28 days in Dubai – Week One

Day one

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For many months now my search on the internet has been confusing to say the very least. Messages of rigidity, legal encroachment and incarceration have painted an image of Dubai that somehow haven’t made sense to me. Perhaps it is a western perspective of a different culture, this isn’t anything new to me, I have lived with it my entire life in Australia. To find out, I decided to spend a month in Dubai to see for myself, witness and live in an oasis of monumental proportion and enjoy the religious humility of a very old culture.

My first day was not unusual, considering I do not speak Arabic, it seems everyone speaks English and in truth, it has taken the edge of the experience for me, I like the challenge of communicating in different ways. While it isn’t an aspect I wished for, the convenience is handy and I hope to immerse myself into the Arabic culture and learn greetings and basics to be respectful to the people and the culture of the Emirates.

The airport was modern and used many systems similar to those used in Australia, baggage was handled promptly and the airport process was fast and in no way invasive. I was carrying camera equipment and flew with Emirate air economy class, again, everything was as one would expect from a modern organisation.

Grabbed a coffee while waiting for baggage and the price was equal to street pricing in Australia, service was prompt and the coffee taste great, compared to airplane coffee anything is better. Luggage appeared quickly and I was in a taxi in no time. Taxi fares seem cheaper, he was driving a government owned cab and knew little of the repercussions of the Uber invasion, while the driver didn’t have much to say, he was most amicable and drove me to the Melia hotel in good time.

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The hotel is luxurious with large rooms and wonderfully adorned with cultural art. The staff are friendly, well spoken and approachable. It is situated near the port, not quite in the heart of Dubai, twenty minutes to the north. I enjoy being immersed in the down to earth areas of city, it lends for a better perspective of the real day to day life residents have. The demographic is mainly Asian working folk, I ventured off in the streets found laundromats, a local supermarket and had very little hassle buying fruit and general items. It was evening and I passed by a local Pakistani restaurant, looking in to the window a young man ushered me it. So, to go with the flow, I sat and asked him for a rice dish and he suggested a biryani. A few minutes later a feast appeared with side salad, chutneys, yoghurt, side dish of chicken and a saffron rice covered tandoori quarter chicken …Oh yes, I was fed well and for less than the price of  Big Mac meal back home.

I have eluded talking about the weather and I will keep eluding it until I get a better idea of how much hotter and humid it could get. My room is delightfully air conditioned and I didn’t come to UAE to talk about the weather, it’s hot…. That’s why I chose a nice hotel for my stay and I’m not here for a holiday.

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Breakfast @ Melia – Dubai

My first breakfast was a wonderful experience…
Foulle Medamas

As I entered the buffet area there was the usual feast of western breakfast choices in their chrome warmers, fruits, rice bubbles, pastries of all kind then as I walked back by, there on its own was the clay dish, sitting proudly first in line, the label read ful medames and a smile rose on my face. I asked for the olive oil and it was near the condiments with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. At the far end of the dining room were the breads and humbly placed in a basket was the Lebanese bread, slice into triangles as it should be and I was now happy.

Ful medames

After my first serve, the scent of cumin, the texture, the flavour and nostalgia tempted me for more. The only thing missing was the egg and while the Melia staff were happy to accommodate my needs, my second serve included a small amount of scrambled egg, it wasn’t right. Tomorrow I’ll ask for a sliced boiled egg or poached one to complete this wonderful middle eastern breakfast.

Melia dining room

Off to the computer mall to find a power supply…

BACK2BACK  Computers Dubai

BACK2BACK Dubai Al Ain Mall - Helpful IT shop filled with goodies
Packed with PC essentials – No fruit, genius shirts or empty space here, down to earth, devoted and very helpful staff instead, Open 10am-10pm!

