Oslob Adventure with the Blue Whale Sharks

My venture to swim with the majestic blue whale sharks was the best thing that ever happened in my life. I assure you, you won’t have any regrets in this trip.

Swimming with the Whale Sharks

It was on the 23rd of December when we got into our hotel located by the seashore in Oslob. Oslob is on the east side of Cebu Island. We were foretold that the Swim with the Blue Whale Shark tickets had to be purchased by an agent from the hotel before midnight. This was to reduce traffic on the next day, most of the tourists come early to the center to get tickets for the boats, therefore it was important for us to get the early boat tickets. No one of course would want to penetrate through the hubbub and deal with the pandemonium of noise there. We paid before hand before that evening, and we were briefed that the shuttle would arrive early in the morning at 5 am.

The next morning, we hopped on the shuttle and arrived at the Blue Whale Shark Center in about 5 minutes. By the time we arrived, there was already a long queue. I was dressed in Nashata Sleeveless Body suit and  Nashata Red Heather Top. My mom was dressed in Nashata SibahaThe body suits provided us with great support and the products did not slip or move about during drastic movements. Upon waiting for the briefing session provided by the staffs, a few salesmen walked around, promoting the waterproof phone cases. I purchased one because I wanted to record the experience in my phone. Hence, they also explained that there were GoPro devices up for rent. We took that too.

 

Poster at briefing session

After a few moments, the staff conducted her briefing session using a small mic and speaker, it was fairly loud but the crowd was really loud. The staff explained that all swimmers must keep a distance of 5 meters away from the Whale Sharks. It was also compulsory for all swimmers to wear the life vest at all times. She also strictly warned us to not touch the fish. As soon as the briefing session ended, we were escorted to the second boat, luckily we were the first few to jump in the water. Why? This is because the early birds would witness the feeding time of the Whale Sharks up close !

Nashata Body suit and Red heather top

Nashata Sibaha

I was extremely shocked to see the whales  at a surprisingly low water level. The water depth was approximately about 15 meters deep. The Blue Whale Sharks would come up close to the shore to be fed, that was incredible ! They were super friendly too, despite the bountiful amount of humans swimming and circulating them, they were very calm. As I dropped my feet into the water, and lowered my head to see the whale shark, I was amazed. They were so beautiful, each individual whale own their own pretty white spots. From the upside view, I could see their shark-like fins that were actually pretty scary. However, from the lower view, they were as calming as dolphins. Their large sized mouths were like vacuums. They did not have any teeth or such, they only had a big mouth that would suck anything in front of them.

Shot taken from the GoPro

Swimming with them for the first time was actually really terrifying. Based on movies and documentaries, the whale is enormous and since it belongs to the shark family, sharks are dangerous animals too. Essentially, I was awestruck when there were no security or life guards provided. Was it safe? What if it tries to swallow me? However, none of that happened, they were perfectly calm and friendly. They had been there for a while and supposedly, they know their whereabouts pretty well. Here is a fact, the swimmers do not need to move around too much to avoid contact with the whale, because the whale would make its way around you. Conversely, the whales do have a blind spot located right in front of their head. This is because their eyes are situated by the sides of their heads. One of the boatmen rendered his assistance to videotape us using the rented GoPro. He was pretty skilled in taking the videos as the outcome was spectacular !

After a good 20 minutes, the boatmen demanded us to get out from the water to return to the deck. The whales did not stay for long, therefore to ensure all the tourists present get the chance to swim with the whales, the boatmen must be in complete control of the flow. As soon as we arrived the shore, an army of tourists were already flushing into the empty boats. I was really glad we had gone early to swim with the whales. After that, I went to the GoPro rent shop to alter the video and pictures into my mobile phone. It took a while for me to do that because the video and pictures were  in large files and ate up most of my storage. Therefore, to all future tourists, please ensure you have a large empty storage in your phone or laptop if you wish to rent the GoPro! After the transfer was completed, I took a peep at the videos and I was very astonished by the quality. It was amazing, I definitely recommend you to get the rented GoPro or bring one from home, it would be a great help !

That sums up my venture to swim with the Blue Whale Shark in Oslob, Philippines. It was one of the best moments in my life, I felt so happy that i wanted to swim with them again !

Journey to Osmena Peak

On the 22nd of December 2019, I woke up at 4am in the morning to catch the sunrise at Osmena Peak. I got ready and waited for the transport provided by the hotel at Badian area, which is on the west side of Cebu Island. It was pitch black and only a few vehicles could be seen on that dark chilly morning. My family and I hopped on two motorcycles and were foretold that the ride was only a 5 minute ride to Osmena Peak. My mom and I were told to get onto a motorbike with a male rider on it. We agreed and immediately started our journey although I knew my mother was not comfortable to ride a motorbike without a helmet. After a few minutes, the motorcyclist stopped by the road side and told us that they had to stop for gas. Surprisingly they fueled up by the road side using a bottle filled with fuel from a house. I guess they keep all their stocks in the houses for easy refuel. As we continued our journey, it took longer than 10 minutes then little puffs of imaginary light  bulbs started popping up on our heads. Why was it taking so long ? But neither of us dared to speak up because it was super chilly, we were ascending a hill. With the cool breeze slapping and whooshing our faces, all we could do was hug each other very tightly. The roads were also windy and bumpy, it really made an impact on my leg injury that i had the day before.

 

Journey to Osmena Peak

We passed by many houses, villages and a small yet busy town trading vegetables,  and there were surprisingly a great number of chickens and dogs. The animals there were extremely friendly, unlike the ones in my country, they are more ferocious and violent. The animals in the Phillipines do not attack you, they act more like companions. It was so calming to see the village, the people smile and waved back as we passed by. After a good long hour, we finally reached the Osmena Peak checkpoint.

There was a slippery slope that we had to ascend to reach the hut. The morning fog covered the land with cold droplets of water, it was comfortable to breathe but difficult to walk as the path was slippery. We looked like clumsy babies going up the slope, the villagers just smiled. When we reached the hut, there was an entrance fee of probably 100 pesos per person, and if we wanted a guide, it would cost an additional 500 pesos.

The start point

Walking sticks were also available for rent for 50 pesos each, the staff explained that the walking sticks are important during the descend. So, we took 3 walking sticks and hired a guide. We were shocked to see the guide, confidently only wearing a pair of flipflops, draped over with a grey jacket and attired with a simple black colored short. While us on the other hand, were dressed up like mountain hikers, geared up with sports shoes and training attires.

A picture with J.R

The guide introduced himself as “J.R” he was very cheerful and amazingly friendly. He rendered his assistance for photography purposes, so I gave him my mobile phone, he said it would be a piece of cake for him. He briefly told us that the climb would only take about 20 minutes. By that time, the sun was already up. We missed the sunrise but the weather was still perfectly fine, sunny but rather chilly.

