Days 578-582: A Passage To India

02.08.10-06.08.10: Monday morning bright and early, the wonderful Pamela drove me to the Bur Dubai area of town and I headed over to the CMA-CGM offices to meet Barry Dinnadge, the fine chap I had met over a game of pool in Rock Bottom all those weeks ago.  As luck would have it, he’s the CMA-CGM agent who was responsible for chucking my ass on the CMA-CGM Jade. After a cup of tea and a natter, I headed out for my last two errands of Dubai – post my tapes and old Dell Boy back to the UK and buy myself a spare battery for Sony Jim here.  Tasks done, I waved goodbye to the old place (whose culture stretches back decades) and was whisked, courtesy of Mr. Dinnadge, over to Jebel Ali port for boarding.  Of course The Odyssey wouldn’t be The Odyssey without some…

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Days 549-577: Delayed in Dubai

03.07.10–01.08.10: So I wound up stuck in Dubai for four weeks. Tons of stuff happened, but not much of it relevant to the ongoing quest that is The Odyssey.  I’ll divulge the whole sordid affair once I have more battery power on my laptop. Here’s what you need to know: It took two weeks to get a visa for India and then shipping myself off to the Sub-Continent proved amazingly difficult. I was helped (immensely) by the following people: Mr. Kashi Samadder, Damien (Damo!!), Fajer, Ben, Dan, Alena, Pamela, Sarah, Martin, Youhan and Barry from CMA-CGM. Mandy, my beloved, came up with the goods in the end, securing me passage onboard a ship bound for Bombay via Karachi.  Hurrah for the Mandster!! Whilst in Dubai, I sailed around The World, won at Laser Quest, watched the World Cup final in the Barasti Soccer Dome, learned to…

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Day 548: World Cup Pool Party

02.07.10: So I rolled back into Dubai for the third time of asking. After a delightful chat with the Filipino women who worked in the Burger King by the Saptco bus station (she told me which bits to avoid in The Philippines) I jumped in a cab and headed off to see me auld mucka Damien. As you may recall, Friday 2nd July 2010 was the day of the jaw-dropping Brazil-Germany and the heart-breaking Uruguay-Ghana matches, so feeling the atmos in the air, Damo and I slinked off to the Atlantis Resort on the Palm thingy (an artificial peninsular built to look like a cartoon drawing on a palm tree when viewed from Google Earth – wonderfully nutty in it’s conceit) for a World Cup Pool Party. And yes, it was as awesome as it sounds!! Bikinis, Booze, Brazil – over one thousand people from every…

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Day 547: Nothing To See Here, Move Along

01.07.10: I arrived in Riyadh around 12 noon and thought about heading out to the town as I had a few hours until the bus to Dubai departed. Well I went outside the bus station and changed my mind. Town is 15km away from the bus station, it’s hot as hell (midsummer in the middle of the Arabian desert, what do you expect!) and I’ve got all my bags with me… nah. Not going to happen. So I retreated, much in the manner of a hermit crab, back into the bus station and waited it out. When I eventually got on board the bus, I was first on (again) and again (for the third time) some chancer tried to weasel me out of my seats. Again, the bus wasn’t even nearly full so it’s not like he was going to have to sleep on the floor.…

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Days 534 & 535: The Sands Of Time

18.06.10-19.06.10: So after a good night’s kip I had a the best part of a day to shake off my hangover.  The bus for Riyadh, the Saudi capital, left at 5pm.  I spent the day shuffling about, wondering why the sun had to be so bright and skimming all the superfluous items out of my bag.  At 3pm I left my coat behind in the The Greens as I departed for the Saudi Arabia Public Transport Company (SAPTCO) bus ‘station’ in Deira, but returning ten minutes later as I had also left my mobile phone.  Which I needed. Damien rolled his eyes. When I finally got to the SAPTCO office they told me to come back in half an hour.  I used this time to go out in the baking heat and check my pores were still working properly.  As my soaking wet t-shirt could no…

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Day 533: Burning Up On Re-Entry

17.06.10: The bus rolled into jolly old Dubai at around six in the morning.  If there is a time of day I dislike more I am yet to meet it.  The Deira district looked as wonderfully shabby and dysfunctional as ever, and I slunk into a little Indian workers café and ordered an omelette and bread breaky washed down with a nice hot cup of chai. At 7.30am, I headed over to the Indian Consulate to get the ball rolling with my Indian visa – the idea being that the time wasted waiting for the damn thing could be constructively used attempting to get to Eritrea from Saudi.  After queuing for over an hour with all my stuff in the hot hot morning air of urban desert Dubai, I got knocked back at the front door by a friendly guard who explained I couldn’t get the…

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Day 532: The Cunning Plan

16.06.10: After again saying my farewells to Luke and Dave, our mate Alasdair gave me a lift to the bus depot. After AGAIN being told the bus to Dubai was full by the grumpy man behind the counter, Alasdair got a little suss. Is there another bus? Oh yeah – the bus company down the road, behind the fish market. D’oh! Why didn’t I ask that yesterday?! And so after heartily shaking Alasdair’s hand and jumping on the (pretty empty) 3pm bus to Dubai I found myself gazing out of the window over the flat barren flatness of Arabia’s empty quarter, full of djinns and demons and things that go bump in the night. As I mulled over the situation in my head and the wonderful suggestions made by contributors to this website (gavinmac and Socleman, take a bow) a cunning plan began to take form…

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Day 516: The Burj Is The Word

31.05.10: UAE: Damien kicked me awake at the marvellous hour of 6:30am (5:30am in my still-in-Kuwait time zone) and after stuffing my stuff in my bag I headed out into the big dirty world.  Damien dropped me at the swanky new metro station (looks like a big silvery sand worm from Dune) and we said our fond farewells (although there’s a good chance I’ll be back here in a couple of weeks – I honestly don’t know what is going to happen next, but I’ll explain more tomorrow. My mission for today?  Ascend the Burj Khalifa (nee Dubai) – at 828 metres high by FAR the tallest building in the world.  I was told that tickets had to be booked in advance and that if you turned up on the day they would want £100 off you.  I got there at 8am (the eager beaver that…

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Day 515: Encounter at Farpoint

30.05.10: UAE: The big task of the day was getting my bumper to bumper passport back to the UK so I can get a new one – if you’re keeping up, it’ll be my fourth. Mission accomplished (thank you DHL, you’re THIS much better than British Airways) I arranged to meet up with a certain Mr. Kashi Samaddar. Yep, the bloke whose Guinness World Record™ I’m attempting to beat. It took him six and a half years to visit every country in the world. Me? I’m up to country 158 out of 200 and it’s only been 17 months. (Although I am STILL firmly convinced it could be done in a year… if only I had a yacht…!) Oh yeah, and I’m not flying…! Sometimes I fail to see how monumental the task I’ve set myself really is – I mean, what other world record can…

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Day 514: Cyclic Redundancy Check

29.05.10: UAE: I arrived in Dubai at precisely three hours later than the bus company promised, but that just meant three hours more kip… which is never to be sniffed at. Dubai is pretty hot, especially when you have a backpack and a leather jacket tied around your waist – I was just asking for trouble… I frantically texted Damien, Helen Power’s mate in Dubai who had generously offered his couch for me to sully for a couple of days. Incidentally, I am thoroughly convinced that Helen should change the name of her house to Greyskull, for reasons to obvious to document here. Damien (I would find out later) was nursing the mother of all hangovers and therefore in no fit state to text back, so I spotted a nearby Subway and thought sod it and sat there for a couple of hours finally polishing off…

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