. But don't let our lame game choice fool you there were many more better games, like battleship, tetris, and other ones that aren't as popular but still enjoyable. The plane was beautifully decorated. It made you think you were riding on a magic carpet, the lights would change colors from purple to orange to red. And once we hit darkness the roof above the aisle lit up like stars (see picture). The plane was also equipped with cameras on the front and bottom so you could see what was outside easily.
Now you would think with a flight that ends up in the Middle East, only a couple of degrees off of the Equator that we would fly directly there, crossing Africa and such. This was not the case, we took the arching way almost identical to my flight to London, passing over Ireland, France, Germany, Hungary, Romania, the Black Sea, and a whole lotta Turkey. After Turkey is where things got interesting, Initially we were scheduled to fly directly over Iraq, but I think because of Vice President Cheney's surprise visit to Bagdad all flights were slightly diverted, so we caught a nip of Northern Iraq and then pressed on over Iran. We got some amazing shots of an Iranian sun rise and the Zagros Mountains, which looked out of this world (pictures).
It did not hit me until I saw the skyline of downtown Dubai. You can never fully prepare yourself until your actually there and pictures do not do any justice to the really
. It was a hazy Dubain morning, almost looked like fog. But it looked magnificent. Once in the airport I was surrounded by a cacophony of various peoples. Primarily Indians, but many Africans and Arabs as well. Many woman were veiled, many more were wearing designer jeans. Some man walked head to tow in the cleanest white robes ever made, others sported Armani shirts and shades. Heck, even those were were veiled or in robes sported expensive sun-glasses. After spending some time with Iraida and saying our goodbyes, she was off to catch her flight to Sydney and I was off to explore.
As I walked out of the airport I was greeted by several Indian men looking to get me to use their taxis. One guy offered to take me to American University in Dubai (AUD) for 75 dirham (the UAE Dirham is pegged to the US Dollar at an exchange rate of 3.67 USD, but the prices in Dubai do not reflect such a difference, as it would in say the UK where the USD is actually worth about 50 cents. More on that later.) Another offered to do it for 60 dirhams and I ended up with him. There is one main road the runs through Dubai, called Sheik Zayed road, its the mammoth super highway known for its accidents and the traffic that stems from them. From what I saw, it seemed no different then the Parkway at 4-6pm. I road passed most of the famous buildings, the massive Sky Dubai complex connected to the Mall of the Emirates, the even more massive Burj al-Arab( the sailboat shaped hotel) and finally reached my campus
. A guard greeted me at the gate, they are all about security on this campus, the entire campus is gated in and there are guards at every entry point, then even more guards at the entry to the dorms. After some down time while they processed me I was assigned a dorm, Room 402 of the older male dormitory. I had to wait about 10 minutes before I could move in because they had to clean my dorm before. Now this does not necessarily mean my dorm was dirty, this place is ALL about clean. You can not walk more then 20 feet without seeing someone cleaning something. In the airport men follow you around in the bathroom mopping and the same goes for the mall and the campus. They come to clean your dorms once a week. Downstairs in the lounge there was a HUGE screened TV and an xbox 360. Once I reached my dorm I met my new roommate, kind of. He was asleep, so I quietly put my gear down and decided to follow suit and take a nap, since i barely slept on the flight in. With no pillows, blankets, or sheets I passed out for about an hour with only a backpack as a substitute for a pillow. Afterwards, I walked the campus a little and then tried to get on the Internet, no service in my room, so I went to a computer lab, but that required a login ID. I went to the registrar who told me I would be given an ID at the initiation ceremony on Saturday, that would not do. Luckily I was able to go online in the Library.
Realizing that living without bed stuff was not going to be easy, I decided to take a ride over to the Mall of the Emirates for some much needed supplies
. Once there I made my way to Carrefour. Carrefour can be described a something like a French Walmart, but twice the size the biggest Walmart I've ever seen and given a swank French name. When I say huge, I mean it, there are EASILY 40-60 checkout registers. Price-wise its odd here, things are usually the same price or cheaper then in the States. I bought a nice comforter, pillow and sheets for about $15USD which I thought was quite a deal. Also water is only 1 dirham, which is like 30 cents, and the bottles are bigger then your standard US bottle. I went to ge a simcard so I could make local calls for less then the $1.50 I was going to be paying, but I was told that I had to have a copy of my passport. So that failed, but I picked up a power converter since they use wall outlets similar to those you would find in England (I knew I should've held onto that thing). I wondered the mall for sometime and saw Ski Dubai, an AMAZING sight. I can't even describe it, and my dead camera would not allow me to show it in picture. I must've spent an hour there and I don't think I even saw a 5th of the mall. I caught a taxi home and tried out my new power converter, failing to realize that in the US we operate things on 110 volts, but in Dubai its 220 Volts, after I turned on my powerstrip it blew the fuse and I was yet again with no electricity. I settled down and took another nap. I awoke to see that my roommate had gotten home. His name is Ali (Iraida I called it, I guarenteed her that my roommate would have either the name Ali or Muhammed somewhere in his name) he is Pakistani and incredibly nice, we talked for a couple hours from everything from Geo-Political Issues to Surfing in Karachi
. He's a big Metallica and AC/DC fan and I told him I'd school him in the ways of Coheed and Cambria and other underground American artists. His family is from Karachi, one of the largest cities in the world, and his dad works in the steel industry. His family is definately loaded, he has taken two road trips throughout the US and been everywhere from Southeast Asia, to Europe, and even to Iraq just prior to the invasion. Technically he just graduated two nights ago, but he needs one more class before he leaves, so he's taking it this summer. His major was finance and wants to stay here to work, but he says odds are he'll be heading home to work for his dad. I used his phone to order some Pizzahut, ate some pizza and then literally passed out from exhaustion in my clothes and with my Gameboy still on.
I think whether I am flying from JFK to Dubai or Miami to Panama City or Philly to Seattle, I will book an Emirates airline flight regardless. The flight was amazing. Even in economy you are treated like first class, I could not believe it. As we sat down we were greeted by a warm, moist clothe, pillows, blankets, headphones, newspapers, and then they handed out little sacks that contained some socks, a thingy to cover your eyes so you can sleep, and a mini tooth brush. Each seat had its own TV that carried over 500 movie, tv, and video-game channels. Best part, you could start, stop, pause, or rewind all of it to your pleasure. Iraida and I got a special 2 seater row at the back of the plane, we thought it would be best so that we could each stretch out on either the aisle or window. Unfortunately, this flight was drastically under booked and had we gotten a middle row seat we could have stretched out across 5 seats, as many of our fellow travelers did. Oh by the way, getting back to the entertainment, you could play video games with anyone on the plane, needless to say I kicked Iraidas butt in a couple of round of checkers, trivia, and pong (Ok maybe she won a few)