Dubai

14 April 2010, Wednesday
Arrived at Dubai around 5.30am. The next flight left at 7.50am. Huge terminal. Lots of walking to get to out departure gate. Toilet facilities at Dubai need attention – totally insufficient to meet demand. What were they thinking when they designed the bloody terminal. Imagine having to queue to use a toilet. Emirates used buses to transport us from the terminal to the plane. I thought this was a bit strange and we had to walk up a set of stairs to get to the aircraft. I wonder how Janice Harwood will cope when she is in a wheelchair. Another long flight – seemed to take forever. Tiredness had kicked in. Sat next to bloke from Aberdeen (Pakistani) who is training to be a doctor.

31 May 2010, Monday
Travelling to Dubai today – flight leaves 2.15 pm from Glasgow airport – 7 hour flight I am told. Dianne (Linda’s daughter) is driving us. It is sad for Linda Martin because she enjoyed seeing us again (Brian and Linda came to visit us Singleton in 2009) and may not have wanted us to go. Brian Martin called before we left and wished us well – also provided some advice to leave Avonbridge at 10 am and get to Glasgow in plenty of time. Checking in can be lengthy. As it turned out, traffic was not very busy and we had a good run. Checked in without any fuss (despite the prezzies, we were still under weight).Actual flight time was 7 hours and was not too difficult on the back. Had plenty to eat and drink at Glasgow airport (we were trying to get rid of the cash money we were carrying) and that was a good thing because I was looking for some more food/drink on the flight? My appetite must be coming back.

We were met by the Emirates group when we landed and directed to the Arabian Adventures office. They arranged for a driver to take us and the luggage to the hotel. Bit of a wait as they were dealing with different groups of people and different drivers/hotels. Lots of anglo-indians working here.

Bit of a wait at customs. Same situation as we experienced at Glasgow. You need more people at the customs desks to process the long lines of people. Arrived at Dubai airport just after midnight and did not get to the hotel room until 2 am. Tired and feeling seedy.

Nice hotel and room. Website – http://10.125.128.1/internet/index.php?webconurl=http://www.google.com.au/

1 June 2010, Tuesday
Had trouble sleeping and finally drifted off. Woke up around 9 am to the sound of the shower running. The air-conditioning system here is very noisy and we were disturbed by it all night. Sandra did not sleep. I did not find it too intrusive as I can switch off external noise (how do you think I manage not to hear what Sandra is saying).Breakfast is supplied as part of the tariff (we booked in Perth and got a very good deal for a 5 star hotel here).

We asked for another room away from the air conditioning units and they moved us just before lunchtime. Went to one of the shopping centres and walked around. It is simply stunning. However, no buyer activity. The prices are way too high and no one is making the cash registers ring. The taxi service here is good. We paid 40 dirham to the shopping centre and it cost us 20 to get back. I suspect we were ripped off on the first journey.

We are back in the afternoon. A swim is on the cards.

Went for drinks at 6 pm in the hotel and passed an hour just talking and taking in all the sights in the bar. Dinner at the Blue Elephant restaurant in then hotel – Thai food – exquisite. We are planning to go on the metro tomorrow, a visit to the souk market and then a ride and dinner on a dhow at night.

My world is too small. I am reflecting on people I have met and observed, the places I have been to and the things I have seen. I am glad to have had the opportunity of going on holiday with Sandra and sharing her experiences and becoming aware of how little I really know. The travel has sharpened my appetite for more travel but we will wait and see what the rest of the year brings.

Sandra’s 70th birthday is this year.

2 June 2010, Wednesday
Slept in this morning and started my day at 8 am. Sandra woke up around 9 am. She was really tired and needed the rest. I have to confirm my flight booking after 10am today – they have a business centre here in the hotel with internet and printing facilities. Sandra needs to contact Arabian Adventures and organise the dhow (ride and dinner) for tonight. After that, we will go off for the day.I am quite looking forward to going home.

The journey from Dubai to Perth is expected to be 10 hours 50 minutes. If I time it right, that will mean at least 5 visits to the toilet on the plane (only kidding).

Reflection – we are both very grateful to Linda and Brian Martin for their hospitality and kindness to us. Both really fantastic people who cannot do enough for you. They provided a car for us to use and that made a real difference to us getting around. I like their home and where they live. I have pictures of their backyard (wait for the website) which I will publish once I am back in Australia. 