As we ascended, i notice that we were going slightly at a slow pace, the rock edges were fairly slippery and covered with growth. The hike was not challenging but the weather factor made it particularly grueling.

The spectacular view !

One crucial element that hikers must take note is not to forget the spectacular view from above. Although we haven’t reach the top yet, we could see the wide range village and heaps of those beautiful green mountains, it was amazing. The piles of grassy mountains were wrapped round with windy routes that almost seemed like a whirlwind. The sun cast its warm beams of sunlight on us, it felt like a fairy tail. The echoes of roosters ring the air as we ascended.

As we ascended, J.R effortlessly took shots and videos of us during the climb, it almost seemed like he was just casually stretching his arms while hitting the record button. But the video quality was really good, it was barely difficult for him to make the ascend, it was like walking for him. He explained that he goes up and down the hill more than 8 times a day to guide the tourists. Clearly he was very experienced in this.

On the peak of the hill, I witnessed a lady running some errands beside a tent she’d built. I was shocked that one would camp up there despite its chilly, freezing weather. J.R guided us to a popular spot for magnificent pictures, it was in between sharp shaped rocks demonstrated with the beautiful sea background. Luckily, the sun was on our side, the lighting features were splendid !

Osmena Peak, at 1013 meter is not the highest peak in Cebu Island. In fact, on the about 20 meter east of Osmena Peak, there is another higher peak perhaps 5 or 10 meters taller, but not easily accessible by public. J.R confirmed our observation!

The many many peaks

Over the peaks is the ocean, the west of Cebu Island

I was dressed in Nashata blue salasa pants and a grey iman hijab the salasa pants were really popping its colors in the pictures.

Nashata racerback sports hijab, Heather top and Riada Active Pants

My mother was wearing Nashata hooda racerback sports hijab purple heather top and black riada active pants. The color of the heather top contrasted the background perfectly, the shots were nicely taken too. The  hooda racerback sports hijab was a great support for the activity because it did not flip through out the venture and was perfectly still but rise is fashion. I felt slightly shaky when I sat on the rocks because it was located by the edge, one small error then I could have fall. However, J.R was superbly jumping from one rock to another, in those worn off flipflops, readily finding a perfect position to take my photos.

Poses J.R suggested

 

He demanded me to do certain poses as he was the camera master. I should say, I was very impressed by his skills. After a bountiful amount of photos, we finally started our descend.

The descend

As we passed by other hikers, we also slip past a few convenient stalls located up on the hill. They sold goods such as soda drinks, snacks and lettuce. They grow remarkably a lot of vegetables. The villagers too, had impeccable English. People there were so buoyant and in good spirits, I admired their characters.

After reaching the hut, we returned our walking sticks and managed to greet goodbye to the amazing J.R, then continued our descend down the slippery slope. However, J.R surprisingly followed us down to make sure we returned safely, how sweet of him. Our transport had already arrive so we hoped on. It took another one hour to return to our hotel, but that was alright. The view and the environment was very entertaining. Although the bumpy road was a bit of a nuisance.

In conclusion, Osmena Peak is a worthwhile hike, staffs are incredibly friendly and environment is simply enchanting. As an advice, hikers should wake up extra early, probably at 3 in the morning to catch the sunrise, else wise, you would be experiencing the hot rays of sunlight. You can also catch the sunset instead. Please note, that every tourist behooves personal belongings to assure that there are no loses or any possible damage.

Canyoning or canyoneering at Kawasan Falls

Cebu Island is a picturesque land that is surrounded by heaps of beautiful green mountains.  My trip to Cebu Island was definitely a remarkable and enchanting trip for me, most of the adventure activities progressed were the attributes that stamped a check on my ‘ Life to do list ‘. It felt like my life is complete, I managed to accomplish my wish list with ease !

Canyoning at Kawasan Falls

On the 21st of December 2019, around 2 o’clock in the afternoon, my family and I made our way out from the hotel. We were ready for our canyoning or canyoneering activity at Badian,  Kawasan Falls. Canyoning offers you a mixed of different activities going though canyons by walking, sliding, climbing up and down rocks and going through caves and jumping over waterfalls.  Before leaving, we were equipped with safety tools such as the life vest and helmet. Then, we got on two motorcycles to the place. For your information, three people were on each motorcycle. Next, yes, you might be wondering, is Kawasan Falls  attached to the canyoning starting area ? Well, absolutely. Kawasan Falls is the last fall that you encounter when you canyoning at Badian.

Pathway to the canyoning start point

The canyoning starting point is way on top of the hill, and to get down to the sky- blue river to start the journey, we were given two choices. First, to walk 1 kilometer on a hilly pathway till we reach start point, with no porter included. Second, to ride a 1 kilometer zip line to the checkpoint with additional fees.

For the sake of the adventure, we decided to take the first option, which was to walk with a distance of 1 kilometer to the start point. It was not that challenging, however if you carry a heavy load of goods, I recommend you to prepare a lighter weight bag, the back pain can be stingy. As a reminder, if you want to take beautiful pictures and countless videos of throughout the journey, I decisively advice you to bring your own waterproof camera, or GoPro. It will be a total life saver for you! You should tie the camera/GoPro with an empty plastic water bottle to ensure the camera does not sink or be easily lost. Every group includes an instructor/guide whom will be responsible for your well-being and safety. That also involves securing your belongings and assist in photography and videography. That way, there would be no difficulties in snapping your memorable photos there, in addition the guides are incredibly talented at taking photos and videos. The whole package is extremely reasonable as you get to comfortably experience the canyoning adventure while not worrying about the camerawork. Other than that, you must wear aqua shoes through out the activity, the rocks are slippery and covered with fungus.

The cave-like stones

During the briefing session, our guide explained about the falls and adviced us to consistently wear all the safety tools given such as the safety helmet and life vest. There were 7 activities in total throughout the whole canyoning adventure, consisted waterfall jumps of heights ranging from 4 meters to 14 meters and sliding down natural waterslides. If you are acrophobic, hakuna matata! The jumps are not compulsory. All activities are fully bound up to your own free will. However, if you decided not to jump, i must say, it would be a wasteful.

Upon jumping the first few cliffs, my anxiety level gradually arisen. The cold, glacial, chilly river water was really enjoyable. The river was partially covered by huge, beautiful cave-like stones up above, in that way, the temperature down below was cold. Some sunlight managed to penetrate the small gaps of the caves but most of the time it was chilly.

