Archive for September, 2009

Onto Dubai Again Never Go Backwards Against Time

September 11, 2009

Well so the weather had had it out for me and so it was to be for the beginning of the trip to the U.A.E.  The stewardess from Seville on the plane the fabulously appointed Emirates air jet reminded me that it was humid in August in this Emirate and so it was .  When I got off the plane this far going goer had to catch his breath and was not even set up to enjoy the passport control semi inquisistion on the way in.  The new airport had been finished since last August’s visit and the columns were glittering schmaltz like the nightime sky in the plane I had just left when the onboard lights had been turned off.   No problem, I picked up my bag which had been checked through and went to the hotel office which was in a new space coughing {and another tourist a  woman said “are you sure you don’t have the h141?’ and “who let you in?” I wanted to return in question for the anwer- but I am on my best behaivior in the Emirates and just booked my stay at the hotel Delman again and I was off (though my Emerati currency which I had left over from my prior was not enough and I covered it in dollars)}.

I checked into a nice room and dropped down it was the middle of the night and turned on the BBC to hear an endless tape loop about the elections in Afghanistan (which is very poppylated) and the possibly to be released Libyan Al Megrahi).  A Longines watch which I got after many years it had been ticking in a bucket on top of pennies and other small increments of America currency had been stopping and  and first I had to change the time in Frankfurt and then in Dubai and so now I sped it ahead and and when I went  too far I spun it  it back and it broke and then I found a small earing on the floor which might have been a diamond (but probably not and thought that the genie must have spoken).

I slept all night and got to breakfest late so the lady let me on that day dine for free (love the chicken sausages).  I went back up and continued to watch the tape loop and read the gulf news which I had picked up in the lobby where the free Arabian coffee from last time was now gone.

Finally late in the afternoon I gathered my ambition and my stregnth and cabbed it over to the new Mall of Dubai and immediately sat down set  on penning my “Emirates shopping mall poem” picking a seating area where a whole admix of foriegn nationals rested and socialized.  There was an aquarium here but somehow seeing Arabs in robes and bhurkas staring at sealife when I had seen people staring at it other endless aquazones did not pull me in and it would only be another day until I would see Russians pondering other fish at the Atlantis on the man made Island sandbar Jumeriah palm as it is  known.

Meanwhile I had to do what I always do nowadays immediatley try to repurchase whatever item I had just lost or ruined on ebay so as not to loose my loose grip on my momentarily self-created identity.  I was successful; and purchased a 1963 longines watch with gold numbers which now that Iam in posession of it surely as it stopped running almost immediately seems to be a fake (will email the seller through ebay after this blogging which means soon who then assured me it only had to be shaked to work and so it is true and that after all I bought it “as is” and so it just needs to be wound or motion stimulated).

But before going to the computer store and staying on one of their laptops for hours I saw an ellipse above a  Roberto Cavali store and wouldn’t go into until I had gone all the way round without going backwards which meant having a macchiato at twelve  o’clock in mall atrium pedestrian placement time  before descending into the second rate Versace’s outpost and explaining that I was only a browser which did not light up their eyes.  I did not go backwards before completing a circle because I realized that the lesson now was never to go backwards against time.

Later I left saw the Burj al Dubai against the nightitme sky  getting a cab from the long line of taxis parked next to the Galleries Lafayette  department store and went back to the hotel blogged and went back to my room and watched the news.

The next day I got up had breakfest again went back to the room booked a trip the following day to the Eastern Emirates of the U.A.E and the Omani enclave within their grasp went back to sleep got up later and went over to the Atlantis Resort hotel theme park attraction on Jumerah Palm island which I had practised visiting by visiting the Atlantis on Paradise Island in what was it April (not to mention watching the most expensive fireworks in history which went along with its’ gala opening over and over on  youtube where the fans and strands of pyrotechnics went along with the shape of the mega deposits of sand dumped back into the sea which eroded their forefather stones shells to begin with first).

I would have gladly surrendered the dihrams to go sliding on aqua slides through whatever mythical land Sol Kerzner had transported to Arabian Shores had not my breathing made it impossible.  Instead Iwalked through watching Arabs and Russians scan the sealife before them and settled for a hugely overpriced cappucino at a  French Bistro and watched the endless parade of Russkis taking a summer break which for the Romans would be Ferrogosto when they come some of them and ride the double decker buses in Manhattan and make lots of noise and I say “Sotto Voce… Sotto Voce..” which of course I picked up from Tom Wolfe.

Afterwards  this blogger cabbed it over to the Mall of the Emirates where  he  had gone skiing on his first jaunt to the Emirates with the  initial intention of having a drink in the lobby bar of the Hotel Kempinski lobby bar and when he found there was really no such animal he settled for a thin blue and silver hotel pen to make peace with the experience.

