We’ve a new addition to our family. It’s been a while since he joined us but we’ve been busy on the blog trying to get back from our trip to PNG.
Now that we’re back and settled here:
at 77 Field View, Bar Hill, Cambs, CB23 8SY, UK
we’re ready to start telling you what we’ve been up to since we came back from PNG.
Well, the first thing we did, almost literally, was to pick up little Joey. Here he is:
He’s a 1988 Vauxhall Nova. Yes, that’s right, he’s 21 years old. If you look closely, you can see why we call him Joey. Doesn’t look bad does he. He’s only got 82,000 miles on the clock and a few little bits of rust here and there. But for £300 ($500), you can’t really go wrong. So far, he’s got us to Dorset and back for our anniversary which is a 400 mile round trip. He’s even got a stereo, if you sing. We sang every Beatles song we knew on the way back.
And watch this space (or at least the one above it) for more about the trip to Dorset…
Okay, burj is Arabic for tower people so next time you hear someone say “the burj tower” you can inform them of their redundancy. Try it. It’s a great way to make friends.
Two towers display the bonkersness of Dubai, the Burj Al Arab and the Burj Dubai. Most of you will be familiar with the Burj Al Arab which looks like this
but also comes in a handy pocket size too
This is the hotel which charges you £20 ($32) just to walk in the door (I kid you not) and, if you want to stay, the cheapest room currently available will set you back around £1000 ($1600) per night. You could always club together with 7 other friends for the three-bedroom suite. That will only be £6,631 ($11,000) per night. Oh, and don’t forget the small print. There’s a 10% municipality fee and a 10% service charge to be added to that although that does include breakfast.
Or how about the Ultimate Wedding Package which says it includes
One helicopter arrival or departure airport Tansfer and one Rolls Royce arrival or departure airport transfer for up to two guests In-suite romantic candlelit dinner. In-suite daily breakfast. One 5-Course Moonlit Dinner in Majlis-Al-Bahar, our romantic beach restaurant overlooking Burj Al Arab. Culinary Flight for two, to wrap up your Burj Al Arab experience, taking you on an a gastronomic journey as you move from one restaurant to another for each of the five course meal. A Rolls Royce Phantom for 12 hours at disposal for couple photo shooting In-Suite set up on Wedding night with special linens, flowers, chocolate and gift. Couple Spa treatments including:For the bride: hair style and make up consultation, one Signature Around the World massage, one La Prairie facial, nail care on arrival, hair styling with make-up and nail polish on the day of the wedding; For the groom: one Wellbeing massage, hair cut and styling on the day of the wedding Minimum of Four Nights Stay.
Now, with that “minimum four nights stay” bit tacked on the end, this will set you back £13,552 ($22,215). That’s bonkers.
So, moving on from one definition of bonkers to another.
The Burj Dubai is fairly new. In fact, it’s so new that they haven’t even opened it yet. You may have heard of it but not many have seen it. It’s temporarily the world’s tallest building at 818 m (2,684 ft). Just to put that in perspective, the tallest ‘mountain’ in England is 978 metres (3209 ft) tall and the Burj Dubai totally dwarfs anything that has come before it. In fact, it took me three photos to fit it in which I had to ‘stitch’ together later:
If you head over to the website, they’ll try to impress you with their stats. The energy demands of this thing are horridious. Electrical demand, they proudly boast, will be equivalent to 360,000 100-watt bulbs operating at the same time. The air conditioning alone requires 10,000 tons of chilled water per hour.
People, let’s think about that for a minute. This is in a world where one billion of us don’t have access to clean water (that’s one in six), and 1.6 billion have no access to electricity whatsoever. That’s a quarter of us. What the hell are we doing with this planet?
I’ll just have to soothe my emotions with the Burj Fountain which, every 15 mins every evening at the foot of the Burj Dubai, does something like this:
So, there you are, staring at your malachite and gold bath and wondering if it will go with the curtains. But step back a moment. Where are you?
You’re standing in a shopping centre larger than the Vatican. I’m serious. The Dubai Mall (home of the bath) is a fifth larger than the Vatican. In fact, that’s not the only stat where it trumps the Holy See. Pretty much any way you look at this, this place is bigger than the world’s smallest country.
In fact, in one month alone, this place saw over THREE million visitors. Spread over the opening times of 90 hours a week, that’s still a bonkers 9 people a second coming through the doors. The Vatican doesn’t even compare. Despite much more exclusive opening hours (9-4) only about 4 a minute bother to turn up. It’s amazing. In some ways it’s understandable really. The Vatican’s just got some poxy old frescoes by some Italian guy. They don’t have a malachite bath! Wait… they probably do.
There’s a ton more worship going on in the Dubai Mall than the Vatican. Let’s face it, if the Vatican is your local church, you’re in a serious minority. The whole country only contains about 600 citizens. So the vast majority of the visitors are there to take photos, not to get involved in what Michaelangelo built the building for. But at the Dubai Mall, you’re in a serious minority if you aren’t there to pick up some must-have item.
But they thought of everything when they designed these malls and they helpfully provided some relief for those of us who only go to malls at the behest of others who purport to enjoy them. At the Dubai Mall, I was spoiled for choice really. If I’d had my PADI certificate, I could have scuba dived in the three storey aquarium that sits in the centre of the place. It’s immense and has fish that are bigger than I am. Okay, that’s not so impressive I guess.
But if that doesn’t rock your boat, you could always get a taxi over to the Emirates Mall where they’ve got the only ski resort in the Middle East. As we looked through the windows at kids sledging and families flying down the piste, the thermometer showed us that it was -3° C in there and around 45° outside. God and the owners alone know what the electricity bill is for the air conditioning in there. God alone knows the environmental impact.
Perhaps you’re too wowed by the showy baubles of ski slopes and aquaria and prefer something more subtle. The Ibn Battuta is the place for you then. The decor of each section of this mall follows the fantastic journeys of the great traveller Ibn Battuta from his home in Tangier all the way over to China and back and a lot in between. Each area is decked out in design from each locale he visited. He was an amazing man and the mall sets out to let you know that. How did he manage to pull off such an amazing feat? How did the scientists and inventors he met along the way come up with such wonders (all of which are recreated in the mall)? It’s quite simple: they were Muslims.
But aside from the banal and frankly disturbingly naive propaganda, there’s some very eye-catching interior design at the mall as these photos convey:
Malls thrive in Dubai because there’s too much money around for people to know what to do with. It’s a sad indictment of humanity as far as I was concerned. We cry out at the immoralities of injustice and suffering. But the indulgence and greed that has created and sustains the malls of Dubai is no less immoral.
I heard a lot of people who lived in Dubai telling us how bonkers it is, how ostentatious and extravagant. It must be very hard to live there though and not get drawn in by it all and forget what motivates and drives it. I thank God that I don’t face that temptation.