Wednesday, May 16, 2012

good-bye to dubai

Finally, I have caught up with myself.  I am writing about Dubai -- and I am still here.

Well, at least, while I am writing this post, I am still here.  In Dubai.

When you read it, I will either be in the air or at the Los Angeles airport (where I will have a ten-hour lay-over).  I wish someone would come up with a frequent hours waiting program.

Today turned out to be far more interesting than I thought it would be.

I was up at 5 AM to check with lost and found.  Somehow, my Kindle went missing.  Thirty-one days of cruising, and I never misplaced it.  Until the last day.

Of course, it was nowhere to be found.  I deregistered it to avoid anyone buying books on my tab.  Amazon has also tagged it in case anyone tries to register that serial number.

What appeared to be a loss was an opportunity.  I could now go shopping in Dubai and test the waters to see if this is truly the trading capital of the Middle East.

But first there was a bus tour to endure.  I did get to see Dubai and its landmarks blur by.  Photographs were simply not possible.

We did get to see a 250 year old fort.  Back in an era when the emirates harassed the British ships in the gulf. 

Before they became a British protectorate.  And before the queen kicked them out of her imperial nest and told them to defend themselves -- and kindly don't go back to pirating her navy.

All of that ate up a few hours.  But I was still at the airport before 2 PM.  With over a twelve-hour wait ahead of me.

Rather than wasting a half-day waiting for check-in to begin, I dropped my bag at left luggage and took the metro into town. 

It was not quite the Tokyo subway.  Less crowded and on a raised track.  More like a reunion of the extras from Blade Runner.

Dubai is rightly known for its giant new buildings.  Including the world's tallest building.  Clamored on by Tom Cruise almost as much as Oprah's couch.  And there it was when I stumbled out of the metro station.


Burj Kalipha.  Some people call it stunning.  I don't get it. 

Admittedly, this is a land of functional traders and not aesthetes.  And there may be people who think Buck Rogers's space ship is a great symbol for enterprise.

But it simply looks liked failed phallicism to me.  Cold.  Steely.  And rather out of place.

At least, Shanghai's Vegas tarts have a bit of whimsy.  This tower does not.

And then there is the rest of the skyline.  It has grown as fast as Shanghai's, but Dubai's looks a bit like a mishmash.  Too much caffeine in the architect's chew, I think.

But there was little time to spend outdoors.  It was hot.  Not Phoenix desert hot.  Humid-as-the-worst-day-in-New Orleans hot.

So, into the largest mall in the world I went.  Having come from a city whose shopping center once sported that title, I am always interested in what the new champion looks like.

It looks like several malls stacked on top of one another sporting every imaginable exclusive label.  Fashion.  Electronics.  Furniture.  Plus an aquarium.

All as chic as chic can be.  Some of the stores had the appearance that without an appointment, mere mortals would not be admitted through the door.

Take this shop.  You may think they sell lights.  They don't.  They sell shoes.  Women's shoes, of course.  Some of the strangest footwear I have seen.

But I was not there for shoes.  I was there for a Kindle.  I struck out at three stores.  But a salesman at the fourth whipped out a Kindle from under the counter.  Touch.  With WiFi and 3G.  Just what I lost.  Just what I wanted.

For a 50% premium in price over what I paid in Salem.  I put the salesman to a test.  I was curious if he was as hungry for the sale as I was for the Kindle.

I told him he had a sale, if he would charge it up in the store while I looked around the mall for a couple hours.

No problem, he said.  When I returned, it was fully charged.  Something I doubt the Best Buy in Salem would do.  Fear of some sort of liability, I suppose.  And I was on my way back to the airport.

I handed my luggage over to the ticket agent.  Quickly made my way through security.  And discovered that the traders of Dubai are not restricted to the mall.

The waiting areas have the usual designer label shops.  But they did not catch my interest as much as the gift store.  Where I could purchase blades similar to the ones security took from me.  Razor blades.  Airplanes.  There is a history there.

But it was nowhere as odd as the shelf of detergent.  Is someone going to do his laundry in the bathroom sink on this long flight?  If so, I have some items that need extra care.

For about a decade, I visited London every year.  On the return trip, I would purchase a tin of caviar to eat on the airplane.  It appears other people may have the same idea.

Even though the Pringles were moving faster than the $500 caviar.

My final thoughts on Dubai?  I just don't get it.  I suppose if someone is impressed with the architecture of Las Vegas, Dubai would look right nice.

Petra is on my return list.  Dubai is something I have seen.


Shannon Casey said...

Hi Steve, I recently had to replace my kindle too, but not under such exotic conditions. I sat on it.

 Dubai sounds, if not aesthetically pleasing, certainly interesting.

I just started a blog as well, although I'm new at this and it's not as polished as Todd's blog. It's titled Rat Race Refugee.

 I hope you'll have a look at it. I also added you blog to my blog roll. 

Steve Cotton said...

Hi, Shannon.  How goes the leg?

Dubai was interesting, but I doubt I will return.  There are other more interesting places to see -- in Mexico.

I will take a look at your blog.