As we wave a fond farewell to the summer holidays, which went on for ever and ever I might add, we look forward to the cool, autumn months ahead of us and a refreshing winter beyond. To be honest, the blistering heat of the summer didn’t really materialise, nor did the sand storms, nor did the torrential downpours. In fact, it was fairly mild and we enjoyed the tranquility of our surroundings as everyone else had left for foreign holidays and trips home to visit friends and family in order to avoid the heat. Pretty much, we stayed put and enrolled ourselves on an academic course or two, played endless games of backgammon and considered our future beyond next year.
So, the season is upon us whereby we get out and about; people to see, places to visit, things to do.
For openers, we headed for yet another fort. Nakhal Fort to be exact. Well, you can’t beat a good fort, can you? Or is that a spelling error? What I mean is, if you’ve seen one fort you’ve seen them all. And, just in case you think there might be something different about this particular fort, I present it to you by way of comparison. A pretty fort I grant you, but a fort nonetheless.
As we have come to expect, the interior is immaculately kept and there are no restrictions (or Health and Safety) as to where you can wander and what you can pick up and play with. Take some very real, antique rifles on display for example: Literally – Take them!
Pick it off the wall and pretend you are someone that you’re not.
Like the look of those very real and authentic cannonballs sitting proudly on display:
Pick one off and lob it at the photographer, why don’t you?
There really is nothing and no one to stop you enjoying the relics (not the wife, of course!).
The sun was hot and lunch-time was looming so we headed off to find somewhere cool to rest and eat our lavish lunch of cheese and chilli pickle sandwiches. The sound of trickling water is always a lure to us so we made tracks for the famous hot springs of Nakhal which are, in fact, in the next village of A’Thawarah.
There were no surprises here for the water was indeed hot, almost too hot for comfort but we managed a quick paddle and a splash about. When we were sufficiently wet but by no means cool, we sat and watched the day-trippers arrive, set up their makeshift camps, light their fires and cook their lunchtime feasts. Our picture is clearly one of serenity but it was soon invaded by dozens of vehicles, barbecues, mats, chairs, all manner of bric-a-brac and the usual hordes of screaming youngsters and their accompanying adult carers – loosely termed. Holding off the promise of the satisfaction we anticipated from our own packed lunch, we made our way elsewhere and pointed our trusty Ford towards some mountains in the distance. Somewhere, way above 1500 metres, is a remote village with orchards of pomegranates and a delightful walk to a highpoint where terraced land and the village below become the main attraction. The village of Wukan welcomed us.
In order to attract tourists, much work has been done on providing a flat, firm pathway up the side of the mountain that makes for an exhausting climb, especially for those with little legs. The thin air makes any fast ascent a foolhardy option so we ambled along taking in the flora and fauna. Tiring but pleasant and well worth the effort. A more challenging, rustic walk was available with an overnight camping area but we were not prepared to undertake it at this time; although there was a time not so long ago when we would have just gone for it without equipment or a care in the world. How we have matured?
The drive to and from the village was mildly treacherous but not really in the same league as the Salmah Plateau that we have visited, camped upon, blogged, videoed and raved about so much. We decided Wukan village would suit most of our visiting guests (should we ever get any more) as it has an appealing, rugged landscape, an adrenalin pumping drive, a pleasant climb, stunning views and a quaint village all rolled into one.
As the sun dipped down behind the jagged mountain peaks that prod and poke a pink and purple sky, we made our way back through the dry Wadi Mistall basin, back to the tarmac and finally back home just before nightfall. Unable to do everything we wanted to do in this region, which is pretty much in our own back yard so to speak, we decided to return sooner rather than later. We now have an overwhelming urge to find some beehive tombs, that supposedly pre-date the Egyptian pyramids, that we read about over lunch.
The trekking, camping, mad-cap adventure season is definitely upon us.
BRING IT ON!
Until the next time,