Monthly Archives: February 2019


For New Years, we decided to visit Dubai, the largest city in the United Arab Emirates. For me and the kids, this was our first trip to an Arab country. The contrast in demographics from Asia to the Middle East is quite dramatic. One boards a plane surrounded by petite, black-haired, fair-skinned Asians and then emerges amidst tall, dark, bearded Arabs, Indians and Africans.

Dubai is a newly built city with most of its skyscrapers and structures constructed just within the last 10 years.

For this reason, most of the cultural appeal of this place to me wasn’t so much the city, but the people. I’m just not used to seeing men in Arab garb and women in burqas.

An interesting thing that I quickly learned about the culture is that men and women are segregated as much as possible. The last 2 cars of each metro train are for women only.

Initially, I was a little put off by the fact that I was relegated to another car, but then I realized that the women’s cars are much less crowded and, more importantly, less odiferous than the cars where men are permitted. So, I embraced the cultural difference and enjoyed my seat and the fresh-smelling air.

Arabs love the over-the-top and ostentatious; hence Dubai is the home of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. It towers at 2,722 feet.

We took a tour of the building and got some pics of the stunning views.

Dubai is also the home of one of the most luxurious hotels in the world, the Burj Al Arab.

No we didn’t stay there. Since the average cost of a room is $2,000 per night, this was as close as we got to the place.

We then toured the Spice and Gold Souqs, a market for spices, gold and other knick-knacks.

More spices
Raisins and nuts
Dates (my personal favorite)

To be honest, the souqs to me felt very contrived, a big tourist trap with no real-life relevance. We didn’t see any local people shopping there, just a bunch of tourists like us snapping pictures and buying very little.

We then went outside of the city into the desert…

to ride ATV’s in the thick sand…

and lumber along slowly on the back of a camel.

Webley and I got some henna tattoos.

I’m glad we traveled to Dubai just to see the place, but I don’t feel the need to go back. The buildings are impressive, but after you see a tall, fancy building, you don’t really need to see it again. I was sort of disappointed at the lack of culture of the place. It seemed really artificial to me and intentionally so, almost like going to Disney World. Maybe if we had stayed longer we’d be able to find a more authentic experience, but I also think the culture of a place and its people shouldn’t be made so difficult to uncover.

Speaking of ridiculous and over-the-top, I just had to share this Dog of the Day photo:

Dog of the Day

Yes, that is a dog in a stroller being pulled by a battery-operated, pink jeep. Webley and I saw this scene as we were strolling on the waterfront in our village. 🙄🤦‍♀️

Back to Bangkok

Benjy and I celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary in Bangkok again. Normally, when we travel, food is the thing we spend the least on. We enjoy eating street food; it’s cheap, tasty and if you don’t get too hung up on hygiene standards, it adds another layer to the cultural experience.

This time, Benjy arranged for us to have a celebratory dinner at a fancy sushi place called Sushi Masato. Now, Benjy is not a sushi fan, but because he loves me so much and he knows it’s one of my favorite foods, he so generously appeased my culinary preferences. And this place was not your typical sushi bar.

Chef Masato Shimizu opened his restaurant after having spent 4 years in New York City as the head chef at Jewel Bako. While there he was honored with a Michelin star and was the youngest chef to receive such an award in New York City. While there, I’m told that Jay-Z and Beyoncé hired him to cater some of their parties.

Normally, it takes 6 months to get a reservation for one of the 2 dinner seatings at Sushi Masato, but a friend of a fellow Fedex pilot happens to be the manager of the restaurant. She got us in on 2 weeks notice.

Masato is a traditional sushi bar served only omakase which means that there is no menu. The chef selects the items upon which guests will dine. So, you just sit back and eagerly wait to see what will appear in front of you. But dining at Masato is not just about the top grade sushi; it’s also about the impeccable service.

Once the seating was underway, 3 servers positioned themselves behind the 10 guests at our seating. Their job for the next 3 hours was to remove used dishes, position appropriate cutlery and ensure that our chokos were bottomless and always filled with sake (a gratuity I later regretted, sadly).

Our gastronomic adventure started out somewhat cautiously with uni, which is sea urchin…

then quickly crescendoed with Chef Masato’s more innovative dishes.

Monkfish liver
Salmon Roe


Baby snow crab

Our experience climaxed (no pun intended), with this dish…

Shirako or cod milt

If you care to know what it is, google it. I’ll wait.

Let’s just say neither of us was clamoring for a second helping of this.

From there, we comfortably glided into the more familiar.

chestnut and chestnut milk
a little bit of this and that

We finished off with a bit of dessert.

lemon sorbet

Without being too dramatic, it was a pleasure to witness such a true master at his craft.

They were even kind enough to let us take a picture. Too much sake for me! Benjy had to hold me up.

And now I’ll end with a recent pic of Mei Mei. I know I’m biased but I think she is so cute. I love the light-toned stripe on her nose.