Existing Member?

Emma & Maneesh on the Big OE

Dubai - Dream it, Build it

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES | Monday, 23 November 2009 | Views [561]

Us and the sand dunes.

Us and the sand dunes.

Wednesday 18th November

We had a fantastic flight on Emirates: great food, a huge selection of entertainment on the touch-screens, and the plane was lovely inside - it even had twinkling fibre optic stars on the ceiling when the lights were out overnight. I couldn't sleep much - only got half an hour, but Maneesh got an hour or so. We had only a little bit of turbulence and I was very brave, then we had an amazingly smooth landing in Dubai at 7am. The humid heat hit us like a wet blanket as we walked off the plane, and into air-conditioned buses to take us to the terminal. Dubai Airport was an indication of sights to follow in Dubai - it was brand new, with huge open spaces filled with silver, sculptural lights, and enormous water features. After a 15 minute taxi ride with a lady driver wearing pink, we arrived at our apartment in Deira, on the north side of Dubai Creek. As we checked in at 8:00am (thinking we would have to wait until the 2:00pm check in time), we were told our room was ready, and we'd been upgraded to a King-Size Apartment. It sure was 'King Sized' for the two of us - we have a large bedroom with lots of feather pillows, a nice bathroom (complete with toilet AND bidet), a kitchen, lounge room, and spare toilet. As we'd only managed a measly amount of sleep on the overnight flight, we showered and went straight to bed for a three hour snooze. It was still very hard to wake up after that! The view from our window includes the tallest building in the world, at nearly 900 meters - it looks incredible, a getting narrower and narrower as it rises in a stretched-out spiral cone shape.

Both of us were getting pretty hungry, so we got into some cooler clothes and set out in search of food on the way to the Gold Souk (market) nearby. It was only a block to the riverfront of Dubai Creek, and we enjoyed the breeze as well as the wooden boat restaurants, wooden water 'abras' (taxis) and amazing variety of buildings. All the shops and stalls here close between 1:00pm and 4:00pm, so as we walked we saw mostly shutters over shop fronts, although the part of the Spice souk we wandered through was open, and stalls had rainbow mounds of spices on display. We came across a restaurant which had nice smells wafting out and were shown upstairs, where we sat at a long table, although we could have chosen one of several little rooms with cushions strewn around inside. We're not sure what country's cuisine we were eating, but it was delicious. After eating a curried vegetable soup, our meals of tender curried lamb shanks, and an orange spiced half-chicken with rice, a large thin bread, and a potato curry arrived. Well and truly filled up, we continued on our walk to the market area. It was very clear to us when we entered the Gold Souk area - this consisted of several blocks, with over 270 jewellery shops! All the windows were absolutely dripping with the deep yellow 22 carat traditional styles, and more modern jewellery as well. We were on the hunt for wedding bands for the two of us - a search that ended up lasting for about five hours! The shop sales people were lovely, but in the street we were constantly hounded by men offering us 'handbags, watches, t-shirt, very nice, you come!'. In the end, we both ordered bands to be made by the same jeweller - mine with princess cut diamonds to match my engagement ring, and Maneesh's with a cut/engraved pattern based on a photo of one we'd found in another shop. We were very happy with the price we settled on after some bargaining (now we just have to wait and see if we're happy with the rings!). Dinner was a very tasty chicken shish kebab as we walked back to the apartment, which took about half an hour, with another stop for some fruit on the way. The streets were busy until late in the night, and were lined with brightly lit signs and shops crammed with stock. Once in our apartment, we were very happy to get to bed at the end of the day!

