Dolphins in Oman (Dubai #2)

Oman.

Does it ring a bell? Probably not. Oman is a country in the Arabian Peninsula. Now, very little people know about the place. But luckily, I am here to tell you why you should go there. Capture d’écran 2015-01-26 à 13.54.48

Do you like dolphins? And by dolphins, I do not mean SeaWorld sad dolphins. I mean, real, happy, free dolphins, living in groups with their babies and all their fins intact. Yes? Then Oman is for you.

Do you like camping? Small tents, sand in your sleeping bag, the sound of waves to sing you to sleep, fire on the beach, random people to talk to, and a cloudless sky full of stars. Yes? Then Oman is for you.

Do you like Dhows? Those big boats open on all sizes, with tiny bathroom that have no toilet paper, amazing hot arabic tea and coffee, cushions all over the place to seat comfortably, and the open air and sun basking your body with Vitamin C. Yes? Then Oman is for you. img_8432

Do you like learning about cultures, people and their country? Meeting with people whose life could not be further away from yours, who have had countless adventures and stories to tell, countless food to make you try, etc. Yes? Then Oman is for you.

Oman is an amazing place to visit. Not only are the people lovely, always smiling and very helpful, but they will teach you very precious lessons about life, so keep your ears open. I had the chance to go to Musandam for a trip on a dhow/camping to see dolphins, and I want to share the experience.

IMG_1090To begin, I must say Musandam has a lot of options. You can decide, like we did, to camp on the beach the first day and then spend the other day of the dhow to visit coves, see dolphins and swin in the clear clear water full of fishes. But you also have the option to stay on the boat at night and sleep in the dhow (some friends have tried it… I hope you aren’t sea-sick ).

The way it works is, you get to Musandam and leave your car by the tourist facility you chose.

They will likely welcome you with tea and a smile. After that, you will be driven to a boat that will get you to a cove where the tents are already all set up. So you only have to get your bags in, and hop in the tent! The fun without the strain, ideal for the holidays. The site had several tents, so we were not the only ones on the beach, which allowed us to make friends over dinner. It also had thick rugs and cushions, ideal to lounge on with a cup of tea with a nice book, enjoying the sun.IMG_1091

The first day is rest day, which means your only job is to put on your swim suit and jump in the warm water for a quick soak, and then spend the rest of the day baking under the sun (don’t forget 50+ suncreen, the sun in Oman is truly hot. Protect yourself). Once the sun is out, pick out your little sweater (it will get a little chilly, if you go during the “winter” months) and wait for the stars to start shining. The dinner will be served hot with a choice of vegetarian food, nans and other Omanian speciality. It will be rudimental, but that’s the pleasure of camping isn’t it?

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After dinner, the staff (two people stayed on site with us to make sure everything was going well) will dim the lights and allow everyone to stare at the stars and discuss quietly.The feeling really is quite aerie, and I very much enjoyed it.

The bathroom area was, once again, a little… rudimental to say the least, but keep in mind this is only for a day. Deal with it.

Upon waking up, you will get a little breakfast and will be asked to pack your bags. Late morning will find you on the dhow with your swimsuit on, ready to tackle the coves and eye searching for those dolphins. We spent the day swimming, looking at fins flying underwater by the boat (the dolphins are now used to the dhow, so they often swim alongside us for a while) and at the other dolphins jumping up and down on either side of the boat, drinking tea and eating nans. The water was warm, clear and full of fishes, the dhow was warmed up by the sunlight, and it was fantastic to spend a full 32 hours without any phones, computers of headphones. The break truly feels sensational!

The end of the day creeps up on you without really realizing it, and by the late afternoon you are deposited back to your car, your mind reeling with all you’ve had the chance to see!

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A must-do experience!

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Skydiving in Dubai (Dubai #1)

Skydiving.

A word for the hard hearted and the adrenaline junkies. Do I consider myself an adrenaline junkie? Not really. But I did decide to skydive nonetheless. I thought I would share my experience for those who might consider it but are scared of taking the last step… into the air.

