I help with Melbourne Perl Mongers.
I spend an awful lot of time talking about Perl, and have had my picture in the Australian newspapers with a camel. That's rather scary.
Dubai Adventures - Day 3
Today I decided to travel to Jumeirah beach and surrounds, a decision I made purely based upon the number of tags and photographs in the area for Google Earth. Since I'd be doing this during the day, I decided to take a practical approach. I left the laptop and most electronics back in the hotel, and packed lots of water and sunscreen. I wore my most breathable cotton top, a linux.con f.au hat, and what Jacinta calls my "pirate pants". These pants are very loose, and very breezy, and very comfortable. But as a result, I didn't look like a local, and I didn't look like a typical tourist, either. I was, however, protected from the sun and reasonably cool.
I caught a taxi to Jumeirah mosque, for just a little over 10 AED (about $3.50). I didn't expect to find the mosque open (and indeed, it wasn't), but I got some nice photographs. The main reason I wanted to visit the mosque is that it was walking distance to the beach, and (if you're me) Sheik Zayed Road. While two days ago I had discovered that walking around the old souks resulted in someone trying to sell me a fake rolex every few minutes, today I discovered that walking around Jumeirah had a taxi beep at me every few minutes, hoping that I would need a lift somewhere.
Jumeirah beach is very pretty, and very hot. There weren't many people out, and a lifeguard watched lazily from a tower. The beach came with lots of rules, one of which was "strictly no cameras", so I had to be a little more discreet with my photographs. The water looked extremely inviting, and I relished the idea of hopping in for a swim. Unfortunately (and accidentally), I had left my swimming gear back in the hotel, and my mask and snorkel back in Australia.
At the beach I got some great photographs of the skyline of Sheik Zayed Road, especially of the Burj Dubai, which distinctly reminds me of the Combine Citadel in Half-Life 2. Having looked around the beach, I decided to head off toward Sheik Zayed road, which I was certainly would be filled with marvels.
The walk was a lot harder than my previous wanderings around Bur Dubai, even though the distance was shorter. I was walking through a residential distract, and as such there was a lot less cover, and fewer amenitities. It was clear that Jumeirah was home to the rich, with magnificent mansions and expensive cars.
After about 1.5km of walking from the beach, I was finding that the heat and exposure was making me a little uncomfortable, and that while I had packed a lot of water, I'd probably need to think about looking for more. Luckily, I had just chanced upon a park. It was beautiful, green, lush, and immaculately maintained. For some reason, the gate was shut, with a large padlock, and it looked as if this gate had been shut for some time. Perplexed, I went to a second gate, and it was also closed. I noticed a person in the park, but he appeared to be a groundskeeper, who was distracted by talking on his mobile phone. This had me even more perplexed; why spend water, and money, and high-value property on creating a park that nobody can get into? This wasn't marked as a private park, and it even had a playground in the middle of it. Maybe it closed during the middle of the day, and re-opened later on?
A climbing check, and two stealth checks later, I found myself a section of soft grass and a shady tree under which to snooze. I woke after about half an hour, a little surprised that the groundskeeper hadn't woken me. Refreshed, I continued on my way, and discovered much to my delight that Dubai has public refrigerated drinking founains. With my water bottles refilled, and my face and arms splashed with blissfully cold water, I continued onwards.
The region I was walking through seemed to be filled with houses that were universally big. However one house in particular stood out. It was on the corner of two streets and was unfinished. That in itself is nothing special; Dubai seems to be in a constant state of construction, but it was clear this building had been unfinished for quite some time. The shell was made, but that's all which was there. Amusingly, a sign on the side said "For Sale or Rent".
After walking past another park (also beautiful, closed, and deserted), I eventually reached Sheik Zayed Road. This is the home to many of the tallest buildings in Dubai, and is a spectacular sight from the air, but amazingly dull on the ground. These were hotels, and office blocks, and the odd food outlet here and there. It was also completely impossible to cross on foot. It looked like some footbridges were under construction, but they were nowhere near finished, and they were so big I suspect they were for yet another road link, and not meant for pedestrian traffic at all.
I walked down the street, and got some decent photographs. My plan was to walk across to the Dubai Mall, take a look around, and then walk up the other side of Sheik Zayed Road to the Emerites Towers. As it happened, try as I might, I couldn't find a way to get across the street, which has twelve lanes, and cars travelling at considerable speed.
Hot, disappointed, and tired, I decided to try and find someplace cool, and preferably with restrooms. Being Dubai, there was a small mall not too far away, and I made my way toward it. It had a supermarket, and an electronics superstore, and in a rare moment of impulse purchasing, I grabbed a copy of EA Sports Active (which apparently sucks less than Wii Fit), after carefully checking it for any signs that indicated that perhaps it would only work in certain regions.
If I had my laptop with me, I would have pulled out my maps and looked for interesting activities, but since it was not available, and since I had gone all this way to discover that Sheik Zayed road sucked, I hailed a taxi to get back to town. This was one of the best parts of the day, since the driver was very talkative. He was from Pakistan, to which he'd love to return, but apparently there are no jobs there. He had worked previously in the Ukraine, and had moved to Dubai eight months ago.
My driver commented that Dubai is an artificial city. It's got artificial islands, artificial buildings, artificial snow, and artificial parks. People are here because Dubai has done an amazing job of marketing itself to the rich, but due to the global financial crisis, the rich aren't rich anymore, and they're flying back overseas. Tourism is down, jobs are more scarce, and so many of the not-so-rich who have come here for work are also going back overseas. Apparently all this was great reducing traffic congestion and getting me back to my hotel, but it sucked for the city as a whole.
Back at the hotel I had a bite to eat, and wrote this blog. My plane leaves at 9:35am, which means I want to be at the airport at 7:35am, which means I want to be leaving the hotel at 7am, which means waking before that. If I want to avoid too much jet-lag I should be going to bed now, and waking super-early in the morning. Instead I'm here posting blog entries, and discovering that the the UAE censors flickr, so there won't be any photographs until I get home.