As we now were confronted with cars that we could not easily afford a crash with, we wanted to get an insurence for Kalimero. But at 4:30pm this was not possible anymore and we did the other crossing the border routine - buying a SIM card, to call our shipping agent. Michi parked in the middle of the street in front of the store (as he got used to during the last three months) but here in Dubai, he was actually asked very politely to look for a parking spot instead. This felt a bit like getting back to Germany.
After getting this done, we did not really know where to go, it was hot and humid (still almost 40°C in the evening), there were 8 lane streets as far as we could see, we were in the middle of a posh neighborhood and Kalimero stood out like a "bunter Hund" among all the brand new landcruiser limosines. We decided to go for one of the biggest advantages of being in Dubai: get some international food, sit down, relax a bit and think about the madness we have been through in the last 48 hours.
Luckily we picked a Korean restaurant near a parking lot we found suitable to spent the night, where we met Klaus. He was sitting at a table next to ours and spoke German with a very subtle Vienna notion.
After dinner, Michi asked him if he could tell us where to camp in Dubai, but he just laughed and invited us to his house with two guest rooms and a lot of space. From then on, Dubai was a gain and not a burden during our travels. We stayed at Klaus place for 8 nights, he invited us to restaurants and bars with his friends and we had the chance to get to know the increadibly rich variety of nightlife in Dubai. 80% of the people living in Dubai are Expats, mostly from India and Pakistan as you can easily guess whenever you leave the house. But there are comunities from all parts of the world, they meet at their special bars and places.We were just in the middle, for example of a Congolese bar with life music.
Of course if you bring your chinese friends you can be sure that you get very authentic food at the chinese restaurant (serving specialties from the chinese west coast ;o) and with your mexican friends you can have a blast at the independence party which certainly is thrown in Dubai (before you have to prepare the Austrian Oktoberfest).
To be honest we had some preconceptions about Dubai, an artificial city build within 30 years in the middle of nowhere. And of course many of them proved true, but we did not know that this nowhere is very beautyful: Klaus took us for a hike into the desert. Sounds cruel, but with temperatures only in the 30s it was not only possible but also very nice. After passing big red sand dunes, the landscape changed and it looked like black lava stones with occasional little green oasises here and there. We climbed one of the hills following the marks placed by the "Alpenverein of Dubai" and had a fantastic view. We could see huge dried riverbeds (wadis) leading from the mountains to the sandy plains and some carefully watered green palmtree plantations. Klaus even brought some wonderful Bergbrotzeit: whole wheat bread, Landjäger and real cheese!
After this hike in the heat we were ready for some cooling down, swimming in a wadi. We were lucky, a few days before it must have rained and we found water which was much cooler than the Persian gulf.
THANK YOU KLAUS FOR THE TIME WE COULD SPENT WITH YOU IN DUBAI!
|Many dunes to get stuck in.|
|In case you get stuck, these guys will pull you out.|
|The wadi, our bathing spot.|
Of course the main reason beeing in Dubai was getting Kalimero shipped to India. We were in contact with our agent for several weeks now. The first inquiries were just to know how much it would cost us to ship from Iran to India instead of driving through Pakistan. In theory there were 3 possibilities which all cost roughly the same.
- Container from Bandar Abbas to Mumbai: not possible with short term notice, most expensive one of the three possibilities, do the paperwork in Teheran, then wait in Bandar Abbas.
- RoRo-Ferry to Dubai - RoRo-Ferry to Mumbai: Our favorite, because we could keep the roof light and roof rack and don't have to change tires. RoRo Service to Dubai three times a week, to Mumbai every other week.
- RoRo to Dubai - Container to Mumbai: our final compromise. Container to Mumbai run regularily, "no problem!"