Went for a walk to find a power supply for my notebook and test my body to the 43c heat and humidity. I made it to a computer shopping mall and met up with a very friendly crew of IT guys at Back2Back. Sadly, the Lenovo Ideapad 510  I own has an old school round connector and me being forgetful in amongst this new environment, I didn’t have my notebook with me and picked up the wrong one. While I was there, the helpfulness was too good not to reward with some shopping and I picked up a Microsoft Blu-tooth keyboard and it’s a delight to post my journals on my Samsung galaxy TAB A. Life just got a whole lot better with UP and DOWN arrows and 50% more screen real estate!

MS Blutooth Keyb

Returning to the Melia hotel I was immediately greeted by staff that the hire car representative was waiting for me in the lobby, after a 15 minute conversation with the office staff regarding the recent renewal of my drivers licence, the lady on the phone accepted that in Australia old licences must be destroyed by law and  I was convincing enough to emphasize the fact I have been driving for many years and a trucking licence can not be issued to a novice. A nice new Honda Accord with a ice cold air conditioning system was just what I needed.

An hour of contemplation, mind steadfast on driving the right side of a road and the thought of driving with the screeching of tyres and horns had my full attention and after a few minutes in the car setting my mind on the daunting task, I rolled up the driveway from the underground car park onto the streets of Dubai.

My first adventure was to be to return to the IT guys at BACK2BACK to swap the power supply. On arrival I noticed the metered parking and the CARD payment wasn’t quite the credit card system we have at home and after several attempts to insert my Visa card into the slot, it soon became apparent, the Cards are not credit cards but issued cards. So into a supermarket to buy a few items and ask for change, 4 dirhams per hour seemed very reasonable and I finally had a ticket printed and on the dash and parked conveniently across from  the Al Ain mall, it is a computer and technology emporium.

Back with my new found IT friends at Back2Back the Lenovo’s small round power port would not accept any of the generic power supplies.  For most shops it would have been a short and sweet “Sorry sir, we can not help you…” Chance has it, I found the real deal IT team and “NO” is not answer! So as the whole team searched and sourced a solution. They told me they had sourced an original Lenovo supply, with UAE connection and it was on the way. I thought their dedicated effort deserved a treat, headed downstairs to Baskin Robins on level one, a few ice cream sundaes in hand and the smiles and vibe was high. Thirty years of IT and worrying about everyone’s issues is something I am very aware of and we sat and enjoyed out treat with a few laughs.

du – Telco in Dubai

The BACK2BACK team leader also advised me on using the du communication network for simplicity and I had noticed a du centre in the mall across the road. My meter was running out and the guys informed me of brown bombers, so I headed out to the car, back into the supermarket begging for more change and a couple of packs of Mentos and cashews to help with the ask. The girl at the counter was most helpful and back to the METER station, a little wiser this time.

Into the mall, found du, chose English and took a number from the self service vending system. Took a seat and noticed a most helpful young lady dressed in an elegant black Hijab servicing more than her share of clients. She was dealt my lucky number, as she called me over, the gentleman to the counter on the left jumped in and then the previous client returned and jumped in as well. I was very casual and forgiving about it, she was set aback and immediately expressed a most courteous apology, a quality not often expressed where I come from and I was more than happy to let her take the time to resolve the other clients. She insisted I take my seat and forwarded the others to other stations, assertively and professionally.

The key to this experience is a lesson to those around the world on the perception of wearing respectful attire, it has nothing at all to do with oppression! It is her choice, her right and it takes nothing away from her professional and a woman. My respect for her was immense in the way she handled herself, we chatted freely about life, she was a proud woman from Kashmir in India and well deserving of a management position within the organisation. This was identical to the experience I had in Erina at Telstra where a young woman managed her role so professionally it prompted a lengthy positive feedback to the Telstra organisation regarding the professional conduct of the individual. As I left the counter I circled back, placed one of the change bearing Mentos packets on her counter and received a free, priceless and appreciative smile. 55 dirham, 15 minutes and my Samsung Galaxy was back on the air, thank you du!  

