flesh. Some pointlessly got stroppy with the polite but firm female religious guardians. Many mosques are large but not visually very interesting, but this one is stunning. It’s set in extensive grounds with Islamic gardens featuring water channels, and has not one but five minarets to reflect the five guiding principles of Islam. The outside is polished sandstone and the inside ... read more
Sultan Qaboos Mosque interior
Royal Opera House Muscat
Interior of Royal Opera House Muscat

Middle East » Oman » Musandam Peninsula February 5th 2024

Monday was the day from hell. We left the hotel at 7.20am for the 10 minute drive to the airport, ludicrously early for a 9.25 flight but tour companies like to get you there early. We were eventually allowed to check in and were led up to a first floor waiting room. After an hour an official came to tell us the plane was delayed. ‘Inshallah maybe one hour, maybe two, but maybe cancelled’. An oil rig engineer on the same flight was in touch with friends who were supposed to be flying to Khasab from Muscat on the plane we would then take. They had taken off then landed again after the pilot was told the wind was too strong to land in Khasab. It’s a small airport, mostly military, surrounded by mountains, with a ... read more

Middle East » Oman » Musandam Peninsula February 4th 2024

We took a leisurely trip on a dhow today, visiting the fjords on the Musandam coast. It felt a bit choppy as we set off but calmed down once in the shelter of the fjord, and even Sara did not feel sea sick. The mountains drop straight to the water’s edge, with very few areas that have any beach or flat space. The fjords were formed when the water level dropped, so on some of the cliffs you can still see the effects of water erosion from when there was sea at a much higher level. As we left Khasab port, a number of yellow speedboats, each with two or three people on board all heavily swathed, shot past towards the port. This is the small scale trade carried out by Iranians who cross in the ... read more
Musandam fjord 1
Musandam fishing village 2
Setting off from Khasab

Middle East » Oman » Musandam Peninsula February 3rd 2024

The Musandam peninsula is strategically important as it dominates the Straits of Hormuz, which at the narrowest point means that Oman and Iran are 21 nautical miles apart. The Musandam peninsula is almost all mountains, and we certainly experienced that today with a 4WD trip up to 1600m at the very north of the peninsula. The day started more pedestrianly, with a visit to Khasab castle. This was built as a fort by the Portuguese in the 17th century, and was subsequently taken over by the British, but it has been completely rebuilt and turned into a museum. It’s small, but interesting enough – or at least, it would have been if we hadn’t experienced a second day of long power outages. It’s hard to see the exhibits in a museum with no windows and no ... read more
Musandam 6
Summer pasture at El Sayh village
Musandam 1

Middle East » Oman » Musandam Peninsula February 2nd 2024

Winter sun and rugged natural beauty was what drew us to Oman. There’s plenty of the latter but the Thomas travel curse has struck again and we arrived to find we’d brought rain to the desert. ‘This never happens’ said the Omani customs official as he grinned apologetically. We flew in to Dubai, and had a very quick transit through the airport. We’ve never been through immigration so fast, and our cases were first onto the carousel. Our driver picked us up for the drive to the Musandam peninsula in Oman. Before long we were on a six lane highway through the desert, with very little to see. After almost no sleep on the plane, we closed our eyes and tried, unsuccessfully, to sleep. Eventually the dunes gave way to an industrial zone full of cement ... read more

Thursday was our longest lie in for a week – we only had to be up in time for breakfast at 8.00am. We set off with Connor and our friends from the previous night for a boat trip in the St Lucia estuary. Further towards the sea there are lots of boats, but the lodge has sole rights to the water further inland. The boat was a small catamaran with an engine, designed for shallow waters. It was piloted by Warwick, a delightful and very knowledgeable chap of 84. He was recently widowed and taking people out on boat trips gave him the opportunity to meet new people. We saw plenty of hippos, but sadly none of them wanted to come out of the water, so all we saw were groups of bobbing eyes and ears, ... read more
Goliath crane
Coming up for air
Little and large

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