Once inside he wandered around first stopping at the Virgin Mega Store (which while listening to Morbid on the music selection listening staion he renamed the forty virgin megastore “Virgin reccomends Virgins” but as we will hear a little later Virgin doesn’t necessarily reccomend seconds) for through the music he hoped to rev up his engines.  Soon he was off trying to fufill his goal of having lots of coffee in lots of places and he distinctly remembering the Cafe Havanna to the side of an escacaltor’s final landing and in sight of the ski hill construct of Ski Dubai he went over there for what he hoped would be strong Cuban Coffee. They had no bean from Castro’s farms but Turkish was on order and they were having a piece of cake and Java special from which the writer partook (here I am starting to sound like “”The Man for All Seasonings”).

Then he finally went up to the top level of the mall and down its one side stret to where he had marveled at a Dolce & Gabbana inmate fetish quote almost exactly a year ago and stopped at Ralph Lauren Polo to see the large Swoops and horses allover the shirts which surely made one look like a Target (and thought how he had left his own orange and yellow one which made him look like a leisure time road worker at home).

Later down at Borders he saw a  sign that Thaksin Shinawatra the exiled Prime Minister of Thailand would be doing a book signing there the following night which should be just after when he was returning from the tour of the Eastern Emirates and the Omani enclave and he resolved  to attend.

At some point he also inquired a the Thrifty car rental desk in the mall about renting a car which he found was rather easy but then decided would be against his better judgement as he was there alone and not feeling all that well at the time.

So again he cabbed it back to the hotel and heard some political mumbo jumbo about Pakistan (the driver said it was better to like everybody otherwise your throat might be cut in the morning).  So once back he relaxed for the early morning pickup which would be at the Taj Palace  (across from the Delman) where he had been picked up for the Desert Safari on the last visit last August last time.

I was picked up by a minivan which took  us (I and a few other tourists) to a roundup of minvans in a parking lot which eventually accounted for the 21 passengers who would be on the bus.  The tour guide was a pleasant if not intermittently swarmy Sri Lankan man who had all the attributes of the well documented over the ages confabulated tour guide persona( “when I was living working and scuba diving in the Maldives or the Seychelles…” perhaps) and he gave the tour in both English and German.  The tour would bring us to several of the Emirates including Sharjah, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, and as a bonus briefly into the Omani enclave.  Soon we were going across to Sarjah which is very close to Dubai and through something called a freezone the tour guide told us how it is much cheaper to live in this emirate than in Duabi but that it is dry no alchohol no alcohol that is even for tourists and if you get caught your not getting an appearance ticket you are going to jail.  He gave us the lowdown of how we would be traveling through which emirates and not that long later we were in Ras al-Khaimah for a “Friday Market’ whch are open on other days but friday but friday refers to the sabbath day kept in the muslim world friday is for they what Sunday is in the west or Saturday for Jews.

Bangaladeshi fruit stall owners descended on you as soon as your departed from the tour bus.. I immediatley chose a clump of lychees and had fun cracking their thin sells open devouring their flesh and discarding the pits.

We got back in and soon we were coming around past the source of Masafi bottled water which according to our tour guide was to paraphrase the Perrier of the UAE and saw all the largess the water company bestowed on their neighbors such as the small but ample Masafi stadium.     Then we came to some small mountains which were colored sort of a  hot desert muted red and got out to see smaples of rocks such as Mica and copper.  The tour guide enlightened this blogger as to Mica being used for solar panels and later back at the tour guide terminal “the man for all seasonings “..was astonished that they had besides black gold the source material for converting energy from the sun into power for humans and others as well.

Meanwhile I got to meet some of my fellow travelers as usual people on a layover or stopover here two Scots who were living in Lockerbie I was talking to this time who since they went away did not know that the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing had been released (though they such a deal might be in the offing).  They were flabbergasted as was much of the Western world but there seemed to be a lot of deal making going on and the real people living and dead seeemd as usual to somehow get lost.

Finally, we came down out of the mountains and were on the coast and the Emirates had enclaves and it was explained that before oil Sarjah was perhaps the most powerful enirate and thus they had land allover the place so we shuttled betwen Sarjah, the Omani enclave , and then Fujairah.  The company had said bring your passport because sometimes the Omani officials will check it (but not in this instance) though this part of Oman is not contigous to the main nation.  We past around a lot of traffic circles with Dolphins and sharks , and magic lamps during the coastal part of the tour and the visit to Oman was very brief and there was really nothing to signify that I had been to Oman other than that this tourist was told that he was now in Oman.

