What would you do if you weren’t afraid?
I’m not a person who is afraid to do things alone (I’m afraid of millions of other things, otherwise). But in a new country? I wanted to stop my thoughts right there and just take the plunge. My day was going terrible. I barely slept through the previous night, got a really shitty hotel room (which was later upgraded) and to top things off I was feeling under the weather. I wanted to stop feeling sorry for my situation and so I made an impromptu decision to go to the desert for an evening Safari. The ride to the Desert from Dubai city took around an hour and half. The landscape beautifully transitioned from skylines which slowly disappeared into a thin horizon that seemed like the start and end of Dubai.
I always thought this experience would be like the scene from the movie Sex and the City where I'd walk into the desert, wind in my hair and sand everywhere, with my 3 best friends. Blooper. Here’s what actually happened - I walked out of the Land Cruiser with sleepy eyes and looked at the barren stretch. I wondered to myself - What am I really going to do here for the entire evening?
The thing about traveling alone is that there is no one to click your silly pictures unless you have your own selfie stick (nope). So you NEED to socialize. But they (Mark Manson in his latest book) say, being open with your insecurities paradoxically makes you more confident and charismatic around others. Maybe.
After clicking a couple of pictures here, we (some strangers and I) went back to the Car enroute our journey to the camp. Turns out that EVERYTHING about Dubai is extravagant. Nothing is normal here. The adrenaline rush when the Cruiser went up and down hill the innumerable sand dunes jolted me back to life and reality. It was such a fun ride. It felt like we were on a roller coaster except that it lasted for almost half hour and I didn’t scream. The desert suddenly started looking beautiful and the barren land now seemed soothing. We saw camels along the way and adventure junkies zooming past us in their quad bikes.
By the time we reached the camp, I was bubbling with energy. The camp site was in the middle of the desert. Mattress was thrown around circling a stage. People were engaged in applying henna (Arabic Mehandi) in one corner while others flocked towards the drinks counter. I just wanted to sit and watch the sunset before I joined the others. So I climbed up a sand dune and witnessed one of the most stunning sunsets. The sunset bought in chill breeze and the dim light accompanied by the mellow Arabic music being played at the campsite set a moody atmosphere.
I happened to again meet the girl who clicked my pictures earlier. We spoke, clicked more pictures, and even fell at times while trying the sand dune surfing. We later had dinner together talking about our other travel adventures. I could say that I felt completely in the present. And that’s what I loved the most about traveling on my own. I realized I was more aware of my surrounding since I was disconnected from everything (including my phone). Talking to strangers meant thinking only about the happier events that have happened in your life. The evening also saw some fun belly dancers.
Of course, it gets lonely at times when you travel alone. There is no one to take care of you if you fall sick. But this experience made it totally worthwhile. I think I could do this again someday :)