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..............Cindys Gallery - Photos of my Life
Holiday to Dubai, Paris, Madrid, Costa del Sol & Turkey
We're off!

A short flight to Singapore with an overnight stop, ready to catch our flight to Dubai early Friday morning. We have a bit of shopping to do in Singapore, so no time for laying about. First stop "Sim Lim Square" to see if we could find Cindy a new phone. She wants dual sim plus wifi and they don't make them, so that was a no go. She is also looking for a mono pod for her camera but they wanted $120 so she'll keep looking. I wanted some computer books which were proving hard to find until we found a "Borders" in Orchard Road. Our hotel is new, situated in "Little India" just behind the Hindu Temple in Serangoon Road. Cheap, clean but with little else going on. We had tea in a small Indian vegetarian resturant and then went up to Mustafa's Emporium to see if we could find Cindy's monopod. The place has about 5 floors but it also has 3 basements, the lower one of which goes under the road to another part of the store. It has everything, but not like a modern department store, its like going back in time. It is open 24 hours and at 10pm it was packed with Indian workers buying goods to take back home. I found the watch strap replacement counter and for the princely sum of $9 had a new Italian leather strap fitted.

We were up at 6am and walking up Sera'ngoon Road at 6.50 looking for a taxi to the airport. The traffic was light and I had an uneasy feeling that taxis were going to be hard to find, but a moment later 2 come around the corner and we were on our way to Changi Airport. We had another very ordinary breakfast at Deli France, I must stop eating there, before boarding our Emirates flight to Dubai.

Note: Click on Images to Enlarge

Indian Temple Seragoon Road

The flight was great, food OK nothing to complain about (which is rare for me these days). As we approached Dubai airport we came in over the desert with little more than the odd palm tree to break the landscape. We plan to drive out to the east coast of the UAE (United Arab Emirates) to see more of the country. On arrival in Dubai the airport is quite modern, but has that feeling that it's run by the government. Large halls, lots of marble but bare, no plants and lacking a "woman's touch". We queue at immigration while young immigration staff who appear to have little interest in their job, chat amongst themselves with no concern for the waiting visitors. They are all men, dressed in traditional dress, a long white tunic with a matching head dress held on with a black cord.
Departing Singapore
Arabian Courtyard Hotel
Entrance to Al Fahidi Fort
There is no customs check and we are soon out in the arrival hall to meet our hotel pick-up. As we follow the guy out of the airport the reality of the captain's comment soon before our arrival hits home. "We are soon to land at Dubai Airport the local time is 1.30pm and the temperature is 46c". That's in the shade, we are used to heat but this is something different altogether, must be like "Hell's Waiting Room". The ride into town only takes 15 minutes and we soon arrive at our hotel "Arabian Courtyard Hotel", it got great reviews on Trip Advisor and is cheap. We are paying A$120 per night to stay on the Club Floor which includes access to the Club Lounge, breakfast, plus food all day and 3 alcoholic drinks each between 6-8.30 pm. This is important, wine here is very expensive, about $100 per bottle, so 6 drinks is about a bottle, plus the food means the room is free! Well that's the way I look at it. Our room is great, large has a sitting area with a couch and full of antique furniture, plus free wi-fi, what more could you ask.
Sheikh Saeed House
We venture out of the hotel about 4pm. As we are in the center of town we can walk to many attractions including the Souk (market) which is very close. Within 10 minutes of leaving the hotel the heat is already sapping our energy. It is so hot you almost panic that you may not be able to cope. We pass the central Mosque and the call to prayer is sounding out, it echos all over the city. Today being Friday, the main day to visit the Mosque, the streets are full of men heading to do one of their 5 daily prayer sessions. We dive under cover to get some shade in the Souk but it is still hot, you can feel the heat radiating out of the buildings, pavements and roofs. The stalls are beginning to open up but in this heat even Cindy is not taking much notice. After about 2 hours we head back to the hotel and air-conditioning via the Al Fahidi Fort.
Al Fahidi Fort
Al Fahidi Fort
A quick shower and off to the lounge for Horse's Duvers and our free drinks. Well it was a quick shower for me, women always take so long, they HAVE to wash their hair and they they must have the shampoo in the latest Ad. I came across a book the other day that described modern SHAMPOO just right.

I quote: Wash your hair with this chemical gloop - which we've called oxycortiferogerontizine although you will know it better as "donkey widdle"- and it'll have more 'body'. Later it will fall out, giving your carpet more 'body'. Hair ads are the only places left, apart from crack dens, where you can still boast about how many chemicals you've put it something. And who are all these scientists in science labs, working day and night to invent shinier hair? No wonder there isn't a cure for the common cold. "Sorry Mrs Smith, your husband is going to die of Lassa fever but good news! We've cleared up his dandruff".

I digress, where were we , oh yes "Hell's Waiting Room". There are not many people in the lounge, an English couple talking on Skype to folks back home, a German couple who don't seem to have much say to one another and 2 guys talking about Afghanistan. Turns out they are both on R&R and work for NGO's in Kabul. As I have spent time in Afghanistan I'm keen to hear how the place is going. The news is not good, security is a problem, they both said eating out is a hurried affair, basically keep moving don't spend too long in one place. That and constant searches by the Afghan police who don't believe that (being European) they aren't armed, make life difficult.

