Archive for the 'Dubai' Category

A New America?

Once I landed in Dubai, I couldn’t help but smile.  In fact, I smiled the entire time.  It may be cliche to say but there’s an energy there and it felt like Dubai is the future.  If America had started about 30 years ago I would imagine it would look a lot like Dubai.  It was around that time that the Sheik gave big tax breaks to people or companies who come in and develop Dubai (even Donald Trump is here).  And develop did they ever!

Dubai has also adopted the Texas’ slogan about everything being bigger.  The tallest building in the world- the Burj Dubai- is currently under construction and boy is it impressive.  From a distance it looks like it is double the height of the surrounding buildings.  The architects designed it so that they can “add more” in case anyone (Dubai or anywhere in the world) tries to out do them.  There are also plans for the largest airport in the world in which up to four planes can land at the same time.  That’s in addition to the current airport which will stay open and the new Emirates Airlines terminal is scheduled to be completed next year.  There’s also the iconic Burj Al-Arab the world’s only 7-star hotel.  Also, Dubailand- Dubai’s answer to Disneyland- is under construction.  I’m sure it’ll be bigger and better than anything else in the world.

I had a great three-day stay.  I probably could have stayed for longer but my budget wouldn’t allow it.  Dubai is known for beaches, desert, and shopping.  I didn’t quite get to the beach nor did I want to but I did do the other two.  On the first day, I took a day tour that included the wonderful Dubai Museum (which was directly across the street from my hotel), a trip across the creek, and a visit to the boring souks (I’ve been to better souks).  The next night I went on a Desert Safari where we went dune bashing in 4×4 vehicles and then had a buffet dinner at night surrounded by mounds and mounds of sand.  I also got a henna design on my hand.  My last day I spent at the Deira City Centre shopping mall.  I chose this particular mall because: 1) the Mall of the Emirates (the largest one in Dubai which also has an indoor skiing facility) was too far from my hotel, and 2) this mall had more inexpensive, non-exclusive stores so that when I showed up in my backpacker clothes I wouldn’t feel out of place or like a hobo.  Even the mall’s logo was “Where you can be you.”  The reason why people come to Dubai to shop is because everything is tax-free.  You can get stuff for cheaper than if you got it at home.  The line to get a taxi after I was finished was at least 200 people deep.  I waited an hour.

Dubai is not as expensive as you may think.  Once you get over the sticker shock of the cost of hotels the prices are pretty comparable to the US.  Go during the summer and save up to 75% over the high-season (December-January) hotel costs.  It was hot but in reality you’re shuffling from one air-conditioned space to another air-conditioned space.  I felt hotter in Egypt.  So, don’t be put off by the hot, humid temperatures.  Now, there are direct flights from the US (Houston, New York and then San Francisco and Los Angeles starting in the fall) to Dubai on Emirates Airlines (which is fabulous).  The in-flight entertainment system is the best I’ve seen and the food generous and excellent.  There are some airlines that like to put a lot on the food tray to disguise a small main course entree.  Emirates was definitely different.  So, the next time you want to take a big trip think outside of Europe and go to Dubai!  Currently, Dubai gets about 7 millions tourists a year and they’re projecting 70 million-a-year in 10 years.  Because Dubai immigrants outnumber the actual UAE nationals, English is the common language so there’s no need to worry about a language barrier.  So, go now!  You won’t regret it.

Right now, I’m in Singapore awaiting the start of my next tour which will take me through Malaysia and up to Bangkok.

Last Day in Egypt

Today is my last day in Egypt and I am so ready to move on.  I’ve spent the last fours days staying at an awesome hostel (Wake Up! Cairo Hostel) doing some fun things like a Nile Dinner Cruise complete with belly dancer and one night we all went and saw the new Batman movie.  I met some really great people from around the world including Americans.  Amy and I had not met any Americans when we were traveling together.  In fact, Egyptians would guess I’m from England, Germany, and believe it or not Sweden (twice!) before they would even think of American.

I’m not sure if I would ever come back to Egypt.  It may be because of the heat or it could be that I’ve pretty much seen all I want to see.  You really have to be into Egyptian history and such to really appreciate all the sights.  Otherwise, just stick to Cairo and the Giza Pyramids and for your own sanity come during the cooler months.  Right now, I feel cooler but I’m not sure if the temperature has dropped or I’m just used to it all.

The first day in Cairo, Amy and I had koshary- a cheap, traditional Egyptian meal.  We didn’t take to it so well and hadn’t eaten it since.  Luckily, I’ve had the opportunity to try it again and with success!!  Around the corner from the hostel is a great koshary place packed with locals.  And the best part is that it’s so cheap- less than a dollar.  Koshary has rice, pasta, spaghetti, tomato sauce, lentils, chickpeas and dried onions.  I found out that the extra sauce that comes on the side is not tomato sauce but a very spicy chilli sauce.  I only found this out after the outside of my upper lip started burning.  Another thing, Amy and I forgot to do was to mix all the ingredients together.

I leave for Dubai tonight.  It will be around 100 degrees F at midnight when I arrive.  In fact, for the entire time I am there it will be in the low 100s but will feel like the low 110s with humidity.  The overnight lows??  Low to mid 90s.  Yea!!  By the time I get to so-called hot Singapore I’ll probably be cold.


Where’s Stacy?

Stacy is in West Virginia and totally amazed by the power of Math. (Nerd, I know!)

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