UAE – Dubai, Sharjah, 05 June 2009

Whatever we paid for Holiday Inn Express was definitely worth it – we enjoyed our breakfast, although it had a more continental flavour to it. I don’t usually enjoy continental breakfasts; but this one, I liked.

Anyway, here’s where things fall apart – I didn’t do any planning for Sharjah (and the other two had no clue where they were most of the time). No accommodations, no nothing. I think I didn’t plan this part, because all my online searches returned nothing palatable. All I knew was, we had to get there, so we won’t miss our morning flight out of Sharjah to Tehran.

My initial austerity plan of taking a bus to Sharjah fell apart quite quickly. We just decided to take a cab there. It is kinda tricky when all you can tell a cab driver is “drive me to Sharjah, I know not where”. Anyway, I think we ended up telling him something like the Central Market or something, as I read that there are some cheap accommodations available. Well, that didn’t really work out, so we walked, and walked, and walked. We finally stumbled upon Al Mulla Suites, took a look at the apartment, and liked it. We scored a deal – 85 USD for a huge one bedroom apartment, with kitchen, and could easily fit in 4 people.

After dumping our bags, we headed back to the Central market, and ended up at a bryani place, which was excellent. It was just our second day in the Middle East, but I did form some new impressions. UAE (particularly Dubai) is really a country of migrant labour – I made it an exercise to basically ask every new person I met where they came from. Not once in the two days I was there, did I get the same country. The impressive list included: Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Egypt, Philippines. Also, one does get a different sense of time, as we found out, trying to get lunch. Everything was closed, because it’s Friday, i.e. the day of worship. They have their weekends on Friday and Saturday, and work on Sundays. That differently messed with my mind a little.

Anyway, we passed out from a food coma. I woke up a little earlier than them, and decided to head out, and take a look at some of the interesting mosques that they have. It was a nice stroll, as I observed migrant workers lounging on the lawns on their day off, amidst a city full of building cranes and new construction. I also grabbed some dunkin donuts.

The sleeping beauties woke up in time for us to grab some dinner. And after dinner, we went to the Central Souq for a little walk. The Central Souq had a bit of a Far East Plaza in a souq kind of feel. Interesting.

Fruit and Vegetables Market, Sharjah

Fruit and Vegetables Market

Single Suite in Al Mullah Suites and Apartments

Single Suite in Al Mulla Suites

Mosque, Sharjah

Mosque in Sharjah

Ladies of Sharjah

Ladies of Sharjah

Interior of Blue Souq, Sharjah

Interior of Blue Souq

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When the Detour is the Highlight: UAE, Iran, Greece, 04 – 24 June 2009

So, Emirates Airlines was having a super sale, whereby tickets to Europe were going for as low as 800 SGD. This was gonna be my last chance for a long holiday before I am done with my MA programme, and hit the real world. So, what the heck. E and I agreed on Greece. But I had some other crazy plan involved – a detour to Iran! I always wanted to go there after reading The Complete Persepolis. Since I found a cheap flight on Air Arabia from Sharjah, and managed to rope in some partners-in-crime (oh, my powers of persuasion), I was all set. Here goes!

04 June: Dubai, UAE

05 June: Sharjah, UAE

06-07 June: Tehran, Iran

08-10 June: Esfahan, Iran

11 June: Dubai, UAE

12 June: Athens, Greece

13 June: Athens, Greece

14 June: Hydra, Greece

15 June: Tinos, Greece

16 June: Mykonos, Santorini, Greece

17 June: Santorini, Greece

18 June: Santorini, Grecce

19 June: Crete, Greece

20 June: Crete, Greece

21 June: Crete, Greece

22 June: Kalambaka/Meteora, Greece

23 June: Kalambaka/Meteora, Greece

24 June: Athens, Greece