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Around the World in 80 Days

Day 18: 12 October

Michael Palin - Around the World in 80 DaysWake about 5.30. Recurring images of bags and baggage, loading and unloading, have filled my dreams. I'm tired but I can't go to sleep again. It's good old-fashioned nervous excitement. After all, I am about to experience something which nothing in my life has prepared me for. At breakfast an hour later even Ron Passepartout, who has been with the Pope to Paraguay and Madhur Jaffrey to Sulawesi, is strangely subdued.

According to the Khaleej Times the forecast for this part of the Gulf is a maximum of 99 degrees, waves 1 to 3 feet. Sea gentle and slight.

8.30. On board the Al Shama Captain Suleyman is beaming. Something must be wrong. It is. We won't be leaving quite as early as we thought, so plenty of time to settle in to our quarters. These appear to be on top of some boxes of sultanas where a flat space has been cleared and covered in a tarpaulin. The boat looks very spruce. The Captain is proud of the fact that he has cleaned the paintwork, not just with ordinary water, but with drinking water.

Before we can leave, we must once again go through the tedious business of customs and immigration. Outside the immigration office several truckloads of gently bleating sheep stand in the sun. Inside a group of white-robed desert men cluster round our passports like surgeons at an operation. There follows the now familiar shaking of heads. Confusion followed by suspicion and aggression.

'What is this? Where is your Dubai visa?'

Kamis, dabbing at his face with a small white towel, argues wearily, brandishing papers. But like customs authorities the world over, these people always want the one extra piece of paper you never have.
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  • Series: Around the World in 80 Days
  • Day: 18
  • Date: 12 October
  • Country/sea: United Arab Emirates
  • Place: Dubai
  • Book page no: 65

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