Muscat: People travel to beautiful countries to enjoy their natural beauty, but a man walking more than 2,000 kilometres (km) to see an entire country is almost unheard of.
Ammar Al Badi, an Omani national, who is pursuing his graduation at the Dublin City University (DCU) in Ireland, walked all around the island country to admire its greenery.
“When I was doing my internship, I couldn’t keep it out of my head so I just went for a walk. I just like the country and I like the people and what better way to see a country than walking it,” Al Badi told the Times of Oman in an email interview.
“I’ve been a member of the DCU hiking society for three years and we used to go for a day or weekend hikes and it was short hikes of 15km to 20km. Since I came to Ireland, hiking became my new favourite hobby,” he stated.
“This summer might be my last summer in this beautiful country so I took the decision to experience the beauty of Ireland by walking all around the island and it was a challenge for me,” he further added. The Omani student has been in Ireland for five years, first studying English and then engineering at DCU for four years.
Speaking about his preparations for the epic journey, Al Badi said, “I started planning my routes around the country just two weeks before I began my journey, which has become the story of my life.”
“Dublin to Drogheda to Dundalk to Belfast to Derry, Letterkenny, Westport, along the coast of Galway and the Ring of Kerry and back up the east coast again,” he said, explaining the route his journey followed. “It turned to be close to 2,000 km,” he added.
Al Badi challenged himself to cover the distance within 40 days, at an average of 50 km per day. He walked over 10 to 14 hours a day.
The student said some of his hardest days were along the Dingle Peninsula when he was walking in heavy rain and on exposed roads that are more suitable for driving than walking.
But even though those days may have been tough, he said the beautiful parts of the country could well be his favourite.
Speaking about people’s reactions when they found out about his journey, Al Badi said, “They said you’re crazy, but keep doing what you’re doing. All the way, people kept offering me lifts, but I kept saying I’m walking, I’m just walking.”
Along his journey, Al Badi said he did not “cheat” by taking lifts anywhere, only hopping on a ferry once to go to Valentia Island. To express his gratitude to the Irish people, he decided to finish his epic journey in a remarkable way.
“People over here are so kind to me so I decided to end my walk with a remarkable finish; I decided to walk extra 16 km and complete my journey in front of the General Post Office in Dublin,” Al Badi said. He completed his journey on August 16.
Speaking about his journey, he said, “I have seen hard days; I have walked on hard inclines, I climbed mountains, I walked in springs, lakes and even in the Atlantic and I survived the Irish weather.”
“But, now I can feel that joy after the pain. Now I have a story to tell to my sons and grandsons if I have any. That’s the story of my life,” he added.
During the nights, Al Badi stayed in hostels and Bed & Breakfast accommodations (B&Bs) but when he couldn’t find a bed, he set up camp in his tent, camping in some random spots from the beaches to the Burren.
Al Badi is also planning to write a book about his epic journey after his graduation. Oman and Ireland are the two best countries in the world, according to him.
“I hope I can do the same walk around Oman when I return home. If that happens, that would be, the story of my life, with the chapter entitled: Home,” he noted.
Oman and Ireland share many things, according to Al Badi.
“Omanis and the Irish are very proud of their history and both the countries have the most peaceful, friendly people in the world,” he stated.
Speaking about his country’s beauty Al Badi said, “Oman has got the variety; mountains in the north, desert in the middle and green lands in the south.”
“Ireland is just green, green and green,” he concluded.