Sunday, August 25, 2013

Reverse...Let's go Back to Dubai!

Leaving the beach, with a favorite newly completed building in the background.  Cayan Towers/aka "Infinity Towers" tops out at 80 stories and has a twist of 90 degrees -- each floor is rotated 1.2-degrees.  It's a residential building and because it's in the land of the biggest, the best, the tallest the most-est, it's the "World's Tallest Twisted Building" overtaking Malmo, Sweden's "Turning Torso."  It's a fete of engineering quite different from any other turning/twisted structure in that the frame itself is twisted (the swedes build cantilevered+rotating floors onto a straight frame). The design is from Skidmore, Owings and Merill (SOM), the same who build Dubai's Burj Khalifa (the world's tallest) and Chicago's Trump Towers. 

Let's reverse all the way to LAST year's trip to Dubai and then fast forward to our trip THIS YEAR before I carry on with Thailand.  It's such a strange place, and it's always sandwiched in between things that it's a bit hard to process our time there.  Additionally, the extreme temperatures make photography not only difficult but a bit risky.

2012.  Midnight.  106 degrees F.  The boys taking 2 minutes outside between icebox taxi and icebox mall.
Going from the ski-lodge to the 106-degree F/90% humidity can really do a number on not only the body, the mind but the equipment as well.

Dubai = Insanity.

What about Dubai isn't completely off-it's-rocker-over-the-top-insane?  I'm sure we'd get a grip on the subtleties of the place if we spent more than a long-weekend there but everything there is just....nuts. 

The fact that the city exists is the first obstacle to wrapping my head about this place.  Then you have to put things into context.  And for us, we have to put it mentally and visually in this weird space between Africa and America -- or Africa and Asia.
Don't worry about anything else when you are in Dubai.  "YOU ARE HERE" is really all you need to know
A rotten photo of the Burj Kahlifa, at 2am.   We had just exited the mall and were looking for a taxi.  It took a while to find one b/c we didn't know we had to go to the climate-controlled taxi bay.  We did see a ferrari and a few other flashy cars picking people up at the mall:  "MOM!  Don't you DARE pick me up in the Benz!"  Completed in 2009 and measuring 829 meters/2,722 feet.  It remains the world's tallest man-made structure in the world. (By comparison, the tallest building in Seattle is the Columbia Tower  286m/ 937 feet).  The Burj's "Armani Residences" are going for $3,500 per square foot.  Office space will run you $4,000 a square foot

We love Dubai for all it's craziness.  "WHY are you going to DUBAI?" is the most-asked question every year.  The implied question (I am guessing from all the crazy-faces people make when they ask us is: "WHY WOULD ANYONE IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WANT GO TO DUBAI?"  It's a fair question.

The thing we love most about Dubai of course is seeing our friends.  If there is any that draws us back it's that.  The dads are buddies, the moms are tight (big love) and the kids, like kids do everywhere, are  able to jump right in and play even if it's been a year since they last hung out.  We really appreciate the perspective that they can give us too, even if after a few years, they seem as baffled by the place we we are!

Aren't we cute?  2012 and 2013.  We just get wiser every year. ha ha ha. We try to keep up matching hair-dos over the miles and years but I think we need to be in the same climate to make this actually happen.  The matching beach hats were by accident.  I didn't have one, TR had 2. Thanks for the sharesies, babe.

One thing I love about visiting friends in a new place is just seeing the how's and where's of regular daily life. Any host can attest, I ask too many questions about dumb stuff like what kind of coffee do you get? can you order good pizza? How far do you drive to school each day.  What's the morning commute?

My unscientific research tells me a few things.  Since it's all about over-sharing, I'll carry on.  Housing options in Dubai are varied.  You can live in a sprawling suburbia like "The Springs", below. (They just left this neighborhood last week -- we're waiting to see pics of the new pad!).  Cute, right?  The houses/villas are oriented around a series of ponds and everyone has a cute little patch of actual GRASS and you can stroll.  It's quite sweet.  TR may disagree....
Or you can live in a high-rise condo (where we crashed last year at our BFF Adrien's loft).  Here the the little guy checking things out and lamenting the quick sunrise.  It was Ramadan and because of some poor planning food for us for the day. Man alive.  One of life's tough lessons for non-Muslims traveling. We could see the main downtown area to the right, and even had a view of the Burj if you pressed your face against the glass.  40 floors up was dizzyingly high and these full length windows freaked me out but then again, standing on a tall stool freaks me out.

