Its 3:30 in the morning and the alarm clock goes off. In the distance, I can see the shape of Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. I struggle to remember why Im waking up so early when on holidays and remember the exciting day ahead. The pick up is on time, im the last one. As we leave Dubai behind, the emptiness of the desert ahead takes over. After a two-hour drive, we are well and truly at the heart of the UAE desert, and stop at a small village, where we will be using the Rugby club to take off from. Upon approaching the field, we realise we aren’t the only ones amazed by the empty balloon. A single figure stands in the distance, dressed in what I can only assume to be a traditional costume, curious as if watching a UFO. In no time, the balloon is inflating rather quickly and we all jump onboard just as it lifts off the ground. As we rise, so does the sun, and the magnitude of the desert before us really sinks in. Red dunes, camel farms, the occasional remote house. When I thought things could not get any better, the call to prayer sounds in the distance, reminding us of where we were. No, it is not a mirage – that really is an Oasis, a real desert Oasis. Upon landing, we dodge the camels below, brace for impact, and have a tip-over landing: one in twenty. Two feet on the ground and ADRENALINE really kicks in, followed by realisation of what I had just seen and experienced – one for the memory books.
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