With Mrs B being worked to the bone recently we swapped our normal March/April ski trip for a trip to the sun of Dubai, for some much needed rest and relaxation. The fact that we then managed to ruin this by filling our time with balloon trips, desert safaris and city tours, which resulted in early starts (3am for one of them) and late nights may have scuppered the rest bit of the holiday, but at least we had a good time.
We had the normal interesting fun at the airport. Usually it is our main luggage that causes a problem as we take far too much with us (most of which is invariably never used) but having trimmed down the main luggage for once it was my new camera and equipment that let me down. The problem with high-end photo equipment is that it is heavy and since I was not going to risk putting it in the hold it made my hand luggage twice the permitted allowance for Virgin Airlines. Not a problem unless they insist on weighing the hand luggage……..which of course they did. Doh!
When I explained that I was concerned about putting the camera equipment in the hold the lady running the check-in desk called her supervisor. For once we came across someone in a bit of authority who was prepared to be reasonable:
Virgin Supervisor - “Is this for professional use Sir?”
Me – Looking quizzical
Virgin Supervisor - “Because if it was then I’m sure we could resolve this” (I’m not sure but I think she might have said it with a big wink)
Me – “Oh yes” I said rather robotically “It is for professional use”
Rather ironically when we visited Wild Wadi (Dubai’s water world park) I was asked by Security if it was a professional camera. Fortunately I played the modesty card and said “No” which was just as well as they threatened to throw me out if they thought it was for professional use. Just as well they don't cross check their information with Virgin airways
Having safely made it to Dubai we were surprised to discover a few things:
• It currently appears to be one huge building site.
- The oil is running out and is expected to be gone in 10 years. So in an attempt to salvage a future for them the Emirates are trying to build a kind of Vegas of Arabia. They certainly have the weather for it but even as a non-drinker myself I can see that not serving alcohol outside of the very expensive Western hotels may cause them a few problems attracting 90% of European holiday makers.
- The scale of the place is so large that even the world’s tallest building often manages to get lost.
• We have never seen so many Russians in our lives.
- True we have never been to Russia but I have a feeling that if we did visit there now there are not many at home at the moment, most of them are either staying in our hotel or on the various trips we signed up for.
• You can actually ski in Dubai.
- OK so it’s indoor skiing but it is on real snow. Having missed out on a ski trip we thought we would take advantage. Besides how many people can say they have skied in the Middle East? If by chance you find yourself skiing in Dubai and end up on a chairlift with an elderly Australian gentleman in a powder blue ski suit, try and avoid saying that you were bored after the second run when he asks you if you are enjoying the skiing and if you do, don’t ask him what he is doing in Dubai. It makes it very embarrassing when he says that he manages the ski slope.
- Not only do they sell time on the slopes but they also sell “Flights” on the chair lift – watching people going round and round on a chairlift some of them in full Arab dress is hilarious.
- We had never seen a Russian ski before and if the example we came across in Dubaiski is anything to go by we never want to meet one again. The style, if it could be described as such, was “demented” with windmill arms and jerky hip movement. All very unpleasant and unnecessary.
• Tinted car windows.
- Non UAE residents are allowed to have blacked out windows up to around 30%. While Emirate nationals seem to be able to have a tint of 100% on their car windows. If you want to survive for any length of time in the UAE try and avoid stepping in front of the cars with Labradors fixed to the bonnets and never except lifts from them after dark.....
• The Emirates claim that there is no crime in UAE.
- Have they not seen some of the clothes the Russians are wearing? Total crime against fashion and that was just the men……
• Although we have seen the Burka before, never in such numbers, which got me thinking about the clothes that many Arab women wear …….
- Why do so many Arab men wear western dress, including tight swimming trunks, yet seem to force their wives to cover up everything except their eyes? Are they that ashamed of their choices? Personally having seen some of the men draped around our hotel swimming pool I think some of them should be forced to cover up from head to toe themselves.
- When walking around a shopping centre I often struggle to spot Mrs B in the crowd - how do the Arabs spot their wife? Which also begs the question how often do they accidentally take the wrong wife home? Perhaps that’s an idea that I could pitch in the Dragons Den - a personalised wife locator for Arabs….
- The number of times I can’t remember what Mrs B is wearing (in my defence I often couldn’t tell you what I’m wearing without looking) maybe then Arabs have it right. It would certainly save the problems of getting the “What was I wearing?” question wrong “Hmmm, was it that all over black number?” leaving just the equally tricky “Does my bum look big in this?” statement to deal with.
- Do Arab women get embarrassed when they turn up to a function wearing the same dress as each other? Perhaps that’s why they use the veil so people can’t tell……
Mrs B home from the "Mall of the Emirates"
A big thank you to our friends Kirsty and Joe for not only looking after McG and Mischief while we were away but also for dropping us off and picking us up from the airport, much appreciated.
A letter to a houseguest -The do’s and don'ts of being a perfect guest
Dear house guest, believe it or not we do like seeing you and your company, these points are made to avoid your friends feeling that they are being taken for granted and hope that while this allows them to vent their feelings rather than letting them fester, it does not cause a rift in a good friendship.
- If you are staying at someone’s house for an extended period, do remember to give your hostess a small gift, nothing over the top just some flowers will do, especially if your hostesses birthday falls during your stay….
- If your hosts have given over the use of a car for you, it would be a good idea to return it with a full tank of petrol and clean - especially when it was handed over full and clean in the first place. If you have forgotten try and take the hint when your host fills up on the way to dropping you off at the airport.
- If you borrow a mutual friend’s bike during your stay it is a good idea to return it, not spend two weeks saying I must return that bike and then leave it in your hosts’ garage…
- By all means offer to cook your hosts a thank you meal but avoid forgetting to do it, especially when you make the kind offer in the morning with the result that your hosts don’t get anything in for dinner that evening.
- If you have borrowed a book on a previous visit, bringing it back with you and then taking it away again is just cruel especially when your host has not read it and was looking forward to taking it with them on their trip to Dubai.
on the positive side
- Entertaining your hosts by falling off the borrowed bike in a comical fashion is always going to be a winner. If you can manage to do it more than once in the same ride, all the better.
- Offering to and actually installing some new electrical sockets, was very much appreciated, especially when your host is not a big fan of D.I .Y – Check out the shed drain pipe which still lies horizontal and unlike the British economy has not taken a down turn since the shed was installed over two years later.
That’s it for another BlackLOG I thought I would leave you with some more shots of Dubai
managed to get stuck halfway down, most embarressing
the tyres before we drove onto the dunes
trip, apart from having to get up at 3am that is.
the closest we came. I certainly didn't
order any strange named meat off restaurant menus,
the thought of eating roast Fido or grilled fluffy was a bit much.