We chose the most flexible solution and liked the thought that going for the RoRo-all-solution we get to see Dubai and Oman on top. Of course our main goal still was to go to Ladakh, which is only possible until mid October but we also had an Oman guidebook in our library and started to plan our backup-tour. This was about the time we had our passports shipped to Teheran (mid August). Two weeks later, we were in Yazd already, our shipping agent got the news that the RoRo Ferry leaving on September 19th from Dubai was cancelled, the next one would leave October the 5th. However, he told us that it will be no problem to get a container from Dubai to Mumbai and we should contact his agent Hatim in Dubai.
As we were ready to leave Iran and were really looking forward to North India, we headed to Bandar Abbas to get going (it was September 5th). The agent only answered our third email (now with the Mumbai-agent cc) and did not seem to be willing to start "the procedure" before he sees us in person in his office in Dubai (which makes sense to us, from his point of view), but the Mumbai agent confirmed that they will speed up the procedure for us. So we shipped to Dubai without knowing whether, how and when we will be able to get on.
As soon as we had the ticket for going to Dubai at hand, we made an appointment with the Dubai-agent to see him as soon as we cleared customs, again pointing our that we want to go to India as soon as possible. When we called at 4.30pm he told us to come the next day. We won't go into detail here, but we met him twice in person, to only hand him over the Carnet de passages (which we could have EASILY done in the first evening). After several delays, we had to go to the port two times and thus had no chance to go to Oman. On Tuesday he told us we can start on Thursday - we thought he was talking about the container, but in reality we talked about the paperwork. At least our container left on September the 17th - 9 days after arriving in Dubai, so (in principle) enough time to enjoy Dubai AND the Oman mountains. Well, we did not.
Altogether we can not complain, Dubai is very expensive, but thanks to Klaus we did not pay for accomodation, and there are by far worse places to spent some time. Burj Khalifa is amazing (and surprisingly beautiful, compared to the other architectural skyscraper sins in Dubai), the mall was a great contrast to the weeks before (and after). We even got to swim in the Persian gulf (which is unthinkable in Iran) but with water temperatures around 30°, it felt more like a dog peeing at your leg than a proper ocean. And we had a lot of Pakistani food and very friendly Pakistani taxi drivers, waiters and barbers without driving through the country in a hurry, guarded by weapons and having bad dreams at night.
|Our favourite Pakistani restaurant.|
|On the routine way back from the metro to Klaus' place, we occasionally head to sweat a little...|
Getting Kalimero into the container tested the strength of our nerves. Removing the roof light was easy thanks to Dekalin but we needed the help for a forklift to push Kalimero up the slippy ramp into the container. To our relief the height was not a problem though (to the interested bus driver eager to ship: 49cm of hub-14"fender and the original high roof works out fine on 14" rear and 15" (supporting joints!) front rims cut to the rim well).
|Kalimero on his way to the port.|
|Thanks to Dubai Port rules, Michi was allowed to wear a warning vest while mounting the container rims. What a pleasure at 40°+ in shadow. By the way, which shadow?|
|New offroad rims.|
|And very compentent Indian helpers. Thank God they only minimally touched (and thus damaged) Kalimero.|
The last night we spent at a 4 star beach side hotel sponsored by Martin (Michi's brother), we could very well enjoy this luxury knowing that the next stop would be India.
|Our hotel beach and pool area... Thanks Martin!|
Some more impressions from Dubai:
|A typical sight in Dubai: Arabian shoppers in the luxury Dubai Mall.|
|The ancient part of Dubai is well-presented and lit at night.|
|For 1 Dirham (20 cent), you can cross the Dubai creek with such ancient (or ancient-style) Diesel-powered Dhows.|
|We could also witness a rare spectacle: a sandstorm in downtown Dubai!|
|Dubai: MANY parking spots, some palms, many skyscrapers.|
|The Dubai Metro stations.|
|At the Dubai Museum, ancient living styles are displayed.|
|Dubai in the 1950s.|
|And today: huge power lines cross the country.|
|The water plays at the Dubai Mall: really wonderful.|