Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Day 4: Arabian Adventures according to David. Amen.

Today marks the beginning of the end of our lazy days around the pool and villa beach. While we will have a little more time to do some lounging around, we (Lynda, Ashley, Dave, and Deidre) are feeling as though we have done enough "chillaxin'" and have to get down to business with the sight seeing. And even though I will be returning for a five day stay at the villa, I feel like this is my week to experience Dubai and see all of the sights.

To start off our five day wirlwind camaign of activities, sight seeing, and middle eastern experiences, we spent the most of the day today at Wild Wadi Water Park--an amusement park that runs on the theme of a cool dude named Juha and his friend Sinbad (the heroic sailor...not the socalled "comedian")! The park consists of eleven different rides that range in extremeness from mild (level 1) to extreme (level 4).

Upon arival through the gates of the park we were greeted with a simulated thunder shower, which consited of pouring raind and a large and powerful waterfall that increased in intensity as the storm continued and created a small rushing brook over the pathway that leads to the rides. It was quite an impressive effect. The rides were pretty fun too. They were mainly up hill water propelled rollercosters that required us to be seated on inflatable tubes. These rollercoster rides all emptied out into a lazy river that went all around the park and led to resurants, gushing fountains, or other rides. The jets for the rollercoster would launch you up the steep slide with enough force to easily remove, or at least partially remove, baithing suit bottoms. --A note to future visitros of Wild Wadi...wear a baithing suit that has a draw string or is at least one that is very secure because there were some extremely close calls. In fact, there was a moment in the wave pool in which a particular member of our group was hit with a wave so powerful that it knocked her baithingsuit bottoms down exposing her buttocks to a small group of 8-12 year old boys behind her. I don't know what was more hilarious, the fact that it happened or the non stop laughter of the boys. Embarrassing as it was, there is always joy and happiness that can be found in the laughter of children. Right Ashley?

Speaking of baithing suits, there was quite a mishmash of swimwear styles. For the men there was everything from capri style trunks that go from above the belly button to just above the ancles to speedos that do everything but cover the wearer's shame. For the women, the simwear ranged from berkinis that covered everything but the hands and face to something that appeared to be a little more than dental floss. I certainlly didn't expect to see thong bikinis there, as it is a primarily Muslim country, but I'd say the amount of skimpy style baithingsuits outnumbered the more conservative style by quite a bit.

The two favorite rides of the day were the Jumeirah Sceirah, which was pretty much a free fall at, supposedly, 80km/h for 33 metres...and resulted in quite the wedgie..., and the flowriders, which were the surfing rides where you pretty much just ride the intense flow of the jets on boogie bords. These rides had very long lineups but they were well worth the wait--the flowrider in particular. Once you got the hang of the flowrider surfing, the ride attendants would blow their wistles and give you a pose or a move to attempt while on the board. Deidre, Lynda, and I tried the flowrider ride, and I must say...for being first-timers we did very well. We got to do superman poses, sleepy poses, pushups, and knee riding. This ride was a bit of a spectator event, drawing in many onlookers who wanted to glimpse our displays of natural tallent. They were very positive, though, and cheered and wistled when we successfully struck a pose or did a move well. They also cheered and wisteled very loudly when we wiped out and were thrown 2-3 meters by the jets of water.

All in all I'd say it was a pretty awesome day. And I expect that there will be many more to come.

Cheers for now!


Photo Gallery

Haven't visited inside the Mosque yet. Just drove by on the Big Bus

Handsome fellow, no?

At the Souk Madinat Complex. Turned a corner, and there it was!

We should have an album of just Dave sleeping

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Day 3: lemons except green, yes?

Today was a busy day.

Jason was out running errands and topping up our groceries for us so we were left to deal with the myriad of visitors we had at the villa today.

