Desert Safari & More

DunesOriginal Post: April 6, 2015

Well I experienced my second sand storm since arriving in Doha. The first one seems like a misty morning rain whereas this second one was like a raging thunderstorm. The sky was literally light brown and I couldn’t see very far in front of me. The local teams took action in offering facemasks and closing doors to keep the sand out. It was quite spectacular to see the response. The other thing that was amazing was just how fast the sand storm came on. Literally, it was as fast as an avalanche and it lasted for hours. I never imagined that the sound of sand hitting the windows would be as strong as the sound of hail hitting the windows. Something that the storm highlighted was just how poorly build some of the structures are. There was so much dust inside buildings. I can’t imagine just how it made it inside but it was quite fascinating. Even sitting in the jazz club on the night of the storm, the bar tenders were writing messages in the sand that had quickly accumulated on the counters. Walking through the halls of the hotel was like walking through a smoke filled room. I’ve heard many people say this was the worst storm they had experienced. The local medial confirmed. The other thing that was evident was that many people fell ill the following day. I personally felt like someone has run over me with a truck. I was fatigued and just felt like crud. Many attributed it to the sand storm. When speaking with others who have been here for a while, they say they were very fatigued after their first sand storm. Someone had just asked me if we have natural disasters here. I said no…now technically, a sand storm is classified as a natural phenomenon. Go figure!

After all that sand, I decided to go sand dune bashing. A group of us used Qatar International Adventures and took a half-day desert safari. The nice thing is that they will pick you up from any Doha location. It’s about an hour drive out to the desert and I think the drivers prepares you for the sand dunes with their crazy driving out to the site. It was quite a drive with a great musical selection on the radio. I think I heard a guy rapping in Arabic for the first time; there was a little Tupac on the CD as well. Out in the desert we made a quick stop to ride camels. Yes, 8 months and this was my first camel ride. It was a fun quick little ride. They seem to be gentle animals and I found them more comfortable to ride that horses. I asked the guide what was the camel’s name…He seemed surprised. I think he just made something up.

Dune bashing, for those who don’t know, is when you take an SUV out to the desert and drive. There’s some sliding down huge mounds of sand, sometimes sideways! It’s recommended that you go with an experienced tour guide. One of the guys asked the driver how he was trained to drive on the dunes…um, yeah. There’s no training. It’s just something they’ve done over the years and became guides. Probably wasn’t the best time to hear the answer to that question. It was so much fun though. We made a few stops for photos. It’s an odd thing but I never knew sand could be so beautiful. I could close my eyes and imagine how peaceful it is out in the middle of the dessert. There was one viewpoint with Saudi Arabia in the distance. I’m sure that’s the closest I’ll get to Saudi. Our last stop before leaving the dunes was at the beach. The water is gorgeous and shoreline was beautiful as well. Overall, it was a good experience and I’m glad I finally went.

The Kempinski opened its second location in Doha a few months ago, Marsa Malaz Kimpinski. They recently hosted a reception for those of us who live in the first Kempinski. It was a delightful event that included drinks and Hor d’oeurves. I haven’t liked the hummus in this region but the hummus at this event was excellent. There was salmon mousse serve like lollipops, mini seafood quiche, chicken kabobs, duck with mango salsa, and tomato and mozzarella, and an olive medley served in a mini taco salad shell. Everything was so good. At the end of the reception, we were privileged to have a tour. OMG! Is all I can say. The standard room, which rents for $390 USD, is unbelievable. Each room has a private balcony. Not a little balcony that has a little bistro set…I mean a balcony that you could put a twin sized bed on and still have room for a love seat and table and 2 chairs…okay maybe I’m exaggerating a little but the balconies are huge. The rooms are spectacular as well. Each room has a tub with the TV. A separate shower and separate toilet and bidet. They are so spacious and exude luxury. I can’t even tell you about the suites. It’s just ridiculous. I’ll just say it has its own pantry and may include a personal butler to assist you with that pantry. The public toilets (yeah they don’t say bathroom or restroom over here) are amazing as well. You can find pictures in the album.

Over the next 2 weeks, I will have the privilege of hosting my mother in Doha. She will be my first visitor and I must admit I’m excited to have someone experience the joys of this amazing place. I have a friend who calls me the planner. I never really viewed myself as such but I think I’ve recently embraced that tag. So much so that I’ve developed a nice little 2-page activity list for my mom. It’s up to her whether or not she wants to follow it but if she does, she’ll surely get to experience a lot of fun things and good food. I’ll make sure I post lots of pictures!

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