2 June 2010, Wednesday
We booked our travel on a dhow through Arabian Adventures – costs 575 dirham (costs less than $200 AUD) paid in cash. We had to leave the cash in an envelope with the concierge of the hotel. Arabian Adventures will pick us up for an 8.30 to 10.30 pm tour of Dubai’s waterways and provide dinner as well for the price. That is quite good value considering we get a dhow tour and dinner.

We had problems drawing money out of the cash machine in the hotel. It kept saying that the transaction could not be processed. Must have tried 3-4 times before we reported it to the front desk. They maintained it was not their machine and suggested we try the atm in the hotel across the street. We did and managed to withdraw 1000 dirham without any problems.

Most things here are cash for taxis and snacks/coffee so carrying extra dirham is the go.

Taxi ride from the hotel to the gold souk – cost is just under 30 dirham. Taxi air conditioner was not working very well.

The souk is something to see. It is in the old part of the city and you feel like you are in a market. From the moment you step into the area you are approached by people asking if you want a watch, tee shirts, jewellery and so on. The heat is oppressive and I felt straightaway. The only way you can get relief from the heat is to step inside one of the air conditioned jewellery shops and look at the merchandise.

We did just that stopping in a few shops to look for that special something for my beloved (who you ask? – Sandra of course). You can bargain and it was fun to be able to do just that.

We eventually found the right special something and you will have to visit us to see what Sandra got from moi. She said that would also do for her birthday but she knows I will not do that. By the time her birthday comes around in December 2010 (her 70

Because the heat was so oppressive, I wanted to get back to the hotel. Therefore, we did not visit the spice souk or get on the transit system.

Better taxi this time – air conditioning worked better. I paid the taxi driver 30 dirham although the price was less. I have read on the internet that payment for taxis is very low here and I suspect that any tips are much appreciated.

Just got back from a visit to the gold souk in Dubai. Dare I say it – what a wimp I am – imagine suffering from the heat – this is coming from a bloke who was born in India?

I am going swimming later. Fantastic pool and we also used the Jacuzzi. Met a chap from India called “Amal” who lived very close to Pallavaram, India (where I lived until 1963).

Internet charges are 25 dirham per hour in the hotel. That is not too bad considering that you don’t have any other choice unless you go out and buy a dongle. The latter requires that you take your laptop to a shopping centre, find a retailer, have the dongle setup (if they will do it for you – I was lucky in Falkirk, Scotland, because I insisted when the initial time I tried to use the dongle failed – I went back and the store Manager did the right thing).

We had afternoon tea in the lobby area to ensure were not too hungry for the evening’s entertainment.

Arabian Adventures picked us up from the hotel around 7.15 pm and drove us to the wharf where the dhows are moored. Lots of traffic as buses, card etc, dropped off passengers. We booked for dinner and a cruise up “The Creek” as it is called.

Dinner was a smorgasbord and we had to walk from the top deck to the bottom one to make our selections. We then handed our plates to a waiter who brought it to us when we resumed seating.

It was quite hot and balmy at the start and the temperature dropped somewhat during the cruise which became quite beautiful with all the lights of the buildings coming into play as the night wore on (the cruise started from 8.30 pm and finished at 10.30 pm). See the you tube video here.

Video 1. Video 2.

I found myself drinking lots of water as if I was dehydrated.

Arabian Adventures dropped us back to the hotel. Sandra went shopping for something she saw when we had dinner at “The Blue Elephant” restaurant last night.

Settled the hotel bill and then turned in for the night which turned out to be one where sleep did not come. I was subconsciously concerned that I would sleep through two mobile alarms and a wake up call.

Not sleeping will be good because I can do that on the plane – 11 hour journey anticipated.

3 June 2010, Thursday
Arabian Adventures will pick us up from the hotel between 7 and 7.30 am to take us to the airport for a 10.05 am flight. I managed to confirm our seats on Wednesday.

Breakfast is served at the hotel from 6.30 am. As usual, I will ask the chef to make me a cheese omelette. Both Sandra and I have enjoyed our time here in Dubai, particularly the opulence of this 5-star hotel and what we have seen. No doubt, Sandra enjoyed the rewards of our shopping visit to the gold souk market.

Gary Noel is picking us up from Perth airport on Friday morning (the flight gets in at 0055 hours).

We were stuck on the tarmac at Dubai for about 30-40 minutes – apparently the pallet in the plane hold was stuck and they needed extra manpower to shift it.

It was a smaller plane – only 2/3 full. Passengers were encouraged to find vacant seats and sleep across them if required. Several passengers took up this option as the flight is normally 10 hours 50 minutes.