My entry for the weekly photo challenge: Elemental
My entry for the weekly photo challenge: Elemental
The UAE is a country that is a federation of seven kingdoms or Emirates. The capital is Abu Dhabi, the largest of the seven Emirates, and the other six Emirates are-Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah, and Fujairah.
The first impression of the UAE as a tourist way long back was that it is a Desert country. Back then I had visited Dubai with little or absolutely no knowledge of the country (yes, how ignorant I was I to wonder now!!). It sure was a very different place as compared to now, none of today’s famous landmarks like the Burj Khalifa or the Dubai Mall or Atlantis, and not even the Metro, but still I had loved my visit. It was beautiful to visit this place where one could see people from so many countries living in harmony. The visit to Mall of the Emirates left me awestruck , never had seen a Ski slope inside a mall. The Desert Safari too was the most exciting and magical experience, a must do for visitors I would say. The thrill, and at the same time the scare, of the SUV ride climbing and coming down through the steep sand dunes was a first ever experience, the beauty of the Desert sands, the wilderness around and the camp in the center, it sure is something one should experience if you ever visit this country.
I am now a resident of this beautiful country and I sure love this place. The country, especially Dubai has seen tremendous growth, and I am witness to the ever growing change in this place, something new is always upcoming and we see constant development. The infrastructure, the public service transport, the civic facilities are top class, the greenery too is so evident and the seasonal flowers add so much color to the roads and surroundings during the harsh summer months. The pristine beaches, huge well-kept parks, are the best to enjoy family gatherings, barbecues, and also picnics with friends during the cooler months.
This country not only has the Desert sands, the beautiful beaches but also has magnificent mountains too. The landscape completely changes as we travel to Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah, the other smaller Emirates of the UAE. The car drive trips up the Jebel Hafeet Mountain are the best mountain rides I have had, and was keen to do the Jabal Al Jais mountain road drive since I came to know about couple months ago. I was looking up to go on as the weather became cooler, and finally in December 2016 I was able to go. The road was fairly recently opened and is still under developed in terms of tourist interest things, but one can simply enjoy the long drive.
I enjoyed this drive and if you looking out for a long drive experience and being in nature then you might too. The vegetation around would be only the Ghaf trees that is seen in these parts of the desert, we do spot mountain goats that are seen roaming around, some even very high at the top of some mountain. The road passed through the rugged, wind scared surface of the mountains that which gave it a beautiful and carved look. It was very cold at the top of the mountain, and by evenings the temperature dropped and was too cold for a single hoodie and jeans clad me. The heater of our SUV was our rescue. A word of caution, if you are driving in the December month be equipped with proper winter wear as the temperatures drop in the evenings at the top of Jais Mountains.
Driving to Ras Al Khaimah from Sharjah takes about a little more than an hour, depending on the traffic. As one drives on towards Ras Al Khaimah, the road passes through the desert surroundings and on entering the emirate we can see the mountains in the backdrop.
I have driven through the other mountainous regions-Kalba, Fujairah, but first time to this Jabal Jais and hence the excitement to know what lay in store ahead. The Jais mountain is part of the Hajar mountain range bordering Oman. The tallest part of the Hajar mountain range lies in the neighboring Oman and the Jais mountain is the second largest of it that lies in the UAE.
After entering Ras Al Khaimah, following the Google Maps App of the cellphone we were lead on to the road leading to the mountains. I did see proper sign boards guiding us to the Jais Mountains. We had selected the cafeteria at top of the Jais Mountains on the App. It was a cloudy and windy day and the late afternoon sun played hide and seek, it sure gave some spectacular view of the surroundings, a nature lover couldn’t ask for more.
We ate our homemade packed lunch amidst the flat ground that was surrounded by the mountain range from all side. This ground area is with toilet facility, a camping & barbecue site. It is a favorite recreation for people living in the UAE to go outdoors or camping in the winter /cooler climate. Long drives, barbecues, picnicking are some of the most sought out activities during the Nov to Feb months. I too had gone for long drive and camping to Musandam in Oman (Hajar Mountain range) a couple years back during the Eid break in October.
