The Utter Silence of Liwa
Middle East experience is not complete without some desert experience. True enough. Living in a country surrounded by sand dunes and beautiful desert landscape, one can't ignore the temptation of the how it is like. Me included.
As part of our one weekend one Emirate travel series, we booked one night stay at a hotel in the empty quarter of UAE, Liwa. Located 175 kilometers beyond Abu Dhabi city, we drove all the way to the Western region of Abu Dhabi, in close proximity to the Saudi border. Tilal Liwa Hotel, a secluded hideaway leisure resort perched on the edge of Rub Al Khali Desert. Getting to the hotel from Abu Dhabi entails a long road-trip across the desert through the small city of Madinat Zayed. One thing that was striking about the hotel is that it is literally at the end of the road. The hotel could be spotted a good 5 kilometers away, or more.
First of all, we have no complaint about the hotel. Tilal Liwa Hotel is a strikingly Arabesque 4-star (as accredited by Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority) property that combine the elegance of the Arabian Nights. I am all into Arabian-style deco nowadays, from the solid panels, to the lights and intricate details of the carvings, everything are lush and classy. A lone property amid the whirling desert dunes, with the outer facade looks like an Arabesque castle complete with traditional wind-towers, a trickling fountain and a very solid, brass-studded door. Talking about the drive, please fill in full tank as along the way you will feel as if you are in the middle of nowhere. Better be safe than sorry, because the distance between one petrol station to another in between Abu Dhabi city and Tilal Liwa is enormous and not many of petrol stations along the way.
We originally booked a standard room online with breakfast for AED250 but were given a free upgrade to a room with balcony and pool views. The pool has stunning view overlooking the Rub Al Khali desert. It seems endless and magical as if it came out from those stories from 1001 nights. First thing we done after settling ourselves in the room was going on for the camel ride. Something new and different and totally Arab. Hahaha. Cost about AED40 for 10 minutes ride. Kinda expensive but it made such a good memorable photo. Was eyeing for the ATV but with the scorching hot sun, phewww, nevermind. Food was rather pricey at the hotel, mainly due to the fact that the hotel is the sole provider for food within the 20km radius. But we had lunch anyway at the restaurant, just a simple Thai food. Cost us about AED160 for the meals and drinks.
Ever since we started traveling with Rayyan Eusoff, one of the deciding factors of any hotels that we will stay revolves around the pool. And I have to say that the pool was fantastic and Eusoff was all set and excited to take a dive in the pool. We stay in the pool for almost 2 hours and by the time we were going back to the room, Eusoff was not ready to go. Babies and pools. Ermmm.
That night we decided to have a dinner in the town. Drove 20 km from the hotel to the city centre of Madinat Zayed. One thing people have to understand is that, not all cities in UAE looks like Abu Dhabi city or Dubai. There are normal looking small cities that still capture that Arabian feeling like Sharjah, Al Ain or Ajman, to name a few. But Madinat Zayed is none of those. Hahaha. Small city with no tourist attraction per say. Dinner in one of the restaurant we had our eyes on. Can’t remember the name of the place but we just went ahead, ordered Mandi and Briyani and mixed grill. Burp. Knowing the portion of the food served here, it was more than we could take.
Comes morning, we were taken by surprise of the fog surrounding the hotel and compound. Wow, it felt as if we were in a tropical rainforest or some horror movie. Hahaha. But it was quickly dissolved when it was getting hotter. That morning we just stay in the room, went for that another quick dip into the pool after breakfast and headed back to the city.
Perfect weekend getaway I have to say. It was great out of the hectic life of the big city into a great silence in the middle of the desert. Pure relaxation and may I offer a suggestion for the next time in places like this it’s better to go full board or at least make sure you have enough to eat to satisfy your hunger. The hotel was beautiful, the service was good, with exception of the major blackout on the day of our departure (when there was no power, there was no water as well because the pump was not working). Will we go there again, yeah sure why not? Because you know you need it once in a while. Breaking away from that noise into the utter silence of Liwa.