It’s day four here in Dubai. Here’s what’s been happening.
1. It’s rare when you get to be in one of those Guinness Book of World Records places. My wife and I got to go to Niagara Falls last month, which must hold a world record for something. Now I get to say that I went to the world’s largest mall–the Dubai Mall. I only explored the top level, which was enough to wear me out. I’ll leave the other two levels to other, more motivated shoppers. Someone told me that the shopping is cheap in Dubai. I haven’t found that to be true, but maybe I’m just looking in the wrong places.
2. If you don’t got, build it. That seems to be the mindset in Dubai. And since it’s a desert, there are a lot of things they don’t have. Like I mentioned before, they built their own indoor ski run. I suppose they don’t have an abundance of waterfalls either, but the Dubai Mall has got that covered. (See video below.)
3. There’s a mosque every mile or so. The sprawl of flat-roofed two story homes is intermittently pierced by minarets sticking up 30 or 40 feet.
All of this is dwarfed by massive metallic skyscrapers that loom like mountain ranges, casting their long shadows on the tiny masses below.
4. I finally made it to the beach. I went on foot from the metro station. (Not a good idea because I had to weave around massive road construction and because I was toasted by the desert sun by the time I made it to my destination.) I was on the lookout for a beach boardwalk, a ferris wheel, a surf shop, a store selling off-color humor T-shirts or at least a lemonade stand–something to indicate that I was getting close to the beach. All I found was a sign saying “Beach.” And that is in fact all there was. After walking past several expensive private homes, there was the beach. Not counting the police in their air-conditioned SUV, I saw five people at the water. (See video below.)
The water was clear, beautifully blue and green, calm and probably about 90 F. But the sun was scorching, so I enjoyed the ocean for a few minutes and decided to move on.
5. I meet more and more Russian speakers. For instance, at a mall, one of the store clerks was from Bishkek. And the Russian language continues to borrow shamelessly from English. On the elevator I just heard a young man say, “Ya tolka shto zacheckinulsya” (I just checked in.)
6. There’s a “German Doner Kebab” restaurant down the street from my hotel. To me it sounds odd because Doner Kebabs are Turkish. But maybe it sounds normal in Dubai, kind of like how “Hawaiian pizza” sounds normal in America even though Hawaii and Italy are thousands of miles apart. Cultural and physical distance aside, the German Doner I tried today was very good apart from being a bit too heavy on the onions.