Thursday 19th Nov

We got up around 8am and had nashi pears, mango, grapes, and dates for our breakfast, as we'd had no success looking for cereal last night. Today we decided to head to the south side of the creek, and down to Jumeirah to see some of the more impressive buildings in Dubai. We headed back down to the riverfront, and hopped onto a water 'abra' (taxi) for a mere 1 dirham (about 40 NZ cents). These little wooden boats have two long benches from bow to stern, and seat around twenty people under a little roof for shade. When we disembarked the boat, we found ourselves in the Bur Dubai Souk, which is full of textiles - a wonderful array of fabric, shawls, and household linen. We picked up a few gifts for friends and ourselves after a long bargaining process- pashminas, table runners, and a bedspread set. Everything came from India, which makes us look forward to going there even more. Whilst at the souk, I had to avail of a little shop's toilet - I was in dire need, so had to attempt as best I could to use the water spray that was provided instead of toilet paper! I think I need lessons on technique for that particular system. We'd had a snack from a tiny shop at the market of samosas, budjas, and pakoras, and now it was time to find somewhere for lunch. Maneesh led us on a very long walk in the 30 degree heat to a place mentioned in the guidebook as having a lot of curry houses, near the BurJuma centre, which was a very modern shopping mall. We certainly didn't find a street full of Indian restaurants, but we did find Govinda's vegetarian restaurant, and enjoyed a really delicious meal of potato and okra curried in a smooth tomato sauce, rice with cumin seeds and dhana, dhal with tomato and dhana, and some nice fresh rotis. We were also served mixed ansras, and a minted yoghurt raita. It was fantastic, and again, we were all filled up. Our next plan was to head a long way south in the city to the Jumeirah area, so we hopped on Dubai's brand spanking new metro train. The station was stunning, and the platform had glass panels and sliding doors which only opened when the train arrived for safety. The train itself had attendants inside, who wandered around finding seats for people. The front carriage was for women and children only. Our jaws dropped several times during the journey at some incredible buildings - the modern architecture is absolutely amazing - mirrored skyscrapers with impossible curves, some wider at the top like upside-down pyramids, and most amazing of all, the Burj Dubai building - the tallest in the world at nearly 900m. The metro is so new that some of the stations are not even operating yet, so we had to get off at the Mall of the Emirates to catch a taxi to the coast. This place was incredibly opulent with shiny marble floors, over 400 high-end shops, and a large ski-park attached! You can throw snow-balls and ski in here even when it's nearly 50 degrees outside, surrounded by desert. We found some windows in the mall that looked into the ski-park, and watched kids sliding down a luge, and people whizzing down the slopes complete with snow-covered pine trees. Unbelievable. After queueing for ten minutes for a taxi, we were whisked at high speed (too high-speed for me!) to the public beach just to the north of the Burj Al Arab hotel - the iconic sail-shaped building which is a 'seven star' hotel. It contains 202 two-storey suites, each with it's own butler, costing 6,500 dirham ($2,600 NZ) per night. It is an enormous, beautiful building which you can see from miles away, and has a huge water slide park next door to it. We spent a while wandering on the soft white sand, paddling in the lovely warm sea, and watching the sun turn to an enormous orange disc as it set, before catching another taxi back to Emirates Mall, and getting the Metro all the way back to our apartment. We arrived home at about 7pm, and Maneesh bought a chicken shawarma kebab from the Iranian restaurant downstairs - I was still too full from lunch.

Friday 20th November

After having a much welcomed sleep in to really let ourselves catch up on more sleep, we got out and about. We mucked around for a couple of hours in the morning as it is the religious day in Dubai, so nothing was open. We thought the restaurant near us was opening at 12pm, so we went down there at 12 on the dot, but it turned out that they did not open until 1pm, so we had a wander around the nearby shops. Suprisingly we found a shop open, a bargain clothing and everything else shop, so we went in there. We thought that this would be a good opportunity to buy Em some shoes. The second pair she tried on was a nice pair that she liked, so she bought those for 32 dirhams (about $15 NZD), and it turns out I ended up buying a pair of shoes, for a similar price which was really good.

We wandered around for a little longer, until it was near to 1pm. On our way back to the restaurant we had planned to have lunch at we saw another place, Ravi's, which seemed like it had good curries at reasonable prices so that is where we ate. We had a mixed grill platter, potato curry, roti's and chapati, and cumin rice. All of it was delicious! We were quite full though, which was not so great as we had our desert safari. We went back to the apartment after lunch and had a little rest. We were picked up at 2:30pm on the dot. Our driver was in full traditional dress, and he picked us up in his (owned by the company) 3 month old 2009 Toyota Landcruiser. It was very nice, and had been fitted with a roll cage as well.

We picked up 4 more people; a couple of Japanses guys who were in Dubai on business, and enjoying a day off. They were very nice. We also had a father and son from Slovenia, who were also very nice. The son was 10 years old.

Once we had the vehicle full we drove for about 45minutes towards Oman until we came to these shops and in the car park were lots and lots of 4WD; Land cruisers, Hummers, Lexus', and a few other big brands as well, as well as 4-wheel motor bikes and dune buggies. It was crazy. We had 15 minutes there, then we were into it. We mostly followed the rest of our tour companies vehicles as well, driving over the sand dunes. It was crazy, but lots of fun. We went for about 25 minutes, then had a stop for a rest and to let the engine cool down, then we were back into it. Em was enjoying it but also scared stiff at the same time, I thougt it was good fun. The Japanses guys did not quite realise it was going to be as extreme as it was, and the Slovenian father enjoyed it, while his son was loving it and was not scared at all.

