“If there is one thing I want you take away from this trip”, Calvin’s friend Mona said leaning around the taxi passenger seat, “it is that there are beautiful soulful people here. People who want to create and do good.”

Having spent the hour and a half getting ready for dinner by playing guitar with Mona’s best friend Beyliah in the living room, I was already sold on Mona’s message about Dubai. But by the end of the night, I was stunned by the gracious hospitality of Dubai.

Our night began with a dinner Mona arranged for us at The Meat Company. Wearing a dress Mona lent me, I sat with her, Beyliah, Maliki, Michael and Calvin at a table overlooking the Burj Al Arab. We had an amazing supper filled with 3 courses, great conversation and with a surprise drum and dance performance at the end.


Afterwards, Calvin and I met up with fellow Columbia classmate, Sue Yang, and her McKinsey consultant cohorts at Jam Base for some drinks. The American music felt like home. Its contradicton with our surroundings created some culture shock. 

Having a great night already, inertia took us to Neos, a bar overlooking Dubai and the Burj Al Khalifa, where I got a delicious apple strawberry drink.

Too tired to go to a hookah lounge, we resisted Sue’s campaign to take us out all night and retired to her apartment. A real bed, laundry, and a stack of breakfast food for the next day, Sue was a perfect host. She even left us postcards before she left for work to say “Bon Voyage”!

What an amazing 20 hours in Dubai. Thank you, Mona and Sue!


We met two other backpackers on the way to the plane headed to Kathmandu.

“You know Lonely Planet says its going to be miserable”


And we’re on our way.


Where Are We Now?

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June 2011