Iman hijab and black ultra top

I was wearing Nashata black ultra top and Nashata black iman hijab. If you are a hijabi, and require comfortable and suitable sports attire for this activity, i highly recommend you to consider  Nashata Products. If you are not a hijabi, rest assured, there are still so many fashionable and sporty products from Nashata  that you can take a peep at ! 😀

During the 4th jump, it was for 7 meters high. It may not sound that frightening but it was actually spine-tingling. The blood curling moment made me hold the line. It took me almost a good 10 minutes for me to finally muster all my courage and took that one inch leap into the midst of air. As my body splashed in the chilly water, a sharp pain started throbbing around my upper back leg area or scientifically called the biceps femoris. It felt more like a cramp but simultaneously felt like a harsh slap. But after a few seconds, the pain faded away, so it was all good. After this tremendous jump, I knew it was going to be way harder for the next few jumps. I expected it to be more challenging for the next jump, so I was mentally ready.

After all the fret and jitters, the moment finally arrived, we reached the 10 meter jump. It was the second last jump, so i knew the adventure was already coming to and end. It was around 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Since the sun sets early in Moalboal, the guide adviced us to speed up. For your information, the sun sets at around 6 o’clock in the evening. There were no lights at night, although there were small stalls selling barbecue meat and some other snacks. That jump was the only “run and jump” type of a jump. At that hour, many people were already at that end of their expedition, therefore the place was slightly crowded, however still manageable. After witnessing a few of the other tourists and guides doing the jump, I managed to pull out the brave inner-self and finish the jump without hesitation. I must say, when jumping, the gravity pull force seemed 10 times stronger. It felt like someone was pulling you down, but of course that was just the gravity. When i hit the water surface, i felt the same cramp slap pain on both of my back legs. But this time, it was more intense, the pain started to sting. For a moment there after landing, I could not move my body, I was stiff. The guide quickly asked me to swim aside to let other people proceed with their jumps. Subsequently, I had to force my arms to push the water against the current and swim to the sides. The water current was amazingly strong.

The beautiful blue river water

 

Nevertheless, the stream was the most enchanting scenery ever. It was quite an eyeful. The turquoise, serene balletic streams of water shot me in the state of tranquility. In my opinion, even the best quality camera was not capable of capturing the astonishing sight. I had to snap the beautiful scenery with my own eyes and embed it in my memories. The water was so blue, it was like swimming in a fantasy water park. The compound was also upgraded with a man-made water slide by the small falls. It was simply amazing. The environment was also magnificently maintained.

In addition, there was also a tree rope jumping just like a tarzan, except you fall into a pool. Yes, the one with the long rope tied up to the tree trunks. The rope jump was extremely safe and fun. Basically you would just have to hang on to the rope, bend your knees throughout the jump and let go when you reach the middle zone. The guide warned us to not return back to the starting point once you had already reach the middle zone, this is simply because there is a high chance you would scrape your knee or injure yourself when you hit the starting rock. Frankly, you should just finish what you have started in one go.

 

Moving on with the journey, we reached the last stop, the final jump. It was an intense 14 meter jump. Some of the people ought to skip the last jump because they had enough of the cramp and adrenaline shock. Initially, I too wanted to skip the last jump, but after a long thought, I changed my mind. I knew I would regret the moment, it was a once in a lifetime experience. Where else could I find a majestic river like this? When would i be able to do this again? All those thoughts flushed my brain and subsequently, I decided to take the last jump. The last jump was on top of a fall, yes, right on top. It still gives me the heebie-jeebies every time I recall that moment. I stood on the roots of a huge tree, just a leap away from flying in the air. It was incredibly spooky. With the strong force of the waterfall, whooshing and splashing cold water like a giant creepy octopus, I closed my eyes and held onto my life vest as tight as i could. As soon as I made that jump, my throat voice started to squeak. It sounded like a mouse in the video. As usual, the pain was stinging. It hurt so bad this time, droplets of tears started forming from my eyes. Luckily, there was nobody in line, so i got some time for myself to endure the throbbing pain. After that, i swam to the side and reunite with my family.

 

Kawasan Falls

Considering we finished all the jumps, we finally made it to the last fall, Kawasan Falls. The falls was so pretty but half of it was marked as a restricted area. The guide explained that it was too deep, and there were a number of death cases due to that fall, because the depth was to deep and it was difficult to recover the person’s body. It was kind of scary after he explained that to us. At that stage, there were many stalls and benches. Most of the people who do not wish to do the canyoning would probably just pay an entree fee of about 100 pesos ( if I am not mistaken) from the entrance down below and enjoy that fall. However, I must say that I was grateful to have joined the canyoning from up above, it was more worthy and beneficial, we got to explore more gorgeous rivers and even managed to play  with the man-made entertainments. It was worthwhile.

 

It was around 6 o’clock in the evening when we came out from the park. The 6000 pesos family package also included a complete dinner meal by the beach, we even managed to witness the beautiful sunset by the sea. We got to the restaurant by a tricycle which was also included in the package. The ride only took approximately 5 minutes from the Kawasan Falls entrance to the restaurant.

Scrumptious foods

The food prepared included delicious prawns and a dozen hot mouthwatering spring rolls. You can also order add-on dishes but of course along with some additional fees. After that, we took another 5 minute walk back to our hotel. In a nutshell, it can be concluded that the canyoning activity was totally worth it, i had a jolly time although it was very an extreme sport. I decisively recommend that tourists should do the canyoning venture rather than directly going to the Kawasan Falls. In conjunction with that, the weather factors are crucial in determining the entry of any tourists. It rained on that night, so the next day, the staffs had to close the park due to slippery and dangerous sites.

Green rocks at Kawasan Falls making the colors of the water turquoise green.

For some extra guidelines, during any falls or jumps, do ensure that you cross hold your vest and jump with maintaining a straight leg posture, this is to guarantee no injuries. Never try to attempt a cannon ball posture because this would only slap your lower leg with more pressure and leaves you with non-stop pounding of pain and discomfort. You should also bring a waterproof bag, and place your mobile phones and other gadgets in an air-tight plastic bag. Please note, that every tourist behooves personal belongings to assure that there are no loses or any possible damage.

Waterfall Abseiling – Tengkil Waterfall, Gunung Muntahak

GEMS Road Trip

My parents never limited me as i grow up. They never doubted my abilities. They taught me what was right and reminded me when needed. They left the rest to Him.. At 17, He gave me one ultimate challenge which then became my weapon, my drive. I now know why He put me through dat trauma.

Outside of home, i faced many…
“You cannot do tis”
“You will never achieve dat”
Because you are too small, too short, too weak, too Malay, too Muslim, too woman

With His will, i used my weapon which He bestowed me to overcome all their limiting beliefs. I am what i am today because of that traumatic experience. Stronger.

I am awfully saddened when i hear other women limiting themselves, saying “I can’t do this. I can’t do that” even before they tried. Often, age, sickness or poor health will take away any chance of them achieving their own dreams.

With my partner, @ayfaahmad ‘s support and encouragement, we started GEMS – Grundy+Popwow Empowering Me Series. A series of experiential learning programmes to empower women with parallel life skills through challenges across different elements. To face their fears, to race against themselves. Alhamdulillah we are at our 2nd run of GEMS and we see more empowered women.

