#AdventureswithKaren: Episode Dubai

Up until now, Dubai was the only place in the Middle East I had ever traveled to. It's not a destination typically frequented by American twenty-somethings, but it popped up again on my itinerary this month.

I didn't particularly like or dislike Dubai, but I left the city feeling again puzzled by its culture. Or lack thereof. Many know Dubai as a luxurious place, and symbols of its extravagance include the man made Palms Islands and the towering Burj Khalifa.

But as I mentioned two years ago, there is a very large culture gap between that well-known version of Dubai and the Dubai that is 10 minutes away. Bur Dubai (Old Dubai) is everything the modern part of Dubai is not: monochromatic, poorly developed, and impoverished. As a result Dubai felt confused, as if it was trying to disguise itself as something it was not:

But cultural criticisms aside, I had a great time there. It was too hot to do just about anything besides sitting in the pool, but I made it out to Bur Dubai once (and stayed for all of half an hour):

I even got to celebrate my friend Ian's birthday with him on the beach:

And perhaps the most wonderful discovery I made in Dubai was the existence of fresh watermelon juice. The concept is simple and quite obvious, but I have never thought to throw watermelon in a blender. It is likely to be the most refreshing and thirst quenching juice I have ever tasted:

Up next: Tel Aviv, Israel!