I’m being cynical. The airport was not busy at all where this picture was taken. Of course it was 11:00 at night. My plane left at 2:45 AM and the check-in ticket counter didn’t open until 10:45 PM for check-in to the flight going to the United States. What kind of flight leaves out at 2:45 AM? A weird one. There was no way that I wanted to fly out of anywhere at 2:45 in the morning. That’s just silly. But, I did it. And, to tell you the truth, the Dubai airport turned out to be very busy at that time of the morning. The boarding started at 2:00 AM and I went to spend my last three dollars at about the time boarding started. What I noticed was that I had to make my way through the crowd to find a shop that would sell me some food for 10 Emirati Dirham or less. It was truly busy at that time of the morning. I couldn’t believe it. Where were all those people going at that time of the morning? Who knew?
We had dinner at one of the local Filipino restaurants. Junie, one of the local CS members from Manila took Martin and I to a local buffet that is frequented by his fellow country-persons. The fish and chicken were really good and the tea was some of the best I’ve ever had and they kept it coming and coming. One thing that is clearly obvious is that CS has a very active Dubai chapter. From what I could gather they get together often and they have a fairly good-sized group. I highly recommend getting ahold of some of the group to arrange some time with them.
This is Martin climbing out of a wadi. This how we came down to find the swimming hole where we went swimming. Note that it was hot. Really hot. I’d guess it was somewhere approaching 110-115 degrees Fahrenheit. It was so hot that I couldn’t hold on to the rocks for more than a couple of seconds as I was climbing out of the wadi. It was so bad that I had to use my hat as a glove to help me get out. Males old enough to draw social security should probably admit that their best rock climbing days are behind them. Martin, however, didn’t seem to notice my age. He’d stop every once in a while and ask me if I was doing okay. What could I say? He wasn’t going to rescue me unless I got into some serious danger and it wasn’t like this was a major mountain. It was, however, a serious climb for me.
While Martin and I were cruising around the United Arab Emirates and in particular around Wadi Al Wurayyah Dam he took me to one of his little spots in the desert. Martin has been here long enough to know a lot of "hot spots" and in the type of heat that can be found in Dubai, the term "hot spot" is entirely too correct. The have temperatures there that approach 120 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s hotter than I want to think about. Way too much hotter than I want to actually experience. Here is a little swimming hole. We had to hike to it. Apparently, it’s in the desert and it’s spring fed. Note that we weren’t the only ones there. There were people there when we arrived and there were people arriving when we left. It was a very neat little place hiding in the desert.
My friend Martin picked me up and took me to several places in and around Dubai. One of the places we went was the Wadi Al Wurayyah Dam. A wadi is a dried up river bed that sometimes has water in during the rains that happen every so often. This dam was built to catch some of that water. What was on the other side of the dam? Nothing. Not a thing.
I’ve done a little mall walking in my day. Not a lot, but some. It’s good exercise. This is a picture of a mall walker in Dubai. The malls are so special in Dubai that being a mall walker in Dubai takes on a whole new level of significance. This is mall walking on par with anywhere in the world. Anywhere.
This is a picture of a McDonald’s taken at noon on a Thursday at the Mall of the Emirates. Notice that there is no activity. Now I need to tell you that it is located in a large food court at the mall. The reason it is not open is that it is Ramadan. During Ramadan, no one is allowed to eat in public anywhere in Dubai during the daylight hours. This means no one. As a matter of fact, if you are caught eating or drinking in public during daylight hours during Ramadan, you are subject to a fine. This isn’t a joke. During the time I was in Dubai I saw no one eating or drinking anything other than people who were in a car with me and I refuse to divulge their names and addresses. It’s really that serious. Restaurants are closed during this period. Grocery stores are open and do business as usual, but no food is consumed there in public. I can’t tell you how serious this is.
I rode the metro to the Mall of the Emirates and got off. This is a must see attraction in Dubai if for no other reason that it contains Ski Dubai, a ski slope in the mall. It is also a large, over-the-top mall in Dubai, a town that specializes in large, over-top-malls. This is one of the two malls in Dubai that I knew I must see. The other mall was Dubai Mall, the mall that some people argue is the largest mall in the world. It turns out, if you are trying to decide what is the biggest mall in the world, there is more than one way to measure the size of a mall. Anyway, the malls in Dubai are special. One of the characteristics of the city of Dubai is that it is a shoppers paradise and the malls are a component of that characteristic. Go shoppers!
This is a picture of the area of Dubai out near The Marina, a section of Dubai that has a lot of high rise apartment buildings. This is just a picture of a few of them. There were dozens and dozens of building like these. Dubai is an up-and-coming location. They have had a building boom that can only be characterized as spectacular in the last 10 years. There was ample evidence of it everywhere.
This is a picture of me on the Dubai Metro. I caught the metro from the airport into the center of town and then took a bus to the hostel where I was staying. The metro was cheap. I bought an all-day pass for $5 and it came with unlimited rides on the metro trains and the buses. The Dubai Metro is one of the best metros I have ever been on. It was very modern, very punctual and it was the first metro system that I had ever been on that had wi-fi on the metro trains. The picture is one I took when the train was relatively empty. It was rarely as empty as you see it here. I found that I often had to stand on the metro. It wasn’t as packed as I’ve seen some metros but it as often well occupied, especially in the more heavily traveled sections of the city.