Day 283 – 286 | Christmas in Dubai?

Day 283 | Thursday December 22

The last days I have made it in the media quite a lot! Yesterday I was featured in Time Out Dubai and StepFeed and today I was on the front new of Xpress News, a weekly tabloid. I thought tabloids only write about superstars so would that make me…? Ah never mind.

Whooo! I'm on the frontpage of Xpress News today! In the Emirates they really love my story and I was also featured in Time Out Dubai: http://bit.ly/2i42XxV and StepFeed: http://bit.ly/2hYetNR

Posted by Plug Me In on Donnerstag, 22. Dezember 2016

Today I had a meeting with Ben from the Global EVRT, we did a special announcement on Facebook Live to tell about why I’m joining to Emirates EVRT and how my journey has been so far. You can replay it here.

After the meeting Jan Willem invited me to Boca, a bar in the DIFC, the financial district of Dubai were a lot of business is going on. From there I went to another bar, at the top of the Hilton in JRT. There is this Dutch in Dubai Facebook group and I posted a few times about my stay here and that got me a lot of reactions. At the Hilton they organized a monthly meet-up for all the Dutchies. Besides I met a lot of nice people I also had Bitterballen! Which made my night complete!

Day 285 | Saturday December 24

After more than a week it was time to leave my host. It was really great to be able to stay at the same place for a while. Normally I switch places every day which makes it a rush but now I had the opportunity to sort all kinds of things out and relax. So Jan Willem thanks a lot for the last days because you did a lot for me!

So my new hosts are again Dutch people. I gained many request to some posts on the “Dutchies in Dubai” Facebook group. I was welcomed by Adnane, Nabila, her father and 2 children. I was in touch with Adnane since a few days, I contacted him if I could come by yesterday for a night but he was not at home. He than invited me to come from Saturday and stay for christmas. I was a bit afraid to say yes as this is like the most religious day in the year which you normally would spend with friends & family. I had already been thinking about this days for weeks and I didn’t even think about asking someone to host me during these days. I actually was planning to sleep in the car for 2 nights somewhere in the desert (Serious, I had one christmas which was worse than that) but it was really no problem for them. The family has Moroccan roots and is Muslim so they don’t celebrate it, perfect match.

Adnane wanted to take me into the desert with his 4×4. Only after a 30-minute drive from the center you are surrounded by sand. After 30 minutus Adnane stopped next to the highway and turned on the desert-driving-mode. With high speed he drove over the dunes, for myself a first-timer and I can’t deny that I was almost shitting in my pants.

We wanted to take some pictures of the sky, which was stunning from here, you could see the whole milky way. For both of us the first time to experiment with this type of photography. Adnane’s camera was just to small to capture the stars, I have to practice more to take some nice ons. We ended up making light scribing pictures. See the stunning results below.

Day 286 | Sunday December 25

First day of christmas! Well in mosts parts of the world. In Dubai it’s around 30 degrees, shops are open and only in shopping malls you will find christmas trees.

My host Adnane took me for a sightseeing trip. In stead of going to the fancy touristic places we went to the old part of the city called Bur Dubai and the industrial area ‘Al Quasis’, where the workers of the city live. From this area it was a huge contrast with the Dubai Mall we visited later. The Dubai Mall is the largest mall in the world by total area and the most visited building in 2011 with 54 million visitors. It contains 1.200 shops. Of course here in Dubai it can’t be a regular mall so they build some ‘attractions’ inside of it. There is an olympic sized ice rink and a huge aquarium. The 10-million litre Dubai Aquarium tank is one of the world’s largest suspended aquariums. The size of the tank is 51 meters in length, 20 meters in width and 11 meters in height.

It houses thousands of animals, compromising over 140 species. Over 300 Sharks and Rays live in this tank, including the largest collection of Sand Tiger Sharks in the world. You can watch the animals from outside or through a tunnel 11 meters below the surface. If that’s not enough you can also dive inside it.

