‘Well at any rate it’s a great comfort,’ she said as she stopped under the trees, ‘after being so hot, to get into the- into what?’ she went on, rather surprised at not being able to think of the word. ‘I mean to get under the – under the- under this, you know!’ putting her hand on the trunk of the tree.’ What does it call itself, I wonder? I do believe it’s got no name- why, to be sure it hasn’t.’
Alice Through the Looking Glass
Intermission between Part One and Part Two FINALLY came to an end, my necessary visas were acquired and I finally headed out into the world again. First stop. Dubai, UAE. Where it was hot. Painfully hot. Suffocatingly hot. Literally. The kind of heat that makes you delirious! The government requires that the bus shelters be air conditioned it is so hot.
Dubai puts everything inside, from theme parks to ski slopes, because no one wants to go outside. Like ever. I walk. And I like outside. So on Day Two (Day One was only the afternoon and I spent it at the pool, pushing through jet lag), when I headed down to Jumeirah beach for a three mile walk to Burj al Arab (Third Tallest Hotel in the World), it was about me and six other people. At the end of the three miles, I totally understood why. I looked like someone from the movies who had been lost in the desert for weeks, crawling into a cafe, clawing at people for water and drenched in sweat (slight exaggeration but I do love to make everything slightly more Hollywood and the drenched in sweat part is totally true). One lemon mint juice (the lemon mint juice in the Middle East is so good, I might just move here for it) and about 60 minutes later, I had cooled enough to call a cab and head to cooler pastures.
One of first things you notice (after the heat) about Dubai is the architecture. Some of the most iconic buildings in the world are here. The second thing you notice about Dubai is they are obsessed with having the biggest/fastest/tallest/largest/first of everything. And they are so proud of each of these things. The Dubai Mall is the largest mall by area in the world. Or as I like to think of it- the largest air conditioner in Dubai. What is crazy is that it isn’t even the only enormous mall in Dubai. I counted at least three. I spent the next few hours walking around the mall, mostly observing and talking with people as Dubai is one of the most international cities I have visited. Every style of dress and language was apparent. And they had some pretty cool artwork spaced between the ice skating rink, food courts, cinema, underwater zoo and aquarium. And stores.
Having learned my lesson from the heat on Day Two, I decided Day Three would utilize public transport instead of my feet. First stop- Old Dubai and the Gold and Spice Souks. Having been in Morocco for a bit, I was expecting traditional souks. While the Spick Souk was slightly similar to what I had seen, the Gold Souk felt a bit more like a strip mall. My highlight though, was the Dubai Creek, filled with dhow. These boats were being loaded with cargo to take to countries around the Arabian Sea. I saw boats with refrigerators, televisions, mattresses, fabrics and food. They hardly looked sea worthy but have filled their purpose for years. And because of the heat, the tiny cabins had portable air conditioners poking through the windows!
After Old Dubai, it was time for more of the architecture of downtown, including the Tallest Building in the World, the Burj Khalifa. Of course, the entry to this building is in the Lower Level of the Dubai Mall so it was back to the mall for me. The elevator goes 17 meters per second so the ride to Floor 148 is just over 60 seconds long. The building is so tall and the elevator so fast that you can watch the sunset on the ground, take the elevator to the top and watch the sunset again. And from way up here you get to see the famous Sheikh Zayed Road, with tons of unusual skyscrapers. My favorite is the Thai Hotel, that has approximately 174 rooms. Umm. Approximately? Can you not get an accurate count? Do the rooms multiply or subtract? Are some magic rooms that are not always accessible? Or is Dubai just looking for the First Hotel With Approximate Rooms?
Now it was time to see the Palm Island, the man made beach shaped like a palm leaf with a crescent moon setting around it. Other than ridiculous wealth, it was a bit underwhelming. Good thing, because they are building another down the beach. A stop at the Mall of the Emirates to see Ski Dubai, the First Indoor Ski Retreat in the Middle East (see another title) was next. It was amusing to see everyone bundled in ski clothes while the heat still radiated from my body. The sun was now setting and it was time to head back to- you guessed it- the Dubai Mall for the Dubai Fountain. In the style of the Bellagio in Las Vegas, every thirty minutes, the water dances to music. It took everything in my power to not jump into the water as by this point, I was truly delirious from the heat. And about 15 pounds lighter from the sweat. I made my dinner a vanilla milkshake with peanut butter and double stuff Oreo cookies and regained the 15 pounds in about seven minutes.
Time to say goodbye to Dubai – I was longing to be outdoors. Off to Oman- where I spent nearly every moment of sunlight outdoors, swimming in the Gulf, reading by the pool and walking around the mountains. So much that I neglected to take more than a photo of even the pool. So no blog and a picture of the Burj Khalifa at night will have to suffice. Off to India!