Returning to BACK2BACK, the young notebook tech had my laptop on his desk, plugged in, but as it had 93% charge, the system reported no charging. As I logged in and attempted to use up power playing heavy vids, more clients appeared and while there were no incompatibility issues, they offered it to me for cost, but I wasn’t having a bar of that, paid the difference in cash, packed my notebook and noticed 6pm prayer time. I quietly sat in a seat near the store entrance, inserted my sim card and allowed for prayer time to conclude. Prayers ended, told my IT buddies we would meet again and headed off to the car. JUST IN TIME, as I removed the parking permit looked up and there were two bombers, eyeing my ticket, be it a few  minutes late… lets hope I was in time…

YES…The power supply worked a treat as are these chilli cashews right now!

To end my first real day the drive back to the hotel became a trauma that is taking a day of solitude to recover from. While the Melia hotel is a beautiful sanctuary, it is positioned in an isolated nook of Dubai, getting out is easy, getting back in is a hidden labyrinth. After two hours of swirving oncoming traffic, horns bleating, tyres screeching all around me, I was a nervous wreck! I eventually asked a Taxi driver to lead me back to the hotel and it seemed we had to circumnavigate the entire block to find an entrance. To calm I stayed in the hotel and enjoyed another middle eastern family treat, lentil soup and a gourmet burger I took to the room to indulge in before a hot shower and good night’s sleep.

Day two

Breakfast was spent carefully analysing Google maps, I thought myself a good navigator, Dubai took me to a state of being lost I’ve never experienced before. Later today I will try again, hopefully boosting my confidence and liberating me to enjoy a  greater portion of Dubai. Again Ful Medames and hats off to the Melia Hotel for adding poached eggs to the menu, cooked just perfectly for Ful.

Smoking room

While enjoying the smoking room, yes it is my vice, the hotel manager came to sit and discuss my wish to experience the Arabic culture and he had itemised several old and modern sites in Dubai I should visit to encourage the cultural history and heritage of the UAE. We spoke of the cultural heritage of Dubai and wonderful  life experiences to be had in Dubai. It was encouraging to step outside my comfort zone have a personal touch and duty of care by the manager himself. It’s always nice to feel a valued patron and appreciated. I am certain before I depart, a tasty Cuban cigar from the humidor will be on the bill

Melia Humidor Fine Cuban Cigars at the Melia Hotel

Driving in Dubai

The traffic isn’t great but it isn’t too bad either, the real challenge for me driving in Dubai is there are few topographical landmarks, so it is advisable to learn the routes and freeway numbers to where you need to get to. Getting to know buildings will help but the major freeways take you away from them and route around the city. There will be a lot of exiting and entering onto freeways and crossing multiple lanes to exit and connect with the next. What was confusing were the directional signs, North, South, East and West etc, it dawned on me they signify the direction you will be travelling relative to your current position. For example, the Melia hotel is to the North of the city in Bur Dubai, the signage from the freeway indicates it to be West, hence it’s westward of your current position. There are also countless signs indicating Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, these are regularly signed and have no bearing on the direction you are travelling.

Having chatted with a few local Dubai citizens, they too sympathise with anyone attempting to drive in Dubai. It is also important to know which area you will be travelling to, the Melia hotel is located in Al Raffa, this will help you get close to your destination before you tackle the labyrinth of streets in an area. A lot of streets do not lead to a T junction, instead they route traffic in one direction and there are a lot of U turn bays and U turns at traffic lights are clearly signed for permission. While this system allows for less jamming of traffic, it does require a lot of lane swapping as you turn right and then need to cross lanes to do a U turn.

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Driving the freeways is easier if you know the route number to your destination, Bur Dubai is route 79, and I will be trying it again tomorrow to see if I can make good in this lovely city.

How hot?

Dubai Marina

I said I wouldn’t discuss the weather, but my trek yesterday resulted in heat stroke. Having found the Dubai marina I couldn’t resist getting out and taking some snapshots of this amazing city. It was around midday and the heat didn’t feel quite as hot, this was a warning sign and as the day passed I felt the effects. Lethargic, feeling chilled in 25c air conditioning all points to heat stroke as my body’s thermostat went haywire. I made it back to the hotel, took a hot shower and rugged up and went to bed. I am still suffering the effects of it, it’s not something I haven’t dealt with before, though it’s something I have to seriously consider in terms of acclimatizing to the August temps.

