14 March 2017

Mama’s 75th Birthday (Part 3): Desert Safari

Wanting our guests to experience Dubai as much as they could during their brief visit, my sister and I decided to take them on a desert safari the day before Mama’s actual birthday. After all, it’s one of Dubai’s famous activities to do when in town, right? Since they weren’t fussy and our group was a big one (11 adults + 1 kid), we availed of Yalla Banana’s Dhs55 per person deal online and called the company to schedule our group once we received the vouchers via e-mail.

We were told that a van would pick us up from Al Ghurair Centre at 3pm on the 13th of April but we arrived 30 minutes late because of traffic. Fortunately the driver was very patient and understanding, waiting for us and promptly driving up to where we were standing as soon as I called to inform him we had arrived. 
Before heading to Dubai-Hatta road, he drove to the entrance of Zabeel Palace. We were not expecting the sudden detour, but we were so glad he took us there because it gave us the chance to see the place.
Then we were off. The ride was a smooth one and it was late afternoon so most of us took a nap on the way. Sometime later, we stopped and scrambled out of the van and stretched our legs before getting into the 4×4 vehicles that would take us to the site.
Because of Mama’s heart condition and Sophie was too small she might get scared, Ate Ning rode with them in a car that took them straight to the site without the dune bashing. Kuya Boy, Ate Mel, Lhet, Elaine, Nicole, Gabe and Lenci went in one car, and Kuya Boyet and I joined another group in another car.

Despite the twists, turns and bumpy rides over the dunes, the people we were riding with were just quiet. My brother and I would laugh in delight whenever the driver would take us up and down the sands, but there was no reaction from the others. Either they were bored or their expectations were too high. Oh well.
On the other hand, we could practically hear our family’s loud shrieks and laughter coming from the other vehicle almost all thoughout. When we went down our respective rides at the site, they were all laughing and talking about how much fun they just had.
With the driver who took them on the fun ride
Except for the shisha and sand boarding, our group tried everything else the safari provided: camel-riding, henna tattoo, and trying the country's national dresses.
They looked more like altar boys than locals ☺
Considering the inexpensive deal, you really can’t expect to have a wide variety of food; nor should you assume it would be delicious. It was…ok. As far as I can remember, there were shawarmas, grilled chicken, falafel, and lots and lots of salads and cold appetizers. They were enough to fill our stomachs at least.
Finally it was time for the entertainment. The tanoura dancer came on stage first with his dizzying performance using a skirt of colourful lights.
After him was the belly dancer and her swaying hips.
When the dancer ended her performance, that was the signal for everyone to get ready and leave. And soon our group was on our way back to Al Ghurair Centre, and then to our respective homes...tired but happy from experiencing a desert safari as a family...another memory to cherish for Mama's weeklong birthday celebration.
We had planned another surprise for Mama for the next day; but that's another story which deserves an entirely separate post on my blog ☺

Part 1 of Mama's 75th birthday can be read here.
Part 2 of Mama's 75th birthday can be read here.

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