First, Deidre took a water delivery. Then, the plumbers came. How many plumbers does it take to fix a leaky tap? Evidently four, then a fifth gets called in. There was a lot of leaning and looking around going on. At one point I went upstairs and one of the five plumbers was leaning casually against the wall, arms folded, enjoying the view. But, as Deidre point out, her bathroom only holds 2 plumbers at best. Mine could accomodate a cricket team.

Then the pool boys came. Then, praise Allah, luggage delivery boy! One for Ashley and one for Terry. I would like to point out that I left PEI with 2 bags. This whole luggage fiasco is getting too funny. Let me recap, because I need to vent into the ether. If you are not interested in my ravings, proceed down to END OF STORY.

I arrived on Saturday. It is now Tuesday. There are about 6 direct Emirate flights from London every day to Dubai. When I sat down with the trainees at Dubai International upon arrival to file my report, the boss said upon consulting the computer, "Oh, Mr. Terry, it is now on its way on the 2PM flight that departed Heathrow". Again, that was Saturday. It is now Tuesday. I waited patiently for a day and then decided I would call Sunday night, "Oh, Mr. Terry, it is on the midnight flight. We will deliver it at 4 a.m. tomorrow morning." Now, I am on vacation so a 4am wakeup to receive luggage was not too damn appealing. And Jason is a fine house-boy, but I didn't think this would go over too well (we weren't aware of this late night carousing at this point either). I asked if it could be delayed a wee bit. "Oh, Mr. Terry, we would certainly do that for you." Finally! I should point out that at this point we were focussing on one of two bags. I sort of thought they would be travelling together so I didn't get too fussed. I notified Jason to stand ready to receive the bags upon his return from dropping us off for our Big Bus Tour starting at the Mall of the Emirates.

Our return to the villa after each outing is usually started by Jason greeting us with a bashful head shake and "No bags yet". And that's how it went yesterday. Apparently, though, they called on the villa cell while we were out which I did not hear on account of the windy open bus ride. He said I need to call them to get an e-mail address to e-mail the contents of my bag to 'identify'. I guess my baggage tag from Charlottetown, my name tag, and the contents description I gave trainee wasn't enough. Becoming a pro dealing with Emirates Baggage Services, I called and simply started with "Hi, This is Mr. Terry. My reference number is...."

"Oh, Mr. Terry, we are so happy you called. Your bag is here at the airport. We will send it out with a driver tomorrow tonight at 10 or 11. but we need your mobile number." OK, so I am not giving them my Canada cell as that would just confuse the hell out of them. I couldn't find the villa cell and was becoming tired and frustrated so I gave them our land number at the villa. This didn't impress them much even though I assured them I would be here and didn't plan on going anywhere on account I have no clean clothes. To keep them happy I gave them Jason's mobile number. Not wanting to confuse them....further confuse them...I hung up and handed the phone to Ashley to start all over with her bag. In the meantime I found the villa cell and asked her to have them update my file with the all important mobile number. So Ashley calls and hers AND MINE will be delivered the next morning at 7 or 8 the next morning! This is was THREE minutes after I spoke to them. When Ashley gave them the cell number for my file, they advised her that they already had Mr. Terry's cell number. I know drugs are totally forbidden/banned/inaccesible here, but I think they are on crack. Anyway, Ashley set the alarm and was in bag receiving mode at 6:30 a.m. Somewhere throughout all this Emirates called Jason at 10PM while he was out and about as well with assured delivery times.

I awoke this morning at 8:30 (on account that I didn't get to sleep until quite late as I was worried that the villa would burn down on account of a bit of an incident I had in the kitchen involving sparks, flames, tripped fuses, and a slightly sizzled electricity adaptor. Aren't you glad that you got the long story short on that one!) expecting to find my luggage. Silly Mr. Terry.But one bag of mine and Ashley's one and only arrived at about 2p.m. Still not second bag. I think I will call now.

"Oh, but Mr. Terry, your other bag was delivered last night."

END OF STORY (for now). Thanks for listening.

