I had a great vacation! It was so busy I didn’t write hardly at all. Sometimes, it’s alright to be a tourist. So here’s what I did:
1. Went up the tallest building in the world. The Burj Khalifa is not just slightly the tallest building in the world, but right now at least, massively taller. I didn’t go up it the first time in Dubai because it made me feel a bit sick looking up at it and I thought it’d be terrible at the top. However, the building feels surprisingly solid and doesn’t sway at all, so it was more like looking out of an airplane window than anything. The only queasy spot was actually the elevator, and not because of the ride itself (which was very smooth) but because it’s mirrored and has a fancy light show going that’s about enough to make a person slightly disoriented. Staring at the floor handled that though. The day was slightly hazy, but I still have a wonderful view and thoroughly enjoyed it.
2. Picnicked in Mushrif Park. Since most of the surrounding area is desert, to have a nice place outside with plants means going to one of the parks where they water things. A lot of these parks are large though, with more natural looking areas mixed with formal gardens. The weather was splendid, just perfect for sitting in the shade with short sleeves and so we went and ate a picnic lunch several times. The parks are also a good place to see interesting birds.
3. Walked at sunset on the beach collecting shells. The gulf was perfect weather for an Oregonian like me, 70s to 80s. The waves are small, unlike the Pacific, more like a lake, where passing boats will send in waves for a while and then die back down. We had a perfect evening, with a beautiful sunset over the gulf. I also found some lovely tropical pink and orange shells and pieces of coral that are completely different from the sort of shells I find on the Oregon coast.
4. Walked up a Wadi. A wadi (arroyo) is a canyon-like mostly dry stream bed that when it finally does rain in the desert, carries all the run-off water. As they’re the only areas with a bit of water in them out in the countryside, they make for interesting walking. There’s actually a few trees, bushes, flowers, and insects, even if there isn’t any water left in them, and unlike a park, the ground is rocky and dynamic. We walked up one of the wadis near the border of Oman, where the countryside is more mountainous and dynamic.
5. Rode a camel. You don’t get more touristic than this, but I don’t care. I’d never done it before so I wanted to give it a try. Camels sound rather grumpy, and I suppose if I had to carry people back and forth along the beach I’d be grumpy too. Their owner however was fantastic. He took several pictures for us and encouraged us to pet the camels. I didn’t get spit on either, despite hearing that’s always what camels do… and while the up and down part was rather rocky, the ride itself was pretty smooth.
6. Watched the fountain show at Dubai Mall. The fountain has several nightly light/waterfall shows that are usually done to music and rather pretty. This time though, I got a rather bombastic special show, because it turned out my visit coincided with the “Shopping Festival” something a bit like Black Friday but for several weeks. This meant twice an evening the show was extra long and involving dancers, video, extra lights, and fire. Yes… fire and water fountain together… quite something.
7. Lit a flying lantern. There was a comedy show that my friend’s husband was helping put on the first week I was visiting, and as part of their opening night, they had these hot hair lanterns. After lighting the bottom of them, the lantern slowly filled with hot air until it was ready to fly. It was rather magical to watch them all floating away through the night sky. I actually lit two of them, but didn’t have anyone take a picture of me while I did it, so I took pictures of the people around me lighting them instead.
8. Went to Dubai’s writer’s group. You don’t get more authorly than this. The writer’s group alternates between critique one week and write-in the next. I got to attend one of each since I was there for two weeks. The group is in English, but truly international, with people from all over the world. I was a bit shy, but did read some of the stories for critique and offer feedback. But mostly I was excited to meet so many writers from all over the place.
9. Browsed Dragon Mart for local made jewelry. It seems most of the stuff in the malls, besides being horribly expensive, is imported from China or India as much as things are in the US. However, the cheaper local Dragon Mart near where Skip lives, ironically named for being in a Chinese neighborhood is a good place to find necklaces and bracelets in the bead shops. I had a great time looking at all the beads and picked out a couple necklaces to buy. They’re something fun that won’t add clutter to my life like other souvenir items. Who needs a model of the Burj Khalifa or more refrigerator magnets, honestly?
10. Went hiking in Musandam, Oman. This section of Oman is separated from the rest of the country by the UAE (United Arab Emirates) and so while technically a different country quite close. Mountains go right up to the gulf coast here, but we went hiking farther back in the mountains. We climbed up a couple wadis, and the rocks were fabulous. I loved the different shapes. There were also several small nomadic villages tucked away in some of the little valleys, and well as wandering goats.