Dubai: a city of opposites

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Middle East » United Arab Emirates » Dubai
June 23rd 2012
Published: June 25th 2012
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We arrived in Dubai Wednesday morning following the pleasant flight whereby we both got quite a bit of rest, Ben only watching one film- mission impossible although was disappointed to learn he could not go up the Burj Khalifa the way Tom Cruise does! Lauren pretty much passed out due to the sleeping tablet knocked back in the taxi on the way to Heathrow! We managed rather effortlessly to get the extremely modern metro from the airport to the nearest station only a 900m walk to the hotel and with no wrong turns arrived safely at around 9Am. At this point even this short walk had made us pretty sweaty in the strong Dubai heat and we were grateful that they would get our room ready as soon as possible and for us to make ourselves comfortable by the pool! After an hours sleep we checked into the room and was pleasantly surprised by the apartment for what we had paid! The bed looked too inviting and despite the full itinerary for the four days we had in our new home, Lauren was well and truly knocked out still, so sleep became the number one priority.

After a couple of hours though we knew we had to get moving so we got up and refreshed, grabbed our swimwear and made the walk to the metro to go to one of Lauren's most anticipated attractions- Atlantis The Palm Aquaventure! Lauren and her sister have always wanted to go to Atlantis having seen an old Mary Kate and Ashley film years ago, and although it didn't seem possible they both were going this year, Fran to the original at the Bahamas though! Research had said that we got the metro to the Internet city but we knew we would taxi the rest and prices were very cheap, 20 dhr was the cost, about £3.60 for a 18 minute journey! We paid our entry fee and although it was now 3.30pm had plenty of time to enjoy the exciting water rides and river rapids, the park was not like any other either of us had experienced before, all the rides were from one building seemingly interlinked and all ended with going into the rapids and all but one were on a double inflatable ring! We also experienced an uphill water slide that propelled you to the top- the ultimate in laziness! Having watched people all day experience the Leap of Faith at 5.45 before the park shut at 6pm Lauren finally convinced Ben to go with I'm sure will be every city's mantra- "Who knows when we will be here again!" so off we went and again it did not disappoint with a few minute queue there wasn't too much time to panic And we were off- albeit Lauren had to go first! Both off us were really proud we had done it and with that we set back off to get some pictures and a taxi to the mall for what Lauren hoped housed a TGI Fridays!

It has to be noted that during our time here we have been disappointed with the western food outlets, the tgi's wasn't as good as anywhere else we had tried including in Aruba last year, same also for the Rainforest Cafe we went to on the Friday and the subway lunch, you may question why we ate such western food then? Well simply put Dubai doesn't have it's own culinary fayre, it is a multitude of cuisines ranging from western, eastern and Lebanese, and street food didnt exist so we decided to have a bit of a mix on each day. The evening of Wednesday certainly took its toll on Lauren who was still feeling the effects of the tablet and now with a full belly couldn't actually manage the five minute walk back and we got a taxi having fallen asleep on the metro! It literally was a case of head to pillow and sleep, Derren Brown couldn't have done it faster!

We arose on the Thursday feeling much more rested and got the free hotel shuttle to the open beach, the only place other than water parks where you can wear swimwear in public. We now became aware of the cloud dust that hangs over the city, a fog that is present like the London smog and couldn't get any great pictures of the impressive skyline of sky scrapers and fantastic architecture. The sea was warm even at 10am and we had a stroll along the laid out one mile running path, even still working up a sweat! We then discovered our first opposite- yesterday we got a bottle of water at the water park for 13dhr about £2.20 and got a bottle of water at the beach for 1 dhr approx 18p! Lauren knew of a gardened area that we thought would be close by so we walked along the beach front to find it, the beach then had blocked access due to construction - a frequent site- and we walked along the main road, after about 2 miles we looked at a map and realised we weren't even half way and Ben was dripping in his shirt so we attempted to get the bus. Yet that isn't simple if you don't know how to! You need money already loaded onto a card and the driver won't take cash and the loading machines are on the other side of a small motorway! So we thought instead of trying to find the park we could just do what we did yesterday and do the other acclaimed water park, Wild Wadi about 5 miles away, so a taxi was called and a similar price was paid to get us there.

The park is next to the stunning Burj Al Arab and it really is a work of art and within the park presented stunning backdrops. Again the park was a great way of cooling down and all slides from one area, but today even more interlinked, you would get on one slide that propelled you to a level higher where you went to another level and so on for about 6 different slides! Each within your own inflatable ring. There were 2 sets of these slides so we had a great time, we then went on the two bigger rides that reminded Lauren of wet n' wild in Florida and again were on inflatables but for 4 people, we swished around and experienced higher heart rates! We had a deadline looming though as we were being collected at 3.30 for our desert safari so a quick taxi took us to the metro and quick subway to be back at the hotel just in time for pick up.

