Ship of the Desert

Today I went horse riding. It was great fun! But most importantly – I met this guy.

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Modern dentistry, eat your heart out. 

I finally got to get up close to a camel! Anyone that knows me is well aware I have been desperately seeking camel since my arrival in Dubai. And I got to meet some friendly ones today!

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Desert sunrise feat. abandoned water bottles.

Bianca and Natasha picked me up about 5.00am this morning. It is getting so hot here that you either need to start early or go out after sunset, so we picked the morning option. After only one wrong turn – under my direction, oops – we made a successful trip out to the desert, just as the sun was coming up.

Pleasingly, the horses were well cared for, and our guides friendly and helpful. I ended up on an ex-racehorse who was very well behaved, except for the occasional attempt to launch me across the desert at 1000kms an hour. Al Sahra gave us two guides, which was great – it meant I could stay back with Bianca (who had never ridden a horse before, and did very well!) and Natasha could gallop off across the desert. Bianca and I kept to trotting, although there was a few canters when my horse (Harry!) decided to go for gold and return to his racing roots.

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I enjoyed this ride much more than my last desert hack in Dubai. It was much further out in the desert, and you really felt like you were away from the city. We saw wild camels, tame racing camels in pens, a very cool looking bouncy deer and a bunch of adorable baby goats leaping around. The guides were much friendlier than last time, and took good care of us. It warmed up remarkably quickly though… by about 6.30am, we were definitely feeling the heat.

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While we were out in the middle of nowhere, there was still construction going on… typical Dubai. Villas were being constructed (1.4M AED, we were told, and miles from anywhere), and a camel racecourse being built right in the desert park. Unfortunately, work had apparently progressed very quickly on the camel racecourse, and the bridges that had previously let riders pass over the ditch dug in the sand had disappeared. It was the horse riding version of taking the wrong turn on Sheikh Zayed Road, and we ended up going a good four or five kms in the wrong direction, to slingshot back around the end of the building works and work back. We were all – guides included – pretty stoked to be able to turn back, but at least we didn’t have to walk all that way! Our guides did comment they were a little worried they might have had to reroute us up to the highway, and didn’t really fancy the traffic choppers following for being rogue users of the E77.

We spent a little while relaxing and munching down on a hearty meal of oreos and pringles afterwards, as there was a lovely shady area to sit in and no one seemed bothered by our presence.  As we walked back from the trek, I had asked one of the guides if I was allowed to go and check out the camels, and much to my delight he was happy to let us do so. The Pakistani camel keeper, along with the guides, was just lovely. He took a huge amount of pride in telling us about his work with the camels, and what he does to take care of them. They were ‘very tame camels’ that didn’t spit or bite – and they loved a good head scratch and a cuddle. He had the last two days off work and his camels were looking a bit muddy, so he was getting them ready for bath time. There were seven camels, and they all had names – I can’t remember them all, but there was definitely a Liwa and a Maria. And a Simon. This is Simon the camel.

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Simon and friend.

Busy with his upcoming camel washing duties, we left the keeper and headed off back home, with no unplanned detours or missed exits at all. Victory! All in all, a successful trip.

I haven’t been up to much else lately. We farewelled Nick and Candyce today, who have been staying with us the last week. Matt did a better job of entertaining them than me, but I did head out with them a few times, to Dubai Mall (of course!), Souk Madinet and Jumeriah Public Beach and down to Common Grounds at Mall of the Emirates today, an old favorite. We also went to a food truck festival at the Emirates Hills Golf Course last week, which was a nice night out – we didn’t die of heat exhaustion, and I was very stoked to find mini pork sliders for dinner! We caught up with some of the other people on Matt’s course, and I found an ironic sandtrap.

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Why even bother?

 

I think its going to take a good few days for my butt to recover from the 15 or so kms bumping along in the saddle this morning, and I’m just about asleep, so here are some recent Dubai pictures to enjoy.

 

 

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