Saturday, December 8, 2012

Desert Diversions

i have been super quiet in blogger land.  Frequently my mind is swirling with post ideas and i can't tell you how many times i have heard from my family, "Hey, you HAVE to blog about...."  But by the time 9:00pm rolls around my eyes can hardly focus enough to see the computer much less jump start my flat lined brain waves.  In addition,  Blogger just informed me i have exceeded my number of photo uploads so i've had to spend some time figuring out how to alleviate that problem.  

i have learned in Dubai is there is NO time to be bored.  The word desert used to conjure up images of vast emptiness and images of loneliness.  No more.  There is a constant swirl of activity to jump into.  Accordingly, this post is an eclectic look at the flurry of diversions available to us the past few weeks.

Exciting birthday parties fill weekends with merriment that make mommies and daddies want to don party hats.

Race Car driving at the indoor Autodrome

Getting prettied up "Hello Kitty Style!"

Results of a "bow in the hair up do."

A mani, pedi, new hairdo, some pink cake and a rendition of Gangnam style karaoke rounds off this girl's first day at the spa.  

A Desert Safari is a pleasant detour from the lights of the city.  The only animals you will see on this safari are camels and falcons but with all the camel sightings, the children have become a bit jaded.  They no longer want to wait in line for a ride, they prefer taking to the sandy slopes.  

i've come to love some of the sights of the desert.  It really has a beauty all its own.  Riley calls the sand 'cinnamon' which is a perfect description because it looks exactly like that.  Its fine grains are unlike anything else i've ever seen.  

A few random trees manage to thrive in the desert even though the wind blows away the sand from their base, exposing their roots.

The highlight of the Safari is the Dune Bashing.  In the states we call it 4 wheeling.  Here Dune Bashing seems a better description as the activity consists of  placing your life in the hands of your driver as he navigates over the hills... while talking on his mobile...  

...while looking for other people to rescue.

Sand Angels

The evening culminates with an Arabic dinner under the stars where boys toast to having full access to the unlimited cans of Fanta

and little girls visit the henna tent.

The evening dinner show is a Tandora dancer (not to be confused with tandoori chicken) who spins around forEVER and when he stops he isn't the least bit tippy.  i on the other hand feel nauseous just watching him.

A Desert Safari just isn't complete without stopping to pet the falcon.

My supposed Great Photo-op!

During the Eid holiday i decided to meet up with a photography group i had recently joined to take advantage of the 24 hour opening of specific places.

The Burj Khalifa is iconic Dubai and sunrise @4:30am on the 124th Observation Deck seemed like an wonderful opportunity so shoot some amazing pictures. 

Except that particular morning was the haziest day we had seen in a LONG time.

Then to top it off (you would appreciate my wit if you knew the observation deck is called "At The Top") apparently 4:30 am is a very popular time to visit the world's tallest building.

There were more people than i have EVER seen up there.  So many in fact i couldn't even stand at the window to get a view.  (Yes, that is someone lifting up their camera above the sea of heads to get a shot of the sunrise.)  Funnier still?  This pictures was taken with my back to the sunrise.  It is the reflection of the sun on the building.  Uh huh, that's how crowded it was.    

So, i made the best of it and just started photographing the interesting and colorful crowds around me.  

The windows perspiring

The Indian newscaster all "Reporting Live from the Burj Khalifa..." in his telecaster voice and requiring frequent makeup touch ups while taking up valuable window space. 

Visitors actually making a purchase at the ATM which dispenses real gold.
Although my photo shoot was interesting it certainly was not what i had in mind.

The munchkins have been requesting a trip to the children's museum.  In a nutshell it is a place where kids can go to pretend to work in real professions.  This place was pretty much over the top and as Kyle says, "It's right up there with Disneyland."

 Ambulances drive on the streets to rescue some injured child.

Riley volunteered to be an injured patient.  Consequently,  a group little EMTs rushed to her, inspected her and loaded her into the ambulance and rush her back to the hospital.

The great thing about this place, aside from the fact the kids LOVE it AND they have a lounge for the parents to sit, read a magazine and grab a coffee, is that the Littles have to first attend training before they can do a particular job.  Once they train and complete their job they are given money that can be spent or deposited into a bank.  They also can go to university to earn a degree which enables them to earn more $ for doing their job.  

Thankfully, the local fire department arrived just in time to extinguish the fire.

The kids took their jobs very seriously.

When they ordered their lunch they had to go into the McDonalds kitchen to make it themselves.

They bottled their own soda

and had a super fun day pretending to be adults busy at work. 
A bit ironic don't you think since as adults we just want to go back to being kids.

Kyle started Dubai Little League and Chris is helping coach so our Saturdays are now filled with a little bit of Americana as they play ball under the towering Burj.   

i attempted 18 hours of an Arabic class which was even more difficult than i thought and required my children tutoring me in my homework at night.


Something else new to us this month is UAE national day.  December 2nd could be compared to our 4th of July.  We have been taking in all the decorating that's driving around.

That colorful glowing rainbow which hearkens some of us back to the days of old school TV is in fact a cruise ship yacht.  It changes colors every so often and happens to belong to the Sheik (which is pronounced 'shake' with a little clearing of your throat at the end  Too bad for him since his boat was recently down graded to only the 2nd largest in the world.

Even with all the nontraditional stuff going on around us we are still finding ways to bring our traditions to Dubai.

Ry buries her head in REAL Christmas fragrant with pine shipped in from Canada. 

And thankfully our Christmas decorations survived the 2 month boat ride!  

i was also able to get in a couple of races before the end of the year with some new running friends and very unique routes. 

A 10K on the The Palm.  
(See pictures and read about the man made island here.)

A 1/2 Marathon in Old Dubai which was scenic since the route carried over under and around the creek area and lead us through the Old Souk (rhymes with soup and means market).

And finally we have been enjoying a garden.  Crazy right?!  i have an herb garden that is flourishing in this beautiful weather.  Better yet,  i have had the privilege of teaching some garden classes at the kids' school as they have an AMAZING organic garden where 2nd and 5th graders come to study science.  

Right here in the middle of the city next to Gate 5 at the kids' school is the most beautiful little organic garden.  Kids can plant, harvest and eat their very own vegetables!  Such a fun way to learn.   

Happy December from the Desert!