For dinner Jan Willem invited me so there was still a bit of a “christmas feeling.” Nice to share share this evening with some people who I (just) know!

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Day 278 – 282 | Dubai

Day 278 | Saturday December 17

It was late last night and still weekend so we relaxed today and did some practical things. All my stuff from the car was in my host’s house now and I cleaned everything, throw some stuff away and reorganized it. I got a nice clean car now.

Day 279 | Sunday December 18

We went to see Rogue One – A Star Wars movie today. Not in a normal seat of course, because this is Dubai and here they make it next level. So we had a huge chair, with buttons! One to move it  into horizontal position so you could almost lay down and one button to ring the waiter. You can order ordinary popcorn or chips but also a beefsteak, sate or anything what you normal could get at a restaurant. Unbelievable. We both thought the movie itself was not so good but the experience made up for it.

Day 281 | Tuesday December 20

Today started with a meeting at the Consul-General of the Netherlands in Dubai. I was invited by Jeroen & Lotte who were very interested in my story. They invited Peter and Dena from the municipality of Dubai. They are very active her sustainability wise. Many events are taking place and a lot of interesting institutions can be found in the city. Dubai is the only of the 7 emirates that don’t have oil and because of that they are changing to renewable sources.

Peter & Dena are going to link me to these events and projects and on the 5th of February I might join them in the car-free day which they are organizing.

Day 282 | Wednesday December 21

I went for a lunch with Ben and Druv from the EVRT. I decided that I definitely will join them and we talked about how we can support each other. We both have the same goals so it seems and feels like a match made in heaven.

After lunch I dropped by a fuel station, to check the tire-pressure because what else can I do at a fuel station 😉 A guy approached me and said “hey I am a Dutchie as well!” he already saw on Facebook that I was here and was surprised that he bumped into me. Spontaneously he invited me for dinner with a friend of him and I would meet them later today.

Around 6pm I wanted to go there but I had only 17% battery left. I could make it to their location but not back. I don’t have a keycard for public chargers yet so there was no possibility to charge. Oh well, I’m sure there is but it was not very certain. So we postponed it to another day.

About my last blogs

My last blogs haven’t been very rich of content or crazy stories. Am I not doing a lot? Actually I am working my ass off. I have a lot of work to catch up with, making videos from earlier interviews and writing about that. Also preparations for the coming weeks etc. Besides that I am doing some work, like real work for money. My personal bank account has reached to the minus level. Mainly because of health insurances I need to pay for. So now I am making video’s for clients to earn a little bit of money.

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Day 276 & 277 | The normal life.

Day 276 | Thursday December 15

Today was another practical day. Jan Willem insisted that we would need to clean the car. It was dirty, covered with dust but I would have left it like that if it was not that JW kept pushing. So we literally took everything out of the car, this was the first time this trip. At a fuel station they cleaned the car from inside and outside.

Not only needed the car be clean but myself too. Jan Willem is celebrating his birthday tomorrow and arranged a VIP-table at a club. With my sneakers I wouldn’t be allowed so he got me some new ‘decent’ shoes. I’m Dubai proof now.

Day 277 | Friday December 16

Today was all about the birthday off my Dutch host Jan Willem. His official birthday is tomorrow but as one of his favorite DJ’s was playing tonight so he threw a party today. In UAE the weekend is on Friday and Saturday, were it’s Thursday and Friday in Iran. Saturday and Sunday in Europe so it’s getting a bit confusing.  

Landmark of Dubai
In the morning I drove to the Burj Al-Arab. It’s that huge hotel on this island in the shape of a sail ship. Probably the most famous hotel in the world. I wanted to get a picture with me and the car to have proof that I’m in the city. When I stopped at the boulevard a lot of interested tourists from different countries approached me to hear my story. An Indian couple even supported me with an ice-cream!

Bidi Bondi
So we started celebrating around noon at Bidi Bondi, a pub below the apartment of Jan Willem. Bidi Bondi is an Ozzie bar, you can watch Rugby or other sports here and they serve Tooheys which is my favorite beer. 