Later in Fujairah we visited a hotel called Sandy Beach on the Indian Ocean for lunch and for swimming.  I decided not to eat and enjoy the pool and do yoga moves while floating and this loosened my muscles and all of a sudden I felt sort of alright and an Austrailian woman told me why didn’t I also visit my hotel pool (which at the Delman is on the roof).

I swam in the pool heard more Russians in the abound and also took a dip into the Indian Ocan here in the lagoon  even thought they told me there was a Rea Algae alert.

This was sort of the zenith of the tour though we later visited what was said to be the oldest mosque in the UAE later (but only the outside for the inside was reserved for Muslims only) and past a sand spit out into the sea island supposedly inspired by those big jobs in Dubai but it hadn’t really been developed and just looked a little bit like Robert Smithson’s spiral Jetty in sand.

When it was time to get off the bus I asked the guide to let me off perhaps at the mall of the Emirates and he told me to get off at the Alcazar hotel and cab it over there (which brought back the palace in Seville the  image of seen so many years before by these eyes in Andalucia was still fresh after talking to the stewardess on the flight in from Frankfurt).  so I did walked around saw a giant black doorman and copies of the famous horses wandered around outside and looked at the Persian Gulf and then cabbed it over to meet Mr.  Thaskin the exiled Prime minister of Thailand.

In the meantime it was a bit early and I walked the mall going by the free date promotion from Royal Crown (dates) and enjoying them and wlaking through some prefume stores to choose a new emblmatic fragrance to savor and this trips’ winner was La Nuit De L’Homme by Yves Saint Laurent (which is apparently not available in the U.S yet).

So after browsing one store which had moving sidewalks running through it like an airport and seating also evoking a terminal this mall historian made his way back to Borders and found that the Prime Minister was late and meanwhile one seemingly prominent Emirati asked for my table in the cafe for his group was large and I of course obliged.  This writer made his way to the seating area and met a French woman who had lived in Thailand and some Fillipinas whom he had thought were Thai but later found out were Fillipinas.

Eventually the former Prime Minister and ex-owner of the Manchester United Football squad arrived and and was quite pleasant greeting the small crowd as several including I stood up to shake his hand.  I had purchased his book (published in the U.A.E) earlier as to have it signed and after he iterated how he had performed an economic miracle in the formenr Siam and that he could do the same for the world if the planet just let him (via putting capital in the hands of individuals on a mass scale and encouraging them to seek wealth as if to paraphrase ) he signed my copy.  I asked him to sign my copy in Thai  as well(as he had for several Thais in attendance) and since I was not Thai he did not do so.  He and the the large security guard behind me thanked this this blogger and he was back off into the precincts of the mall.

The next day he slept the entire day only emerging for meal once this in this 24 hour period and that was  had at a neighboring hotel and then  he to tried to go to the Palazzo Versace on Dubai Creek that he’s been reading about back in the States but to no avail after calling some palce named Versailles he googled and saw that it was still under construction so he returned to his room to rest for the next days journey to Abu Dhabi.  Later I found out that there was a Roberto Cavlai restaraunt/nightclub in the Emirate and this shopping mall poet wished that he known this all along.

So then this day being almost gone he went over to a neighboring hotel so as to have a different buffet including the highlight of lamb in  yogurt and though more expensive it was quite pleasant as beign in sight of a winding stone staircase where a fountain of water wound down around from and as if it were a snake I was charmed.

So briefly this blogger thought of making it over to the Marriot in two parts crossed by a skybridge but decided to rest.   He also inquired about making a bus to Abu Dhabi (since the only tours there as I forgot to inform you earlier in this posting were “a Capital City” on Wendesday which I had missed by a few hours even coming close to making  and though they had it listed as going out twice in the current economy it was going out once).  Meanwhile I had changed my room a day back as this guest was asked to voluntarirly surrender his room so it could become the place for prayer during Ramadan Kareem and in doing so he got the second of three free Breakfests which would be awarded to him during and after the trip plus a room discount.

So the next morning having been warned to take a large bus he got a ticket where the taxi dropped him off and it wound up being for a van where he should have taken the front seat but not moving fast enough got the next row back behind the driver and wound up sitting next to an Asian woman who took a handkerchief to avoid the smell fo what must have been Arabian foot or body odor which I didn’t smell much as the van made its way along the coast getting a view of the skyline and many projects underway in Dubai and then as we approached Abu Dhabi. There several large projects with some of the large unusal buildings which I had seen in pctures at architectural symposiums on the forthcoming architecture of the Emirates in Manhattan, such as the Yas Hotel, and Ferrari World  part of the Alador Corporation Yas Island development, The Capitol Gate Tower Hotel (supposedly to be when completed the worlds  tallest leaning Tower Hotel) and most impressively the new Alador headquarters itself which is a huge glass circle standing upright which in turn like a tetrahedron contributing to other shapes then in turn breaks back down into triangles.

