Hello from the other side – a working traveler’s diary

When I came to the Middle East in August last year, I did so with a number of goals in mind:

  1. Gain international work experience
  2. Get out of my slump, my routine and comfort zone and meet new people from all over
  3. Participate in more global races (triathlons, marathons, long distance swims)
  4. Travel
  5. Save

I’m happy to say that I’ve done a fair amount of 2, 3, 4. I continue to gain international work experience and I’m finally on track to start saving. If you look at my social media properties, you’ll get a glimpse into a few of the adventures I’ve taken (Besides Doha, Dubai, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, desert safaris too), or the people I have met. But don’t for one second think it has been all peachy, all happy times. It’s real life and in real life you battle real things like missing family and friends, missing key events, not knowing when you can take leave, being tired, salary issues, and not living in a place you’re happy to call home. I’ve been to dark places in my mind. Anxiety has been a big thing for me too, especially in a professional capacity, but I know my limits and I know when to switch work mode off. Have I perfected the art of doing that? Not at all, but I’m doing my best to get it right. I’m lucky in that I have my sports and training to preoccupy my mind when I’m feeling low. It’s a good release, in terms of expressing my frustrations in training. If you see me on the road on a Friday or Saturday, and you see me talking to myself with very strong expressions, you’ll know why now. Haha. You see these are real things you deal with when you live abroad. And thanks to technology, we can always send a WhatsApp message, talk to the family and friends on FaceTime or even write posts like this.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. You learn a lot about yourself when you move away from your comfort zone. And that is probably the best experience you can take away from moving. I have no regrets about moving. It has been an incredible experience and one that I want to continue for the foreseeable future. Whether I stay here, or move on will be determined in time, but as a traveler, an explorer, a realist and a storyteller, I felt it would be good to share an alternative view on the happy, smiley selfies too.

I’m interested to know a few things from those of you reading this.

  • How have you dealt with moving away?
  • How have you adapted to the new cultures, languages you’ve been exposed to?
  • What do you do when you feel low?
  • If you’ve dealt with anxiety on your journey, how do you channel it into something positive?
  • What’s your tipping point, your limits?
  • When you’re on the road, exploring the world, what tricks or tips do you have when you’re feeling bleh?Has your experience been better or worse than the place you originate from?
  • Has your experience been better or worse than the place you originate from?
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#AVonVoyage to Abu Dhabi – A Maxi Triathlon weekend

Last weekend, I participated in my first ITU World Triathlon Series race in the awesome city of Abu Dhabi. I’m unable to race Ironman South Africa this year, so I thought a Maxi triathlon in the region would suffice. In case you don’t know, a Maxi consists of:

– 1500 meter swim
– 80 kilometre cycle
– 20-kilometer run

This and 70.3 is a great distance for me. I’m able to find my groove, and I know how to pace myself accordingly. When it comes to Olympic distances, I tend to push hard on the swim and the first bit of the cycle. So I get a lot slower towards the end of the race. That’s going to change, though, as I build up to the New York City Triathlon in July (WOOOOHOOOO). Back to Abu Dhabi though.

I arrived in the UAE on Thursday evening. I had a bit of drama with the Etihad Airways ground staff in Doha. They wouldn’t let me take my bike bag and a checked piece of luggage on, even though the agent who works for the airline and who booked my package assured me that everything had been arranged especially for us triathletes. Alas after a bit of annoyance and a broken piece of hand luggage later, I got through. When I arrived in Abu Dhabi, I caught one of the cabs waiting outside the airport… A nice little (not so little) Mercedes-Benz took me to the Centro Al Manhal By Rotana.

Sidebar, nice comfortable accommodation on Yas Island if you’re looking for somewhere to stay. It’s close to the Marina, the racetrack, the mall, Ferrari World. It’s perfect!

On Friday, after a bit of breakfast with a friend who came through from Dubai (45minutes or so), I headed off to registration. It was smooth, a breeze. The one weird thing is that the race briefing was held on the grandstands… Standard really, but there was no shade, and for athletes who are supposed to be keeping hydrated and resting, this seemed a bit off. It was about 28 degrees, so it was hot. First world problems, blah blah, but that was one observation. The one thing that saved the briefing was the ever entertaining and awesome announce, Paul Kaye. It’s weird; I almost feel at home when he’s on the circuit giving us our briefings and throwing in some quips and funnies along the way.

