Two Days in Abu Dhabi, UAE

Men Waiting in Abu Dhabi, UAE

After a 13 hour flight, Mindy and Ligeia arrived in Abu Dhabi. It didn’t take long to already experience kindness. After searching for the local bus to take to our hotel (Crowne Plaza), we discovered that we needed the A1 bus and it cost 3 Dirhams each. We got this information from a very friendly Sri Lankan who when we realized that they wouldn’t give change for a 20 Dirham bill…(you may want to sit down for this next part)…GAVE us 6 Dirhams so we could ride the bus! Unbelievable!

We learned several things right away. 1) The air is humid (and not dry as we anticipated with the dessert being all around). It turns out that Abu Dhabi’s proximity to the Gulf makes it humid. 2) Arabic is not the first language of the UAE; instead, it’s English. With 78% of the population being foreigners, mostly from Southeast Asia, everyone opens a conversation with English as most do not speak Arabic at all. Ligeia’s little bit of Arabic came in handy at immigration but that was about it.

Jetlag hit us rather strongly so we spent much of the first day awake at night and sleeping during the day. We did manage to walk around the town a bit, including at the Corniche which is right on the water. Along the way, we passed this entrance to a park:

The next day, we took a desert safari which spanned the afternoon and evening. We drove for about 45 minutes outside of Abu Dhabi and our first stop was at the edge of some dunes when the drivers let out some air out of the tires and opened the hoods to cool off the SUVs:

Our caravan first stopped at a camel farm. Many people in this region eat camel meat. Our driver, from India, said he does not like the taste:

After about an hour of what is called Dune Bashing, which was a bit like a roller coaster ride, we arrived at a beautiful place in the desert for pictures:

 We arrived at a camp with many other tourists for dinner and entertainment. You could go on quads (for an extra expense and it was made VERY clear that their company was not responsible for any accidents that may happen), sandboarding etc. One of the activities was to try on traditional clothing. You probably just have to take our word for it, but this is Mindy wearing a full abaya:

Having already tried on an abaya many times (she actually owns one thanks to a Saudi Arabian friend and former student) Ligeia really wanted to try on the men’s clothing. The man dressing everyone’s first response was “this is only for men”. When Ligeia insisted that she knew but wanted to try it anyway, he then said, “It is not allowed”. The third response was “If I allow you to try it on, all of the women will want to do it” to which Ligeia responded (always with a friendly smile), “wouldn’t that be wonderful”. Eventually her persistence paid off and she was allowed to try on a variety of tradition Arab men’s clothing. She felt like a prince:

The evening ended with a belly dancer. At the end of her performance she allowed others to join her on stage. Ligeia was selected to dance in front of the group. In a moment of pure bravery, she did even though it was clear she had no idea what she was doing. It was fun just the same. Here is a picture of Ligeia belly dancing…tee hee hee, just joking:

Mindy and Ligeia opted out of the after dinner shisha smoking and climbed one of the dunes and looked at the stars instead.
We are now in Thailand, heading for Chiang Mai. Due to a mechanical delay in Abu Dhabi, we missed our connection in Bangkok and were subsequently put up in one of the nicest hotels we’ve ever stayed in, complete with a buffet meal that was full of wonderful fruit and cheeses and desserts.
More about our first impressions of Thailand later though.
Lots of love,
Mindy and Ligeia :):)

5 thoughts on “Two Days in Abu Dhabi, UAE

  1. Anonymous

    The adventures have begun – so open up all you senses and enjoy and collect for the memory bank.
    Thanks for giving us a glimpse of all the glory of travelling without the pain of doing it.
    Love from Oma:-)

  2. Heart

    Fantastic!!! I love the portrait of you both in front of the dunes!

    And Ligeia convincing the guide to let you both try on the men's clothes – priceless!

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