We are going to take off running with the tales…but first, if you haven’t read the prequel to this post, what are you waiting for?? 🙂
Sunday Lunch at the Sheraton
My sister’s friends treated us to Sunday lunch buffet at the Sheraton. Very posh. It was on one of the top floors and so we had a wonderful view of Dubai city, including the Burj Al Arab. The restaurant also had LOTS of chocolate sculpted into different fun shapes, mostly iconic buildings in Dubai. The food was delicious- this goes without saying- but the chocolate was the main attraction :). In fact, there was one room dedicated to just the chocolate displays!
Mall of the Emirates
We went to another mall. It’s not like I had money to shop anyway, but I went all the same. Because, sightseeing :). This is the mall that has indoor skiing, Ski Dubai. Imagine this, in one of the hottest places! I didn’t ski though. Instead, I walked around, looked in expensive stores, and took some pictures- one in front of Columbus Café as I have ties to Columbus. I also learned that Souk means Market. So I took a picture both in English and Arabic, for the sake of completeness :).
The Memorable Taxi Experience
My bother, my sister, and I were in a taxi. My brother was in the front passenger seat, and my sister and I were in the back seat. When we got to our destination, my sister took money out of her purse and handed it to the driver and he refused to take it. He acted like he didn’t even know she was in the vehicle. When my brother collected the money and gave it to him, he accepted it. The three of us were shocked. We asked people what it meant but everyone else thought it was strange. A lady even told us she had taken taxis before many times, sometimes alone and it was not an issue. So I am not sure what happened there. If anyone has any insight on this, please let me know about it in the comment section.
The Gold Souk
I had to go to the gold souk. No trip to Dubai is complete without going to the gold souk. #truestory. I am so silly- I imagined the gold souk to be an outdoor market with street merchants and tiered tables with bowls of merchandise but instead of spices and grains in the bowls, just gold jewelry and maybe some bars of gold. Let me tell you- it was NOTHING like that. There were actual stores in buildings and the jewelry was in glass cases. So pretty much like going to Zales or Jared’s (not like I have even been to any of these stores) but several smaller stores in a general area of town. Despite my slight disappointment, the amount of gold contained in such a small square footage was still overwhelming. I had thought of buying something, and I figured I’d only be able to afford a pair of gold studs. I kid you not, I got there and realized my bank account was definitely not set up that way. I wanted to take lots of pictures of the gold but I figured it probably wouldn’t be looked upon favorably. After
hours minutes of trying to take pictures in stealth mode, I gave up.
And then from here on out, it’s stories of my solo wanderings in the land of the Emiratis because the rest of the family left in the morning and my flight out was later in the evening of the same day. I wasn’t going to let the day go to waste. I went off on my own – armed with my 2 complete words of Arabic and a map I could barely read!
The Palm Tree Shaped Island
I found my way to the palm tree shaped island. The journey itself was a treat. I couldn’t believe I was somewhere on the palm tree… I wondered what branch I was on :). I wanted to go into the Atlantis hotel but apparently, you had to be staying there to go in or something. There were a lot of people just hanging out around there or people in cars driving really slowly so they could take a peek or take pictures. I thought to myself- I’d just walk in like I was staying there. I almost made it, but a ‘nice’ gentleman stopped me and asked me if I was staying there. I just couldn’t lie so I had to turn around and satisfy myself with this picture. Right opposite was the water. I love water bodies so I just sat on the wall and gazed at the beautiful water for minutes.
The Dubai Museum
I made my way to The Dubai Museum. I love museums. I always underestimate the amount of time I will spend there and usually end up rushing or skipping whole exhibits. No Bueno. You’d think I’d have learned by now to give myself more time. smh. It was interesting to learn a bit more about Dubai. How not long ago, it was mostly empty and it quickly grew into what it is today. There is construction going on everywhere and skycrapers every few hundred feet. I learned about the ancient Emiratis [pronounced emmy-rat-tea] and their beloved camels. I learned about dhow building. I learned a bit about the culture. Fascinating stuff. I purchased a souvenir- a cute camel. There was a small fee/donation to enter the museum. Very near the museum was the grand mosque. I walked by and saw some people going in to pray.
