DUBAI: GLITTERING GULF STATE

SAFARI BLOG 02

Monday June 16, 2014

This blog-entry is coming to you, believe it or not, from 36,000 feet up in the air above Northern Africa. We’re doing what the birds do – flying south, en route to Nairobi, Kenya. The Emirates aircrew (13 different nationalities) are busy serving drinks, and our Mad Midlife Kiwis are scattered around me, eating, reading, movie-watching, and snoring.

A few hours ago, we woke up in Dubai and watched the 5am-sun climb huge and orange above the horizon. Breakfast was first on the agenda (can’t start the day without food!). And then, plonking bags and bodies on a coach, we galloped off to the airport for this next leg on our wild adventure.

A lot seems to have happened already. While you slept under warm Saturday-night blankets, we flew backwards through the time-zones, landing here in the United Arab Emirates yesterday morning, just as the bone-dry desert landscape was warming up.

Thirty-seven degrees – that’s what it was by the time we exited the air-conditioned hotel. And our city-tour guide told us this was comparatively cool. Just two days ago it was 47 degrees, so we had nothing to complain about.

There’s no place quite like Dubai, with its modern palaces sprawled along the coast, its soaring glass-&-steel skyscrapers, its 700-plus Muslim minarets, its 12-lane motorways, its jungle of cranes, and its sparkling latest-model cars. Twenty-five years ago there was little here except boiling-hot sand and a few grumpy camels, but gushing new oil and some visionary sheiks changed all that. Dubai, on the Persian Gulf, is now a glittering Middle East showpiece, and home to some 8 million people – although barely 1.5 million are Emiratis (Arabs); the majority are foreigners, labourer and construction workers from countries like India, Philippines and Bangladesh … and ex-pat professionals from everywhere else.

If you want an international melting-pot, this takes the cake. In just 24 hours, Mrs Cooney and I have enjoyed lively conversations with our Sri Lankan rep (who met us at the airport) … our Indian guide (who showed us the city) … the Turkish and British receptionists at our hotel … our Philippino and Bangladeshi waiters at dinner last night … the beautiful, young, highly-educated Somali mum-with-baby we met in the lobby … and the Romanian flight-attendant who just served us our drinks.

Fascinating? You bet – and so enriching!

However, all that is now behind us on the distant Arabian Peninsula … and ahead of us are grassy wildlife parks, stretching as far as the eye can see, and crawling with stunning free-to-roam wildlife. Midlife Madness on Safari – that’s what we’re about to have. And you, dear reader-back-home, must be green with envy.

KARIBU! WELCOME TO AFRICA!

PEOPLE NEWS

Two Mad Midlife honours – our much-sought-after quacky yellow ducks – were announced yesterday (amid much hooting, laughter and derision):

  • Sheryl received the ‘If The Shoe Fits’ Award … for a serious case of footwear-theft on the flight from Sydney to Dubai. Both she and the friend seated next to her removed their shoes soon after take-off. But when, several hours later, the friend went to put hers back on, she discovered that one was missing. Her search finally had her grovelling around on the floor – which was when she spied upon Sheryl’s feet two utterly different shoes. (You can work it out from there …)
  • Norman walked away with the ‘Flushed Without Success’ Award … for, well, let me explain … At Sydney airport, yesterday, Norman  took himself off to the men’s loo to put on his long black stockings (you know, the ones that protect your legs from DVT?). Entering a vacant cubicle, Norman sat himself down on the open toilet seat and was wrestling those tight socks up his hairy leg when the thing automatically flushed, giving Norman seriously wet pants. He emerged eventually and attempted to dry his wet backside by hovering over the hand-dryer. (But at this point the story gets too sordid, so I’ll leave it there …)

TOMORROW

We wriggle into six 4WD safari vehicles and motor off to ‘Elephant-Central’ – Kenya’s famous Amboseli National Park. So don’t change channels, folks – this is about to get exciting!

Yours bloggedly – JOHN

P.S. If you want to leave a message for someone in our group, just click on the little speech bubble at the top of this entry, and add your ‘COMMENTS’! Make sure you say who it’s for and who it’s from – and keep it brief. And if you want to receive future blogs hot-off-the-press in your INBOX, just sign-up (top-right) for your free Email Subscription!

