Thursday, 29 April 2010

Old Dubai

One night, we took the boys downtown to the old part of Dubai. It's the old downtown, it's the heart of Dubai from years ago. It's still home many of the gold souks, the fabric souks, the spice souks, the carpet souks and many other places for businesses to buy their wares wholesale. Parts of the souks are now fairly touristy, but some things are just as they were 50 years ago.

There is a creek that runs through the old part of Dubai and Dubai remains an important port of call for western merchants. Old wooden ships called dhows from the far east, India and within the region, would unload their wares in the souks and on the dock. The goods were haggled over and then sent on to their next destination. It's amazing to see these rickety old boats, loaded down with western goods, headed to some far away place across the Persian Gulf or the Indian Ocean! They stack them high and haphazardly. Used cars, rice, TVs and plastic kitchen ware might all be thrown in the same dhow. The contrast of the old boats filled to the brim and decorated with laundry with the modern buildings in the backdrop is fantastic.

We hired an abra, a traditional ferry, to take us on a ride through the creek. Scott and I enjoyed the sights, sounds and the sunset. The boys were not too impressed and really just wanted to hurry up and head to the spice souk and the gold souk we'd been speaking of all day. They loved the spice souk and the shop keepers loved them. They were given sweets and allowed to touch and smell everything. This is still a fascinating part of the city for me.

A few familiar brands as we walked the busy, crowded streets......

The McDonald's was jam packed! And there was a separate line for ice cream cones which they sold for 1 dirham which is about 30 cents.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Playing in the Sand

On one of Scott's day's off in Dubai, we took a Desert Safari to "ride the dunes!" We rode them in a Chevy Tahoe, on camels and the boys took a ride on a sand board. It was a great day with lots of shrieks and laughter from the thrills.

In 2000, when Scott and I were in Dubai for a meeting, we went on a Desert Safari with about 50 of his colleagues. We rode the dunes in a Land Cruiser, rode camels and had a traditional meal under tents that night. At the time, we were flabbergasted that we were not made to sign release forms for the Land Cruiser drive. The dunes seemed huge and there were times that I just knew we were going to flip over.

This time, we had to sign a whole folder of forms and the dunes did not seem quite as big. Things have changed in the big city!

While we were in the Tahoe, Charlie was laughing so hard from the roller coaster like ride that the driver had to stop because he was laughing at Charlie. It was hilarious!

This is the Tahoe that was following us.

These guys were smelly. The best part of the ride is getting on and getting off. Man, they are tall.

Looking like a pro.

Have you ever seen such determination? And what a SMILE. Melts my heart.

The unconventional way down might be the most fun. Charlie seemed to think so.

Look at that form!

This was such a fun day and let me tell you, by noon, it's HOT in the DESERT! I have a new appreciation for the rain in Glasgow.

Sunday, 25 April 2010


On our way home from Mauritius, we planned a 3 day stopover in Dubai. We wanted to show the boys a few of the sites they'd seen on the Internet back in 2007 when there was a possibility we were moving there instead of Scotland. And Scott needed to be there for work which was perfect for all of us. Our 3 days turned into 10 days due to the ash cloud and we were able to see much more of the city than we expected.

Dubai is NUTS! It's full of concrete, traffic and materialism unlike anything I've ever seen. I am amazed that they continue to build all over the city. I am amazed that they can sell the condos. I am amazed that they can fill their hotels. Of course their economy is hurting right now. But there is still so much construction and so many people!

Scott was first there in 1995 and I first saw it in 2000. So much has changed in these 15 years. It's really astonishing. If you think of every big brand that you can think of, of every big corporation name you can think of, and every hotel chain you can think of, it's in Dubai; CNN, SIEMENS, Coca~Cola, Intel, Microsoft, Armani, Pottery Barn, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale's, McDonald's, Krispy Kreme, and more. Almost every sign on every building is a recognisable name. It's wild. I suppose because of the location of Dubai, and the drive to build the city to sustain itself after their oil runs dry, it's a one stop shop. Most major US and European corporations have offices here. Even since 2007, when I was last there, the amount of new retail is WILD! And the local people, do not know what to do with themselves. There is so much wealth in a place where there was very little 30 years ago. It's really hard to describe.

Never-the-less, we LOVED being stranded with Scott while he was working. We found things to do that we'd never done before. And ultimately, I think the boys had a terrific time!

Here are a few of the things we experienced and/or saw:

We stayed in the Marina area of Dubai. When we arrived from Mauritius, we just needed to recover from the overnight flight. Ethan and Christopher didn't sleep a wink. So after lunch by the pool, they sat down and within seconds were sound asleep!

We could see the Atlantis Palm from our hotel and we drove by the famous Burj Al Arab everyday.

This is the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Surrounding the building is a lagoon with a fountain show designed by the Bellagio, Las Vegas Fountain designers. And surrounding the lagoon is a "new downtown" with a very fancy mall, an Arabian souk and many restaurants. On the night we went to see it, we sat outside and watched the fountains while we enjoyed our dinner. And the boys tried and tried to get the whole building in one picture. It's too big!

One of the highlights for the boys each day was arriving back at the hotel to discover what cars were parked at the front door. They were hilarious naming each one and determining which one was the best in their eyes. Thanks to Top Gear, a British TV show about cars, our boys are well versed in all things CAR! And maybe thanks to their car obsessed father!

Stay tuned, more tomorrow!

Monday, 19 April 2010


Mauritius is a fantastic island, with a colourful history. It was first settled by the Dutch, then the French, then the English. In 1968, Mauritius became an independent nation. It's a peaceful nation with people from many different religions and backgrounds; all working together, celebrating the everyday and enjoying their beautiful country. The ethnic majority on the island is Indian and most of the others are from Chinese, European and African heritage. There is no official language but the majority of Mauritians speak 3 languages; French, English and Mauritian Creole. Today, the 2 major industries are sugar production and tourism. The island is covered in sugar cane, which I particularly loved to see since I grew up in Louisiana and sugar cane was growing down the street from my cousins house. The Mauritians we encountered were proud of the job they were doing and they were extremely warm and helpful.

We stayed in a fantastic resort on the NE side of the island where the beaches and water could not have been more beautiful. Each day was spent exploring the beach, the pool and all of the water sports on offer. We only left the hotel once; to explore the Adventure de Sucre, the sugar museum.

It was a fantastic holiday and such a blessing during this busy season in our lives.

This is what we found in the boys' room upon arrival: sand toys, water wings, children's slippers and their own shampoo and bubble bath.

This is the view from the small rock formation jutting into the sea from our beach and then from our chairs looking into the sea. The Water Sports Cabana is on the left and we spent tons of time there. The boys also loved this rock formation because when the tide was in, they had many shallow tide pools to play in. In the pictures below, they are fishing the tide pools with one of the resort staff members.

The water sports were included in the price of our stay and we took full advantage. We sailed, skied, wake-boarded, tubed, and used the paddle boats and sea kayaks. We also enjoyed a snorkling trip and a glass bottom boat ride.

Much of our time in the sand was spent flying our new Power Kites, playing volleyball, football, and building sand castles. There were tons of other families and plenty of pals to play with.

Charlie wanted to build 100 sand castles so he enlisted a crew and they built them up and stomped them down. That's Charlie in the last photo break dancing them away!

And last but not least, Ethan learned to scuba dive. He LOVED it!

If you made it this far, thank you for reading my very long post as I continue to diary our adventure!