We stopped over in Dubai for two nights en route to KL. This is my second time in Dubai. The first time was just a day trip so everything was a big haze of ultra modern skyscrapers and Arabic mysticism. I remember dying for almost half the day for want of coffee. It was Ramadhan and hence, no eating in public places.
This time, it was a better planned trip. SJ, our old uni friend, now based in Dubai, was waiting for us at the airport (what do we do without old friends? All I can do is hug them for being part of our lives). The roads have exotic, raspy names which I can't pronounce and almost immediately the gleaming glass towers spiral into view.SJ had some work at the Emirates Mall so we spent some time in what is the biggest mall in UAE, stacked with British high street labels. Yawn. It even strangely had a very popular ski complex: offering some skiing in the desert. How bizarre.
The highlight of the day was taking a traditional Arab dhow (barge) cruise around the Dubai creek for authentic Arab food. A meat eaters heaven because there's every type of imaginable kebab apart from salted vegetables and the best hummus I've ever had. M had some local tea called Ismaili tea and I tried some very potent Arabic coffee. All this with sultry Arabic music straining in the background. After that, we sat around the Dubai marina area for hookah/sheesha. I got a real thrill that I was smoking sheesha in the Middle East. (I am quite sore that the photo M took of my apple flavoured sheesha was not clear. Sob).
The next day, we sauntered around the markets in the older part of Dubai called Karama. I wanted to bargain at local prices for bric-a-brac, not in the posh area of Souk Madinat Jumeirah (where Jumeriah Beach and the world famous Burj Al Arab is). After a light lunch, we were prepared for the biggest reason for our stopover. Oh, be still my beating heart.
The desert safari, a truly fabulous experience. Our hired four wheel drive whizzed and whoozed around the desert. I held on tight and clenched my fingers as we went on some serious dune bashing-rollercoaster on the desert. Yee haa (though for a brief few moments I suddenly had damning visions of what if a desert storm happened. The driver later told me that desert storms only unfolded in much bigger deserts so all's safe here. Phew). We stopped around for photos and watched camels being fed at a camel farm. By a real-life Beduoin. How cool is that?
Then, we were serenaded by the most beautiful sunset we had seen in all our lives (my camera doesn't do it justice). A fierce, red glowing ball suspended on an orange sky with golden sand dunes stretching endlessly. A truly spiritual moment. It felt like a gift from the desert.