5.Dune Safari - 17/01/09

Our last day in the Emirates...
We started our day later than usual. After packing a few things and getting our bits and pieces in order for departure the next day, we went to the #Burjuman mall - buying last mementos and a few more family-gifts. We had booked a dune safari with #Arabian-adventures to conclude our wonderful stay in Dubai.
We had to be ready for pick up from our hotel at 15h00. After driving for about 45minutes out of the city to the middle of nowhere, we arrived at our destination.

To kick off our afternoon, we went dune bashing - it was an awesome experience! Each SUV had about 6 passengers and their own cooler-box filled with bottled water to prevent dehydration - could've been possible, I mean, we were in the middle of the desert.
At dusk, all the SUV's stopped at a meeting point and gave us some time to appreciate the desert sunset.

I name her Sheila!



We enjoyed the magical sunset and the enchantment of the desert. The sun setting behind the dunes, the freshness of the desert-air, the mysterious atmosphere around us. It was a perfectly, romantic sunset shared with my boyfriend. 

We arrived at our 'camp' for the evening - there were camels; big plush cushions, as seating, at low tables; and big carpets spread out on the cool and clean sand. We were in for an Arabian Night. First thing we did, after finding a spot to sit down, was get henna tattoos. A traditional form of body art that conforms to cultural customs. Our dinner was traditional Arab cuisine - starting off with light snacks such as dates, samosas (stuffed pastry), falafel (a deep-fried ball of chickpeas), and other delicious nibbles leading into a buffet main course.

But first, we got to see an Arabian girl do belly dancing.

After dinner we had the privilege to ride on a camel - what an awesome experience. We had so much fun and it was the perfect way to conclude our holiday. To end off the day,we relaxed whilst smoking shisha (hubbly).                                                                                        

Departure - 18/01/09

It was time to say our farewells to the land of the desert and head back home. Our Holiday time was over, but we were glad to be back on home turf.

Our next adventure: United States of America

4.Atlantis - 16/01/09


Once again it was looking gloomy outside, but we went to Atlantis - The Palm, the man-made island despite the weather report. Waterparks I have been to in South Africa, do not measure up to this awesome Aquaventure!

Why go to parks where you have to get out the water and carry your tube with you to the top, when at Aquaventure you do not have to carry your tube 95% of the time? The strong water jets and flow of water sends you off in the right direction. When you want to go to the top there are horizontal conveyor-belts guiding your tube to the top, all the while you are sitting in it. 

You are not allowed to take any food and drink into the park, but there also aren't any bag-checkpoints.. So if you are daring and want to take a chance, it is up to you. The food is not too expensive though, as normal, it is more than what you would pay outside the park. If you have valuables, there are lockers you can use at a small fee. We didn't take any valuables, just the sunscreen, towels and hats. We were too busy enjoying the supertubes to think of food or anything else.

The 'main' slide: The Leap of Faith, drops almost vertically down into a tunnel that is underwater - water inhabited by sharks... As I went over the tip of the slide I opened my eyes and the view that I took in for that split-second was breathtaking. Breathtaking in a sense that it was beautiful, but also breathtaking in a sense that I am about to plunge down at rapid speed and it feels like I can't breath. I only went twice. I had to go a second time, because the first time I kept my eyes closed and the ride was over before I even knew it.

The rides are thrilling and exciting! We had such a blast! Looking back at it now, I want to go again. Another ride, called Shark Attack, also takes you through the shark-tunnel, floating on a tube giving you time to admire the fish tank. 

As all parks have - this one was no exception in the kiddies department.
They had a whole section devoted to keep the kiddies busy. We even made an appearance - waiting under the 'bucket' to tumble a waterfall over us.

We were finally defeated at sunset. Hopped into a cab and headed back to our hotel - we still had plans for the evening...


Dinner was served on a Dhow dinner cruise -expedition. We were greeted with traditional Arabic tea - not my favourite. At our table, we enjoyed snacks followed by the main course - a tantalizing buffet! We indulged in this feast of different tastes and the unknown in some cases. Floating about in the creek and admiring the other dhows passing, the city lights and sounds. The evening was very enjoyable and also romantic. A must if you a couple or parents that need a bit of romantic time.

3.Souks - 15/01/09

We woke up refreshed and ready to hit the beach - but the weather was not quite ready for us. We went to the beach anyway, despite the windiness and lack of sunrays.

As I have expressed before, in Dubai one must take note of the common courtesy 'rules':

"Dressing for the occasion. When on the beach and at Dubai's water-parks, swimwear can be considered appropriate and therefore will not cause a problem. Nevertheless away from the beach and other such environments, dressing in such a way can cause offense to the many Muslims in Dubai. It is also worth noting that it is also not appropriate for men to go around without a top on away from the beach. When out in other public areas, dress in a more conservative manner" rules-in-dubai webpage described.

Furthermore - one is not allowed taking photos of the people; Islamic men do not really go to the beach with their woman; they have seperate days that they are allowed to go to the beach.

