dubai: everything is possible
Immigration was almost transparent, with no forms to fill out, and a single question "Which hotel are you staying in?" as my passport was stamped. After my escape from kathmandu, and the somewhat sleepless emirates flight that indian airlines put me onto, I was finally heading out in a sand-colored taxi from the airport to my hotel that I'd found online. After arriving in my room and having a sinking feeling when as i realized that it was nowhere near worth the amount they were asking on hotels.com (advice to other travellers: NEVER take a chance on an unknown dubai hotel.. always check tripadvisor.com for reviews first!), I quickly got out of there and checked in for a few days of posh living at the excellent Trader's Hotel Dubai.
I've been out exploring the nightlife of Dubai, which is housed in a series of bars and clubs attached to hotels (which is how they get their liquor licenses). Besides staying up late at Zinc, I've been out socializing at the many nightspots in this town, and not waking up before noon any day so far. At these various spots around town, I've met expats in Dubai from literally all over the world. And since Dubai is Emirates' hub, and flight crew also get 50% off of their drinks at many bars/clubs around town, there are always plenty of flight crews from Europe to chat with.
Since this is my first stop in the Middle East, I've also visited my first souks here, beginning with the world-famous Gold Souk. While I'm not really in the market to buy blinged-out gold bracelets, it's nice to know that they're here if I need then.
After reading a recent New York Times article on Dubai tourism, I've planned to join a half-day safari to go "dune bashing" and explore the desert. If I have the notion, I can go skiing indoors at The Mall of the Emirate's Ski Dubai, . Taxis are surprisingly cheap at less than USD $1 at flag fall, so it usually is less than 5 dollars to get from one club/bar to another within the city center.
The stores in the malls sell Calvin Klein red-and-white checkered shumag, and full-length black YSL abayas. The TV shows the Al-Jazeera Sports channel (which I had no idea existed!), and Russian cartoons on the RTR-Planeta channel. It's almost too much to comprehend after my quiet days spent in Nepal just before coming here.
Those moments when I step out of a nightclub into cool desert air and the drifts of sand being blown across the parking lot from the empty desert next door, and see the world's tallest building under construction (the burj dubai) literally across the street, it all hits me -- this over the top, bubble life, which manages to be ridiculous, vibrant, unsustainable, and simply wonderful.