Desperately seeking green? Try The Green Planet
We’ve become a little desperate over the last few weeks. I’ve been irritable, lovely hubby has been tired and the kids I fear, are slowly going a little bit crazy. I put it down to a phenomenon I call, desperately seeking green.
Let me try to explain by asking you a question.
If you had to think of one word to describe summer in Dubai, what do you think it would be?
I’ll bet most of you would go for hot, or variations of – damn hot, furnace-like, living in a hairdryer etc.
And whilst it is certainly hot here in summer I would argue this isn’t the best adjective to describe the place. What is a far better word I hear you ask?
What’s bland really mean in Dubai?
The word bland really sums up how Dubai feels when you start to really get into the throes of summer.
Bland describes the indoor lifestyle that comes with it being too hot to go outside without spontaneously combusting. It’s a great word to describe what, even the biggest mall in the world becomes when you head there regularly for lack of anything else to do.
Bland also describes the view when you look out of the window everyday for weeks on end and, all you see is pale, hazy sky and, baking white buildings surrounded by baking white sand. It’s weeks of driving on roads lined with pale sand and white construction trucks or trudging through car parks filled with white concrete and yet more sand.
The final straw? Walking down footpaths while whirly whirly’s of pale white sand flick up and get into every orifice and seep into your eyeballs.
There comes a point as a Dubai resident where it all just gets too much. You can’t stand the monotony and the lack of colour anymore. In those desperate moments, it can sometimes be too expensive or too draining to get on a plane and go somewhere as was the case for us last weekend.
But I have discovered a little hidden gem which offers at least some respite and plenty of colour.
Seeking green and finding green..
We had our first adventure to The Green Planet last weekend.
I woke up on Friday morning and looked out the windows to see a thick humidity fog covering the city. This kind of fog makes the already bland, sun-baked city look even more bland and depressing. And it was hot! 43 deg and 85% humidity. Just horrendous.
I was desperately seeking green. The urge to see some trees almost overwhealming. Well, not even just trees. Something green. Something alive! I would even take bugs just to see something living moving around!
So I packed up the family and we headed to Al Safa to explore this latest Dubai weirdness.
It is odd at first to walk into this glass building and be immediately faced with a South American Toucan staring at you as he stands on his little branch in the foyer. I quickly thought – oh no, is this going to be sad?
But then you enter the actual rainforest. For a man-made exhibit, it’s actually pretty impressive.
The forest centrepiece
The facility is built around an enormous man-made tree in the centre that forms the focal point of the rainforest. It doesn’t look man-made though. Unless you look very closely, you don’t even realise it’s not real.
And then surrounding the tree centrepiece are immense amounts of tropical plants. There’s a waterfall, little ponds and even a little creek through the middle. The air is climate controlled to feel like a humid, fresh rainforest and everywhere you look there are birds, butterflies and other wildlife.
Not quite the real thing but a pretty good desert replacement. We felt right at home.
Well, all of us except the Little Chubs of course.
He’s a Dubai-raised child which means he’s basically completely petrified of anything that appears to exhibit some form of life or moves independently. So everytime we walked past one of the little animal enclosures he would cower in the corner whimpering that he’s scared.
He couldn’t care less about the birds. He can look straight at butterflies and just not see them. The giant tarantula in a box was just way too much to cope with and he nearly had a meltdown when he saw the bee and ant exhibits. Complete freak-out.
The one this he doesn’t appear to have any issues with, quite oddly, is snakes.
The planet has lots of rangers present at each section and they will often bring animals out for kids (and grown-ups) to touch and experience. They don’t force you to listen to any long, detailed lectures about the animals but if you ask them questions, they will answer anything and everything. It’s a really nice atmosphere.
So, when the rangers bring around the snakes for people to touch and interact with, here’s this little dude at the front of the queue with his hand straight out, desperate to touch it.
Lovely Hubby at this point is cowering in the corner. In the end, we had to drag the Chubs away before he actually started cuddling the snake. I think his dad nearly had a nervous breakdown just watching his precious offspring so close to the one animal in the Planet that possibly could actually kill him.
Worth a trip?
Anyway, it’s a really interesting place with lots for the kids to touch and feel and the adults can just wander around soaking in the green and the warm, humid air. And when it’s not Ramadan, there’s a cafe where you can lunch and go back up for another walk afterwards. our ticket allows you to stay as long as you want.
It’s well worth a trip!
And for us, it gave us that much-needed reprieve from the bland. Still not really enough of a reprieve but enough to get us through to our next trip, which, by the way is next weekend. 🙂
Stay tuned for the next update from the fabulous island of Mauritius!
Have a fabulous week.