I had a good chat with a local Levine who was involved in the computer cabling business, we discussed a lot of things and when it came to discussing the weather, he pointed out that Kuwait can hit 60c, so Dubai at 43 c isn’t so bad… Enough about the weather!

Beautiful Architecture

Looking up

While driving through the giant pillars of architecture in Dubai a reminder of the Centrepoint Tower in Sydney came to mind. It was a significant part of architecture in Sydney while I was growing up, but the architecture in Dubai makes the Centrepoint tower look like a toothpick strung with string in comparison.

Not only are they giants, they are beautiful, no two are alike, many are asymmetrical,most have some form of artistic significance and cultural embelishment. As I drove through the CBD, I was in awe of the magnificence of it all. Humbled, feeling minuscule in its presence and captivated by the scale of it all. The CBD was also a playground of change too, it wasn’t all high rise and skyscraper. There were beautiful gardens, parks and it was endless, forever telling you the story of Dubai.

Dubai Marina

A Red Sunset

I could write for hours about the magnificent architecture and art I saw in one afternoon driving, I was hoping to get to see a good sunset and found myself lost again, I had travelled too far North and stopped by a Burger King for a cool drink and salad while I tried to work out how to get back to the hotel. While I was there I noticed the sun setting and trekked across a site being prepped for development in the hope I would get the glow of the sun through the desert air.

Sunset in Dubai

Day 3

Rest and recover from heat stroke…

More driving tips..

It’s the simple things in life that can put a smile on your face and make the day a little better, like not getting lost while driving!

Unlike in Australia where it’s illegal to do a U turn at a set of lights, in Dubai most all stretches of main arterial roads have a U turn bay or the lights allow you to do a U turn. To get around you have to think differently and double back on yourself if the destination is on the other side of the road. Sure, its a little longer but this allows most roads to have two lanes as you don’t have the need to undercut  turning car. It makes sense after a while… Also, for a lot of the commercial areas on the main roads, there are service roads with parking and you best carry a pocket full of 1 dirham coins for the meters. So far it has varied from between 2 and 4  Dirhams per hour, that’s around 1 AUD. Some of the machines are temperamental and it takes a few coin inserts, the cancel button usually returns the coins and sometimes there’s a bonus too. Fines are said to be hefty!

Another tip is not to go too cold on the air conditioner, keeping it on a mild cool will probably be easier on you.

Calicut Paragon – Al Karama

calicut_paragonUpon the advice of my friends at BACK2BACK I visited the PARAGON Indian restaurant for a Biryani, I needed something light for dinner. Upon arriving, the host looked at me a little strange as I probably wasn’t the usual local clientele, but for 18 Dirhams I enjoyed a cold can of coke on crushed ice, a chicken Biryani with a yoghurt sidedish that was laced with fresh chilli, onions and lime leaf, mango pickle, a chutney, a shredded coconut paste and a papadum.

He was right, it was just what I needed and it has given me the pickmeup I needed.

Day 4

A breakfast poem @ Melia

A smiling face, greeting me to a feast,
A coffee in hand to awaken this beast.
Dried fruits and pastries lined in a row,
Cultures united to share one space and grow.

If one thing unites us it is sharing one need,
Plentiful bounty removing the desire and greed.
Among a buffet served with a pride to delight,
A feast with strangers makes life feel so right.

It is our true human need, not a wanting desire,
Our forefathers shared it in front of a fire.
Truth lies in sharing the simple things in life,
Our world lacks this virtue, hence the strife.

Feed the children, the mothers, the poor and old,
We draw near to each other without need for gold.
Now nourished with power, like the fuel for a car,
Filled with the energy to live a happy life, insha’Allah.

A poem for Sweetheart

Her name Sweetheart, for this is true,
Two pots of honey I asked of you.
Joyful smiling grace to help me heal,
With my tea to drink I thank you for real.

