Day three started off with a trip to some local marketplaces locally referred to as souks, in an older, more traditional part of Dubai. Just a short jaunt via taxis from the mass of gleaming skyscrapers, and immense construction, the mostly open-air souks are divided up by the kind of stuff you’ll find in each particular one. We were headed to the gold and textile souks. It was hot as the blazes browsing through goods outside of the confines of precious air-conditioning, but it gave us a chance to get much closer to the old world here. The narrow, crowded streets zigged and zagged as vendors beckoned us into their shops, and it’s a wonder we didn’t get lost as delirious as we were from the heat. Everyone loaded up on trinkets and souvenirs for friends and loved ones back home, fired off picture after picture, and soaked up the atmosphere ’cause we won’t soon be seeing sights like these again.

Once everyone had gotten their fill at the souks, it was back to the hotel for a cool down session at the hotel’s swim up bar for drinks and a bite. We basked in the cool water, downed fruity drinks, made conversation with some of the other hotel guests, and Eddie almost earned himself an ass kicking unknowingly spitting “game” to a champion kick boxer’s girlfriend.

Safely back in our rooms, everyone changed out of trunks and got ready for the desert. We were greeted out front of our hotel by our two guides, outfitted with off road capable Land Cruisers, and we were off in short order. We drove about an hour or so outside of downtown Dubai to the particular zone of dunes we were headed to. It was hot, but notably cooler than the city, apparently in order with the system of checks and balances all the air conditioning and asphalt in the city actually makes it hotter outside. Looking around the base camp, there were about five or six camels, a slew of four-wheelers ripping around the closest dunes, and a handful of little dogs running around. After a brief chill session, they let some air out of the tires, and we hopped back in the Land Cruisers and pointed it up the dunes.

The dunes are massive. From bottom to top the big ones are somewhere around fifteen or twenty stories high, maybe bigger, and they are in a constant state of change-shifting and moving due to the heavy winds. Anyway, we were hauling ass up these things just gripped, high marking and side hilling like we were snowmobiling, only in a packed SUV that seemed like it was about to roll over at any moment-definitely a white-knuckle experience. After only about five minutes in, we got high centered on one of the smaller dunes, and had to wait it out as the other rig went back for a towrope. After about ten or fifteen minutes in, rallying through the dunes had begun to take its toll on my stomach, I was getting seriously sand sick and repeatedly lost the hell out of my lunch-not cool.

We eventually made our way about fifteen kilometers out once we found the appropriate dune, and the boys broke out their shred sticks and made a first descent-it’s always a first descent in the shifting desert sands. Then after a brief sunset photo shoot, it was off to a desert oasis of sorts. It was comparable to a Hawaiian luau, only in the middle of the Arabian Desert. Complete with a full bar, all the food you could eat, and even belly dancers, it was the perfect end to an exhausting day.

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