Just wanted to document my recent trip to Dubai here on the blog. Both the trip, and my post-excursion decision to ink a quick blog about it, were largely unplanned, so I’m sure I could’ve put together a much more compelling documentation of the experience with even a little bit of forethought. BUT, it’s been occurring to me more and more lately just how disposable social media posts tend to be… how our musings, pics, and vids just seem to evaporate into this big black hole of white noise, only to be seen (and forgotten) by so few. Not sure how much more of a shelf life things have in a blog post, but it seems like a more reliable way to present (and ultimately reference) one’s expressions and experiences, as we go deeper into a densely cluttered future of digital “content.”
As always, thanks for scoping, and enjoy…
For me, the ulterior objective of any last-minute trip is to take it with a “have laptop, will travel“ credo. This is a writer’s retreat sort of mentality where I can immerse myself into a project or two that I’ve been working on and make some serious headway. I think it’s the combination of being away from the multitude of things back home that vie for my attention, and the stimulation of a new environment, that makes my writing especially productive on these trips. Sometimes I’ll even seek out different areas around the hotel to write, just to mix things up, as this pic shows:
Dubai is often referred to as the “Vegas of the Middle East,” probably because of its relative over-the-topness where all things grand, huge and ostentatious are concerned. But, from what I could see, even with its garish nature, it’s much more elegant than Vegas… more Beverly Hills than Circus Circus. This is particularly true with the general hotel decor and modern architecture there:
Here are a couple shots taken from the heart of the skyline out the window of a 68th floor restaurant:
And yes, there are some familiar Western touches in modern Dubai!
But it was the Old Dubai area of town that really spoke to me:
Very maze-like in Old Dubai:
…with water taxis operating at a nearby canal:
Here’s a quick “behind-the-scenes” video of the gym I had 24-hour access to at the hotel. Obviously, these hotel facilities on the road are never quite as good as what you would find at a real gym. However, if you can focus on a few pieces of gear that are different from what you have available at your gym back home—and you can create a cool routine that integrates these movements in a way that your body isn’t used to—you can get a killer pump and still have an exceptional workout. For this reason, training on the road can be an effective way of making progress, even if the facilities aren’t quite up to par.
For the running portion of this short vid: It was a late-night/early morning trek that I wound up shooting in three quick excerpts, as I tried to capture the perfect skyline shot. (Better luck next time!) But mainly, I hope it conveys the absolute ecstasy I feel when I go out for a run in… well, virtually any city around the world. I LIVE FOR IT!!!
A Few Final Observations
1. For whatever implications or complications one might expect security-wise when traveling to the Middle East, this trip was a breeze. Getting through the security checkpoints and clearing customs on both the departing and returning flights was fast and effortless.
2. Public bathrooms in Dubai are incomparably spotless. I know this might seem like a random observation to make, but with all the traveling I’ve done around the world through the years, this is something I notice… especially in light of the inexcusably disgusting conditions you find in American toilets! These folks are serious about their bathroom cleanliness over there and, frankly, it’s impressive. (By comparison, they must think we are all a bunch of savages when they come over to the states for a visit!)
3. Along the lines of my recent experience in China, stealing does not appear to be part of the culture over there. Apparently, it just doesn’t happen, so you always feel like you can leave your laptop or other personal valuables out in the open in the hotel room… which is not something you can do in most other parts of the world. I find this kind of thing fascinating, although it’s probably sad that I do!
4. Also, like in China, I noticed some of the typical cultural biases and Western filters popping up in my general observations of things. And yet, I didn’t actually feel this dreadful sense of suppression among the peeps there, particularly the Muslim women. It seems to me that they simply choose to live tightly within the moral and behavioral parameters of their religion—with the same conviction that many Americans choose to, by the way—as opposed to being “forced” to. Obviously, I would never dream of making any overarching statements about this: I’m the last person qualified to do so. But it’s just another reminder that the “American Dream” version of expressing one’s freedom and liberation is not exactly a universal aspiration. And this is important to note if you’re interested in really understanding what makes other cultures tick.
Just a thought…
Looking forward to heading back over there again soon… especially across the sea from Dubai to Iran at some point. Love the art, poetry, music, and history of that culture.