Dubai 18th-21st January, 2010
After spending Christmas in Melbourne, Rupesh and I celebrated our engagement with a BBQ on the Yarra River before flying back to London. We flew in to Abu Dhabi and then spent a couple of days in Dubai amazed by the huge number, and size of shopping centres and hotels.
We started out exploring the 'Old Town' visiting the Gold Souq (market) and Spice Souq and catching a boat across the Dubai Creek. Lots of great smells around the Spice Souq. We also found some tasty and cheap Indian food in the old part of town. I had been warned about the heat in Dubai - during some periods of the year it can be quite unpleasant to wander outdoors. This may be part of the reason for so many huge, temperature controlled shopping centres. We found it hot but certainly not too hot to be outdoors and wandering around the streets.
We did well and truly escape the heat though when we visited the indoor ski slope which happens to be inside one of the big shopping centres. Beanie, gloves and warm ski clothing was definitely required. There was only a couple of
ski runs and they weren't very long but it was certainly a novelty to be skiing indoors when it was 30 degrees outdoors.
We had a 'big kids' morning at Wild Wadi Water Park (much warmer but wetter than skiing!) where every ride was water based. The best rides were the long waterslides where you sat on a tube and along some parts of the slide there were strong jets that would propel you along. My other favourite was boogie boarding and knee boarding in pools that had very powerful jets.
The tallest tower in the world has only just recently opened in Dubai - we tried to make it up here but we had trouble booking a time slot as they were incredibly busy. We caught the monorail out to Palm Isand which is certainly a place with a lot of wealth with a lot of building continuing to happen on the many branches of the palm. At the top of the palm is the Atlantis Hotel which in itself has a water park and a huge acquarium. We had lunch at a French cafe here and felt a little like we were in a land of
Back to a bit of real culture, we visited the Jumeirah Mosque where 2 women spoke to us about being Muslim including some of their beliefs, their dress and how they pray. They were both very down to earth and spoke very openly about their beliefs.
One evening we left the city of Dubai on a jeep safari in the desert. It was by no means a smooth ride through the sand dunes and it certainly didn't agree with everyone's stomach. We had dinner out in the dunes and watched a beautiful sunset. Some people rode camels, smoked shisha pipes and got a henna tattoo. The evening ended with a belly dancer who succeeded in getting everyone on to the dance floor.
Our last night in Dubai and we thought it would be nice to have a drink at the top of the Burj Al Arab. The Burj is supposedly a 7 star hotel and one of its kind on its own island. The manager of the guest house we were staying in told us he was friends with one of the head chefs there and could get our name put on the door. So...we
put on the best clothes we had and took a taxi to the Burj. A bit of questioning at security and a phone call to the manager at our guest house and then eventually they let us in. So...having a look at the menu we steered towards a couple of drinks that we were going to make last us a good hour! When some people left, the waiter moved us to a table by the big glass windows over looking the lights of Dubai which was nice. When we finished our drinks (the slowest we have ever drunk!) we asked for the bill. The waiter returned asking us if we were sure we wanted the bill as we had not yet reached the minimum expenditure that is required in this bar/restaurant. So...the menu didn't seem to say anything about 'minimum expenditure.!' We didn't have much choice but to order a couple more drinks and a dessert to reach our required limit! An enjoyable evening but a little more expensive than planned!
We had a great couple of days exploring Dubai but I imagine that people who love shopping would enjoy it a whole lot more. Our guest house wasn't
in an area where we could walk to a lot of sights however taxi fares are very cheap in Dubai.
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