Day 77 – Monday, March 23, 2015 – Dubai, UAE – Day 1

We arrived in Dubai about 11:00 AM, having passed through the Strait of Hormuz around 3 AM moving from the Arabian Sea into the Gulf of Oman and down to Dubai in the UAE. We passed only a few miles from the coast of Iran.

At noon, the atmosphere was hazy.

The Burj Khalifa dominates the skyline with its 160 floors.

We had an excursion planned through Cruising Excursions for a Safari Experience. It turned out to be a great trip, but got off to a shaky start. We were told to meet our transportation at the main port gate and given very specific instructions even with photographs of the gate itself. Since the gate was about 2 miles from our dock, we caught a ride with the shuttle provided to downtown and got off at the gate. When our pickup was 15 minutes late we began to call the numbers provided. After 3 local calls and one to London and a call back from the driver and a waiting 90 minutes at the gate we were finally picked up. Not off to a good start, the driver had been told to pick us up at the pier (which would have been so much simpler for us). He was every upset, and ranted about how this wasn’t the first time this had happened and how the office was unprofessional. He called the office and I wish I could have understood what he was saying. The one thing I did understand was stupid, stupid, stupid…

The UAE consists of 7 states and we traveled through three of them in on our Safari Excursion.

We drove through Dubai city and passed into the desert. The highways were sand swept.

Before entering the desert dunes, we had a bathroom stop at this convenience store. The facilities were not too “convenient” but sufficed.

When we pulled off the road into the desert proper, our driver deflated the tires on our Land cruiser from 35 psi to 15 psi.

The scenery was beautiful, as the sun was getting low and the temperature was pleasantly in the 70’s.

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We were in for a thrilling ride over, across and down the dunes.

Kay and I in the desert.

Janet & Carl

A little of the action on the dunes…

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A fairly rare occurrence, we witnessed rain in the desert! It was only a few drops, but I caught it on camera…

Our driver, Samin, like 85% of the population in Dubai is not an Emirates. He is from Pakistan and has been working here for 15 years. He only stays 6 months a year, during the tourist season (winter) and then returns home. He said he lives in the mountains which are green with fresh clean water. It was obvious he missed his home, wife and 5 sons but like so many in the crowed mid-east and Asian countries he has to go where the work is that will support his family. He was very pleasant and interesting to talk with. He seemed as interested in us as we were in him.

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Another driver, in a more traditional dress.

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Happy to have his photo made, but he could have scared you if you met him on a dark street at night!

Surprisingly, the name of the tour company was Atlanta Tourism.

Carl getting in the mood.

Here you could sample some of the authentic Arabian coffee and have fresh dates, a major crop. The coffee contained spices which didn’t appeal to me.

Sunset over the desert.

Part of our tour included the chance to ride a camel. Of course we couldn’t pass this up, especially since we had already ridden an elephant!

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Ridding was easy, it was the getting on and off that was tricky.

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The animals were amazing how they could kneel down and still get back up!

This lovely couple we met while in the queue line to ride were from South Africa. They asked if I would take their photo on the camel which I was happy to do. They were then kind enough to wait after their ride and take photos for me and for Janet of our ride. Unfortunately I did not get their name, but all the camel photos are to their credit. I did give them my blog website, so please guys, if you see this, post or email me your names!

The camp site.

A rug salesman.

Some of the entertainment consisted of whirling dervishes. These dancers were amazing, some could twirl for what seemed like 10 minutes and still be able to walk away with even stumbling! Whirling dervishes were originally a form of religious worship, the purpose was for the dancer to whirl himself into a religious ecstasy. The dance has now become a very popular form of entertainment.

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We thoroughly enjoyed our 4-wheeler ride in the desert, the camel ride, the camp and show. The only thing none of us were impressed with was the traditional Bedouin camp food. Honestly, I had no idea what I was eating except for a small piece of chicken. There were several vegetable dishes and barbeque, which was served on a skewer. Honestly, we were just thankful that none of us had GI problems then next day! It was also interesting that for the food serving, the women had to go to a different line than the men.

We arrived back to the ship about 9:30 and there was a show in the Queens Lounge also featuring dancing so we went to compare.

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The belly dancer on the ship was very good, perhaps better than the ones at the camp, but the whirling dervishes and the other dancers although good, were not as good as the camp dancers.

I took this photo off our veranda of the city at night. Dubai is quite a beautiful city.

I will try to get the second day in Dubai posted soon. We are arriving in Muscat tomorrow and it will be a full day. I just don’t want to get too far behind or I might never get caught up. That is why my commentary was so brief. There were so many more thing I would have liked to share about our adventures today.

Goodnight.

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