Desert Safari, Museums and Souks

Trip Start Apr 06, 2007
Trip End Jul 23, 2007

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Flag of United Arab Emirates  ,
Tuesday, June 12, 2007

6-12-07 Desert Safari, Museums and Souks
Today was an exciting and fun day. It reminded me of New Zealand since we hadn't done anything really exciting since then. But I will start at the beginning and work my way to the climax...hopefully it lasts more than a minute!!!
Anyways, bad joke but that's what Andrea's had to put up with all this time...the bad jokes that is...I think I made a funny!!! Ok so we woke up bright and early ready to take on the day as usual at 10 am. Yes we are extremely lazy and love to sleep in. I don't know how we're going to adjust back to a normal work schedule...but ohh well.
We decided to head to the souks (Arabic for bazaar). The gold souk is really famous for its gold jewelry, who would have thought, so we decided to start there. The cab took us there and when we arrived what we encountered was the equivalent of a big outdoor strip mall...NOT COOL. We were expecting tents and a market and what we got was a concrete strip mall filled with jewelry stores. So instantly we decided that we had seen enough, yes we didn't even get out of the cab and told him to take us to the Dubai Museum. On the way we got a first hand look at the horrible traffic situation here. It's comparable with LA because it is much worse than Miami. We ended up waiting for a light for 15 minutes and every time it went green we moved one car and sometimes two...Whoopee!!! So once we got the river side, I noticed on the map that the museum was on the other side and that there was only ONE crossover for vehicles so the traffic was at a standstill. Not to mention it was 2 km away which is like eternity. So I decided to get off and take a boat ride over...yep, this boat was very special though. It looked like the boat version of a tuk tuk. Seeing people climb aboard I figured it would take us to the other side somewhere so I passed the gate and climbed aboard. Andrea followed and once on the boat asked "how do you know it's this boat and not any of the others", yes there were about 50 boats. I replied because this one had the most people and looked local. In the end I was right and the boat took us almost to the entrance of the Museum on the other side. Amazing!!! Once we exited the boat we noticed that there was a big side street with all sorts of textile shops. Did I mention Andrea loves Pashminas. Yes so we spent the next hour or two shopping or rather bargaining for pashminas. I myself, picked up a long dress and the head piece to match so that I looked Dubaian...or rather Saudi Arabian...Check out the pictures of me in my new Halloween costume...It's great and authentic!!! Anyways, Andrea picked up several pashminas that she is now in love with and once we left she wished she had bought more...go figure...I have yet to see her wear one but now she at least owns several. I guess it's like my new shoes, good to look at but unfashionable...I don't know. Anyways, after shopping we headed of to the museum which turned out to be a 19th century fort, How cool is that. At first we thought the museum was going to be really puny and boring since from the outside it measures maybe 60 Ft X 60 Ft which is tiny. It turns out that the museum goes on and on underground and that the underground part is all fairly new with A/C. The exhibits were mainly wax type figures all set up to explain life in Dubai from its earliest settlers in 3000 B.C. till today. I took way to many pictures but I was really inspired since the exhibits were so great. Did you know that the only thing that kept Dubai afloat as a city economically in the 1800s was its pearl diving industry, 7000 divers strong? And you have to see the archaic methods they used to use for diving; it was crazy and super dangerous.
After the museum we caught a cab back to the hotel for some R&R before our Desert Safari. We didn't know what to expect but Andrea kept telling me how everything she read about it was negative and that it was supposed to be super touristy. Well, I won't lie. It turned out to be extremely touristy but IT WAS AMAZING!!! We had the time of our lives. It all started when we got the call to come downstairs that our driver was waiting for us. When I went outside I saw a Land Rover filled with people but no driver then I went back into the hotel, and yes you guessed it he went outside at the exact same time so we passed each other but didn't know what we looked like so we missed each other again. After, a couple minutes of this we finally met and we got loaded up in the Land Rover. The Land Rover had a family of 4 already so Andrea sat in the front seat and I sat in the middle row behind her along side the parents of 2 girls about 16-20 yrs old. I know it's a big range but I am terrible at telling ages, especially girls.
