Popular comedian, Lasisi Elenu, speaks to JOY MARCUS about his unforgettable trip to the United Arab Emirates
How often do you travel?
I like travelling but I never get to travel frequently because I tend to procrastinate a lot.
Where did you visit recently?
I visited UAE, a country in the Middle East in February this year.
What are some of the things you can remember about UAE?
I can remember everything because it was memorable. The country is quite unique because there are skyscrapers everywhere. Seeing the number of skyscrapers is everything because the beauty of a place is just what makes the country unique. I also learnt a few things about the country. I went to Abu Dhabi and Deirabut and I spent a lot of time in Dubai. The tour guide took us round and told us historic things about the country and how it came about its wealth.
I got to know that tourism is one of the biggest sources of income in Dubai while in Abu Dhabi, it is crude oil. There was a beach we went to that we were told is artificial because it was once a deserted island. It was exciting for me to see so many beautiful things in the UAE. I was shocked to see a barber's on a skyscraper because in Nigeria, they are usually located on the ground floor. They also have very strict rules in the country like you should not litter the road and visitors cannot become citizens of the country. Also, nobody is allowed to own a property for life because after 100 years, the government would take it from you; foreigners cannot live in the country if they are above 65 years old. Education is free at all levels except for foreigners.
Would you like to go back there?
Yes. With all the beautiful memories and fun that I had, who wouldn't want to go back? What really impressed me about the country is that it took just a few years to become what it is now.
Did you enjoy their food?
For the first few days, I suffered because I had not discovered where African food was being sold. I tried some of their food but I didn't like them because I am very selective when it comes to food. Even with our Nigerian foods, I just have a few favourite dishes so imagine me having to eat their food. It was a terrible experience. Some of their food smell funny and I don't know what they put in it. A friend of mine who had visited the country before then told me where I could get African food.
Did you visit any interesting place while on your trip?
Yes, I went to a place called Gravity, and some places that I can't remember their names. I also went on an outing with a couple of friends who live there and those who came to visit. I had to stay back for a friend who was coming down to the country. He felt that it would be less interesting if I was not there so I extended my stay so he could meet me there.
How did you change your naira to their currency?
I changed some money there but I finished everything I had and I was stranded. UAE is a country where you will always spend and buy things but I told a friend who was coming to the country to bring me some dollars. When he arrived, the money he brought also got finished. So, we looked for how to change money and someone told us that there were people who change money. So,it was easy because all I had to do was change money from my naira account and they give me dollars or dirham. It was preferable to collect the money in dirham so that we won't have to change from dollars to dirham. All I had to do was to transfer from my local account into their Nigerian account and they give me the equivalent sum.
Did you have any regrets?
The only regret was that when I came back my account was in a sorry state. I had to face reality when I returned to Nigeria. For some of the things I purchased in Dubai, my account was debited two weeks after I returned to Nigeria.
How was your inflight experience?
The flight took about seven hours because it was a big plane. The passengers that were next to me left and right were Asians but I couldn't tell where they were from. I didn't like the food I was served because it had a very funny smell. While I was getting disgusted that I didn't get my normal Nigerian meal, they were taking the food and enjoying themselves but they were so cool. They were super excited and I think they were friends because they had a lot of things to talk about and it sounded interesting though I didn't understand a thing, I just looked at them.
Do they like Nigerians?
Yes of course. When I go out, I chat with cab drivers and they express their love for Nigerians. The population of Nigerians there is huge. Whenever I tell them that I am a Nigerian, they chat with me about the happenings in the country.
Where would you visit next?
I think France and Spain. I like those two countries.
What is your best travel advice?
When you travel, enjoy yourself. Don't do what will cause you to be imprisoned. However, I heard that their jail is good because while one is there,you get paid. I don't know if they pay foreigners as well.