Desert diaries: Adventures featuring dune-bashing, sand-boarding, falcons and cuisine

Desert diaries: My holiday adventures, including dune-bashing, sand-boarding and cuisine
I had never gone on a desert-safari, despite my Dad working in Dubai for a few years, so I was looking forward to spending some time in yet another natural landform. While I wouldn't want to live in the desert - my skin dried and flaked up and my back looks like someone let off fireworks on it; there was little greenery there and I need trees - I certainly loved every minute in the world's largest sandbox, especially sliding down sand dunes. See below for more pictures including me sliding down sand dunes in bin liners (new, unused ones, of course).
Desert diaries: My holiday adventures, including dune-bashing, sand-boarding and cuisineDesert diaries: My holiday adventures, including dune-bashing, sand-boarding and cuisineDesert diaries: My holiday adventures, including dune-bashing, sand-boarding and cuisine
The garbage bin liner broke and you should have seen me trying to slide down with a shoe poking through it! There were a couple of sandboards/rollerblades but they were monopolised by other people, so we invested in bin bags. Please click on the pictures to enlarge. I need to share as much as I can! This is me atop the dune, trying to fight cold winds beating at me and get into the darn bin bags.
Desert diaries: My holiday adventures, including dune-bashing, sand-boarding and cuisine
You can easily get lost in the desert - and the souq, which is the local market - and it was just like Tintin And The Crab With The Golden Claws or Lawrence of Arabia (drool).
Desert diaries: My holiday adventures, including dune-bashing, sand-boarding and cuisine
The Middle East isn't all desert, thereare nice malls, sprawling city centres and high-rises...
Desert diaries: My holiday adventures, including dune-bashing, sand-boarding and cuisine
I went dune-bashing, which is this fast roller-coaster ride in a four-wheel drive over sand dunes, some of which are like precipices! First, the driver let out the air from the tyres before entering the desert.
You can see pictures of what it was like from my car - a convoy of Land Cruisers go on this trip during good days when there are no sand storms. I think we I deafened the driver, with screech after screech. The first picture is down a VERTICAL dune slope and you should have seen us holding on for dear life! A very thrilling, high-speed ride with enough ups and downs for even strong stomachs.
Desert diaries: My holiday adventures, including dune-bashing, sand-boarding and cuisineDesert diaries: My holiday adventures, including dune-bashing, sand-boarding and cuisine
 The sand was super-fine and flew in the wind. The driver served as hand-model for this picture.
Desert diaries: My holiday adventures, including dune-bashing, sand-boarding and cuisine
Then, there was the amazing inland sea. They drove through the coast and you could see the other side, which was Saudi Arabia.
Desert diaries: My holiday adventures, including dune-bashing, sand-boarding and cuisineDesert diaries: My holiday adventures, including dune-bashing, sand-boarding and cuisine
Any lower down the dune and I'd have slid down into the inland sea, which would have been fun, if wet and cold. Though there were people who tried!
Desert diaries: My holiday adventures, including dune-bashing, sand-boarding and cuisine
 And lots of landcape to practise climbing.
Desert diaries: My holiday adventures, including dune-bashing, sand-boarding and cuisine
I hunted for quicksand amid the treacherous marshes...
Desert diaries: My holiday adventures, including dune-bashing, sand-boarding and cuisineDesert diaries: My holiday adventures, including dune-bashing, sand-boarding and cuisine
 And envied the camels their eyelashes....
Desert diaries: My holiday adventures, including dune-bashing, sand-boarding and cuisine
Oh, and I held a falcon! With the glove and its eyes hooded, of course, else I wouldn't be typing this right now. As it was, its grip was iron and nearly squashed out my whole finger!
Desert diaries: My holiday adventures, including dune-bashing, sand-boarding, falcons and cuisine
Magnificent birds of prey, those. I wish we weren't so cruel as to tie them up and treat them badly. These belonged to the Dubai Emir/Sheikh and are generally better looked-after than some of the others.
Desert diaries: My holiday adventures, including dune-bashing, sand-boarding, falcons and cuisineDesert diaries: My holiday adventures, including dune-bashing, sand-boarding, falcons and cuisine
 Desert diaries: My holiday adventures, including dune-bashing, sand-boarding, falcons and cuisine
Oh, and the shopping! I didn't do very well clothes-wise, as the fashions didn't appeal much, even in Miss Selfridges, Next, Topshop, Zara, H&M and Karen Millen. Normally I pick up at least 3-4 outfits from each but the styles were different here. There were few bookshops, and the original antiques weren't for sale and I can spot fakes reasonably well, thanks to training from childhood. So only makeup remained and I indulged thoroughly!
And the cuisine - I loved everything, from Baba Ghanoush (Ha! Who goes within a mile of Arabia without eating it, though I make it at home?) to stuffed vine leaves to the famous Lebanese crispy zucchini in yoghurt. And other usual suspects such as fatoush, tabbouleh, mouhitabel, falafels, manakesh and tahini. I also tried Egyptian food with funny names such as Foul Iskandrani and Koshari. All absolutely delicious, of course.
Desert diaries: My holiday adventures, including dune-bashing, sand-boarding, falcons and cuisineDesert diaries: My holiday adventures, including dune-bashing, sand-boarding, falcons and cuisine
Not that it was all ethnic; there were Dunkin Doughnuts, Applebee's and so on. I avoided Pizza Hut and went in for Yellow Cab this time.
Desert diaries: My holiday adventures, including dune-bashing, sand-boarding, falcons and cuisineDesert diaries: My holiday adventures, including dune-bashing, sand-boarding, falcons and cuisine
These are only some of the photographs - I've uploaded more on YouTube and will share my album shortly.
  1. Lovely pics....would have like to see a pic of you mid-screech though...lol.

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    1. Ooooh, thankfully everyone was holding on for dear life - except dour driver who was driving and swearing in his mind, so no one managed a picture of that!

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  2. Lovely pics .. looks like a fun holiday .. waiting for more pics :)

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  3. wow ..!! this is very interesting.. I love falcons. I wish i could own them. Very magnificent. Good to know that you enjoyed tat ride well :D

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  4. Amazing pictures Renu! Can't wait to see the swatches of your new nail haul.

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  5. Great photos. my friend recently returned, and described the dune bashing the same as you... a roller coaster ride. She said she vomited 2- minutes later lol. The food looks good, and advice on where to get authentic ME food?

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  6. Al Hallab (Chain in the biggest malls) for Lebanese. Hadoota Masreya for Egyptian. If you don't insist upon fine dining, you'll stumble upon the most authentic and taste local restaurants in souks where they bake Arab bread in igloo-like ovens in front of you. The rest of it is a mixture of Indian, Italian and Chinese cuisine and not as authentic. All supermarket chains (biggest names are Carrefour, Geant and Lulu) have a fresh foods section where they'll pack up homemade baba ghanoush or stuffed vine leaves and so on as takeaway - that's my favourite way of sampling local goodies.

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