I had heard much about Dubai – its glittering modern landscape filled with tall skyscrapers and man-made extravaganzas. From a distance, it all sounded like a fantasy; but the question remained. Can Dubai offer me the kind of soul-satisfying travel experience I want? The only way to clarify this was to get on a plane and so I did! Dubai didn’t disappoint – if anything, I’ve decided that Dubai is more than just a mere tourist’s fancy travel destination. Dubai is the world on its own – incredible, irreplaceable.
My Own Unforgettable Overnight Desert Safari in Dubai
Overnight Desert Safari in Dubai – My first sight of the desert filled me with peace. Here, at last, was the real thing – the real Arab vista, the scene of long-ago battles, of smugglers and their caravans, of hours and djinns. At the desert camp, I went all out dune bashing, dune driving and sand boarding. It was early evening, and not very hot, being January. Still, I was glad of the cool tent and some sweet Arabian coffee and dates.
A camel ride, under the darkening evening sky, in my traditional Arabian garb, with my head and mouth covered like a true ancient Bedouin. I was on my way to meet the beautiful houri who had promised herself to me. It was magical. The night that followed was even more so – with belly dancing, henna painting, puffing away on the shisha. A wholesome buffet dinner, after which we slept in tents for two in warm sleeping bags. It gets really cold out there at night! The stars were out, and the desert air smelled so sweet …. I could have stayed there all my life.
My Adventures in Old Dubai
Dubai is so new and sparkling that I got a desire to see things as they were once. Or at least what’s left. So I took a trip along the Dubai Creek on a traditional abra vessel. Old wind towers that once kept Dubai cool still stand. Heritage buildings, old houses and traditional markets thrive. I got off at Deira on the northern bank and watched the ancient dhows load and unload their goods.
Then I started walking along market alleyways – souks as they’re called – oh gosh the smells that hit my nose! Saffron, perfume, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon – so many exotic spices! And the gold on the window fronts – literally blinds the eye in the brilliant sun. Huge chest plaques, fat necklaces and bracelets so thick I am not sure anyone could wear them. I bought some frankincense, saffron, thyme and sumac. Dubai is old and new – and the old is not dead yet. That made me happy.
Sailing Along the Magnificent Burj Lake
The Burj Lake is a splendid, enormous man-made lake right in the middle of the city. The tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa, overlooks the lake. And right on the lake is the amazing Dubai Fountain, the largest fountain in the world. I didn’t want a seat on the sidelines – I wanted to get up and close. So I sailed slowly along Burj Lake in a small fishing boat, watching the magnificent fountains shoot water and light in time to beautiful choreography.
It was mesmerising. 6,000 lights illuminate the water, and 22 light projectors throw up unbelievable colours. And in the sun, the 22,000 gallons of airborne water glitter and sparkle with millions of rainbows. I’ve heard that it’s even more spectacular at night but it was sheer magic under the sunlight.
My Romantic Dinner Cruise along the Persian Gulf
Yes, yes, I was alone. Still – it was romance itself, sailing along the beautiful coastline on a dhow cruise in Dubai. My vessel was a replica of the dhow that was used by smugglers in ancient Dubai. The waters were pure turquoise – clear as a bell and sparkling with light under the sun. The double-decker dhow has bathrooms and a lounge and even air-conditioning! I bet none of that was there in the good old smuggling days.
As the vessel sped along, I could see Dubai’s brilliantly-lit buildings reflected in the water along the marina. Truly amazing. Sitting on the top of the dhow, I got a front-row view the beautiful waterfront and all major landmarks. We passed close to the spectacular Palm Islands, the Burj Al Arab and World Islands, and I my smartphone’s memory chip is full to bursting. The dinner was good – BBQ, both veg and meat and some traditional Emirati dishes. The onboard entertainment was fun, but I barely paid attention. I wanted to spend every minute gazing at the coastline and absorb the feel of the throbbing city into my very bones.
First time on a Hot Air Balloon!
Ok, I had read a lot of about going up in hot air balloon – seen pictures of the first balloons that went up during the Victorian era and all that. It’s just that I never thought I could stomach it. I did it though. I soared over the spectacular Dubai desert like an angel in a colourful silk hot air balloon for an entire hour!
There were others in the basket and enough drama with a couple of ladies screeching like magpies. Still, when I looked below, it seemed like the beautiful red dunes rippled and moved – there was such a mystical aspect to it, I was spellbound. It was early dawn – the sun’s rays barely hot, the air still cool. As we flew over Dubai’s huge buildings, I felt they weren’t all that big after all. Your perspective changes when you’re above everything else. It took me a few minutes to find my land legs when we got back. A lovely continental breakfast, followed by a trip to the hotel ended by adventure, but I am still up there – soaring away in the early dawn like a Valkyrie on steroids.
My Dubai adventures don’t end here – I had a few more, but these are the ones that I hold most dear to my heart. The desert awoke a pagan need in me to explore, to know more to get to the root of the mystery. That’s why I am booked to Dubai again, for more adventures. Look out for more of my Dubai adventures!