A trip to Dubai
Trip Start Aug 19, 2008
23Trip End Ongoing
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I get a taxi to the bus station. The taxi driver tells me that English people are rich and I should be going to Dubai by taxi instead of bus, a taxi driven by someone such as him, and he offers me a cheap rate. I decline because I'd read that the bus takes pretty much the same length of time and is a fraction of the cost. Also I was frightened the taxi driver would at some point turn off the highway, drive down a desert track and in the middle of nowhere slit my throat. He keeps lowering his price and each time I decline he gives me a Middle Eastern snort of disgust accompanied by a dismissive flick of the wrist.
But I stand firm against this onslaught of contempt, and I'm soon on the bus and we're off down the desert highway. The bus is warm and the air conditioning is clearly not built to withstand this kind of heat despite the fact that the windows of the bus are covered in a fine metal mesh to form a sort of Faraday Cage. Whether this is to stop phone use or help keep heat out I'm not sure, but it doesn't help the view. After an hour or so we pass the Burj Dubai - the world's tallest building - which looks impressive even through the mesh on the window. We then get snarled up in Dubai traffic and it takes another 45 minutes to get us the last few miles.
The queue of people to get on the bus to return back to Abu Dhabi is worryingly long. I tell myself that it'll probably get much quieter later in the day. After walking into town for a couple of minutes I realise that the trip has been a bit of a mistake. I am once again dripping with sweat. Back in Abu Dhabi this would be remedied by a quick trip back to the hotel for a shower, but here in Dubai I know I'm a long queue and a 2 hour bus ride away.
I press on and visit Dubai museum, lingering a long while in the air conditioned underground section
I take a ride on a small water taxi across Dubai Creek, and I wander through the heritage village - a collection of traditional style buildings. My heart really isn't in it though, and I drag my feet like a spoilt child being taken somewhere he doesn't want to go. After two or three hours I decide to call it a day and I head back to the bus station. The queue is as long as ever, and there's an extra spanner in the works: the men have to queue up, and the women don't. The women are let on first as soon as a bus turns up, any seats left are available for the waiting men. The queue of men grows longer and longer and I realise I'm never going to get back by bus, and I don't have enough cash for a taxi, and I haven't seen any ATMs around here. I decide to sit around and do nothing in the hope that something will turn up.
Darkness falls, then a solution arrives
The journey takes an hour and a half. Nobody speaks except the driver who chats on his mobile phone while counting his money and weaving from lane to lane at 80MPH. His passengers grit their teeth and cross their fingers, well I did at least. Eventually we stop and climb out into Abu Dhabi taxi station. We are all rubbing limbs that have been forced into unusual positions without moving for the last 90 minutes, but it's a small price to pay. I'm alive, and from here it's a short trip back to the hotel.
After a shower and a bite to eat I sink into the big soft bed. The only sound is the soft hum of the air conditioner. The only light is from the sodium lights outside which creeps around the edge of the curtains. The only thing I can feel is the cool sheets. I decide that today wasn't such a bad day after all.