Bahrain - sandstorm and recounting last day in Dubai
This morning we slept in after being out so late last night, and then went down for breakfast, included with the room, on the 16th floor. We were greeted immediately off the elevator and show to the breakfast room. It was a huge spread and in addition there was a small menu of things like eggs and waffles. I got eggs florentine and Chad got an omelet and while those were being prepared, we helped ourselves to the wide array of buffet items. We also got fresh squeezed orange juice. I'm telling you, this hotel is really swank.
Shortly after breakfast we went for a swim in the really awesome hotel pool, at the top floor (36). We had the space to ourselves, and the pool was really neat with huge windows looking out onto the city. Our plan then was to clean up and head to the Bahrain National Museum, a short walk away, and then meet up with Ebrahim around 3 p.m. to go check out the screening site.
Immediately when we began to head out to the museum we noticed the air was quite heavy and the wind high. It turned out to be a sand storm. It wasn't too bad on the walk to the museum, and we enjoyed the exhibits there very much, learning about Bahrain history and the geography of the island. But, walking back to our hotel, the wind and sand were much, much worse. It was quite an experience. When we got back we had an email from Ebrahim that the installation where our screening is to take place tomorrow is canceled today due to weather, so we are basically "sanded in" since this is sort of their version of a snow storm. The backup plan for the screening is to move it to a nearby cafe, so we'll see what transpires tomorrow. I really hope we can screen on the beach as planned.
But, being sanded in gives us good relaxation time to hang out in our super-fancy room and catch up on reading and writing and (in my case) meticulously record our trip expenses. There was no time for me to journal or blog yesterday, so I am definitely behind on recording our experiences. I'm writing this from the window seat in our hotel room, looking out at the city obscured by sand, almost like a cloud. The visibility is astonishingly low.
So, our last day in Dubai, Tuesday, was really great. We started by doing laundry (well, I did), and packing up a bit and a leisurely breakfast. Then we went to the beach. It was really lovely. Very warm out though the water in the gulf was pretty cold. Still, we laid out for quite a while and Chad drew while I built a model of the tower he was drawing in the sand, and then we played in the water for a while. When we arrived it wasn't too crowded, maybe people every 10 feet or so, but when we left the number of people had at least tripled. The sand, as you'd imagine, is very nice and soft. And if you are wondering, it is okay to wear normal swimsuits at the beaches here.
After cleaning up from the beach, we took a taxi to the Mall of the Emirates, where they have the world's largest (and maybe only) indoor ski slope, called Ski Dubai. We could see the skiers from the window and it really is quite a spectacle, though certainly a contributing factor to what Chad learned today from a book about Dubai, that it has the largest carbon footprint in the world. We kept thinking while we were there that it just seemed to be consumption, consumption, consumption there. There are large scale building projects everywhere there and it is hard to believe that rate of development is economically sustainable, and certainly isn't environmentally sustainable.
After lunch at the mall, we took the metro up to the old city again and visited the souks and did some souvenir shopping. The merchants expect you to barter, so we had fun doing that. Generally we saved about 25% bartering but sometimes more. We took a ride on an abra across the creek, essentially a water taxi, that costs just 1 dirham to cross (27 cents US). A pretty rickety boat with a motor and basic benches that is designed unlike anything I've seen before. When we finished with the souks, we found a hotel bar called Sherlock's Pub. There are no store-front bars like we have at home due to their prohibitions against alcohol, but most larger 3-star hotels seem to have a license to have a bar. It is just such so weird to be in a tourist area without bars on every corner like all the other places we have been before.
For dinner, we went to a Pakistani restaurant that seemed mostly locals. The food was pretty good. It was our first experience with Pakistani cuisine. By then it was late so we skipped our plan to see the fountain show at the Dubai Mall. We hope to do that during our layover, if all of our travel back goes to plan. We arrive back in Dubai from Bahrain at 5 p.m. next Monday and our flight isn't until 1 a.m., so we should have time to be able to leave the airport and see a little more Dubai.