Monday, May 28, 2012

Something new to check out.

Well hey, seems am getting to experience new stuff this year or so.
Part of that is going out to places I have never been or seeing something for the first time.

Up to bat or actually up to the timing lights is local street drag racing at the St Thomas Dragway Park

Took a drive out a few Fridays ago, after hearing about from someone in our office building.

Interesting haha

Basically you can bring your everyday driver and get on the track , no safety gear besides seat belt required, until you pass a certain speed. So as you can imagine all kinds were out.

Like this match up between a Honda Civic and a Chevy Pickup truck.  Hmmmm 4cyl versus 8cyl

 Not sure how much of a match up this

The idea is your racing against the lights and the clock, who you race against is of no importance, though there were a few repeat races happening while I was there.

Some cool hardware out there like this Mitsubishi

Highlight for me were the guys out with motorcycles, this is where you see the fast times and top speeds.  Had to wait for the sun to go down a bit to capture some color on these speed demons

Later same bike on the track, so you can see how long it is.
They extend the rear end out, to change the centre of gravity and keep all the weight up front, and the front wheel on the ground.

 This one was routinely hitting 130 to 149 mph, all made for speed, this is no street bike

Few more bikes getting setup for blast off, all of them were doing over 100mph in the 1/4 mile.
Like how these turned out, sun setting, things starting to darken, color really starts to pop !

 Remember I said this was Street Racing and you can bring out any vehicle and run it down the track.

like this tank of a Chrysler New Yorker, top speed maybe around 80mph, with Dad behind the wheel haha, matched up to the Mitsubishi, hiding behind.

Am going to go back , the only issue is the window to get nice pics is pretty narrow on a bright summer evening. They also have more organized races on Saturday nights.
Hmm I wonder if I can get on the track for pics in front ? Might be worth a chat with track owners next time.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Some fun this Summer !

Through my fearless leader I found out about an event being held near Barrie, called Tough Mudder.

Basically all all out, see how freaking tough you are, obstacle course, being held August 18th at Mount St Louis, just north of Barrie

No am not participating haha, think I would need some serious workout before even considering this.
But I will be attending to cheer on Mr Josh, who will be participating and in the midst of training up for this.

Check out the video !!
To get a sense of the punishment waiting for the men and women ready to give it their all.
This is serious stuff

Even only as a spectator I had to sign an injury waiver, to be able to attend.

I will be there to watch, cheer and take pics (of course) look for this in an August update.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Doug the Tourist in Dubai

So a little planning before leaving and I had booked my time in Dubai.

2 nights stay in Dubai at the Ibis Deira City Centre Hotel , pickup and drop off to Airport and the Desert Sunset Tour. Hotel starts at 202AED or about $55/night depending on the exchange rate of the moment.

Nice place, what you would expect for that price and in a great location , across from City Centre Shopping mall and a 2 minute walk from entrance to the Metro system.

Bed was comfortable and shower was hot.
Oh something to note about hotels i have run into traveling, is that although they all have internet it is usually chargeable. For this hotel it was 75aed or $20 for 12hrs of internet access. In this case only wired internet unless you went to the Lobby to use wifi.
In India i as seeing rates of 250inr ($5) to 500inr ($10) for 24hrs of wifi service. Some would say why spend the money ? Well honestly keeps you connected to people back home and whats going on in the world as you can get stuck with local tv in some other language.

The Metro system in Dubai is awesome, clean, shiny, fast , quiet and relatively inexpensive. A day pass was 16aed or $4ca and gives you 24hrs of access to bus and metro system. I was able to get to the Dubai Mall from almost outside the hotel, then transfer to bus to the mall, you could walk from the Metro to Mall if you wanted. they are already under construction of an over head walkway that will take you directly into the Mall from Metro Station, at least 1km.

To get a feel of that shiny new look i saw there, a few shots of the Metro entrance near the hotel.

The staircase going down from outside and then the hallway that works its way over towards the Mall and the trains.

Clean is hard to describe it all, not a place you find people hanging out, begging or just making a mess. Local police services are very visible here.

Along the walk i spotted a sign and after a little research found out what Metro stop I needed to get off to check out this very rare site on this side of the world.

 yes that's right !!

 If your not Canadian or have never spent any time in Canada, it means nothing. But for anyone that travels around this planet of ours you suddenly realize that American fast food is every where, be it a McDonald's in Ahmadabad, India with an all Veg menu, or the Subway place outside the entrance to The Great Wall of China, close to Beijing.
To see something truly Canadian in Dubai, was kind of a proud moment. Oh Canada ! haha

of course i had to go and enjoy a coffee and glazed donut.

 And with the all Philippine staff behind the counter could have been in Toronto somewhere haha

Ok after my little stop was off to the Dubai Mall for the day to really take a walk around.
Remember this place is big, real big , with just about any shop you can imagine.
Each section in the mall is different, and seemed every time i turned a corner was something new.

The night before I stopped for diner at a place called Dean and Deluca, mostly so I could watch the fountain, from air conditioned comfort.

In the spirit of trying new things, I tried something completely different , Lemonade with fresh mint blended in. Awesome.