The gems that abseiled down the waterfall

 

What started with 11pax burst into 38 men, women and kids abseiling down Tengkil Waterfall at Gunung Muntahak. With 2x Starex and 2x MPVs, we started our journey at 4am. We met our guide Saufi from SAS Adventure along Jalan Petri Jaya where we loaded up a lorry towards the base of the mountain. The 10km lorry ride was actually enough excitement for the day!

We were ready for the pacats! Clothes soaked overnite in dettol and endless sprays of insect repellants but there were none!

After a short brief and stretching conducted by Guide Hafiz, we started to ascend to the base of the fall. It took us about 45mins. Lo and behold the sight of the majestic fall was magnificient Allahu Akbar.

Tengkil Waterfall

I started to get a bit worried though but all was well when everyone took up the challenge and descended with no problems. The weather was just right Alhamdulillah. 2 lanes, soaking wet and about 5 hours later, we all came out like champions. The kids had their fun plunging into the cold pool while mummies and daddies fought with their own fear and cascading water upon their faces.

The hike down was more difficult as it was quite steep. The lorry journey back was more fun as we travelled again through the beautiful plantations and mountains against an impending storm. Rain poured as soon as we reached the mosque to change and make Asr. His timing for us was perfect. If the rain came any sooner, our lorry would not have made it back. We end the day with dinner at Paradigm Mall. Thank u so much for making this day a memorable one. Not that we need to abseil in our daily life but that new found confidence, strength and sense of achievement will last a lifetime.

Alhamdulillah
It was an awesome adventure thanks to the professionalism of the staff from SAS Adventure. Bro Saufi entertained my 1536324 questions for the last few months. Equipment was top notched and execution was perfect. The guides was well trained, helpful and very patient especially with all the makcik2 😁. Best part is… No PACAT!!

Thank u so much! We will definitely come back for more. Nak island hopping pulak. Nak ikut?

 

We hope to continue this movement and pray that He will continue to bless this effort with health and ability to empower more women…

Because empowered women empower all

La hawlawala quwwata Illahbillah
We return repentant to our Lord
Worshipping our Lord and praising our Lord

❤️
GEMS

Powered by Nashata Active

Caving (Artifical) – Challenge Cubes

GEMS 5: CAVING 27 July 2019
Challenge Cubes at HomeTeamNS Bukit Batok

The Survivors

We all came with no expectations but with many questions, fears and uncertainties. It was something unknown even to me. The last i did something like this was 24yrs ago in OBS. I have dealt with darkness and is comfortable with solitute but not yet in confined spaces. I wont say im claustrophobic, i just dont like being in a room without windows. But we brought them today to try, to see, to learn… Together.

A million things went through our minds as we manoeuvre the tunnels in total darkness with no clue where to go and what lies ahead. All we had was each other and faith in His guidance . We had to listen, give clear instructions and stay calm amidst the uncertain darkness. We had to learn to use our other senses and heighten our sense of awareness as we keep tabs of each other, overcome obstacles and find our way through.

I have to admit that there were moments of panic when the sudden silence and stillness engulfed me, when i couldnt feel the person behind and at the front. I imagined the blind and how it was for the Thailand boys. I imagined that would probably be how it feels like at our final destination in this life. Alone, in the darkness, below the ground… As we hear the last footsteps leave and then the impending silence before THEY come… I was ready to crumble.. And then someone speaks “I found a way!” Awoken from that short scary reverie with a sound of hope, I knew i had to stay composed to play my part in this team. We were in a situatuon where we cannot control any of the elements except ourselves. We were all forced to lead at some point and i am proud that everyone led well. Like life itself. We sometimes find ourselves in a position to lead amidst chaos. How will we fare?

The light at the end of the tunnel….
Omgeee there was never another time where we were so glad to see light! Like finally! At the end of the day, we learnt to appreciate more and be grateful for every single thing we took for granted… Light, air, space.. 30mins without these was an enough wake up call esp for ADHD me! We grasped new respect for those who embraced what we took for granted. We learnt how important it is to stay calm in any situation, be alert, listen and give clear instructions.

Finally… Team 1 cleared

Team 2 reaches the Light

Awesome effort by Team 3+4

Not all of us completed the mission sadly but they are determined to try again!

I felt like crying… I was so scared! It was dark, I can’t see my hands and it was too squeezy. I started to feel breatheless but hearing the sound of my teams’ voices and their guiding hands puts me at ease. Their calmness helped me regained my composure and I told myself to be brave and complete this mission. Although i was very tired, I tried my best. Im so grateful that I didn’tgive up – Sumi

A powerful reflection from our participants was that we all will go through darkness and difficulty at some point of our lives… Know that with faith in Him, sincere effort and determination, He will guide us to the light and bless us with helping hands and the means to overcome the challenges. Nothing last forever because that is the nature of this life.

Love

Efah

Riding Dirt Bike for Ladies

You would think a biker you see on a trail is a male, but don’t be surprised to see a pretty face beneath the helmet. Girls ride dirt bikes too and petite hijabi Nazura Ramli is one of them.

Nazura  suits up in Nashata yellow Salasa Pants  and takes her yellow bike for a spin behind her backyard.

She is a bike lover and loves to ride since a kid. An owner of a vespa and now, a dirt bike, she and her husband spend their free time during weekends riding dirt bikes with friends. She enjoys dirt biking as it burns a lot of calories, fun, exploratory and challenging. Here are some useful information if you are exploring this extreme sports.

Nazura and friends at Kemensah Trail

Enroll yourself in a Class or find a Teacher

Learn how to ride from a professional. In Klang Valley, you can explore motorcross providers like HoleShotMotorWear in Shah Alam, Most Fun Gym in Sungai Penchala or MotorManiac in Rawang. You can take classes without gears and motorbike – just rent. You will learn balancing, how to control the bike and turning.

ride and Train

Once you know how to ride, you need to train. If you do not have a bike, you can rent the gears and bike for RM250 only. She recommends to consider a provider in Kemensah, Ampang where you can rent and practice for 3 hours with a guide.

As a bike lover, purchasing a bike is a better option. With a budget of about RM7,000, she has all the gears and a used bike suitable for beginners.

  • Gears (Budget RM2,000)
    • Knee protection
    • Hand guard
    • Chest protector
    • Goggles
    • Riding boots
    • Motorcross Helmet

      The couple biker helmets and boots

  • Bike – Typically, a beginner lady rides a smaller cc bike. She chose a used 150cc Kawasaki bike as her first dirt bike.
  • You can wear moisture wicking long sleeves shirt like the Ultra Top I or II, motocross pants or hiking pants and super lightweight headgear / hijab like the Raazglove.
  • Put on your sunblock!