The joy in people I find in this land,
Marvels of many built on golden sand.
How proud the kings should be of this place,
To honour their grace and the smile on her face.

Be proud of who you think you are,
Your smile will carry you very far.
The simple things, a duty of care,
Are hard to find and very rare.

Thank you Sweetheart for caring for me,
My body aches from a bug that hounds me.
The honey is pure like the smile on your face,
My appreciation grows for this land and your grace.

 

I feel run down with the change in temperatures from air conditioning to the extreme heat outside. My throat is sore and I headed down to the buffet to ask my caring hostess for some honey to put in my tea before I rest my body back to health. As I looked at her name tag, it said “Sweetheart” and just the thought of a name so true to her manner put a smile on my face and lifted me into an emotion that was as worthy as the honey to help me heal. So to the management of Melia Hotels, please convey my appreciation to Sweetheart and all the caring staff in your care.

Day 5

I woke early with jet lag and the head cold getting the better of me, but rather than laze in the plush room I decided to head out and see the sights by night. I circled around the northern suburbs of Al Raffa and saw plenty of vibrancy in the night life, busy cafeterias clubs and hangouts. Seems the nights are when the social lifestyle starts, likely to be climatic.   Heading south toward the CBD along the highway I was just cruising and watching the mean machines of Dubai power by, for me it was a gentle cruise in the Accord and I was enjoying the evening cruise. Before I knew it, I felt I was too far south along the freeway and started to hunt for a loop back onto the other side of the freeway. I found a service road exit and drove by a nice car dealership.

Sportscar Anyone?
Sportscar Anyone?

I noticed there was a security guard out front wondering why I was parked, I opened the passenger window asking him if he knew the directions to cross the highway, but like so many in Dubai, few are game enough to admit they have mastered the road network enough to give others directions. So I drove onward, passing the most beautiful Mosques for morning prayer. I have not yet taken any pictures of buildings such as mosques or government type buildings in case I need permission to do so, they are the most beautifully adorned buildings and perhaps it’s best you come and see them for yourself.

Further down the road I noticed a McDonalds and a petrol station, thinking I might try the Maccas coffee and buy some cigarettes. It was 4:30am and the streets were still bustling with people some ending the evening, others waking for prayer. I drove though the drive-thru and looked at the menu, saw to my surprise a Halloumi breakfast burger and thought I really had to try one. Then realised, the drive-thru wasn’t attended, so circled around and parked and decided to dine in. Sadly the Halloumi burger wasnt available until 5am so I went for a stock meal and coffee and ordered my meal.

McDonalds isnt what it used to be and nowadays a 10 minute wait is nothing unusual, so I popped across the petrol pumps to the gas station shop and realised they don’t sell cigarettes. I wasn’t upset at all, if society wants us to stop smoking, they should reduce the availability, yet another good piece of governance. The other  most notable experience at this stop were the two young ladies in Hijabs, having a McDonalds together in the wee hours of the morning, yes there were some patron that seemed to be a little obnoxious and perhaps had too much of a good time out. Again, while there are religious obligation we should all respect, the two young ladies were enjoying their time together adjacent to a table of young men who were not in any way heckling or touting the girls. Once again the perceptions of the laws and the freedoms the people have don’t reflect the views internationally.

I’d enjoyed my burger, while a young man was being over bearing and assertive, perhaps a little too much whiskey, in his defense the staff at McDonalds would not tell him how much he owed and he was becoming a little frustrated, he looked at me with dismay, I simply replied, “Remember, it’s McDonalds my friend…” nothing overbearing like an Aussie “letting rip” but on the margins of impolite as per the custom here. Regardless, nothing came of it, he rolled with it and the staff were engaging in a shift change and perhaps could have expressed that with a little more customer service, than just doing my job Sir!

