Stirring up the Sand

August 30, 2017 - Dubai, United Arab Emirates

After our recent early starts and latish arrival yesterday we took the chance to sleep a little longer this morning before going down to look for breakfast. There was quite a spread from fresh fruit and yoghurt through to Hot English, without bacon (or at least we couldn't find where it was quarantined).

Suitably fuelled for the day we stopped by the Concierge's desk to check that our pick-up  for the re-arranged Desert Safari was all scheduled and we wouldn't be sitting around the foyer waiting in vain. After a few phone calls diverted to voice-mail our friend at the desk told us it was all confirmed and the pick-up would be between 3.45 and 4.00pm. Slightly reassured by the somewhat timid and quiet Concierge we headed out for a look around the pool area.

It was only 9.30am and the temperature was already in the high 30's and very humid. I decided to stay in the room and do part of the journal while Margaret took her Kindle down to enjoy the poolside. She did not find the beach very inviting but spent a relaxing time on a sun lounge or in the pool.

At 3.45pm we went down to the foyer to wait for our Desert Safari tour and we only waited a few minutes before he turned up. He looked and sounded Indian and we have commented before on the stratification of society here with many workers from the Sub-Continent. And different nationalities appear to be restricted to different levels of service.

We joined our driver to walk out to a Toyota Land Cruiser. He already had three passengers in the back seat so Margaret got to sit in the third row seats right in the back while I rode in the front. Our three companions were young women from Manchester area. Alicia, Nina and Annabel are university students and were in Dubai visiting Annabel's mother who lives here.

We had about an hours drive out of the city and on the way our driver told us about a few of things on the way. The most notable was the beach palace of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktou, the ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the UAE. The high wall surrounding the palace grounds kept out prying eyes but the driver said there were wild animals (lions and tigers?) roaming part of the enclosed area. The inordinate wealth of this village in the desert is mind boggling and makes you wonder about the effect on the area and the people.

In due course we arrived at what can only be described as a motorcycle park, where you could hire a quadbike for a ride around the sand. There was a shade area and an air-conditioned tent and we waited around for about twenty minutes to allow the rest of our convoy of four-wheel drives to join us. A welcome chance for a toilet break but a fairly uninspiring place to wait othrwise. There were the usual hawkers hanging about selling tourist tat and one new one as far as we were concerned. He had a falcon for you to hold and be photographed. A hawker with a falcon, ha, ha.

Once the rest of our group of six vehicles had arrived we went back to the vehicles and, while we sat in the air-conditioned interior, the driver reduced the tyre pressures for the sand. We headed off along the bitumen for a while before turning off into the dunes where we stopped for photographs. The wind blown sand and dunes softened the marks but you could still see where many, many vehicles had been before and as we watched several other convoys of 4wd's disappeared over dunes in all directions. I wonder who controls which areas each party uses to avoid serious accidents at the top of dunes?

After our photo stop we all mounted up again and the group headed off with our car at the end of the line. Our driver treated us to climbs and drops over the dunes and to some slipping and sliding along the slopes as well. The more our friends from Manchester screamed the more the driver pushed it even pointing out a camel to distract them before plunging down the face of a dune. From the front seat I could always see what was ahead and what the vehicle in front was doing so I was alright but Margaret was in the very back and must have been caught unawares at times. She did not mind at all and seemed to enjoy the ride.

We passed an oil drilling platform on the way but it probably had not been working for a while because the fence was down in places and there were some drifts of sand about. The drive soon came to a road again and we turned along it for a while before stopping to pump the tyres back up to highway pressures before driving on. That also gave everyone a chance for photos of the desert sunset.

Further along the road we again turned off into the sand but this time the track was very well established as if there had been many vehicles coming this way. Soon lights appeared out of the darkness and we parked outside a fenced compound along with many other vehicles. Inside there were low tables and cushions for our meals and around the outside several stalls selling more tourist stuff or offering henna tattoos and the chance to be photographed in Arab dress. We were invited up to collect our starters and soft drinks, both of which were welcome. The starter a collection of deep fried onion and potato and a samosa. in fact for an Arabian experience it all seemed very Indian.

The girls from Manchester went up for a tattoo while Margaret and I sat and enjoyed the food. It was then time to go up for the barbecue. It was an Indian buffet with salads and curries topped off with barbecued chicken and tandoori chicken. Very Arabian? The food was good and there was plenty of it.

So that was our Desert Safari. Perhaps fortunately tonight was the end of Al Aed so there was no alcohol available, no music and no dance. Instead we just packed up and met our driver for the trip back to town where we dropped the girls at their apartments on the Palm before we were dropped in our turn at the Sofitel.

Our shortened stay in Dubai was now at an end as we were to be picked up at 5am for our flight to Barcelona.


Pictures

Manchester meets the desert
Heading off
Slipping and sliding in the dunes.
THe 'Selfie' parade
 
 

1 Comment

Lynda Butler:
September 4, 2017
It looks beautiful! I've just been reading Abby the book you sent and she commented that she is REALLY enjoying it. I mentioned your travel blog and after some explanation she is VERY keen to read some tomorrow night :)
Fuzzy Travel · Next »
Create blog · Login