BootsnAll Travel Network

July 1st, 2008 – Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

I arrived in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates at approximately 12am or a little after so technically July 1st, 2008.  I had no hotel reservation and hence no where to go so I was taking it easy.  I walked around the departures area looking to check my internet, but it was all busy and people were waiting.  The airport in Abu Dhabi is pretty small.  It circular and doesn’t have that many shops, but there is plenty to shop for.  I eventually made my way to immigration and had a little trouble.  When I got to the immigration counter I handed my passport to the gentlemen and just stood there and waited.  I waited and waited and waited.  Only once had I even had a sniff of trouble with immigration which was in Thailand leaving last year when the lady didn’t think my passport photo was me.  Eventually she let me go and it really wasn’t that big of a deal.  This time though I was scared.  The guy after ten minutes of not doing a whole lot with the computer he was sitting in front of, got up and went to an office right near the immigration counter and was there for about ten minutes.  He came back, sat down and started looking at his computer entering in something or typing something.  He reached over to the guy sitting next to him and said something in Arabic, clearly he knew I wouldn’t understand.  He then asked me “are you ok?”  I said yes, but my knee hurt from standing up.  I had a cane with me.  The reason why I had a wooden cane was because it was my monkey stick from Shimla.  If you remember I bought one to fend off the monkeys when I climbed up to the monkey temple.  Well the only way I could get it through security was to say it was my walking cane.  Anyway eventually the guy handed me the passport and said I could go.

In the end I think the whole mess was because he saw my Israel stamp.  Before I left I called the consulate who said that I would not have a problem with entry in to UAE with the stamp.  Well even if the country says you have to let a person in who has been to Israel does not mean that individuals agree, and clearly this guy didn’t.  I was definitely nervous about having to be detained or put through questioning or something.  Apparently they should have given me an eye scan and finger printed me but luckily I was not subject to that level of strict scrutiny.

After I got my luggage I picked up some nice cuban cigars.  One pack of mini cohibas, the best and moved on through customs.  Oh I also bought a bottle of Jameson in Mumbai before going to Delhi because I heard that alcohol was only served in hotels and it was quite expensive. The huge bottle of Jameson Whiskey was cheap and its good.  So it is now like 130am and I have no where to go.  I haven’t had a good night sleep since the 27th of June and I am real tired.  I have been able to doze off here and there but nothing substantial.  I end up picking up free wireless on my iphone and am able to check something and send out an email.  At around 2am I was fed up and decided to take a taxi to my hotel that I would be checking in to later that day. 

The prepaid taxi cost 70 Dhirams which is about 18 bucks, not cheap considering the hotel wasn’t that far away, maybe 20 kilometers or less.  After stopping to get money for my time in Abu Dhabi and to pay the taxi driver I arrived at the fabulous five star Hilton Abu Dhabi and went to the reception area.  This very nice asian man named Argy told me that the earliest I could check in would be 730 am when their system restarted.  My alternative was to pay for a room for the next 5 hours which I was certainly not willing to do.  See I got a really cheap deal for this hotel, at about 130 USD per night.  Since it is the low season and middle of their summer it was cheap, the same seaview room I got would normally go for about 500 USD per night!  This hotel was nice, but expensive.  So I took my stuff to the lobby, broke out my little palm and started updating my blog on the word file.  Shortly after I got tired so I broke out my small travel pillow, put the two chairs together and tried to sleep. 

I kept waking up thinking that people were staring at me and stuff.  I felt like a homeless person in a five star hotel.  A few hours later I moved to a more secluded part of the hotel with a couch, near the back entrance.  I got a little shuteye there but not much again thinking that I was being laughed at or watched by the cleaners and workers and whoever.  I thought that I would wake up at like 10am with people standing around me thinking I was a drunk who passed out on the couch.

730am rolled around and the new person at the counter checked me in.  Argy was in the back and totally hooked me up.  I got a nice seaview room 7th floor but there were double beds.  Apparently I had booked a room with a King size bed, but I really didn’t care I just wanted a room, shower, toliet and bed.  I got all four!  The bellhop brought my passport and my luggage to my room.  I relaxed on the very comfortable bed and watched some english movie on the movie channel the hotel had.  I was loving life.  I finally had a bed, my privacy, a warm shower and was living the lap of luxury.  After the movie I took a shower, and headed down across the street to the Hiltonia Beach club.  This was free for people staying at the hotel and locals and others could pay to use the facilities.  It was a gorgeous place.  Two pools, one for adults one for kids.  The kids one had a waterslide (which I totally forgot to go down), and it was right on the Arabian sea!  It had beach chairs, umbrellas, watersports the whole nine yards a full service beach club.  I found my spot at the adult pool and jumped right in.  I only had shorts as I sent my other sporty mesh shorts home since they smelled so bad.  The pool was so refreshing and even though it was 11am, the sun was beating down on me.  I had no sunscreen (sorry dad) and I was out till about 4pm with one quick stop in my room for a drink (nothing out of control Leonard I promise).

A group of local kids sat down around me and I struck up a conversation with them.  They were living in the UAE and most were actually born in other countries.  After I went back to my room and returned I grabbed lunch with them and again continued to chat.  At one point though one of the three guys who were with these four girls brought me to the side for a little shake down.  He was getting the impression that I was constantly hitting on the girls and chasing them around when in reality I was merely being friendly and going along with the group.  I think he was just jealous they were interested in talking to me and meeting me and wanted more time with them.  One of the girls was his cousin another a close family friend or something and another girl had a boyfriend who was also there.  Personally I didn’t want trouble but this did was a grade A loser.  Personally I thought he was a homosexual myself and I’m sure that it not highly regarded or accepted at all in a Muslim country like the UAE but I wasn’t about to call him out and start trouble.  I said no problem I’ll do my own thing, so I went to my lounge chair, broke out my book and read for a little while.

Eventually I was so burnt, tired and dehydrated from being in the sun and went back to my room.  I was still running on fumes with the lack of sleep I had the past few days.  I ended up passing out from 430pm till about 11pm.  At that point I got up, got changed and went downstairs to see what the nightlife of the hotel had to offer.  When I got to the main bar called Hemmingways I was declined entry since I was wearing “slippers.”  So  went back to my room, put on my black new balance sneakers and went back down.  This time I was allowed in.  I didn’t get a drink, my stomach was not feeling great and I was still so tired but wanted to at least see what I was missing.  I hung out for a little while then went back up to my room, took two benedryl and watched about half of this italian drama with subtitles.  It was quite good but I couldn’t stay up much longer I was down for the count and loving the bed.


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