Jason drove us to the Souk Madinat Jemeirah which is a very cool mall in Arab architecture. All the stores are in a souk/alley style, but very nice and prices are fixed (albeit inflated). It was a gorgeous browsing experience and allowed us to get a sense of what prices are as they are not marked in the real souks. Some things were actually quite reasonably priced, but decided to go to the real souks to see what deals we could barter.

We rounded a corner and there was the Burj Al Arab - the closest we've been yet! It was a fantastic view, framed by the palm trees and the Arabic Architecture. Then Deidre spotted an Abra tour. An Abra is a small boat used frequently used in the region. I guess i forgot to mention that the Souk Medinat is a whole developement including fancy hotels - all connected by canals fed by the waters of the Arabian Gulf. If you are staying at one of the hotels or villas, you get to and fro by the Abra. For 50 dirham ($18) we had a 45 minute tour, captained by Sebastian from India.

Our return to the villa involved naps, snacks, internet, and swims. A stir fry ensued and Jason lit the tiki torches outside for us. We intended to observe a well-publicized earth hour at 8PM, but that was pretty well a bust. I guess we could have turned off one of the umpteen mood lights he turns on for us each evening, but we did turn out all the lights once supper was prepared as we dined al we have done each evening.

We had been intending for a long time to walk along the street of the frond and tonight was the night! It was a gorgeous warm (not too warm) still night. Of course, we commented on each villa - it's size, landscaping, style and the vehicle parked in the drive. We played the license plate game. In this part of the world, the lower the license plate number, the more prestigious. So, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has number 1. I read in the Gulf Times that number 9 is up for auction. The lowest on this Frond was 778, but on our travels yesterday we saw 64 and 87.

A little pool, outdoor stereo and Bailey's on ice brings us to the present time -1AM. Lynda just went to bed, Ash sitting next to me on the Net, Dave is playing boxing on PS3, and Deidre is reading. We've realized that we have been intending to do laundry for three days now. Maybe tomorrow...after we return from Wild Wadi.

Some photos so far...

Terry awoke early and surprised us all ith photos in our cameras. This is from his bedroom window.

Same photo, just framed in the window.


View through the glass at Ski Dubai in Mall of the Emirates.

Lynda very happy to be on the Big bus.

Dubai skyline.

World's tallest building, the Burj Dubai

Chatting with South Africans

Covering up from the sun on the Dhow cruise

Jumeirah Mosque

From the dhow cruise.

Home for a rest.

Canal in the very pretty Souk Madinat complex.

Venice, but warmer with fewer tourists.

Cheating on Dave

Just lovely.

Beautifully framed, no?

Having tea on the 27th floor on Sunday. Deidre dropped the hint that it was Terry's birthday.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Day 2: It's 12 o'clock. Do you know where your houseboy is?

Today, we went on a hop-on, hop-off bus tour of Dubai. We picked up the bus at the Mall of the Emirates at 10 a.m., and we didn't get back until after 6 p.m. We drove all around the city and saw all the development. It is really insane. The tour guide told us that 20% of the world's construction cranes are in Dubai. It's totally mind-boggling to drive through all the construction. The tour guide gave us lots of juicy tidbits of information, like the fact that the Burj Dubai is going to be at least 810 metres tall when it is finished. We can see it from the villa, even though it is way across town.

We walked through a couple of souks today when we "hopped off", but it was in the middle of the afternoon when everyone was sleeping. It's really funny, because there are men sleeping everywhere during siesta. Good luck finding a bench or place to sit, because there are brown men sleeping on them. It is a sight to behold. So we didn't really get to practise our bartering skills or find any souk treasures. We are going to go back another day.

We did a dhow cruise of the Creek as part of our tour. A dhow is a traditional boat used for cargo trade in the UAE. We sat on cushions on the top of the boat and tried to not get sunburns. I was successful, but I ended up having to wrap a scarf around my head to protect me from the sun. Linda did the same, and we both looked very stylish if I do say so myself.

