A Tale of Two Cities
A Tale of Two Burjs
I’ve never actually read A Tale of Two Cities. Maybe I will make another list category for books I want to read… And another, for books I’ve actually read. lol.
Burj is Arabic for tower. The Burjs in my Emirate adventure are the Burj Khalifa and the Burj Al Arab, both in Dubai. I didn’t go inside either of them but I got close enough. Today, the Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest man-made structure, while the Burj Al Arab is one of the world’s tallest hotels; it’s also been referred to as the world’s only 7 star hotel.
Last year, I went on holiday to Dubai (for the first time) for a few days with all my sibs but one and my sister’s family. I almost didn’t go mainly because I am cheap frugal and also because I didn’t want to use up vacation days so early in the year. It was February and I only have 10 working days of vacation a year. Luckily, I also get the holidays off like July 4th, Thanksgiving, and thank God- the whole week between Christmas Day and New Year. And if it’s one of those super awesome years, the Christmas break alone could get up to 10 days just depending on what day Christmas Day falls on. All this to say, you can feel bad for me about my 10 days of vacation, but don’t feel extremely bad.
So anyway, when I told a few friends about how I had been invited to join the Dubai trip and I was considering declining, they thought I was crazy. And rightfully so! Who passes up a trip to Dubai, even if it isn’t all-expense paid?? Here are some questions I was asked while considering this offer and some I asked myself:
- When else do you think you will ever get to go to Dubai? No clue.
- Have you ever been on vacation with so many of your siblings at the same time? Negatory.
- Are you confident you will be able to afford the trip later on in life? Maybe, maybe not.
- What’s the likelihood your sibs will pay for some treats and excursions? Very likely!
- Why not? #yolo
So I bought the plane ticket and got my visa and took time off at work and off I went, to the land of the unknown… Well, not really. Here’s a few things I knew about Dubai before the trip:
- High temperatures
- Huge tourism industry
- Official language- Arabic; but due to large tourism industry, I wasn’t worried
- They have a lot of gold
- They have a desert
- They have camels
- Predominantly Muslim
- Beautiful place
- Fancy cars
- Part of the Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol movie was shot there. Burj Khalifa. Google the rest (because I am nice and don’t want to put spoilers here for whoever hasn’t seen it and doesn’t appreciate spoilers. I recommend the movie by the way. You’re welcome. Hey, another list category for favorite movies! Ok, I’m done)
- Man made palm tree shaped island
- Sunday is a workday there
- They have oil, and hence oil money. Tons of it.
- Rich sheikhs
- It is one of the cities in the country United Arab Emirates (UAE)
- A place [Nigerian] people go shopping and vacationing. The new London, in that sense
- A place to buy wedding dresses and jewelry
The flight was mostly uneventful but looooooong. Side note: I always choose a window seat (when presented with a choice) so I can look out of the window and view the city I am visiting from up in the sky. Exception is the very back of the plane. I avoid it. It’s a delicate balance, my friends. It helps if the city has a gorgeous skyline or huge monuments or lakes, rivers, mountains, etc. In this case it was the desert. I saw lots and lots of sand and sand dunes. It was perfect! A watch out though, try to choose a window seat not directly by the wings if not, that’s all you will see – a plane wing. I made this mistake on my trip to Mexico and all my pictures from the plane had a portion of wing in them. They would have been award winning photographs otherwise. I am sure of it. Even these had a little wing …
My two sisters and baby niece met me at the airport so that was helpful. I didn’t have to figure out transportation to the hotel or worry about getting lost. They’d arrived a day before so they had sorted out the basics of the metro transportation system, had purchased a metro card for me, etc. It was the cheaper way to travel, compared to a taxi. So off we went, and thus my Emirate adventure began.
I found that a lot of things were Americanized. For example, they have Pizza Hut and Aeropostale. I remember these two stores particularly because we had gone to the mall (The Dubai Mall) to shop and went to the food court afterwards because we were starving. I had Pizza Hut for dinner and my brother had gotten a few things from Aeropostale.
