Sunday, 28 December 2008

Reunion in Dubai Part II

In this ironic world, the days that I reunited with my family were also the days some Gazan families were destroyed and separated. It is a revelation that life is short. When you have the moments, seize them to frame the best of memories. So I did just that. I have had the time of my life with the loved ones by my sides. My son, Hadiff has the natural talent to seize the moments of his life. When he has his favourite sugared donut in his hands, he takes his time enjoying every part of it, nothing else matters.

We went out of Dubai to visit Al Ain, a green town in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. The drive along Al Ain streets was pleasant. There are trees and more trees along the way. The growth and the development of this town is not as exponential as Dubai city. There are hardly any massive constructions. It is a peaceful little town but yet, driving in this town has its challenges for Al Ain has so many roundabouts.

I had come to know the meaning of an 'oasis' when I was a little boy. The word sounds like a heaven on earth, a blessed piece of land in a vast and arid desert. In this trip to Al Ain I have finally been to an oasis. This Al Ain oasis owned by the Sheikh, has a long history of early civilisation and has now become a huge dates plantation. There is a network of narrow driveway to allow visitors in their cars to pass through the oasis to enjoy the healthy air, the sounds of the birds and the thin ray of lights passing through the dense green shades. The best time to visit this oasis would be in August, when the riping dates are hanging on top of the palm trunks waiting to be harvested.

We wanted to visit Al Ain National Museum. It is renowned for its interesting display for many significant archaeological collections. But we were there on Monday and I didn't know it was closed on Monday. So we could only took a peek from the outside.

Our trip to Al Ain has reached its climax when we took the road up to Jebel Hafeed, the range of rocky hills with breathtaking views. Wind corrosion over the years had made the rocks in the strange shapes they are today.

There is a palace under construction on top of one of the hills, belonged to the Sheikh. It might be scary for those who have seen the sight of highland landslide. But for some others, having to live above everything else is a symbol of supremacy.

We dropped by at a camel souk, a marketplace for selling and buying camels from different breeds and purposes. Some camels are on sale for their meat, some for racing and riding.

Al Ain has been one of the best memories we had together. When we got back to Dubai, there is a list of places of interest we visited next.

The Wild Wadi And The Great Splash

The SkiDubai And The Torturing -4 Degree Celcius

The Jumeirah Beach And The Foggy Evening Walk

Ibn Battuta Mall And Its Majestic Displays

The Extravagant Mall Of The Emirates

The Dubai Mall And Its Mammoth Debut

Souk Medinat Jumeirah And Its Exclusive Ambience

Gold Souk And Naif - The Proud And Humble Parts of Dubai

The End

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Reunion in Dubai Part I

My family and I are together now in Dubai after our last Aidilfitri celebration in Malaysia in September this year. They looked fresh when I greeted them at Terminal 1 Dubai Airport. Perhaps they were delighted with the welcoming gifts. So I presume the tattooed roses and even the phlat ball have found the way to their hearts. As soon as we reached my apartment, they were exhausted and slept until mid-morning. For my kids, this has been their first jet-lag, if it was really what they experienced. Staring at these children of mine while they were sleeping brought some kind of congestion in my chest and I was really holding back tears. These have been the sights of their peaceful countenance with dried saliva and all, that I had been missing for months. They were the sights I wished to see in those lonely nights as I went home into an empty house and went to sleep without anyone to kiss good night.

My apartment has now been filled with an unusual aroma. The aroma of a proper home-cooked meal which we had heartily for our brunch.

On a fine day when the wind was mild, we went for a city ballooning which took us 150m above the ground. The sight has been the most proper way to introduce to my family the look out of my neighbourhood, The Gardens and Discovery Gardens. I pointed to them Jumeirah seaside where I collected sea shells for them and the cluster of buildings at Dubai Marina which I used to stay for my first few months in Dubai. At one end, I pointed the downtown Dubai and at the other end, the Jebel Ali Free Zone, where I work. Looming ahead was Abu Dhabi and the empty desert.

On the same bright sunny day, we went for a desert safari. It was a rough ride of a four-wheel drive across the beautiful desert, off-road close to the long stretch of Oman-Hatta road. My wife was getting ready with a plastic bag as she was very close to throw up, but my kids was screaming happily. The sand was fine, soft, dry and warm. It felt like brown sugar. The winter breeze allowed us to enjoy this forgiving arid land which a point of no entry in the scorching summer. This is the beauty of Dubai in its natural way, a contrasting element of the glamourous modern and artificial Dubai, which will be featured in the second part of this reunion entry.

We had a good view of the desert sunset as the camels made a home-bound parade and the bright-blue-sky day turned into a starry night. We stopped at a camp in the middle of the desert. The kids and I tried sand-boarding for the first time. My wife and my daughter had their hands decorated with henna. Then we had BBQ dinner as a dancer tried to impress us with her belly and hip shakes just like Shakira's.

It was also a celebration of my wife's birthday at the midnight of 23rd December. It was a simple black forest cake overloaded with candles which my son helped to select. Happy birthday, Bojo.