Monday, April 7, 2014

An Interview with Terri Parsons - AKA my trip to the United Arab Emirates

MM2: Let's start from the beginning of your journey. Let's talk about where your vacation destination took place? 

I went to the UAE (United Arab Emirates) specifically to three of the seven emirates:  Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.  We had to go a round-about way though.  Since it was a tour, the flights were originating in NY or NJ, so even though the flight transfered planes in Dulles (right near where Jocelyn (my traveling companion) lived, we had to take the early morning train to Newark, fly to Dulles, wait and transfer planes.  Very long but it would have cost a lot more to break the standard flight.

MM2: How was your flight and what did you do for all of those hours you were in the air?

Too long. LOL  Train, a couple hours, flight to Duller an hour 15 minutes, but then to Dubai was an additional 13+ hours.  Thanks to a lovely eyemask Christmas present from Jane the night before and a neck pillow and blanket, I slept a lot.  Watched Gravity and We are The Millers.  Read a bit, did puzzles, drank wine.  The usual.  
MM2: Was the  weather what you expected?

Yes and no.  we actually knew it wasn't going to be ultra hot like in the summer since it was February.  It was 80ish most days.  Cool in evenings.  The final day in Dubai we actually had one of their average 10 days of rain per year so it was fun.  

MM2: Now what was the group you were traveling with like? Set the atmosphere of your journey.

The group was great.  This was a special deal from Gate 1 Travel.  The group were all seasoned travelers and wanting to explore exotic places which was nice.  There was another Jocelyn as well who was wearing an identical skirt to my friend Jocelyn the first day - instant connection. LOL  We had people who had been to amazing places with wonderful stories to share.  Never dull conversation.  

MM2: What did you learn about the culture and food that you maybe you didn't know beforehand?
Well, we had a fabulous guide - Muinir (who was from Yemen and who had lived in Dubai for 18 years) who had seen all the changes and growth over the last years that turned it into the thriving destination it is.  He was incredibly knowledgeable and would answer ALL our questions.  Cultural, religious, historic.  The funny thing is he told us about the treaties for oil transporation back in the early 70s that setup the ability for them to do all they have done with the money from the oil revenues etc., and when I got back, I found out that one of the founding members of our firm was instrumental in all that.  So cool.  I will say, the Emirati people are taken care of by the government (free health care, land, education) and their have been some amazing leaders with the ability to setup a system to draw in working business models.  Some cultural things I am more knowledgeable about now but still not comfortable with (polygamy obviously, some of the restrictions on women) but the different emirates have different rules.  That said, the food was good but we ate at hotel a lot too which had a very diverse menu.  I did try camel's milk while I was there, that was probably the only thing I had NEVER had before.  It was a little tangy/salty but fine.

MM2: Tell us about some of the most spectacular things you saw ?

The Burj Khalifa (world's highest building) and the view from the top.  Terrifying and spectacular.  And it is from there it is REALLY apparent how they built this out of the desert.  The souks were fun. Jewelry, spices, rugs, pashminas.  I am a terrible bargainer but Jocelyn is great.  The malls were OVER the TOP.  Think high end mall times ten.  Extravagant and HUGE.  ALL the big stores.  Not that we had time to bother with that.  And of course many had ice rinks and bowling alleys in them.  Mall of the Emarites had a ski Slope, zip line and bobsledding.  No time for that either though we watched others do it.  Oasis.  Green out of desert.  Fun.  Date trees with an impressive man who could scale in seconds.  Desert, camels, The third largest mosque in the world.... Museums.  History.  So so much.

MM2: What was your favorite place to see and what was your favorite part of the trip?

THe desert safari.  We took land cruisers into the dunes and surfed.  Fast, spinning, up down, sideways.  I was screaming with delight while others in the group might have been screaming for other reasons. LOL.  Then we went to Bedouin camp.  Rode camels, had henna painting on hands, belly dancing - watched and participated.  Whirling Dervish.  Amazing.  Made me dizzy to think about it.  Danced with him too.  Smoking hookah, eating dinner on rugs out in desert.  music. Conversation with new friends.  Absolutely perfect night.

MM2: Were there interesting people that you enjoyed talking to and befriended?
Yes - here is Brenda watching the dancing.  She and Ignacio and her parents were our buddies on this trip and we had a fabulous time.

MM2: Since this was not your first visit out of the country. How did this country leave you with a positive feeling?
It was totally different than anywhere I have ever gone.  And I felt safe the entire time which is a question people don't always want to ask but should in this day and age.

MM2: Tell us about the fun you had and did you enjoy the accommodations ?

Hotels were very good though we weren't there a lot.  Though Joc and I did squeeze in massages one day! Honestly we were kept very very busy.  The hotel in Abu Dhabi also had a fun hookah bar as well.

MM2:  Was there an unexpected adventure you didn't plan to have in your travels?

We did end up singing on stage with the cover band from the Phillipines in our hotel one night.  A medley of We Will Rock You by Queen and I Love Rock N Roll by Joan Jett.  And Jocelyn did some other GREAT songs with them, but then she is a really good singer and well, I am not... LOL

Mm2: In closing did this trip bring to light any self discovery?

Yes.  I definitely felt the fluidity of time on this trip.  Past and Presents are so intertwined there.  We went to a grave mound as old as those I went to in Ireland and Scotland and that was over 2000 years old.  Time and place and my perceptions have altered quite a bit.  Hard to explain and very Timey Wimey thinking But I geuss final thoughts are WE ARE ONE WORLD, and ultimately ONE PEOPLE with a lot of special experiences and history and until we GET that, change is slow.



  1. Wonderful interview! I'm glad that you got to go and that you had such a fabulous time.

  2. Great interview!!! Loved the pictures and hearing more about the trip!!! So glad you had a good time.


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