Since she has the gears and a bike, she practices for 2 hours at open dirt area that is close to where she lives. She trains with her husband and friends, so they typically ride in a group of five in Cyberjaya and Bukit Unggul Dengkil track. Falling off the bike is part of the training, and as long as you are geared well, you should be ok, she says. Other than improving balancing and enjoying the trail, she hopes to do wheelie soon.

A friend who falls off the bike

Why Dirt Biking?

Other than the fun and adventure it has to offer, dirt biking also serves as a passage to motorrace and enduro race. Dirt biking is cheaper and safer compared to superbike. Furthermore, you can also ride these bikes on the road.

The adventure awaits you – Kemensah

She checks the bike every two weeks and typically to change the motor oil.

She finds dirt biking is fun in all weather. She has ridden on different tracks, in the rain, windy and hot weather and even when it gets muddy and dirty, it is super fun and super tiring.

She is one Pretty Hijabi Rider.

 

Climbing Mount Kinabalu with Family

No one is too old or too young to climb a mountain. Climbing a mountain can be a good family activity, especially for children. It fosters team-work, patience, agility and persistence.

My family and I climbed Mount Kinabalu for the first time in 2013, comprising my husband and back then, 11 and 13 year old daughters. Mount Kinabalu is Malaysia’s first World Heritage Site, awarded in year 2000. This year, I decided to take my 13 year old son to conquer the mountain. I owed him this adventure as he was left behind in 2013.

Pinnacle Reflection at Mount Kinabalu

It was the monsoon season (Nov – March) and the weather was unpredictable, mostly cloudy and raining in the afternoon. We had a little bit of training, mostly cardiovascular workouts two weeks before the climb. Typically, a party of 5 climbers gets a guide, but after 2015, the park allocates one guide to a party of 3 climbers under 18.  Since my two children were 13 and 16 years old respectively, we got two guides; one main and another for my 13 year old, at no additional charges. Do check with your agent about this before confirm booking. I was not aware of this until I reached Kinabalu Park and I took it as a bonus.

Our Guides Oni (second right) and SabarYunus (far right)

We reached Kinabalu Park at 9 am, where we completed some paperwork, got our tags and packed lunch. The climb from Timpohon Gate at Kinabalu Park to Low’s Peak (4,095 meters above sea level) was 9 km.  We started the climb at 9:30 am and reached Laban Rata (6km) at 3:30 pm. There were 7 shelters along the way, where we stopped to rest and had lunch. It started to rain heavily after 12:30 pm and we had to walk up steep trails of flowing water in raincoats.  We reached Laban Rata, all soaked and wet. However, the waterproof high ankle hiking shoes we had were really helpful to keep our feet dry and warm.

We had a room consisting of 2 double-decker beds. Every climber was given a towel each upon check-in at Laban Rata. There were shared bathrooms for ladies and gents respectively, equipped with solar-powered water heater. So, no sun, no heater *wink*

Buffet dinner was made available from 4:30 pm – 7 pm. We had early dinner and rested after that.  We woke up at 1:30 am and got ready for 3 km climb to Low’s Peak. We had sweat-wicking long sleeves top on, with a light-weight insulated jacket over. Based on my first experience, it was important not to over-dressed. You would be sweaty while climbing and needed to stay light and dry. We brought some water, energy gels, extra gloves, sun block and medical kit along and left the rest in our room.  Warm supper was served at 2 am and by 2:30 am, we started climbing very steep stairs to the summit. It was cold, windy and slippery along the way. I was at awe looking at the clear night skies with stars, shooting star and constellations visibly bright and clear.  Occasionally, I would look up and back to see the skies and the city lighted up from the mountain. It was too beautiful. If you do not have altitude sickness, the walk from 8 km onwards was quite easy. You need to watch-out for icy surfaces and avoid stepping on the rope. Our guide was very helpful to keep the children safe and to move in good pace. We reached Low’s Peak at 5:30 am, just in time for the sunrise and took lovely shots at the summit. The sky was clear and we could see the ocean and Kota Kinabalu city from the summit. The view was surreal.

Low’s Peak Mount Kinabalu

Once the sun was up, I got heated up fast at the peak. If sunny, you may need to start removing unnecessary layer of clothing and put on sunblock and shades. We descended 3 km quickly after and reached Laban Rata for breakfast at 8:30 am. After a short rest, at 10 am, we continued 6 km journey back to Timpohon Gate. It was misty and cloudy and luck was not with us when it started to rain the last 4 km. It was quite challenging to walk downhill in the rain. Even though I took it super slow, I fell down many times, once on my face. My children were fine and moved quickly. We arrived Timpohon Gate at 3:30 pm, picked up the certificates and had lunch at Balsam Restaurant.

Steps from the Peak to Laban Rata

Climbing Mount Kinabalu was gruesome but totally worth it. It was a 9 km walk (9 hours) in total to the peak from Timpohon Gate and 9 km walk (8.5 hours) down – all within 30 hours. My son was happy to be able to experience what he missed 5 years ago.

We had good guides – SabarYunus and Oni (took many pictures of us voluntarily, highly recommended for children, attentive and caring) . We secured our booking through Best Borneo Tours. The budget per person to climb Mount Kinabalu is RM1500/USD400

Many Ice Formation at Mount Kinabalu. Temperature was under zero degrees.

Some Tips

  • Bring drinking water or purchase at Laban Rata. Avoid drinking spring water along the trail or at Laban Rata if you are not used to drinking it. My family and I suffered from bad water poisoning due to this in 2013.
  • Take Diamox a day before the climb if you have altitude sickness (ask your doctor before taking any) . My children took 2; a day before the climb and the day of the climb.
  • Hiking sticks are useful for descend. You can rent for RM10 at Kinabalu Park.
  • Bring knee and ankle guards. They can be useful for descending
  • Energy gels and energy bars to keep you motivated and going
  • Follow the guide’s pace. Avoid stops, just keep moving.
  • Bring water bottles

Descending Mount Kinabalu with a smile. The experience at the peak is priceless.

Shoes

  • Waterproof shoes are necessary if you hike during monsoon season. You may be walking through streams of water for hours and need your feet dry.
  • Bring extra shoes with toe opening or soft on toes to hike down. I descended using my soft running shoes to reduce impact on my toe nails.
  • All weather sweat-wicking socks

Look for water-proof label on shoes.

Soft-fabric shoes for descending

Clothing

  • Sweat-wicking long-sleeves tops. I wore Nashata Raazglove, Azza Toplectic and Ultra Top II and Stirrup Leggings.
  • Wind-breaker or a jacket (Laban Rata to Low’s Peak)
  • Cap or headwear (Laban Rata to Low’s Peak)
  • Face and neck-gaiter (Laban Rata to Low’s Peak)
  • Neck scarves
  • Water-proof gloves. Bring an extra pair

Must bring gears

  • Waterproof bag
  • Headlamp
  • Raincoat
  • Charger – Many power points in hostel, but no wifi.
  • First aid kit

Cold yet Happy Faces

I am grateful for a mission accomplished – all my three kids at age 11 and 13 conquered Mount Kinabalu safely. Climbing Mount Kinabalu is not only about agility and physical endurance, but more importantly – mental strength.