Anyways, we found out that they were from Virginia and were visiting Dubai on vacation. By the end of the night they became our adopted family and we did everything and I mean EVERYTHING with them. We had a great time swapping stories and laughing at anything and everything and even sometimes nothing...that's when you know you're having a good time, when "Nothing" still seems to be funny and you're laughing. They obviously thought I was originally from Dubai (aka Rich), how nice would that be..., but then changed their minds after knowing me for a little bit and thought I looked and talked like someone they knew from NY. Yet another location to add to the JOSE looks like he's from _________...fill in the blank. I feel I should have stationary made that says where do YOU think I'm from please circle one or select other and fill in the blank. How funny would that be!!! Anyways, before dune bashing (I'll explain in a minute) we stopped at a touristy convenience store. I decided to test my local look and so I took water and went to the counter and handed them 2 dirham for it. I didn't ask how much and the shop keeper looked at his friend next to him thinking "Is he local??? Can I give him that price??? It's fair but only for locals, did you tell him 2 dirhams???" his friend replied with a stupefied face and I left. They didn't stop me and they even nodded as I left. I then instructed Andrea to ask how much the water cost. She came back "10 Dirhams", I cracked up. The father of the family came back to the car with a small water and he said he paid 5 dirhams for that one" he was hocked that I got it for 5 and we all laughed about it on our way out. So I guess my face from everywhere works for something.
I forgot that while waiting for the Desert Safari I decided to get a hair cut that was long overdue. Guess where I got it done? HAVANA Barber shop, what a coincidence!!! The guy there was really nice and after seeing what a great cut he had made I asked for a shave. I had just seen a young guy get one and it looked really cool so I told him that I wanted one like that and then closed my eyes and let him work his magic. Did I mention I hadn't shaved in over a week? I was going for the Al Qaida look for Egypt!!! When I opened my eyes the first time he was half way done and so half of my face was bin laden the other half was Arabian Nights meets backstreet boys!!! I loved it. The only problem was that they didn't heat up a towel for my face or even you shaving cream. They put a small amount of clear liquid mainly on my neck that quickly dried up and then it was just a good ol' knife...OUCH!!! While I had my eyes closed I was sure I that I had to be bleeding from everywhere since it hurt so bad and I had a bad experience the last time I got shaved. I almost chickened out when I saw him coming at me with a knife and no shaving cream. But I stuck it out like a man and in the end I was handsomely pun intended. Check out the pictures to see the final result. I felt very gangster after the shave. The cut was well rounded and the knife he used for the chin was also rounded. It hurt like crazy since he was so meticulous and went cutting hair by hair at the end, which was really ripping them out instead of cutting, but in the end it was well worth it.
Anyways, back to the Desert Safari. After stopping for drinks we headed off to do some dune bashing which was insane!!! What they basically do is drive you out into "No man's Land", which is described here as the place where all you can see is sand for miles and miles around and then they lower the tire pressure from 35 lbs to 15, and then they try to see how fast they can go up, down and sideways, yes sideways in every sense of the word to see if they can scare the living S%&* out of you or until they flip over or get stuck. We saw the latter happen a few times but our driver was the best so we didn't get stuck but we did do the most insane launches from the top of sand dunes (about 30 ft high) to the valley down below. Sometimes we would head straight into the valley but sometimes for style points we would go sideways down the dunes and trust me when I say "I" not Andrea; I thought we were going to roll over. I've done some insane turns and wicked spinouts in my car but this was way better!!! I loved every minute of it. Did I mention the dad next tom me almost had a heart attack, not to mention the mom. The father held firmly to the roof making sure it wasn't going anywhere. I myself got a bunch of good video and some great pictures of our dune bashing. Did I mention we saw a herd of goats out in the middle of the desert!!! Yeah, really strange...we also saw a herd of camel but the sheep to the cake!!! What on earth are they doing out in the middle of the Desert...Baaaaahhhhhd Idea. I know, I know horrible joke, but I had to throw it in there.
Needless to say by the end of the Dune bashing, the family and us were extremely close, since the father would grad my leg every now and again to keep from flying out the window. Seriously, the ride was awesome!!! Better than a lot of theme park rides I've been on. Not to mention we were at the mercy of our driver, which by the way didn't wear a seatbelt!!! Why would he want one of those???