True to the pre-race routine, I checked the old bike, packed the bags, got the bottles ready and hit up a restaurant in the mall for some chicken protein boet. I always say I’ll have an early night, but inevitably land up having a late one, and then I don’t sleep properly for fear of missing the alarm, etc. So by 3 am, I was up and at it. I gave up coffee and chocolate for Lent, so a cuppa tea was on hand to wake me up, lol. My other race must-have is my FUTURELIFE High Protein, trusty and now old faithful ☺

Once everything was sorted in bike-check and transition, I headed off to the swim start. It’s quite a walk from where the bikes were, so if you’re doing the race next year, give yourself enough time to get there. The race was supposed to kick off at 7 am, but due to some delays on the cycle route, they delayed it until 7:30. One gent, who was clearly very anxious, was getting rather frustrated, tried to get me involved in his frustration meets anxious tendency, and I was like BYE! I’m one of those characters who gets really quiet. I’m singing songs in my head and analysing the water conditions. I guess you can say I ‘Zen’ myself, haha.

We finally got going, and so did my swimming muscles it would appear. I haven’t been able to swim properly because believe it or not; it has been pretty cold in Doha. It wasn’t ideal because I love my swimming and I usually do pretty well here, so I was a little worried about that. It turns out muscle memory is a winner – I climbed out the 1500m swim, some 22 minutes later. I believe I was fourth out the water too, so I was pleased, to say the least. That success didn’t last long though because of the cycle, once again, was weak for me. I don’t know why but I just can’t get it right. I think it has a lot to do with bike positioning and the fact that I don’t have tribars. I need some cycling assistance, so if anyone is keen to help a brother out with some tips and guidance, holler!

The cycle route was interesting. We got to ride around the Yas Marina Island Circuit, which is quite technical and isn’t short on turns. We cycled around the outskirts of the circuit and through Yas Island too. So at least there was some reprieve too. The Maxi athletes had to do four loops, while the Olympic racers did two. We were all on the track at the same time at one point, which could’ve gone horribly wrong, but luckily for most, it seemed okay. My suggestion to organisers would be to relook the cycle. It’s just a little too boring for the Maxi I feel. I managed to do the distance in 2:31, which isn’t bad, but still, I need to put a lot more work into it to make the cycle count. The run was grand, and thank goodness for good weather conditions. If the sun was baking down on us, I think I would’ve battled a lot more. The run was a double loop of ten kilometres each. At about 11 km in, I stopped to grab some coke and an orange. I walked a bit, then ran and then walked again. A fellow racer, probably in his early sixties came running past me and said there is no way I am to walk. It’s funny, because this always seems to happen to me, and it’s always the ‘wiser’ gents. So I carried on, and he was hot on my heels, so I just carried on knowing he would curse me if I walked again haha. I managed to finish the race in 4:34, which I think is good? I haven’t done the distance before, but I’m pretty happy with that performance.

I enjoyed the race. I thought it was fun, tough but good. I love pushing myself too. So perhaps that why I felt so shattered afterwards? There’s always a lot of room for improvement, and I’m ready to keep moving forward. I wish I were doing Ironman South Africa on the 2nd of April, but alas this year it isn’t meant to be ☹

Gallery: #AVonVoyage to Abu Dhabi

We didn’t have a lot of time to explore the city too much, but post race, and a delicious burger later, myself and a few tri club friends decided to head off to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque… It’s one of THE most raved about Mosques in the region, so we had to check it out. What a marvellous piece of architecture, culture and a beautiful, calming place. It was busy, full of people from all over the world. It’s a place you need to visit if you’re in Abu Dhabi. As I said, time was limited, but next time I’m keen to hit up the theme parks, and also see more of the city, the souqs and eat more local food. Hopefully, that will be sooner rather than later.

