It seemed like I had only just finalised the plan to move to Dubai when my Dad emailed me with his proposed dates to visit. He booked in for May 6-8. Not that he was coming all the way from Sydney for just two days. No, it so happened that Dubai was a convenient stop over for another trip he had been planning for the last 18 months, a trip to Greece.
The Greece trip had been booked for the year before but was cancelled (at my Mother’s insistence) in preference of being in Sydney for the arrival of my sister’s son Theodore. But my relocation to Dubai, and a recent course in Greek mythology, gave Dad the necessary impetus to reschedule the trip for this May.
My father has many talents – an architect, boat restorer, novelist and a man of incredible patience which was regularly tested living with three women (mum, myself and my sister) and our three female cats (Freckles, Laetitia and Sylvie). One of his most admirable skills is planning trips. His travel itineraries are legendary – detailed with minute-by-minute precision, all thoroughly researched from which exit to take when arriving at the train station to which bookshop to browse in while waiting for the connecting bus.
Indeed, for my father, the research involved in preparing for a trip, seems to be half the joy of actually going. Mum just has to casually mention in passing a desired destination and before too long a detailed rundown has been prepared. A veritable master plan skilfully factoring in variables such as cost and time efficiency, the desire to see as many architectural landmarks as possible and his wife’s travel requirements (hotels with pools if possible, the need for an afternoon rest and little interest in seeing as many architectural landmarks as possible).
Over the years my temporary homes have proven good reasons for making trips. My parents have visited me in Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan and we have taken together a couple of side trips to China. In fact my Dad visited me in Japan twice and shouted, among other things, my first trip on the shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo to the onsen town of Hakone.
Me and Dad in Hakone, Japan, 2008
The second time my parents visited me in Nagoya he went out exploring by himself with the plan to visit the Toyota Museum, something Mum and I were quite happy to miss. After a few hours we started to wonder where he was, when he arrived home saying he had accidently boarded an express train bound for Gifu in the mountains. Several train rides later he managed to find his way back and the quote of the trip was “the more trains I caught the further I got from where I wanted to be!” I guess there are some things you can’t plan for!
Me and Dad in Nagoya for sakura, 2009
When the itinerary for his trip to Greece, with stopovers in Bangkok and Dubai, was emailed through to me, the two days in Dubai were surprisingly open. The only scheduled activity was to go up the world’s highest tower – the Burj Khalifa.
I myself have a penchant for itinerary planning, and so planned the Khalifa visit to coincide with afternoon at the Dubai Mall, to see the aquarium and visit the enormous Kinokuniya bookshop there. Dad has recently published a novel, Improbable Rendezvous which is not stocked by Kinokuniya, yet, but that didn’t stop us from taking a few “publicity shots” in the café (we tried doing it in the bookshop but were told to put the camera away). Dad was then questioned by a security guard on the way out as to why he was leaving with an unpurchased book. He had to explain that it was his book, literally. He wryly commented that it’s the most interest he’s had in his book so far!
The trip up the Burj didn’t disappoint. Although admittedly, as Dubai is a new city there isn’t really that much to see once you are up of the top. I thought the best part was looking back down on the lights of the water show at Dubai Mall.
Unfortunately, between exploring Dubai Mall and Dubai Marina, we ran out of time to visit the Creek and catch an abra (old wooden boat) across – one of my favourite things to do in Dubai. We’ll just have to do that next time he comes to town…I better pencil it into the itinerary now!