Thursday, 12 November 2009

Dubai...where do I even begin...


And a good evening to you from across the Pond on a VERY WET day in the Mother Country. Okay, so apologies for no blog last night, but as we got in late and I was still fighting with "Terry the Tapeworm" (yep, he's got a name now since he's a permanent guest), I thought it better to start over today and give you the recap.
Dubai - WOW. Okay, I must confess that I assumed Dubai was "Singapore in the Desert" That was more than a bit incorrect. This isn't a place where East meets West. It's a place where East and West try to avoid each other but collide into each other on a regular basis, often in shopping malls the size of Midwest cities. It is a place of redonkulous contrasts and crazy adventures, the Taylor version I'll recap for you now.

Day 1: Connecting in Bahrain

Okay, so we took the overnight flight from London and flew Gulf Air - not exactly donkey trash, but what Airbus 330 does NOT have air conditioning? I mean seriously, if the flight was to GREENLAND, I think no A/C would have been fine. But we were flying to the MIDDLE EAST, where the forecast was 98 degrees and sunny every day (yeah, that weather guy has a TOUGH job). The other highlight was the list of movies they offered in the magazine that didn't match what was actually playing. This didn't matter either, however, since all movies were on a loop that you couldn't possibly time (since nothing was synced with anything else). HILARIOUS.

But wait - the best part was the layover in Bahrain. We arrived in the airport (tiny), and what were we greeted by? That's right - polar bears, santa clauses, and Christmas trees. Really? REALLY? Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: The Bahrain Duty Free Winter Band!!!

But we finally got to Dubai, where we found our hotel and got checked in. We then spent the evening wandering around and exploring the Creek, wandering through souks and milling about. We milled around for about an hour looking for food, but to no avail (literally - we walked 2 miles and didn't see a SINGLE RESTAURANT OF ANY KIND). So where did we eat, you ask? Well, the Taylors rolled into a shopping mall and had a delicious meal of Iraqi kebabs at the food court, of course! Hey - we are very cosmopolitan and cultured - it's how we roll.

But since we aren't Muslim, we did need some booze after the fast food, so we rolled out in search for alcohol. This led to another good story...

So, in the UAE, alcohol is STRICTLY FORBIDDEN except in the emirate (think "state") of Dubai. But in Dubai, you can only serve booze if you are attached to a hotel. That's why, 30 minutes later, JT and I ended up at the York Intercontinental, drinking Stella and watching cricket in a bar called, appropriately enough, "The Pub." Yep - they pay their marketing groups BIG BUCKS in Dubai...

After that, it was off to bed, where we slept 14 hours. Chuck, I know that you're proud...

Day 2: A Tour of Opulence

So we set out this day to tour the famous spots of Dubai. The first stop was the Mall of the Emirates, the first of many posh malls on the trip. However, the funny part was getting there.

Here's the thing - Dubai is spread out all over hell. It's about 4 BILLION miles wide, and you are supposed to take cabs everywhere. To avoid this cost, muffin puffin and I rolled to the metro, where, after I was warned by security for apparently trying to board the "ladies cabin," we rolled to the mall.

This was the NICEST METRO I've ever seen. Only later did I learn why - IT WAS TWO MONTHS OLD. Like everything else in the city, it's brand new. Hell, the area known was "Old Dubai" dates back to 1971...

So we get off at the mall and go to Ski Dubai. Yes - in case you haven't heard of this, it's an indoor ski center in the desert. I will go on record and say that we didn't do it because, well, everyone who's done it HATED it. Plus, well, I'm a cheap bastard. But then again, if you're reading this, you already knew that...

After that, it was off to the Jumierah Beach Hotel, which was less than impressive. Then it was off to Umm Sequim Beach, where I first swam in the Gulf. Key point here - if you call it the "Persian" Gulf in UAE, you go to jail. If you call it the "Arabian" gulf, they don't cart you off, but they don't like you. It's just "The Gulf." Yep - because apparentl in Emirati textbooks, it's either a) the only Gulf that exists, or b) the only Gulf worth reading about.

It was also the final resting place of Sean's phone. Hitman - Tigs forgot it was in her pocket, and she didn't realize that 10 pounds didn't buy a 100% waterproof phone. The best part? We got it all on camera...the photo is about 2 seconds before impact...