Dhow awaiting passengers
Dhows for hire
Dubai Creek

The next morning we head off early hoping to beat the heat. Ha ha, it was up earlier than us, by 9am it must have been 42c. We walk down to the Dubai Creek that runs through the city center, visting the attractions marked on our map. It was like playing hunt the shadow, how can we get from here to there without walking in the sun?. We crossed the creek on an over crowded Dhow (boat) full of men, sitting on the vinyl covered seats that had been baking in the sun. By the time we docked on the other side my bum was nearly cooked and felt very ordinary, I know, too much information. More walking brought us to the Gold Souk which must be on the tourist route as there were lots of Americans waving fans and sipping on Coca Cola. This is the only country where I have seen air-conditioned bus shelters, but rightly so, you could die waiting for a bus in this heat.

Wadi Mall
Dining at Wadi
Stained glass celing
By now the temperature was 46c (felt more like 56c) and Cindy had had enough so we flagged down a cab and had him take us to the Wadi Mall. Apart from being air-conditioned it was time for a much needed drink and some lunch. Everything in Dubai is over the top, Wadi Mall was filled with those shops that require a personal loan before you enter. Shops that sell handbags, but there are only 20 in the store and an armed guard to make sure you pay for them. The only women we saw were like penguins, black shapes drifting by with just the hint of a slit where their eyes should be. I don't have a problem with women wearing long black robes but covering their faces steals there identity, they become "it" rather than "her". The other thing that was confusing was the shops selling sexy underwear, it was hard to imagine that under all those black outfits and veils was a woman wearing a "G" string. Not that I'm a fan of G strings, you have to be under 18 to look good in one and much passed that most women's bums look like an orange trying to escape through a hole in string bag.
Stained Glass Pyramid
Road to Hatta
Looking over Hatta

The next morning our rental car arrived at 8am and we headed out of Dubai looking for the desert. We were going to Hatta about 2 hours drive once we cleared the city. Not far out the sand dunes began to appear but so did the power lines. Eeverywhere you pointed a camera there they were. We found Hatta but the fort we had come to see was not very exciting. Climbing to the top of a hill we had a good view over the town, even though the climb up nearly killed us. It was now that Cindy's sandals decided to pack it in, first one sole came off then the other, it was so hot the glue just melted. Next we headed to the west coast which would take us through Oman. We had brought our passports but when we got to the border, there was a long queue standing in the sun waiting at a small window. Checking the map we decided to take another route through the hills and bypass Oman. The road was a spectacular climb through rocky hills that had no vegetation visable, it reminded me of Iran. Finally we descended to the coastal flats that border the Gulf of Oman. The towns of Kalba and Fujairah were spread along the coast. From the air they had looked like a desert oasis, but up close it was a mix match of the old rundown buildings and mansions built with no regard to cost. We stopped at a local mall for lunch and this one was anything but flash. We started to have a walk around but Cindy's soleless shoes made a loud clacking noise when she walked. What you notice here is that all the workers are foreign, Phillipino's, Pakistani's or Westeners, there are actually more foreigners in the Emirates than Emiraties.

Sand Dunes
We head out of town and back into the desert, stopping at Wasafi to buy some fruit and fresh dates. Finally we see the sight Cindy has been looking for, sand dunes and camels, she is out of the car in a flash. No sooner has she got within camera range when they look up, giving her the "what do you want" look, then turn away trudging over the nearest sand dune. She got her shot, so it was mission accomplished. The desert just rolls away into the distance, some of the small villages look hot and desolate with sand drifts everywhere. As we approach one village we are hit by a sandstorm, as if from nowhere, it filled the air with sand. I had to almost stop as visibility was only a few feet, sand was hitting the car and coating the windows. Five minutes later it left as if it had never happened! We crested a rise to see the Arabian Gulf ahead, we were back on the west coast north of Dubai. The run back into Dubai was a little confusing, I got lost having thought we were closer to the town center than we actually were. After 3 laps of our hotel I finally found my way through the one way streets and pulled up out front. A very large Indian doorman in a red turban opened the car door and quickly took control waving us away like flies, while the car was whisked of to the garage.

Our last day was spent at Dubai Mall which has 1,200 shops an ice skating rink and a huge walk-through aquarium complete with big sharks. What can you say except "why do we have to spend so much money just so people can shop?" The Roman empire was guilty of spending so much money on staging its Games to see gladiators fight, that their empire finally crumbled. They say history repeats itself, our downfall could be Shopping Malls! We checked into our Emirates flight from Dubai to Paris to find we were flying on the new Airbus A380 jet liner. We were flying zoo class so not on the upperdeck, but even so, we were a long way off the ground. The engines went full throttle and we started our take off roll with me muttering "how the hell is this thing going to get of the ground" but it did. The flight was so smooth, over 200 movies to choose from, we were in row 79 and there was still another whole section behind us.

Continued on Next Page Paris here we come