Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dubai Saffron Hunting

Dubai is a city known for having available anything you can imagine. If you feel like Snow Skiing in the middle of the dessert you can go to the Mall of the Emirates, ski all day and bet on a Camel race later that afternoon. You can find any cuisine imaginable within a ten minute drive or stay at a 7 star hotel. I set out on a mission this morning to see Dubai from a different perspective, one past all the glitz, glamour and sixteen year olds driving Ferraris. What I found were truly friendly, working class people from all over the earth ready to befriend a stranger. I jumped in a cab in search of a spice souk (market) to find some Saffron for a friend back home who shares my passion for food. As my driver navigated the busy streets I drove with the windows down listening to religious chants over giant loud speakers located throughout the city. As I listened to the chanting I was reminded without a doubt that I was in the Middle East. We got to a Souk near the Harbor were small Freighters were loading and unloading everything from Spices to Refrigerators. As I walked through the endless shops full of sacks loaded with every spice imaginable, the culinary part of my brain went into sensory overload. What I would do with this. What could I do with that? Smelling and tasting several saffron’s I finally settled on one from Iran and after a quick haggling session I was on my way. As we made our way back to the hotel for a fantastic Middle Eastern lunch buffet, I watched two old men playing cards and smoking their hookah pipes. I watched kids in the street playing soccer and am reminded how very small this world is and how we can only benefit from tolerance.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Great Wall of China

I have never been so humbled in my life as I was yesterday. Arguably rivaling the imense efforts it took to construct the Temples and Pyramids of Egypt is The Great Wall of China. Spanning over 3000 miles of Mainland China it is the only man made object recognizable from space. The tenacious efforts of the Chinese people is obvious and astounding.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tanzania Safari

Tanzania Safari

A few months back I was privileged with a brief stop in Tanzania. Around every corner we were greeted with warm hospitable smiles and helpful attitudes. Shortly after our arrival a colleague and I started our inquiry for a safari. We were put in touch with Sabastian Mallya owner and operator of SOK Travel Adventure Specialists. He put together a fantastic, last minute trip to visit Ngorongoro Crater. A relaxing evening was spent drinking Tusker Lagers and enjoying a family style meal at the hotel. Our guide came to my room the next morning and we were off for an hour and a half drive to the Park. On the way up the crater we came across some young Masai warriors on the road. Our guide Rama suggested they may invite us to visit their village if we stopped. He was right and soon we were off the beaten path and in the midst of a large Masai family. We spent an hour with this amazing family visiting their huts and asking questions about their life. To my surprise most of the young warriors spoke very good english. I left a few western gifts for the kids and we were off to the floor of the crater. The next three hours were spent in sheer awe, like the Lion King came to life. Rama hinted it was time to go and suggested lunch at a coffee plantation near by. Wanting very much to stay on the plains with animals I never thought I would see up close, my appetite got the best of me and I surrendered. After a really nice lunch of various grilled meats and salads we set out for our hotel in Arusha. Tanzania is a must do on the travel list. The people are fantastic and the scenery is indescribable. I would really like to thank Sebastian for providing us with first class service and a can do attitude. Check out his website at
www.sokadventures.com or +255(0)784694624