I am the original 'Uneasy Rider' .. not especially blessed with much natural motorcycling talent, nor am I a particularly courageous motorcycle rider.
Nevertheless I went 'Right Way Round' New Zealand (at least twice) followed by a wonderful ride around Australia.

Then it was up to southeast Asia, around Indo-China, across southern Central Asia to the Middle East, Asia Minor .. and finally into Europe.

Right Way Round - all the way home .. from New Zealand to England, 2-up on a Honda Transalp.

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PROGRESS SO FAR - Distance covered across Western Europe: 6,411 km [3,984 miles] - as at Thursday, October-22nd, 2015

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Time is Running Out


Wednesday, 4th June

Our non-stop (direct) 4½-hour flight aboard an Air Arabia Airbus A320 from Kathmandu to Sharjah Int'l Airport, a little north of Dubai, was absolutely brimming with Nepalis young men in their 20s and 30s; just a tiny part of the massive army of subcontinental labour that has transformed the city of Dubai and its surrounding desert region since the 1990s.

The heat hit us as if opening an oven door, even at 5:00pm, as soon as we stepped outside the Airport's concourse.

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A 40-minute air-conditioned (of course) taxi ride from Sharjah down to the neighbouring Emirate of Dubai the following morning, Thu-5th .. 

.. was a HUGE contrast from what we had grown accustomed to during the previous seven weeks. We were back in a regular, well-organised society. A welcome shock to our systems. Road signs .. and everything!

It was soon time for a paddle in the warm Persian (Arabian) Gulf ..

.. close to the iconic 60-story Burj Al Arab. At 210 metres [1,053 ft] it's the tallest operating hotel in the world (not counting mixed-use buildings.)

Self-proclaimed as being 'the world's most luxurious hotel' - if we wanted to stay there in one of the 202 two-storey suites, then we would have to stump-up AED 5,000 [GB£815 or US$1,370]* -to- AED 30,000 [£4,900 or $8,200]** per night.

* 170 square metres (1,830 square feet)
** 780 square metres (8,396 square feet).
 
Even afternoon tea in the top floor Skyview Bar costs more than a pretty penny. Price: 560 Dirhams [£92 or $153] per person.

[Panorama - click to enlarge]

Over the next couple of days, our hosts here in Dubai, British ex-pats Chris & Verity, about whom I shall say more in my next post, treated us to a tour of the city's best attractions ..


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Like a trip up the Burj Khalifa - completed in January 2010 at a cost of $1,500,000,000, it's the tallest man-made structure in the world standing at 829 metres [2,719 ft] tall.

Incidentally, "Burj" is Arabic for "Tower"

Some images we snapped from the observation (124th) floor  - 452 metres [1,483 ft] up:



Looking down onto the roof of a Dubai Metro Station

Location of the Rivington Bar & Grill, from where we watched ...

... the spectacular fountain show, water dancing to music, during the evening of Saturday-7th.

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Sunday-8th

The bike has still not arrived from Kathmandu! Allegedly it's stuck somewhere within Turkish Airlines' cargo system .. apparently in Istanbul. The latest news is that it will turn-up here in Dubai during the early hours of Friday morning (13th). I am not holding my breath though.

This is the fourth delay /postponement during the last 10 days.



I have met and made some good friends during my brief time here in the UAE.

A young Emerati guy called Saleh (34) has been remarkably helpful. Realising my predicament, Saleh had no hesitation in lending me his Honda GL1800 Goldwing; just tossed me the ignition keys and simply said .. 'Enjoy it.' An astonishing act of kindness and generosity.

Saleh loaned me his spare mobile phone too.

Priceless lifelines. I almost wept with gratitude.

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We now had our own independent transport .. and the ability to communicate to help resolve the mounting challenges confronting us.

Monday-9th

It was, therefore, an easy decision to ride the 160 km [100 mi] down to Abu Dhabi on the Goldwing, the perfect vehicle for the 1½-hour trip and overnight excursion.

We crossed the Tropic of Cancer on the way to Abu Dhabi, which has special significance around 12-noon on the day of the Summer Solstice (June-21st); about which I will no doubt say more in my next post. 

From our Abu Dhabi hotel - The Royal International - we walked the entire 7 kilometre [4½-mile] length of the city's manicured waterfront called 'The Corniche' - had to be done of course, especially coming from my home 'Cornish' county of Cornwall, in the far southwest of England.

.. and ended the evening in an authentic English pub, where, together with a couple of fellow Brits, we won the evening's pub quiz competition. 260 Dirhams [42 quid - US$72] better off as a result, which [almost] paid our bar bill. Reeezult!!


The following morning, Tuesday-10th, on the return trip to Dubai, we stopped at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, which has the capacity for over 40,000 worshippers. It is the largest mosque in the UAE and the eighth largest mosque in the world.

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Now back in Dubai - What happens next?

I really don't know. Further progress is now out of my control, and right now I am certainly in a tight corner.

As mentioned above, the bike's shipment has apparently (according to Turkish Airlines' cargo tracking facility) been re-booked on flight TK760, which will depart from Istanbul tomorrow, Thu-12th, and arrive here in Dubai during the early hours of Friday morning.

My plan to tour up through Iran to Armenia and Georgia beyond can still work IF the bike does indeed get here on Friday morning. I might not be able to clear Customs at Dubai's Cargo Village until the afternoon, because Friday is an Islamic congregational prayer day and no-one, not even the Customs officials, will start work before 12 noon.

I need a new set of tyres. If I can get the existing near worn-out ones changed on Saturday; I will then try to catch the Sunday-15th Ro-Ro (roll-on, roll-off) late evening ferry to Bandar Abbas, southern Iran. If I miss Sunday's ferry, then I may still have one last chance with next Tuesday (17th) evening's ferry, but after that it will be 'game over' for me, as I will have no way of getting across the Strait of Hormuz to Iran before my Iranian visa expires on June 22nd. Unfortunately, the ferry only runs on Sundays and Tuesdays.

If it does all go TU, I will then need to make alternative arrangements, which will take a little time - for instance: arranging the bike's long-term storage somewhere in Dubai; return home direct to the UK as soon as possible thereafter, etc.

Time - which is disappearing fast - will sort it all out, one way or another.

And it’s growing hotter by the day, with temperatures easily rising above 40°C [104°F +] well before 10 o'clock in the morning.

Travelling along the desert roads of Iran in late June will be fiercely hot - like riding through a furnace. It was never planned this way. Damn these miserable delays.

More soon – please bear with me.

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