I went swimming in the frond today. I was hesitant to do so before today, because there was this big pipe in the middle. At first, I thought that it was an oil line, but that didn't really make sense. Why would they build the Palm on oil reserves? We figured out that they were probably dredging out the sand. Anyway, they removed the line this afternoon, and the frond is back to looking the way it should. So Dave and I went swimming, even though he has a strange paranoia about sharks. Go figure. There is coral starting to grow in the water. Dave and I found a piece yesterday, and it was full of fish eggs the size of marbles. It was cool/gross.

On the way home from our tour today, we got a ride in a pink taxi, which was exciting. Pink taxis are driven by women, and they are a different colour because unaccompanied females can drive only with a female driver. The taxi driver was kind of shy but still very cool. I think that the pink taxi was the highlight of my day.

We are headed to Wild Wadi waterpark tomorrow. It will probably be impossible to prevent sunburn during eight hours in the Middle Eastern sun, but we are all going to try our damnedest. Update will follow.

P.S. Jason the houseboy stayed out all night and didn't get in until 8 a.m. today. Shy little Jason obviously knows how to par-tay.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Day 1: How Many Men Does it Take to Dispense Ice?

The villa overlooks the turquoise Arabian Gulf. Iran is 200 km to the North, Saudi Arabia surrounds the United Arab Emirates to the East and South, with Oman to the East. The Arabian Gulf juts between the fingerlike fronds of the Palm Jumeirah. We can see the iconic Burj Al Arab Hotel, shaped like a giant sail, in the distance. It is the tallest hotel in the world, built on an island. In the distant haze, we can see the Dubai skyline, including the tallest building in the world--the Burj Dubai.

All the island fronds are completed, with about 1/4 of the residences appearing to be occupied. The buildings on the trunk and the crescent surrounding the frond are still under construction, but we cannot not hear any of the activity from our villa. The exterior of the beautiful Atlantis Hotel appears to be mostly complete. We will attempt to walk towards it in the relative coolness of the evening.

Ashley and I met Lynda in Montreal to board our overnight flight to London. We had very little time in Heathrow to catch our departing Emirates flight to London. As we were running through Heathrow Lynda remarked that it was an "Amazing Race" moment! We were winded. We flashed our boarding card to security to alert them of our soon-departing flight and were advanced through the queue. Another dash took us to Gate 7 to find that they were just beginning to board, even though it was our scheduled departure time.

Our first landing was aborted at the last minute. Emirates provides you with a live camera view of both the pilot view as well as a downward view. This only heightened the thrill of the aborted landing as we quickly pulled up at the last minute with the evening runway lights ahead and below. Our second approach took us directly over the world's tallest building, the Burj Dubai. This was quite a thrill to see the Burj from the downward view of the aircraft camera. As we passed over Iran, it felt like a spy mission with camera's intact--flying over the mountains of Pakistan and the deserts of Persia.

As expected, Ashley and my luggage did not arrive at Dubai International due to our short connection in Heathrow. For the first time ever on my travels, a baggage official approached me at the carousel, concerned we had not received our luggage. He confirmed that it had all been unloaded and we should file a report with baggage services. This turned out to be quite a humourous experience. I knew we were doomed when I saw two staff standing behind the seated staff, indicating to me that we were in trainee zone, as was confirmed by their Trainee badge. hour later we got out of there. It could have been filmed for some sort of comedic customer service documentary. It was more humourous than painful. God love them. As we attempted to file our report, there was a man flipping out at the baggage manager. It all added to the atmosphere. Lynda sat quietly outside the baggage office, taking in the atmosphere of Dubai International. This included her first "call to prayer", which I find memorizing.

