Saturday, November 01, 2014

Desert Safari

The first activity we got ourselves into in Dubai is, hands down, the most authentic and maybe even the best Dubai experience:  the desert safari.

You get picked up from the hotel in a 4x4 and you drive to the desert for something like an hour.  But before you get to the desert, you stop by a line of shops mostly selling grocery items and souvenirs. This is your last chance to go to the toilet or grab a drink before you head to the desert.  

While Ches was getting us bottled water, this guy approached Yoshi from out of nowhere and began putting on him the local headdress called ghutra.  Boots wanted one for himself, too, of course, he being The Fashionable One among my three boys.  He would wear his ghutra thruout our trip, while Yoshi would put his on only if I made him, when we were out in the sunlight.

And then we were in the desert where the views were simply amazing.  There was sand as far as the eye can see, and the sand is actually so soft and fine like in Boracay, and cool on the feet, too.  I imagined it would be scorching bcoz of the sun beating down on it all day, but it turned out to be perfect for walking barefoot on.  No footwear necessary in the desert.

The highlight of the desert safari was the dune-bashing.  Me, I love any form of bashing (hahaha) and, for their part, the boys were thrilled to no end bcoz it involved ramming straight into the sand so that it scatters all across the car windows and doors and roof.  You achieve that kind of dramatic effect by driving at full speed on the steepest, craziest angles in the dunes.  Whew.  It was like one of those mad roller coaster rides that the boys love so much, but this one is longer and scarier.

Our driver is this cool, lanky, long-haired guy whose name sounded like Farquaad.  (Ches called him that but I said that can't be his name, that's the name of the villain in Shrek.  Hahaha.)  He had told us before we got to the desert:  "I will drive hard against the sand, and if anyone of you can't take it or have to vomit, I'll stop the car and you can get out and I'll leave you in the desert."

So fierce.  Slow clap.  I respect people who can be brutally honest like that.

We had a photo stop with the camels between the nearly hour-long dune-bashing.  There was a huge pen with several camels in the middle of the desert.  There were a handful other tourists milling about, but mostly it was just Us, The Camels, and The Endless Sand. 

We've seen camels before but it's our first time to be able to pet them.  They seem like such docile animals, standing there so tall and graceful, with their wide, mournful eyes.   

In the camp, we actually got to ride a camel.

The camp is where they take you after dune-bashing.  This is where you have a dinner buffet while being entertained by a tanoura and belly dancer.  Luckily, we got in before dark, so we were able to try various activities available in the camp, like riding the camels.

Another best part of travelling:  trying something out for the first time.

A patent infringement issue came up at work while I was on leave.

Boss:  Bella Flores, paano nakalusot sa atin ang patent issue na yun?
Me:  ..... (vying for Best In Smile)

(Kamote.  I was tempted to answer:  Wala po akong kinalaman dun.  Kasalukuyan po akong nakasakay sa camel nung mga panahong yon.  Hahaha.)

There were also areas where you could have some henna tattoo done, smoke some shisha, or try on the local/traditional Arab wear.  Ches went off to have his shisha and I couldn't let the photo opportunity for the boys to dress up as Arabs pass by.  I'm actually impressed that, after all these years and years, the Arabs still wear the same clothing as their ancestors.  Much more for the women to stick to that strict dress code with all the fashion choices available out there.  Gasp.  Amazing.

Whole Dubai package = expensive.  Yoshi's facial expressions while posing as an Arab = priceless.    

You can also have as much coffee and soda as you like.  The lines are long, tho, so that discourages going back for seconds.  Dinner starts off with appetizers that include shawarma and pasta.  The main buffet has mostly Indian dishes with veggies, chicken, beef, some noodle dish.  The best parts are the chicken, beef, and lamb kebabs that are grilled fresh in the camp and whose aroma wafts thru the night.  I don't eat lamb, but I was happy with my chicken and beef.

The boys were giggling furtively bcoz the teenaged Indian girl whose family we shared the ride and table with was loudly complaining to her mother, 'Get me more chicken!  You know I don't eat vegetables, I don't eat pasta, I don't eat fish!'   

My Best Imitation of The Bratty Indian Girl has become a big hit with the boys.  I perfected my Indian accent thanks to her.

Yoshi was curious to see what the buffet included in the vegetarian side, so he crossed over to take a look.

Me:  So what's the difference?
Yoshi:  Same same, except they have adobo.
Me:  Adobo talaga?  In the middle of the desert in the United Arab Emirates?