My first and most important advice is : Think it through. Because once you are on the plane, backing away is, well… not impossible, but not recommended. Why? Because you will meet back down with the ones who decided to skyfall and you’ll be disappointed you did not have the guts to take the fall.

Do it, do it!

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I have only one advice for you : if you know the company is safe and you wonder what it feels like, do it. I fell with SkyDive Dubai ( http://www.skydivedubai.ae ).

Yes, you will fear for your life. On the plane. Once you jump, nothing will go through your mind except oh my god.

To me, this was the most thrilling experience of my life.

The process took a while, I arrived quite early in the day and only jumped at 3 in the afternoon. I had to sign certain things (one mentioning that you may die and it’s not their fault) that made me wonder why on Earth I was even here in the first place, but my mind was set. I was not going to bed without flying 5 kilometers in space. I was doing it. So I signed all the papers, shook a little, avoided my parents crazy eyes and focused on the task at hand. Calming my beating heart.

I was excited, terrified, thrilled, pertified, all of the above. As I waited, I watched a dozen people fall and land on the good old grass. I saw their excited faces and I wanted to be a part of it.

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The setting of SkyDive Dubai is great. You get to sit on couches and watch people skydive, people folding their kit, people watching their own movies of their fall, and the adrenaline never leaves the gigantic room. It only builds up as you wait for your turn, and make the almost unwilling, willing. I managed to convince a girl to do it. As all the begginers are put in the same space, you get to talk to everyone and see who is terrified and excited. And then, when it’s over, you get to share the exact same smile.

You get to meet with your savior just before the flight, and they explain what they need you to do, how it is going to work, and what is fundamental to remember. Once they’re ready for you, about 5 other people follow you into a tiny plane with no real seats.
This is it. Your cue to hyperventilate.

I felt like running around, my heart was beating too loudly for my ears, and I was pumped.

I won’t lie to you, the ascent feels horrible. Not because the plane creaks and the experienced skydivers mock you. Nope. It feels horrible because for twenty minutes you get to see the Earth going smaller and smaller, and you cannot help but think “why, why, why would I ever do this, is it too late to change my mind? Shit, they’re watching me, smile, okay, I can do this- no I can’t oh my god this is really high can I even breathe right now?“. And then, the red light becomes green, and someone opens the door to space. You get to wear super awesome clear glasses so you can see what is going on 5 kilometers down.

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You get strapped to a guy who does this around 7 times a day (I asked), so don’t feel uncomfortable, it’s all good. The tighter you are strapped to this guy/girl, the less chance you have of dying. Breathe. This person is going to make you live a crazy good experience. And then he motions you to the hole in the plane. And then, you jump. Well, really, he pressured me, but I couldn’t hold to anything. So I fell with him.

The first ten seconds of the fall, you heart stays all the way up. The closest I have ever come to this feeling are in rides when they drop you from a tower. The heart in your throat only lasts a few seconds, though. Soon enough, your heart catches up to your free fall and you get to experience the best 60 seconds of your life. Look around you, smile at the cameraman who looks at you and films everything with a GoPro while taking pictures of your floppy face in the wind. And observe the tiny ground where you could die, but thanks to the invention of the parachute, you get to land on safely.

There is nothing as incredible a jumping off a plane. You see a view you will never get to see again the same way, you wave at your terrified family members waiting for the other shoe to drop 4km down, and you yell it out, because, well, it’s amazing.

Once the fall is over, the parachute opens and you get dragged back up. Then, the fall gets slow and even more beautiful. My skydiver pointed out to me a few things in the city, told me a few facts, and made me control the parachute for a while. I got to hold the strings of my life in my hands. Fancy.

And when you can see the landing strip, it stings a little, because up there, nothing compares. But when you get to land safely on Earth, it feels good, and sad at the same time. Luckily, you remember you could have died, and this is probably the best outcome of your situation.