So after passing the offices for the Sorbonne UAE and letting off a afew voyagers we pulled into the central bus station which luckily was next to a shopping mall.  Having been out in the mall before Ramadan I had not really adventured out during the day during Ramadan since the last day I had  been out during  the day was the day before Ramadan.  But now here I was and all the food and drink places were closed but luckily a chocolate store was open and a Chienese woman though she wasn’t supposed to sneaked me a bottle of water in a shopping bag and I went upstairs and bought a book and a map and decided I would try to make heads or tails of where I was via the map and find Saadiyat Island where they are to be building the Guggenheim and the new Louvre respectively by Frank Ghehrys and Jean nouvel as well as a cultural center by Zaha Hadid and a museum dedicated to Abu Dhabi’s connection to the sea and its maritime history by Tado Ando.  So buying a bottle of water at a time and sustaining nasty looks I kept going with water gotten at groceries usally owned by Indians or Bangaladeshis I walked towards what I knew was the sea made one stop near a Marks & Spencers where a European big wig waltzed in and there was a sign for women and their drivers and tried to walked twoards the tower with what seemed to be a giant golf ball driven into cemtent onto it atop.  I got to the waterfront and across was the a beautiful  unharmed strech of beach where  could be worn the bhurkas made from materials which are suitable for swimming which I spied at the watersports store run by asians in the first mall by which I had been let off.

Meanwhile before I had gotten to the waterfront and its tiled esplanade this writer had stopped at a Jewelry souk to see if the tiny earing he had found in his hotel the room which had been surrendered to become the prayer place for hotel guests during Ramadan Kareem was worth anything and the jeweler used a device and renedered a decision that it was not.  But here I am on the espalanade and I took out dihram coins and risked having a coke which was flavored by lemon and sat by fountains and doused myself in water and kept walking and then saw the fishing boats which the photographer Daniela Sessa had taken pictures of which she had shown me while we were all involved in our would be tour guide limousine buisness disaster.

So then I made all the way down walked over saw a funny building project saw it was for a private concern and then walked back across again another highway and wound up in the vegtable market which was supposed to be across from the island where they are to build the museums as well as the Persian Gulf campus of NYU and the shoreline was still blocked and so I kept walking and wound up in a freight storage area where a sign threatened that if you used an unoccupied space for your own cargo and it was found out it would be removed and there was a health clinic within these grounds and then this blogger decided he would not be able to gain sight of what he wanted to see and there was no bridge and so he walked back to a corner back by the main road and no cab would pick him up guessing due to the undesirable location in which he was standing and he might have tried to make it over to the Emirates Palace which he hadn’t seen but he was tired and when from afar he saw a cab driver who had pulled up to an onion seller’s location he made small talk and arranged for a voyage back to the main main bus station to go back to Dubai.

He was lucky and got a back seat on a big bus and when he got back he got juice and water and in the cab he got the cab driver asked him what country he was from? andf he said the us and why? because here it is ramadan and we do not drink water in public you can do what you want in a hotel room and so I drank not another sip got to my hotel and gave him no tip.

This was very well the end of the trip (I thought about walking over to the marriot but did not) then I emailed my freind and fellow tour guide Max Naegeli that I had met Thaskin the former prime minister of thailand and he said to get him a present from Dubai and I decided to oblige since he had gotten me a series of trinkets from Siam where once we had had mango pizza and I had said  that things were what they were and a leaf had fallen on me in the outdoor courtyard of a cafe.   I decided to go to the airport very early by prearranged transport van and after a night of sleeping had breakfest and prepared to depart.

Once at the airport I found out that I would be having a long layover in Switzerland and that probably  this traveler would need to get a hotel.   Meanwhile at the phone recharge station after buying Max a camel and shedding a few pounds he met a Indian Muslim man living in Saudi Arabia who explained marriage in his world and working in the kingdom.   Soon it was time to board and on the flight the movies did not work and the arm-rest for the exit-row seat fell down but I finally saw the sand Islands of the world formation of Dubai from the sky and the Swiss man next to me said that it would  “probably never be finished”

The World Islands of Dubai by Andreas Gursky

. Meanwhile I saw Saudi Arabia, followed by Jordan, Syria, and Turkey from up on high ( they flew in Saudi territory along the Iraqi border and never once went over into the latter’s air space as well as avoiding Lebanon and Israel did not exist on the onboard navigation screen and the area instead was marked with the word Gaza).  The Emirates air stewardess who sat in front of me during takeoff and landing was a beautiful Kenyan and we talked about that nation which I have always wanted to visit