We then rolled to one of the most famous spots in Dubai - the Burj Al-Arab hotel. Coming in at just over $4000 USD per night (but with complimentary tea!), this is billed as the world's only 7 star hotel. Jenny and I tried to get in, only to be told that my outfit wouldn't even get me on the bridge over the ocean to get there. I tried to bribe them by saying "But I voted for Obama!", but that didn't get us over the goal line. Oh well...Price - despite the fact that they have "The Gap" in every mall here (of which there are many), clearly flannel plaid hasn't caught on in the 100 degree heat.
We then headed out to the Atlantis (Ogas - this is for you), where we were able to bribe our way into getting drinks. We wanted to go to the Atlantis because it was on "The Palm," one of 3 islands that Dubai has created in the middle of the Gulf. The Palm is crazy because it's COVERED with apartments and villas. Only later did we learn that NONE OF THEM are occupied and it's totally empty. Good use of resources and manpower clearly...

Dinner was at a place called Le Meridian, where we had sushi. The rolls weren't that expensive. The beer and water, however, ALMOST COST US OUR FIRST BORN. Honestly, if you aren't on an expense account in this place, I don't know how you survive. Lucky for me I beat up an old guy on the way in and took his wallet - otherwise we'd still be washing dishes.

Day 3: Talladega Nights meets Baja Rally

So this day was great. We started off by crossing the river on an abra, the water taxi of Dubai. That's right Megs and Ray - I WAS ON A BOAT. As was my muffin, who looks a lot cuter in photos...

We rolled through the Gold Souk (Mom - this is pretty much your wildest dream come true - gold EVERYWHERE to be negotiated and haggled over), looking at stuff that not even Nefertiti would have worn. Talk about AMAZING. We also rolled through the spice souk, which smelled good but wasn't very excited. All the same, good times.
We crossed back over and started looking for somewhere to pee. Lucky for us, the Dubai Museum was open (and less than a dollar to enter), so that was our spot!

After that, we crossed off the big tourist attraction of Dubai - DUNE BASHING. So here's how this goes:

1. 45 minutes late, your driver, a Pakistani named Hahn, picks you up. Just like Ricky Bobby, this cat is "all hopped up on Mountain Dew."

2. Youi meet your fellow passengers, two of which are from Iran - we were a veritable United Nations.

3. You drive 40 miles outside of the city and into the desert, at which point your driver switches from listening to Arabic music to "SHORTY FIRE BURNIN' ON THE DANCE FLOOR."

4. All of a sudden, you are driving 40 miles an hour over sand dunes and through wild camels, all the while wondering "if this is how my life ends, how will they explain this to my family?"

5. You stop for photos whilst Hahn cracks open ANOTHER Mountain Dew.

6. You get onto the main road, only to find out you have a flat and cracked a wheel well. But don't worry - as you can see, it's all under control.

7. You go to a "Bedouin camp," where you do everything touristy and cheesy you've always wanted to do. Check us out at the shisha - You may call me "Sheik Taylor" from now on.

8. You get a HUGE plate at the buffet, only to hear them say "last call" as you sit down. So you promptly get up and get ANOTHER huge plate, bringing your calorie total to 12,000 in about 10 minutes (but so guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu - peppy cheekies).

9. My wife embraces Henna and belly do I - check out the moves. Next Stop - "So You Think You Can Dance?" - bring it.
All in all - this was a BLAST and one of the highlights of the trip. We even got our photo on top of a camel that wanted to eat me alive. All in all, a good day, even if we did have to listen to a lot of Beyonce (sorry, Pappas).

We returned home at 9 PM, too full to sleep. So instead we agreed to wander until we came across something interesting. After walking a quarter mile, we saw a shopping area PACKED with people. Wandering in, we discovered that all we'd done is wander into a Carre Four (their Food City). Price - I asked them if they had any "King of the Hill" or "Millet Brun" jerseys laying around, but since they were all hairy and had unshaven legs, none of them had a clue what I was talking about...


Okay - this day was SPECTACULAR. We spent 8 hours in one of the BEST waterparks ever. This place was great, complete with slides that had "master blasters," meaning that, instead of walking to the top, you jumped into the tube at the bottom and the water blasted you to the top! You had rides both ways! Plus, there was this amazing Flo-rider, which you could use to practice body-boarding. I was, well, TERRIBLE, but JT picked it up in no time flat - she was awesome! And best of all, you should have seen her in her hot little wet suit - I practically had to beat the emirati men away. Also, we spent this day with our Iranian peeps - look at us improving foreign relations!

We rolled back home, got a shower, and then headed to the Intercontinental Festival City, where we met one of Tait's buddies - Mike Davis (and his friend Nic). Tait - I know you never thought you'd see it, but here's a pic of us together, throwin' one back and toasting you, T-bone!

