Sunday, 8 February 2009

Dubai Extreme

Sleep deprivation was certainly something we didn't suffer from on this trip. After a good rest in a comfy bed in a huge bedroom, we were ready for the desert safari and some dune bashing.

For 160 AED the package included door-to-door pick up service and dinner. A 45- minute drive on the northbound highway brought us to the desert fringe where all Toyota Landcruisers assembled at a tourist trap while the drivers released air from the tyres in readiness for the trek.
Our driver decided to be cheeky and jumped the queue hoping to lead the convoy. He was duly reprimanded by the boss and instead was asked to command the rear.All 4WD's were lined up, engines revving . . . Ready or not, we're in for a roller coaster ride . . .Our driver took vicarious pleasure in seeking out the steepest slopes, flooring the gas pedal giving it his all, to the thrill of screamers and moaners.

You've heard of Tokyo Drift, the movie about illegal street drift racing, well this was Dubai Drift, skidding on 60-degree dune slopes and spewing sand.
When we reached the middle of nowhere all the 4WD's halted almost in unison, perched up high on dune ridges as far as the eye could see.
These two kutus added to the entertainment by pushing unsuspecting tourists, most of whom were still gaping at the expanse of desert before them, tumbling down slopes and scaring the girls with a desert snake that was of course a rubber toy.

The sand was cool to the touch and ever so fine. One can understand why the traditional robes are the most practical for this terrain - keeps the sand out in sand storms and allows easy shaking out of grating sand if you happen to get your knickers in a twist. Overwhelmed, an over exuberant tourist came running barefoot down the dune, much to the consternation of her grown children. "Mother behave!"We met a couple of Malaysian youngsters, chefs in fact, who were working at Atlantis, The Palm. They had just graduated from chef school, the guy a pastry chef trained in Switzerland, the girl trained in Malaysia, bagged their first jobs at this recently opened resort. They were obviously enjoying their life in Dubai and were on leave for Chinese New Year. They proudly informed us that their hotel was having a buffet promotion for 160 AED (cheap by Dubai standards) at the Saffron Restaurant. Not to be missed as nasi lemak and laksa were on the menu.

As the sun dipped below the horizon and the wind chill factor stiffened our joints, the allure of a warm desert dinner beckoned. At the camp a barbecue, hot coffee and tea were ready to be served. The PA system crackled a welcome and invited guests to enjoy the dinner. It was requested, however that men and women use separate serving stations. There was some confusion at first, as most were from the secular world, not minding to elbow in with the opposite sex. In the interim, the men had filled their bellies, while the women were still queueing! Didn't it occur to the women to move to the empty station when the men were done? Go figure!

The most adroit were the Koreans. I spied with my little eye, a group slurping on their cup noodles well before any food station was opened or any queue was formed. No worries about unisex queues mate, we invented food on-the-go! When comely belly dancer, Mona, appeared in her titillating tasseled pink gear strutting her stuff, the crowd were enthralled. She manoeuvred across the floor like a desert snake and gave meaning to the term 'table top dancing'. The men were jumping onto the stage without hesitation. Well they had been well fed, while the women were still queueing.

Hey ladies! Floor length dresses are back in vogue. Look what else you can do in them to attract attention . . .

Mona reappeared . . . . . . this time with a horse, who showed a keen interest in her belly as she worked it in a shimmering gold translucent gown. Camel was not amused by all this fanfare and was ready to go back to his tent after a long photo shoot.Passing the blur of city lights, joints stiffened not only by the desert wind but also by sitting on the carpeted floor for 2 hours eating and watching Mona do her thing, we were ready for bed like the camel.

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