Party of Three in the U.A.E.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

It’s September! You all know what that means – after wedding season comes friendmoon season. That’s right folks, your favorite bougie bean-counting threesome are off on another adventure. This time we have taken the art of the friendmoon to a whole new wannabe-honeymoon level with a trip to Dubai and the Maldives. The judgement people cast over our vacation destination choices never ceases to amaze me, so let’s just get all the questioning out of the way now. I know what you’re thinking – Rory in a strict Muslim country CANNOT end well – don’t they cut out your tongue for saying the f word? Chill people. It’s 2017. The odds of me losing an appendage for being my natural, obnoxious self are pretty slim in an international metropolis such as Dubai. The city plays hosts to business and leisure travelers and expats from around the globe on an epic scale. And yes they allow people to drink. Not their own citizens, mind you, but those of us going to whatever their version of hell is can self inebriate as we please. However I will be on somewhat good behavior, because lets be honest, should something go awry there is no way Trump is negotiating with the Middle East to extradite a democratic Jew. In case you haven’t figured it out, this blog will probably be rife with political and cultural inappropriateness. You were warned.

After five nights in Dubai we’ll move on to the Maldives for the second leg of our journey. Many people have pointed out to me that the Maldives is a honeymoon destination. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not going on a honeymoon any time in the near future. Couple that with my lack of patience for getting what I want, and here I am on a sixteen hour flight a week away from crashing the shit out of that honeymooners paradise. Besides, I’m not sure you married people really want to start dividing up the world into places you are allowed to travel and places singles are allowed to travel. You’ll be left with a lot of boring destinations while I party my international ass off. I’ll tell you the real reason that the Maldives is primarily a honeymoon destination – because it’s so damn expensive that most people can’t justify it for any other purpose. Luckily for me, I use my hard earned money however I see fit. And I see fit to use it drinking champagne for breakfast in an over-water bungalow beside my private plunge pool overlooking the Indian Ocean.

I won’t waste too much time introducing the crew for this trip. You all know Steph and Jorgie pretty well by now. This is our ninth consecutive year of international September travel. That obviously means we are really going to have to blow it out in 2018 for our tenth anniversary trip. Suggestions are welcomed. The girls are pretty excited about this vacation – mainly because it’s the bouggiest trip we have ever taken. The older we get, the more expensive our tastes become. It’s really becoming a problem. Steph is particularly excited that she gets to pack an actual rolling suitcase instead of a backpack. We even had to pack real shoes other than flip flops and runners, which is a whole new world for me. There are some bars and nightclubs in Dubai with strict dress codes that only allow women wearing heels in. Those places can go fuck themselves. I don’t even wear heels to work where I make the money to pay for this vacation. I also made the girls pack a ring that can be used on their left hand as a fake wedding ring. I read online that it can be useful to appear married in Dubai, especially in the souks, where single women garner more attention and therefore harassment. As if we single ladies don’t have it hard enough. That’s fine, I’ll wear a fake wedding ring to earn your fake respect while I cut your profit margins in half with my haggling skills. All while my fake husband is playing a round of golf in 110 degree heat.

Okay, you thought you were actually going to be reading a travel blog. Here goes it. We headed to the airport mid-afternoon to catch our dreaded 16 hour flight to Dubai. This is my longest single flight leg ever, so I’ve doubled my usual allotment of in-flight Xanax in my carry-on, just to be safe. I could probably get an actual horse to sleep comfortably in a coach seat on this flight if I needed to. Check-in and security at Tom Bradley was a breeze. The most difficult part of our pre-flight journey was finding the extra-large smart water bottles in the airport. What am I going to do with a regular sized water bottle over the course of 16 hours? I never trust a flight attendant to keep me adequately hydrated on a flight. We are flying Emirates, which I’m excited about, despite being in coach. As the boarding process started I bid adieu to Steph and Jorgie who were on the other side of the plane. We yelled “see ya tomorrow!” as we moved into our separate boarding groups. This was by far one of the most efficient aircraft boarding systems I have ever seen. You are split up into groups based on your location on the plane – the back boards first, a novel idea, I know. I’ve seen southwest flights take longer to board plane 1/5 of the size.

