Sunday, 28 February 2016

KHASAB,OMAN. MY DOLPHIN PHOTO!!!!!

Khasab.
Where I took this photo! :)




We checked out of the Palm and were taken down a side road (3 lanes!!) to the port and boarded Splendour of the Seas. We couldn't take our eyes off the Burj as we sailed out ...it looked higher than ever against the Dubai skyline.

The original QE11 was in the port looking sad and rundown but I expect the sheikhs have plans to do something with it.




We were trying to identify the Palm Atlantis as we sailed out.



I wore my roses dress while I could still get it on before the onslaught of croozefood.



...and we woke up in Oman, in Khasab, where we jumped into a taxi with 2 very nice Arabs who took us to the dhow boat which would take us into the Strait of Hormuz, often referred to as the 
"fjords of Arabia."







The skip made us all a cup of tea (yay)



and after half an hour of crazy rock formations (a geologist's paradise) 



he whistled up some company.
DOLPHINS!


We had one swimming with our dhow but it was much easier to watch the dolphins of the other dhow.


video




LOOK!


I clicked at JUST the right time!





Our final point was Seebi Island where Skip dropped anchor and we jumped off the dhow for a swim in the beautiful turquoise water.
Well two of us did (Husb wasn't the other one) and it was fast becoming a fabulous day. 
I was LOVING IT.
I've swum in the Strait of Hormuz!! which separates the Arabian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.




It probably looks like there was absolutely nothing to see but the rock formations were fascinating - a chap with us was photographing EVERYTHING - and anyway the DOLPHINS had made my day :) 


 and on our return we passed   Telegraph Island  (a tiny island but with a bit of history)
where the British laid the first cable under water in 1864 connecting India to London. Wow.

 It was not an easy posting for the operators, with the severe summer heat and hostility of local tribes making life extremely uncomfortable. Because of this, the island is, according to some travel agents and journalists, where the expression "go round the bend" comes from, a reference to the heat making British officers desperate to return to civilization, which meant a voyage around the bend in the Strait of Hormuz back to India.[1]
Today, Telegraph Island is an eerie reminder of the British Empire. Abandoned in the mid-1870s, the island has remained deserted and only the crumbling ruins of the repeater station and the operators' quarters can be seen. As tourism has grown in the Gulf region, so the island is regularly visited by dhows carrying tourists to view the ruins and to fish and snorkel in the waters around it. However, the intense heat (particularly in the summer months) endures.





The whole experience had been delightful, we loved it.

 Husb's eyes lit up again when he saw an Omani supermarket as we walked back to the ship. We were both curious to see if it was any different to an English supermarket but it wasn't and although we had no idea of any prices, LuLu was much more of a Waitrose than an Aldi with its neatly stacked produce. There was a security guard/assistant down every aisle making sure the stuff on the shelves remained perfectly arranged and fanatical floor sweepers seemed to follow us round the shop.



and we bought some nuts because we wanted a LuLu carrier bag.




Castle, football pitch, supermarket and mountain...all in the same photo :)


Back on ship and it was Captain's Cocktails which meant Mikey3Glasses of
free champagne...schneaky work by us :)




and some weird acrobatics in the atrium.



We may not have had a chocolate on our pillow but we had a pooch on our bed.



Thursday, 25 February 2016

Dubai ..Debenhams, dip and desert.


Pure carrot juice for breakfast on Day 3 and then a morning to visit another Mall before our desert trip this afternoon.
MOE opened in 2005 and houses over 550 outlets and also has a ski centre and cinema.
Just a small mall then.




"I am NOT shopping" I declared, following Husb into Debenhams and promptly bought a pair of shoes in the Blue Cross/Arrow sale, oops.


Then we went for a quick ski.
Well we COULD HAVE! How bonkers....a ski slope in a mall in the desert
Dubai was becoming more and more mind boggling each day.

 Impossible?
"The word impossible is not in the leaders' dictionaries"

It wasn't even just a gimmicky ski slope...there were ski lifts, toboggan courses and real penguins, all kept at minus 10 degrees...IN A SHOPPING MALL.

Opened in November 2005, the indoor resort features an 85-metre-high indoor mountain with 5 slopes of varying steepness and difficulty, including a 400-metre-long run, the world's first indoor black diamond run, and various features (boxes, rails, kickers) that are changed on a regular basis. A quad lift and a tow lift carry skiers and snowboarders up the mountain. Adjoining the slopes is a 3,000-square-metre Snow Park play area comprising sled and toboggan runs, an icy body slide, climbing towers, giant snowballs and an ice cave. Ski Dubai also houses a number of penguins who are let out of their enclosures several times a day. Penguin encounters can be booked, allowing the public to interact directly with the penguins. Winter clothing, ski and snowboard equipment are included in the price of admission.


Why shop though? We can shop at home. And I'd already failed by buying some shoes.
Why ski when there is sun?
So we returned to the Palm for a dip in the infinity pool before the forthcoming encounter with a camel.


This was the plan.

Depart from the hotel and drive up to the deflation point, for deflating tires before entering the desert where the off-road adventure starts Dune bashing (a roller coaster ride in the sand dunes) and 2 Photo stops (camel farm and stunning desert sunset).Experience a warm Arabian welcome with a refreshing towel, dates, and Arabic coffee on arrival at the North Tours desert camp. At the camp utilise the facilities and entertainment provided; (camel riding, sheesha smoking, photo shoot in Arabic costumes, Henna painting & BBQ buffet dinner). End the evening with an exotic performance by our enchanting belly dancer. Lastly, arrive at the inflation point and inflate tires for the drive back to the hotel..



It sounded so good and we are so glad we did it.




Our driver deflating the tyres...


...ready for dune bashing and successfully reducing us all to silent, green and white passengers clutching paper sick bags as we lurched up and over each little hillock at alarming speeds. Driving like that was obviously a skill but none of us felt well enough to be impressed, we were just trying not to throw up.
"We are so glad we did it." Now :)




Getting out of the 4x4 for the photo stop was BLISS.





We spent as long as possible taking photos!!




We dithered and faffed for that long before getting back in the 4x4 we nearly missed the sunset.


Then we met the camels...wotahoot!
The camel wasn't the problem it was the lady behind me...
There were strict instructions to LEAN BACK, LEAN BACK, LEAN BACK as the camel got up on  and down but the lady behind me DIDN'T LEAN BACK and she head butted me. It was becoming a very eventful day haha.




The bedouin camp was cosy and there was plenty of BBQd food for us all


The dates were delicious.


and as promised...a belly dancer.
HOWEVER she didn't have a belly, she didn't really wiggle it and she was from Brazil. 
Pretty though.


She also had good quads.


Looking back, we absolutely loved it. 
 Just being in the desert makes you realise how much the sheikhs have achieved in such a short space of time. What they have built on land that was like this. Crazy. 
And then we went back to our hotel for some amazing nougat.



We had had 3 fabulous, fantastic, superb days in Dubai and felt like we'd had a week away. We hadn't even got on the boat yet. Tomorrow...Oman.