Rolling on the service road it circled the entire block for a couple of kilometres, I wasn’t in a hurry and after a few Loop Da Loops on the freeway managed to find my way Northbound on the main freeway, cruising back to the magnificant Dubai city skyline. I try to head for Jumeirah whenever I can because it lines me up with with the connections back to Bur Dubai where Im staying. As the sun began to light the foggy skies, the architecture all around me pasted yet another smile on my face. To witness the cultural passion put into every building tickles the artisan in me. In comparison to Australia, where reducing cost and “Plain Jane” building, here there’s a sense of pride and uniqueness in the buildings, from a humble home, villa and apartment skyscrapers, each is a piece of this great cultural puzzle. Before I knew it I saw the sign to Burj Al Arab, the sun had not yet dawned, I had to stop and take a closer look.,..

Burj Al Arab

Impressed, indeed I was, am and always will be by the investment of cultural pride in this land, its not just a building to house business, it’s a landmark identifying its people. Its also essential, there are very few topographical landmarks, a sand dune looks much like any other, a beach looks like any otyher beach until you see the headlands. These are the markers that will enrich the landscape of Dubai and help tourist navigate the city for years to come.

To the right of the Burj Al Arab…

Emirates Flag flown Proudly

It keeps me cool, it has led eyebrows to let everyone know I'm there and it gets me out of lots of sticky situations when I need to get out of the way!
It keeps me cool, it has LED eyebrows to let everyone know I’m there and it gets me out of lots of sticky situations when I need to get out of the way!

Meeting the locals

I was fortunate enough to have met two Saudi lads staying at the hotel. We have a great chat about the development of Dubai in comparison with Saudi Arabia and the impact the rapid growth of the Emirate state has on it’s neighbours. It was also refreshing to know that they consider themselves cousins in the entire region, they didn’t convey any differences, objections or animosities for each others. They freely travel in the middle east as part of a larger set of united states. They too are bewildered by the outside perceptions conveyed about this region and the more I meet locals the more they confirm the misunderstandings the rest of the world has for this region and the social culture.

Meeting Visitors

Meeting all walks, because I’m a socialite, a vibrant and charming Indian couple were planning their work itinerary, or should I say, SHE was letting her partner know when, where and what he had to do in the coming week(s). Passing a comment that, “no isn’t an option friend, you’ve been told…” we broke the ice and engaged in a worldly chat about the pros and cons of living here and abroad. She was charming, open and very modern in her thinking and I trusted her intuition when it came to social pressures. She had expressed her sense of difference being felt as a dominant female in this part of the world. Not in a bad way,  but it was there. I am sure she is correct in her intuition, perception does differ through another persons eyes. Regardless, she wasn’t perturbed by it at all and knew where she was and the scope of her status in this society would not be as broad as it would be in Australia or India. Equality is a hard thing to measure and get a balance no matter where you are in the world, the scales will always tip one way or another.

Day 6

Danial – Iranian Buffet – Al Ras

I have been finding my feet and aclimatising to this diverse and inviting country and today, everything seemed to fall into place and I am feeling the culture and city embracing me and captivating my mind with the delights it has to offer.

Twin Towers - Al Ras An Iranian Buffet - Something for everyone

Having met Darius in the the Melia gift shop, an Iranian gentleman who has lived her for 30 years, when I asked him where I could find some Iranian cuisine he immediately pointed me in the direction of Danial restaurant, situated in the Twin Towers, across the creek from the hotel in the Al Ras precinct.
Being mid afternoon, there was no parking in the mall itself and a kind security gaurd directed me to the multifloor car park 50 metres away. Remembering it was on level G of the mall, it soon dawned that it wasnt the ground floor but few levels up and from the distnce I could see a busy restaurant high above.
I soon found myself entering the huge restaurant and courteously ushered and given a seat. The hostess then politely said, you are good to go and I headed to the smorgasboard of delights waiting for me.

Iranian Biryani - Plain Rice - Keftas - Vine Leaf Dolma and a coke! It doesn't get more authentic and flavoursome than this!

Lets just say that I love Iranian rice, they are the world masters of cooking the long grains they covet so dearly and I wasn’t disappointed. How could one resist the kefta kebab, both in lamb and chicken and then staring at me, vine leave dolmas in oil, shining at me, tempting me and I couldn’t resist. Pickles, garden greens, yoghurts of all types and I have barely scratched the surface of all the delights on offer, a few return visits are a must to enjoy the diversity of the cuisine here.

