Monday, May 31, 2010
Somehow, we just managed to find ourselves at Raffles Hotel to start our night's exploration (no prompting from me, of course).
Raffles Hotel: From the outside, looking in.
Raffles Hotel opened in an old bungalow facing the beach on 1st December 1887 and expanded steadily during its first few decades under the Armenian Sarkies brothers, so that by the 1920s, it was known as the historic hotel of Singapore. It survived the deaths of all the Sarkies family, bankruptcy during the Great Depression, the Japanese Occupation (1942-5) and "modernisation" during the 1950s.
In the Long Bar, Raffles Hotel.
Tradition dictates that you throw your peanut shells on the floor - probably the only place in Singapore where you can throw anything anywhere. Rattan punkahs overhead slowly beat the breeze. These punkahs would once have been operated by a punkah-wallah (fan man) with a string attached to his finger or toe, but, thankfully, such menial tasks are now performed by electric motors in post-colonial Singapore.
Since we were there, it seemed silly not to have one. (Pat had a beer.)
Below was the aftermath of a rather swish party on the harbourside.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
I would have liked a go, but Pat was more interested in catching the last bus back to the city. So these are not my feet.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
City of skyscrapers: View from our hotel.
Burj Khalifa: The world’s tallest building.
Dhow cruise on Dubai Creek.
Ski Dubai: We just looked in the window.
Metro stations like airports.
Arabian coffee in the desert.
Pat and Burj Al Arab.
In the absence of being able to take a helicopter ride above the island, or even to be able to go up to the top of the hotel, here is a representation of Jumeirah Palm Island from a mosaic in the monorail station.
Atlantis Hotel, Jumeirah Palm Island.
This is the view that visitors would have as they approached the hotel by the monorail. (We were actually leaving when I took this picture.)
The curved streets along Jumeirah Palm Island were called “Fronds”.
Rich people having fun, Atlantis Hotel.
View of the Atlantis Hotel from the Monorail station as we waited to go back. Think pink.
As well as being palm shaped, Jumeirah Palm Island is well palmed.
Rich people having more fun, Atlantis Hotel.
Friday, May 28, 2010
Chicken and grape salad. Can you imagine cutting uniformly sized slices of grape!
Then we went to Souk Madinat Jumeirah, a very upmarket, modern souk. While (very recently) built in the traditional Arabian style architecture, with the traditional breeze-directing towers (probably for show only), the “souks” contained only the highest quality (and priced) Arabian style goods, plus international brand names. However, they were beautifully set out and fun for window shopping.
A sea-water canal had been constructed through the complex, and we took a 25 minute abra ride around the canal.
The canal wound its way through some luxurious villas. A couple of entire villas are owned and used by the royal family. Others are rented out per room to rich tourists, who obviously don’t mind the riff raff like us riding around in abras gawping at them.
The Souk Madinat Jumeirah is next door to Burj Al Abra, the world famous 7 star, sail shaped hotel which is the symbol of Dubai, so glimpses of it could be seen through the palm trees, shining in the afternoon sun.
In love with the Burj Al Abra by now, I dragged Pat along to the public Jumeirah Beach next door to take some more pictures.
As night fell, the lights came on. I will spare you all the different combinations of coloured lights I captured.
The Jumeirah Beach Hotel was also sparkling by now….
…..and also a nearby mosque under the full moon. How lucky we have been to visit Dubai!
Thursday, May 27, 2010
We shared our 4WD (when it came) with a middle aged Chinese couple and the elderly parents of one of them, and drove for about an hour from Dubai into the desert.
Letting down the tyres, ready for dune bashing.
Dune bashing is an activity which a person (certainly me) should only ever have to undertake once in their lives. I was filled with a raging frustration as we lurched sickeningly through magnificent dunes I longed to photograph (when my eyes weren’t squeezed tightly shut in terror), annoyance with all the tyre marks these irritating vehicles were carving through the exquisite patterns on the sand, and of course pure fear. The younger Chinese gentlemen kept crying out “Yes!” when we performed some particularly unpleasant manoeuvre, which I thought was very inconsiderate of him. At last we stopped, and staggered out.
Looking cheerful, now that dune bashing is over.
Exquisite patterns in the desert sand.
Beautiful sand dunes being carved up by 4WDs.
When we arrived at the desert camp there was camel riding, falcon holding, henna painting, Arabian coffee drinking and a superb buffet under the stars. Part of the entertainment included this world class whirling dancer.
Whirling dancer balancing five tambours.
Whirling dancer with extra skirts and umbrellas.
And of course the obligatory belly dancer.
I would have liked to have stayed for the shisha smoking, but the Chinese people wanted to go home, so I reluctantly agreed. Perhaps that’s something you should only do once in your life as well…..
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
It was interesting that Dubai Creek is about 40 times wider that the Jordan River, and also very clean. It’s only 14 kilometres long, but a lot of use is made of those 14 kilometres. I saw a very large fish jumping in it – something I’ve never seen in the Brisbane River. Apparently an earlier Sheik had the creek widened and deepened – a very wise move, as a great deal of shipping, including importing and exporting goods, occurs here. It also adds greatly to the beauty of the city.
We had a very relaxing and enjoyable hour’s cruise here.
The reflections in the water from these twin towers are reflecting the late afternoon sun reflecting off the towers. You can also see a reflection of each tower on the other one.
Here are some water taxis carrying workers home across the creek, with a mosque behind them. The square towers on the older buildings are an earlier form of air conditioning. Breeze from any of the four directions the towers faced would be caught and forced down into the building, cooling it quite effectively. Energy efficient as well!
The grass is always greener, or in this case, whiter.