These guys were great. We hit this RIDICULOUS buffet at Anise, complete with all the sushi and sashimi you could ever want. I ate so much, in fact, that I picked up a nice little parasite, which has kept me quite lean over the last two days. However, tonight I did have my first meal since Monday, so I can't complain. Back on the horse, baby!!!! Chubby Bunny!!!!!!!!!!

After dinner, we walked next door (still connected, of course) to the Belgian Beer Company, where we had proper pints of Leffe. All in all, a good night, the one problem being that it ended at 3 AM...

Day 5: Wait - there's ANOTHER mall to see?

We started this day at Jumierah Beach Park. The water was gorgeous, and we'd love to show you...except photos weren't allowed. Instead, I can tell you that we spent 4 hours there and had a blast, but I'm still trying to get the sand out of my hair. But hey, the weather was perfect, the water was clear, and life was guuuuuuuuuuuuud.

After the water, we rolled to the "Financial Center," one of 4 "downtowns" in Dubai. Whilst here, we visited a must see attraction - The Dubai Mall. Now I must confess, malls and Sammy don't often mix (insert gasps and awed stares here), but this place was a tourist attraction in it's own right. It was AMAZING. Highlights:

1. 1200 stores. That's right - about 12 stores for every person that lives in Whitesburg.

2. A water wall the size of Mt. Everest.

3. An indoor aquarium with SHARK DIVING. We watched this happen - INSANE.

4. The world's largest dancing water fountain (move over, Bellagio...).

5. An ice skating rink.

6. Sega Republic - an indoor amusement park dedicated to uber massive video games.


Yeah, now's a good time to mention that, if it's an American Chain, it's in Dubai. The biggest chain in Dubai, you ask? CHILI'S. That's right, Michael Scott is clearly a genius, because Chili's is the new boardroom ("Can I get an "awesome blossom - extra awesome?"). You have to see it to believe it.

We wandered through the mall and then saw the dancing water before rolling home and eating at an Indian joint named "Kwality." As you can imagine, this was just what my stomach needed after a day of diarrehea...

Day 6: Headin' out

So we got up and thought about getting the metro to the airport. Logical and cheap, right? Oh no, don't bother. Why, you ask? BECAUSE LUGGAGE ISN'T ALLOWED ON THE METRO. That's right - it stops there, but unless you're traveling with just a briefcase or backpack, DON'T BOTHER - you'll get caned. Might wanna rethink that one, boys.

But I will say - the airport is insane nice, complete with the world's largest duty free shop. JT and I didn't care about that, however - we wanted one last slice of Americana. That's why I got a Spicy McChicken from McDonald's and muffin puffin got a last Cold Stone ice cream.

On the way out, we were treated to a nice view of the Palm, which was pretty cool from the air. Now if only they could get someone to live there...

It should be noted that I finished "Son of a Witch" whilst on this trip. While not as good as "Wicked," Maguire is a true story-telling master, and his characters are arguably the richest and most developed of any I've ever read. Full marks, brother Gregory - I look forward to "A Lion Among Men."

I am SO GLAD that we went, but I am VERY glad to be home. And whilst I really enjoyed it, I am in no hurry to go back.
Okay, sorry so long tonight, but I wanted to give you guys the play by play. Also, as I've got a friend visiting tomorrow, it might be sporadic over the next couple of days. Can't wait to see you, VA!
That's all the news that's fit to print - chat tomorrow!
Sam and Jenny


  1. Hey Sammy and Jenny! Love reading your blog! Your trip to Dubai sounds great!

  2. Sam & Jenny - thanks for the Dubai details, Hayley wants to know if you went to Pinkberry. Tried to get you this info before you left but missed you. Any more details on Atlantis...water slides, etc??? I think Hayley still wants to go!

    John & Hayley Ogas

  3. Hey brother! Nope, we didn't make Pinkberry, but we certainly hit the Atlantis. Dude - it is MILES away from ANYTHING else, but it is a neat place. It has it's own Waterpark (called Aquaventure), it's own Dolphin Experience (you swim with them), an aquarium (65K fish!), private beaches, and several bars and restaurants. Prices I heard were $300-400 USD per night, and meals (you'd have to eat on campus) are prob $60 a person a meal.

    Honestly (don't hate me!), I'd say do the one in the Bhamas. Cheaper, closer, AND you can gamble. That's the clincher for me!