Going to Dubai and not paying a visit to the famous desert lands is like going to a cheesecake factory and not digging into the cheesecake.
We had planned a desert safari on the first day of our trip. As scheduled, our tour operator was at our doorstep by noon. After devouring a gourmet fare, we set off on the desert trail.
After almost an hour’s drive, we finally saw the magnificent sand dunes. Our car, which was cruising like a gallant elephant, transformed itself into a mighty beast as soon as it hit the golden sands.
I squealed with joy, this was nothing short of a roller coaster ride. With every bend and nook the car maneuvered, we dizzied and screamed in raptures.
(Travel sickness is common during these desert rides, however it can be prevented.)
We stopped in the middle of the desert to click umpteen pics. This was the time to flaunt our glares and strut away to glory for the camera shutters!
As I stood there in the middle of the vast desert land, soaking in the bright hued sky and the setting sun, I was filled with tranquility and joy.
Our next stop was the desert camp.
True to its name, this place is a camp in every sense. It is a vast cordoned part of the desert with a sprawling circular stage in the center. Long tables are set around this with floor seating.
We were dropped off in front of the camp entrance. After a camel ride and the ubiquitous selfie session with the camel, prodding it to pose, we finally entered the camp.
The place was eclectic and charged up.
I plonked myself on a dupion cushion, sipping tea and enjoying the lively ambiance. We were served traditional Arabian dates followed by a delicious savory.
Dance shows were to start in sometime. We decided to explore the camp a bit before that. There were a host of activities one could indulge in.
In one corner, colorful henna patterns were being tattooed. Young and old alike queued up to get their palms colored.
Then we headed to the shisha joint, fragrant smoke wafted around, as people sat there with pipes in their hands. There was laughter and excitement as they tried different flavored shishas.
Adjacent to this, there was a stall with an unlimited supply of beverages (Mind you, not alcohol, it is Middle East!)
At the other extreme end of the camp was the costume corner. One could don the traditional Middle Eastern attire and get photographed.
The dance shows were about to start, we headed back to our seats with cups of piping hot tea.
There were series of dance shows, each more extravagant and visually appealing than the other. The final show was the much awaited belly dance. As the music started, the dancer in her sensual, pink, bejeweled attire took the center stage. The pretty dancer swayed and turned to the hypnotic, Arabic music. I sat there mesmerized. Apart from the fact that it was tastefully artistic, the dance was also an embodiment of the perseverance the dancer had put in to get that poise and those effortless moves.
By now we were famished and the buffet had just started. A simple Middle Eastern fare was being served. Being a vegetarian, I had no issues finding something to fill my plate. In fact, I filled my plate generously (aren’t we all guilty of this!).
It was a delectable array of hummus, pita bread, sprouts, noodles and some energizing salads. There was a nip in the air with a gentle desert breeze. Sitting there on those silk pillows, under the starry sky, gorging delicious food, we immersed ourselves in animated conversations.
Finally, it was time to call it a night. We packed our belongings, rather unwillingly, to head back to our hotels. It felt like a trip orchestrated in a medieval setting was coming to an end. Indeed, it would be a night to remember!