After Dune bashing we go to a random location....sand as far as we could see and as far as I was concerned we hadn't moved an inch. We could have been going around in circles for all I knew. Here is where Andrea and I conquered sand boarding. Ok it sounds a lot cooler than it actually was. It was a small sand dune, and the speed attained on the way down was rather dismal at best but it was still fun to try it out. The best part was seeing severely unbalanced people attempt to sand board. We saw a few Asians bail and roll to the bottom but the best was this rather large and in charge...if you know what I mean...Lady attempt and she fell backwards and then went end over end backwards down the sand dune. It was hilarious!!! What was even better is that they taped it and later that night during dinner we got to see it again and embarrassing!!!
After sand boarding we dune bashed some more and then arrived at a fenced in camel location. Yes still sand as far as the eye could see only now there were fenced camels in the middle of the desert...very strange!!! The camel rides were quite short so we decided to wait until Cairo but we watched our adopted family take the small circle around. And by small I mean that it was about 10 feet in diameter, yeah real REAL SMALL!!!
We went over to take a few pictures with the camels and of course we stepped in some lovely camels pellets (aka poop). It reminded me of rabbit pellets only much bigger!!! EEEW!!! At this point the sun was beginning to set so we took some pictures in front of the setting sun.
Next up, MORE DUNEBASHING!!! I loved it, and it never seemed to end. Our last stop was camp. Yes, camp. It really looked like a camp too. It was set up in the middle of the desert. Still all you could see around it was sand, sand and more sand. They had some ATVs set-up outside the camp but they wanted way too much money so I decided to skip that. Inside we had all the soft drinks we could ever want, all included, and there was a lady doing henna tattoos. We have seen several places doing henna tattoos on this world trip but never one by a lady dressed in the traditional all black ninja outfit and sitting in the middle of a hut on pillows, yes it looked very authentic. So we decided to both get a henna tattoo, don't worry mom it comes off in about 4 weeks...I'm a grown man and married yet I know I would get hell from my mom if I ever got a real tattoo...weird how some things never change...Love you mom!!!
Andrea's got her tattoo on her foot and I got a cool looking tribal thing on my shoulder. It didn't take more than 5 minutes after we had gotten them that Andrea ran into mine and now she also had a copy of mine on her shoulder. Funny huh...Kind of like love tattoos. But Andrea quickly rubbed it off before it could leave any ink on I guess she didn't like her love tattoo after all.
I guess it also wasn't her fault completely...we were smoking Double Apple in a hookah at the time. Best of all our adopted family was right there with us. In fact they beet us to it!!! We hung out there smoking till they called us for dinner. We got a few good pictures of it and I must say it was great. Ricky, if you're reading this, you need to learn from a pro how to set it up. I don't know what they did but the Double apple tasted soooooooo GOOD!!! Each breath was filled with apple. It was great. Not to mention we had a hookah set up for just Andrea and I. How great is that!!! Did I also mention it was in a corner with no roof, and real comfortable pillows to both sit on and recline against? I sat there this is the life!!! I don't smoke anything, but a hookah is so good and not nearly as bad for you as for example a cigarette.
Anyways, after smoking till we were dizzy we stumbled to dinner with the munchies so it was perfect!!! First we had an appetizer, and then they opened up the barbecue buffet which was truly delicious with all sorts of local foods. I tried everything and found almost all of it amazing!!! The tables were set around a big stage under the stars and it was truly breathtaking. We sat with our adopted family and enjoyed the night away. After dinner they brought out a belly dancer and the Asians went nuts!!! It was hilarious. Eventually she tried to pull people to dance with her so of course I headed to the middle. Only problem was that it was me and 6 other women. Not that it's a problem but I have a wife now you know. Which by the way wouldn't join me but as soon as the two girls from our family went in after me she decided to go. I was one of 3 guys to go to the middle all night. They had me shaking my chest and but like it was going out of style. It was hilarious and Andrea and I got several pictures and videos of both of us getting down and dirty. After the show we all headed back to our respective Land Rovers and drove home. We were sad seeing our adopted family leave but we wish them the best if they are reading this and we plan to stay in touch. Man did we laugh and have a good time. Definitely one of the most memorable nights of the trip. What a NIGHT!!!
So with that I say Goodnight!!!
Jose and Andrea

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