I almost had a heart attack when I checked-in online the day before and realized I had a window seat. Can you imagine having to ask sleeping strangers to move every time you want to pee for sixteen fucking hours? That is literally my version of hell. My bladder has even more anxiety than I do in situations like that. Luckily I was able to snag one of the last isle seats. And what a seat it was! Not only am I right next to bathrooms, so I can see when they are vacant and not bother waiting in line, there is even a drinking water dispenser right next to my row! Who needs first class when you have easy access to bathrooms and all the clean water you can drink? Let’s do this, Emirates.

I breathed a sigh of relief as my seat mates arrived. They were a young couple, spoke english, engaged in a short bit of conversation but had no interest in being my best friends. Score. One thing to note: the girl who was in the window seat didn’t pee. Not once. The entire sixteen hour flight. Is that even healthy? It got to the point where I was making eye contact with her and smiling so that she would feel comfortable asking me to move if she needed to get up and pee. She probably thought I was hitting on her. Her boyfriend probably thought he was about to join the mile high ménage a trios club. Sorry people, I have no interest in you beyond the relative comfort of your bladders on this flight. I watched a few movies and then took my little cocktail of sleeping pills. I managed to actually catch some zzzz. Granted, I didn’t exactly get my R.E.M. on since I’m basically sitting in a coffin, but it was more than I expected. Other positives to note for Emirates: excellent blankets, they don’t attempt to cryogenically freeze you during the flight, and they don’t cut you off on wine. However, there was one glaring negative that I do feel it necessary to point out. Our food options were chicken or fish. Fish. On a fucking plane. In an enclosed space from which you cannot escape the stench. As soon as they rolled out that fucking fish cart my row mates and I all started gagging in disgust. The three of us made a pact that no one in our row was allowed to get the fish. I’m not kidding you – girlfriend legit dropped the hammered and told her boyfriend and I no fish allowed. She is direct and doesn’t need to pee – she’s is basically an upgraded version of me.

You didn’t think I was going to finish a story about a sixteen hour flight without discussing the ill-behaved children, did you? There may as well have been an McDonalds play place in the middle of coach class. It was a shit show. I woke from my Xanax-induced haze several times to insane levels of screaming. I didn’t bother taking my sleeping mask off, but my spidey senses tell me these children were even running up and down the isles of the plane. Apparently drugging your children with codeine cough medicine before a flight went out of style in the early 90’s. Ah, the good old days.

Dubai airport baggage claim

We landed in Dubai and breezed through immigration, at which point we entered the baggage claim that puts all others to shame. It looked like we landed in the middle of a Vegas hotel. We grabbed our bags, hit duty free to stock up our room with the obligatory champagne-wine-vodka trio that every friendmoon needs to flourish and hopped in a cab to our hotel. We are staying at the Mina a Salam in the Jumeirah Madinat complex. The resort complex consists of four hotels all connected by waterways with cute little abra boats (think Venice canals) that shuttle you around. There are about 20 restaurants, four pools, a huge private beach and even a “souk”, which is basically just a middle eastern themed Mall. If they had “Middle East Land” at Disneyland, it would be this resort. It’s fucking heaven. Oh, and did I mention this all looks out directly onto the Burj al Arab? We even have a view from our room.  I’ll get a pic tomorrow.

We checked in and were showed to our room, where our TV welcomed us with a “Welcome Mr. Rory Boston” background banner. I can only hope the hotel was expecting Mr. Boston to be a Sheik checking in with his two wives.  I’m sure three white girls entering the lobby in lulu lemons was a big disappointment.   We had about an hour before our 10 pm dinner reservations. Naturally after a long flight we all wanted to shower. Just kidding, we made drinks instead and just put on some deodorant. We headed down to the lobby and caught a boat to Segreto, an Italian restaurant in our complex.  Our boat driver took pity on our attempt at a selfie and snapped a few pics for us.  I think it is just universally knows by captains of any size boat that they must double as photographers.  As it should be. We have half board included in our room rate, which means we get buffet breakfast and a three-course lunch or dinner each day and our choice of the many restaurants in our complex, as well as a few other Jumeirah owned hotels. I scored the half board upgrade for free on expedia, which is why I sprang for the ocean-view room. After our fancy meal and a bottle of wine, we were down for the count, so we headed back up to the room for bed. I swear, I’m going to drag the girls out to a bar with me at night at some point on this trip. But I think I’ll let them shower first.

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