Dubai - Day 1
Dubai Travel Blog› entry 1 of 2 › view all entries
Did I really want to travel to Dubai to gloat over crazy and sometimes stupid buildings of some rich oil sheik? Well, thanks to a cheap Emirates flight I had no choice but to get a glimpse of this “city of the future”.
The nice thing about the Dubai International Airport is that when exiting the plane you are not pushed through one of those long metal condoms but are able to exit in the classic Pope style by walking down the stairs and kissing the ground. Last bit not recommended unless you ARE the Pope!
Leaving the plane is also the moment where you immediately get a slap in the face by the hot air.
Then you board a shuttlebus which takes you past approx. 15 terminals and when arriving at the baggage claim your suitcase is already waiting longingly.
After customs I’m changing some money even though I have no idea if it is a good exchange rate or a tourist-rip-off-rate..
Somewhere outside a young guy is leaning against a wall smoking. I’ll ask him whether it is allowed to smoke here. He wouldn’t know, he says, taking a drag. Well, I guess they won’t fine us, is my reply while lighting a fag as well.
After having tared my lungs I’m buying a big bottle of water and get a cab which hopefully brings me to my hotel. The start price of the taxi is 20 Dirham which suprises me a bit first and annoys me later when I find out that city taxis charge only 3 Dirham. The best way is to walk away from the airport for a few hundred meters and get a taxi there.
Despite the price the taxi driver is very friendly and informative and most importantly he takes me to my hotel, the Golden Sands No.
As soon as I put my luggage out of the taxi’s trunk and onto the sidewalk a porter grabs it and brings it to the reception before opening the door for me with a grand gesture.
Before it’s my turn to check in I have to wait a few minutes because there are two people in front of me who have problems understanding the concierge. Guess where they are from! The concierge takes the piss out of them by telling his guests that they have to pay another 500 Dirham extra for their room. They both look bewildered and say that “In sis case we must change more money”. However, much to their relief the concierge finally lets them in on his joke. They immediately start to laugh insecurely but still don’t seem to get it.
Then it is my turn.
I explain my situation to him which is that check-in is obviously not before 2pm but I’m here already (8am) and that I was wondering whether I could store my luggage until then. He calms me down and asks my name. I tell him. How I would pronounce that in German or how I’d prefer to be addressed. I tell him Mike is fine. He goes, okay Mike, you know, I am from Egypt and in my country the pronounciation of Michael is similar to the German pronounciation. Whether I have ever been to Egypt, he asks me. I say, nope, unfortunately not and he says “Well, in that case there’s no room for you, sir”. Isn’t he a big joker?
After another ten minutes of endless jokes he finally checks me in.
And the conversation goes on and on and on. By all means he is as friendly as a fairy, asking me ten times how I was and if everything was alright but the best part is that he lets me into my room straight away for no extra charge. Very generous, indeed.
The porter hauls my bag to the third floor and closes my room’s door behind me. The 28 sqm appartment is very nice and for a price of about $100 per night a cheap one as well. Then it’s off to bed to make up for the lack of sleep in the airplane.
I reawake at 1pm and immediately take a walk to the next shopping mall which is about ten minutes away.Rice with cicken and vegetables. At least that’s what it looks like. When I taste a little red berry hidden among the veggies I burst into flames due to its spicy fierceness.
The rest of those mean berries are quickly arranged at a little corner of my plate. May they be offended, I don’t care.
After eating I just stroll along the corridors of the mall past numerous shops.
I leave the Gold Souq and walk to Dubai Creek watching the drive at the wharf for the dhow.
Some guys from Afghanistan are trying to sell fake rolex to me. But who buys shit like that? Credulous Germans with white legs?
I walk north along the Dubai Creek watching goods being loaded onto ships. Where is the system? How do they know what’s in all those boxes and how many boxes there are?
My plan is to walk to the northermost wharf, board a dhow and ship all the way down again to the other side. Dusk begins to fall. Once I get to the wharf there is no boat leaving. So I just lean on the ballustrade looking out over the creek and the skyline that lies past it and the skyline that lies past the skyline and so on when two Pakistani approach me and say hello. They are working here as sort of accountants and have been in Dubai for only two months. They like it a lot here, only “the heat is too hot”. After the usual small-talk they tell me that the horrible thing about Dubai is prostitution. One of them says you could get sex everywhere and all the hotels didn´t care if you ordered a prostitute to your room. If they speak out of experience, I don’t know but one of them confides to me later that he has never had a girlfriend and now being 23 years old he is a bit worried whether he could still find one. I cheer him up a bit saying the right one is sure to come and that he shouldn’t be too desperate, because if you are you’ll never find a girl, the right girl always appears when you least expect it. He seems to like that thought. One reason why he never had a girlfriend before might be that he never goes out, that is to a nightclub or something, it’s not his thing. But what do I know?
When I ask him what time it was he says he didn’t have a watch which I think is great. And then he goes “Let’s see, we finished work at 7 and we talked for about an hour so it must be around 8 now”. What a lovely answer.
At one point there is a boat at last and I jump aboard immediately. Being the only one on the boat the driver asks me 100 Dirham for the trip. Knowing the actual price I want to get off the boat again and despite his haggling and a 360 of the boat he lets me jump ashore again. So I walk down south again to the next wharf and take a dhow for 1 Dirham.
Sitting amongst locals - that are not really locals but locals for me - we cross the creek, greeting other boats, watching the light’s reflection on the water and inhaling the steamy exhausts of the boat. Save and sound on the other side I take another taxi back to the hotel and have a big helping of dinner. The food is plentiful and delicious although at one point I start to choke heavily probably for eating too greedily. The waiter looks at me panic-stricken. I just nod my head towards him and hope he understands my need for rescue breathing. I skip dessert and hury up to my room where I cough out my lungs. Then I watch some TV, leaf through the free women’s magazine and enter the land of Nod.