Las Vegas on steroids. Take away the casinos and titty bars and replace them with office buildings and mosques and you have the UAE.
They do everything big here, BIG. Yesterday I as on a 12 lane freeway. No typo, 12 lanes. Dubai is BIG geographically and vertically. Everywhere you look you see another architects wet dream come true. There are buildings here that a professor of architecture would laugh out of class as being “too fanciful”. But somehow they work in this setting. I mentioned the airport in my last post, yes, it too is fanciful, and very functional. We arrived on an Emirates Boeing triple 7, loaded. We were thru immigration and customs in less time than it takes the Aeroperlas folks to get your bags thru that little door.
The national bird of the UAE is the Crane. I don’t mean the long legged beauty in a swamp. I mean the type builders use. Look up in the sky and you will see one. They are still building BIG buildings. Some of the prettiest buildings are the mosques. There are more mosques to be found here than there are bars in Vegas, let alone titty bars.
I use Vegas as my comparison because the desert here resembles the desert around Vegas more than anywhere else I have been. Mary Ann and I went out into the desert yesterday as tourists. We took the Desert Safari Tour. It included dune bashing. Dune bashing is where they take 1/2 the air out of the tires (spelt Tyres here, damn brits) and drive you at often 45 degree angles up and down sand dunes at high speed. When it was over Mary Ann and I just looked at each other and said “just like ride back from Cayo de Agua on a bad day.” Then the tour took us to a place where we could ride a camel, see Mary Ann’s facebook page. We smoked ‘hubbly-bubbly’. It was wonderful. Then we had an exhibition of Arabian dervish type dancing, a BBQ of kabobs, and then belly dancing. Very touristy, but fun none-the-less. There were maybe 200 people in attendance, and as far as we could tell, there were maybe one other American couple. Tourism here is popular, with Europeans. Americans watch too much Fox news.
Cars… I expected more. No not more cars, geesh, there are soooo many cars. The traffic is quite heavy at peak hours and just heavy at other times. What I mean is, I have only seen one Bentley so far. Not a single Rolls. Not a Porsche. Yeah, Mercedes are in abundance, but for the most part they drive Japanese and European cars.
Electronics…I left my IPOD in NYC, bummer. So I looked for a new one. I was led to believe that electronics were far cheaper here. No way. LA prices.
Sunglasses…I also lost my sunglasses along the way. Yes, you need sunglasses here, duh. Well, THEY know that, and there are no deals on Okleys or Ray Bans, let me tell you. I settled for a pair of cheapos from the closest thing to a Walmart.
People….only 20% of the population in the UAE are Emirates. Imagine if only 20% of the population of the USA were Americans. (On the other hand, imagine if only 20% of the population of Panama were Panamanian, but that is behind me now) The rest are made up of working class Indians, Philipinos, Afghanis, Turks and some white folk. Not many Americans tho. (Fox news is turning the USA into a land of fear) The Emiratis (as far as I can tell) are usually wearing the white robes and head dresses. Indians wear what they wear in India, more color. And everyone else dresses like they do back home. THEY ALL SPEAK ENGLISH. I can actually thank the brits for that one, but sometimes I wish they spoke American. Have you ever seen a Dunkin Donuts sign spelled Dunking Doughnuts? Next to the hotel is one of those, a Pizza hut and a KFC. I am afraid that the 30 pounds I lost in Bocas is waiting to find me here in the UAE. It will take a lot of will not to fast food myself back up to 210 lbs.
Cigs…about $2.50 a pack, and brands I have never seen before, including what seem to be brit cigs (pass). Marlboros, yes, Reds, whites, Blues, Silvers, Golds. I tried the silvers, pretty good. Golds next. Then maybe some “off brands”.
Food…any kind you want. Grocery store prices are less than in the Chinos, and they have SELECTIONS. In one store there must have been 20 different types (not brands, types) of rice.
And finally… no friggen bugs. NO GOD DAMN CHITRAS.
So, yes, so far so very good. I am about to go have a a couple of fresh dates on my balcony overlooking the gulf. And I wont need any bug spray.