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Friday, October 9, 2015

GAWA Day #24: Bangkok to Dubai

My final breakfast at the Sheraton featured an egg over easy over Japanese curry and rice, with a salmon, cold soba and salad:

That's the Sky Train station in the background, and Terminal 21 is a relatively new shopping mall where I went to see Sicario.  You now pretty much need to pass through an airport-like check to get into any mall or large building.

The trip back to the airport on a taxi cost $12,  including two toll charges, taking a little over half an hour. But there was no traffic.  Sometimes this can take an hour or more.  However, with mass transit and the demise of tuk-tuks, the worst case scenarios have disappeared, and the air is now breathable.

About your transport from the international airport into Bangkok, AOT, a government-run organization, has stations inside the airport to pre-pay your ride.  They try to get you into a more expensive car for $64, so you need to insist on the cheapest.  They almost always ignore this request, for I could have  had an Isuzu at $29, but settled on a Toyota for $33.  Why pay three times more, for if I had gone outside, the taxi would have cost $12?  Usually, I arrive close to midnight, and $33 is a safe and hassle free way to get into town.  Some airport taxi options in major cities can be a real problem.  Bangkok should be fine, but it is still hot and grimy finding your way to the airport taxis.  I should add that if you have little baggage, there is the Airport Rail Link for $1.25.  Then take a taxi to your hotel.  Taxis are cheap.

The Royal Silk Lounge of Thai Air in Bangkok must be the longest one in the world.  Seems like a hundred yards from one end to the other, and maybe double that.  There was a soup station:

That is a cheese and spinach croissant sandwich.

The Thai Air flight took seven hours, crossing three time zones.  The walk from the arrival gate to customs must be a mile and a half, using six escalators and four moving walkways.  No need to fill out any form.  Just show your passport.  Then, outside the air-conditioned airport to the taxi is, at 9PM, the equivalent of walking into an oven.  The Sheraton Dubai Creek is said to be the oldest Sheraton in the Middle East, opening in 1978.  My junior suite is fabulous.  The midnight view.

My first time to Dubai.  A summary:
  • Dubai and Oahu are about the same geographical size.
  • At 2.3 million, they are almost double Hawaii's population.
  • Is a city of the United Arab Emirates. (there are six other "cities")
  • Is a constitutional monarchy ruled by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (his photo from Facebook)
  • One United Arab Emirates Dirham (AED) equals 0.27 US dollar, or $1 = 3.7 AED
  • English is the most common language spoken.
  • 60% Muslim and 15% Christian.
  • Gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1971.
  • Less than 5% of revenues from oil.
  • Most expensive city in the Middle East.
  • No crime.
  • No income tax.
  • A lot of construction cranes (it is said that 20% of the world cranes are now here).
  • World's tallest building (Burj Khalifa, 2723 feet).
  • Citizens equal 17%, Indians 50% and rest are other immigrants.
One of the main reasons I'm on this GAWA (Grand Around the World Adventure) is the World Expo in Milan.  Dubai hosts the World Expo in 2020.  Theme:  Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.  Astana (Kazakhstan) has the 2017 version.

Tropical Depression 18-E will become a Category 2 hurricane, head straight for Hawaii, but turn north before getting close:


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