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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Back Through Dubai

My aunt and uncle made dinner, then I was off.

I had a total of three days in Lusaka, but I feel like I spent weeks there. Everyone says Zambians are extraordinary, and after hours of wandering through the food markets and cultural village, I couldn't agree more.

My aunt and two cousins drove me to the airport to send me off on my 9 PM flight to Dubai. I hugged them goodbye and turned into security (although I will see my aunt in two days since she's coming back to the states for business). I asked her why she didn't schedule the same flight as me and she said she "didn't want to cramp my international style."

After sending my bags into the unknown, I ordered a gin and tonic and reflected on my trip.

An hour or so ticked by, and I finally heard the speaker sound off, calling for Emirates Flight EK140 to Dubai. I proceeded down the screeching escalator and across the pavement to the lone 757 resting in the middle of the runway. Until next time, Zambia.

Another big day of exploration lay ahead, so I tried to sleep as much as possible. A couple minutes after takeoff I was drooling onto my abandoned Stephen King novel.

We landed at 6 AM and the tired passengers stumbled off. I threw on a new t-shirt, exchanged to Dirhams, brushed my teeth in the bathroom, and grabbed a taxi.

My first destination was the Textile Souk, at least that's what I thought it was called. It took me 10 minutes to explain where and what it was to the taxi driver. Finally he said "oh yeah, the blah-blah-blah!" I nodded and sat back to plan my day.

The taxi dropped me off at the old fort, now a museum with a decrepit Arab tall-ship perched on top. Very neat. The textiles were about a quarter mile away from the museum, near the Dubai Creek. As I turned a corner, I was blasted with the colorful traffic of silks, fabrics, and scarfs decking the souk, and the painted boats carrying busy people to and fro.

I had a Turkish coffee in a waterside café and watched the colors go up and down the creek. It's too bad, actually; people usually go for the wild adrenaline activities hyped up by Dubai tourist agencies, and end up neglecting the history. There's so much of it. All you have to do is venture out to the parts less travelled.


The Dubai Creek, near Textile Souk
Another taxi brought me about a mile or two down the street to the Grand Jumeira Mosque. Unbelievable. As an aspiring architect this was a highlight.

I walked around aweing at the mosque and soon decided to hit the beach. On the map it didn't look too far so I set off on foot to avoid an extra slap from a taxi. 45 minutes later I was still walking. Dubai is littered with construction so I kept having to go around the side street that led to the beach, but finally I made it. My boots and cargo pants watched me from the shore as I fell into the turquoise Persian Gulf (also a good opportunity for a bath).

There's a café across the street so I dried off with an extra t-shirt and headed over for lunch and another Turkish coffee. I might be addicted. I sat at a small table overlooking the beach, and had one of those "this is nice" experiences.
Persian Gulf, Jumeira Beach
The Miracle Garden was next, but in a way it was similar to the type of tourist attraction I mentioned before. It was something like 50 Dirhams to get in, and it was just a bunch of flowers in interesting designs. Flowers are cool and all, but probably better on a date.

On the way back my cab driver scammed me so maybe that put a damper on the Miracle Garden experience, but I truly think the best sites and sounds don't cost much money. Unless you want to base jump off the Burj Khalifa like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, that'd be pretty legit.

That was a lot for a day of running on fumes, so I decided to head back downtown. After a quick bite at Costa Coffee Shop I jumped on the metro and teleported to terminal 3. You actually get off right inside the terminal. Pretty neat.

Nothing against Mosi, one of two beer sold in Zambia, but the first thing I did was buy a nice brown ale. Anything I could find, really. It happened to be a German beer I'd never heard of.

I conked out next to a kid playing Temple Run until 1:30 AM and boarded the plane at 2:00 AM for the 2:30 AM flight. Unfortunately for the Indian kid sitting next to me, showering wasn't in my itinerary during the last 72 hours. At least I jumped in the ocean.

All was not lost for my poor isle-mate, though, as our third companion got upgraded. He moved over immediately, leaving a seat between us. We looked at each other and both cracked a smile. I was headed home in comfort, and he didn't have to nudge up against a dirty nomad.

What a trip.

Until next time, friends.

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