It gets bright and sunny fast after sunrise

I do not think I want to climb Mount Kinabalu again but perhaps some other mountains. If you are thinking of taking your children or teenagers to climb Mount Kinabalu – It is not easy, but Go For It!

“Climb mountains not so the world can see you, but so you can see the world.”

Sir Bani Yas Challenge (29-30 March 2018)

Marwa Al Wadhahi, a young Omani lady who is enthusiastic about sports and adventure shares her experience at the Sir Bani Yas Challenge 2018. She loves challenges, pushing her limits and experiencing new things. She works in the Oil & Gas industry during the day and passionately practices sports in the evening and holidays. 

Marwa Al Wadhahi

I was very excited when I saw the announcement of Sir Bani Yas Challenge which was originally consisting of 3 km of kayaking, 10 km of trail running and 37 km of cycling. I was excited because I never cycled and kayaked these distances, I’ve never been to Sir Bani Yas and I’ve never done a 50 km challenge in single day. Basically the challenge had a variety of activities and in a unique and exciting venue.

Wildlife at Sir Bani Yas

Sir Bani Yas Island in the Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, was the venue of the challenge. The island was one of the first “Greening of the Desert” projects established by Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 1971. Over the years it became one of the UAE largest animal reserves and is home to over 15,000 free roaming animals and birds.

Due to circumstances out of control, the cycling was cancelled and the challenge was modified to become a total of +33 km of an amazing hike on & between mountains, fun kayaking and a long trail run.

The challenge was tough, we started at 6.30 am where the weather was foggy and nice then it got hotter as time passed approaching noon. I personally absolutely loved the hike and the kayaking, I found the trail run (which was the majority of the race) fun at the beginning but then it was really torturous due to the heat, strong pulsing cramps and trail that felt like infinity as the long distance was new to me.

I pushed myself hard, I felt like crying, I felt like giving up, I thought to myself “What made me do this? What was I thinking” I literally felt physically and mentally exhausted. However, because I signed up for the challenge with a mindset and goal to finish as a minimum and despite all the pain and torture I felt, I was absolutely determined to finish, I limped, I walked, I jogged with pain until the finish line.

Husaak Support Stations

On the other hand, the organisers, Husaak Adventures, and fellow participants along the way were very supportive which injected me with positive energy amid the suffering, I smiled to them, felt positive and said to myself that I can do it and I should not give up even though I felt like it! Giving up was just not an option for me. I had fun chatting with some participants along the way and cheering others to continue as well which really makes a difference and pushes people further. Organizers were at the water/food stations and also driving back and forth with cars cheering, checking on us and supplying water

Hiking Trail Views

With a few hundred people participating, Alhamdulillah I’m proud to finish 4th out of more than a 100 female participants, and 33th Overall out of almost 300 male & female participants 🏁 I really pushed myself that day. I haven’t had specific training for this event, just my regular gym training. So I was basically fit but not really trained for this kind of long distance running.

Trail Run

I believe if I hydrated more in the weeks leading to the event and practiced long runs, it would have went even better. Maybe I wasn’t trained enough or ready to go at the pace I was going at but the experience was definitely enriching. The feeling of true struggle that I haven’t felt in a long time, but pushing hard and fighting pain & fatigue to reach the finish line was priceless.

3 Things to do at Teluk Bahang, Penang

Did you know that at the end of Batu Feringghi Road is Teluk Bahang? While Batu Feringghi is famous among tourists and party goers, Teluk Bahang is the place for activity & nature-lover.

The existing ones are Escape Penang, Butterfly Farm, Toy Museum, Penang National Park, Teluk Bahang Dam and Penang Batik.

Here’s a sharing on the 3 things you could do at Teluk Bahang :

1. Escape Water Park

My family and I enjoyed our 1st experience at the Escape Adventureland (dry park) in 2016. See previous blog post about it. We decided to try out the Water Park and a night stay at Escape BaseCamp. We got the BASECAMP 2 Day 1 Night Combo for RM158/person (taxes included). This included 2 day passes at Escape and 1 night camp. One day pass was already RM99.20/person (taxes included), so we figured the BASECAMP combo was value for money (You could save even more with much early booking). After all, none of my children had experience camping out before.

We spent both days at the Waterpark because we enjoyed it more. The water adventure was super fun – you could choose the type that suits your adrenaline mood. I was particularly interested with the 10 meter diving platform. It shared the same 5 meter deep pool as the banana flip, therefore each operated an hour in alternate. Both the diving platform and banana flip were super scary and suitable for adventure seeking minds.  With the banana flip, you would go into a transparent human capsule, and when the timer counted down to zero, the floor collapsed and you would free-fall in the tube. Make sure you exit into the water well to avoid injuries.

  • Banana Flip
    Banana Flip
  •  Tubby Rapids and Tubby Tunnel Family Twister
    Tubby Rapids and Tubby Tunnel Family Twister
  • Wave Ball
    Wave Ball
  • Speed Racer
    Speed Racer
  • AK Academy
    AK Academy

I highly recommend the Tubby Rapids and Tubby Tunnel Family Twister. You could see the Teluk Bahang dam from the top of the Tubby. You just glide down in a tube and you get to enjoy the view of Teluk Bahang. If you just want to relax, on the Lazy River. Just get a tube and enjoy sitting in the slow-moving float. If you want mild exercise in the water, try out the Wave Ball. It is a big pool with a giant ball producing waves in it. You can get a float to just relax and enjoy the wave.

5 meter platform diving in Hooda Ellipse Sports Hijab

Speed Racer and Mega Drop were tolerable. My children enjoyed going down the Speed Racer together repeatedly.While,  AK Academy required a lot of patience of super quick moves. I decided to go slow and glided on the side of it to reach the end.

You could perform prayers anytime at a cabin provided. There were many tents by the side you could rest in. The park closed at 6pm and that was when we headed to the BASECAMP, on the grounds of Escape Adventureland. It is right across the waterpark. The Escape park used pincode and finger print system to manage access to the park. So, you get to go in and out of the dry and wet park according to your package.

The Must Haves & Must Wear:

  • Sunblock
  • Water camera
  • Goggles
  • Waterproof pouch/bags for your phone or camera
  • Proper swimwear

2. Camping at BASECAMP, Escape

You could choose your camp area while booking online. Each camp site was suitable for 5 pax  and it consisted of 2 tents with inflatable pillow and mattress, campfire, a tree swing, a toilet with a shower, a line and camp lanterns. The lower numbered campsites were closer to the main entrance of the park. There were about 20 camp sites at BASECAMP so, you wouldn’t be alone throughout the night.

