Rena and Wade Around the World

Our first Round the World trip from Jan 2006 - July 2006.

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Location: Regina/Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

The adventures of living and working abroad. From Cayman to Europe, a break year and side adventure travels, this is our story.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Dubai (U.A.E.)

After a very, very long day of travel from Tokyo to Hong Kong to Bangkok to Mumbai ...we finally we landed in Dubai. If you ever want to have the experience of being a stunned animal caught in the middle of a circus, we recommend you take a flight from Bangkok to Mumbai. It is an experience like no other and your heart will go out to the "defeated" flight attendants at the end of the show. Also highly recommended is serious amounts of alcohol. It will help to numb the pain.

We only had 4 days in Dubai and we knew we were in for some trouble when we arrived at 10 p.m. and it was 40 degrees Celsius. Ouch! Somehow we did manage to fit a fair bit in despite the heat. During the days the temperature varied from 42 to 55 degrees Celsius. Perhaps summer was not the best time to visit!!!

Dubai is truly bewildering. The amount of oil money being funneled into building the new city is staggering. It must be one of the most aggressive building undertakings the world has ever seen and our pictures do not do it justice. One of our friends told us some crazy statistic that something like over 50% of the cranes in the world are currently stationed in Dubai. After being there and seeing it, I would believe that stat. Here is a picture of one small section under construction. Multiply this by about 25 and you'll have an understanding of how much construction is going on around the city.

They are essentially building a mega city like Shanghai, Hong Kong or Manhattan and all at once. Not a building here and a building there. Massive, massive structures going up everywhere you can see. They are even building the largest building in the world. Here is a picture of some of the more uniquely shaped buildings that are already standing.

The development of Dubai is really unique. Everything is being laid out in zones ...such as media city, investment park, sports city, internet city, etc. Of course there are also some outlandish projects such as the 3 palm developments and the world development. Yes, villages in the shape of palm trees are being built out on the ocean along various points of the shoreline of Dubai. The first to be completed will be the Palm at Jumeriah Beach which is slated for completion in 2008. We could see the construction and tried to drive out there to get a better look, but unfortunately only construction crews have access. Oh yes, and the world project...well they are building a village out in the ocean in the shape of the world naturally. Apparently Rod Stewart has already purchased England. Wade and I will have to look into Saskatchewan. Oh, and because the Arabs and the Jews aren't the best of friends, apparently Israel doesn't exist in this world! That certainly is one way of dealing with people you don't like.

Here is a view down the main financial district road. Many more buildings are slotted to be going up, but at least some of them are already standing.

And of course what is a trip to Dubai without seeing the only 7 star hotel in the world, the Burj Al Arab. Of course, Wade and I were dying to see the inside. Unlike other hotels around the world, you cannot just walk into the Burj. It is by appointment only. The "cheapest" appointment we could get was booking breakfast in the lobby. Even so, it cost us US$60 a person and as Wade commented "We didn't even get bacon!" (the Western food item Wade missed most on our travels). It was interesting to see the inside, although our access was restricted. As you can imagine, there was gold everywhere. We tried to walk around the property after breakfast and were kindly reminded that breakfast did not warrant us that privilege. So after a final look, we had the valet bring around our Honda Civic, while other people were parking Bentleys, and drove away realizing that some people just have a different life!

Here is a look at one of the nicer mosques in Dubai. The Jumeriah Mosque. We really wanted to attend morning prayer one day, but seemed to run out of time. It was interesting to hear the calls to prayer being broadcast from the various loudspeakers positioned around the city. We could even hear it from inside our hotel, although it was not for this particular Mosque.

One day we decided we ought to see the famous Gold Souk in the old part of Dubai. The concierge at our hotel told us it was a mere 20 minute walk and then a boat ride across Dubai creek. 1 hour and 10 minutes later, we arrived at the Gold Souk completely overheated and dehydrated. Other tourists arrived in taxis!!! Plus we had fared being yelled at by an Arab who was apparently very offended at us taking a picture as we made our way to the Gold Souk. Thus there are no pictures of the Gold Souk (we soon realized no one was taking pictures so it indeed must be considered rude). However, it was jewelry shop after jewelry shop and gold like you would imagine Egyptian Princesses would wear. Although it was apparently well priced, we abstained from purchasing. At this point, we were really more interested in water. Anyways, here is a picture of an alley way in the old part of Dubai (before we got yelled at for taking pictures).

Speaking of shopping, the malls in Dubai are crazy. Look out West Edmonton Mall. The latest mall in Dubai, Mall of the Emirates, has an indoor ski hill. Yes, complete with chairlift and artificial snow. We had to go see it, but we didn't ski. We felt it might be embarrassing to be shown up by the Arabs at a winter sport! Some of them were actually pretty good.


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