cute little hedgehog

One of my colleagues at work (pictured above) ran across a small hedgehog and decided to do a little “show and tell.”  We posed with the little fella and then set him free.  He’s pretty small,  about the size of a melon; I saw one last week, at about midnight when I was driving home from work – the second one was about the size of a basketball.

This Central Asian hedgehog looks exactly like the kind that I had seen in Iraq in years past.  I wonder if they are similar to the hedgehogs of Europe.  If anyone can recognize if it si the same or not, please leave a comment.

When he is relaxed, his little head and legs stick out of his spines just fine but when he is startled, he rolls up into a little ball and all of his spines stick straight out.  They are quite rigid and can penetrate clothing.  In these photos, we were handling him with some thick leather gloves.

I have seen these hedgehogs eat snakes, scorpions and all sorts of crickets, grasshoppers and other insects.  They are quite beneficial in helping to keep the bug populations down so we welcome them at our work sites.

In this photo, I had just blown a sharp breath on him causing his spines to stick out and  his head tucked back inside of his quills.  They sure are cute animals.  I have some photos of Iraqi hedgehogs, I’ll post those (eventually) when I get back to 2005…

We had caught another hedgehog a few weeks later, you can see his photos here.


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Dubai Mall

The Dubai Mall opened just a year or two ago and despite my numerous visits to Dubai, I had not yet visited.  As I had a little time on this trip, I thought that I would make my way over to do some shopping and “see the sights.”  The mall is indeed big; four stories tall with every amenity that should be in a mall, and then some more.

The mall receives about 750,000 visitors every week.  That’s about 100,000 per day!  With over 1,200 shops to choose from, it would take weeks to shop through them all – I’m sure it is paradise for many women.

I wandered around for hours – literally.  Somewhere around the 1/2 way mark, I came across a 3 story waterfall!  Its cascading water echoed down the halls and the smell of slightly chlorinated water gave the entire place a “swimming pool feel.”

As I wandered around some more, I came across the world-famous Dubai Mall Aquarium.  Standing two stories high and stretching the length of one wing, this is indeed a massive fish tank.  I watched for a while as all sorts of salt water fish and sharks swam about.  I wondered what a mess it would be if that glass ever cracked…

In the photo below you can see a shark swimming above the little boy on the right side.

After lunch at a boutique style Lebanese restaurant (yes, the food was amazing), I decided to watch a movie.  I walked for another hour or so, following the signs towards the movie theater and somewhere around the Hockey Rink I knew I was lost.  Finally, after searching around for another 15 minutes I found the movie theater.  All 3 floors of it!  The theater is massive and had more screens than I could count.

I ended up watching Matt Damon in “Green Zone” after several good reviews from old military buddies and guys who still work over there.  They said it was spot on.  After watching it, I agree.  It was spot on.  Unfortunately, as bad as it painted the Fiasco in Iraq, it only scratched the surface.  In his book Fiasco Ricks tells how bad it really was.  He even gives the inside scoop on the “fictional” story line in “Green Zone” that wasn’t as fictional as I originally thought.

After the movie, I continued on my path, walking through the mall.  After another hour or so, I saw a sign that indicated that there was still more mall to see.  I was tired, it had been a long day and I don’t need to see the whole mall in one day.  I headed to the nearest exit to catch a cab back to the hotel.  I’m sure I’ll be back on my next visit though as this place has everything you could possibly need: shopping, food, movies, sport and even the fish!


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Dubai skyline

Heading from the airport to my hotel, we passed the worlds tallest building.  I chatted with the taxi driver and he told me that the recession has hit Dubai pretty bad; the Emir of Dubai has had to liquidate several state assets after failing to make debt payments to the neighboring Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

The little Gulf country UAE (United Arab Emirates) is really a coalition of 7 city-states; the most well known of the Emiratesis Dubai.  Dubai is oil-poor but has managed in the last decade to secure riches by mastering trade, real estate, finance, tourism, and even aluminum smelting.  The western friendly state has become a bit of a “Las Vegas” of the Gulf and even allows bars and night clubs.

Abu Dhabi on the other hand does have oil wealth and had loaned quite a bit of money to Dubai during the massive expansions since 2001.  When the stock market and real estate bubble burst in 2008, Dubai did not escape.  The newspapers here tell of stories of expat workers leaving their cars at the airport with notes to the finance company (“I’m sorry, lost my job, can’t pay the note”) on the dashboard as they fly back home.

The latest casualties to this financial disaster, the cabbie tells me, are the Dubai rail system (just came operational last year), the worlds tallest building, and Emirates Airline may even get sold off.  Tough times indeed…

Whatever the name of the building was, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi changed the name and I don’t even know (or care) what it’s called now…

In the photo above and below, I”m driving into the “alley” of Sheik Zayed Road, one of the main drags in Dubai.  I guess this would be equivalent to the strip in Vegas.  Hotels and apartment buildings on either side, the ground floors of the buildings full of restaurants and night clubs, and Porsches and Ferraris parked in every other parking spot.  A beer will set you back anywhere from $7 to $15…

I remember visiting in 2001, there were a half-dozen buildings, now there are hundreds…  of course, many are now vacant…


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Stories, posts, reports, photos, videos and all other content on this site is copyright protected © and is the property of Scott Traveler unless otherwise indicated, all rights reserved. Content on this site may not be reproduced without permission from Scott Traveler. My contact information can be found on the home page.

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