Zahirah Marty is a 33-year-old PR and brand specialist based in Dubai with a focus on content creation, particularly in the travel industry. She is passionate about telling stories, seeing the world, and learning about different cultures and places. Marty is also the mother of a toddler, and ran her own company for nine years. Her home country is South Africa, and, in conversation with Brunch, she added that she misses home all the time. Nevertheless, she is grateful to live in the UAE where she has been for the last 10 years.
Marty recently chose Sri Lanka for her vacation – we caught up with her for a chat on her experience travelling amidst a pandemic.
When did you discover your passion for travel?
I have always been an adventurer, and fascinated by the world and all the amazing places within it. I began travelling with my family in high school, and that started a fire in me to see the world and travel. I learn so much from travel – most of all about people, food, and cultures and these are lessons I am most grateful for.
What was it like travelling to Sri Lanka during the pandemic?
My trip to Sri Lanka was incredible! I felt very safe at all times and was blown away by the hospitality and warmth inside Sri Lanka. Food is a big focus of my travel experiences, and I could not get enough of the amazing Sri Lankan food we were served. I did miss interacting with local people, but I was very impressed by the way the trip was managed by local authorities. Every step of the journey was expertly handled – from health and safety, to overall experience. The staff at both properties were fabulous and made our stay at both hotels absolutely amazing. Everything from the hotel room, to the food and service was some of the best I’ve had.
What was your quarantine experience?
We stayed within Tier 1 properties, therefore did not have to quarantine. We travelled with the Resplendent Group and our itinerary was really well co-ordinated. We were PCR tested twice in six days; this was done at the property and very conveniently managed.
How much of Sri Lanka were you able to see and did the pandemic affect your experience?
We were required to stay within the properties we were visiting – Cape Weligama and Ceylon Tea Trails. We had a phenomenal time, but saldy were not able to venture out onto the streets or in the town areas.
What would you describe as your most memorable moment in Sri Lanka?
The afternoon rain. It is very tough to choose one moment, as so much of this trip was so special. I loved the seaside property, but being in the mountains among the tea trails took my breath away. Living in the desert, I miss the rain. We got beautiful downpours almost every afternoon, and this was just magical.
Are you planning on travelling in the future?
Absolutely! I can’t wait to come back. I would like to go back with my son, my parents, and my husband and see more of the country on my next visit. And eat more food!
What advice would you give someone looking to travel during the pandemic?
Be responsible. Travel to countries that are taking care of tourists and do your homework. If you have access to a vaccine, I recommend taking it if you are able to, and make sure you take all the proper precautions. Make sure you understand the risks involved with travelling during the pandemic. If you have the opportunity to semi-quarantine prior to travel, do so, as this will safeguard you from contracting anything close to your travel date.