First I had a meeting with a journalist from BNN (a Dutch tv & radio channel) he heard about me and wanted to do a short interview for a radio program on Saturday night. You can listen to it here: it’s on hour 2 and from the 6:30 mark on december 18. 

Party Time!

At night we went to the Provocateur, one of the many nightclubs in the city. Sven Vath was playing which is a German techno DJ and legend. I really missed a good party, I didn’t have much this trip and the last time I had a good night out was… I seriously can’t remember anymore so it was definitely party time for me! Of course I needed to dress properly which felt a bit weird when going to a techno party.

So the club was nice decorated and very fancy. We had our own private table which I never had before. Private bartenders were constantly making drinks for us and even at the toilets there were people who opened the tap for you when you wanted to wash hands. A bit too much service and luxury than I’m used to for me but definitely special to experience.

Jan Willem brought some Dutch friends and most of them already heard about me on Facebook or from other people. Good news travels fast 😉

The night was perfect. Sven played a good set and it was great to have a decent party after all those months. This trip is so diverse. Only a few weeks ago I was eating traditional food on the floors of clay-made houses in the Iranian desert and now I am living this luxurious life: eating steaks on rooftop bars and having VIP tables in fancy night clubs, very interesting!

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Day 275 | First day in Dubai

Day 275 | Wednesday December 14

The first real day in Dubai. We had to sort out some practical stuff like getting a SIM card, a pass for the tollways and other small issues.

When we got to the car in the morning (which was parked in the apartment’s garage) we found out someone had pulled the plug. Jan Willem talked to the security and they told it was not allowed as the electricity is shared here. We had to drive to another place to talk about it from where we were sent to another place. We would do that later. The car was fully charged tough so no problems for today.

At the Marina Mall Jan Willem sponsored me with a SIM card so now I can be always online and make phone calls etc in the UAE. Because that’s what you can do with a SIM card. Be sure to follow me on Instagram because I’m posting a lot of photos and videos during the whole day and everyday at Insta Moments.

Introduction to Dubai
JW wanted to give me a ‘proper’ introduction to the city so we had lunch at the Dubai Marina. The Marina is a district in one of the centers of Dubai. Like almost every district in Dubai this area is completely man-made. They had to dig out the canals and harbor and it’s the biggest watersport and living project in the world. 

We had lunch at Pier 7 with a beautiful look-out over the Marina. For me it’s a culture shock. The past 5 weeks I was eating traditional lunches on the floor of clay-made houses in rural areas of Iran and now I am in the middle of this luxury life. Greg, a friend and business partner of JW joined us and we had some interesting talks about the city.

Global EVRT
In the afternoon I had a meeting with the guys from Global EVRT (Electric Vehicle Road Trip). They heard about my project and invited me to join the EVRT which takes place from the 29th of January till the 1st of February. It’s a road trip through all the 7 emirates with only fully electric cars. During the 3 days many events and congresses are organized to promote sustainable mobility. Today we met each other to introduce ourselves and talk about our projects. The guys are all very passionate about electric cars and it’s potential. We have a lot of matching goals so it is very interesting for me to join this tour.

Stunning views at the Marina
After the meeting I headed back to Pier 7 were the guys were still eating and enjoying themselves. Later we moved to a bar on the roof of the building. While I already had a nice view on the 4th floor it got even more stunning here. It’s unbelievable how big and fancy everything is here. Around midnight we called it a night.

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Day 274 | Entering the Emirates

Day 274 | Tuesday December 13

After a few weeks of silence on this blog I am back. Due to some restrictions in Iran I was not allowed to publish articles about my adventures in this country. I can say that I had the time of my life here. Iran’s nature is beautiful, there were many things to do but what made it really special was the people I’ve met here. Everywhere I came I was welcomed with open arms, people are very hospitable and kind and it was a very unique and unforgettable experience to be here.

