Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Flight to Dubai

We are leaving India today. Our new destination is the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a place I have not been before. We get the wake up call at 3 AM and take a 2-hour bus ride to Kochi airport on the very dark, very narrow, bumpy lanes of the village of Kumarakom where we stayed last night. It is a drive I am glad I am only watching. I would not want to be the driver. He sees things that I am not able to see. I told you this bus driver is very, very good.

We arrive at the Kochi airport without incident and today's flight is an international flight. All runs smoothly, only the clerk signing us out of India is the typical bureaucratic nightmare. He is fastidiously dotting every ‘i’, crossing every t. In German we call those bureaucrats Nullennachzieher. A guy who traces the zero on paper to make sure it really is a zero. Don't you love this name? It's a person who, when he adds 2 million and 1 million he writes it down. Not only that, he starts on the far right side, tracing and adding all the zeros before he finally adds the 2 numbers to get to the number three.  Yuck!  A bureaucrat (a Nullennachzieher) would do this ‘work’ even when the answer is obvious.
Minaret Beside Our Hotel

Arriving in Dubai, I cannot help but be amazed. The shuttle train from the gate to baggage runs like clock work. Each door on the shuttle train has guides and helpers, speaking all kinds of languages. Wow! Those folks here know how to move the masses. This airport is only an international airport; the UAE has no domestic flights. This place works efficiently. No delays. Going through immigration was no issue; going through Customs, again, no issue. Poof and you are outside. Wow, that was fast.

There is no graffiti anyplace, no advertisements plastered on walls. The streets are swept clean. After India it's a bit scary. You look back over your shoulder to see if anybody is watching you. I had a feeling that Big Brother was watching me?
The Streets Are Spotless, the Traffic is Orderly

We were met outside the airport by Marshall, the tour representative in Dubai. He called our bus and we were off to the Hyatt Al Riga, centrally located near downtown Dubai. Everything went smoothly, until they took all of our passports at the hotel reception. Call me paranoid, the last time this happened to me was in Russia. OK, after a bit of time we got them back but not without paying some fee. My inner radar chirped, there is certainly a rule of law here, certainly someone is ‘watching’ you. OK, OK, call me paranoid, I just got here but that is how felt. I felt I was being watched with a smile.

Our exit and transport out of the airport was so quick I had no time to draw Dirham from an ATM. Naturally we had to find a bank; the exchange rate with an ATM is always much better than what the hotel gives you. We also had to find food, since it was way past our lunch hour. There was no map available at the front desk that could help us, also they seemed to not know where the nearest ATM was, so off we went exploring. On the way out the door we ran into Roger, a member of our group who had found a Bank with an ATM close by. But, when we went to Riga Ave, the bank building was not obvious; we could not see a bank. So we had to ask. Do they speak English here? We asked a man clad in a thobe (white, long Arab outfit) and in perfect English he told us where the bank was. “Just across the wide avenue, no problem whatsoever”, he said. Good start. We got a stack of Dirhams from the machine. Nice to know we can find people that we can talk with.
A Great Little Restaurant Near Our Hotel
Now to the food! Most signs are written in Arabic of course. Do the restaurants have English menus? This again was no problem whatsoever. Not everybody speaks English but in general, with language and writing, there was never an issue in Dubai. Dubai is totally set up to deal with international travelers. In fact, the main economy in Dubai, after oil, is tourism.

In memory of India we ate a Shawarma in Dubai, which was both (5 PM) lunch and dinner. Next door to the late lunch place was a kind of bakery. This bakery had lots and lots of wonderful sweets. Baklava, one of our favorite desserts, were available in many varieties, they were yummy.
I'm In Heaven. Really Good Baklava

We had a long day, getting up early, flying, new people, language, etc. we just slowly wandered slowly back to the hotel and goofed off for a bit, tomorrow is another day.

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