Monday, January 16, 2012

out on the town

well. today was a nice change of pace. i was starting to hit that six week wall when things start to get really gloomy. but luckily i was signed up for a cultural tour today, so i got to leave the base for the first time since i've been here. otherwise, i've been in camped in a like a square mile area day in and day out aside from the times that i take a long run around the flight line.

anyway. it was nice to get off base. since we were like a small tour group, you not allowed to wear your uniform, so we all donned civilian clothes and went to a couple locations in the city for some culture. it was pretty cool. i got to see some cool stuff.

this is on the road somewhere between where i am and were the city is. look closely, you WILL SEE camels.
this is also on the the drive in. this really nice soccer stadium was built a couple years ago, but has never had a game played on it. something about the foundation is moving and isn't safe. i don't know the details. but it looks cool and it totally reminds me of the big swan, my favorite soccer stadium ever in Niigata, Japan where England beat Denmark in the 2002 world cup. my companion and i proselytized the hooligans all the way to the stadium and back and only found out after the game that our mission president would have let us go to the game if it was at all related to missionary work. we easily could have come up with something... Michael Owen and David Beckham were both there that night...!
anyway. more views from the road. we didn't get to drive into the downtown area, just by it on the highway. but it looks pretty cool. the malls and shops here remind me a lot of what i saw in turkey. it's sorta of mix of second world infrastructure combined with super modern ultra rich architecture. in other words, you can tell that it probably crawled along in development, and then shot up what the modern oil money made the government rich. i think i heard today that their government had a 3 billion dollar surplus last year, and it's against the law to have unemployment in the country. everyone is assigned one job or another. anyway, the sky line is pretty cool. my brother nick would have loved it.

we went to these towers. originally they were built for water storage, but the architect wanted it to be high art as well. so it's both. pretty cool. the big ball has a rotating cafe at the top that allows nice 360 action.
we had delicious lebanese food. this picture doesn't do it justice. it seemed like the meal would never end. we were there for what seemed like forever, just eating. it was a pretty nice restaurant. like i said, there is a lot of money here and it shows all over, in the clothes, the cars, the vibe. super modern and metropolitan. but also very conservative. it's a pretty cool mix. the meal had lamb, beef, chicken skewers as the main course (hidden below that naan); more naan, humus, beet salad, a couple more salads that i wasn't sure what was in them, but delicious, some fried potatoes, garlic fried chicken, and a bunch of other really good food. i ate way too much. some of our group had a little strawberry mint or apple hooka, and everyone else tried the turkish coffee. so it was all around a really good meal.
i also stood in front of the stock exchange for no particular reason.
we also went to this grand mosque. it's the largest carpeted mosque in the world. the main prayer room can hold 10,000 people and all in all the mosque hold up to 175,000 people during the height of worship during ramadan. that's pretty cool. they have four huge germany glass chandeliers that weight a ton a piece and a large gold dome (neither pictured due to renovations). plus this giant courtyard. the inside is so intricate and cool. so many little details of hand carving in wood and this other material that i forgot the name. but the whole mosque was built in 7 years and all the finishing, the carving, etc was done on site. i think the guy that did one of the domes with like 90 years old when he did it. it reminded me of all the little hand carved flowers in the old pioneer temples. it was really cool.
after words, we heard some wise counsel from Imam Frandsen. (this is where the imam sits and leads the daily prayer and their equivalent of a sermon)
i forgot what this is called. but this is where friends and family gather together, and the real business happens. it's the ultimate arena for networking and deal making. i was mainly just posing.
it was a fun day. a full day. and a nice break from what i normally do every day. after seeing all those cool sites, i came home to this: a view from my trailer window. it's lovely, ain't it?


embily said...

you were mainly just posing? what deals did you make sitting there???

those buildings look really cool. maybe we can go back someday :) william was looking at the blog post with me and he kept asking, "mommy, where's daddy?" as we looked at you posing in all of those different places.

mom/shauna said...

Thank for sharing. The meal looked great and the architecture was amazing. Glad you could spend a day in the 'city.'

Nick said...

Pete- you are right. That skyline looks awesome. Those towers look like something you would see in a star wars movie.

And that meal sounded amazing. Glad you got some culture.

Stephen said...

are you a terrorist? Don't come back and start a terrorist cell, okay? promise?

Whitney said...

It looks like a pretty awesome city. Nice that you were able to get out. That last picture of your view is pretty depressing...