Friday, January 13, 2012

Day 195 Dubai - Adh Dhaid

After yesterdays half marathon and subsequent beers it was only reasonable to start the day late. I could have been lazy all day but Yannik had convinced me to start with him on the way towards Oman. We met at noon at some mall, organized food and had some coffee and some donuts. Then we tried to find the way out of Dubai/Sharjah. Fortunately at that time the traffic was not too bad. Nevertheless it once again was clear that these cities (and the whole country) are built for cars only. Too bad, the Sheikhs here really had a chance to implement some more intelligent traffic concepts than cars as they were building most of their cities from scratch. Well, on the other hand the whole country was built on oil, so they are unlikely to promote means of transport that do not require petrol. In Sharjah there was still sometimes a small lane on the side to cycle on, but as soon as we got to the countryside there was only a 2-lane highway with no space beside the 2 lanes. Countryside means: sand to the left, sand to the ride. In the late afternoon we finally saw some landscape features as some mountains were appearing on the horizon. We tried to find a place to camp in the dunes, but that was not so easy: most of the highway was fenced of and the gates were decorated with signs forbidding camping and many other things. We asked at a restaurant, but not possible. Eventually we cycled/pushed our bikes along a sandy road into the dunes when a pickup stopped and the driver asked if we would need any help, water, food,... We explained that we were just searching for a place to put our tent. The driver, Hamit, invited us to his families desert camp. A very nice and comfortable camp full of very very friendly people. We were treated to delicious sweets, tea, coffee, ginger milk and finally a huge dinner. It was great to experience Emirati life beyond the shining plastic world of Dubai and Sharjah. This desert camps are to Emiratis what a Schrebergarten is to Germans: a weekend retreat for the whole family where you can get away from the hectic city life, enjoy your time sitting around the fire and the children have fun racing with buggies through the dunes. Even though it is in the desert there is some infrastructure here: they have electricity, a truck brings water every day, another truck collects waste and most camps are guarded by a Pakistani guy during the week.
Hamit and other family members explained several times, that it was a pleasure to have guests because as a Muslim you have to help travellers, no matter where they come from and what religion they are.

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