The last few days, I’ve ventured out slightly more. Matt passed his first skills test on Tuesday, so we decided to go out to dinner and celebrate.
We have a particular card here that gets us quite a number of discounts, but given we don’t really know too many places to go, it gets a bit intimidating to decide where to actually try out. So, true to form, we opted for the place with the 50% discount.
We caught a cab down to the Park Hyatt, which took about half an hour, given the traffic. But once we were there, it was lovely. Yes, its all manicured gardens and just a hotel chain, but in all honesty, just being able to see some greenery was nice. The hotel had about six restaurants, and we seemed to get a discount at most of them. The staff were polite! They spoke English! They understood basic requests! We visited the Terrace and because it was ladies night, I got two free glasses of bubbles.
There was never a chance I was going to get both glasses of bubbles. Regardless, it was a nice relaxing place to spend the evening, and for Dubai, relatively stress free. One good thing is that, if you avoid Thursday and Friday nights, you pretty much seem to be able to get a table anywhere. It’s never crowded, and if you choose somewhere that isn’t a tacky tourist trap, it doesn’t seem to get loud and busy. The food was pretty good, not quite incredible, but it only cost about $60NZD. Not too bad at all.
Afterwards we walked straight into a cab and were home in twenty minutes. In Dubai terms, thats a minor miracle.
On Wednesday, Sylvia and I went down to Souk Madinat, which is a big marketplace/shopping area near the Burj Al Arab. Inside, it looks pretty much like the markets down in Old Dubai, but no one chases you quickly whispering louisvuittonpradaguccirolex for you sirmaa’m? So thats a relief. In all reality, Dubai is so new that the ‘old markets’ are probably only thirty years old anyway. I much preferred the air conditioned comfort of the Souk Madinat, even if it had a bit of a Disney-fied feel to it.
They weren’t serving lunch yet at the restaurant we planned to visit, so we walked to the Jumeirah Al Naseem (and only went the wrong way once… oops) to visit the turtles. The Al Naseem and the Burj Al Arab are home to the Dubai Turtle Rehabilitation Project. Basically, turtles around the Gulf are rescued by members of the public after they wash up on beaches covered in barnacles, or are hit by boat propellers. Apparently, they receive about 250 turtles per winter season – when they usually are brought to the centre – and release as many of them back into the wild as possible. When they are nearly ready to be released back to the sea, they recuperate at the Al Naseem for a few weeks.
Some of the turtles released are fitted with trackers to plot their journeys, and one of the turtle carers told us that a turtle released in 2008 swam over 8000 kms to Thailand before her tracker wore out. Quite a swim! I was surprised to learn that they have turtles brought in that weighed over 100kgs… apparently a few more might be being released into the rehabilitation ponds soon, so I might go back at some stage to check them out.
After ‘feeding the turtles’ – which was actually a rather underwhelming experience of throwing some wilted lettuce into the pond – we wandered back to the Souk, and had some lunch. We just choose a bar/restaurant which had an appropriate discount on my card, but it was nice enough, and we certainly enjoyed cooling down in the air conditioning! We tried to sneak over a little bridge to look at the private beach, but unfortunately, it was protected by a guard man in a little box. Darn.
On Tuesday, a maintenance man showed up at our house. I wasn’t expecting him. Matt reported to maintenance a few weeks ago that our window was leaking, and our washing machine is a pile of rubbish, so I was hoping he was there to fix it. This guy shows up, while I’m cleaning the house resplendent in my moose pajamas, and tells me he is going to paint the windowsill. I said to him, “But you realise if it hasn’t been repaired from the outside, its going to keep discoloring if it rains? Why not fix it first?”. His reply was “Ma’am, we will paint again.” He said he would be back after 2pm to put another coat on and take down the painters tape. He has yet to return.