I had a very good night sleep last night and awoke at 7am as fresh as a daisy. I had a long hot shower and pottered around for a while and then went down for breakfast at 8:00. I pottered around again for a bit more and then went to see the two women who are organising our trip and who are staying in the hotel. I had to hand over my local payment, or kitty, and get to meet them and have a chat. Two really lovely women. It’ll be great to have them on our trip.

After breakfast, I went out to look at the Palm Jumeirah which is this amazing man-made archipelago poking into the Persian Gulf. I had heard about it when it first started and there have been many TV programs and documentaries and YouTube infotainment articles about it. It’s now been up and running for a number of years and seems well established.

I caught a bus to get there and the journey took about an hour and a half. Again, it was a great way to mingle with the local people and to get a sense of how people lived their lives in this town. I read on Wikipedia that the percentage of the population, who are actually Arabs, or at least from the this part of the world, are is something in the region of 10%. The other 90% are foreign workers are expats. This is weird I thought to myself but it seems to work for them and the economy and the society hums along. I don’t know enough to really have any opinions about society here but on the surface it seems very harmonious. It’s very interesting seeing all the different types of faces and skin colour and racial types all working and mingling together.

I was hoping to get to the entrance and then have a ramble around the place but that was not possible. Everything was guarded and fenced off. When I got off the bus I was hoping to walk down what looked like a big long road and see all the houses and the buildings but that wasn’t possible. Instead I had to catch a monorail which lasted about 10 minutes and cost 30 Dirham for a return ticket. This is very expensive, even by local standards. The journey from the beginning to the farthest point in the archipelago was really interesting and as the monorail is elevated it gave us a good chance to see a lot of the buildings and what the outline of the place was like. It was really spectacular.

When we got to the end there was a big entertainment place. It was absolutely hideous. I couldn’t wait to leave. It was full of tacky shops and restaurants and the usual tourist tat. A lot of people seem to like it though so, as usual, I’m the odd one out. Not for the first time. Not by a long shot.

I got the monorail back and then got a tram back to the metro station and then got a metro back to the hotel. The journey was about an hour and a half and, as always, it was a great opportunity to get to feel of the place; to feel the pulse.

To tell the truth, although Dubai is an amazing place and full of extraordinary feats of architecture, there wasn’t really anything here that I couldn’t see in 100 other cities. Not trying to dis the place because it really is spectacular but what really interests me, when I’m on the road, are laneways and markets and old apartment blocks and old shops and just seeing how the ordinary people live.

Yesterday I got lost and ended up in one of the older parts of Dubai. For me it was like being in heaven. It was full of scrawny cats and plump old ladies, strange exotic smells; some of a lavatorial nature; and bustling and alive. I could imagine the scene I was seeing as a reflection of something that had been happening for hundreds or thousands of years.

Today will be my last day in Dubai and we’re off tomorrow for Abu Dhabi. Actually the trip officially starts tomorrow. Leanne and Karen, the organisers, have opened a WhatsApp group. I’m beginning to get a sense of some of the people who will be on my trip. I haven’t met any of them yet but will tomorrow morning. We’re meeting up at 8:00 and heading off as soon as possible to Abu Dhabi. We’ll be stopping off in two places on the way. One will be a in nature reserve place and the other will be a famous mosque. I love mosques, despite being an old heathen.

The weather today was quite hot, summer in the low 30s. It’s interesting how soon I got back into the practise of walking slowly and accepting the heat. Perhaps really the only strategy to have when the sun shines brightly and hotly.

That’s it. Off to bed now. Please feel free to subscribe and drop me a comment below.

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