Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Wild Wadi Waterpark and more

We were told we HAD to visit WWW when we were in Dubai. Knowing it would be hot, this seemed like a great idea and looked like a ton of fun!! Reading ahead of time that Dubai was consistently hitting 45* during the day I had no idea if we'd last very long here. It seems it didn't really feel as hot as it sounds even in regular situations, but being in the water was awesome. We actually spent nearly 8 hours here! It was a blast!!

In addition to the water slides and tube rides there was a "fish massage" which Riley and I decided to give a try! It was so hilarious, bizarre and a little disgusting... video to come... you sit on a bench and drop your fit and lower legs into a clear tank with fish about 3 times the size of a minnow. They rush your feet and legs and commence devouring the dead skin off of you... yes... your dead skin... It did work, we had soft supple skin after the 20 minutes - but it would only work if you can stand it! :) Apparently in Turkey there are rivers full of these fish and you can just fully submerge yourself to enjoy the benefits... I might pass on that.

After our full day of water fun we walked down the streets to the Souks (markets) which didn't necessarily turn out the way I pictured. We were also too tired and hungry to think about shopping and bartering so we just got dinner and then a cab back. But not before enjoying some ice cream and Starbucks which happened to be beside the restaurant...

It never failed to shock us when we stepped outside. The air conditioning is usually on bust and then it's dark so you kind of just assume it'll be cold. 35* at 10:30pm is not cold. :)

In the morning we packed our stuff and some family went swimming and some went for one last rush of the Mall of the Emirates. Our hotel was conveniently right next door... :)

In another flurry of activity we found ourselves back at the massive Dubai airport awaiting our last flight!!!! It was so hard to believe we were finally heading into Africa. Our flight this time was equally as pleasurable on the 777 and had us in Nairobi, Kenya in less than 4.5 hours.

Some notes on staying in Dubai:

Dubai was a lovely cultural experience, even though it was very rushed. The people are fabulous and love families and children. Many people reached out to touch fair and nearly-blonde Mattea. Where in Iceland the kid's first impression of people was stern until you talked to them, in Dubai people seemed open and friendly right away. I don't know why but it stood out to me that I noticed parents carrying tiny babies instead of pushing strollers. I also noticed that friends of the same sex were very physically attached often holding hands, linking arms and touching while talking. At first when I noticed I thought it was a brazen male couple (seeing as same sex relationships are illegal) because in North America it wouldn't stand out as much for female friends to grab hands or link arms. But then I started noticing it more and more. I realized it was a cultural ability to be physical close without being 'weirded out' - how wonderful - I have since learned it is the same in Kenya.

It is a very modest culture, so most people are dressed to not show knees and shoulders and for the malls it is recommended as a dress code. It is very comfortable and refreshing. Even though in a place like WWW or the beach you can wear what you want, I could probably have counted on two hands the number of bikinis I saw. Even those who were not fully covered had capris and long shirts on. WWW holds a Lady's Night on Thursdays nights where they close early and have female only staff and don't allow men or cameras. I imagine the glitz and glam comes out then!

We kept this in mind when heading out for the day and we didn't feel nearly as hot as I thought in capris and shrugs. But it felt good to know we were respecting the local tradition. The first time we hit the mall I forgot my little cardigan and I had seen a few people out in tank tops and sundresses so I thought it would be okay. I'm sure it was, but those that weren't covered that way did stick out. After skiing I took Riley's cardigan and her shoulders were covered anyway. It didn't seem like you needed to be super strict, but it just felt better putting that thought into it.

I also learned that my ignorance had me believing that all burqas were the same simple black. So not true. From fabrics to embroidery to colourful touches and variations in quality, I was surprised to be surprised to see that personal expression was just as evident in these cloaks as any other outfit. Eye makeup was also often heavy and colourful - even in the water!

Woman who chose not to be fully cloaked but wore a hijab or head scarf chose very colourful and often elaborate fabrics or those perfectly matched to their outfits. Contrary to the popular North American idea that less is more - it clearly is not. While our culture often sees it as oppressive and forced, after some research and this short first hand experience, I quickly saw that it is a very powerful choice and would be freeing in many ways.

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