This year I was a part of a little campaign called the Helloworld RELAY. Who am I kidding? Helloworld RELAY was actually the biggest social media campaign I have ever been a part of.
Basically, instagrammers all over the world were hired to promote World Tourism Day for a massive Helloworld initiative.
We were tasked with photographing sunrise through to sunset and posting up to 12 photos on Instagram throughout the day, one every hour! Since I was already working with Helloworld I was offered the chance to choose my destination. I was quick to pick a place on my bucket list – Oman.
Why Oman? To be honest Oman was not a country that was even on my travel radar until last year, when I had the pleasure of meeting Mona Tannous, manager of the Sultanate of Oman Tourism for Australia and New Zealand.
After talking to Mona, it was like I couldn’t escape from hearing about Oman. There must have been 50 people mention the destination to me. Shortly afterwards, I visited the United Arab Emirates to run a campaign with Dubai Tourism.
My first taste of the Middle East was so mind blowing that Oman jumped right to the top of my bucket list. After my positive experience with Helloworld in Vietnam, I was all too willing to trust them to hook me up with an amazing work trip to Oman.
On the road in Oman
Besides the RELAY day itself, I spent a further four days in Oman. Four days was not enough! But despite the whirlwind trip, I fully immersed myself in the destination and think I can offer some great insights on visiting.
Because Oman is still considered a relatively new destination I was stoked that Helloworld were involved in the trip too and we actually had lots of great chats on the road about the benefits of booking travel through a travel agency.
Here’s a recap on my days in Oman.
First taste of Oman
First up was RELAY day. Shooting, editing and posting a photo an hour for 12 hours is every bit as crazy as it sounds!
Accompanied by my ridiculously awesome guide Salim and my equally awesome host Ben, from Oman Tourism (Australian office), we hit the road early to shoot sunrise in the mountains.
I would love to spout a whole bunch of trip logistics now but to be honest I was super preoccupied with my race to get photos and had to leave all that work to Salim and Ben. All I know is that I went from Jabal Shams to Bahla to Nizwa to Al Hamra to Misfah where we wrapped up with a sunset Instameet.
Oman of my dreams
The benefits of covering so much ground in one day is that you cover so much ground in one day. By day two, I felt like I had been in Oman for weeks and was already wrapping my mind around the destination.
Salim, Ben and I were just about bonded for life at this point after such an intense RELAY experience so the rest of the week was super relaxed and fun!
After waking up at the uber luxurious Alila Jabal Akhdar, my reward for the exertions of RELAY day, we went on a mission to find a pomegranate farm and a sunset in the mountains. I had my “pinch me” moment amongst the pomegranates, told you I’m strange.
Magic travel moments
I don’t know why but sometimes I get an idea in my head that I really need a particular shot and on this particular day it was a shot of a pomegranate on a tree.
Once I finally took that photo I hated it and it will never see the light of day but I did have a very cool time getting to that point. And it goes to show that all the planning and money in the world can’t create magic travel moments. You just have to be open to them.
We had just discovered that all the small pomegranate farms were fenced and locked when Salim ran into some local boys who offered to show us their dad’s patch. They led us up a narrow (treacherous) alley and into paradise!
Pomegranate trees as far as the eye could see, laughing boys pushing each other around in wheelbarrows and the sweet smell of ripe pomegranates in the air. That is a moment in time that I will never forget.
The next day was all about the Muscat Fish Markets.
I’m sure I did other things that day but they pale in comparison to my dawn experience on the harbour.
These are the sorts of activities that you would never even hear about unless you have local knowledge or a great travel agent and it was honestly another highlight for me. Omanis are so AWESOME!
I always feel very self-conscious about taking photos of locals but I soon warmed to it because everyone was so nice. Nobody said no, nobody was in any way fazed by my camera and – for the most part – everyone just stayed authentic for my lens. I walked away with some of my favourite people photography of all time.
Last day in Oman
Finally my last day dawned. I had been in Oman for seven months, I mean five days, and I was not ready to leave!
Luckily the best had been saved until last and I was told little more than there would be swimming and a nice sunset. Um, it was only the best swim of my life and one of the best sunsets of my life!
Firstly, we drove on the best road ever. I was constantly asking why big Hollywood blockbusters aren’t filmed there. Then we rocked up to a car park near the coast to check out some sinkhole that was the BEST THING EVER!
I was actually mad at Ben and Salim for completely downplaying this place. I could go to Oman and spend a week just hanging out and swimming at the sinkhole. Perfect temperature, super gorgeous and clear and fish to nibble your toes. I stayed in for far longer than we had time for and I’m definitely #sorrynotsorry.
Sunset in Oman
By the time sunset arrived we had made it to Sur.
I spent my last evening in Oman sitting by my camera being served local tea by Salim to the sounds of the call to prayer. It was a short trip but a memorable one and definitely one that wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of Helloworld and Oman Tourism.
I ended a recent social media post with these words …
Lauren Bath travelled to Oman on a Helloworld social media influencer campaign.