A day earlier, I booked a 30-minute Sea Lion Discovery through Atlantis The Palm’s website for the experience of interacting up close and personal with this charming new resident in Dubai. It came with a free entrance to the Aquaventure Waterpark as well.
I went exactly on time, panicking that I would miss my appointment (I still haven’t adapted to Dubai’s strict timings), and when I got to Aquaventure (which then takes you to Dolphin Bay), I literally felt like i was in Hilton Ramsis, Downtown Cairo. The busy and noisy crowd and mentally frozen Atlantis employees, on top of the heat, were not the welcome I expected.
I finally passed the gates into Aquaventure, rode the packed-with-tourists golf cart and headed to the Sea Lion Point, which is at the very end of Atlantis. By the time we reached our destination, I was the only one left in the vehicle (everyone else went to the Dolphin Point) and I was 20 minutes late.
This is when the experience got better. The crew there greeted me very nicely, absorbed my anger and told me to take my time as the two other guests had agreed to wait for me. I got dressed into a wet suit and headed to a 10-minute out-of-water training session about the rules and guidelines of the interaction with the sea lion, and who Sanga, our sea lion, was.
My excitement was increasing rapidly. We were escorted by Andreas and Happy, the two Marine Specialists, into the indoor pool area where Sanga, the 12-year-old South African Fur Seal born in a zoological facility in France and brought to Dubai five months ago, stood with one hand up, waving and greeting us. I was in love.
What is normally a 15 minute interaction lasted 40 minutes. They gave each one of us the chance to fully take our time with her and had her do her famous breakdancing act twice.
Then there was the kiss, the highlight of my day. She normally pecks you on your cheeks, but I asked for more, part of my get-out-of-my-comfort-zone new attitude. I told them, “Can I have a lips kiss?”
Andreas answered, “Only if you like the taste of spoilt bad sushi!” Still, I wanted the kiss! And so, it happened, and it was really freaking awesome.
Although I had planned to go to Aquaventure afterwards, I decided that this was the perfect ending to my discovery of the day.
Tips & Tricks:
1. Never go to Atlantis on a weekend.
2. Always get the wet suit a size bigger than your norm (it was a challenge getting me out of it).
3. Always ask for your photos to be provided via e-mail and not printed (they over saturate the picture and you will never have another chance to capture that one great moment).
4. Always book the earliest session on a random day to avoid being in a large group and to have more time for your individual interaction.
WE SAID THIS: Check out #100DaysofMyDubai – Day 1: A Melbourne Cafe in a City We Call Home.