The main thing all of us did together was going to the water park. Wild Wadi. I think this was my first time (that I remember, anyway) going to a water park. It was a lot of fun, amazing rides and frankly some terrifying (to me) rides. And of course, having a super energetic 6 year old kid with us made it even more fun. Perfect excuse to be a kid again. I remember one of my favorite rides and it was one of the ones with the longest lines. We almost gave up but the wait was worth it. We all basically crammed ourselves in a ‘tube’ and started down a ‘dangerous’ course of water at full speed. At least, that’s what it felt like. haha. Just think white water rafting.
Then there was this other ride- just myself, my sister, and her son got on it. Another long line, which translates to high thrill ride. This one consisted of standing in a capsule, just you, then the bottom suddenly gives out, and you are plunged straight down into a slide filled with water and you end up sitting there at the end spluttering because water is all in your insides and then you have to find your bearings and somehow get out before the next person comes down the slide. However, I think they wouldn’t let the next person down till the slide was clear, but still. You aren’t thinking clearly. You are just a blubbering mess, trying to get the water out of your nose, ears, mouth, and eyes! My sister had major reservations about this one- especially as it was a solo ride- she wasn’t sure her son was ready. More like, she wasn’t sure she was ready, methinks. haha. All 3 of us survived it, myself barely. My nephew wanted to go on the ride again- that didn’t happen. He thought it was the absolute coolest and that was all that mattered 🙂
From Wild Wadi, we could see the Burj Al Arab. It was so close, that when we took a picture in the pool at Wild Wadi, it was in the background and you would have thought we were at the hotel. We could also see the Jumeirah Beach, we didn’t visit either. I’m not sure they would have let us in the Burj Al Arab- it being 7 star and all…but we didn’t try. Maybe next time 🙂
The other thing we did (just my other sister Pekse, my brother Ashiwaju, and myself) was the desert safari. I’d heard of it and for some reason, I imagined a regular African safari (which I have never done) but in a desert rather than a jungle-like or foresty setting with wild animals. It consisted of riding a desert vehicle on the sand dunes in the desert at night- ride could be rough or smooth, depending. I would have preferred my ride to be a little rougher, but there were older (African, I think) passengers in the vehicle who requested smoother. As a properly brought up African girl, I did not argue. When we arrived at the camp, I got to ride on a camel with my sister for about a minute, but it seemed like it took forever. I was terrified! Only just because I’m scared of animals. Even cute, tiny puppies and kittens. I’m working on it, people. So after that, I held an owl. Another scary experience. And after that, I was done with the animals.
At the camp, they had delicious middle eastern food, hookah, henna art design, little shops, a belly dancer and some other type of dancer for entertainment. In fact, I was also part of the entertainment as I was invited to come try the dance which consisted mostly of spinning around in this huge, heavy skirt. I was confident my sister was taking a video of the whole thing so I gave it my all. At the end, after a hearty round of applause from my fellow safari-ers, I staggered back to my seat as I was still dizzy- only to find out that my sister didn’t record a video! After all that! To be fair though, she thought she was recording a video. I ended up having to purchase the photograph from the tour company at an exorbitant price so I could have a piece of the memory. haha. I also tried on the popular red and white scarf that men from that part of the world wear and a dress and in the process, messed up my henna. I then had this really talented guy put some sand into a glass bottle for me in a very impressive manner. Not exciting, ei? But what if I told you the sand was multi-colored? You’d probably say “warming up…”. Okay, the sand turned out to be basically a picture of the desert and a camel with my name written on one side, and Dubai 2014 written on the other side. Brilliant!
So I realize this post is getting really long and I still have a lot to say about my Emirate adventure. I shall have to split this post in two. Watch out for the next installment- coming soon!
UPDATE: Here’s part two.
Tell me, have you ever gone on vacation with multiple of your siblings? How did that go?
I enjoyed this one, and I would LOVE to do another; schedules and bank accounts willing 🙂
See more pictures below…