You could also use the main toilets and praying area at Escape if you needed more space. You could barbecue and enjoy the campfire, but we chose to try out local delicacies at Feringghi for dinner.

We slept well that night, no insect bites. The tent had mosquito net covers to keep insects at bay.

  • 2 Tents at Each Campsite
    2 Tents at Each Campsite
  • The Campsite
    The Campsite
  • Brickwall Toilet at each Campsite
    Brickwall Toilet at each Campsite
  • Locker + Charging Station
    Locker + Charging Station
  • 3 fits comfortably in a tent
    3 fits comfortably in a tent
  • Campfire Lantern provided
    Campfire Lantern provided

The Must Haves:

  • Toileteries
  • Small blanket. No mattress is required. You can bring a small pillow if needed.
  • Towels
  • Torch lights
  • Extension board to charge electronic devices. You will get a locker with a power point located in a cabin, 150 meters away from the camp area.
  • Water & snacks
  • Insect repellent

3. Hiking to Pantai Kerachut

Escape opened at 10am and we had two choices how we could spend our morning. The Penang National Park was 2 km away from Escape while the Teluk Bahang Dam was only 500 meters away. The children chose Pantai Kerachut as they wanted to visit the Turtle Hatchery located by Kerachut beach.

Pantai Kerachut was 3km away from the main entrance of Penang National Park. It took us 45 mins walk to reach Kerachut Beach from the national park main entrance. You would hike up a hill, walk over a few streams and in between huge rocks to reach Kerachut. We booked a boat ride back to the park in advanced at the park entrance for RM10/person .

We were not able to see the baby turtles unfortunately. The center failed to operate during its operational hours. A few other tourists waited at the entrance with us from 10am-10:30am, then we decided to head back. I saw a person in the center, but he did not respond to any of our calls at all. So do call them and check before you go. The hours you see at the center was not realiable

  • As we passed the main entrance
    As we passed the main entrance
  • Many other sites you could go to
    Many other sites you could go to
  • Streams along the way
    Streams along the way
  • The first thing you see as you reach Kerachut
    The first thing you see as you reach Kerachut
  • Meromictic Lake : Salt water below and fresh water on top
    Meromictic Lake : Salt water below and fresh water on top
  • Non-reliable operating hours
    Non-reliable operating hours
  • Turtle Hatchery Area
    Turtle Hatchery Area
  • The jetty by Penang National Park
    The jetty by Penang National Park
  • Turtle Conservation Center
    Turtle Conservation Center
  • Clean beach but not for good for swim. Jelly fishes visible.
    Clean beach but not for good for swim. Jelly fishes visible.

The Must Haves and Must Wear:

  • Money for boat ride (if you wish to take a boat ride  back)
  • Water
  • Snacks / Fruits
  • Insect repellent
  • Sun block

We took a boat ride back and the guide showed us many interesting rocks along the way. We passed by the Monkey Beach and reached the jetty. We had brunch at a Malay store, closest to the entrance. They served delicious roti bom and keutiaw goreng. I gained 2 kg when I checked the next day, but it was totally worth it!  We continued our day at the Escape Waterpark – more diving and fun in the water.

Jeri Villareal: The Hijabi Iron Woman

Jeri Villareal is a modest and committed triathlete from St. Louis, Missouri. Working in the Information Technology Service Lead, this incredible 41 year-old mother is also an urban farmer. Her races usually include three continuous and sequential endurance disciplines which are swimming, cycling and running or better known as triathlon.

Nashata team regularly received Jeri’s pictures on Instagram account, @nashatadotcom wearing Hooda Sports Hijab while competing in her triathlon events. After following her account @modestlytri.ing for some time we knew that she is one of the amazing sportswomen that could inspire people to live with passion. Let’s follow our interview to learn more about Jeri’s incredible journey.

N: Nashata
J: Jeri

“I hadn’t ridden a bike in over 20 years.”

N: Do you remember your first triathlon? Tell us how you became a triathlete.
J: My very first triathlon was a small local race. It consisted of a 300 yard pool swim, 20 mile bike and 4 mile run. My swim was somewhat slow but steady but I got on my bike and was able to pass a couple of people. Unfortunately, I missed the turn off and ended riding an additional 4 miles. I was so upset but ended up continuing on to the run and finish last. I learned to always review the course before the race. There is nothing worse than getting lost during a competition.

N: What inspires you to become a triathlete?
J: I first started running. Running was something that I never thought I would be any good at. However, I used it as a way to ward off depression that developed for me in the short days of the winter months. Running outside made me happy and in the cool months, my hijab was comfortable. It was a great fit. I found that the more I ran, the better I became and I progressed from running in my neighbourhood, to running a 5K then 10K and half marathons. One day a friend of my family asked me if I had ever considered triathlon. I told her I hadn’t ridden a bike in over 20 years. However she told me that if she could compete at age 60, surely I could compete. I took up the challenge and learned to ride a bike and worked on my swim stroke. 7 months later, I competed in my first triathlon.

N: Where do you usually train?
J: I train at my local gym and also I created a workout room in my basement so there is no excuse for missing my training. I have a treadmill, a bike trainer, rowing machine, resistance bands and weights.

N: Did you have a coach when you first participate in your first triathlon event?
J: At the time of my first event. I did not have a coach. However, I did get a coach soon afterwards.

N: How different is it to train by yourself and with a coach for the event?
J: It is so helpful to train with a coach because they can see the small things that you do that could cause injury or they can make changes to your form so that you are more effective. Also they can give you specific exercises or workout to help improve your particular limitation to help your reach your personal goals quickly.

N: Which is the hardest part of triathlon?
J: For me, it’s open water swim. Especially in a lake. It make me a bit anxious when all I see is darkness in the water. I learned to overcome that fear by swimming in the pool with my eyes closed and only open my eyes when taking a breath. That exercise helps me relax once I get into the murky waters of a lake.

N: How do you tackled getting out of a wetsuit quickly? Is it an issue for a hijabis triathlete?
J: While many triathlons have “wetsuit strippers”, kind volunteers that will assist you in getting out of your wetsuit quickly. I avoid their help with the wetsuit. Their good intentions could result in uncovering more than of your body than you would want. I use a two-piece wetsuit consisting of pants with bibs and then a wetsuit top that goes over that. When I was exiting the water, I can unzip and remove the top without concern of revealing anything and I take the bib straps off of my shoulders. By the time I get to transition, I just have to roll down the pants and slip them over my feet. To me, the two-piece wetsuit is not only easy to get in and out of, it also is less constricting over your chest which can be helpful for those that feel chest constriction with traditional wetsuits.

“The hijab that has truly given me so much freedom in my life.”

