"" Writer's Wanderings: Dubai - Skiing in the Desert?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Dubai - Skiing in the Desert?

Instead of resting from our first morning in Dubai, we opted to freshen up quickly and grab a taxi to the Mall of the Emirates. Taxis are relatively inexpensive in Dubai if you get the ones that are tan/red with a "taxi" sign on the top. You need to specify public taxi or you will get a very nice but much more expensive ride in a "limousine." The taxi drivers are a varied bunch, mostly Pakistani. Some talk. Others don't. Our ride to the mall was very quiet. As we had passed the Mall of the Emirates earlier in the day, we had noticed the enormous metal enclosure that resembled a large waterpark slide like you see attached to an indoor waterpark facility. While it looked big, from a distance we could not really tell how truly large it was. Inside the mall, we found that the shoppers were a bit like we would find in any mall back home--all sorts of dress from shorts to abayas and burqas, t-shirts to the traditional men's white kandura with a guthra covering the head. We were assuming that the majority of the less conservative dress belonged to the tourists. The taxi had dropped us off very close to where a large restaurant offering a variety of international food seat customers with a view of the ski slopes. It was amazing. As we ate lunch, we were able to enjoy the antics of a group of brand new skiers as they learned to stand and slide down the beginner's hill. Some were learning to snowboard as well. As we explored further, we found that there was all sorts of things to do inside Ski Dubai. We enjoyed it of course from the outside looking into the cold. After all, we'd left that white stuff at home when our plane took off. There were standard issue snow outfits for most of the people inside including long black coats for the ladies in traditional dress. Many were pulling little ones on sleds. The largest hill is 400 meters long and has a fall of 60 meters (skiers will know what that means). There are five hills in all and several ways to the top including a ski lift. Snow is made on a regular basis and temperatures are kept around the 30 degree F mark. It is designed and landscaped pleasantly. Just another of the amazing accomplishments seen in Dubai. We enjoyed exploring the mall and seeing stores familiar and new to us before we returned to our hotel to rest and dress for our evening dinner cruise aboard a dhow, a large wooden riverboat. Our tour company picked us up at 7:30 and drove to the Dubai Marina where we boarded a dhow decorated in colored lights. The lights of the city were a beautiful backdrop to what was supposed to be a "romantic cruise" on the creek. A larage party of locals were celebrating someone's birthday so it was a little less romantic but it gave us the opportunity to see others at play. Many in the group smoked hookahs, pipes that filter a tobacco mix called shisha. The water in the pipe is supposed to act as filter and cooler. The shisha is a flavored syrupy tobacco mix--honey or molasses based and flavored with apple, lemon, watermelon, or other flavor variations. I'm not sure that the entertainment was meant for all of us but just as we were finishing our buffet dinner, a belly dancer provided amusement mostly for the birthday table. It was quite an evening.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...