As I arrived at my pal's apartment in Dubai I discovered this rather interesting leaflet sticking out of his door (just click on the picture if you can't read the text).
Not only did the use of English rival some of the very best Chinglish we experienced during our visit to China last year - but the offer of a male "house boy" maid sounded suspiciously ambiguous at best.
Closer inspection revealed Line 8, and confirmed my suspicions, "By experience and skilled maid. Male and Female." Not or, and. Male and Female. Now I was just left with one question. Why the hell was this organisation targeting Chris?
I've only been away for a year, but some things have definitely changed.
Dubai is all about construction, yet despite it's reputation nothing really prepares you for the scale of the building projects. It's absolutely everywhere. Every road is lined with cones, layouts change on a daily basis to provide access to building sites and even after 15 years of focused development the number of skyscrapers under current construction far outweigh what's already there.
I was joking about visiting airconditioned greenhouses in my last post - I certainly wasn't expecting this.
The airconditioned bus stop.
It sounds pretty extravagant, but with the temperature already pushing 40 degrees in late spring they might not be very environmentally friendly, but one would be welcome all the same if I found myself waiting for a bus. It's the economics of energy in the Middle East that make this kind of thing possible, in fact there's only one statistic I need to share with UK consumers to make the point - £8 for a tank of petrol. I just paid £63 for my last fill up.
The highlight of the trip was taking a self-drive dune buggy safari into the desert. After two hours bouncing up and down near vertical dunes in the scorching heat we were covered in sweat and even more sand, but grinning from ear to ear. It was fantastic fun, of a type that would surely only have been improved without the hangovers.
On the way back to the airport I did notice an exciting feature on Chris' car which instantly transported me back to our time in New Zealand last year.
SC Mode? Surely it was too good to be true, a BMW Z4 that turns into a vintage Toyota Liteace Super Casual?
I know which we'd rather have.
Thanks for reading - I hope you've enjoyed reading about our adventures half as much as we've appreciated all your comments and emails along the way.
At the outset a year sounds like such a long time - it isn't. There are so many interesting places out there, even a lifetime of travelling wouldn't do more than scratch the surface of everything our planet has to offer. If we've learnt anything during our time away it's that life is short - planning for the future is one thing, but not at the expense of today.
It's back to work tomorrow - which could rate as an even bigger culture shock than our first night camping with the nomadic herdsmen of Mongolia.
Yes, that's right, I'm going to work in London.