With temperatures soaring, Alvin Thomas heads to Oman Avenues Mall to try the Darbak Mall Walk Challenge.
I’ve been on the lookout for some cool walking areas close to home for a while now. So when I was told there was a new walking area at Oman Avenues Mall in Bawshar, I just knew I had to try it.
The Walk is organised by Awasr, Oman’s new broadband internet service provider, and I saw this as a perfect opportunity for myself to burn off those stubborn calories without shedding a drop of sweat, all done inside the comfort of an air conditoned building.
In high hopes, I headed to the mall.
Following a quick shopping session, I decided to take the challenge.
How hard can it be? I asked myself, staring at the Darbak Mall Walk billboard in the basement of the mall. I learned that the Darbak Mall Walk challenge pans across the entire mall – covering each and every corner – measuring at 2.250 kilometres in total.
So without further ado, I begin my journey.
The start sign for the walk is opposite Bank Sohar. I was alone at the start of the walk, so I presumed I was the only one tracing the path, which is laid out using well-marked, feet-shaped stickers on the floor.
I quickly get into the stride of things. The first leg of the mall walk isn’t particularly hard, or so I thought.
The floor markings take me to the escalator towards the ground floor.
And bam… To my left is a Starbucks.
Now I realise why this is actually a challenge. Not only is it a test of your stamina but it is also one of your willpower to say no to stopping in cafes!
However, I’m a man on a mission. So, I refocus and move on.
The Mall Walk is designed in a figure eight, and you tend to have coinciding spots near the centre of the mall.
Soon, I catch myself staring at the amazing ceiling art. There are flower-shaped designs hanging from the ceiling, giving the sensation of a three-dimensional roof.
It doesn’t take me long to hit the 230-metre mark. However, the finish line is still an arduous 2.100 kms away.
I quickly pass some exotic jewellery and diamond showrooms and proceed to the centre of the mall, where I notice a bit of a commotion.
I decide to take a quick pitstop. In the centre is the Areej Art Band performing. Together This Ramadan, is the theme of the evening, hence the musical entertainment.
However, I don’t spend much time there, and soon I am back on the move. I reach the Silk Route – an arena within the mall that is exclusive to Arab Oudh (Arabic perfume) and carpet makers.
The smell is incredibly captivating.
The Silk Route also marks the end of the first leg of my walk as I take the escalator to Level 1.
However, this time, I actually feel like I am levelling up – similar to that of a game, where you have to pass a series of obstacles and opponents to enter a higher level.
Level 1 comprises a bunch of electronic stores and the hypermarket, so the initial part of the walk is rather drab. However, walking past Funtazmo – the children’s play area – there’s a lot more fun and games going on.
Walking past one of the interactive information screens, I notice some children fighting to play with the 3D information screen.
Walking towards the corner of the mall, I stumble upon a sign saying: “Stand Here”, to which I oblige.
I’m treated to some three-dimensional floor graffiti (stickers of dolphins, sharks and the solar system). I quickly take pictures of them.
By now, my legs are beginning to ache. But I’m already past the halfway stage now.
I notice that the Level 2 escalator is just ahead, so I jog towards it. And, oh boy, am I in for a surprise.
I have just entered Food Nation. McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut and a number of other fast-food outlets are lying ahead. This quickly becomes the hardest level of them all.
I keep my head straight to avoid temptation as I continue my walk. I realise that people are looking at me strangely as go past all the food outlets without batting an eye at any of them.
I continue following the path, leaving behind all the occupied tables and chairs and the bustling area filled with delicious aromas.
I clear the course in a mere five minutes (a personal best among all levels) before entering the beautiful Promenade Garden.
The Garden also marks 1.870km of my journey. All that lies ahead is Level 3 – the final hurdle – which I found to be fairly straightforward.
It didn’t take me long to stride past the Penz Bowling Alley, XD Cinema and Gold’s Gym. I completed the top-level course in less than 10 minutes. However, I can’t find the finishing line.
I must’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere.
But, a banner near Gold’s Gym catches my eye: “Congratulations You Have Finished”, it reads.
There’s also a marker that validates the length of the journey. I’m mighty proud of my achievement; I even take a few selfies to enter in the weekly draw competition.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time doing the walk. So will I be returning to tackle the Walk again? Absolutely. It was an enjoyable experience and a great way to exercise indoors, keeping both the mind and body in check.