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EMAIL: Good-bye from Dubai

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Hi Everyone We're writing from Dubai [Dubai-travel-guide-565786] on our way home from Iran after a great trip. Quick Additions Some quick additions to the snippets about various things in Iran that we told you about in the last email: * Remember the Shah's jewels? They had so much money their curtain tassles were made many threads of pearl ... each thread consisting of many 1mm pearls threaded together (drilled somehow through the middle)!
* Here is a picture of the mud and straw citadel at Bam [http://www.travbuddy.com/images/users/alexchan/trips/pic11545138864.jpg].

Continuing with Iran We last wrote from Shiraz, the city closest to the ancient ruins of Persepolis. Persepolis is an ancient Persian city that was destroyed by a fire (probably set by Alexander the Great) some 2000 years ago. Some say Alexander's actions were in retaliation for the Persian invasion of Greece ... the Persian empire did span southern Europe to India at its most glorious point. Persepolis was somewhat of a disappointment having been to say Palmyra or Crac de Chevaliers in Syria. Still worthwhile though. We flew from Shiraz to Esfahan, probably the nicest city in Iran. Why? Emam Khomeini Square, in the heart of the city, is home to a couple of the most beautiful and intricate mosques in the world ... and they are joined by passages forming very nice bazaars. I thought I found heaven at the Abassi Hotel there ... an old caravanserai (or hotel in the days of the Silk Route) that has been converted into the city's top hotel. Its courtyard consists of manicured gardens with fountains ... an ideal setting for their teahouse. Beautifully lit at night with piped Persian music. Nice cuppa chay as a prelude to a dinner at their lavishly decorated restaurant ... two full meals for USD11. Some shots of Esfahan: * Photo 1 [http://www.travbuddy.com/images/users/alexchan/trips/pic11545940614.jpg]
* Photo 2 [http://www.travbuddy.com/images/users/alexchan/trips/pic11545941971.jpg]

We finished up in Tehran briefly to connect to our flight out to Dubai. Just enough time to finish up our Iranian rials on the country's famous pistachios (far cheaper on the streets) ... but not enough to buy that Caspian Sea caviar that they produce. Some of you asked about business opportunities in Iran. My picks are: * Panelbeating for all those cars that get dented in the shocking traffic.
* Eyebrow-shaping for those dense mini-forests on the brows of many men and women. In some cases, make that "brow" (singular) ... yes, one big one straight across.
* Affordable nose-jobs. We see so many men and women in posher areas displaying unashamedly their post-rhinoplasty bandages.

Really enjoyed our independent travels in Iran, especially meeting lots of interesting people ... many Japanese and Koreans backpacking through Pakistan and Afghanistan overland to Iran with no problems ... most of them travelling solo, including women. Then there's the Dutch couple with 4 kids aged 3 to 8, doing Istanbul to Kathmandu independently by public transport. Dubai ... again We're staying at the World Trade Centre Hotel in Dubai ... a 5 star property at USD50 per room per night! Probably due to down turn in conference and exhibition customers ... we pay 20% of rack rate. Believe it or not, at that price they also grant free access to: * the Wild Wadi [http://www.wildwadi.com/] water theme park ... entry for two people cost the same as one night at the hotel!
* the stunning and expensive Jumeirah Beach Hotel [http://www.jumeirah.com/i/SITE_031124_18011146_Y15NJ/content/CMS_040114_09440007_49OQC/1BBEF1B7-65B8-F7F7-5E4365E1144B72CC.JPG] and its swimming pools. I must say the clientele there aren't stunning but are less than sophisticated (judging from the tasteless tatoos that they flaunt). They simply come in droves on cheap packages from countries with stronger currencies, especially when discounting is now prevalent due to the increasing heat.

Too bad no free access to the 7-star sister hotel called Burj Al Arab [http://www.jumeirah.com/i/SITE_031124_18011146_Y15NJ/content/CMS_040114_09440007_49OQC/1BBDF811-65B8-F7F7-5ED580E2033118F9.JPG]. Our hotel does try to get back its cheap room rate by charging about USD50 for two breakfasts ... but naturally we avoided these by shopping up large at the local supermarket.

Actually, in the current security environment, we feel more exposed at highly-westernised landmarks like the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, compared to when in Iran. Some observations about how safe Iran is ... where else in the world can you see the following: * Many banks and bank-kiosks don't even lock their back doors!
* Two 6 year old girls hail a cab to take them to school.

Despite these modern buildings, Dubai's modernity is just a veneer, really! Some snippets: * Women still cook themselves in black clothing, covering their cover their faces completely, and some even wear gloves. Compare this to Iran where about 35% of doctors and 50% of university graduates are women.
* Men still roam the streets in traditional long white outfits and sandals. There's nothing to distinguish the rich from the poor except from their watches and cars!
* A western couple got jailed for a few months for kissing (make that deep kissing) on the street. And a western businessman got jailed for a year for pinching a bottle of perfume tester. These two may be urban myths though.

We spent one night sleeping under the stars in the desert, on an overnight safari! Safari began with a very enjoyable 4WD dune-ride ... went up and down the dunes, then watched other vehicles in the convoy do the same ... that's when we realised that manouvres were steeper than they felt! One vehicle did get stuck, at which point the safari drivers' skills in orchestrating the "rescue" became very evident. They all swear by their Toyota Landcruiser. Finished off with camel rides, sand-skiing, a BBQ dinner in the desert and of course ... a belly dancer.


Off to Singapore first thing in the morning. There for one or two days with my Mum and Step-father being heading home to Auckland. Look forward to seeing those of you in Auckland.

Alex & Kimball

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in United Arab Emirates

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