Stay tuned for #AVonVoyage to Oman, and more races, coming soon. Who knows where to next after that? Well besides Dubai this weekend 😉

#AVonVoyage to Dubai

Last Thursday I hopped on board an Emirates plane en route to Dubai in the UAE. I had a bit of a scare at the airport, with my exit permit not being issued in time, but luckily after several frantic calls all before 5 am, I managed to get it. The mission for the trip? Well firstly, to complete the Standard Charted Dubai Marathon… My first real marathon, really. The last marathon I did was in April when I participated in my first IRONMAN event. Yip, that was my first marathon. What a way to introduce yourself to marathon running, huh?

The last time I was in Dubai was in 2012. I had no expectations when I got there, and so my time there was a lot more than I ever imagined it would be. The city was vibey, fun and my friends looked after me real good. It was enough for me to start looking at any working opportunities there. It wasn’t meant to be, but now being based in Doha, Qatar, it’s a lot easier to visit the city. So upon my return to the city, I was absolutely blown away by how much it has changed. For one, it’s a lot ‘taller’. There are so many more buildings, so many skyscrapers. The Dubai Canal is a new addition to the city, and the Metro is fully functional too. This city is truly world class, and they aren’t playing games when it comes to proving how much they want to be considered as such.

I headed off to the race registration. Now usually you find a big expo with loads of stalls and brands showing off all their latest trends and products. So I was a bit taken aback by the lack of exhibitors there. In fact, I was disappointed because I was hoping to get myself a new pair of running shoes there. I mean, in my head there’s no better place than the number one hub for runners, right? Alas, it is what it is and the one good thing is that I didn’t have to stand in too long a queue, which is always a bonus. All wrapped up, all registered and now officially ‘poeping’ myself, I headed off to my hotel. If you’re ever looking for a central place to stay, I would definitely recommend the Metropolitan Hotel. It’s newly refurbished, it’s a short walk from the FGB Station and it’s very affordable too. The room was comfy and it’s close to the Burj Al Arab…. So it comes highly recommended. It worked very well for me too because it was about 3kms from the start and finish of the race. There’s also a really nice grocery store down the road (it sells biltong). PLUS if you’re South African, there’s a Mugg & Bean in the centre too… A little taste of home never hurt. Gosh, was that necessary. I vowed to get myself a banana muffin after the race, but that didn’t happen this time around. So I’ll just have to go back I guess 😉

On race morning, I got up early, enjoyed my High Protein Futurelife and then headed to the start. It was supposed to be pretty chilly, but to be honest the humidity kept it quite warm. Perfect for running really. After checking in my bag, I made my way to the start – EEEEEEEEEK! I’ve come this far, the only thing left to do now is to run. And that I did. I managed to find my rhythm quickly and I slowed my pace down too. Sidebar, I recently did a 21km training in Doha and I managed to do it in 1:38, which is my fastest. Granted it’s flat here and the weather is perfect. I didn’t expect to keep that pace for the marathon. In fact, I knew I had to slow down, and that’s what I did. I found a group of runners from Dubai, who were running a really nice pace, and so I hooked onto their bus and ran with them. At around 19kms, I need to use the little boy’s rooms, and so by the time I was done (like literally 2minutes), they were gone. I tried to catch up, but they’d upped their pace and I couldn’t keep up. I kept it steady, though and found another group to run with. At around 30kms in, the wheels started coming off. I think I’d pushed a little too hard. That coupled with old running shoes and too little distance training in the build up. It was possibly the longest 12kms of my life. I battled through, but I came out on top and managed to sneak in a time of 3:48… Super stoked about that one, seeing as though my marathon time in Ironman was a long 4:50.

A few lessons learned on the run:

– Don’t drink too much

– Get your nutrition right. All I wanted were some baby potatoes (my mum will be happy)

– Slow it down in the beginning, and pick it up for the last 10kms

– Do more longer, slower distance training in the build up

– Make sure your running shoes are conducive to running long distances like this

– Have fun

If you have any tips, please feel free to share with me too.

