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Give Me One Reason
Tracy Chapman & Eric Clapton

Saint 2.0

Thursday, June 12, 2008
Dubai (Part 1) | 7:44 AM

This is long overdue...

I had promised a few days ago that I would start blogging about the exotic trips I had taken at the earlier part of the year. So here is the first part of Dubai 2008!

My first impression of Dubai from what I had heard and watched on the tele - grotesquely expensive, deserts, soaring temperatures, oppressed and veiled women and men with generous facial hair. Talk about stereotyping! I was proven so wrong of course!

Dubai is also known as the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

This trip almost did not take place because of the possible high expenses I would incur. My friend, Caren had convinced Vince and I otherwise to do a stopover at this exotic spot in the Middle East. I suspected then it was for the shopping which Dubai is famous for. Then over a last minute planning meeting at Coffee Bean to book accomodation over the internet (we had booked our flight through a Thai friend long ago and procrastinated this for the longest time due to our busy schedules), we got connected to one big blessing for this trip - free accomodation! Imagine how much we had saved if The Lims had not come into the picture.

The three of us flew to Dubai on the Emirates. The service and facilities on board are impeccable and I would say, why fly SIA if you can get an almost similar experience that is less costly? Haha. Oh, we had initially flown to Bangkok via Tiger Airways to catch our Emirates flight. The latter experience was definitely enhanced, being many leagues ahead, by the previous budget squeeze. The stopover at Bangkok would be my first encounter with Thailand's new airport since it had opened awhile ago. Architecture-wise, the Thai airport is modern and breathtaking. However, the maintainence and customs did not live up to its awe-inspiring facade. While queuing for ages (I am not kidding here) to get past the customs to board our flight to Dubai, I looked up and saw huge patches of spider webs pulsating like jellyfishes going about their business in the ocean against the very high ceiling - imagine how big they must be close-up! The exasperating wait was punctuated by the fact that the custom forms were not available at any of the plethora of counters where they should be placed. After a long search, Vince and I, the volunteer hunter-gatherers, found this custom officer seated right at one far end of the counter dishing out the slips. Talk about Thai efficiency.

Thus the airport - impressive but the experience - oppressive.

Our horrendous nightmare was compensated by the incredible efficiency of the custom counter staff at Dubai Airport. I stress - EFFICIENCY. We breezed through the customs in less than 5 minutes compared to the minimum 45 minute-wait we had to endure at the Thai airport!

Just how rich is the nation of Dubai? After clearing the customs, we came across this exhibition of an ongoing lucky draw. The top prize is none other than a Porsche! Just to prove that this is not an isolated incident. Our host, Mrs Lim shared with us that a recent sale at a big shopping mall, the organisers gave away TEN cars on TEN consecutive days as top prizes. And these cars are as expensive as the Porsche above, mind you!

The Lims, knowing that our stay at Dubai was short, immediately whisked us to the dunes for a wild ride on All-Terrain-Vehicles (ATVs).

The top of the tentage at the reception area.

Janice, a fellow Singaporean who's working there as a female engineer at the famous The Palm construction project, myself and Caren.

On one evening, the 3 of us went over to Janice's apartment where she shared tales of her life as a single young female working in a male-dominated middle eastern country of Dubai. We were also told of gender discriminatory practices and interesting engineering problems (blood and gore included) that arose during the construction of the The Palm accommodation for the filthy rich and famous people around the world - David Beckam being just one of them.

David, the youngest member of the Lim clan, and myself on our ATVs. The sand looked a little wet because it had drizzled just before we got to the dunes. YES! It rains in Dubai! To think that the country was a completely arid and desert-like! The rain actually made the sand more compact and a little easier

David looking mighty pleased at his ATV which got stuck in the sand and Danny, his dad, giving him a hand.

My red buddy which served me real well. I just had not mastered enough courage to ride up the towering dunes - say, almost 6-10 storeys high.

Vince, Janice, Caren, myself, David and Mona (Mrs. Lim).

To be continued next week??? Be patient lah!

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