I've been away from writing for almost a year now, but I had an experience that I had to share with you all, so here I am, back to what I love to do (despite my laziness, I admit, I am a lazy wanna-be writer) smiles.........
So a few months back, I finally decided to go on a much needed vacation; I mean I'd been working for almost 3 years, non-stop without going on vacation....( for my mind I be workaholic na, even though I know I didn't go on vac all this while cos I had exams............).
So after a lot of discussions and planning, I was allowed to go on leave (jumps up in the air, and opens teeth). I had planned to travel when I finally have my leave approved, but I didn't want to go alone, so I had another dilemma....... whom to go with? Fortunately, my FADD fitfam, sis and friend (Tayo Lekan-Agbaje) was going to Dubai, so I decided to tag along.
Being a first-time traveller, I decided to leave the handling to her, I already had my passport, so I just sent her d front page, and God bless her, she did all the booking; ticket, hotel, visa etc.
Did I mention that I had doubts about going? I almost didn't want to go, so I decided to do something; tell 3 people whose opinion I value a lot, and get their answers. If their answer is no, then I'll convince myself not to go. Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for my pocket, everyone of them felt I more than deserved the vacation........Dubai here I come baby *shining teeth*
Tayo and I had planned to leave on Monday, so we were to meet at the airport early enough, way before our flight time cos of all the checks to be done ( we travelled during the Ebola scare period), and cos of Monday traffic in Lagos, but this particular Monday, it was as if everything was in our favour, as there was practically no traffic, and we got to the airport on time.
At the airport was where my education began......... I mean, I'm a graduate of OAU, and a Chartered Accountant, but I didn't know a lot about the ways and minds of people ( and for my mind before, I be human psychologist.......for my mind......)
I'd always heard and talked about how corrupt Nigerians are, how unscrupulous some people are, how our government officials just take all the money once they get into office, and so on........ What I'd never really talked about nor thought about was how corrupt and unscrupulous we are. You ask me, who are the 'we' I'm talking about? My answer is we, that is, you, me, the common amn on the street, the receptionist at the office, the office assistant, the immigration officers that will stamp your passport at the airport, the airline officials that will give you your boarding pass, the custom officials, those that will check-in your luggage, those that will scan and so many others I can't remember.
Let me start from the check-in counter; Did I tell you we flew by Emirates? Yes we did!!! When we got to the check-in counter ,Tayo said we should get an exit door seat( I hope I got the name right sha? I be JJC on top this matter ooooo), so Tee met with an Emirates officer, who took us to meet his colleagues. After a little discussion, we got the seat.............. at a price of 2k, I'm sure you've guessed already.
Next, we went through the immigration, where we were supposed to submit the Ebola forms we filled, and for them to check our passport. At this point, Tayo had already told me not to act like a JJC( that is, a first time traveller, but, as much as I tried, my passport still gave me away, as it had never been stamped, lol. Anyway, my JJC self couldn't even pull the "I'm a regular flier look" as I still had the this is my first time look, it got to the point where we ( Tayo and I) had to start explaining why I had never travelled, and to explain things better, Tayo told them that I worked for an oil and gas firm, that I had never travelled before, because I haven't felt like. I even had to show them my ID card, which led to the officials asking for money for BF, I sha had to part with 1k so I could collect my passport, and move to the next phase of stamping and extortion.
We were begged and hounded for money at every check point in the airport, that it got me wondering if the airport officials don't get paid their salaries, if the salary they are paid cannot sustain them, or if they are just used to begging and exhorting travellers.
After all the hassle we went through at the various checkpoints at the airport, it was a relief to finally board the plane for our flight. A few hours later, we arrived in Dubai, and oh my, was I impressed or what?
I was dumbfounded when I saw their structures, the efficiency of their airport staff and their immigration officers, their neatness in their white kaftans, that I naively thought I was in mini-heaven (ask me how I know what heaven looks like).
I was soon dispelled of this notion, as I realised that corruption is almost everywhere in the world. Let me explain what I mean; In Dubai, it is not an offence to inflate the price of a good to a tourist, I mean, you can sell an item that normally goes for 50AED to a naive tourist for 300AED, and nobody will query you or punish you for that.
As if that is not enough, if you realise that you've been duped, and you return to the shop where you were duped, everyone around you will automatically switch to Arabic, that is, they'll act like they don't understand English at all.............. Please don't act surprised!!!!!! I think that's what makes us human
Another way you can be duped in Dubai is to take a taxi( which is often the best bet if you don't know your way around), but you have to be sharp. The starting rate for any taxi is 3AED, so whenever you take a taxi, you have to be sure that it's meter is set at 3AED, otherwise, OYO is your case, lol........
You should also try to have an idea of the average price you'll pay to go to certain destinations, because if you don't know, you stand a chance of being duped( Ha Ha ha, I got you there, didn't I? ). Most taxi drivers will take the longest route to a place, so they can get paid more, well......... I told you it's legal to extort people in Dubai, so.......(shrugs).
If you know your way around though, you can take the Metro to reduce your chances of being duped. Remember, I said that you have to know your way around, because if you don't, you'll probably get lost, like we almost did........ laughing sooo hard now that I remember the event, but it wasn't funny then. We had this big box (Tayo always insists that we carry a box, so we can dump all our purchases into it to avoid losing anything). On this day though, the box was more of a burden, than a saviour *grins widely*
Let's get back to the matter......
This trip made me realise that corruption exists everywhere in the world, only that the degree of corruption varies across each country/ continent.
In all, it was a very enjoyable trip,( if you don't look at all the little hitches), it was also a kind of fit trip, as we worked out everyday (what do you expect, when you travel with a FADD like Tayo?).......
I really enjoyed myself, and look forward to more trip/ eye openers like this.
It's time for me to put my pen down, till another time.
Hugs and Kisses,
Till the next time.