Cultures of all quadrants of the east are here, arabic, asian, persian, it is a bouquet of faces and a symphony of voices filled this giant room with a worldly song of feasting happiness. With the sounds of Iranian poetic song over the sound system binding the diverse banter of happy people feasting to the most delicious Persian treasures Iran has to offer, this has to be a place of visit for anyone who loves food, life and culture.

Turkish Coffee There was a scent of herbs in this coffee, Ill ask what it was when I visit again

“Dear cuz…
I am really thinking of you today, driving the streets of the old Dubai, witnessing in real life the stories we heard from our parents, it reminds me of you and the culture we didn’t have but wanted. Of all the people in my world, I wish you were here with me, we would be shining with joy together… miss you a lot….”

Even my Turkish coffee tastes good, with the view of hazy Dubai as my backdrop. This is what I’ve been looking for, wanting and yearning for all my life. To enjoy a meal with others doing the same. If there was one wish, I would hve loved to share today with my cousin Lucy, 99.0FM here has upbeat arabic music, the drive here was uplifting, I feel immersed in the ‘Real McCoy’ of traditions we grew to emulate as our own in Australia.

Brought him back some Iranian sweets for being the best food guide in teh Hotel,
Brought him back some Iranian sweets for being the best food guide in teh Hotel,

End of week one…

Decided to head out in the wee hours of the morning, hoping to get some relief from the temps and traffic…

The traffic was great!!!

Finding my way round the city is improving and headed South on Al Mina rd toward the Jumeirah district. Once again, dazzled by the lights and architecture and with an eye on the monumental Burj Khalifa I found myself in the streets surrounding the city walk. Stepping out of the cool Honda the lens fogged up and it took a few attempts to get a snapshot.

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The City Walk area in Jumeirah is beautifully landscaped with the public in mind. Everywhere you look there is something to delight the senses, its lit spectacularly and with the coming 2020 EXPO one can only imagine what a festive place this part of Dubai city will be.

City Walk Jumeirah

By now I was drenched in sweat and met a Kenyan security guard with his eye on my doings. All quite relaxed and polite we began chin wagging for an hour over family life, work, weather and enjoyed sharing our experiences. We were both chuckling over how we were both soaked in our own perspiration and I headed off to a petrol station to fill up the accord. It was below a 1/4 tank and driving in an attendant appeared and kindly filled it up for the envious sum of 63 Dirhams. (A little over 20 AUD) That put a smile on my face and then I parked the car and entered McDonalds for a coffee and some Air con and that put an even bigger smile on my face. The McDonalds crew were mainly Phillipino girls and they were having a pretty good time of their own. Once again, defying all the propaganda, three young arabic girls sitting and enjoying their meal, these girls were dressed in modern western attire, no scarf, dressed for summer, not feeling threatened and simply enjoying the night, it was 4am…

I over indulged and had to have the Arabian Chicken, it’s two patties of chicken in what some would call a folded Naan bread with yoghurt dressing and salad. Looked middle eastern, tasted like McDonalds. The coke was nice and Icy and the chips I didn’t need. On the way out I thought of my Kenyan acquaintance and decided to grab him a large ICEY COKE… As I walked to the car, I saw my tyre was flat, and luck would have it, this service station has a 24/7 TYRE shop open all night. So I asked them to take a look at it. They pumped the tyre back up, while I ran back to McDonalds and kindly asked them to keep the Coke on hand for me.

The boys in the tyre shop put the car on the hoist, checked and couldnt find a nail etc, so I gave them a tip and drove back to my Kenyan friend. He was sitting on the bench, keeping lookout, I lowered the window and the smile on his face was worth the couple of minutes driving as I handed him the drink.

One the way back I stopped by the way to grab one more snap…

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Drove home, didn’t get lost and caught up on some sleep… End of week one!