you think you know traffic?
You think you know traffic?? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!
Dubai likes to do things on a grand scale and they do it very, very well. They have the world’s tallest building, the world’s biggest fireworks display, even the world’s longest bridal veil. The traffic is no exception! In fact, I think they kick the traffic in other cities of the world out of the ballpark!
Before I go on though, it’s important to mention that we have found our new home and are all very excited! After much searching and schlepping around town to an array of interesting options ranging from “enormous mansion in the middle of the desert”, to “great area but slightly festy dive”, we have finally settled on “nice apartment with a killer view”.
We love the area as it’s close to both work and school; living areas are a good size; plenty of space for everyone – oh and did I mention the killer view?? We look over the Arabian Gulf all the way down to the Burj al Arab in one direction and out to the Royal Palace island and the glittering lights of downtown in the other. All from 30+ floors up..soooo beautiful!
Of course, the children ranked on slightly different criteria. 9 year old Sparky has selected her room (the master bedroom) and has already planned out where her gym mats, school room and airline lounge will go – we haven’t broached the subject that she won’t be getting that room just yet. And little Chubs baggsed the corner of the main lounge where there’s a little ledge that’s just the perfect size for him to climb up and jump down over, and over, and over, and over again… who knew apartments came with built in amusement parks?
And so, here we are, happy with our selection and all signed on the dotted line. We’re feeling excited and looking forward to moving in… and then…yesterday happened. I can explain in one simple word! You could even say we were “Dubaied”!
We meet up in the late afternoon at the apartment to sort out some paperwork. The drive from work is a total breeze; kids are singing in the back, the emergency cookie stash (used to settle screaming children stuck in traffic) in my bag is still full. Life is good.
And then it hits – TRAFFIC!!
We have to go a further distance of 1.5kms to get from our new apartment to Sparky’s gym school. When I used to do trailwalking, we used to aim for around 7 minute kms. That’s 7 minutes per kilometre walked through bush, over rocks and sand, the odd creek crossing…you know, walking… 7 minutes…on foot. Now, that would mean if I were bushwalking from our apartment to the gym, it should take me around 10 – 11mins, give or take and allowing for any steep hills or extra rocky surfaces.
Last night, I was in a lovely little VW motor vehicle, travelling over proper sealed roads, most with speed limits of 100kms per hour. Even the mathematically challenged out there like me would surely agree that this journey should take a great deal less than the 10 minutes or so it would take to walk that distance?
35 minutes later, we arrive at our destination. Yes, you read it right… it took us 35 minutes to travel 1.5kms. Coming back, it was another 40 minutes. Poor little Chubs was almost beside himself sitting still in the car that long. The emergency cookie stash was gone as was most of Mummy’s hearing and patience.
This was all around that peak time in most cities of 5:30pm, so one could be excused for thinking we are silly not to expect traffic at this time. In most other cities I would completely agree with you. But how’s this… we had to go back to the same gym 2 hours later to pick her up travelling on that same road. Two whole hours later.
It was exactly the same… 35 minutes later, we arrive again at the gym, somewhat frazzled and dishevelled.
And that wasn’t the worst of it.
Our current apartment is way out of town near the border with Sharjah and as I now understand, the Dubai-Sharjah traffic is legendary. We are getting close to 8pm by the time we’re heading for home so, once again, in most places, you would think the traffic has started to ease.
Nope…. we sat for yet another 45 minutes to travel a total of around 2kms.
There are a few reasons for this I think. It’s a combination of too many lanes merging onto the same road in the same general spots as well as lanes merging onto a road in the same place as roads merging off that road, so you get lots of crossover. There is also the small issue that people do not merge well here. I can only assume that they get so tired of sitting in traffic that’s not moving that as soon as it does move, they get super excited about the prospect of travelling 2 metres unencumbered… so then when some massive, lumbering 4WD hooks in and tries to cut into that space, there is no inclination to let them in. This of course slows things up, creates the beeping and abuse issues and further exacerbates the slow traffic.
I grew up in a town where peak hour lasted from 8:20am – 8:30am/5:20-5:30pm, and people would complain about that. Then I moved to a city where peak hour did actually last around and hour at both the beginning and end of the day and this used to frustrate me.
But this is new territory for me! Peak hour seems to last from around 4pm all the way through until around 9:30pm. It’s truly incredible. And this is no exaggeration!
I think even my lovely hubby who has on occasion stated that I am ‘the world’s biggest embellisher’ would agree with this metric! And it’s worse on Thursdays (which is the equivalent to Friday’s in the Western world as the weekends here are Fri/Sat). Chubs and I once sat in traffic for 1.5 hours from 2:30pm on a Thursday all to travel the grand total of 1.2kms. Arrrrgggggghhhhhh
Anyway, I do just want to take a moment to say thank you to that lovely Sharjah traffic. Any doubts I had about moving out of our current apartment have been well and truly squashed, as I can’t take too much more of sitting still on those major arterials and getting cramps in my driving foot. I also want to thank the lovely traffic around our new apartment as it has taught us an important lesson – don’t try and cross the highway after 5:30pm. Gladly, this won’t be an issue for us as most things we want to do are on our side of the highway including the Dubai Mall, the Boulevard, the Burj Khalifa fountains, restaurants, bars and entertainment.
It is possible that I will have to broach the subject of a potential change of gymnastics venue with Miss Sparky … maybe around the same time I mention the fact that she won’t be moving into the master bedroom… hmmmm. Wish me luck!
Oh, and I promise now, no more ranting about traffic or driving issues in my blogs. I think you probably get the picture by now and what’s the point of complaining about something you can’t change. I breathe through it and embrace the cookie bag from now on in.
Have a fabulous day everyone