It was long, hot and torturous, but worth it.
Trip Start Jan 10, 2007
72Trip End Jul 03, 2007
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Al-Ain is much more arid than Dubai (it's in the middle of the freaking Empty Quarter!), and also runs about 10 degrees hotter (Farenheit, because I'm American). So going there in the middle of the day and walking around in the sun probably wasn't the wisest course of action. In fact, it was downright dangerous, and I spent a lot of money on water that day, as well as spending a lot of time willing myself not to pass out. Anyway, they had a pedestrian overpass in the blazing hot sun with no shade on top--so you better appreciate the fact that I walked over it, stopped, and took this picture:
"Al-Ain" means "the Spring", and surely enough there is groundwater there, enough to grow a sizeable oasis. I was kind of confused about the oasis actually. There was a sign on the entrance that said something like "No Tresspassing (except residents and tourists)". I decided I was a tourist, so I walked on through. There are a lot of lined paths, walled-off areas, and run-down houses. I don't know WHO lives there, and why each of these walled-off sections were there, and whether I was allowed to walk around them...but I did anyway. There was tall grass and lots of birds, butterflies, and wild date trees, and overall it's a very relaxing place--except I was just so confused about whether I was supposed to be there. At one point, some guy started watching me very closely and then followed me at a distance, so I figured I wasn't actually supposed to be there after all and left. Before I did that, I got the following lovely pictures:
There was a museum right next to the oasis, so I went inside. It was mostly about Bedouins, and about prehistoric stuff. Pix:
I also finally got some shots of the creepy bedouin models I had wanted to take in Dubai Museum, except it was too dark for my weak camera. (By which I mean the camera on my phone, not the film camera which is the best one in the world according to Sheikh Mohammed (thanks!)):
I can't tell if somebody got bored, or if this means something. If this is just the result of someone's boredom, well, I say "Take this!" to all my primary school teachers who discouraged my doodles of boredom.
I tried going to the livestock souk, but I drew a lot of stares, and finally decided my presence wasn't welcome...so, being thoroughly dehydrated and hot, I took a nice air-conditioned taxi out to the zoo. I also drew a lot of stares in the zoo--mostly from children who like to shout out the few English phrases they have learned. And really, I did kind of stick out like a sore thumb amidst all the Emirati and Omani families who had decided to visit the zoo that afternoon. Other than that, the al-Ain zoo is nice...really nice. The late Sheikh Zayid (whom Thesiger also mentions fondly) was quite the conservationist, and it shows. Plus, I got to see Jebel Hafeet again, which you can see in the background below.
I wasn't enthusiastic about picture-taking, because there is no zoom function on my camera and there were too many bars in the way of the animals anyway. But that ostrich really was scary:
Then I got diarrhea and went home.