Besides darting from air-conditioned shopping mall to shopping mall, and gazing at all the amazing buildings going up in Dubai, we also got to do some fun activities under the hot desert sun.
One day we paid about $45 to spend a lazy afternoon at the plush One&Only Mirage Resort, which had one of the most beautiful pools I’d ever seen. First of all, it was huge and seemed to wind around the entire resort grounds. There were huge palm trees practically growing from the middle of the pool. It was quite tranquil and we spent the afternoon reading, sun bathing, swimming and going for a dip, perhaps for the only time in our lives, in the Persian Gulf.
Another day we went to the Wild Wadi Water Park. This was another fabulous way to stay cool in the hot desert sun. We jumped in tubes and slid down water slides and even slid up them—the first time I’d ever encountered slides where water actually propelled you upwards!
Being the somewhat fearless one, I took on the tallest, fastest water slide outside of North America. Of course, half-way up the stairs to the top, my heart started pounding and I was wondering why I was doing this. I convinced myself to “take the plunge” and hoped my swim suit would stay in place. The ride lasts about five seconds… maybe. And as you shoot down the 33-meter slide on nothing but your back, you can reach speeds of up to 40 MPH. Well, after the common instructions of keeping my legs crossed and arms crossed over my chest—away I went. Wooooooooo… it was over before I knew it, but a blast and worth it! Plus, everything stayed on and in its place. Phew.
One of the ‘must-dos’ here in Dubai is a Desert Safari. For about $40, we enjoyed an afternoon Safari with Orient Tours. We were picked up from our hotel in a white Toyota 4WD SUV and proceeded to pick up an Italian couple and their son before speeding out into the desert to begin our ‘safari.’
The first thing we did was stop at a gas station to fuel our bellies with snacks and to literally let the air out of our SUV’s tires to get it ready for some real “off-roading.” Once in the desert, we started some good ol’ “Dune Bashing.” We sped up and over the sand dunes, our wheels spinning and our truck skidding. It felt like some kind of out of control roller coaster. We dipped and sped up hills and slid down sideways. It was a blast and luckily the truck was completely padded inside just in case of any ‘roll-overs.’
After about an hour of this, when my stomach had just about had it with all the jumping and bumping, we headed off to our oasis in the desert–an outdoor BBQ with cushions all around low tables with candles. Here we tried some sandboarding, which is much easier than the snow variety for the sheer fact that the sand slows you down as opposed to the slick snow. Oh yeah, plus it was the tiniest of baby camel slopes.
Speaking of camels, we also got to take a slow ride on a big camel. Ours was named Shelia and she was sweet and tame. It felt similar to horse back riding except when it was time to get off she’d sit down, but this is a two-step process. First her front legs go down and you are thrown forward like on a carnival ride, then her hind quarters go down and you can climb off.
For dinner we had some succulent barbecued chicken and beef—it seems that any kind of grilled/barbecued meet is beloved ‘round the world.
The evening ended with a belly dancer whose hips certainly “didn’t lie” (Shakira, Shakira). It was great fun and the weather was so wonderful once the sun went down—it was just delightful. I, of course, was in awe of the thousands of stars twinkling above. Just amazing and probably a highlight of our time in Dream-world Dubai.