As soon as we arrived in Sharjah, all passengers were guided to a small white painted wooden building for the immigration process. We had to wait several hours in the waiting area which provided a water dispenser a disgusting piss smelling toilet. Women and men had to sit separate from each other - even married couples. Frowning looking guards made sure that everyone followed the rules and that nobody would leave the building.
Someone told me that it would take longer today because the immigration officials were having at lunch. While the fine immigration gentlemen enjoyed their four hour lunch break, there was no chance for the passengers to get any food. There wasn't even a vending machine. Luckily Patrick and I bought enough snacks before departure.
After we got our country entry stamp we had to wait another hour until we were allowed to leave the building and to pick up our bicycles and luggage. The luggage was scattered and piled up in the arrival hall. The whole immigration torture finally took an end after another hour as we finally got through the luggage control. So far I didn't feel very welcomed in this country. The whole trip from check-in in Bandar Abbas until here took 24 hours.
Patrick and I attached our panniers onto our bicycles and cycled separately out of Sharjah since we had different destinations in Dubai but agreed to stay in contact and to cycle together to Oman in one week.
I flagged down a taxi outside of the station and asked the driver for the price for me and my bicycle.
"Bicycles aren't allowed on the taxi", said the driver. "Try the metro."
Uhm yeah! Brilliant idea!
For a moment I thought I was on the UAE version of the hidden camera TV show. Slightly irritated I jumped back on my bike and kept pedaling. My navigation app lead me a down wide alley with a huge mansion at the end of it. I already knew that I was wrong there but wanted to give it a try anyways. Just to see what will happen. :D
A security guard in a suit got out of his white SUV towards the end of the alley and approached me.
"You can't cycle here", he said in a very friendly way.
I played a bit stupid. "But my app says that's the way to the Palm."
He laughed. "I know. That happens a lot. It's an error with all the navigation apps. Cyclists come this way every day but this is Zabeel Palace so you've to go around it."
"Can't I take the shortcut through the garden? I'm sure nobody will even notice."
He still laughed. "Sorry! You must go around." Then he explained to me in a very calm and friendly manner which way to go. I turned and made my way around it.
My phone rang. It was Robin.
"Where are you now?"
I gave him my location.
"Alright. Just stay there. I just left the office. I'll come and pick you up."
About half an hour later we cruised in his big red Jeep through Dubai downtown to his place. It was such a relief not to cycle in this traffic madness anymore.
The metro provides a first class cabin - called Gold Class - and the view from Burj Khalifa - the tallest building in the world - makes you realize what a massive place Dubai is. I was even lucky talk to Gulf News about my journey and fundraising campaign. Thank you again Falah for this opportunity and thanks Robin for having me! That was absolutely amazing!
Patrick and I filled all the empty pannier space with supplies and pedaled out of Dubai. The further we got out of the city the less traffic there was. Already in the suburbs it was a way more relaxing ride than in the city. But to turn left kept being a challenge. :D
Two days later, after a rather monotonous ride, we arrived at the border town Al Ain. The roads coming here seemed endless long. Every time it felt like ages until we arrived the next turn just to continue on another endless straight road on which we had to deal with strong head winds. The sand that constantly wafted across the road blew straight in our faces. The greatest highlights were for sure our excessive lunch breaks to get out of the burning sun and the appearance of camels.
At some point the monotony made us imitating camel noises as soon as we discovered a herd. Fortunately for us, the desert is almost deserted. We saw cars or trucks already from miles away and count them on one hand throughout the day. The traffic volume was the complete opposite compared with Dubai. I'm sure that if another human being would have heard our camel roaring, this person would have gotten the impression that we suffered from a heat stroke. :D
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