Given our late slightly late arrival and ordeal at baggage, we never expected to see Dave and Deidre, who arrived directly from Emirates via Toronto. They were scheduled to arrive within 5 minutes of our scheduled arrival time, and we scanned for them, but, alas, assumed they were compfortably situated next to the villa pool. As we went out to the taxi area...there they were. Allah intervened! We grabbed a taxi van and set off on the first evening of our Arabian Adventure. Our taxi driver was Zayad, originally from Syria. He had been here for 7 years and was discussing how nuts the city is. I dazzled him with my Arabic, and we sped down Sheikh Zayed road. I commented to the others that we could have been in New York City with the skyscrapers on each side. I made enquiries about taxi hire for the rest of the trip, and he was none to shy to give me his mobile number. He navigated the Palm like a pro, and we easily found Villa 29, Frond E. A mention of the location and the villa owner's name got us an easy wave through the two security checkpoints.

Jason greeted us at the door and gave the tour. The villa and the outdoor area is larger than the pictures depict (for anyone new to this site, go to the archives on the bottom left and select "January" for photos). I was conflicted by which room to take. The "Linen Room" with the nice decor and large balcony that overlooks the street; the huge Master Bedroom with no balcony (go figure) but a view of the Arabian Gulf, and a three-room bathroom including jacuzzi; or the "Red Room" with balcony overlooking the Arabian Gulf. Liz, the villa manager, had picked the Red Room for me, but the decor had a little too much going on for my liking. I selected the cool, relaxing Linen Room but changed my mind and opted for the massive master bedroom.

Once we organized ourselves in our rooms, we couldn't let the pool sit unused. Jason turned on the pool lights, and the water glistened against the adobe wall. It was lovely. We showered and turned in for the night after raiding the welcome pack of food.

I awoke at 8 a.m. I thought I heard the TV in the entertainment room at about 3 a.m., and indeed, Dave was too wound up to sleep, so he played PS3 and then watched the sunrise from his and Deidre's ocean-view balcony. Lynda and Ash rolled out of bed around 9 or 10 to find us all in the pool. Dave and Deidre took the sea kayak out at 8 a.m. and were met by jumping fish!

It was 29 degrees when I got up. The back of the villa (Ocean side) gets the morning and early afternoon sun, so it was cooking. I popped my head out the front door to find the Sunday edition of the Gulf Times so we enjoyed that and the Globe and Mail that I took from the plane on the patio.

Deidre (clad only in her bikini!) made us all breakfast as we got up and delivered to the patio on a tray. I've asked for some fresh flowers to be cut and placed on my tray tomorrow. It was great! Then, more swimming. Alas, we thought there was an outdoor jacuzzi, but the only one is in my bathroom.

Jason--our live-in houseboy--has been very helpful especially with technical things such as firing up the PS3, working the ice machine (which Dave managed to break at supper tonight), and the Opus sound system. Our drink glasses seem to continually disappear, as he is a keen cleaner-upper. Except for the Heineken can on Ashley's window ledge from previous guests. He does take the odd PS3 break. All work and no play makes your houseboy a dull houseboy.

Dave and I took the sea kayak out later in the morning. I wore a life jacket on account of my issues with water, but it was not really needed, as it is a wide kayak and tipping is not much of an issue. We kayaked out to near the end of the frond for spectacular view of the Burj Al Arab as well as the haze-cloaked Dubai skyline. It was too hot at this point for jumping fish.

Jason then drove us in the seven-passenger SUV to the Mall of the Emirates (the one with the ski-hill). We browsed around, checked out Ski Dubai and then went to Carrefour for a major grocery shop--600 dirham later ($200), we left with our cart brimming full of groceries. The irony of my buying Atlantic Smoked Salmon did not go unnoticed. A short taxi ride later, we arrived home. A few naps were in order.

As I was having my pre-supper swim, Jason checked in to say he was clocking off for the night. He's gone for the evening, so we are left to our own devices--lubed up on wine, gin and tonic, gin and vodka, and diet pepsi (Lynda). The gang provided a lovely supper of fresh salad, mango-chutney chicken, olives, bread, Boursin cheese. This was followed by two very large chocolate bars (shout out to Daniel). I found the Boursin cheese went nicely on the chocolate, but it was probably the booze talking.

