Having visited Jono in London last month, I was very excited that he was so close to Dubai - well he was half the distance closer to me than Brisbane is, so that was worth getting peppy about!
He was headed home after two weeks in London, so I decided to wreak havoc on his travel plans and insisted that he ditch his ticket via Kuala Lumpur with Malaysian and get on the next Emirates flight to Dubai, stay nine days with me and then fly together to Brissie for the second half of my leave.
The roster gods smiled on me this past month, and I was lucky enough to get some days off and only short flights before my leave and then 5 more days off after! So with Jono's travel plans all organised, we waited anxiously for the two weeks to pass and then all of a sudden I was picking Jono up from the airport! I was so excited I could squeal - eeeiiiihhhh!!!! I introduced him to Ash, settled him into his new home for the next nine days and then dragged him out for dinner at one of my favourite little places down the road. The next day we borrowed a mate's MASSIVE range rover and drove out into the desert to do some quad biking and it was the most fun I've had in ages! It must have been 40 degrees outside and a little windy, but we got all kitted out in our helmets and cheap nike gloves (15 dizzas a pop impulse purchases) and roared off into the sunset. Nah, just kidding, the boys roared off but Ash and I putted around for a little while getting our bearings and then were ripping it up. Ash's friend Georgie was staying with us for a few days as well, so with 5 of us (also a friend of Dan's) tearing around, we had a great time. We payed for half an hour, but seemed to get about 45 minutes out of it - more roaring time!
I'm not ashamed to say I got bogged.....a few times. Well not bogged, because that would imply wetness to get stuck in, but I got wedged a few times on the side of a sand dune and must have looked hilarious clinging to my bike with all my might!
Other outings included another trip to the Aquarium (which delivered not one, but TWO cold sticky date puddings to Jena), the Burj, a desert safari, numerous restaurants and heaps of shopping. Not to mention the great dinner we had at Sevilles on our last night and drank so much sangria it was no surprise I packed completely inappropriately for Brisbane and wound up with about two dozen singlets and 6 pairs of shoes I didn't put on once during the two weeks I was home!!!
We walked outside to wait for our four wheeler and were slightly dismayed to find there was a sand storm going on out there! It was very hot, very windy and VERY sandy! Before we'd even left we had sand in our ears, our eyes and our hair. Lucky I wasn't wearing lip gloss, or I'd have had an impromptu exfoliation. Our fellow passengers were four of the most ancient Kenyan people I've ever seen and after the first five minutes of dune bashing, they were like "ok, enough fast driving". Ha ha, AS IF. The driver turned to look at them, amused, and said "safari has not started yet"! Well, the two ladies spent the whole time with their eyes squeezed tightly shut and one of the men had his hand clamped on Jon's knee - as if that would steady him.
After a quick, jolting ride on camels that smelt like poo, we went inside to have a seat.....in the sand storm. Some yummy little treats were passed around by the drivers, who are the organisers of the safari and we had a cup of tea and then tried on the traditional Arabic clothes - white "dish dash" dress for the blokes and the black abaya for the ladies. Jon was very compelling dressed as an Arab, with a brooding stare and closed mouth. When it came to my turn to try on the abaya I noticed one of the drivers looking at me rather strangely. In the last month, I have dyed my hair very dark, almost black, and am often asked by passengers exactly where I'm from - I've had Italian, Spanish (my favourite!), Greek, Lebanese, and nondescript middle eastern. This always amuses me, as I'm so WHITE & FRECKLY, but anyway. When he was helping me with the head dress, he asked where I was from. I answered Australian and he looked confused. He said "dark eyes, dark hair, white skin......verrrrrry beautiful!" Apparently when covered, my eyes look like a local woman. Jon thought this was hilarious, as the guy kept saying it and in the end said "your wife?" to Jon, who stammered out "y-y-yes", worried we'd be thrown in jail if it came out that we weren't married. He kept murmuring it, and then said "verrrry lucky man". We were almost wetting ourselves laughing and had to leave before it got really uncomfortable.
Finally it was time to eat. We gorged ourselves on hommous, tabbouleh, kebabs, arabic bread, chicken and all sorts of yummy food. Belly dancing followed soon after, so with our last minute, still wet tattoos, we joined the crowd watching the dancer. She was beautiful, with jangling coins sewn onto her costume and she jingled and jangled in such fluid movement it was hard to take our eyes off her. We both noticed a burning sensation where our tattoos were, Jon's big don't-mess-with-me scorpion and my pretty flowery design. After watching Jon get dragged up to dance and filming the whole scene, I decided the pain was too much to bear and rushed to the toilet to wipe the henna off. It smelt like paint thinner, so no doubt it was dodgy stuff. I looked like I had sepsis - all the skin around the henna was bright red and angry. By the time I had washed it all off and returned to the dancing, I'd missed the bit where all the ladies were dragged up to dance. Such a shame! I'm not one for public dancing especially if I know I'm NOT able to do the moves. I swore the reason for my absence was the tattoo, but Jon thinks it was because I didn't want to dance.....I still deny it!
Carrying on from my trip to Johannesburg, we had an unforgettable steak night in my apartment. Along with the pretty flowers I dragged home from Joburg, I also had bacon and some massive juicy steaks too! The highlight of any Joburg flight is the steak we gorge on for dinner, so I thought if I can't take Jono to Joburg, I'd bring Joburg to Jono! We whipped up a delish salad (full of green stuff Mum!), dug out some yummy honey mustard and smoked the apartment out with steak smell! It was absolutely gorgeous, we sad at the table, stuffing our faces, mumbling around mouthfuls how good it was....and then sat on the couch for the next few hours with big full bellies.
During the week Jon was here we had numerous feasts on hommous and halloumi from the Lebanese restaurant downstairs. They make THE BEST grilled halloumi in Dubai and I swear I put on about 4kg in that week alone from halloumi intake! We also visited Sidra, the Lebanese restaurant where Jena and I almost bought the cat home from and ordered and ate up a storm! We completely demolished the food and Jon was raving about it for days, that's how good it is.
It was fantastic to have someone from home staying with me in Dubai. And not just anyone - JONO!! I'm sure to our friends at home, our lives here sound rather outrageous and strange, so for one of my nearest and dearest to experience Dubai with me was very special. I was able to explain all the things I've been rambling about for the last two years and introduce Jon to the girls and drag him to the major landmarks.
Top cap off the first half our our holiday, we celebrated with a few too many jugs of sangria at Sevilles. There were photos galore and then a session of "who's hands do mine fit into?" downstairs at Planet Hollywood in the hand moulds. Needless to say, I was pretty written off and sporting a rather seedy hangover the next day - a wonderful start to the second half of our holiday!!!