On Monday evening I got on a ferry from Bandar Abbas, a city on the Persian Gulf. At 9 in the morning the ship arrived at Port Khalid in Sharjah, 50km from Dubai. I could almost not hold my eyes open as I didn’t close them much last night. Even tough I had 3 chairs for myself which I fully used, these Iranians like to snore a lot which kept me awake.

It was not until 11 that we were allowed to disembark. First the woman were ‘released’, than the containers and eventually the man. A weird process. With a bus we were taken the the passport control, for Dutch citizens they offer a free visa on arrival which is valid for 90 days. They seem to be nice for Europeans, all the Iranians needed to get their eyes checked, we didn’t need to do that. Probably they know about the good quality of carrots in Europe.

Custom-checks
After the passport-check a long and unclear process followed. First we needed to wait for the shipper. I am talking about ‘we’ as I met some other Europeans who were traveling by car as well. A German couple with a huge truck, an Austrian couple with a van and a French couple. I needed to pay the shipper 410 dirham, which is around 100 euro. Luckily I have some money now and could use the ATM again. Than there was a long process of document-checks, stamp here, stamp there, signature at another office and back again. I don’t know how many kilometers I walked today but I burned a lot of calories.

It was not until 4pm that I finally got to see the car. I worried a lot about her condition. The car already shipped separately from me and left already on Sunday. The car is very low and I already saw that the ramp to and off the ferry was very steep and the car could not have made this. The batteries are underneath the car and if these hit an object it can get seriously damaged. From the outside she looked great and on the display I couldn’t find any abnormalities about the inside so she seemed to have survived without a scratch. When I received the keys to the car I still couldn’t leave the port. The car needed to go through an X-Ray scanner. Just like when you break you leg but a few sizes bigger. After this I got another stamp and could pick up my exit-pass. When I left the gate it was 5pm. Just when I passed the gate I realized I had left luggage in the office of the shipper. I was not allowed back into the harbor with the car so I needed to walk 2km, walk back with the luggage, pass the custom-checks again and now I could really leave, another hour had passed. This day I lost about 800 dirham, which is around 200 euro. A big loss.

Entering Dubai
So I started driving towards Dubai. When I left 274 days ago I had no idea where this journey would bring me so that I arrived now in the Emirates is really something special. The highway to the center of the city was exactly what I expected: huge skyscrapers on both sides, posh cars passing me and flashy LED lights everywhere.

My host for today and the coming days in Jan Willem, a Dutchie. I got in touch with him through a friend from Haarlem who works as cabin crew for Emirates here and is flying at the moment. My host lives at the famous Palm Island, you know the island in the shape of a palmtree. For me this was always something unreachable as it’s bloody expensive and far away. Very special that I’m spending a few days here.

My new host
Around 7 I rang Jan Willem’s doorbell. He is a friendly guy and works for a Dutch investment company. He has a housemate, Andrew, a 54 year old. The apartments here are luxurious, seriously luxurious. Each building has a supermarket, gym, beach, spa, some stores and a restaurant. In this restaurant we had a great dinner and a cold beer. That last one especially made me happy since I didn’t had that for many weeks.

Here in The Emirates are no filters on social media and the internet connection is very fast here. From now one you will see daily updates on this website and my socials like you were used too.

Dream come true! I arrived in Dubai this morning and tonight I'm sleeping at the world famous palm island! I'm staying…

Posted by Plug Me In on Dienstag, 13. Dezember 2016

The plan for Dubai
About the coming period. I need to find a way to ship the car to India which is very expensive and I don’t have the money for that at the moment. In the coming days I have some meetings with companies and I’m hoping they are interested in sponsoring this. If not I would need to start a crowdfunding campaign or find a job to earn the money. Also I had a request to join an event about electric cars which takes place at the end of January, I havent decided yet if I will join but it seems very interesting.
In eater way I am going to be in Dubai for a few weeks as there is also a lot going on sustainability wise. This part didn’t really work out in the past few countries so I will pay some more attention to that.

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