We landed in Dubai for a short stay after another red eye flight from London. We certainly were getting used to soaring above the clouds at all hours of the night. The Dubai airport was spectacular, and almost a tourist attraction in and of itself. There were boutiques and shops to meet any consumer’s needs. Of course Dubai is known to be a shopper’s dream world, so why would the airport be any different? It was massive and it took us some time to make our way out, we had to catch a train to pick up our luggage. We were exhausted as we waited for the train, then for our luggage to come around the conveyor belt. We couldn’t wait to make it to the hotel for a rest.
After reaching the hotel we were told that to check in early we would have to pay an additional $50.00, yikes! The hotel accommodation was already the most expensive accommodation we had booked on our trip in the past seven months, so an additional fee was out of the question! So, we decided to wait. After resting for a bit on the lobby couch, we decided to head downtown to put in a few hours. We waited for the shuttle, which dropped us off at the mall. I felt almost at home, or perhaps close to home, in a mall just over the U.S. border. P.F. Chang’s, The Cheesecake Factory, Desigual, Coach…you name the brand or chain, and it was here. We didn’t buy a thing, other than an overpriced lunch. A hamburger, fries and drink from Johnny Rockets was going for $20.00 Canadian. I had visions of me cooking stir-fry for dinner in our hotel room, again. As we waited for our check-in time, we checked out the tallest building in the world.
|An ice rink,|
|and even a Tim Hortons!|
|At the base of the tallest building in the world!|
Lazing around by the pool, getting some schoolwork done and heading out on safari was on the agenda for the next day. The pool was warm and the sun was hot, yet there was a breeze. I figured Dubai would be scorching hot, after all, I had heard about temperatures of upwards of 40 degrees Celsius. Of course for us, it was a balmy 23 degrees AND it rained! We were in the middle of the desert and it rained, I am seriously beginning to think that we bring the rain wherever we go. It rained throughout Europe, but let’s be honest, England and Scotland are known for their rains, so I wasn’t too concerned. But… when we returned to London after being in Africa, they were experiencing the worst flooding ever….was that due to us? Then there was Kenya in the dry season; it rained twice and really hard. Again NOT normal! Now Dubai… weren’t we guaranteed for it not to rain in Dubai? Nope, not a chance… it rained, AND 23 degrees – it may as well have been freezing! The pool attendant was dressed in a hat and winter jacket.
We waited all day for the safari company to confirm our tour; waiting was becoming a theme in Dubai. We were getting a little worried. After a quick phone call and a half hour later, our safari driver arrived. The four of us piled into a 4x4 SUV and hit the desert sand for some dune bashing. Mohammad let the air out of the tires so we could float across the land. Mark asked how long Mohammad had been driving desert safaris and he told us it was his first day. We figured he was kidding, but he seemed rather serious. I was already feeling a little anxious, let alone it being Mohammad’s first day! There were roll bars in the SUV for crying out loud! I buckled myself in, prayed that we would see another day, and that Meg would not get motion sick.
Turned out Mohammad had been driving for years and had trained safari drivers in various parts of the world. He took us on some ‘extreme’ dunes where we drove across the top ridge with steep drop offs on either side…the reason for the roll bars became very clear. We fishtailed, slid sideways, climbed steep slopes and laughed at the butterflies in our tummies. It was so much fun.
|Mohammad had never had anyone bagpipe for him on safari before…imagine that!|
Just as we were getting used to things we came up over a knoll and almost took out a herd of camels… are groups of camels called herds? We stopped for a quick look and the camels were not impressed. How dare we rush up on them, necessitating the need for them to vary off their chosen path? A little further down the way, we came across a camel farm.
We stopped off at a camp for dinner and various other safari adventures. We had our feet painted with henna, posed with the camels, watched a belly dancer performance, saw a Falcon show and enjoyed a traditional meal. It was quite a night. Even Mark tried his hand at belly dancing; perhaps we will need some lessons when we return!
|Henna tattoos, so cool!|
|Checking out the camels.|
|Belly dancer, Mark. He thinks we should take lessons when we get back home!|
We woke up in the wee hours of the morning to make our way back to the airport. We were headed to New Zealand next, and our boarding pass indicated it was a 14-hour flight. We still had a connection flight after we landed too, it was certainly going to be a long day…. and then we were delayed! This wasn’t Africa, and we were not going to get on an earlier flight with a cell phone call, here. Dubai was a short stay, yet it was getting longer and longer as we checked out every square inch of the airport. We put in some time watching the National Geographic camera crew film the airport for a documentary, exchanged some money, got caught up on emails, uploaded photos to Flickr and updated the spreadsheets. And, our flight got delayed even further… at this rate we were going to be sleeping in the airport. Time ticked past slowly and we read, and wrote, and read some more.
One of the airline personnel called out to the group of people at boarding gate 3C who were waiting, sleeping, fidgeting, eating, and demonstrating various levels of impatience. We were boarding… nope, not a chance. We were just being offered a complimentary lunch – that was not a good sign. If they were feeding us, the chances of us boarding in the next hour was nil! We didn’t complain considering the price of a hamburger, so… free lunch it was, as the time on the boarding gate moved out a little further.
|Look at these fancy chairs!|
A half-hour after our tummies were full and I had dozed off to sleep in an amazing recliner chair, Mark woke me. We were boarding…finally! At least they made us think we were boarding…really, we just passed through the gate to ANOTHER gate! So, we continued to wait and our short stay in Dubai became a little longer, again. As I’m typing this blog and looking back on our time in Dubai, I realized we had done a lot of waiting. We waited for planes, trains, luggage, meals, hotel rooms, phone calls, shuttles, safari tours you name it. I’ve practically written a whole blog post while I’ve been waiting here for our plane! Now, I would not describe myself as a patient person… yeah, not patient at all! But, after all of this waiting around, I am pleasantly surprised to say that I have not been frustrated or upset at any time. Not even now when I am tired and really just want to catch our plane and go back to sleep, what was going on? Did I grow some patience in the past seven months? Was it a change in me or was it just the fact that there wasn’t really a consequence if I spent my time waiting? I hope it is a change in me; change is good. Time will tell I suppose, but until then I’ll keep waiting patiently, at least for our plane!