The Abra is the water taxi. It is used to ferry people across the Dubai Creek between Bur Dubai and Deira. The fare is really cheap, just One Dhiram (about 27 cents USD). To be honest, I thought the abras looked really sketchy- like the engine could quit at any time. I don’t remember seeing any life jackets on it. Every one kind of just sits on open benches around the lower level where the driver stands and controls the steering and also where the engine is housed. You can almost literally see the pistons moving in there- ok, I kid. But it was pretty exposed. The whole time, I was praying the thing wouldn’t capsize or I wouldn’t fall off and into the water. By this time it was sunset and very pretty. I had no real destination in mind. I just wanted to get on the abra 🙂 Before I got on the abra, I was almost tempted to buy a pretty scarf from Alam Khan Gift Trading. I didn’t, but instead I had a nice conversation with the store owner. He was very interested in learning about where I was from.
The Other Side
When I got to the other side (I can’t remember any more if the other side in this case was Deira or Bur Dubai), I just kept walking and walking and walking; and taking pictures. All I knew was that at a certain time, I just had to get back on the metro, find my way back to the hotel, get my luggage, and head to the airport. Oh, and I had to find the Burj Khalifa as I still hadn’t been to it. It was interesting to see this other part of Dubai. It wasn’t all the glitz and glamour I had been seeing so far. This was more like regular working class folk area- but it still had skyscrapers.
And finally, The Burj Khalifa!
Ever since I’d heard about the Burj Khalifa, I had always wanted to see it and hopefully go in too. I knew I had to at least see it up close before leaving Dubai. I definitely didn’t take the fastest/most direct route there because I walked A LOT! At certain points, I would think about maybe getting a taxi or finding a metro, but I somehow either convinced myself I was reaaaaally close or strangers I asked managed to convince me I was really close. Every. Single. Time. So I kept walking, nervously checking my watch- I couldn’t miss my flight. Sometimes it’s nice to walk, and in a sense ‘get lost’- you get to see [interesting] things you would otherwise not see. I saw some fancy restaurants and fancy cars drive by on my way in search of the Burj Khalifa.
It was definitely nightfall before I finally caught a glimpse of it. My footsteps quickened in excitement. I was there. Now, I had to document it. So here’s the struggle- when it’s night time, and you are dark skinned, and you want to be in the same picture as the tourist attraction, and you are traveling alone, and you are using a mere smartphone and not a professional camera, you might as well just forget it. Even the camera flash can’t help you. Even sympathetic bystanders trying to help you get that perfect shot of you and the Burj Khalifa won’t do much. So I decided to stick with just gazing at the Burj Khalifa for an adequate amount of time (nervously checking my watch) and taking a few pictures of just it. It was even a struggle to fit it all in the pic as it is so tall! And I was not going to walk away to get far enough from it again just to take a picture. I think I did a decent job in the end- see below.
At this point, it was out of the question to go into the Burj Khalifa. One- due to my race against time, and two, the building was probably closed by this time. They also had one of those fountains that ‘dance’ just like in Vegas. I watched that for a while but only recorded a 10 second video which you can watch here. I don’t remember it having music like the Vegas one so all you will hear is background noise and maybe a car or two. I’ll admit, my video is not very impressive but you can search for more on the google machine :).
I usually wear a pedometer to count my steps. To provide some context- on a normal workday, I register about 2,000 steps. If I run that same day, say 3 miles, I get just over 7,000 steps total. This day, I registered over 20,000 steps. I walked A LOT!
Luckily I was able to leave the Burj Khalifa on time, get to the hotel and get to the airport in time. I [finally] bought a scarf (which I haven’t used till now) from duty free before boarding my plane back home.
And so ends my Emirati adventure! What a trip!
Have you been to Dubai or the UAE? Tell me what you enjoyed the most during the trip so if (when) I go back, I can try it if I haven’t already.