Friday, October 12, 2007

So where have you been lately ?
I was in Dubai last week on a business trip. It is true that this is probably the worst time to visit the city given the fact that it is the fasting month and the UAE being a Muslim country severely frowns upon the consumption of food or water in public during the day and most of the entertainment type places are closed too. However I did manage to have a good time.
The city itself is very surreal. All these sparkling new buildings and everywhere you look there's construction going on. I had a couple of days off so I took to the streets. This of course was a stupid stupid idea. Dubai => Desert Climate => Thirsty Traveller Who Can't Get A Drink Because It's Ramadan - Duh .

Anyway, here I am at the Gold Souk (souk=market) near Dubai Creek looking a little worn out.

The market itself looks almost exactly as how you would imagine a Hollywood movie portraying a Middle Eastern bazaar would look like with the exception: Instead of local Arabs attending the stores, most of the store workers are either Pakistani or Filipinos which I found to be the case everywhere else in Dubai.

The goods stacked outside of the market in the photo are transported along the Dubai Creek to somewhere on these exhaust fuming junky looking boats.

So that was the old part of the city, imagine my shock when I went to the new part of the city. The contrast was somewhat jarring.

Anyway, I heard a lot about this shopping centre with a ski slope in Dubai which I had to see for myself. Bizzare does not even begin to cut it. It was 40C outside and suddenly, you see snow and people renting winter clothing to get into the ski slope complex.

Of course, no visit to Dubai would be complete without a cursory trip to Burj Al-Arab and I must say, the building is as impressive in real life as it is in photos.

Only in Dubai I suppose, the same country that is in the midst of constructing a whole set of man made islands shaped like the world and will soon have a shopping centre/amusement park called Falconcity that will have a mini-eiffel tower among other tacky gimmicky attractions.
I also took a Desert Safari where they take you out to the Desert in a beat up 4WD. Exciting to say the least as you would expect.

And I have to say this, the desert is not for the agoraphobic. With no landmarks anywhere for miles, it is only too easy to lose your way.

Just before I left , I made a trip to Jebel Hafeet ( Jebel means mountain ) , about 1 1/2 hours from Dubai and apparently a popular local weekend get-away for most of the Dubai city dwellers.

And yes. That is in fact a palace in the mountains.

And coming down the mountain we made stop at a hot springs oasis which only reinforced the surreal element I was talking about earlier. Sand sand sand rocks rocks rocks and bam suddenly lush green .

Anyway...It was an experience. My advice to anyone who wants to go there for a holiday is : Don't go during Ramadan and be prepared to shell out a lot of Dirhams, Dubai is expensive.
So what else is new ?
Just started my part time MBA so felt a bit guilty about missing classes when I was there. It's not as bad as I thought it would be. A couple of night classes after work, some course work. Bearable.
Anyway...more on this some other time I suppose.


At 2:23 AM , Blogger zhiyi said...

Spam spam spam XD why didn't put up the "arty-farty" photo of d shadow of urself in d desert?


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