We are now chilling in the entertainment room, listening to British Invasion tunes. Lynda is having the time of her life. Deidre is on the other laptop, Dave is playing Ps3, and Ashley is loaded on the bean-bag chair.

Tomorrow, we are doing the Big Bus Tour of Dubai. That's all for now. A big hug to all our family and friends home and around the world.

"I haven't a clue as to where my story will end. But that's alright. When you set out on a journey and night covers the road, that's when you discover the stars." Nancy Willard

Monday, April 14, 2008

Confused on What to Wear?

So, I booked a trip to Saudi Arabia for the fall and we have to leave from Dubai as a group to get into Saudi as the country is so hard to get into. They included in my package a little on UAE and thought this summed things up nicely:

"Please note that you will be travelling through a predominantly Islamic country and so will need to dress conservatively throughout. We strongly suggest that you wear full length trousers/skirts and that your shoulders are always covered. Women should bring a headscarf for possible mosque visits.

While on tour you will likely see other foreign tourists wearing shorts, but we strongly suggest that you wear full lenght trousers/skirts and that your shoulders are always covered. Philosophically, "Adventures Abroad" prefers to be sensitive to local social conventions. The local population will respond more positively and welcome you more heartily if your appearance corresponds with local mores."

Having said that - capris or skirts/sundresses below the knee are not too bad. Also, note that this is just 'out and about'.

Just for context and a hoot – here is what it says about Saudi Arabia:

“Saudi Arabia is probably the most conservative country to which one can travel, and a strict code of conduct is enforced. Passengers not complying with Saudi conventions of dress and behaviour will be refused entry even if their passports/visas are in order.

Upon arrival to Saudi Arabia, women should be conservatively dressed with a headscarf and ‘sealed’ shoes (no toes showing). Once at our hotel in Riyadh, our agents will provide each female traveller with an ‘abaya’, a full-body covering that all women in Saudi Arabia are required by law to wear. Headscarves should be worn as a gesture of respect to the local population. You do not need to cover your face as Saudi women do. Exposing bare arms and legs, however, is always against the rules. Shorts and short-sleeved tops are always unacceptable.

Sandals are not acceptable for men and love sleeve shirts and trousers must be worn and ankles cannot be exposed.

Video cameras may cause delays and problems upon entry. Video cameras generally attract the attention of police and may be confiscated.

Do not expect your cellular phones to work while in Saudi Arabia. Many internet sites are blocked and do not expect WIFI in hotels or elsewhere.

Do not bring inappropriate literature, especially Western magazines with ‘decadent’ images, ie fashion magazines with revealing photos or indecent behaviour and/or interactions between men and women. Novels with provocative subject matter may also cause problems.

DO NOT even think about brining alcohol into Saudi Arabia. If caught you will be imprisoned.

A visa will be refused if your passport contains evidence of travel to Israel. This is not confined to just an Israeli stamp in your passport. You will be refulsed a Saudi via if there is and Egyptian entry or exit stamp from the Egyptian/Israeli border or a Jordanian/Israeli border in your passport.

When completing the visa application forms, do not complicate matters unneccessarily by stating that you are, or ever were, a journalist, politcian, militay officer, or any profession that sounds controversial as it can lenghten the process and jeopardize the application process. It is better to simply incate something less controversial such as nurse, teacher, or retired. We regret that passengers with 'Jewish-sounding' surnames will likely be refused, even if they indicate a different religion on their application”

WOW….can’t wait. Note that many internet sites in UAE are also blocked…including sites like FLICKER for photo uploading (at least when I was there last year).

Friday, April 11, 2008


The villa owner has kindly agreed to hook us up with some extra alcohol given the archaic rules of the feifdom. Knowing that once you clear immigration, you can get the following at duty free, please let me know my posting a comment what you want. You just pay the actual cost which will probably be similar or less than here:

The current allowance is 4 items per person. This could be 4 bottles of Scotch (for example), 4 bottles of wine or 1 case of 12 cans of lager counts as one item (48 cans in total for 1 person). Of course this can be mixed to suit your taste, but you get the idea.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


The fridge and cupboards will be well stocked, but I am not the personal chef for the villa.