After lunch and clicking numerous pictures with the camera and also selfies in my cell phone, we continued on our drive uphill. The ride was smooth except for the occasional speed breakers with most drivers driving cautiously, and the sun helping to give us spectacular view and different shades of the mountains. It was a magical experience at times with lovely sun rays highlighting some parts of the mountain and same time making other part dark. Though I missed on the thrill of driving on this road, but was enjoying the view and clicking pictures sitting in the passenger seat of our SUV.
Nearing the top we did see stops for viewing the panorama and one could halt and park the car to soak in the view. The look below of the zigzag road around the mountains to reach to the top was spell-binding from the top. The humongous natural beauty reminded me how minuscule my existence in contrast to the surroundings. In spite of this, each one of us matter and are important on this face of the Earth, a thought that I absolutely love. The view was breathtaking, the wind was super cold, and the sun was at its best, disappearing and surfacing again and giving us the perfect picture moments.
The top most part is still not accessible, but we can drive to almost near it. There is space allotted to park, camp, as well as to view the mountain from the top part. We saw many families were seated around with bonfires, some using their barbecues, some even had set up tents, and many simply crowding near the cafeteria that was set up in a truck. It was serving hot Karak chai (hot tea), coffee, soft drinks, water, snacks, biscuits. It was well stocked on the basic supplies that a picnicker would need, even disposable plates and glasses. So even if the picnic party is short of any eatables or essentials the cafeteria guy seemed to have it all. The garbage pickup trucks were busy collecting the garbage and ensuring the place is clean. It is very difficult to see many folks litter around and spoil the natural habitat, I feel it is so very important to do our part to collect our own garbage when visiting such locations and help to protect the environment. It is upon us to preserve the natural habitats.
It was almost dusk and hence low visibility for the camera to get the best shot of the construction and development below that was seen from the top.
The sea was visible to the naked eye, but the camera picture does not show it very clear. For this I do plan to visit the place again, and also to wear my sneakers that I had completely forgotten as it was not a planned outing to the mountains. Do wear comfortable footwear if you love hiking, it could be a painful fall if one missed a step on deciding to climb the reachable mountain tops after parking the car. I did see many visitors climbing the smaller peaks of the mountains and getting the hiking experience, something that I missed as I was wearing fit flops. After enjoying piping hot cups of the Karak chai and coffee and cookies from the cafeteria and watching the lovely sunset colors on the horizon, we started our return drive downhill.
Do note the road has no electric poles and hence the zigzag drive downhill in darkness would be very risky. We started the drive before it was pitch dark.
I did read recent newspaper articles that stated people camping for the night at the top. It would be a very very cold night out at the top with temperatures dropping to very low in December-January months.
I loved sharing my experience of this long drive to the Jais mountain top. Hope you readers do find it interesting and get the joy of this drive on any of the days as long as the weather permits it.
Enjoy the ride 🙂
Wishing you all a Happy & Joyous 2017
Wow, who would have thought of ever getting to visit a place that has all things Bollywood outside of Mumbai! Well, this is Dubai, anything and everything is possible here.
The Bollywood Park is the first of its kind, a new addition to the list of theme parks that opened last month to the public. It is one of the three theme parks of the Dubai parks and Resorts. On 2nd December the UAE celebrates it’s National day, this year it was the 45th. The day is declared a national holiday and a lot of events and activities are scheduled/planned at this time. The Malls too offer some discounts as part of the celebration. This park too had a special ticket rate offered, but it was sold out fast and we did meet few visitors inside the park who had to purchase the normal rate tickets for entry to the park. As it was a long weekend for us here in the UAE, it was a good time for family outings and friends meet ups, and a crowded park with long waiting queues 🙂 . The attractions to the park are the huge film sets and movie hoardings and banners, the cafes and retail shops apart from the different stages and the big and grand Theater.
The Attractions to the park include: Don: The chase, Lagaan: Champaner Cricket Carnival, Sholay: The hunt for Gabbar Singh, Dabangg: Stunt Spectacular show, Krrish: Hero’s Flight, RA.One: Unleashed, CinemaMagic featuring: Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Crossroads stage, Mumbai express stage, Rangmanch stage, Stars on step stage, Cinema Circle stage, and the grand Rajmahal Theater.