Had an ok Steak, really just an excuse to get some beef in me, and added a Ceasar Salad to the mix.
And what a salad !!!! The best i have ever had anywhere.

Back to The Dubai Mall , just walked its all you can do to soak it all in.
Things catch your eye along the way like the guitar shop i stumbled on with a bevy of Gibson's sitting in the window.
Pick a flavour !!

A view of one of the open spaces, skylights abound to light the place up, that's 4 levels of shopping kids !!

And in case you have the urge to really cool down, you can rent some skates and hop onto the rink for a few spins around the ice.

Near where i arrived on the bus, was this awesome fountain .
Statues of divers going down the side.

 Different shot of the divers

And you can get your shoe fetish on here also if that's what makes your day.
1 of 1200 stores located within the Mall.

Around another corner we find the Dubai Mall Aquarium, holy crap batman !!!

The famous tunnel running underneath the aquarium tank , tried but couldn't get a good shot of the sharks swimming by.

Another corner, more Mall , it never ends
Honestly I only walked a portion of it in most cases i either was up on the top level or down at the bottom, never venturing onto the middle layers of that big onion.

This place had 54 million visitors in 2011, that is about 4 million more people than visited New York City in the same time period.

Was starving and stopped at one of 120 restaurants to have Pad Thai, and head back to the Hotel for a quick shower before, my big touristy event of the day , the Sundowner Dessert Sunset Tour.  

Pickup at the hotel and then about an hour outside Dubai.

Along the way everyone noted construction going on. Driver informed us that all that construction had been on hold since 2008 when the financial crisis hit the world. Foreign investment dropped off and projects stopped overnight.

So all is not roses here in shangrila,  even with all the money here, things happened here to, so not just what we felt close to home.
Although I couldn't get a pic, I saw the entrance for what was to be Universal Studio Dubai on the highway. Just the abandoned entrance with nothing behind it but open desert.

Obvious signs your not at home.
Camel market for all your camel buying needs

And our turn off the highway just after this caution "Camel Crossing"

Then we turned into the Desert , well what us westerners would consider desert, this being a tour after all. A short little run through some sand and we hit our first stop.
This one to watch a birds of prey demonstration.

Us tourist got some reprieve form the sun under the shade of the canvas.

Then the demonstration, the handler using the red cord with some meat on the end to lure the bird back in. He whips it around and then the bird made a dive for it

Of course this trip has been missing one thing !

Girls With Cameras - finally I was able to fill in the blanks with a few shots out here in the desert.
 Sun was going down and making for wonderful skin tones - the Magic Hour as they call it, at sunrise and sunset, where the sun comes across very orange.

Then we hopped back into the vehicles and followed the line of trucks headed into the dunes.
Passing some wildlife along the way, as the sprinted across the front of us.

This was the going though the sand dunes in the 4 wheel drive truck part of the tour, headed towards our destination, a camp setup for diner and a show.

only way i can describe it , is like driving through snow when its more like ice pellets than snow, you have no real control your just keeping things pointed in the right direction and hoping you find a little traction to keep you there.

We had one incident, I watched the driver (i was riding shotgun) there was some frantic wheel turning and engine revs as we started sliding down sideways on a dune.  i was watching sand come up while he turned left and jammed the pedal to the floor.  When the driver says that was a close one , you know it was !!

 Next stop was to catch the sunset.
Not as spectacular as we would have hoped for, but still sunset in the desert.

Managed this shot of people scrambling up the dune to catch the sun as it sank quickly into the sand.

It was dropping pretty quick and to bad but no real blow out cool color like we see on Lake Huron here in Canada.

then to our camp for diner and a show

Close up to camel not behind a glass or fence at the zoo, though still have to watch out , they were all muzzled up.

then inside , unfortunately the sun faded fast and the Canon 5D falls apart in the dark, forget high iso (sensitive) in the dark pics, so sorry about this one.

Belly Dancer gave about a 20 minute show after diner.

Time to go , one last shot , in the dark headed to the trucks.

Then back to the city and the hotel, time to pack up and get ready to blast out of Dubai.
Pickup at hotel is 7am, just enough time for breakfast and then the long journey home.

Arrived back in London 8pm local time, jet lagged out and dizzy and hungry and........

This trip to India was a good one, met some new people with our agent, had a chance to practice my craft.
People Helping People or Spreading the Love as we say at Dunline haha

Will I go back to Dubai ? yes I think every trip to India, via Emirates, warrants a stopover in Dubai. Honestly after almost 3 weeks of changing hotels, catching early morning flights and lack of sleep a little R&R to unwind is warranted.
You need it or you will go crazy.

One thing I have discovered since starting this fun of traveling for work , is that I suffer a Post Travel Hangover.  That first week or so back home, where its quiet and not so busy and less people, clean , where you can drink the water from the tap, where no one is pushing behind you, like they will miss the plane (even thought they are already on it), having someone deliver your food, make your bed, clean your bathroom . Its not just me, others suffer the same.

ok that's it for now.

Find i take less pics than i did before, and get more that I like. No 1 or 2 pics on this trp that make me want to print them, just not enough time out of the planes, trains and automobiles.