Now we booked this safari back in England and we are glad we did as we didn't see any advertisement for tours unlike what we expect to see in South East Asia, this tour comprised a 4x4 ride to the desert, a tour on the dunes, a camel ride, sand boarding, henna tattoos, belly dancing, BBQ and smoking pipes for a very reasonable £53 each bargain! We actually left Dubai for this and entered another emirate- Al Sharjah 50km away. The 4x4 on the dunes was brilliant and terrifying! The pictures show a bit more what it was like but the driver deliberately went out of his way to attempt to fall off the dunes and make a pretty exciting ride, his only hope was getting us to swear in fear which erupted from Lauren's mouth first amongst the 6 of us in the tour! It really was so much fun and we stopped for photo opportunities too. Then we arrived at camp and we were able to cuddle a camel before taking a short ride on one which was pretty cool but when the camel sits, which in itself is a spectacle, you really feel you are going to be bucked off! Then came sand boarding, which Ben being a good snow boarder stood up and got most of the way down before falling which left no hope for Lauren! And my did she fall over the photos are worth looking at, the main down side meant we had a few more hours at camp and she was covered in sand! The rest of the evening was really enjoyable, local dance followed by a henna tattoo and both of us tried the hubbly bubbly- pipe smoking which was funny as you are supposed to make bubbles to inhale the apple flavoured smoke but to Lauren to blow bubbles you blow out so she couldn't grasp it is still smoking therefore need to inhale! Needless to say she won't be taking it up! The locally produced food was good, hummus and pitta plus beef burger and potato salad and soft drinks. The highlight was the belly dancer who was very good and interactive, and the ultimate finale was all the lights dimmed and you saw the camels walk across the dunes in low light, a very picturesque scene!

Friday saw a difference we had enough of extreme sun so hit the Dubai mall the largest indoor shopping an entertainment complex in the world, and yeah, it was pretty big! It was like Harrods in respect of what couldn't you do or get! We had an amazing breakfast of gelato filled crepes and pancakes and freshly squeezed strawberry juice, then browsed some shops, and went to the indoor theme park, the main ride was like the spin ball ride at Alton towers and was really good and in the dark but the other ride made us call it a day- a simulator showing a coaster - sounds great but actually gave us whiplash when our heads swooshed back and hit the pads behind us! Ouch! We then watched some ice skating, you know in the Dubai 45degree heat! We then saw a record breaker in the form of the worlds biggest single pane for an aquarium and an indoor zoo, again penguins in dubai - crazy! We also saw the spectacle of the fountains, designed by the same guy who did the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas in three different ways- firstly under sun set, secondly from the top of the worlds tallest tower; Burj Khalifa, and thirdly in the dark when there is a light show within the sequence, very impressive Dubai, very impressive. We went up the Burj Khalifa when you could pre book 28 days in advance for a quarter of the price, at 7pm knowing we would see it light and dark, and again that was impressive, the 124 flight up the elevator made our ears pop no less than 8 times and when we got to the top Lauren ran straight out to guard the spot to watch the fountains in optimum position and Ben, yes my husband who HATES heights even came to edge and looked over- that's right he wouldn't do it at the Eiffel Tower in Vegas- smaller than the actual tower yet he comes here and does it! We also got some great photos of the city and skyscrapers and crazy 7 lane motorways all lit up.

The final day we decided to hunt out the famous souks- spices and gold and after a bit of uncertainty we came across the huge market near the creek, and we pretty much left straight away! How people ever decide which shop to enter is beyond us, the guys calling you in have to be pretty special cause all we kept saying was "no thank you" as did everyone else we heard. The humour of the day had to be a man selling bottled water - fine but at 2 dhr that he got from a vending machine selling them at 1 dhr! Cheeky or what! Good job Lauren had her wits! We then got the metro to The Mall of the Emirates for a last lunch before going to the airport, we ate at Chilis which is international and was pretty good, watched some people on the ski slope and headed back to the hotel, a rather event less day.

The main thing we noticed in Dubai as the title suggests is the opposites:

The price of water in and out of an attraction

The air conditioned malls and even bus stops(!) to the extreme heat

The modernity of the metro stations and system to the streets they were on

Everything was written in English first then Arabic - except McDonald's where the Arabic was the golden arch logo!

Women are insignificant and must cover up yet they love belly dancers wearing Little clothing

Women have a lot of female only places but men do not

Some people ignore the prayer call yet our taxi man pulled over almost to pray

The Signs asking women to cover up and the sheer amount that didn't (see photo!)

The amount of kissing/hand holding in a country where it is illegal by the natives and respected by foreigners

As we mentioned the country doesn't have a signature dish but we found the cuisines on offer at the mall to be an outstanding array of world cuisine, these were the food stalls in the food hall:-McDonald, burger king, KFC, pizza hut, subway, potato shack, falafel hut, Greek, Mexican, Texan, burger, chicken, Thai, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Lebanese, fish and chips, NYC chips, Italian, Iranian, ribs, French, Moroccan, fruit stall and johnny rockets- the choice was crazy! There were also several of some in each category!

All in all, a great time was had, we overspent but knew we would, this was the holiday to start us off and we won't be dining in restaurants for sure until Singapore most likely (not in the next day's layover!) we couldn't move here the heat is too oppressive, but come again- yes, do it all again- in a heart beat

What would we do different - go to Ferrari world in Abu Dhabi and spend more time at water parks.


Near Misses:0

Fallouts:1 - we did some washing as we had a machine and neither of us wanted to stay up to take it out! Ben lost.

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1st December 2014
Love this picture!

WOW Picture
Such a beautiful picture. If you are still in Dubai do try yacht charter with

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