under the stars in the velvety sky. surrounded by sand stretching forever. magnificent moon lights our way. juicy lamb chop grilling over a friendly fire. impromptu guitarist strumming lovesick songs through the night. children’s laughter reverberating in the air as they roll down sand dunes. taking a romantic stroll in his comforting arms as we’re snug together in that cold, cold night; in the company of good friends.
the location was Sweihan Desert, Abu Dhabi. it was our first time camping in the desert! an unforgettable 25th january!
it was SO cold that day, that I could just bury my bottle of mango juice and fresh milk in the desert sand to make it freshly cold by the time we want to take a sip! THAT cold!
me – camping! in the desert!
it took me some time to finally pen down my experience, as I can barely construct a proper sentence to describe the night and do ultimate justice to the beauty of my little adventure!
however, I just HAD to express it all in one simple facebook status on that very night. nothing could fully describe my feelings or what I could see, but this was essentially it :
* * *
10 interesting stuff on our FIRST camping trip at the desert :
my boys roll around the sand while mr. khairul set up tent in the distance
1. CHILDREN’S SANDBOX
it’s just the BEST place to let your kids loose and be wild and nuts – and to be – kids! the desert sand is freaking spacious. they can run everywhere and STILL be within eyesight. the really owned it; like it’s their natural habitat. like they were born to survive at the desert. run free. fall down. roll around on the ultra-soft desert sand and not feel hurt. roll down the sandy hill. on purpose.
my boys absolutely LOVE the desert. this is one of their many, many trips out. we went to sweihan desert, just off dubai-abu dhabi road.
sweihan desert : see how spacious the place is! and this is JUST what my small camera managed to capture!
* * *
2. 1st TIME DESERT CAMPING
i. have. never. slept. in. a. tent. before.
this was exciting, at the same time I was feeling anxious. and being a mom of 3 boys – all under the age of 7 – I was even more nervous and anxious! do we have enough blankets? do we have pillows to keep everyone comfortable? keep the tent clean! brush your feet before entering so that no sand gets in the tent!
or is it possible to sit your butt inside the tent while dangling your feet outside? that’d be great.
err hello? it’s camping. OUTDOOR. in the desert. you can be a mom at home, syigim but out here you just gotta get out of control! a little sand in the tent gives it character! right. eww. besides, be thankful that your king’s scout husband doesn’t drag you camping near the malaysian waterfall or in a malaysian forest – with leech, or mosquitoes, or lecah or, or, or orang minyak to worry about. heh.
mr. khairul (who is a proud king’s scout) prepared the tent, while I do absolutely nothing to help. haha.
my sexy king’s scout at work. lepas ni make fire pulak!
..and they’re all done. 4 families altogether; including one bachelor – on a desert camping, bbq night under the moonlight. we found a flat area, surrounded by sand dunes. perfect. the view, indescribable.
* * *
3. DINOSAURS CAMP TOO
my boys are crazy about dinosaurs. especially khaleef because now he can read many books and write-ups about dinosaurs. and kazim simply loves the ferocity of his favorite dino T-rex! and yes, they brought their best collection out here in ‘the wild’.
at one point, khaleef buried them, and dug them out again, pretending to discover fossils. what does he wanna be when he grows up? you guessed it – paleontologist!
* * *
through this experience, I truly understand the phrase ‘getting toasty by the fire’. it is SO incredibly cold (possibly 15-16 degrees) at the desert that sitting near the fire is the only way to be comfortable, even when your feet gets so hot that they feel ‘toasted’! hihi.
sitting there staring at the fire at times also made me think of those poor people who live in cold countries with no warm place to go – how important FIRE is that we take for granted! alhamdulillah we’re doing this for fun, and not for necessity to survive!
since I use electric stove in my kitchen, the only fire I need these days are for scented candles!
oh, the cold weather in the desert is incomparable to the cold in the city! no trees, no buildings – the cool wind just seep straight through to your bones! brr!
mr khairul and fellow king’s scout abg ezam starting the fire
* * *
5. DESERT ENTERTAINMENT
didn’t know bro helmey was a daymn good guitarist! he belted out many hits with his accompanying guitar – from bon jovi to hattan – entertaining us through the cold night. suara pun sedap! haha. bro manx later joined him for a short gig.
thanks for the entertainment!
our impromptu desert entertainers : manx in red, and helmey with guitar
6. MARSHMALLOW & CAMPING
first of all, whose bright idea was it to start roasting marshmallow during camp fire? because it DOES NOT taste good. at all. yech.
I actually found an article on the net ‘you can’t go camping without roasting a few marshmallows’. say what? (err, yes you should go camping without!) the egyptians were the first to discover the ‘marshmallow’ plant as early as 2000BC, but around 19th century, it’s the french’s fault that it became that spongy pinkish treat as we know them today. hihi.
however, the ‘real culprit’ of roasting these marshmallows during campfire AND thinking this was a good idea are the american boy scouts. so apparently, I need to blame them for this gross invention.
click here to read more.
as a kid, I too am exposed to americanized camping with burning marshmallow at the end of a stick (through many, many cartoons and movies), and then eating it. so naturally, I was curious, even now as a grown-up.
so I picked up a stick, stuck a marshmallow at the end of it, and shoved it into the fire for a few secs. and then took a bite. sebab dah camping kan kena la camping betul-betul siap ngan marshmallow kan. adoi menyesal. *shakes head*
it was like sickeningly sweet melted plastic inside a very thin, crispy layer of hardened sugar. ugh. the taste and texture were just weird. I am NOT doing that again!
however, the boys absolutely enjoyed roasting marshmallow – they did it over and over again – sometimes to eat, sometimes just to watch the marshmallow burn and melted onto the firewood.
