Dubai and deck parties

Two things I didn’t expect in Dubai .

1. The traffic. Absolutely solid. All day. Our tour bus took five cycles of traffic lights just to get away from its starting point!

2. The humidity. I just assumed that because it’s an oil/ desert- type country, the heat would be dry heat. But, it is much further north than most “Arabian” countries and is actually sub-tropical, same as Mumbai. The humidity was astonishing. Of course, as Dubai has the highest water consumption in the world (they seem oddly proud of this…), most of which they use to water their lawns and spray into the air via their myriad fountains, it’s perhaps not all that surprising.

Dubai is the manifestation of what happens if you have WAY too much money and WAY too much time on your hands. From a small pearl fishing village to a massive modern city in less than forty years. A city built almost entirely of follies. Not little bitty follies, like a miniature castle at the bottom of the garden. Big, massive, multi-billion dollar ones that glint in the sun. A massive ski slope with 250 million tonnes of real snow on 5 pistes. In a sub-tropical desert state. The World – a set of man-made islands that form a map of the world. Own your own island! Own your own country! The Palm – a purpose built set of islands in the shape of a palm tree, with Atlantis on the Palm at the end, one of the most extraordinary holiday resorts in the world at the far end. Another hotel built to look like a wave, which has it’s own PURPOSE-BUILT PRIVATE CORAL REEF 4km from the shore. The Burj Dubai, a hotel that looks like the sail of a yacht. With it’s own limo team to get you from the airport. By helicopter. And, of course, the Burj Khalifa (known to most as the Burj Dubai because they only changed the name on the day they opened it, after all the maps had been reprinted!), the tallest building on Earth. Half a mile straight up. I was hoping to go up it, but not only is it rather expensive to do, but the opening was so recent, that you still have to book over a day in advance to be allowed to go up it. Mind you, as the lift apparently travels at 18m per second, I’m not sure I’m all that disappointed…

Another thing the people of Dubai are not short of is shops. Of the twenty-odd stops on the Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour thingy, probably more than two thirds were shopping malls. Big ones, bigger ones, small ones, cheap local ones, ones built to look like Egyptian pyramids – Debenhams, Waitrose, Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue – you name it, they’ve got, not just a presence here, but a whopping great store that you need a rest halfway around. Some malls are so large, they have golf carts to get you from A to B, because B is just so far away from A. The largest shopping mall in the world is here, unsurprisingly. It has a 12 million gallon aquarium in the middle of it. Another is attached to the ski slope and is the biggest in… oh, I don’t know. Everything is the biggest. It’s exhausting!

Factoid of the Day: In the days after Nine Eleven, when all flights were grounded in the USA, the average temperature across the USA rose 3 degrees. This is because aeroplanes cause vapour trails and vapour trails cause clouds and the clouds reflect the heat of the sun back away from the Earth. So if we stop flying, global warming will actually get worse. There, that should mess with your head nicely for a while…

Anyway, back to the present day. Tropical night/ deck party night. Which means all the waiters at dinner wear Hawaiian shirts, we all got a lei with our dinner napkins, and we were asked to dress up “tropically”, i.e. Hawaiian shirts, flowery dresses, flowers in the hair, etc. I wore navy trousers with my silk Hawaiian shirt with the parrots on, and three scrunchies – one blue to match the shirt, one with a white flower and one with a sunflower. There’s a disco on the top deck, around the pool (well, one of them) – this is the “deck party” bit. Had a superb time, but discovered that the same cocktail on Deck 12 in the Riviera Bar is SIGNIFICANTLY stronger than the same cocktail on Deck 7 in the Masquerade bar. Got quite sloshed, frankly, let’s not mince words. I was swaying, literally. And, unfortunately, as the sea was smooth as glass, I couldn’t even blame it on the ship! So sloshed was I that there may have been dancing, there may even have been some Macarena.   Sorry… I do apologise, really I do. Mostly to poor Guy and Simon, with whom I spent the evening. Poor souls… Bed at 2.30am. Clocks forward another half hour.

Final thought. There are a LOT of teetotal people on this ship…and they’re a grumpy bunch…

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