Dubai – Wild for the Colonel

It’s a strange feeling when you’re in a strange city by yourself, and the city requires that you be a multi-millionaire to do anything fun. So for a lot of my stay, I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything – just relax. It may have been the fact that I had been working seven days a week, 10 hours a day, since April, but I couldn’t be sure.

In any case I did manage to make myself go out and see a few more things.
But before that, I had to go and get my visa for my trip back to Afghanistan. It was nice to hang out with Pushtosh, the guy from the travel agency that was helping me. He drove me around a little bit and we talked about living in Dubai. He moved to the city long before all the high rises were there and had seen the city grow up. He came from Sri Lanka, where his name, which he was very dissatisfied with, meant “Flowers.”

“And I am not a flower!” He shouted, pounding the steering wheel. “What were my parents thinking with this name!?”

“Hey! Daisy pants! Settle down!” I shouted as we cruised down the freeway. “We’re going to get pulled over!”

But we didn’t get pulled over. In fact, in my six days in the city, I saw only three police vehicles, and only one of them was stopping another vehicle, but there had been an accident.

Pushtosh, in his flowery language, described why there are not many cops around.
Because Dubai drivers are scared to death of getting caught by the police. Why? Because the penalties for infractions are a little extreme. For example, if you run a red light in the city, a camera takes your picture, and you get a fine in the mail, depending on the time of day and traffic density at the time, for 6,000-18,000 AED, or $2,000-$6,000 USD. Can’t pay the fine? You got to jail until you can pay the fine. And if an accident is caused by running the red light, your visa is revoked and you are sent out of the country.

I’m not saying that this is a little extreme, but at the same time, it seems a little extreme.

I took a moment to ponder this as we whisked by a man, standing on the side of the road, using a small 1-liter gas can to fill up his Maserati. Poor man with his Maserati.

“Does the hotel you stay at have a night club?” Pushtosh asked.

“Yes,” I said, “It has four of them, but it’s not really my scene.”

“It is my scene,” he confessed. “I like to dance.”

“Okay then,” I said. “You should swing by – there were lots of people there the last few nights.”

“Are they Arabic Night Clubs?”

“I’m not sure. What makes them Arabic Night Clubs?” I asked him.

“It is where the Arab women go to take off their robes and wear normal clothes,” he said.

I had seen the women in the city – dressed from head to toe in black robes, with a sort of hood over their head and two clothes around their face, one on the forehead and the other across their cheeks and nose, leaving only the eyes exposed. But I didn’t know that they had a place to cut loose and let it all hang out. Later, as I walked through the Mall of the Emirates and saw a woman clothed this way stepping out of the Juicy Couture shop with a bag that said “Kiss My Juicy” in big letters across the front, it all came together.

The interior of the Mall of the Emirates. It was really really large.

There at the Mall, I got to see the sight that people had encouraged me to see – an indoor ski mountain. It was pretty cool, and very nice how they had made the whole thing very lodge-like, and I almost felt at home for a short moment. I liked watching the people frolic in the snow, which I’m sure many people were seeing for the first time in their lives. It would have cost me about $200 to ski for two hours, and I think if I weren’t alone, I would have done it. It looked like a lot of fun.

The main part of the ski hill. With an impressive 60 vertical feet of slope, this ski area is the place to have precisely 30 seconds of fun before having to ride the lift again.

A little bit broader view shows the virtual Christmas village they have constructed. With bob-sled-like runs and snow caves. For the uninitiated with snow, I imagine this is a pretty cool experience.

They even have the popular, "Get Mauled by a Polar Bear Experience."

And for a paltry sum, you can be shoved into a large plastic ball and rolled down a gentle slope. This is very popular with the ladies who later hit up the Arabic night clubs.

So I headed to the food court to get my favorite Dubai cuisine – Hardees. I’m really glad they still have Hardees and not Carl’s Junior. I’m just saying, I like Hardees.
But it was there that I saw one of the more dominant beliefs of the people of Dubai expressed. They are wild for Colonel Sanders. Can’t get enough Kentucky Fried Chicken. The lines were long, and tables throughout the food court were dotted with large buckets of chicken. I was amazed and yet strangely craving KFC. I resisted and ate my double Super Star burger and really enjoyed it.

For dessert, I stopped in at the slightly less well known, but still very popular ice cream shop that boldly proclaimed it’s name – “Cold Marble Slab Creamery.” In the same type face, and within about 100 yards of Cold Stone Creamery, this blatant copyright infringement was bold, creamy and delicious.

I left Dubai the next morning, and while I’m excited to go back again, to see some more historic or culturally significant sights, I was glad to be out of the heat and humidity, and glad to be getting back to work.

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