Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dune Bashing, it was worth the wait…

On one of my last nights in Abu Dhabi, a small group of us went on a desert safari, which is the nice way to say “dune bashing”. Dune bashing is driving around at high rates of speed in an SUV on big sand dunes in the middle of nowhere. It is wicked fun!

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There was a large group behind us on the same dunes. Our driver asked if we wanted to be with the group or go out by ourselves. For me, it was a no-brainer, less chance of crashing into someone if there isn’t anyone else around. Of course, that also means there is no one to call for help in the event of an accident.

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While we were busy taking pictures of ourselves and the sand, our trusty driver, Anshar, was letting 15 pounds of pressure out of the tires. This makes for better traction on the sand.

It was very windy that day and I’m wondering how much sand I breathed in. The sand is so very fine, it feels almost like powder. And it gets everywhere.

 

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Then the adventure began. We went up and over and slid down sideways of some of the tallest dunes I’ve ever seen. I was brave enough to let go of the roll bar and take a couple of short videos, but I am having technical difficulties with them, so will share at a later date.

After driving around for what seemed like an eternity, we pulled up to a camel farm. In the middle of the desert. Here is something interesting; camels eat grass. That’s not the interesting part. The interesting part is how they get the grass to the camels. There is no grass in the desert, so there are two ways to get the grass to the camels. In the outer regions, there are grass farms, where grass is grown, cut, bagged and sold to the camel farms. In the city, I’ve noticed from the beginning that the grass is cut frequently and always bagged up. This, too, is taken to the camel farms.

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Yes, call me Dr. Doolittle, but that momma camel walked right up to me, with her brand new baby. That was so cool! I wanted to touch her, but was worried she was just testing me. I figured the safest thing to do was let her give me a sniff and walk on by. In case you’re wondering, because we were, camels are pregnant for 13 months.

Have you ever wondered about the one humped and the two humped camels? Me, too. Here’s the short version: The two humped camels live in the Asian regions and are more suited for colder weather. Their fur is thicker, too. The one humped camel, the dromedary, has shorter fur and is suited for the desert climates. Oh, and just to make sure you’re smarter than a fifth grader, here you go -- the hump stores fat, not water. When a camel is starving, the hump will shrink and sometimes fall to the side. When it is healthy again, it will go back to its position on the back.

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What can I say? Animals love me.

 

 

 

 

After the camel farm, we bashed some more dunes on our way to the Bedouin camp for dinner. When we pulled up, guess what? Camel rides! Oh yes, I was the first in line.

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Apparently, our photographer had some technical difficulties, as well. It didn’t help that I wouldn’t sit still and look at the camera.
It is an interesting ride. They sway when they walk and some people get “seasick” when they ride for a long time. Not me, I loved it. I think I want one.

After the camel ride, we watched the crazy young people sand surfing. It looked just like snowboarding, but with sand. There were a couple of reasons I didn’t try it: 1. I don’t know how to snowboard because I don’t like snow and 2. no ski lift. Those kids were climbing back up a huge dune. And let me tell you, that is not easy!

There are three of these camps in the area and each tour company has their own. We used Emirate Adventures, if you ever find yourself there and need to do some fun things. So, there had to have been 30 or so SUVs parked outside the camp, all lined up and parked neatly on the side of a dune. The drivers then go about the task of filling up their tires with a line that is there for that purpose. It was interesting.

Inside the camp, there was an opportunity to try Arabic coffee, try on the traditional dress, have a henna tattoo and belly dance.

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I did not have the coffee or belly dance, but CGMan won the Simon Says type dance contest. Way to go, CGMan! We sat on big pillows at a low table and had the best meal. It was traditional Arab food. Chicken and lamb kebabs, a lentil side dish that was so good, hummus and the like.  For dessert, there was fresh fruit and dates.

When we lived in Memphis, everyone who visited wanted to see Graceland. We got to the point where we would drive them there and wait in the cafe across the street. I mean, you can only see Graceland once so many times. Then, we moved to the DC area. Again, we were a great tourist stop. I didn’t mind taking our visitors there because there is always something new to see. My point is, if you come to Abu Dhabi to visit, I would go with you on this tour, every time.

Wordless Wednesday…with some words…

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