between the Nakvak and the Korok: an expedition to the Torngat mountains. Hiking through the Valley of the cirques, climbing Mont d'Iberville, fishing in the Nakvak Valley, Canada, Torngat Mountains, northern Québec, trek, Nakvak, Korok, icefield, caribou trail, summit, travelogue, trip, travel, hike


Abu Dhabi


Monday, November 24
A moment in
Abu Dhabi

It was late afternoon and Abu Dhabi was reasonably busy but not packed with traffic or people. The city was almost totally new, modern, and it was immaculate. It was such a contrast from Kathmandu, an ancient city.

In this city there were no dirty places or smelly places, no beggars, no poor people, really. Nobody without shoes, like the old woman on the trek who might never have worn them in her life. Probably nobody without indoor plumbing. No old faces etched by a hard life. The air was clean, the traffic orderly. No cows wandering, no tuktuks or bicycle rickshaws. No din of honking horns. No beat up 1978 Toyota Corolla taxis with slipping differentials and iffy brakes. Instead there were traffic lights and shiny new cars. No shopkeepers sweeping yak dung off the street in front of their shops, no street vendors, nobody standing in front of a shop trying to get you inside. It was all bright lights and polite service staff.

We walked for many blocks, passing an interesting mix of shops. A Rolls Royce dealership. Western chain restaurants, of course, which were heavily patronized by the locals, the men wearing the traditional white sharwal kameez and kufiyyah, with the women in burkas. They drove the nice cars and their children dressed in traditional garb or western garb as they patronized the designer label stores and other western outlets. In between these western stores were sprinkled little eateries that sold Arabic foods or Islamic clothing. And the teenage children of these Arabic locals hung out on the streets and in the parks.

Everywhere the service people were imported from poor Asian countries. Some of the local kids seemed very arrogant in purposefully throwing their trash or unfinished drinks onto the sidewalk, with an aggressive air. As if to say, somebody come and clean this up. The city was decked out for Ramadan with festive lights adorning the huge buildings, much like Christmas lights. We stopped at MacDonald's to use the restroom. There were families and groups of kids eating there. It was in a building that also housed a movie theater showing western films. We had coffee at a coffee shop. Like my assessment of the menu in the hotel pub, they offer pretty much anything you might want, but prices were high.

Mostly people were indifferent to us, but on at least two occasions the Arabic teens were openly hostile toward us. One hit me with a shirt he was holding, as if by accident, except it wasn't. And walking by a park, Rob said hello to some passing teens and one of the boys spat at us. Although I understood the hostility toward Americans and Brits (although they did not know our nationalities), the duality of the situation seemed to me contradictory. We flew on their airline in a Boeing jet and watched an American film in flight. They were driving western cars, eating in western restaurants, shopping at western stores, and yet they were spitting at westerners. They were enthusiastic about much that came from the west, but not westerners. Not their politics. But then, as I asked Rob, what else do you do with money? The west seems to have defined what you do with wealth. You hire people to do all the work and then, what? You build a big house and buy a bunch of things and spend more on entertainment. It would be interesting to see a culture where they do something different with wealth.

It was strange to note that in Nepal, one of the poorest countries on earth, even including the Maoists, I had never sensed hostility toward us. Yet here in one of the richest countries and one with much more influence from the west, I felt it over and over.

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this travelogue is part of the subside travelzine
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