Hello From the Sandbox!!
Trip Start Aug 09, 2009
108Trip End Oct 23, 2009
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Cutting my losses was the best option at that point and I took the taxi from the hotel which is a preset price of $6. All in all that is not bad for a 30 minute ride and it beats hauling my crap around town at sunrise looking for a bus that may or may not exist. When I travel searching out those deals is like a game for me but when it doesn't work out, no worries. That's just life. It all evens out in the end...Pay more one time and less another
A German couple was going to the airport and I asked if they would like to split a cab. The woman told me, "Under no circumstances. You can pay full price just like we will." I tried to explain that if we split one, we all end up paying less. I was even going to pay for half though we were just three. But alas she wasn't having any of that.
Her husband told me, "It's nonsense you want to take our money. Americans only want profit and don't speak German. It is for us to speak." Am I missing something here mathematically? Now I will be the first to admit I suck at math but I am pretty sure my proposal was definitely win-win for all parties. And turns out they couldn't speak a lick of English so I reminded them that German it was whether they approved or not. Who peed in their Wheaties this morning??!! I love this kind of entertainment first thing in the day!
I asked how much they were paying and they said $20 US. Ha, joke is on them and I walked away without telling them that they were being ripped off big time. Treat me like crap and I will let you have whatever comes your way. So the three of us went off to the airport in our caravan of two taxis and when we got there they were arguing heatedly with their driver in broken English
When they got in line behind me to enter the terminal (you go through security just to enter), I listened to them complain about how it was $20 a person..not $20 for the cab. Turning around grinning, I decided to rub some American salt into their wounds. Telling them in German that my cab was only $6 was very satisfying and the look of anger in their eyes made me smile. I also told them had they split my cab, it would have been $3 for me and $3 for them both.
There is a lesson here folks...They treated me like an idiot and some Syrian karma came back and bit their German behinds. The husband said, "We'll pay $40 before you steal $3 from us." Are they commies from the former East Germany or something? Am I missing something? What is so hard to understand about the concept of sharing? I wish them well in life and hope they learn one day sharing is a great concept that can save money and hassles when traveling. You even meet some neat people in the process.
I wandered past a gateful of men in their white robes heading for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and was shocked at what I saw. They were sprawled across two to three chairs each while the woman were standing
In my gate most of the men were dressed like any of us in the West and they were giving up their seats for women like anyone would. What a difference between Syrian and Saudi manners. Of course there were maybe a dozen of those white robed men displaying the same behavior in my gate area and I just need to find out who they are with this garb and tablecloths on their heads. Later on inside the plane I watched as they would toss their garbage in the aisle like animals when they were done eating or drinking. The majority of "regularly dressed" people like me gave the used items to the flight attendants like anyone brought up right.
Air Arabia is not new to me but I had forgotten that they play a prayer before the flight over the PA. This prerecorded thing lasts about a minute and Allah speaks to the entire cabin. He sounds like he is in an echo chamber as he chants Allah Akbar but whatever he said got us from Damascus to Sharjah in one piece. I can only imagine the fit the ACLU would have if we played prayers before every flight in the US. The captain even told us Inshallah (God Willing) we would arrive in Sharjah in just over three hours. Before landing he even told us, "Inshallah we will land in twenty minutes." God willing? The enroute and landing phases are just not something I want to take a chance with!!!
One fine example of those white robed gentlemen was sitting next to me and when he was done eating he tossed it all by my feet
I won that battle by the way. Score one for America. And get this...he wouldn't allow his wife to eat or drink and when she looked at the food for purchase menu, he ripped it out of her hands and said something that made her close here eyes and look down for five minutes. She stared hungrily at his food and drink as he burped and slurped it down. What a class act society they have. Between the Germans and this dude I had a full morning and it wasn't even lunchtime!! What a day and I was enjoying it throughly.
A nine hour layover in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates left me wanting to explore the area so I rented a car for really cheap and was on my way. Actually I was at that same airport last year when I went to Dubai and the same Asian woman helped me at the rental car counter. I remember her because she wouldn't rent me a stickshift because I am American
Instead of heading into Dubai with its wall of skyscrapers I decided to take the road less traveled and see what I could uncover. I drove the other way and ended up in a place called Fujairah. I had an absolute blast all afternoon. I turned on the air conditioner (112 humid degrees today), turned up the radio and was on my way across the sandbox. When I say sandbox, I really mean it is wall to wall sand that blows in drifts. After about 45 mintues the sand gave way to rocky mountains and I was surprised that a small range maybe 2,000 feet tall runs near the Indian Ocean. On the other side lay the city and state of Fujairah and it is a skyscraper creation in progress.
I couldn't believe all the highrises being built and wondered who in the world will come to this remote corner of the Arabian peninsula. As always I am seeking places off the beaten path and I think I found it today. Fujairah. Don't worry...I hadn't heard of it either. I love just setting out with no destination in mind because look what I found...highrises and five star resorts across some mountain range I never knew existed. That is the whole idea of this trip for me...finding places and things I never knew existed.
The freedom of a car and the open road were also a nice change for me. I was on my own timetable doing whatever I wanted and going where I saw fit
Sharjah is my transit point as I head into SE Asia and typhoons, earthquakes, and tsunamis have really turned my plans upside down. Right now I am scrambling to see if I can get into some of the places I have planned to visit. I know right now Padang is a no go since the entire city is leveled with thousand of deaths. I was supposed to fly a bright orange ATR 72 into there on Firefly Airlines.
I missed all the destruction by less than a week and am thankful for that. Java and Sumatra and the Phillipines are all places on my tour and all are iffy as well due to death and destruction. I will gladly scramble to make alternate plans than be in the middle of it live while happening. Did you know that deciding to revisit the Balkans when planning all this is what saved me from being in Padang and Java when all that happened?
Inshallah the rest of my travels will be safe and I am off to Sri Lanka and then Malaysia now. I can't wait to see what I uncover the next few days!