Monday, November 14, 2011

Queen of the desert

Some Canadians, some Germans, a Namibian, a Kiwi and another Englishwoman and I went on a dune bashing extravaganza in the desert on Friday. That's not even the start of an elaborate joke, we really did do that.

Here are some of the pictures to prove it. Let's start with the one where I helpfully took pictures while some of the rest of the group dug the vehicle of an inexperienced desert driver out of the sand after it got stuck.

 Then we arrived at Fossil Rock, up on the Sharjah border. It's quite a popular spot with dune buggy drivers, quad bikers and local dune bashers who zip around in 4X4s in various states of dilapidation.

Unfortunately I failed to get a close up of the lads in the above picture. They are in a battered four-wheel drive vehicle of some kind, sans numberplate, naturally, and had on traditional Arabic dress and gold rimmed Ray Ban glasses and nonchalantly shouted "Hi, how are you?", when they zoomed past us at a 45 degree angle spraying us with sand.

There's a feeling of cameraderie in the desert. We stopped to tow a Nissan Patrol belonging to a couple of local teens who had also got stuck.  Then, the less experienced desert driver managed to get his pickup wedged on a rock after he took a wrong turn (centre of pic below). He went up the slope, which as you can see is rather steep, and then rolled back on to the rock. Must have been a bit scary.

It was towed out of that particular hole by a much larger Toyota driven by more locals:

Another interesting sight was a desert village. Many were built in places where Bedouin used to camp.

Then we set up camp and ate a barbecue composed of many different meats. The Kiwi was in charge of that, obviously.

And there wasn't much to do but eat large amounts of meat, and sup a few cold ones, admire the view and watch the sun set. 

There was a lot of bandying about of advice about driving in the sand.

Here's some gems:

1. There's the letting your tyres down a bit to spread the load of the car to stop you sinking in. 
2. Drive in a wiggly way if you're following in the tracks of others, again, to avoid sinking in.
3. You should never go in just one vehicle as one might need to tow the other one out, or, if you're really stuck, give the others a lift in case you have to abandon it. 
4. Don't drive on the dunes in the dark because you might end up hitting someone coming the other way. Locals merrily ignored this advice.
5. Go in four-wheel drives. There was a lot of chat about the necessity of having a four-wheel drive and the inferiority or superiority of various makes and models. It was generally agreed that the Japanese makes are better.  Then, as we were leaving and pumping up the tyres before getting back on to the highway, what should fly past but a trio of saloon cars followed by a Toyota Yaris. How I chuckled. 

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