UAE desert

Dispatch #02 Flying over deserts and the Cradle of Civilization

The UAE desert as seen from the plane window

The UAE desert as seen from the plane window

Three hours after arriving in Abu Dhabi International Airport, the Air France plane started its ascent and, flying westerly to our final destination, Paris, the most surreal landscape unfolded before me.

Deserts. Different shades of brown stretching into the horizon. A martian scene that caught me off guard, surprised despite havng seen the Middle East and its landscape in images and videos. I was just transfixed at the seeming beauty but all I can think of is that I can’t possibly live there.

Sooner, the deserts gave way to the wide expanse of blue, the Persian gulf and the view of Dhahran at 30,000 feet was just stunning: blue sea transitioning to brown land and then transitioning to the blue sky.

The plane continued to climb higher and for the rest of the trip above Asia Minor, maintained at 34,000 feet. We passed by Kuwait and Iraq, above what used to be ancient Babylonia and Mesopotamia.

The Persian Gulf meeting the blue sky

The Persian Gulf meeting the blue sky

The land is seemingly flat above but over Baghdad, patterns of cities and towns can be seen. It is such a wondrous sight. From the distance, the mighty Tigris River is winding along with its verdant banks. There are lots of cultivated lands too running parallel for most of its southern part. No wonder that civilization started here.

As we hit north, the landscape starts to change with the earth’s geologic activity becoming apparent. With the Arabian plate jamming into the Eurasian plate, the Zagros Mountains rise at where these two meet. And you are just treated with stunning views of mountain ranges running like scars. There are deep gorges farther up north with rivers meandering at the nadirs.

Deep valleys, steep mountain passes and knife edge ridges then come into view as the Zagros Mountains reaches its apex and then gradually descends into rolling hills with small towns scattered. After this narrow band where the plates meet, the Mer Noire, Black Sea comes into view.

Too bad, for the rest of the trip, a sea of clouds covered the view.

I’m introducing DISPATCH, a series of short accounts during major travels. Ideally it will give an account of what basically transpired or happened during my travels, in transit. For this series, follow me in Twitter via @LangyawMedia, Instagram via @EstanCabigas and Facebook via LangyawTravel and with the hashtags #LangyawDispatch #LangyawEuroTrip. Images are mostly from my Instagram account.

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

2 Comments

  1. Micole l Philippine Traveler
    September 17, 2013 @ 8:59

    Impressive! The first photo is very interesting. I agree, its as if you are in a martian scene. Certainly surreal for you. So envious!! Safe travels!

  2. estancabigas
    September 28, 2013 @ 19:06

    yup! very surreal. so dry, so uninviting but so interesting 🙂

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