I really did enjoy the experience and I’m keen to do more marathons now… I’m a global runner and I love this ish. Between running, swimming, cycling and a combination of all three in the form of triathlon, expect more travel and race reports from me. I’m longing to go to Ironman South Africa, but it’s looking unlikely. New York City Triathlon in July is definitely on the cards – entry was paid for last year and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. Plus it’s New York City… My home away from home 🙂 As for the city of Dubai. Well, I do love thee. The pulse, the people, the forward-thinking types, the infrastructure, the cleanliness, the services, Dubai stays winning. I’ll be back there soon, but first we prep for ITU World Triathlon Abu Dhabi 2017 in March.

Justin Bieber returns to South Africa in May 2017

 

Global superstar Justin Bieber announced today that his Purpose World Tour will be coming to South Africa in 2017. Presented by Discovery.

Johannesburg: Sunday 14th May at FNB Stadium

Cape Town: Wednesday 17th May at Cape Town Stadium

With 947, KFM and M-Net and Channel 24. Another Big Concerts Experience.

TICKET INFORMATION

Tickets go on sale Thursday 15th December at 9am. Go to www.bigconcerts.co.za for all the information.  Discovery Pre-Sale:  Discovery cardholders get exclusive access to tickets from Tuesday 13th December. Go to www.discovery.co.za for more information. 

Please note the following ticketing polices: all fans attending the concerts that are younger than 14 years must be accompanied by a parent/legal guardian. There is also an age restriction on field standing tickets (Front Zone Standing East/West and General Admission East/West) – no one under 12 years and shorter than 1.2 metres will be permitted onto the field.

 

With worldwide album sales in excess of 100 million units, Bieber has dominated pop culture and social media.  With 3.1 million sales worldwide for his latest album ‘Purpose’ Justin Bieber’s current global tour has smashed box office records. Hit singles include ‘What Do you Mean’, ‘Sorry’, ‘Love Yourself’ which all peaked at number one on the Billboard Top 200 making Bieber the first male artist in almost a decade to have three number ones from an album.

…and NOW, Justin Bieber brings his Purpose World Tour to South Africa with two stadium shows. www.justinbiebermusic.com

#PurposeWorldTour

Tour Information:

Johannesburg

Sunday 14th May 2017

FNB Stadium

Ticket Price:  R410 – R1540

Tickets go on sale Thursday 15th December at 9am from www.bigconcerts.com and Computicket

Pre-Sale: Exclusive pre-sale for Discovery Card holders from 13th December 2016. Go to www.discovery.co.za for more information

 

VIP/Hospitality:

VIP packages available from www.computicket.com.

Suite Hospitality: SAIL: bookings@sail.co.za or dial 082-560-8993

 

 

Cape Town

Wednesday 17th May 2017

Cape Town Stadium

Ticket Price:  R350 – R1260

Tickets go on sale Thursday 15th December at 9am from www.bigconcerts.com and Computicket

Pre-Sale: Exclusive pre-sale for Discovery Card holders from 13th December 2016. Go to www.discovery.co.za for more information

 

VIP/Hospitality:

VIP packages available from www.computicket.com.

Suite Hospitality: For any hospitality enquiries, please contact Dudley Horn on Dudley@tegsa.co.za

Hello from Doha, Qatar

It has been a while since my long blog post… I think it’s because I’ve been so busy trying to settle into my new environment, my new job, and my new way of life in the Qatari city of Doha. It has been almost four months, and it’s time for my blogging hiatus to come to an end.

A quick recap… A lot of you still may not have realised, but I no longer live in SA. I moved to Doha, Qatar on the 11th of August. I was yearning for an adventure abroad and so when the opportunity to come out here and work on a very exciting project (well four), I simply couldn’t turn it down. It scared me to no end. I mean I knew one old university friend was based here and besides her, I knew of a few people who knew my people in some way. That’s part of the adventure huh? Some of the things I’ve done since I’ve been here:

