Lots to report on and so little time to do it. Here we go…
Festival season is upon us with evening shenanigans in almost every town. The days are getting hotter so the cool evenings are an ideal time to venture out and enjoy the sights and sounds of the carnival. First stop was the Muscat Festival 2013 held, of course, in the town of Al Amerat. All in all, it was much like a county show but without all the refinements that we have come to expect. As usual, there was the total lack of Health and Safety but nothing untoward came as a result. There were handicrafts, local and worldwide, demos of traditional crafts and some dancing.
The story thus far: We approached an elderly gentleman to ask for directions to the nearest kebab stand. He was solemn and gave little by way of acknowledgement.
Tea or no tea, we demanded that he respond and tell us where to buy a decent Shawarma. Barely moving his head, he lifted his chin slightly and uttered a melodic sound that was neither song nor speech. A call perhaps, a sound to direct us, to welcome us or maybe, to summon his mates…
They descended upon us until we were surrounded by a mass of chanting, gun wielding, angry, middle-aged men. I empathised with them; edging towards your autumn years is nothing but pain and sorrow in my book! Cartridge belts a jangling and the infernal banging of that tin thing in the old chap’s hand, brought home the reality of the situation. Offence had been taken and we were the offending party. Not wishing to incite further aggravation, we tried to appease the thronging mass of gun-toting nomads by using our ace, bartering card. We offered them the kid in return for our safe passage home.
They eyed our small child with suspicious disdain then, just as we thought all was lost, they accepted our offer and quickly snatched the kid to make off with her by way of camel.
To be honest, we were well shot of her. What with all the moaning and “are we there yet?”. It was a matter of time before we ditched her and started to enjoy ourselves.
But wait! All was not going to plan. It was a mistaken belief that the missus and I had secured our transit from that sandy place. We we already one kid down on the deal but now, a sprightly looking chap beckoned that I should take tea and dates with him on his mat. He had a twinkle in his eye that spelt menace and I was in no position to do anything but acquiesce.
As best as I was able, I made polite conversation whilst the missus stood aside (as is her place). There was something quite horrible being plotted and I was to be the unwilling party to it. My eyes were directed to look to the side and there I saw them; such finesse, such beauty, such…
It was quite simple. A straight swop. The two lovelies in exchange for the missus.
How could I? Trade my beloved for my own safety and a couple of good time gals?
We immediately shook hands on the deal, I filled my pocket with sticky dates and wandered off into the night with the two beauties who I knew would not moan or answer back. I mused as I wandered; Do evenings get any better than this?
Of course – I jest!
Reunited in reality.
Next stop DUBAI in the United Arab Emirates…
We head north into another country, a five hour drive to the Las Vegas of the Middle East – but without the gambling, drinking, sleeze and undesirable elements that are totally forbidden. In fact, it is quite wrong to compare it to Las Vegas as it is infinitely better. There really is so much to see and do and our one, overnight stop could never do it all justice.
Among the iconic landmarks there are ‘must do’ activities and sights to be seen. For example, the Burj Khalifa which is the tallest building in the world at some 830 metres high.
This is a stock photo as mine could never do this amazing piece of architecture any justice.
Then there is the biggest shopping mall and entertainment centre in the world, with a fish tank that defies belief. I couldn’t fit it all into the shot!
For a couple of quid, you can don SCUBA gear and dive straight in to get a real, fish-eye view. Sit amongst the sharks and rays and watch all those tourists watching you. Surreal!
There are numerous wonders that reach for the sky, 7* Hotels, office buildings that are more beauty than functional, a road system that is often 12 or 14 lanes wide and bridges that sweep off beyond the horizon, ports and traditional boats, top attractions, shows and entertainers, nightclubs and every conceivable shop from De Beers to Claires Accessories, Gucci to M&S and Jimmy Choo to Clarks. Everything and anything your savings account could desire. In this paradise of things to do, architecture, shows, elite shops and attractions, we did what we know best. We went to IKEA.
Car bursting at the seams with many things that we really didn’t need or want, enough candles to light a city (both perfumed and pillar of course) we set off on the return journey home to marvel at the border control that appeared, to us, to be in total chaos. But it all works out in the end.
Our trip to the UAE wasn’t all soft furnishings with names we could not pronounce. We took in some of the sights, sent a postcard or two and took some photos. It is a long drive but it is still close enough to become a regular shopping destination. It is worth seeing time and time again. So, until the next adventure.