Saturday, December 8, 2012

UAE, Dubai & Abu Dhabi....

"Last months I took advantage of a long weekend to go see Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and visit three Colombian friends who had just recently moved to the UAE.... 

Dubai is a great modern city and I would say one of its major attractions is its no cost spared architecture. While it does have some cultural aspects people go just to see the city... and that's just what I did.

The other interesting aspect of the UAE is the desert which I have heard is beautiful. But with a limited amount of time and having spent a lot of time in the desert in Egypt i skipped out on that part...

Lets start off with Dubai.

Probably the most recent iconic building in Dubai is the Burj Khalifa. Which to this day is the tallest man made structure in the world at 829 meters/ 2,722 feet. For comparison the Empire state building is just 381 meters/ 1,454 ft... The Burj Khalifa is more then twice as high!

Something I found interesting was that while I was doing the course to get my sky diving license one of the requirements is to do emergency procedure jump from 3,000 ft. Basically you jump out of the plane and have to immediately pull your main parachute. If even the slightest thing goes wrong you have to cut away the main and pull your reserve parachute. The exercise is meant just as practice in case you ever have to ditch the plane soon after take off... The point is that the building is just a little shorter then that emergency jump height.

Here is the view from the platform at just 451 meters.

The other buildings that are also high look miniature!

At night there is a really cool water show.

The Burj Khalifa is very impressive when looking at the numbers.... Dont get me wrong, when you see it in person it is impressive as well, and you can tell its super tall. The thing is that because its thin it does not have that monstrous big square presence that a building like the Sears/Willis tower has....

One of the world famous shopping malls is The Mall of The Emirates. Its most famous attraction is Ski Dubai which is the silver portion of the building you see below.

The mall also has a massive aquarium that offers scuba diving

 Some pretty cool water fountains...

...And even airplanes...

Click below for the full post and lots of more pictures!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Here Sharky Sharky... Video of Cage Diving with Great White Sharks!

If you go to Cape Town, South Africa one of the things you must do is to go Cage Diving with Great White Sharks.... and that exactly what I did...

In Oct/Nov this year we had a nice extra long religious holiday in Egypt so I added a few extra days and a good dose of adrenalin and had a fantastic 10 day trip along the coast of South Africa with my buddy Kevin who is a Trans Oceanic Yacht (sail boat) Captain ... A few days in Cape Town and then the rest doing a camping road trip along the coast!

When I first told my buddy Kevin I was going down to Cape Town his first reply was: We have to go free diving with the Great White Sharks! I generally take a lot of risks in my activities, but you see there is a method to my madness. All the risks are what I call "Calculated Risks". I do my research on how to prevent, deal with and overcome any problem I may face. Based on that i make a decision..... But free diving with Great White Sharks, there just is no calculation to do. Yes GWS are not interested in eating humans, but they may make a mistake, or it might just be having a bad day... So I declined the opportunity to free dive with GWS!

You must be asking yourself why would anyone want to free dive with GWS... Maybe you are not but anyways... Both Kevin and I are watermen, we enjoy the ocean.... The problem is that the method of chumming to attract GWS can have a negative long term affect on the behavior of sharks which may lead to them more often mistakenly attaching humans.... I agree... Actually on our trip we had a very unfortunate accident. One of the big sharks got tangled around its body/gills in the bait line/rope (fish heads on a rope, no hook). The crew acted fast and cut the line and the shark untangled itself and went on its way. But I am sure it was a traumatic event for the shark. I wont publish those pictured.... Good news is a little while after the shark passed by and was fine.

Be sure to click full screen!

On our particular trip we saw like 14 or 15 different GWS according to the marine biologist who was part of the shark diving company. Of those sharks 5 of them were 4.5 meters/15 feet long. For reference in the video thats the size of the cage we were in, and bigger then the wheel base of a Ford Excursion!!!

Hope you liked the pictures and video! Soon I will be posting the other videos and pics from Bungee Jumping, Rock Climbing, Kiteboarding and a lot of other activities from this trip to South Africa!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Burj Al Arab... The only "7 star hotel" in the world....

Last months I took advantage of a long weekend to go see Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and visit three Colombian friends who had just recently moved to the UAE.... Later ill post the whole story and pics of the visit. Today I will focus on The Burj Al Arab hotel.