  • Been a #YesMan… Go meet people from all walks of life because why not? And boy have I met some incredible humans.
  • Use apps like Internations, Meetup or dare I say it, even Tinder
  • Tenpin bowling. It’s not novel, but it’s fun and a good way to let your hair down
  • Go smoke shisha at the Souq Waqif
  • Walk and explore (not in the height of summer because it’s revolting). In my case, it’s run ’cause you know… Triathlete
  • I went dog walking… I love dogs, I needed some attention from our furry friends, and they needed some love and affection too. The fit was right. So fulfilling, special and I met some awesome people too
  • Tried a vegan restaurant. Absolutely delicious!!! IF you ever come and visit the city (or me) we’re going to Evergreen Organics
  • Desert safari with friends
  • Visited the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA)
  • Kayaking around Katara Recreation Centre
  • Mall shopping (there are malls for days in these parts)
  • Joined a triathlon club

Some of you might think that’s what I do back at home. Yes, you’re right… For some of these, but for most of the listed items above, I’ve taken for granted. Before coming here, I slipped into a routine, a comfort zone if you like and that’s made me somewhat complacent. Life is about living and I’ve become a strong advocate of the idea of growth only being possible when you’re out of your comfort zone. There’s a limit though and we need to be able to draw the line or strike a balance between what is possible and what isn’t. No experience is ever wasted, but I’d much rather be doing stuff and fail, then to live in a bubble and wonder what if? Or worse, have regrets.

I went back to SA a few weeks back and that was good for the soul. Seeing your family, your friends… Your people is best. Having said that, I was pretty excited to head back here. I think that’s a good sign, right? 🙂

And so with this massive change in my life, I feel like it’s only fitting that my blog content shifts  slightly too. There will be more adventure, more news on health and wellness (my journey in this space), more on the city of Doha, but there will still be entertainment too. I hope you’ll my #DesertDiary and this project I call #AVonVoyage.

Q&A with Tough Rides: Brazil’s Ryan Pyle

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The new season of Tough Rides kicks off on Travel Channel on 23 July. Check out my Q&A with host, Ryan Pyle to see what he gets up to in this season of Tough Rides: Brazil:

1.    On 23 July, your show Tough Rides: Brazil kicks off on Travel Channel, channel 179 on DStv. Riding a bike can be nerve-wracking at the best of times. Do you get nervous leading up to a new show’s debut on TV?
RP: I don’t get nervous when I am riding motorcycles, but it can always be a little bit scary when you travel around a country as wonderful as Brazil and you have so many honest and intimate moments with people, and you wonder if your television audiences around the world will “buy in” and want to follow in your footsteps and watch the rest of the episode. My goal is to explore, educate and storytell, and I think we did that in Brazil.

 

2.    In this series, you’re riding across South America’s biggest country, Brazil. What is the best aspect about traversing a country like this on nothing but a bike?
RP: A motorcycle puts you in touch with a country the way a car or bus or train never can. On a motorcycle you are connected to nature, to the weather, to the landscape and to the people. It’s a 360 degree experience that is real, rich and incredibly fullfilling.

 

3.    How did this idea come about?
RP: We are now in Season #3 of Tough Rides. I’ve already completed journey’s in China (S1) and India (S2). Originally my brother joined me in China and India and it was a wonderful experience, it was something that we had always wanted to do. Instead of “riding around the world” I always just wanted to learn as much about one country at one time; so riding a motorcycle for a few weeks or months around a single country and learning as much as possible about what makes that country special is just wonderful and very rewarding. The best way to explore the world is on two wheels.

4.    In the first episode, you’re in the incredible city of Rio de Janeiro, which is amazing. It can also be a bit scary in parts, can you tell us a bit about that?
RP: Rio is a city of great contrasts. If you stay near Copa Cabanna beach where all the tourists are then there are no real issues. If you go wandering off in other parts of the city there could be some issues. We toured the favella’s as part of our series and it was a unique look at a city of great constrasts. Highly educational.

 

5.    When you’re in these different cities, or making your way from A to B, do you ever get time to just pull over and admire the beauty, the scenery, the people?
RP: Sure, we always stop and film and meet people on the road and take our time. We are never rushing from A to B, and most of the time the best stories and the best people we meet are in those places inbetween. My series is un-scripted for the most part so we are always on the look-out for chance encounters.

