More Dubai

 

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I decided to walk to the Dubai Mall today. It was very, very hot, although the tall buildings provided some shade. It is well over a kilometre from the hotel, but it is an awkward distance – a bit far for a lot of people to walk, and close enough that it really annoys taxi drivers when you tell them your destination. Public transport requires train then bus, which is okay, but on the return journey the bus takes such a convoluted trip that you may as well have walked back.

Anyway, I got there and wandered in. Dubai, apart from the heat, is extremely pedestrian unfriendly. Even though mall shops border the street, you still have to walk another 100m, through the carpark, to find an entrance, then go up two flights of escalators. There are footpaths, but everything is so spread out that it deters a lot of people. In Sheik Zayed road, one of the main drags, where the hotel is, the only way across the street is via one of the train stations, spaced more than a kilometre apart. So, to go to the bar directly across the street requires a walk of over 500m. It compensates for the hotel breakfasts.

On the subject of hotel breakfasts, there is variety at the Rose Rayhaan, but it rarely changes. Pancakes alternated with waffles and hash browns with wedges, but the only other changes are the shifting of the food warmers in the line. I’m usually on a grilled cheese sandwich by day three, but I am trying to use my imagination. Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon was good, the other day.

Anyway, the mall just didn’t do it for me – I’m pretty much okay for material goods, and I wasn’t hungry, so that ruled out just about every shop. I had a look, but, without a decent bookshop, hobby shop or music shop, there was nothing to attract me. I didn’t really feel like walking back, but I did. (See above.)

The social life has been a bit gruelling. Thursday evening, the end of the working week, 10 of us went to a seafood buffet, followed by the Phillipino karaoke bar with the overtly gay compere. I didn’t inflict myself on the audience, although a few of my colleagues did, and a couple can sing a bit. We got back after 2am. Then, last night, three of us went to the Octoberfest. We found a taxi driver who knew where it was and set off. I didn’t think you could drive that far and still be in Dubai. It was at the cricket stadium. It was weird – maybe they were conserving electricity, but there were few lights on outside the stadium. We paid the exorbitant admission fee and entered. There were hundreds of expats there. It was okay, but that was about it. The band played German classics such as “Let’s twist again” (although they did play “99 red balloons”). We had half-cooked bratwurst sausages and an expensive stein of beer each and decided to bail. We ended up having the mandatory beer at the Irish bar near the hotel before bed.

I thought I might have an early night tonight, but got a phone call to go over the road to watch rugby. We encountered 2 colleagues who claimed to have been there most of the day and to have drunk 22 pints between them. We watched the end of the All Blacks Vs South Africa and just chatted.

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