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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 17: 11 October

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysA day's respite (which I am sure we will pay for later). Run along the side of the creek before breakfast, while the temperature is still down in the eighties. Much of Dubai is high-rise, prosperous and rich, but the area where the small ships unload must be much like it was before they first struck oil.

Kamis was telling me that the years of the Gulf War were boom years for these small boats. They could scuttle about the place, largely unnoticed, behind blockades, and away from heavily-patrolled harbours. It was the dhows that kept Iran supplied throughout the war. I ask him who stands to gain from the peace, so recently broken out. The question perplexes him. 'For me . . . they are all my people . . . Iranians, Iraqis . . . I see them all.' They're traders, not warriors, in Dubai.

Later in the day we visit the local supermarket for provisions. None of us is quite sure what we shall need, apart from my bag of rice, though drinking water seems a good idea. So in addition to 108 bottles of local spring water, we emerge with a motley assortment of Western delicacies, such as Spam, corned beef, tuna chunks, kitchen roll and digestive biscuits. Buying bedding is more problematical. There seems to be no such thing as a camping shop and I end up buying a Czech Li-Lo from one shop, a soft cushion from somewhere else and at a third, a tastefully embroidered flowery pillow case, a stripy sheet and a blanket from China.

I make some phone calls home. Am I too garrulous? Do I betray in any way a nagging suspicion that I might never see anyone again? Steve at the office tells me that A Fish Called Wanda has now taken 53 million dollars in the USA. He must think my reaction ungratefully cool, but I'm wondering if I have enough codeine phosphate for the next week.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 17
  • Date: 11 October
  • Country/sea: United Arab Emirates
  • Place: Dubai
  • Book page no: 64

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