05.05.2006 40 °C
We are in Dubai today.... with much unpublished material not having been able to get the chance to post it on this blog yet. Here it is hot, hot, hot and very different.
To friends and family, just to let you know, we will be on a plane at 2.30 in the morning the 7th May (Dubai time) so should be home after midnight on Melbourne's sunday
The above was all I had time to bang out in the close confines of one of Dubai's Internet cafes. Let me expand this entry a little.
We arrived in Dubai skimming in over a landscape whose skyline has an ancient collection of low rounded and linear shapes obscured by air that seems dusty or dirty. On the receiving end, we detect a card held up displaying our names. We are whisked away to a car for our airport transfer, where we observe the local traffic style (the symphony of horns) and frequent four-into-two-lane road changes just to keep everyone excited. To add to the confusion, U turns also happen at intersections leading to a degree of hazard for pedestrians.
Our accommodation at the Pearl Residence, with its ironing board cover matching the couch, and its piggyback power adapters festooing the electricals, was adequate enough, very thoroughly cleaned each day in a process that seemed to take about an hour. The TV offers many Arabic films, Hollywood cartoons dubbed in Arabic, and a dash of CNN and BBC. Long way from Kerry O'Brien in quality. Tiring of infotainment that is basically a 30 second grab of crude headlines repeated without cease.
We crank up the cooling and get the room quite cool, a welcome relief after a rather overheated hotel room in London. But the outside temperature was right for a quick swim on the rooftop, very refreshing in the 40 degree heat. And for entertainment, the guys operating the window washing cradle, as it dangles from the side of the building with not a safety harness in sight.
Out on the streets the sun beats down like a drumstick whacking the back of the head. We hang around outside the supermarket waiting for it to open at 2pm due to it being Friday. A thin waft of cool air leaks out onto us from the shop air conditioning. Presently the lights flicker on, the shop opens for business and a six pack of Fanta is obtained.
Refrigerated air is your friend in Dubai, and the lure of avoiding the heat by staying in your room is strong. Undaunted, we explore the old quarter, crowded with tiny stalls crammed with goods which we could see no reason to acquire. We walk through a fun park and market combined, where a stall selling "found" luggage of unknown origin jostles with the crowd descending from the ball of death, in which an adventurous fellow spins a motorcycle in tight circles in defiance of gravity.
The skyline is dot dashed with angular cranes adding more buildings that seem to be around seven storeys in height. The architecture is for the most part similar to what gets pulled down in StKilda Rd these days - a tired seventies look with some local flavour in ornamentation.
Memo: check for acceptance of credit card befoe eating meal. Murphy's law states that the ATM that is compatible with your card, and issues money in the desired denomination, will be far from the restaurant where your beloved is held as security pending your payment of the bill for one large pizza an ice cream and a coke.
But now our travellers have tired of the travel. This is a chance to rest before the last leg home. We take advantage of it and sleep longer than we have for many days.
Just before midnight, we exit our room, whisk our bags down the hotel steps before the nosey porter can try to extract another tip from us, and wait a while for our transfer to the airport. Ten minutes late, a minibus rolls up with other travellers looking as ready as us to hot foot it to the airport.
The plane is huge and takes forever to load with passengers; but eventually we are able to sink back in our seats and know we are on the way back to Australia. At this moment you know your trip is almost over, but you don't care. You just want your own familiar surroundings back, as soon as possible.