There is a trade show in India in Nov/Dec, so will see if I get to attend that, a week long show in Mumbai, which could make for some time to explore that city a little bit. At least get out down the road from the hotel which is probably more than this white guy by can handle haha

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Non Stop !

Ok was barely checked in and it was off once again.

Next day headed out to Surat, about 250km north of Mumbai along the coast.
Though realize that 250km in India is like 500km in Canada , so yes expect a few hours or more on the highway.

Interesting things you see on the road.

Like this shot of typical goods carrier on the India highways.
100km/hr no seat belt and door wide open.

Safety ? We don't need no stinking safety haha !!

First stop Vapi, to visit a few customers.
one of the least expensive hotels i have stayed in was here.
Just a room, clean , functional, similar to Hotel 168 i stayed in while in Shanghai last year.

Bathroom was kind of unique with that blue and white tile, and no barrier between shower and the rest of the bathroom, haha.

Some more of that awesome contrast you see here, as the new fits in between the older and beaten down.

Then we moved on.

Just when I thought Ahmadabad was out there, I found myself in Surat.
Its a dirty place, very dirty.
The reason coal burning for the textile plants. The cost of Natural Gas has risen high enough that the plants switched back to coal, much to the chagrin of the environmentalists.
This town is swimming in haze and dust.
at the end of the day you could smell it in your clothes, feel the grit in your hair.

not pretty

Hotel for the night was s surprise, the Agent was really concerned that i might not like it.
Actually even though the least expensive of the places i have stayed was not bad.

The Bellevue Hotel , Surat.

Actually the local Agent contact has been staying in this hotel for over 8 yrs now, as he is on town once per week. Has in own room booked and waiting for him. This room was $51/night and came with breakfast buffet. All that wood you see there is actually wood, not some pictures of wood or cheap particle board stuff.

Only hard part was that it was across the street from the Main Rail Station

So about 5am things were rolling there, yiipppee more loss of sleep.

Would say that's the biggest challenge when doing this kind of traveling.
Between changing hotels every few nights, hopping on planes, getting in cars, sleep takes a back seat.
that's 3 weeks of surviving the day on a few hours the night before and then catching naps while strapped in to a seat somewhere.  Wears you out !!!

Snack on the way out of town, burger i was told the thing to have here.
Vegie burger that is.

This was really good.
Unfortunately came with a liberal sprinkling of "Colon Blow" which i found out on my Sunday day off (next day)

Ya i should have known better getting something from this place, but they did have Diet Coke.

Oh well live and learn !! haha

its Mango season in India, every where you turn you see a stand selling various types of Mango.
This one on the drive home or at least back to Mumbai.

Finally a day off from travel, though am kind of hotel bound as that sandwich works its way through me.
Damm I hate good tasting food gone wrong.  I saw gum from 3rd grade !!

Monday once again, with me spending my sunrise not in bed.

Off to Nagpur today, this will be an in/out kind of day with back to Mumbai tonight.
I will have my last days in India at my favorite hotel the Sun and Sand,Juhu Beach, Mumbai.

Cool things you see, like these little 3 wheel delivery vehicles, this one with a trailer, they are all over the place here in India.
Got give them credit, even with the dirt and grime of living here, they make things like cars and trucks last. No idea how old this is. Was sitting out side textile plant, waiting for a pickup.

Alot of textile factories might have stores attached to them. experience left me feeling prices are not always as expected and never had desire to make a puchase.
This particular plant sells their fabric from small store front, basically 2m of shirting material up to 400ruppee or $8, that's $4/metre

pick a style or color its here.

now the fun part

My good friend and agent Mr Patil tells me he then takes this and has his tailor make shirts for him.
The cost ?
How about $4 to have along sleeve shirt made to order !!!!!
So do the math , $8 + $4 = $12 to have a made to order shirt form good quality fabrics. Expect this fabric would end up at Tommy or Geofrey Beene or some known brand name and be selling for $50+ finished.
Needless to say next trip to India , we goto Nagpur first , visit the customer of course and then pickup 10 or more packs of fabric and have shirts made while in India, figure $120 for 10 custom made shirts !!

Well India all done, bad man all gone !! haha
Few sleeps and on the next plane headed home, via Dubai.

This time we do a layover in Dubai to experience this part of the world at only a few extra dollars, since the plane ticket is covered already.

Wow wow wow is only thing I can think of !

No idea how to describe the shear magnitude of this building !!
The tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa at 829metres and change, do the math , that aint far from being 1km tall.

 The world famous Dubai Mall.
More on this one later as I will check it out the next day.

Behind the Dubai Mall is a large pool, that has huge fountain display in the evenings.

the skyline dotted with endless designs, each one trying to out wow the other.

Hand hel night shot of that crazy building.

A short video of that Fountain in Action.

ok time for some rest. Thursday is my last official day of being on solid ground for 12 hrs or more as I fly back Friday morning.
Thursday is about seeing more of Dubai, and then going on a Desert Sunset Diner Tour at 4:30pm.

Doug the tourist , go figure haha