Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Day 27

Although our flight from London to Dubai was fairly short – just over 6 hours, there was a time difference to contend with.  According to our body clocks, we landed in Dubai just after 3am, Dubai time was trying to tell us it was after 6am!  Shew, we were tired!  I clearly don’t cope well on only 3 hrs of dozing time…

Anyway, we got to our hotel, the Al Manzil, and it was really stunning and the reception staff were outstanding, so that brightened things up somewhat.  We grabbed some breakfast at a café attached to the hotel and then made our way to Dubai Mall (a very short walk away) via a bridge that gives the most awesome view of the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building/man made structure in the world!) 

Dubai Mall is something to behold – it’s huge (the largest shopping mall in the world I gather…. Dubai is simply bursting at the seams with World Records) and beautiful, full of all the major shopping names from around the world. 

We had a wander around and then made our way back to our hotel, where our rooms were ready for us. 

By this time it was HOT!  It’s a very different sort of heat, dry and the air feels quite thick, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had expected and we coped fine as long as we minimised our time out of the air-conditioning.

We all headed up to our rooms to shower and catch a nap before our trip out into the desert.  To be honest I was not looking forward to the Desert Safari at all… I was really tired and it was not my scene, or so I thought!  As it turned out, it was sooo much fun and something I would recommend to anyone who goes to Dubai.  We were collected at 4pm in an air-conditioned land cruiser and then drove out to a central meeting point, where all the other people going on the safari met us – there must have been about 8 other vehicles in total. 

Having all gathered, we set out in convoy driving along a tarred road until we got to the desert “proper”.  And then the fun started!  We stopped so that the drivers could let down their tyres and then we hit those dunes with a vengeance.  I have never been more terrified in my life, but I loved it!  We went roaring up dunes and skidding down them this way, that way and every which way.  Our driver wasn’t satisfied until we were all shrieking! 

We stopped for a really nice photo op, deep in the desert and then set off again, next stop was at a camel farm, and then we made our way to our dinner stop. 

We came to a sort of oasis in the desert, huts set out in a circle, with large cushions to sit on and tables, as well as a few little “shops”.  The girls and Grant did some dune-boarding and Paula and I got mendhi on our hands (all complimentary.)  There were also camel rides available, you could watch a chap doing sand art (amazing!) and there was a guy with a falcon.

We were free to help ourselves to soft drinks, but alcoholic drinks had to be paid for.  The supper was really good: salads, flat breads, dhal curry, basmati rice, chicken and beef.  There were Arabian sweetmeats for dessert as well as coffee and tea.  After supper there was entertainment by a belly-dancer – she was really good, much better than the one in Egypt!

After the camels had done an amazing walk past, it was time to go back to the hotel for some much needed sleep! 

On the way back our tour guide suggested that he drop us off at the fountains at the Dubai Mall (they’re conveniently situated directly between our hotel and the Mall)  I am so glad he suggested this as the fountain display turned out to be one of the highlights of our holiday.  We got a really good spot and waited for about 20 minutes for the display to start, more and more people were gathering as time went by, so I’m glad we got there early!  At 9:30pm the Burj Khalifa started to twinkle with lights and then the fountain display began.  The Prayer by Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion was playing and the fountains moved in time to the music…. You had to see it to believe it, it was the most beautiful thing I have seen in the longest time!  It literally brought tears to my eyes….. (and anyone who knows me well will know that that is a rare and wonderous thing!)

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