Add to Technorati Favorites expat Abu Dhabi Dispatches: Some Other Sides of Abu Dhabi- Part3

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Some Other Sides of Abu Dhabi- Part3

After beaching the kayak, we began exploring the area. The sand was a brilliant white with a clay-like consistency, slippery in some places. Some of the exposed sand looked like a sponge which was unusual as the origin of the holes was not obvious.

Porous Surface

Nearby, there was a shallow pond that was not affected by tide and it had seagrass growing on the bottom. In this grass there were numerous small crabs swimming about. and when I tried to catch one, it stopped swimming from me and in a surprisingly defiant manner it surfaced and snapped it's claws at my outstretched hand. It was too small to cause damage but the crab's unexpected aggressive action caused me to recoil my fingers. The crustacean, having foiled it's would-be captor, then disappeared under the sand. That little guy had "cojones"! 

The crab chase left me in the middle of the seagrass and after I lost the crab. I noticed a sinking feeling. I noticed that my feet were completely under the sand and getting deeper. I had visions of the old Tarzan movies where the bad guys got swallowed up in quicksand and feared I would be neck deep in muck before long. With great effort I trudged out of the mire and vowed to watch where i stepped from now on!

Seagrass, Crabs and Quicksand

I saw another marine creature near here. It was a a jellyfish like I have never seen before caught in a pocket of water a few inches deep. The tide was still going out and I wasn't sure if the slight depression it was in would end up empty, dooming the creature. It was pulsating like jellyfish do and was quite alive. I considered picking it up and placing it in deeper water to assure it's survival, but I decided against it. Ironically, the same painful sting that protects it also prevented me from rescuing it from a possible death. I hope it ended up OK.

Stranded Jellyfish

After reboarding the kayak, we ventured farther upstream and veered into a small slough. The water was but a few inches deep and the slough was but a few meters wide but it gave us a good look at the mangroves.

The Road Narrows

When we could go no farther, this small rapid of outgoing tide was seen.

Fast Tide

The narrow channel was surrounded by mangroves.They actually have roots that grow up.

Mangroves at Low Tide

Mangrove plants are essential to the health of tidal areas and are unique in that they are the only plants that grow in a high salinity area. The plants take up saltwater and exude salt crystals from the underside of their leaves. no other plant does this. Mangrove roots anchor the soil so it is not washed away by erosion and provides safe havens for smaller marine animals, which attract larger marine predators. The mangroves provide a fertile ecosystem. I saw a lot of fish.

The spikes you see are razor sharp and would spell instant severe injuries for anyone that would contact them.  Just joking!....the spikes are actually rubbery extensions from the mangrove root system. They are a way for the plant to get extra atmospheric gases and they eventually turn into baby mangroves. A way of propagation.

The Sun was getting low at this time and it was time to return. Luckily, we had the wind and current at our backs.

Underway Back to Port, Aldar HQ as Navigational Aid

Enhanced View of Aldar HQ Building. One of My Favorites

Approaching the 5 Star Resort beach, I saw another Black Jacketed walkie-talkie dude taking an extreme interest in our arrival. Sure enough, he met us right at landfall. He started asking us all kinds of questions as if we just paddled in from Iran and was getting increasingly aggressive. When he asked us what room we were staying in I knew there was going to be a problem. I did not answer the last question and tried to ignore him. For some strange reason, he shifted gears and asked who we worked for. That surprised me as that played into my court.

You see, I work for a well known quasi-governmental company in Abu Dhabi that is tightly connected to the tourist industry. I told the guy my employer's name and his tune suddenly changed! We became welcome guests, he became all smiles and even offered to help pull the kayak out of the water. I just then realized the power of "wasta" in this country and the reputation my employer has. I will bring my ID card everywhere I go from now on!

Many thanks to Al Raha Beach Hotel and Resort , our hosts for this voyage. They didn't have to let us launch the boat from their property but they did and I appreciate that. It is a beautiful property and I owe them this plug. The security guys were just doing their job. No hard feelings!

Al Raha Beach Resort

Al Raha Beach Resort

Al Raha Beach Resort

Al Raha Beach Resort

Don't forget to slow down and smell the roses and get out to the many undiscovered and under promoted natural areas of Abu Dhabi. This place is a natural wonderland if you know where to look.


anna-lou said...

Nice post ! Your trip looked really nice... Except the jellyfish part ! I hope that I'll can go in Mangrove and take a plunge in Al Raha swimming pool :)

Ace said...

a-l, glad you enjoyed my description of a good day out in the wilds of Abu Dhabi. There is a lot of things to be discovered here off the beaten path.

I didn't wrestle any alligators, but maybe next time!!!! ;)

Dave said...

I must say Ace you have captured it it all very well, and I am quite suprised by some of the countryside. I think I need to get out more and explorer outside of the concrete jungle & obligatory desert tracks. Good post.

Ace said...

Thanks Dave, It was refreshing to get away from it all the events, glitz, and status-seeking. I almost forgot where I was. I may have to get my own boat and will definately bring the fishing pole next time.

A Blessing in Tragedy said...

A part of me wants to thank you for these very different sides to Abu Dhabi... and a part of me wants to buy you a TV so that you dont have the need to be Mr. Indiana Jones.

Ace said...

Too late ABIT, I just bought a fedora hat, a well worn leather jacket and a bullwhip. Showing soon at a mangrove flat near you! Da da da daaa...da ta daaaaaaa!

hemlock said...

hmm. if you ever plan a trip into Liwa, im going to invite myself and crash your party =)

travel tips: now would be the perfect weather to make such a plan.

Ace said...

Hemlock, You are welcome to crash my party anytime, but bring your own paddles. Drinks are on me!

Furthermore, I have spent entirely too much time at the Moonbase lately and am in dire need of a road trip. I hear Liwa is beautiful this time of year!

I read some of your very entertaining blog and have added it to my blogroll list. Seeya!

hemlock said...

Ace: i dont know if you've been to Rainbow Sheikh's museum a.k.a emirates national auto museum...
it's a MUST see for anyone who remotely likes cars.
i like cars.
i love cars.
cars are like, my raison d'ĂȘtre :D

anywhere beyond that, involving GPS and offroading, will need to be planned. UAE explorer is a handy little gem and has earmarked awesome sites.

another on-road path is at sila, close to the saudi border. they are supposed to have great beaches there (never been).
it's a 2.5hr drive from abu dhabi, same distance as liwa.

the point is, are you good next weekend? let's go on a road trip...!
(btw, how's your driving?)

also, thank you so much for visiting my blog and the link =)

i'll be updating my blogroll and adding a bunch of UAE bloggers to it over the weekend and returning the compliment. =)

Stephen8 said...

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