Friday, 2 November 2007

Day 163 - Dubia (United Arab Emirates)

Iran and the United Arab Emirates are about 150km away from each other, but they are a world apart.

After we had had breakfast with the family in Bandar Abbas we dashed across the city in rush our to make it to the ticket office for the ferry, but it was shut. I was told to go around the back and then directed to a guys office who seemed to imply that I could have a ticket. Before long he had a bank ticket in his hand but everybody just stood around chatting and they kept telling me there was no rush, but with 1 hour to go and still not knowing where the ferry went from I disputed that. Eventually I was told to follow them in their car to the port and at about 10:30 I had a ticket. In 15 minutes we had checked in for the 11:00 departure of a very slow hi-speed ferry that left an hour late. Once on our way we discovered the 4 hr crossing would take 8 hrs. We eventually got off the ferry at about 22:00 and there 3 other travellers that had diverted to avoid Beluchestan including Jean who is from Montreal (photo, as he was about to leave out campsite) and was walking around the world. He was 7 years through a 12 year trip, which makes my plans look a bit pathetic. His buggy along with our bikes and a Dutchmans motorcycle had to be cleared by customs and we all had to be questioned first. We were then told we could not get out vehicles back until the following day but the guy who questioned us was very helpful and managed to clear the bikes and the buggy but the motorcycle had to wait. By now it was about 23:45 and we made our way a short distance to the city. Even in the dark we could see the place oozedmoney, fast cars were everywhere and skyscrapers were brightly lit. There are apparently over 500 4 start hotels in Dubia and we found a lovely piece of grass tocamp on and we were soon joined by Jean who had walked over. Beside us was a cricket match being played by Indians, then a football match being played by Iranians. Another cricket match started in the car park and fast cars were spinning wheels whilst at a standstill to burn the rubber and by now it was 1am. Players came over for a chat but by 2am they had all gone and the only noise was from the busy road a few yards away.
The following morning we woke to a view of the tallest building in the world. We made our way to the Indian colsulate and spent until 14:30 fighting beurocracy again. Nothng was straight forward as we were sent from one room and queue to another as each section was completed. Once we had paid we were told to return next Monday for collection. We then made our way to the Youth Hostel, our home for the next few days, but we all preferred the grass. 20 odd years ago this place used to be the desert and now the grass everywhere is fantastic, kept short and watered daily. There is a campsite for every day of the year. When we camped last night we thought the grass was 4 star but now we have seen the grass everywhere is the same.

The last couple of days have been doing odd jobs and a little sightseeing. We went into a huge mall and to start with we felt like kids at Christmas, it all felt so strange after Iran, but within an hour it was driving me crazy and I just wanted to get out and cycle peacefully through the desert again.

Dubai on the surface looks very modern and hi-tech, there are huge islands created in the sea for luxury residences and 7 star hotels, you can even go skiing, but dig a little deeper and really they are still way behind. Internet cafes are slow and any useful site is blocked. Cash machine dont work and computers are there but rarely used as paper is the preferred method. At the Youth Hostel we had made a reservation but wanted to extend it for another couple of nights, but you cant do it at the reception you have to send them a fax. Email is no good as they rarely use it. It's just one example of the frustration we seem to face every time we need anything.

I feel a little trapped here too. There is no way I can leave as I have to collect my passport, my camera has gone in for repair and wont be ready for 4 days, I need to visit a dentist and my bike is unridable as my last innertude has split beyond repair. I am so relieved that happened in Dubai and not as I was heading through the desert to Bandar Abbas.


aoiffe said...

I'm glad you are in Dubai rather than risking Pakistan as there the president has declared a state of emergency and done something like suspend the judiciary.
And be glad of the bike - here petrol is now over £1 a litre!

dad said...

Hi John, Don't let that chap who has spent seven years walking round the world - He has a pair of roller blades in his haversack.

dad said...

Left words "fool you" out of comment. Idiot!!!

adam said...
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