The parks open around noon, and by the time we could park and wade our way through the large gathered crowds it was almost an hour past. Even though I have grown up viewing Bollywood movies and seen the movie locations in Mumbai, the moment one enters the park one is awe-struck with the grandeur and magnificence of the sets, the set ups, the buildings, the movie star hoardings, the director’s camera & chair square, the structure of hands with different mudras, the Indian train Bogey that is placed and transformed into a cafe, the Jambo cafe at the Linking road marked inside the park, Bollywood film studios, the hand rickshaw outside the Lagaan set, the well, water tank and famous Tonga cart outside the Sholay set, the huge ammunition boxes and Jeep outside the Dabangg sets, it was all very exciting and fun to move around from one set to another. This park is the place for those who like things Bollywood, may not be too exciting for those who expect lot of different rides and attractions.
After grabbing a light snack at the Victoria cafe and sitting inside the AC train compartment that was the sitting area of the cafe, we started exploring each sets and that was the start of my test of patience, waiting in the long queues for the rides in the park. There are simulation rides, stunt shows, music and dance shows, and dancers performing at the different stages, and an absolutely thrilling and must watch Broadway style Bollywood musical Jaan-e-Jigar show that is being premiered tomorrow 9th December at the Rajmahal Theater, we were shown a 20 minute sneak peak. Loved all parts of this preview shown, the opulent set, the wonderfully choreographed dances , the drama and costumes, a truly magical experience.
My patience wore out while standing in queue to see the Krrish a Hero’s flight. As I have seen some amazing theme parks and this rather long line wait, a roomful of people in long queues going along the rows and rows that were inside the hall, and had to pass three such rooms to finally reach the hall to enjoy the ride. Having stood in line for more than an hour it was senseless to leave midway, so we followed the queue. This was the time to glimpse human nature, elderly, young as well as kids and toddlers to teens all where inside the hall in line standing and patiently or some impatiently waiting for their turn. The total wait stretched to nearly three hours and by then we had made up our mind that this would be our last visit ever to any theme or amusement park. But after the ride all had already forgotten the irritation before entering the room. Well, these parks are designed in such way that no matter what age you are, one gets a good experience and sure has some fun time in the daily hectic life routines, so after the ride I did feel better and we finally did see and do most of the park rides. It was already dark by the time we walked out, had entered the hall when it was still a bright and sunny afternoon.
The Lagaan set had good decor, the clay pots, the rickshaw, the woven baskets, the commentary screen with Aamir Khan’s video telling about the Lagaan Thrill of Victory ride, and finally the ride experience.
The Dabangg set had a live stunt show with dancers, hero, heroine, the fight scenes and the blowing up of ammunition that we see in the movies, all in front of our eyes live on the set. The stage artists performed the dance and stunts well.
The cinema magic had the behind-the-scene set up of one of my favorite movie-Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. I liked this section of the park, got to witness and experience the magic of film making. Few visitors were the volunteers who played three scenes from the movie that were shot and later showed to us, we all were part of that small clip. The scenes were shot in the two Stage rooms, and in the final Stage room the music was added and the final clip was shown to us. It was fascinating to understand the amount of hard work, efforts and excellence required to come up with the final movie that we get to see. The Purse shown in the movie ”Bagwati” was also kept on display inside along with few other things related to the movie.
After dark the park had a beautiful ambiance when the lights were switched on, the fountains with colored lights, the palm trees all lit up, the cool winter breeze, the garam masala chai and hot Vada Pavs, the kulfi corners and the other snack corners, and it felt like a perfect evening.
The last part of our day was the 20-minute preview of the Jaan-e-Jigar, a Broadway-style Bollywood Musical in the Rajmahal Theater, a grand structure true to the name that looked like a palace . Entering it I did feel that I have entered a palace kinda place, the majestic feel it had, the mahal wall had a huge elephant painting, very very beautiful. I could just stand and keep gazing at the painting.
It was 10 pm by the time we walked out of the theater, and finally it was time to call it a day. I did stop and clicked couple selfies, couple family pictures and some random shots of the location. We ate Chinese food and then walked out of the park towards our car in the parking lot. My long and tiring day at the Bollywood park ended, the mixed feelings of impatience, irritation and tiredness eventually changed and I ended up enjoying my time and getting lost in the magic of the Bollywood Park.
Bollywood cinema is very popular here and other Nationalities apart from Indians too are seen as part of the Hindi movie audience. This park is definitely a place for those who love everything Bollywood, lot of fun and drama, perfect location to click pictures posing along famous scenes and sets of this Industry.
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