Dubai is a great modern city and I would say one of its major attractions is its no cost spared architecture.

The Burj Al Arab is a prime example; commonly described as the only 7 star hotel in the world. While a 7 star rating does not really exist... From what I saw, and from what I have heard from friends who have stayed there, its hard to imagine how it could get more luxurious!

As much as I would have like to experienced staying over a night... The least expansive room for one of the nights I was in Dubai was $1,800... Pretty cheap compared to $18,000 for their top room!

So Jonathan and I settled for visiting the hotel and paying the three digit USD minimum spend at its SkyView bar.... Of course you cant just walk up the hotel and ask for a beer. You have to make reservations and provide information to clear a 7 point security check. Ok, I kid about the security check, but you do need a reservation.

The hotel is located 280 meters off shore on a man made island that is connected by a bridge to the main land, at the gate they politely ask for your reservation, its verifies and then they allow you to proceed.

Of course we were driven to the hotel due to the UAE's zero tolerance on drinking and driving!
They are serious, as per the US State Departments web site "Persons arrested for drinking and driving are often jailed for many days as they await a court hearing. Penalties may include hefty jail sentences, fines, and, for Muslims (even those holding U.S. citizenship), lashings."

The hotel is meant to resemble the sail of a dhow which is the traditional sail boat of the region. The main surface you see in the above pictures is actually made of a sail like material.

Outside the hotel we were greeted by 3 of the hotels white Rolls Royce Phantoms, just 3 of the armada they have. Then we were greeted and welcomed to the hotel.

Lets just say Jonathan and I did not make a bee line for the bar... We took some time to see the areas of the hotel that we could at that time since we were arriving at 10pm.

You enter the lobby and are presented by a cascade of dancing fountains flanked on both sides by enormous fish tanks.

The highlight is the atrium!

More pics in the full post!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

3rd Dream Come True! Climbing To The Top of a Pyramid!

Yesterday I made a dream come true, I accomplished a mission. Soon after deciding to to go live/work in Egypt for a few years I came up with three goals/missions/dreams! One was to go kiteboarding on a lake in the middle of the desert and another was to buy a off road motorcycle to explore the Sahara desert on two wheels.

The third one to become a reality was to Climb to the top of an ancient Egyptian pyramid and stand on the top with my arms in the air and fly the Colombian flag!

The Pyramid of Senusret II 
Click for larger version.

The Pyramid of Senusret II is from the 12th Dyansty and was finished around some time between 1897 BC and 1878 BC, which makes it just shy of 4000 years old! What you see in the picture is the inner pyramid which is made of millions of mud and hay composite bricks that literally look like they are made of cow dung including the strands of grass/straw. The bricks are about the size of two large show boxes placed end to end. The unusual thing about this pyramid is that it has at the corners and at the center of the face some large stones. From some research it turns out that it has an internal stone structure and originally had a smooth limestone outer covering like the pyramids of Giza. Whats unusual is that the pyramids of Giza are around 4600 years old. So this one is new but in much worse condition.... Just goes to show how things were built better back in the old days!

Egypt has over 100 pyramids but the vast majority have basically turned to rubble! Obviously I would have loved to climb to the top of one of the 3 main Pyramids of Giza but that would have landed me in jail.... So the trick was to find one that was still in somewhat good condition but did not have military patrol or a care taker... Although a few hundred pounds could have got me access to just about anywhere....

Here is a the pyramid as we approached it in the Jeep.

So what I did was find a list of pyramids and then go one by one using their GPS coordinates to identify one that was still in good condition but remote enough that it did not have tourist or was guarded! I basically identified 3 pyramids that I could go to on a day trip in the Jeep. The first two I went to on two separate trips were basically rubble, in much worse condition then what they looked like from the satellite pictures.... But the 3rd one as you can see still has a pretty decent shape and structure.

Detail of the bricks and the corner stones

View from the top down and Agnes.

Back side.

So there you have it! I still have a few other pyramids on my list.... We will see if I find another in better condition to climb!

Special thanks to Agnes for the company and helping me take the pictures!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pharaons Rally - Pre-race

This week the Pharaons Rally starts off at the Pyramids and will do roughly a 7 day race around the desert south of Cairo.

