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Trip to Al Ain

Yesterday, I took a trip to Al Ain-which according to Lonely Planet was roughly 90 minutes from Dubai, and was called the "Garden City", because of the it's large Oasis, (vs desert for the much of the rest of the country, from what I have heard).

I awoke at roughly 9:00 am, and took the metro roughly 40 minutes to the bus station to catch the bus. The bus was a minibus, and like most minibuses that I have taken, it didn't leave until every seat was taken. So I sat in the bus-the hot sun scorching through the windows for approximately an additional 20 minutes (it could have been longer), while nearly every seat was taken (including the fold-down seats in the aisle).

The trips squeezed in together was slow, as cars we're passing the bus. After what was closer to 2 hours-the bus station reached Al Ain. I wasn't sure what to do here-if there was a hop-on hop-off bus, or if I was going to have to walk around on my own. I found out i was going to have to walk around on my own-but fortunately, The Oasis was located right next to the bus station-as evidenced by a giant forest of palm trees. I walked around the curve to the beginning of the giant forest, and started to walk through the winding road. It was a nice walk. I passed signs explaining the parts of the Oasis, and how the Oasis was structured-Larger Palm trees we're at the top, and sheltered smaller citrus trees/bushes, and other bushes we're under those, the irrigation systems, etc. I saw little tram/combo golf carts passing by which folks on them.


After approximately 1/2 an hour, I came to the other end of the Oasis, where I asked about a tour. I was able to hop on one of the tram/combo golf carts with the Filipino driver (just about all service workers here are from somewhere else, and many, if not most, are Filipinos). She drove me and an Indian family around the complex, and at one point, brought us to a small ditch, which was actually a UNESCO World heritage sights-I guess the Bedouin people set up a ditch to access underground water 3000 years ago.


After we got out of the golf cart and looked around-she drove us around again to the house of Sheikh Zayed, who was governor of the region, and a force behind the formation of the UAE. He had a giant compound, with rooms for entertaining, rooms for his kids, etc. (He was born in 1918, but died in 2004-so it would have been his 100th birthday).


I took too long to look around the site, because the golf car driver came looking for me. After a while she drove me to an archaeological museum, and she told me I had 10 minutes to look around. When I found out I had to pay to go in there, I told her I wasn't interested. I later gathered the driver was just that-not a real tour guide. I was fine walking and didn't need a driver anyway.

I came to the end of the Oasis, and went back to the bus station. I asked direction to the camel market. Apparently there is a camel market where camels are bought and sold. Lonely Planet said it was behind a shopping mall, so I took a local bus to that shopping mall, which was a modern mall with a Carrefour, H&M, and other stores. I asked directions from a guard outside, and followed the road to the camel market, which was actually inside a large market area selling flowers, spices, and other goods. The camels we're located towards the back. First I came to the goat market, and saw hundreds of goats squeezed into pens. I saw the folks working there basically carrying goats into pickup trucks, and herding goats around.


Behind the goats, I came to the camel market. I asked if these camels we're used for food-the guy said yes I think (This was actually an authentic market, as not many seemed to speak English-except to ask "where you from"). Here there we're camels of all shapes and sizes. I sat next to a baby camel. I saw huge camels. I saw one camel foaming at the mouth. All crowded into holding pens.


After a while, as the sun was setting, I left the old time setting of the camel market, and went to back to the mall. I bought a Frappuccino and waited for the city bus. I stood throughout the bus ride, which seemed to take much longer than getting there, as I was squeezed against others on the city bus. I then reached the central bus station and took the bus back to Dubai. After the 2 hour ride, I took the metro to the Dubai Mall and had dinner in the food court.

Posted by DavidPearlman 20:40 Archived in United Arab Emirates

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