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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 15: 9 October

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysAt last a piece of long overdue luck. A young Kuwaiti passes through with a brand-new red Mercedes 300, with the cellophane still on the seats. He speaks very little English, but his name is Hassan and he agrees to take us to the Emirates border. So we find ourselves racing across no-man's land, with the English channel of Emirates radio promising two hours of 'hard driving rock' and Hassan tossing spent Pepsi cans into the desert.

Our next piece of luck is that our patient Indian hire car driver, Vijay, is still waiting for us at the Emirates border, despite being treated shamefully rudely by a young, officious, Arab policeman.

We stop for a coffee at a transport café in the middle of nowhere. It's run by Indians, who sit outside, in the hot, dry night air, watching a Charles Bronson movie on video, at full volume. Sex and violence I can take, but sex, violence and noise is the worst of all. At one point the tape, obviously bootleg, mixes without an apparent break from the middle of a Bronson love scene to a wrestling match between two very fat Americans, before a crowd of many more very fat Americans. The Indians watching - slim, gentle people - appear not to notice the difference.

We drive off and I sleep again and in my dreams huge neon signs appear like mirages - 'Desert Springs Village', 'The Emirates Golf Club', 'The Dubai Metropolitan', 'Safeway Emirates', 'Beverage Filling Industries', 'The Princess Crown Beauty Centre, Specialists In Skin And Body Care'. But it's all real, and it's Dubai.

Un-crumple myself from the back seat. 2.20 a.m. We've been on the road over seventeen hours, and travelled 1070 kilometres. We're outside the Intercontinental Hotel, and I shall soon fall into the ninth bed since leaving London. And the most welcome.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 15
  • Date: 9 October
  • Country/sea: United Arab Emirates
  • Place: Dubai
  • Book page no: 61

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