Thursday, April 23, 2009

Yabba Dabba Dubai

Once again, the President wanted to visit a country in the Persian Gulf. And once again, I had to be part of the Presidential delegation. It was vacation time, and I wanted a, well, vacation. But duty calls (like I have a choice).

Day 1

I had to fly out of Manila around midnight. I just slept through the flight and woke up during breakfast. I still had time to watch a Filipino movie before landing.

I arrived in Dubai early in the morning. There was a bit of an administrative snafu so it took some time before I was picked up from there airport. I didn't go directly to the airport as the people who picked me up still had some business to attend to. Just wonderful...

I arrived at the hotel to see everyone there. I was supposed to be the advance party but I ended up the last to arrive since the whole delegation had to be evacuated out of Pattaya, Thailand before the end of the ASEAN Summit due to the civil unrest that was happening there. I booked a room that turned out to be more expensive than my budget allowed. The day just keeps getting worse.

The room itself was okay but I wish I could have gotten a simpler one.

As soon as I got settled, I took a stroll around the streets surrounding the hotel. The architecture in Dubai was, as everyone knows, ostentatious and extravagant. Just the way the rich Arab folks want it.

The afternoon came and the program for the Filipino Community started. The program was graced by the President herself. It started with a Catholic mass and then the President delivered her remarks. As I don't believe in religion, I occasionally snuck out off the mass to get a bite to eat from the cocktails section. Not an easy feat to do when your seated among the cabinet secretaries, congressmen, and other government officials. I was lucky that some members of congress had the same idea I had to grab a bite.

After the program, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, my big boss, wanted to visit the Atlantis resort. So away we went.

When we arrived there, we were met by the managers of the establishment, who gave us a tour of the place. Along the way, they dropped some names of celebrities who have graced the place, among them were Michael Jordan and Richard Branson. You had me at His Airness.
From the lobby, we can already see that the hotel wants itself to be considered grand by everyone who sees it. The decorations and carvings on the wall tried to evoke a Byzantine or Ottoman Empire feel to it.

It was Easter Sunday so they had a gigantic chocolate Easter Bunny.

This is the Hotel's Presidential Suite.

We were then lead to "The Lost Chambers", a zoo like place for sea creatures, except it's the people who stay in enclosed spaces. I have never seen such a vast collection of underwater life. The place is truly a wonder.

The whole complex is vast and I was huffing and puffing by the end of the tour. But seeing the underwater zoo they had was worth it.

We then headed back to the hotel. I went straight to my room where I watched television until I fell asleep.

Day 2

I had a bland breakfast. Then I was brought to the Philippine Consulate General, where I helped out on consular matters all day. I was a good "OJT" experience for me. I know I'll be doing the stuff they're doing once I get posted myself, wherever that may be.

I then headed back to the hotel to rest and prepare for my flight back home the next day.

Day 3

I was driven to the airport early in the morning and the only thing I could think about was going home. Home, where I wanted to be during the time I was in Dubai anyway.

During my flight, I watched "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" and episodes of "The IT Crowd" and "The Batman".

Once I got home, I looked forward to resting in my room and hoping I don't have to do another one of these visits in the near future.

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