I can agree with the fact that it has entertainment value especially for the kids – but provide no tasty result. just my opinion.
the next time we go camping, just leave the marshmallows ok. you want to roast something on a stick, let’s just bring some hotdogs instead.
* * *
7. CHICKEN, LAMB & SEAFOOD BBQ
I’d like to thank bro razali and bro ezam who kept the bbq pit going. there were juicy lamb chops, marinated chicken, seafood – all so delightfully delicious.
sitting there in the cold, anything freshly hot from the grill just made the night so much better. zira and I brought bihun and keropok – there were also unlimited supply of potato chips that the kids just munch away.
delicious. just, delicious. memang tak pernah lapar sepanjang camping!
* * *
8. SLEEP IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE
so, camping for the first time. sleeping in a tent for the first time. how did it go?
- we didn’t sleep till late at night – the boys slept first after a tiring day of rolling and running around aimlessly haha.
- it was REALLY cold possibly as low as 14 degrees! they boys wore thick socks, sweaters and snow caps as they sleep.
- it was SO cold that at one point, in the middle of the night (2 am actually) I woke up, took off their damp socks (kena dew from sides of tent) dry it near the campfire until ‘toasty’ and put them back on their sleeping feet. lega mak, mesti sedap je panas-panas camtu!
- the early morning dew was invading our tent, making it wet, making it even more cold. I made sure the boys stay away from the sides.
- no matter how thick your mattress is, sleeping on the hard (you thought leveled) part of the desert is NOT comfy. there, I’ve said it. sakit belakang aku!
- well, speaking as a married woman, I don’t need to tell you how incredibly romantic it is actually to sleep in a small tent with your other half. it’s extremely cold, in tight space – you just HAD to hug tight when you sleep to keep warm. hihi. *wink wink*
snug like a bug in a rug
* * *
9. THE MOON in THE DESERT SKY. at 2am
ok stay with me now. this is the BEST story ever of my camping trip.
like I wrote earlier, it was so, so cold. and I actually woke up in the middle of the night. didn’t know what time it was. I woke up alone, so cold, wanting to ‘reheat’ myself out in the campfire. I unzipped my tent, and took a peek.
OMG. what time was it? is it already subuh?
because the sky was unbelievably BRIGHT. (ok I’m trying to type and at the same time describing in my head what I saw but it was too beautiful, like in a dream). I looked at my watch. it was only 2am. 2am? lookin THIS bright?
the sky was so bright, that it could’ve easily been 6am already. and you know how a night sky can be bright with the moon, right? like a big torchlight in the dark sky – but this is NOT that kind of bright. the sky was NOT dark – it was bright. at 2 am.
all I can see was a misty brightness across the desert. and the moon was SO round, SO big, SO gorgeous right on top of my head – literally lighting up the world in front of me. it was a miracle that I was privileged to have seen this scenery – I kept repeating ya Allah ya Allah, Allahuakbar Allahuakbar – it was too beautiful.
there’s something about the moon shining upon the earth unobstructed by any man-made constructions – it shines through and through on the sandy wave – resulting in that beautiful picturesque scene.
I was too mesmerized by the beauty of Allah’s creation that I had to wake mr. khairul up – and share with him this secret meeting between me and nature.
it was incredibly COLD, but I had to take off my sons’ socks and dry them over the fire so we sat there – him and me – by the fire – and talk of stuff, in the silent bright night. then mr. khairul made hot tea. just me and him in the middle of 2 am, enjoying the beautiful view – other tents surrounding us enveloped in their own sweet dreams.
(this experience was so amazing, that I had actually NOT thought of taking a picture. haha makes sense tak? lain la kamera beso-beso bole zoom tu kan hihi) it exists only in my memory now…
* * *
10. NATURE REFRIDGERATOR
like I wrote earlier, I actually buried the cans of juice and fresh milk overnight in the desert sand. by morning, drink away as the drinks were all freshly cold!
* * *
GOOD MORNING, DESERT!
the boys had a good night sleep, and the morning after in the desert felt just as good. it was still cold, but we welcomed the bright ,morning sun to keep us ‘toasty’.
while the moms did the packing, the kids took one last trip around the desert – walking, running, rolling, tumbling – just about anything you can do in a big sandbox!
we heated up the left-overs bbq-ed chicken and had a delicious filling breakfast with arabic bread, and curry. hot meal for breakfast, in the cold, with the rising sun. what a morning.
soon after that, we packed up everything, folded the tent, put sand over our camp fire, cleared the rubbish, and left sweihan desert. the boys are so lucky to have this experience so early in their life. one they will always remember with fondness!
I know I left a piece of me back there. in the night. at 2am. the moment when I saw the beauty of the moon-lit night sky upon God’s glorious earth, as it should’ve been.
I will be back.