The main point of this article is, if you want to do it, do it.

Yes, it is expensive. My experience cost me 2000 Dhs which is the equivalent of 400€, or 328£, or 554$. Well, it was my 19th Birthday present. So I was very lucky. I had been talking about doing this for years, and my first try (on my 18th birthday) was cancelled because of the weather. Twice. Clearly they take their customer care very seriously. Which is always nice to know.

You must be over 18 to do the jump, and you cannot weight over 90kg for women and 100kg for men, which is what a normal BMI should look like.

I decided to do the Tandem dive, but SkyDive Dubai also has a school, which allows you to jump on your own after a few jumps (7 or 10 ?).

To sum up my experience, I would say it was all worth it. The team made me feel safe, I never felt threatened for my life, and I got back home with stars in my eyes. The scenery from up there was grand, especially with a city like Dubai to look over.

All in all, I would do it again… once I get my paycheck.

Plane Ritual (Self-care #2)

Flying is easy.

Staying hydrated throughout the flight? Not so much.

For those who fly out a lot and get dry skin, pimples or dark circles under your eyes, think no further. Planes have oxygen. They fly. In a sky where the oxygen is either non-existent, or where there is very little. Hint, that is why the windows don’t open. That, along with, perhaps, the deathly cold you would catch at a few thousand feet. Hence, the oxygen we breathe is constantly recycled, and if you fly for long distances at a time, the air gets saturated with other people’s things (think hair cells, skin cells, etc) that you breathe in, and that your skin absorbs. The water content of the air up high isn’t so great, which is often why you will feel thristy and dehydrated. In first and business class, they will generally offer you a hand cream and a body lotion to hydrate your body while flying long distance. But the creams are not necessarily what your body needs.

Indeed, we all have different skin, and I am sure you all own your own face cream, body lotion and hand cream that you swear by, and that you would never ever think about changing. That is great. Now, go into any store (Primark, Sainsburys, Tesco, Auchan, Wallmart, etc) and buy small containers that are plane friendly. Pour your favourite product into the container and bring it in the air with you.

Now, I’m about to share my little plane routine. Yes, you will look silly. Yes, people might stare. Right after they will shrug and go back to their lives. Why? Because in a plane, no one cares what you look like.

1) Remove all your makeup. You are in a plane. You do not need makeup. What you need to do is let your skin breathe so that it will not break into pimple land two days after you land. Makeup blocks out your pores, fills them. In the plane, you will add to that layer the extra not-so-fresh-oxygen and your skin will not thank you for it. Remove it all. No one cares.

2) Prep your skin. Once you’ve settled in, get ready to pamper yourself. We often forget to pamper ourselves at home because, well, we don’t have time. Or the energy. You are sitting on a plane. There is literally nothing better to do than self-care. So get yourself one of those cleansing facial wipes (I use Simple, but any will do) or, if you are lucky enough to be given a warm towel, use it. Wipe your face from the excess oil, pollution and what not. Feel that? It’s your skin thanking you.

3)Use a heavy mosturizer and slap it on your face. I use cocoa butter or shea butter or coconut oil. Anything natural (usually sold by Nature et Découvertes) that I have on hand (I switch every now and then) I will lather on. Heavily. Let it sit while your perform task 4.

4) Buy yourself one of those facial masks. They sell those at Sephora or in the big stores like Carrefour, Spinneys, and any body shop you know of. Put it on and live your life. I personnally will take a long nap with it, or watch a movie, read a book. I strongly suggest going to the bathroom before. You can walk around the plane with it, but it will look strange. Note, it is still all right. Again, it doesn’t matter what other people think. If they think anything at all. They probably are busy with their own business. Just like you.

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Sephora face masks

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5) Calm down. Nap, do breathing exercises, meditate if you’re able. How many times a week do you take me-time? Take it all now. Think about the fact that you are suspended in the air like a bird who doesn’t have any wings. It is pretty terrifying. Also thrilling. You’re in the sky! Wearing a face mask! And you don’t have to dread any skin rash! Breath-takingly amazing.