They start of Monday morning from the pyramids... Current plan is to leave Thursday after work in the Jeep and the KTM on the hitch and head down to the Baharia oasis to meet up with the teams and ride along with them in the desert...

Here are some pics from the 1st day of tech inspection.

Team ReMax Egypt, driver and friend Khaled Capo! Been riding with him a few times and has done some work on my bike!

Good luck Khaled!

Pic from earlier this week...

Really nice rally car, beautifully engineered!

Some one said this is the factory Husqvarna team... Best looking bikes!

Check out the swing arm on this Beta... See the hose and banjo bolt! Thought that was weird... Asked and it turns out that all cars and bikes must carry a few liters of emergency drinking water aside from the normal drinking water... So the team modified the swing arm to carry this emergency. Perfect position, off the rider, and at the lowest point of the bike for a low CG and takes up no space....

Click the link below to see more....

Monday, September 24, 2012

6hr of driving for a few hours of kite boarding in Asia!

6hr of driving for a few hours of kite boarding in Asia! Call me crazy but that's what I did this past weekend! Wind had been howling all week at Soul KiteSurfing in Ras Sudr, Sinai Egypt and I was not going to miss it!

Originally I had a date with the Desert Camel (my off road motorcycle) and some fresh suspension fluid, was going to give her a suspension oil change but when I was not able to buy any... Plans changed at 10pm and by 6am I was in the Jeep on my way to ASIA!

ASIA!! Yup... As you may or may not know the majority of Egypt is on the African continent, but the Sinai Peninsula is part of the Asian continent!

Then after 5hr of kiteboarding I drove back to Cairo to make it to a friends going away party!

Breakfast in Africa, kiteboarding in Asia and then party in Asia all in one day!

Asia and Africa are separated by an artificial sea highway called the Suez Canal that was opened in 1869 and allowed transportation by water from Europe to Asia with out having to sail around all of Africa. To cross the Suez canal there is a bridge at the north and a tunnel at the south which is what I use.

Well enough with the history and mumbojumbo... Here are the pics of the kiteboarding action.

I took these pics and the video I will some day post using a new mount I got for my GoPro camera. It mounts to the center to lines that go from the control bar to the kite. I then also used a new wifi remote control to.... Control the GoPro from my wrist...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The A.R.C. Gloria, Flagship ship of the Colombian Navy

Those that know me can attest that I am very patriotic towards my motherland of Colombia, to the point that I always travel with a Colombian flag just in case I have the opportunity to wave it proudly!

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit the floating pride of Colombia, El Buque Insignia A.R.C. Gloria on its visit to the port of Alexandria, Egypt.

Picture from Google image.

As you can imagine this was an opportunity I was not going to let pass up! Especially since Thursday night the crew and the Colombian Embassy in Cairo was holding a cocktail party. Select members of the Colombian community and ambassadors of other Latin American in Cairo were invited.

But first let me give you a little background on the ship.
A.R.C. stands for Armanda Nacional de la Repubica de Colombia which translates into the Navy of the Republic of Colombia. The Gloria was commissioned on September 7th 1968 at the Port of Bilbao Spain. Our 2nd day on the Gloria happened to be its 44th "birthday". The Gloria is 65m/212ft long, has a sail area of 1,500m^2/15,000sq-ft and a displacment of 1,300 tons.
The main mission of the Gloria is as a training ship for the cadets of the Navy as well as a messenger of peace and promoter of Colombia and our culture.

The Gloria sails around the world every year with the 4th year catets and officials of the Navy. On this particular voyage it left from Cartagena Colombia on April 20th 2012 and is expected back on November 5th after visiting several ports in the US, Spain. Monaco, Italy, Greece, Egypt, Portugal and Jamaica.

The Gloria arrive on a Thursday morning in Alexandria but unfortunatly I was tied up in the office and could not see the arrival... Good thing for pictures!

Below are a few pictures taken by Carolina S. who I met at the cocktail party.

Above two pics by Carolina S.

Having seen the Gloria previously in Miami I can tell you its a very emotional moment when you see that huge Colombian flag pull into port and the crew dressed in the Colombian colors on its masts.

Here are the pics of her at the cocktail party and some of the guests.

[Click pictures for larger size]

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...