Dubai 2012: Travel day

(This is the second post in a series detailing my work trip to Dubai, United Arab Emirates.)

Jet lag, what?!

Made it safely to Dubai courtesy of my 13-hour flight from Dulles International Airport. The day before my flight I had changed seats from a window seat to an aisle seat so I could have a little extra leg room. Found my decision to be a double-edged sword. Sleeping on the plane was a nightmare. But I’ll get to that in a second.

Each seat on the Boeing 777 had TVs in the headrest. Available to each passenger was an array of movies and TV shows as well as a wide range of music. I finally watched The Dark Knight Rises, although I definitely need to see it again because I wasn’t paying full attention. After the movie I took some melatonin and attempted to sleep.

Since I have to sleep on my sides I can’t really fall asleep in a chair, so getting comfortable enough to get some decent sleep wasn’t an option. I kept waking up with my butt hurting too much or needing to readjust my legs. This is where the Catch 22 from before comes into play … I switched from a window seat to an aisle seat to allow myself to stretch my legs in the aisle, but doing so deprived me of the chance to lean my pillow up against the window to get some good sleep. Duly noted for next time; as much as I like having more leg room, sleeping on a lengthy plane ride is of top priority.

When Shane, Tommy and I got off the plane we made our way to Passport Control, which took us about an hour to get through the line. This point was the most nervous I had been so far on this trip, because part of me was playing out a scenario where my passport would be denied, I would be detained for some crazy reason and would be without a phone or any way to contact anyone to let them know what happened. Thankfully, going through Passport Control and Customs went without a hitch.

Speaking of lack of communication, the biggest problem for me over the next three weeks is how little contact I will have with people from home. Here in Dubai I am nine hours ahead of everyone in the Eastern time zone, so I have to be conscious if and when I decide to try and contact people. That said, the only real means I have are through FaceTime, Skype and Facebook chat. Even then, I have to go down to the ground floor of the hotel and use the wifi at Tim Hortons. I will definitely have ways to contact people, I just won’t be able to contact them as easily and I can’t be contacted immediately … I need to have wifi.

Moving on, Shawn and Lucas picked us up from the airport with our full-time local driver, and we went to the restaurant to pick up a few of the trainers who had arrived already and then we went to the hotel.

Originally, we were supposed to stay in housing units that are for the employees of the new restaurant. Since about 90% of the labor force here in Dubai is contract workers from other countries, the business owners build and provide housing for the duration of the employee’s contract. Apparently the places set up for these Bennigan’s employees are relatively nice, it is just too far away from the restaurant (about a 30 minute drive in minimal traffic). Since it is too far from the store, the VP and franchisee scrambled to get us a few rooms at a hotel nearby. And, the view around the hotel is absolutely amazing. We can see the Burj Khalifa from our hotel, which is he world’s tallest structure at 829.8 m (2,722 ft) tall. It’s unreal.

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There is pretty much anything we could ever need within walking distance. The Dubai Mall is close (and it’s four blocks wide), and there is an Applebee’s across the street from our hotel. I’ve seen a handful of other American restaurants, but I am going to try my hardest and not eat anything here that I can get in the States. I’m going to broaden my culinary horizons and try new things. Tomorrow we have a pretty laid-back day, so I am going to see if some of the other trainers want to explore.

I still need to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming and that I am actually in Dubai. This is a definite once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I cannot wait to see what else this city has to offer. Just walking around at nighttime, the architecture is amazing, I can’t imagine what it’s like during the daylight hours. Rest assured, I will keep blogging and taking a plethora of pictures (I brought my DSLR with me) so you all can stay informed and up to date with what I will be doing.

I take nothing for granted, I am very fortunate for the opportunity to be here in Dubai. It is good to know my hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. Otherwise I wouldn’t be here right now.

Until next time …

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Postscript: as I’m sitting here in Tim Hortons drinking coffee and writing, Megan and Shane joined me. I had forgotten to mention that Megan and Heather, who had gotten rerouted through Atlanta, had their luggage left in the States when they arrived here in Dubai. As if their day hadn’t been stressful enough, they arrive without their luggage. Poor girls. Also, John, the trainer from Chicago joined the three of us after his delay in Chicago and we’re having a little gathering. I have a feeling these get-togethers here will be a commonplace (especially with wifi, AND NEARBY COFFEE!!!)

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