The second half of the trip was more subdued, as we were in a sealed off area of the desert, a reserve, so we had to stick to a particular track. Unfortunately the sun set during this part of the trip, and it was also quite cloudy, so the magnificent desert sunset we were expecting never quite eventuated.
We arrived at the camp at about 6pm. It was a fantastic set up. When we arrived everything was happening, you could get a shawarma for a snack, drinks, have hena done, go for camel rides, dress up in Arabic traditional dress, and just sit at the cushions and tables. So after grabbing a couple of drinks we sat down with the Japanese guys from our 4WD. Em then went and had a hena done, right up her right forearm from her hand. It was very impressive, but probably more impressive to watch it being done. Afterwards we went and sat down and I enjoyed a snack. Shortly after this a belly dancer came on and started a performance. While this was going on Em and I went out to try and have a camel ride only to find that the camels were tied up. Em went inside and asked and the guy looking after the camels came out and led us for a short ride which was very kind of him. It was great fun, particularly when the camel stands up and sits down.

Afterwards it was dinner time, a buffet, either meat or vegetarian. It was really good. I had the meat one, but was still quite full from lunch, and Em had the vege one. I had lamb kebabs, and a few other meats as well as rice, curried vegetables. Em also had rice, curried vegetables, lentils, curried potato and a few other things as well. It was all very tasty and very impressive since it was all in the middle of the dessert.

At about 8pm we left the camp as did pretty much everyone else did with our drivers to be dropped back at our hotels. By the time we dropped the others off, it was just after 9pm before we got home. It was such a great afternoon / evening, well worth the time and money. After having showers we went to bed.

Saturday 21st November

Today was our last proper day in Dubai. We got up at about 8am and after having a small bite to eat of fruit for breakfast we caught the metro from the station right next to us to one of the metro stations near Dubai mall. From the station we caught a taxi to the mall because we had not prepurchased our bus tickets and missed the bus. It was not far anyway. When we arrived at the mall it was rather quiet. We were happy about that, and started to explore the mall. This was some task, given the size of it. There were so many things to see. We started off by going to the aquarium. It was amazing. The glass on the outside of the aquarium was 75cm thick! You could see it in the joins of the glass. We looked at it from the outside of it for a while, then went in through the tunnel which was very fun. We spent nearly half an hour in the tunnel. From here we went to the waterfalls that were inside the shopping centre. Then we had a wander around the shops before going to the supermarket there and buying oursleves a morning tea snack.

Afterwards we thought we were all done, but remembered the skating rink so we went around the mall until we found skating rink. This was good fun to watch. We were ready to leave again after this, but then remembered the main reason we came to Dubai mall was to have a close look at the Burj Dubai, the highest building in the world, standing at 818m! Well what an amazing sight. It was huge. The outside at the bottom was still being worked on and the inside of the building is still not fully complete but it was there to see and looked amazing. Hard to believe it was almost 3 times taller than any other building we had seen in our lives. That ended our visit to Dubai mall there, so we taxied back to the metro station and caught the train back to our hotel metro station.
We did not go to the apartment though, we went back to Ravi's for another delicious dinner. This time we had prawns, a vegetable curry, cumin rice, and roti. It was great. After lunch we went back to the apartment for an hours rest. At about 4:30pm we walked through the spice markets back to the gold souk to pick up our wedding rings. When we walked into the jewellers they were all excited and said they loved my ring. Well we were not disappointed. We both put them on and the sizes were excellent. And they looked amazing. So after sorting that out and paying for them, we left very happy customers. We then walked back along the river back to our apartment. After enjoying the sights one last time, which by this time was the night lights, we went back to our apartment. Once we got back to the apartment we got our bags all packed, ready for the next part of our journey. We even managed to get to bed at a reasonable time, ready for an earlier start in the morning.

Sunday November 22nd

It was an early start. We were awake in the darkness at 6am to get ready. We had a good morning and were downstairs in reception just before 7:30am. Our taxi turned up on time and we had a good trip to the airport. After checking in and going through customs we were on the otherside by about 8:30am. It was rather busy, so after going to the toilet and having a quick look around we were a little peckish so we went to McDonalds as that was the only reasonably priced place to eat. After this we wandered down to the gate and relaxed there until it was boarding time and time to finish our trip to Dubai. Well it was the most amazing place we have been to for quite a while really. Unlike anywhere else we have seen in our travels so far. The buildings are amazing, the food was great, and we thoroughly enjoyed our time here. Still more to see as well which means hopefully we will be back.

Add your comments

(If you have a travel question, get your Answers here)

In order to avoid spam on these blogs, please enter the code you see in the image. Comments identified as spam will be deleted.

About milko_rosie

Follow Me

Where I've been

Photo Galleries


My trip journals

See all my tags 



Travel Answers about United Arab Emirates

Do you have a travel question? Ask other World Nomads.