Post-Christmas Cheer in Dubai

It's always amazing to be home, but it's especially wonderful to be home for the holidays. This year we had an extra special gathering with our future in-laws, the Trinhs:

Practicing being Cool Aunt Karen
A "candid" shot with my brother and future sister-in-law
Immediately after Christmas (and after a delicious vegetarian Christmas meal courtesy of yours truly) I boarded a 5-hour flight to Atlanta and then a 14-hour flight to Dubai. The grueling trip would have been even less tolerable had it not been for the extra friendly and super interesting passenger next to me, George.

George, as I learned during the 14-hour plane ride from Atlanta to Dubai, is a weapons technician stationed in Afghanistan. He's served a total of 27 years in the army, and is currently on a 30-month tour of Afghanistan. I spent the better part of my flight asking George questions about his job and what exactly he does for the U.S. army. I won't bore you with details, but let's just say I walked off the plane feeling more grateful and indebted to our nation's heroes than I ever have before.

Dubai was an interesting place, to say the least. Being there felt like being in an amusement park: everything was perfectly placed and painted. The flowers were in neat rows, the road signs were brand new, and the buildings were a little too picturesque:

Doesn't this remind you of Legoland or Autopia/  

Of course, I had a lot of fun performing with these guys:

Luckily, we had a chance to explore the city before we left for our flight home the next night. In addition to downtown Dubai we also visited the undeveloped part of Dubai. "Bur Dubai", or "Old Dubai," is a stark contrast to the extravagant and pristine part of Dubai in which we stayed:

We took a 30-minute boat ride in the Dubai Creek that ended up costing around $3 a person:

All in all, it was a very enjoyable trip to the Middle East:

Not sure if or when I'll be back in Dubai again. But maybe next time I'll get to ride a camel!