You could live (below) somewhere "out at there" at "The Palms" which is an artificial archipelago (one of Dubai's two palm-frond shaped archipelagos actually)  featuring, amongst other things, 4,000 private residences. You could also probably get a place actually underwater if you like.  Anything's possible. Out at the Palm is the Atlantis Hotel which has rooms both above and under water.  The Lost Chamber Suites' "windows" open the lagoon filled with 65,000 marine animals including sharks, manta rays and other fantastic tropical sea creatures.  (You can inner tube down a shark filled tunnel for your commute if you feel like it or hang with the dolphins -- brought in from the Solomon Islands.)
O and TNT making their way out toward The Palms....trying to get to deeper, cooler water or maybe they are hallucinating that the floats are ice cream.  You never know. It IS Dubai.  They could be made of ice cream.
Downtown living.  We are trying simply to make it the two blocks from the beach to a cafe.  The kids are fading fast at this point, the Parents, even faster.  TR was SUCH a trooper to show us around when it was too hot to do anything.  (Warning: We're planning the next visit already but hope you'll be back in Z before we are back in UAE again!)
Evidence of LIFE!
The sun.  It's hot. I can see O's watch, it's just 10 am and already way too hot to be outside.
We made it to the cafe.  Hilarity ensued.  It took a good hour and 2L of ice cold mint lemonade apiece to recover from our 830-10am visit to the beach. 
Sorry Seattle
Housed in the world's largest mall is the Dubai Aquarium which boasts....the world's largest acrylic panel.  Measuring 27 x 107.8 feet and holding back the aquariums 2.65 million gallons of water and 33,000+ animals (dwarfing Seattle's "mammoth" 20x40 120,000 gallon exhibit with 800+ fish species).
Looking down to the aquarium's main entry level - I could only get part of the wall in the photo.
The super-panel opens to the mall and it's about the biggest living billboard one could kind of HAVE TO see what else is in the aquarium.  "Like what?" you ask. How about the acrylic tunnel that runs thru this tank of sharks, fish, crabs, manta rays? or maybe you want to take a glass-bottom boat ride in the world's largest aquarium tank?  or see the world's largest crabs or....the possibilities are of course....endless and nearly beyond your imagination.  
Inside the tunnel with the sharks. It's past midnight.  We've been up for days. We don't know what time zone we are in.  Everyone is a wee bit punchy.  BUT....We're in a shark tunnel! COOL!

I think if you could imagine ANYTHING, someone in Dubai will have already made it, or ... they'll gladly make it for you.  Just as long as it's the biggest, the best, the hottest, the coldest, the most....

Like?  an indoor olympic-size ice skating rink (in the same mall) or... an indoor snow-boarding/skiing facility (again at a different wing of the same mall) with actual snow.  Oh yeah, and PENGUINS running around.  Penguins. In the desert. In a mall in the desert.
"All Systems are GO" says Captain TNT.
O headed up the first little slope (he is skier #4 headed up) to have his lesson on a second one, out of view from our mall-perch at the St. Moritz Cafe. (Notice the Zorb-ball headed down? Nice touch. Everyone needs one of those. Or a dozen.  You can fit a lot of penguins in a zorb ball.)
Steamy and fully loaded down with 4 suitcases, 4 trunks, four rolling carryons, one stuffed backpack, one stuffed laptop bag and a guitar.  which somehow fit in the clown car below WITH US (+ the driver) ALSO RIDING IN THIS SAME CAR.  I don't think any laws of physics were observed packing everything/everyone into that tiny car. Maybe this is the secret of Dubai: the city exists but in some weird anomaly worm-holey type space? It's the only reasonable explanation.
Notable about this morning (aside from the miracle of how we fit into that vehicle) was that we HEARD A BIRD.  Otherwise we had not heard or seen any animal or evidence of any animals.  It could have been a recording of a bird.
Flast forward to 2013...The gang is traveling light: in the Dubai Airport 2013, headed to Thailand with ALL of our luggage and carryons and everything.  That one actual full-size suitcase actually has our second suitcase inside of it b/c we did do expect we would do some shopping in Bangkok.


Sarah said...

Just hopped over to your blog and love these pictures. I've tried to convince my husband to take a vacay to Dubai but he's not too keen on that idea. Looks like there is tons to do!

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