N: As a Muslim triathlete who wears a hijab, have you ever experienced bitter moments where people would be prejudice about your religion? Do share your story with us.
J: The triathlon community is a very kind one in general. However I think a very well-meaning woman made a comment that she has seen me at several triathlons and she always “felt sorry for me” because I seems so uncomfortable. I didn’t even know how to respond. The last thing I expected was anyone to pity me for the chose that I made as a Muslim woman to wear hijab. The hijab that has truly given me so much freedom in my life. The comment sat with me for a long time and it really did affect me. I feel sorry for her that she didn’t understand the beauty of hijab.

“A quick conversation upfront can keep you from having a frustrating conversation with race officials on race day.”

N: What is your advice to the other Muslim women who are participating in triathlon event?
J: Speak to the race director to ensure that they are aware that will be competing fully covered. There are sometimes rules about how much of your body you can cover. A quick conversation upfront can keep you from having a frustrating conversation with race officials on race day. You do not need to ask “permission” to practice your religion. This conversation is simply to educate those that may not understand why they can’t write your race number on your leg or your arm. Or why you must cover your legs and arms during the swim when wetsuits are not allowed.

N: When is your upcoming event?
A: I just finished Ironman Cartagena 70.3 on December 3rd. That was my last event of the year. In 2018, I look forward to the local St. Louis Triathlon Olympic distance occurring in May. Later in the summer there is Ironman Steelhead 70.3 and Ironman Brazil 70.3

N: How is your diet like today? Was it different with what you usually have before being a triathlete?
J: Today I follow a fairly paleo diet. I enjoy eating lots of vegetables, some low-sugar fruits, meats and healthy fats but only consume ancient and sprouted grains sparingly me. Sweets are my weakness and I avoid sugar while training for a race. I usually tighten my diet 8 weeks from race day. Before becoming a triathlete I ate so much sugar. It was in everything and I didn’t even realize it. I was always a lover of green leafy vegetables though.

N: Describe the training process for a triathlon. How did you prepare–both mentally and physically?
J: Training for a triathlon means training for 3 sports. Additionally, as an athlete over 40 years old, it is vital to incorporate recovery into my schedule. I have 2-3 weekly swim workouts, 2-3 run workouts and 2-3 bike workouts. One of the workout will be either a speed or strength building workout like hill training or interval speed work. Also one of the workout will be endurance-based like a long run (5+ miles), a long bike (20+ miles) or a straight swim (2,000+ yards). I also do yoga twice per week for recovery and weight training twice per week.
During a heavy training load, 10 hours or more a week, I tend to get deep tissue massages. I also have tried alternative recovery techniques to combat inflammation such as cryotherapy and relaxing in an infrared sauna.

“I wear my Nashata Hooda Sports hijab while biking and running. It is thin and lightweight while keeping me dry.”

N: What do you wear for your triathlon event? Do you prepare specific sports gear for each of the activities?
J: I wear what is called a triathlon kit, which is a one-piece outfit with short-sleeves and shorts. The bottom of this kit includes a thin, waterproof pad for additional comfort on the bike. Under the kit, I have leg coolers and Nashata arm coolers. Each piece is designed for air-flow and a cooling effect. These extra pieces also provide coverage for modesty as well. Outside of the water, I put on a skirt for additional modesty while biking and running.
In the water, I wear polarized, prescription goggles. My vision is poor and these goggles are a lifesaver. While they come in clear and smoke lenses, the smoke lenses are my choice because they keep the sun and glare out my eyes when swimming.
I have bike shoes that have cleats on the bottom to connect my feet to my special bicycle pedals. This allows me to apply for force at a faster rate without fear that my feet will fly off of the pedals. My bike helmet is an extremely lightweight, aerodynamic helmet which is designed for speed and performance.
I wear my Nashata Hooda Sports hijab while biking and running. It is thin and lightweight while keeping me dry. The airflow is perfect for me on the bike because I am usually still wet from the swim.

N: We’ve seen you wearing Hooda Sports Hijab in your Instagram posts. Tell us your favourite Nashata wear.
A: Just one? Honestly, I love all of the options that Nashata provides! However I think Hooda is my favorite because of its practicality. It is also lightweight, quick-drying and provides wonderful airflow. These are all things that are vital to making a triathlete comfortable.

“In Arizona, Colorado, and North Carolina, you can practice bike skills such as climbing and descending on the bike.”

N: Where would you suggest new triathletes to go for a practice in The United States? Tell us the nicest spots you’ve ever been to.
A: There are so many options for practicing and building your skills in many areas of the United States. In Arizona, Colorado, and North Carolina, you can practice bike skills such as climbing and descending on the bike. This is usually a skill that is built with a lot of practice. The locations have long inclines for triathletes to build their climbing endurance. In Florida, there is an immersive swimming technique class for triathletes that can get them ready for open water swim by practicing certain techniques in the pool. Areas like southern Texas, Florida and California are great locations for triathletes in the rest of the country to practice in the very late or early season due to their mild winters. When it’s snowing in December in Missouri, I can swim outdoors in Orlando, Florida.

“I tried to leave every Colombian I met with a good impression of Muslims, Islam and Muslim women in sports.”

N: Have you ever participated a triathlon in a different country? What was it like?
A: December 3rd, I travelled to Cartagena, Colombia to compete in a Half Ironman. The experience was absolutely amazing. Arriving in the country I immediately noticed that people were very curious about me. They took photos of me and requested that I be in photos with them. The children that watched the race were very fascinated with me and called out to me specifically to cheer me on and told me that they loved me and referred to me as “Aunty”. As a Muslim woman competing in hijab in a foreign and predominantly Christian country, I know I am an ambassador for all Muslims whether I want to be or not. It is an honour that I take very seriously and I tried to leave every Colombian I met with a good impression of Muslims, Islam and Muslim women in sports.

N: What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about triathlon?
J: The challenge of triathlon is so great. I enjoy that fact that there are so many facets to the race. You can have an excellent swim and a difficult bike and turn everything around while running. There are people that are good at all three sports or some that find they excel in one particular sport over the other two. Regardless of your level of skill you will never participate in a triathlon and not hear a perfect stranger cheer for you and say encouraging words. When triathletes see someone struggling, that is they cheer for them the loudest. This sport is kind.

N: What is your advice to the new triathletes?
J: Remember that you don’t have to be better than anyone on the course, just be the best version of yourself. Be better than yesterday and keep moving forward.

N: What do you wish for in the future?
J: I would like to work on improving my swim and run times and work on my climbing skills. I believe I can be a better version of myself and look forward to seeing her very soon.

N: We wish you the best of luck in life! Thank you so much for agreeing to do the interview with us. We gained a lot of information from your wonderful experiences.
J: Thank you so much!

Sometimes we are too busy competing with other people that we overlook what’s truly important, to be the best version of ourselves. Be better than yesterday and keep moving forward. Thank you Jeri for the wonderful reminder!