Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Dubai Experience– The Desert Safari

It’s tough when you land in a country known for its shopping experience for only a week. It’s great when your husband and relatives make all the days count so that you take back home some amazing experience. Last week was one of those times.

I traveled abroad for my second trip after 16 years. Singapore-Bangkok was one of the best trips I ever had and even though it’s been eons I still remember it vividly. I was but obviously excited for this one. The one thing I did not go with, was thinking 8 days is too short a time. All that I kept thinking was I’m going to make the most of it and I did. In the days to come I’ll narrate my experience there but the first episode has to begin with the freaking adventure trip I had along with my hubby to celebrate our first anniversary. The Desert Safari! I expected this for the outdoor freak that he is.

The Royal Sands Tourism, our organizers picked us up at our doorstep at around 2.30 p.m. in the afternoon. I had been warned by my husband’s sister and her husband to not eat too much before I started the drive. I do not have car-sickness but it’s always better to be safe than sorry; so all morning I was surviving on two slices of bread and tea. We also took the precaution to sit in the middle seat of the Toyota Land Cruiser. What a vehicle! I do hope I own it or the likes someday.

On the way to the desert we picked up the remaining 4 passengers and we were on our way. Before entering the desert, the tiers of the land cruiser were deflated so as to ease the driving in the sand dunes. After entering the desert what began, was a crazy roller-coaster ride up and down the sand dunes that lasted for an hour or so. The drivers are extremely skilled. They drive horizontally. They speed upwards and downwards and apply the brakes at the right moment! How they managed to go up over those steep dunes and come down without crashing is a mystery I’ll never unravel even if I go on the Safari a hundred times.

I even asked our driver Arif how he started driving. He said that he did not get any formal training. He would come down to the desert with his friends. The most important thing was to overcome your fear, if you can’t do that you could never drive in the desert. Also it was important to understand the desert, getting lost could be very easy as there were no prominent landmarks and most importantly one has to stick to the group as it prevented one from getting lost. That was the reason the tourist companies asked their vehicles to hang around together. Once the drivers were confident, they would go and apply to the companies, who tested their skills. Once the companies were confident they would give the job because one has to remember that the tourists’ lives were the drivers’ responsibility, they could not afford to be reckless.

He took great care of us by asking us every time if we needed to stop and if anyone of us was feeling dizzy. None of us did because we were really enjoying the ride. Arif was pretty a safe driver.

The first halt was near a caravan of camels. They were not tied but let free. I thought they were one of the calmest animals and did not get scared by the arrival of so many humans. People walked up to them and touched them, played with them and they did not budge. But among them all I saw a camel flocked by people crying. Tears were dropping from his eyes and at that moment I wish it were able to speak out why there were tears in its eyes. It moved us both and we just walked away from them, letting them be by themselves.

The second halt was at the top of a dune to watch the sunset. My husband took some excellent video recording of the sunset and the dune driving and if I can figure a way out to put it up; I sure will. Maybe some of you can advice how I could do it?

The sun sets early there around 5.30 and 6.00 seems like 8.00 p.m. here. Post the ride we were driven to an Arabian camp. The camp was a common ground for multiple activities and the dinner. We first drank the super hot Arabian tea and then decided to go camel riding. Sitting on the camel is the toughest thing I have done. It’s like sitting on another roller-coaster. First it goes forward on his front legs, as a result of which you are leaning forward, then it rises, and you keep swaying back and forth! The ride is excellent but once you have to get down the horror begins! Our camel refused to sit down and its owner gave it a jerk, the result my husband who was sitting behind me had his chin banged into my head when the camel leaned forward to sit! Ouch it hurt!

Then we decided to get ourselves shot in the traditional Arabian costumes. The white robe for men and the black robe for women with head covered in black scarf! After that I went ahead to get some mehendi done on my hands and by the time it was over the dinner begun. The dinner was amazing. Chicken Kebabs, Mutton Seekh Kebabs, Lamb Chops, Roasted Chicken, Chicken Gravy, Biryani Rice, Sphagetti, Rotis, and my husband’s current favourite Hamus ( the vegetable) with Khamus(The Roti). I’m not mentioning the vegetarian menu because I did not taste any:-)

Once the dinner was over, the final program of the evening started; the belly dancing show. I was most impressed by the lovely dancer. First if all it did not look vulgar at all and secondly she was beautiful and aesthetic in her presentation. She balanced a stick on her head and moved her body without losing her balance. Then she balanced a sword on her waist! How on earth she did that I do not know. She then invited various people to dance along with her and the Arabic songs in the background added to the exhilarating atmosphere. The best part was an uncle aged about 60 who danced in sync with the young dancer. I think he stole the show.

The whole journey was an experience I’ll savor all my life. We were dropped back home; both of us wishing the evening had never ended!

P.S: I know you must be wishing for some pictures. I hope I get the time to upload some.

3 comments:

Mangesh said...

Great stuff! Nice to have u back, though Im guessing u aint so glad. Anyways, happy new year to u and Amit!

Anshul said...

Yup. Dubai is awesome!! Glad u had fun.

Minal said...

@Mangi: You know me so well;-)

@Anshul: I knew you would vouch for it:-)