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Well what can I say.  After the busy modern world of Japan and the deeply contrasting Cambodia I don’t think I had prepared myself for the skyline of Dubai. I only had two days left.  I needed to see all I could!

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The reason for my visit was primarily to visit my friend who had lived there for some years. We had met in Saudi Arabia while working there nine years ago. She had met and now married an English guy and they were happily living in Dubai.  I could not wait to see them as they had had twins, a boy and a girl six months ago.

I stayed in a lovely hotel. Could not believe the decadence of it all after the poverty of Phnom Penh. I knew I was in luxury when they quickly picked up my bags from the car and put them on a trolley to take them into the hotel.  This is not my usual form of residence but I was going to enjoy. There were four restaurants in the hotel, a pool and a spa!

 

I spent the first day on a Big Bus tour. The concept completely stolen from the London Bus tour where you can pop on and off around a particular route. A great way to get to know the city with English guide via earphones.  Met a lovely family from India we had a  great time.

The city is just amazing. If you love modern architecture this is your paradise.  They even have air conditioned bus stops for the locals, as the temperature can get up to 50 degrees.  How considerate.

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It is clean and dusty at the same time. You cannot get away from the fact that we are in the desert. There are still old buildings too which they are trying to care for and restore.

 

 

I shared the old city tour with a really nice guy from Australia.  He had just moved to Dubai to employment.  Getting his bearings before he started actual work.

I finished the day on the river on a Dow.  A great end to the day in the evening sunshine with a beer.  Yes a beer in Dubai. As a tourist they accept we drink alcohol.    But best not to over do it hey.

 

 

I really had wanted to go up the Burj Khalifa but be warned, if you don’t buy tickets in advance you are unlikely to get your opportunity. I missed mine.

 

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So hmm, what could I do.  I know,  I could go on a helicopter ride. Yey!

I had never flown in a helicopter and to see the city from the sky would be amazing. I was not disappointed.  I was also lucky that on the weight allocation for seats, I got to sit next to the pilot. How amazing was that!

 

It was truly fantastic to see the famous ‘palm’ from the sky.  The Dubai skyline looked very movie like in the distance.  It is really strange to have this “city” right here in the desert.

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And I went higher than the Burj Kahlifa in the end. result!

So. on to the twins.  It was great to meet up with my friend, her husband and the beautiful babies.  Mum and I escaped for a catch up lunch together then back for more children time.

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Sadly I left Ella and Grayson and their mum, knowing I would not see them again for quite a while.  Children grow and they would never be quite the same.

 

Onwards and upwards. Flight back to the UK and my mum back in Manchester.

 

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Could not settle on plane. Watched films and David Beckham.  Read a little of my book.

Most amazing thing on this fantastic Airbus 380 was the entertainment. Touch screen and also could watch the plane take off by looking via cameras situated on the aircraft. Not for those who do not like flying I think.

Then as we came into Dubai the most marvellous scene outside the window.  I think all Arab cities from the air look like jewellery boxes with all the strands of gold spilled out. A beautiful sight.

 

 

This view sparked a conversation with a man in front of me on the plane in transit to Bangladesh. He was caring for his mother like every good boy should do.  But he had the broadest Oldham  (Nr Manchester) accent I had heard in a long time.

Now waiting in near the gate for my onward flight to Japan. I am tired it is nearly 02.00am and it is 30 degrees.

 

Time to go East again

June 15, 2016

 

It is just about two weeks before I embark on yet another journey.  My family and friends are now tired of the phrase “..and where’s Helen off to now! I am going East again to revisit friends I am very lucky. This time I will visit Japan, re-visit Cambodia and return to Manchester via Dubai.

All of these countries are special to me and I have a different reason for the visit in each.

In Japan I have a dear friend who is now a Professor of Midwifery. She and I did a Master’s degree in Midwifery Practice many moons ago at Thames Valley University. 1995 to be exact, over 20 years.  We have kept in touch on and off over the years, thanks to email and social media.  This is an opportunity to view Midwifery in Japan and their midwifery education system and to catch up on her children who are all grown up now.

 

A long time ago just after completing her Masters, she returned to the UK with other professors of Midwifery from Japan. They stayed in my house in Leicester at that time.  My memory is of these ladies doing Tai Chi in my living room. Marvellous.  We also visited Manchester on the same visit. Quite a UK tour and my midwifery colleague in Manchester also gave over her house to the visiting group.  Bless them they got up very early so as to leave the bathroom available for the rest of us.  Can’t wait to hopefully meet these respectful humble women again.

Of course I intend to travel to Tokyo and also visit Hiroshima.  An act of violence against human kind not unlike the Killing fields in Cambodia.

 

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In Cambodia I am revisiting Phnom Penh where I spent last January with the RCM Global Midwifery Twinning Project. Again I have kept in touch with the President of the Cambodian Midwives Association and other midwives who shared the experience.  I really cannot wait to meet up with the main translator we used, as we have become firm friends and use all the varieties of communications to keep in touch.

I was only there for a month but hope to revisit the hospital in Phnom Penh and see how things are. I really do hope also to travel to Kampot too which I missed on the previous visit.

Alas a dear friend, who I should have been meeting up with, has broken her leg and has returned to Australia to recuperate. But such a good friend has given me access to her flat for the visit.  I will miss her greatly.

It will be rainy season in Cambodia so I very well might get wet but it will also be very warm. I can’t wait to travel in a Tuk Tuk but will care better for my phone that went missing on the first day of my last visit.

In Dubai I am visiting yet another friend who has birthed twins six mo

nths ago.  We met whilst working in Jeddah Saudi Arabia together 2006/7.  It will be wonderful to see her where she has lived since. I am not sure what to expect of Dubai but at least I can speak a little Arabic still to get me by.

There is of course that very high building to visit. The Burj Khalifa  2, 716ft.

 

I think the journey will be full of challenges as usual and many, many, contrasts of wealth poverty, climate, language and scenery.  I will try and blog every couple of day’s travel internet connections permitting.