Published: March 31st 2011March 31st 2011
Nick hanging on for his life.
We didn't write anything yesterday - we didn't do anything different...just did some shopping and hung out at the pool at the Hyatt. The kids did do go-karting in the mall. They had a blast doing that. Noah had to use the washroom in the mall. He came out a minute later, panic on his eyes. He couldn't use these washrooms....the toilet was built into the ground! I never did go in to see it, but they weren't your typical toilet. He managed to make it to another store and used their washroom.
Today, Nick woke up at 5 am and didn't feel good. He had a high temperature and achy. So, he stayed home with Maria's mom, while Maria, Noah, and I went to the Hyatt. We hung out at the pool until 2 pm. It's getting hotter each day. In a few days they are forecasting 36 and 37 C...that's on the plus side Canadians.
We arranged for a tour of the south part of Qatar today. We didn't want to do this on a weekend, as many of the locals head out, and some of them are nuts. Our driver says the younger guys try and
Maria making friends.
out-do each other driving the sand dunes. They have nice trucks and lots of money...so no worries. Their lack of skill in driving the dunes means there are some roll-overs. My biggest fear, even on a quiet day was coming over the top of a dune and having a truck coming from the other direction. That didn't happen, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
Nick met up with us and our driver picked us up at 2 pm, where we drove about 45 minutes south of Doha. This was the first time we saw outside the city, and we got to see the true desert. When the pavement ended, the driver pulled over and let some of the air out of his tires. He was driving a brand new Toyota Land Cruiser, which half of Qatar seems to drive. He's had it 2 months exactly, and has 12,000 km on it. I guess that's the cost of being a tour guy. As the driver took some time to let some of the air out of the tires, we took turns riding on camels! Real ones...not the ones you put quarters into at the mall. There was this place set
Nick and Noah coming back on their camels.
up, pretty much in the middle of nowhere. There were 4 camels and three guys sitting in the shade next to a big water truck. We paid the guy 20 Riyals each and, two at a time, we went for a 5 minute ride. The kids were thrilled to be able to do this, and I was thrilled I didn't fall off - it's hard to stay on as the camel sits down...the motion sends you forward quite abruptly.
After the camel rides were done, we hopped back into the truck and off we went flying into the sand dunes. They let air out of their tires so it's a softer ride and the tire surface is larger. It works better on the sand. I don't know how we didn't get stuck, but he knew what he was doing. We took a million pictures and probably an hour of video, but neither would do this "dune bashing" justice. I was expecting him to take us over some slight humps of sand and poke around the desert a bit. We literally went everywhere and often at fairly high speeds. I have no idea how we didn't flip our vehicle, but
Getting ready to dismount.
again, he knew what he was doing. We all had a blast doing this. Just when we thought he wouldn't go somewhere, he did. We would drive up to the top of a sand dune, and over the hood of the truck, saw a huge drop off. He would drive over it, and the truck would slide down....his bumper would almost bottom out on the harder surface at the bottom.
The kids, to our amazement, decided to try and climb this amazingly steep dune. They managed to climb up it, but were too scared to come down. We actually got a little worried because we couldn't see them. They decided to walk around the back to come back down.
After spending some time in the dunes, we took a break where the sea meets the desert. Across the water a ways, you could see Saudi Arabia. We had no interest in going any closer than that. The kids spent some time collecting sea shells and trying to catch crabs.
We then went to a camp in the middle of the desert, where they had a BBQ for us. There were several big tents lined with fancy carpets
Even the grown ups had their turn.
and cushions to sit on. While they were cooking the food, we took some time to take some pictures and we had a chance to try sand boarding. It was hard to do because the "sand boards" didn't have straps...just bindings where you put your feet. It would have been much better if there was a chair lift. We had to climb up the dune to ride back down....so once was enough for me. The kids somehow had enough energy to do it a few times. By the time we ate, it was dark. It was amazing to see the colour of the sand change as the sun got lower in the sky. The full trip took about 7 hours, and was probably the best time the kids have had yet.
We have sand in cracks we didn't know we had, but it was worth it. A fun day for all of us.
There are more photos below