And then just take it off whenever you feel like it, mosturize again, and you will be ready for landing, with a fresh looking face, rested and clear. Your eyes will be significantly less bloodshot, your face won’t be as paper-thin to the touch, not to mention you will not feel like you travelled for hours!

Try it and tell me all about it!

The Frozen Feminist power and The Elsa Project

After seeing Frozen (Disney) for the very first time, me and a thousand other girls could only think two things:

1) (Spoilers) How could Hans do that? The hair on the back of our necks tingled with hatred passion, and we were all so glad that Disney finally took on the task of portraying realistic evil men in their story. A nice, good-looking man looking for… love? Not exactly. Mental abuse and excess of power? More like it. Made you think about anyone you know? Yes? Perhaps because this was the first real depiction of mean people. Not a witch, not a bear, just a normal, bad human. Those run around a lot these days. And Hans was defeated by what… a girl? Speechless. Wave your feminist flags everyone, girls are rising to power. Can we sense the word equality in the air? Not yet, but we are making progress. This is what all little girls should be striving for, feeling enpowered by themselves and not by someone who can take away their worth in the snap of a finger. Not by sleeping in hopes a guy (who they’ve barely met) will come around and save the day with his manly strength. We work out, too. We’ve got strength.

And if Frozen taught me one thing about rejection, it’s that it’s neither the end of the world, nor is it a big deal. Sure, it stings, but in the end, you’re better off with someone who doesn’t say things like “if only there were someone out there who loved you”. Yes, Hans is not the greastest villain, he doesn’t have a great entrance, or a real evil song (but then again, no one can compete against Scar or Frolo’s solos), or a true evil plan than stand a chance. But he is an old butt. And he hurts a woman just because he can. Ring a bell? How about you turn on the TV and have a look at the state of things around the world. We got the short end of the stick here. But hey, we’re all about improving and following the path of… true love? Okay, Disney, you did not change that much. But it’s on the right track. Family drama, that’s what it’s all about.

2) How fast can I learn to create Elsa’s hairstyle? In my family, hair is an important topic. It needs to look good, all the time. Why? Because, well, we have the chance to have hair. And also, hair is amazing and can completely upgrade your look. My sister asked me if I could recreate the hair, and I thought, yes, I can probably do just that. So I did, and these are the result. I made several tries on my sister’s hair and mine, and came up with different results as her hair are dyed and shorted than mine.

This, everyone, is my twist on Elsa’s hairstyle. If anyone wants a demo or a step-by-step, I can make this happen. Just comment below and I will do my best.

I did this hairdo on my sister's head for Christmas 2014, inspired by Elsa's bun in Frozen (Disney)

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Elsa's twist 3

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As you can probably tell, my sister’s picture is so much better because I could take the picture from far away. Living by myself makes my task more challenging. But who doesn’t like a challenge?

Anyway, that’s it for this one, hope you enjoyed it!

Hot Lemon and Water has been my first year resolution for 2015, and I have not been decieved.

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I used to wake up and drink water, and then a green smoothie. I have recently realized that the myth of the hot lemon and water is, in fact, truly beneficial for our bodies. I have personally felt the changes, the slow awakening of my body as I sipped the lemon tea. Unlike green smoothies, that I like to drink cold, hot lemon water actually allows my brain to accept the smoothie/breakfast much better if I give it a little time to produce its effects. The hot beverage wakes up my organs much better than a deadly cold green smoothie. And in winter, who doesn’t want a warm tea the warm up when you have to leave the comfort of your warm, warm bed?

I tend to add a little honey, although the taste isn’t as bitter as I would have thought initially.

I would definitely recommend adopting this reflex, it will make a world of difference in your morning routine!

The greatest way to wake up (Self-care #1)