I was thinking that Breakfast is on your own as you get up, relax on the patio with your shreddies and coffee. First one up makes the coffee. Lunch, fix as you will.

For evening meals we will do a rotation or something and all eat together.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Money Matters

You will require Emirati Dirhams. Pretty well the only place you can get these is at the cash window of the Royal Bank on Queen Street (cash window is in back of the bank). They will order the funds in and call you when it arrives (usually a few days). For you off-Islanders, not sure, but try the largest Royal Bank in your city. The exchange rate is approximately 1.00 AED=
0.28 CAD. I have not had a problem using my bank card in UAE just like here, but you may want to take some dirhams to start you off. Remember everytime you use your bank card over there you will be charges about $5 CDN per transaction.

For this portion of the trip, there is no need to take any other currency. US dollars don't mean much there. The dirham is a stronger currency. For those travelling on, you can change any unused dirhams (less those for souvenirs) into Euros, Pounds Sterling etc. You can also get this beforehand too. Those going to Egypt should order their funds here before leaving, as well. Ask the bank to give you as much currency in small denominations as they can. Try to get at least 10-20% in the smallest denominations as it can (or used to be) very hard to find small denominations and a lot of smaller vendors will not have change (or at least they say they don't) so if you pay $8 with a $10, you may not get change. It is very easy to convert funds into Euros and Pounds in Dubai. Egyptian Pounds, perhaps less so. Therefore get those before. There are bank machines in Egypt too.

If you plan on using your credit card in Dubai (and elsewhere) you may want to call your card company to tell them this. Sometimes unusual activity out of a pattern will trigger a fraud alert and they will put a hold on your card. Just push the appropriate buttons to get to "report lost or stolen credit card" and tell them you will be travelling overseas and the dates.

As mentioned previously I will cover all basic groceries. I am going to renew my International Driver's license, but I am unsure if I can use the SUVs at the villa. Regardless, probably plan on about $75 CDN for taxis for your ten days. This should be more than enough. I recall that a taxi from the Mall of the Emirates (near the Palm) to Dubai Creek (downtown) was about 30 - 40dh which is about $10. So this is very reasonable, especially if split amongst a car load. I'm saying $75, but it could be $30. Taxis are by the km, not the time...which is good, cause that trip from the mall to the creek was about 45 minutes as it was rush hour.

Jason will drive us to nearby sites if between 8am and 8pm. Nearby sites include the Mall of the Emirates and Wild Wadi.

See previous posts for amount of tip for Jason.

Sites/excursions $ up to you. See 'things to do' on the side. I'd say $250 would allow you to do just about all you want (excluding tea at Burj Al Arab which is about $100 with tip).

Meals - I imagine we will breakfast at the villa (poolside) and most evening meals will be at the villa, but perhaps we will go out once or twice. Depending where we are we may have a handful of lunches out. This can be $3 for a kabob or $7 for a combo at a fast food in the Mall. You could always pack a lunch from the villa too.

Shopping $ - up to you. I will conduct a bartering seminar the first day at the villa. The first day or so of each group, we will go to the souks (markets) have a shopping list - dates, lamb, arabic coffee, rice, spice, fresh fruit - I'll give you each an item, some money, and we will have a ball shopping for our groceries. We will also go to a real grocery store for the other essentials.

I think that is can spend as much or as little as you want. If funds are tight, just put a shopping limit on yourself and pick your outings accordingly. We will do lots of stuff that doesn't cost anything like the camel track for practice (I wrote 'rehearsal' first...), souks, window shopping, and just soaking up the culture of this amazing place. Not to mention vegging poolside at the villa. I am going to buy one of those pool blow up floatey lounges with a drink holder. Which reminds me...remember your booze $ at Duty Free. That will be your only opportunity.

Any questions, let me know.