After two days exploring the city of Dubai with its towering skyscrapers and golden sand beaches, I checked out of the Grand Hyatt Hotel and my friend Laila came to fetch me for the drive to Abu Dhabi. Depending on where you are going the distance is about 120 km and the road is straight and in excellent condition so the driving time at a reasonable speed is about an hour and a half. For long stretches of road, all you see is sand and scrub, and it is incredible to think how these cities have risen out of the desert.
Several people have commented after reading my earlier posts, that they had only a vague concept of where Dubai and Abu Dhabi are so I thought I would post a couple of maps to set the stage. Here are the outlines of the cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Cochin or Kochi, is a port city in the Arabian Sea, on the west coast of India in the state of Kerala. The name Kochi translates to "small lagoon" in Mayalam. Mayalam is the local language in Kerala, derived from Sanskrit and Tamil and is one of 22 official languages of India. It is one of the 85 related Dravidian languages, spoken by 215 million people. Amazing what one learns when going on a ballroom dance cruise!
Anyway I signed up for an excursion that featured two highlights - the Chinese Fishing Nets of Cochin, and an introductory demonstration of Kathakali (the classical dance drama of Kerala) and Kalaripayattu, the ancient martial art of Kerala. Check out the links below to my four YouTube videos of these highlights.
Between Hong Kong and Dubai, the QM2 docked at five ports. The first, Phu My in Vietnam, was the port for Ho Chi Minh city. Next was Laem Chabang, the port for Bangkok, and that was followed by a stop in Singapore where there was a major turnover of guests departing or boarding the ship. Between Singapore and Dubai there were only two stops on the 9 night segment; Phuket in Thailand and Cochin, India. On my previous South East Asia cruise, two of the ports of call were in Vietnam. While I really enjoyed the visit to Na Trang, a sleepy looking fishing village on the south centre region of Vietnam I was less enchanted with the visit to Ho Chi Min city (Saigon), the port of call on this current voyage, so on this cruise I decided to stay on board when in Phu My.
With this cruise covering 16 days, and ten of them being sea days, Robert, our dance instructor, had scheduled a series of dance workshops covering the gamut from waltz to west coast swing. Each workshop was supposed to last an hour but several times they were going so well that we ran over time. Because none of our group are beginners and we are all pretty much at a similar level, each session has been really enjoyable and we have been able to pick up new skills in each individual dance, while continuing to focus attention on posture, frame and movement.
Amazingly everyone turned up punctually for the second workshop at 9:30 am, even my cabin mate Linda, who is not known for coming to the dance workshops on these cruises. We joked that after a week of rooming together I might actually “sleep in” to 7 am and take a nap in the afternoon, while she might actually get up in time to attend all the workshops.
I thought that on this dance cruise I would experiment with the structure of the Travelblogue with respect to the Sipping and Supping aspect of my posts. Instead of interspersing the food talk and pictures with my dance and travel experiences, I plan to keep a Culinary Sampling of the meals, mainly dinner, aboard the Queen Mary 2 on this trip.
Since my firm resolution on this trip was not to gain a pound, and to lose inches by virtue of all the hip and core work I would be doing during my Dance Boot Camp, my culinary choices obviously represent a somewhat slanted view of the range of dishes provided at each meal - my sample is appetizer rich and dessert poor. But here goes:
With 10 days out of 16 at sea, we will have plenty of dance workshops. The first dance workshop was scheduled for 9:30 in the G32 Disco just behind the Queens Room Ballroom.
All 8 of us were there for the workshop, and Robert had also invited Horst, (one of the QM2 dance hosts, who is also a frequent DAS host) to join us. So for the first time in any of these workshops I have ever been at, there was a dance partner for each of the women. No complicated rotations were needed. It was great.
I don't know whether the information on the poster is still current but according to that write up, the QM 2 measured along the water is the world's largest ship. That is probably why they can have that great ballroom, the Queen's Room. Walking along the corridor from one end to the other certainly feels like quite a hike. Luckily our cabin is situated aft, so all the REALLY important places like the Britannia Restaurant and the ballroom are right below us. No hiking needed.Any way, excited as I was about the prospect of dancing nightly on it I was too tired to think about it by the time I got on board. As anticipated I was quite jet-lagged after the flight. Although one leaves Toronto at 10 am EST and arrives in Hong Kong at 1:30 PM of the following day, theoretically having slept though the night, the reality is that the fifteen hour flight ends at 1 AM Eastern time. At least that is what the time is for your body’s internal clock. So I would have normally been asleep for only 2 hours. I had indulged in a glass of wine with my meal and felt drowsy for all of twenty minutes but though I tried to sleep – it was to no avail.
When I first heard about the Dancers at Sea (DAS) dance cruise from Hong Kong to Dubai, I thought 16 nights was longer than I wanted to be away for. I had also cruised from Hong Kong, to Thailand and Vietnam, when I did the Asia Cruise two years earlier, and had little desire to revisit the two ports on that part of the itinerary. So I decided to take the option of the 9 nights Singapore to Dubai leg. The dates fitted in nicely with my visit to Toronto to see Rhinoceros, the absurdist play my daughter was directing at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus. So I was going to return to Vancouver for three days and then fly to Singapore to board the QM2.
When I learned at the last minute that the dance group for the Hong Kong to Singapore leg was unexpectedly very small – therefore there would be much more dance opportunities than usual - and I realized I could fly direct Toronto to Hong Kong instead of taking four additional flights, it took me about three seconds to decide to be spontaneous, blow my budget and my schedule and sign up for the whole 16 night segment.
This travelblogue will follow my journey on a 16 night cruise aboard the Queen Mary 2 from Hong Kong to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
As well as a culinary diary of the QM2 cuisine, and the dance, theatrical and other experiences, I will be hopefully keeping up with the blogging A to Z Challenge, a thirty day writing challenge in which the task is to write a daily blog dealing each day sequentially with a topic sequentially through the alphabet. In my Challenge Blog I will focus on the themes of cruising, dance, and food, but from an informational approach rather than narrative.
You can follow my attempt to meet this challenge while dancing, dining, writing my travelblogue and dancing some more, at AtJillsReviews. The Travelblogue is to be found at Dancing to Dubai.