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About John Cooney

John Cooney and his wife Robyn have enjoyed more than their fair share of travel. They hesitate to call themselves ‘experts’ – but they’ve grabbed every chance that’s come their way to explore new countries, cultures and customs. They’ve had the privilege (both on their own and as the leaders of numerous successful group-tours) to sample many stunning destinations: Europe, the UK, Singapore, Vanuatu, the USA, Israel, Egypt, Africa, Dubai, China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. And their recent (and most pleasant) memories are of the places ancient-and-modern that border the Mediterranean. John and Robyn are at-home in airports, hotels, cruise ships, and the like … and they know how to make the most of a unique travel opportunity. Travel, they reckon, is an all-five-senses experience – a chance to see, feel, smell, hear and taste the world. And they’ve done it often enough to know for sure: sightseeing with a group of laid-back Kiwis is DOUBLE the fun – lots of laughs, great company, and memories that last forever!

18 thoughts on “DUBAI: GLITTERING GULF STATE

  1. Hillary & Rex, Have a fabulous trip, looks like the laughs have already started. Elaine and myself are following along on the blog. Enjoy xx

  2. What a happy group & some very familiar faces. Say hi to all our friends and hope they enjoy the adventure as much as we did in 2011 (only seems like yesterday).
    Enjoy the “HIGHWAYS” of Tanzania & Kenya!!!!

  3. Margaret Taylor and the group, looks like the laughs of group travel have already began, I bet he puts the lid down next time lol hope you are taking lots of photos, no tigers though 😉 have an amazing trip, look forward to the next blog! Paula Taylor

  4. Hi Mum and Dad,
    Dad – you hadn’t even started this amazing trip before getting a yellow duck!!! LOL. Must admit I had quite a few laughs…..still laugh thinking about it now…..All well here. Some soccer results in case you haven’t heard – Eng 1 Ita 2 – thought England very unlucky. Seemed to have ball lots. Must win game against Uruguay this Fri am. Uru lost to Costa Rica 1v3. Spain lost to Netherlands 1v5. GER v PORT 4v0. USA v Ghana 2v1. Bra v Mexico 0v0 (mex happy!!). Russia v Korea 1v1. France won 3v0 against Honduras. Aus v Chile 1v3. Aus play Netherlands tomorrow. Columbia, Cote d’Ivoire,Switzerland,Argentina also had wins. Iran v Nigeria 0v0. Some amazing goals. England goal brillant. All played in good spirit – crowds good. Will let u know how Eng go. Enjoy the wonderful wildlife and heat (haha!!). Take care, Sue xxx

  5. Hi Hilary and Rex (e.g. Granny and Grandad) I bet you are having a great time, seeing all the animals how hot is it over there? we have still got logan and cole and Trelise Staying with us the stern bull sale is tomoro. Samuel has had lots of running around with Trelise. Samuel wants to know if you have seen a monkey yet and will it fit in your bag to come home? and Trelise wants a big miaow for her, well hope all is great with you all and take care. talk soon
    from M, H, S, L, C, T

      • Hi Hilary and Rex
        Snow down to 300m meters here. All is fine. The mice should be scared at Nokomai. Did a road trip last weekend there. Sam amd Scott have recovered after their trip to Dunedin for the rugby . Scott was in lost and found until mid day Sunday.
        Maori weaving all this weekend. Watch out flax
        Cheers
        Liz

  6. Hello to John and Robyn, and to all those who know us, have a great trip, we just loved this trip when we did it, regards to all, love from Helen and John Coatsworth

  7. Hi Mum and Dad,
    Thanks for your email. Brings back memories of my safaris in Africa – wish we were there!!!! Would love to go back one day and take the girls!!!! Anyway, another update for dad – Aus lost to Netherlands 2v3 and Spain lost to Chile 0v2. Aus and Spain go home and Chile and Netherlands go through to next round. Upset for former champs Spain but Chile look very good. BIG GAME tomorrow – a must win for England. Will get up and watch it. Will let you know score. All well here. Alex won her netball, Sam plays today. Sam has her soccer rep trials this Saturday after her game!! Sounds like you are having a great time – I never saw a Cheetah. Lucky you. LOL Sue XXX

  8. Hi Mum and Dad,
    All well here. Eng going home – Italy lost to Costa Rica 0v1. Eng needed Italy 2 win to have any chance. France beat Switzerland 5v2. Germany v Ghana 2v2. Arg v Iran 1v0. Alex won her soccer on the weekend 6v1 and Sam’s team lost – just couldn’t finish a lot of opportunities. Sam had soccer rep trials Sat arvo so wait to hear how she got on. Hope you are still seeing AMAZING sights. LOL XXX Suz

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