 

6.    What were some of your personal highlights that perhaps didn’t quite make the TV cut?
RP: There is so much content that never makes it in to the TV Cut. Wow, where do I begin? There were a lot of challenging moments along the BR-319, the most dangerous road in Brazil, that we were just unable to film because of extreme conditions due to personal safety. But that could have been an entire series all by itself. I hope I can go back at some stage.

 

7.    What was the most difficult thing about the trip?
RP: The most difficult thing for me about making adventure television shows is being away from my family for long stretches at a time. As “tough” as I am in traveling by motorcycle through the Amazon, I have an incredible support team in my family….that I miss dearly everyday.

 

8.    If someone is going to Brazil for the Olympics next month, what are some of the words or phrases can you share with them to get by while they’re there?
RP: In Brazil, you don’t need language. You need body language. Be loose. Be fun. Smile. And be sure to drink and dance the night way, just like all the locals. You’ll be embraced but what it means to be Brazilian. What a beautiful way of life.

 

9.    You’re an adventurer by trade. So what’s next for Ryan? Maybe a trip from Cape Town to Cairo?
RP: I make a lot of different television shows, and Tough Rides is one of my absolute favorites. I would love to do an adventure in Africa but I would prefer to visit only one or two countries at a time and really try to learn about their diversity and what makes them special. I am less interested about crossing continents or doing “round the world” rides. I am on my motorcycle to connect with people and learn about places that I want to visit.

 

10.  In closing and in two sentences, why should people watch Tough Rides: Brazil?
RP: You should watch Tough Rides: Brazil because it is real, it is honest and it is epic. Enjoy the adventure!

 

11.  Where do we find you on the social networks?
RP: Facebook (@ryanpyle) – Twitter (@ryanpyle) – Instagram (@ryanpyle)

Be the A-lister you’ve always believed you were with M-Net Movies

M-NetMovies

Okay, hands up. How many of you pretend to be an actor, a singer or both in the comforts of your car, your shower or your home? Your home becomes your set location, your car becomes your stage and it’s there that you act out one of your favourite movie scenes or belt out your best version of your ultimate song. I have, you can see it here (disclaimer, my singing isn’t grand), but you can watch it anyway. I also sometimes catch myself re-enacting a scene from a movie or a series because I’m just that amazing. There’s a point to all of this, I promise…

M-Net Movies is giving its viewers the opportunity of a lifetime: to ‘Star in your own Greatest Movie Ever Made’ and maybe win a trip to the mecca of moviemaking i.e. Hollywood!!! The movies stable on DStv has created this platform for aspiring A-listers to get their big break and big wanderlust adventure at the same time. All you need to do is this:

  • Re-enact a scene from a movie now showing on one of the movie channels (M-Net Movies Premiere (Channel 104); M-Net Movies Smile (Channel 105); M-Net Movies Action + (Channel 106), M-Net Movies Showcase (Channel 107); M-Net Movies Action (Channel 110); M-Net Movies All Stars (Channel 111) and M-Net Movies Zone (Channel 139)
  • Upload your video to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #MMGreatest
  • To validate your entry, you must go to mnet.tv to fill out the entry form too.

The competition will run through to the 20th of August and thereafter the fun starts. 24 of the top entries will then be selected by a panel of experts. The public will then choose their top 12, who will be selected to star in a production by the highly acclaimed production company, Bomb Productions. Sidebar, this team is incredible guys and girls. They’re the brains behind shows like Isibaya and Jacob’s Cross, both of which are brilliant from production values and casting perspectives. So best you know you’re working with the crème de la crème. The script for this production will be written by Tebogo Malope, and the top 12 will co-star alongside acting greats Thapelo Mokoena, Thomas Gumede, Lalla Land’s Lalla Hirayama and Maps Maponyane when the shoot takes places on the 26th of September. #NOTKAK at all!!!

So the big question is, SHALL WE? I’m in… I know what scene will get me a couple of votes, but you’ll have to wait and see what it is. Which movie scene would you act out?

If you want more information visit www.mnet.tv