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!
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