                                                                                       Dubai Beaches
After spending the morning at this lovely beach, we decided to put our jerseys on and rather go do some shopping in the famous souks!

On our way back to our hotel we were admiring the air-conditioned bus stops. pretty cool huh?

To get to the souks we had to take a dhow (a small vessel that can take about 20 people) to cross the creek to the other side. In my personal opinion that dhow looked way too small for 20 people and it looked and felt more like a raft!!

                                                        On the dhow: below.

The Souqs (Arabic: سوق, also soq, souk, esouk, suk, sooq, souq, or suq) - Wikipedia

The term, souk, is often used to describe the open-air market in any Arabized or Muslim city. We went to the Perfume Souk and Gold Souk, but there are other souks as well. For further information on souks click: Dubai Souks

This is like any other flea market that we are used to. The key to getting what you want, at a price that you feel comfortable with, is: BARTER. Play the shops off against each other. Do not just buy what you want in the first shop, because trust me, around the corner you will get it for half the price! Be aware that some can be fake, even perfumes. The handbags are definitely fake, BUT good fakes and you do not even find fakes in South Africa of Versace or D&G and all those famous Italian names. We got a few perfumes and of course I got a handbag... or two. Souk Pics

2.Wild Wadi - 14/01/09

Dubai - One of the world's favourite travel destinations. Dubai is known for its remarkable architecture. The buildings are competing in height and individualism (as seen in the picture above).

Personally I have never faced the Islamic religion to such an extent, but Islam is more than just a religion in this country. It is their culture. Islam governs all aspects of their lives, for example their clothing, food and drink.

Some interesting points to remember when travelling to an Islamic country:

Culture seen in our bathroom

  • Do not wear inappropriate clothes (cover your shoulders and your knees)
  • Women must not walk alone in the streets - recommended that they are accompanied by a male companion
  • Do not use foul language in public
  • or talk about politics...

Our day started off with a walk around one of the old parts of Dubai.

The Bastakiya.

This is a landmark of old Dubai. The whole area has undergone some work but only to preserve the structures as much as it's original state it was in when it was first inhabited in the 1900's.

TravelDK describes the Bastakiya as "...a picturesque glimpse into the city's past in sharp contrast to the futuristic architecture and construction boom elsewhere."

I absolutely agree with this statement.  The historical flair that the windtowers (served as early forms of "airconditioners") and narrow roadways create in contrast to the high-tech buildings, captures the feel for the nature and true culture of historical Dubai.

After a morning of exploring through the alleyways of one of Bur Dubai's oldest heritage sites, we decided to head out to Wild Wadi Waterpark. I have never experienced such exhilarating slides like I have experienced at Wild Wadi. The park is exciting and filled with fun rides for the whole family.

From a kiddies water feature to the Jumeirah Scarah, which is one of the highest slides in the world excluding USA. It is for the daredevils - Of course WE went on it, at least once.

Although it is winter season in Dubai, it was a perfect day to go to the waterpark. It is out-of-season, which meant no queues for rides, the water was heated and the sun was still out shining bright.

From the waterpark you can see the lovely Jumeirah Hotel in the back and the Burj Al Arab in the front. The Burj is set aside on its own 'island'.

After spending the whole day playing in the water, we were kaput. A good night's rest was in order.

1.Rocky Start: Dubai - 13/01/09

After our winter holiday in London we were ready to defrost in Dubai - also winter there, but weather like good old Durbs. So the gloves and scarves were packed at the bottom of our suitcases and out came the sun-tan lotion and flip flops!

We  cleverly planned our  flight to land in the morning and have a whole day to spend in Dubai (Just one of the 7 emirates).

Left: At the airport excited to be in Dubai.

With our luggage on the trolley, "passport"-pouch in the one hand and camera in the other hand we head for the exit of the airport. George made a quick stop at the currency exchange desk before we hail a taxi. The cabs were not those yellow ones you would normally associate with the word cab - some were nice..... some were dingy, old skedonks, and we took one anyway....

ooooooh-ing and aaaaah-ing as we go to our hotel, making the ride feel really quick. In a jiffy we arrive at the Pearl residence. We offload our luggage, take snaps of the skyscrapers, pay the driver and off to check in to our room we go.

The clerk asks for our passports......... OUR PASSPORTS..... Suddenly we frantically start searching for the pouch with everything in it. Our departure tickets. Identity documents. Passports. Money.... I start unpacking in the lobby, emptying out every possible zipper.

After minutes of hyperventilating and a few anxiety attacks, we realize that we must have left it at the currency counter. It Was There. Thank God. For a brief moment I have never felt so trapped in my life - My thoughts were: I can't stay here in some foreign country. What about my family back home. How will we get out of this. This is not how I imagined it.

In our room we washed up and settled in nicely. Time to hit the road. We go to the closest shopping mall and decide to get lunch. Sitting there, waiting for our lunch, we could hardly keep our eyes open. We had had quite the adventure today. Back in the hotel room we both fall into a deep sleep. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ......................

Dinner time: At 11pm.

Fancy meeting you here...

Arabian Nights