Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dubai (Feb-Mar)

3-3-14 Dubai Airport

About to board for Taipei. This trip is about to come to an end, and I'm glad for it. The past three days have been nothing but expensive buffets and shopping malls, and I couldn't possibly care any less, especially since today was more of the same, in another country.

Drove to Abu Dhabi, the richest of the UAEs, this morning. Our stop was the Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque. Very opulent, very white, very grand, and somewhat strict about women dress code. I don't like it. Too blinding, too gaudy, and tried to be modern and fails at it.

Lunch was a buffet(surprise) at the Emirates Palace Hotel. Walking inside made my wallet shrivel up in fear and my bank account piss itself. It also hammered home the realization that I'm not cut out for this super luxurious stuff. Everything inside was either marble, gold, or silver. I'm told the hotel cost something like 6 BILLION dollars to build. Forget it. My luxury point is something between Best Western and Ramada. This is just too much.

Another shopping mall in the evening, this one themed around the famed Muslim traveler Ibn Battuta. He apparently went to a bunch of different countries, and thus the mall is separated into 6 differently themed sections representing the countries he visited. Actually, this mall was much more interesting than those we had previously visited, as there were many interesting educational displays set up around the mall for me to examine.

Dinner was Chinese food, and was the prelude to a long night of waiting for a 0430 flight.

Dubai in a nutshell. Natives can afford it due to government handouts. The super rich can afford it because they're super rich. The moderately rich are better off spending their money elsewhere visiting more interesting places. I can't afford it. I learned of a very unique system of government that is the base of a culture of leisure.

Would not do again.

3-2-14 Dubai

Visited the Dubai Museum this morning. Not at all impressed. Very small museum matching the country's very short history. We followed this with a visit to the gold district. I purchased what purports to be a 1907 gold eagle, mostly for the novelty, but partially to keep myself of spending the money on something stupid later on. I can always sell the coin back for the gold value.

A short stop at a nearby shopping center preceded dinner, then sleep.

3-1-14 Dubai

Visit another mall this morning. The Mall of the Emirates is a bit smaller than the Dubai mall, but still contains all the expected global brands. T seems that with the lack of historic and cultural attractions, the Emirs decided that they would make due with frivolous shopping.

Lunch was Buffet Kaleidoscope at the Atlantis Hotel. Lots of food, lots of variety, and terrible silverware. The knife would have issues cutting soft butter, let alone beef.

Lunch was followed by some sand dune off-roading in SUVs. The sand in the desert here is incredibly fine, and off-roading seems somewhat like surfing. Dinner was an outdoor BBQ affair accompanied by a man spinning around in a dress adorned with LEDs. And a belly dancer. Female, thankfully.

Sleep is going to be awesome with earplugs.

2-28-14 Dubai

Long day. I had a 10 hour flight direct to Dubai. We were originally supposed to layover in Hong Kong, but apparently they started direct flights this month. Good. Bought a belt at the airport, since my old one was in tatters.

We landed early in the morning and immediately set off for breakfast, followed by the first and, as it turned out, only stop of the day.

The Dubai Mall claims to be the largest mall in the world. 50 football fields of shopping therapy shoved into a structure also containing an aquarium and fountains galore. It's also attached to the Burj Kalifa, the tallest building in the world.

After spending a few hours wandering the entirety of the mall and purchasing a couple shirts from Express(on sale), I went up the Burj Kalifa to the observation deck on the 124th floor. This is only halfway up the tower, mind.

I don't have much to say for the view, except that I've never seen land so flat before. It is clear that the powers-that-be are nowhere near done with the city, after spotting multiple massive construction sites dotting the cityscape.

I descended the tower in a freight elevator, as the regular elevator was out.

We checked into a nice, generic hotel in a city of many well know ones. Sleep is not coming due to roommate's snoring. At least he isn't talking in his sleep.

2-22-14 Taipei

I've been back for most of the week now, falling back into monotony. Spent mst of my time playing Fire Emblem on the Gameboy. I put my pictures up online and promptly received a call from the States demanding I shave my scruffy beard. If my father can have a goddamn Afro, why can't I have a bit of scruff?

I found a Chipotle knockoff in the ZhongShao Dunhua area. With real guac. Amazing.

Still trying to find an appropriate workout routine. Swinging the kettlebell doesn't seem to be all that possible with constant traveling.

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