Dubai, the city of luxury and a bit of absurd.
As I said before – it took me a while to get impressed with the city.
A lot of people from different countries come here for luxury holidays with sunny weather and cold cocktails. I saw Dubai from many perspectives – as well tourist – as well as one of the expats.
I must admit, I am physically exhausted after these intense almost 2 weeks spent in Emirates.
Maybe the best way would be to go by one with everything – to avoid being crazy boring and not to forget anything …
No clothes showing your belly (this one is for the ladies ; ))
Even considering the religious habits, the country is quite liberal when it comes to dress code – it allowed and commonly seen – for women to wear shorts, tops, skirts. But it has to have it’s boarder, so ladies … – No mi drifts allowed : (
(other than that – most is acceptable, except mosques/and strict areas etc.)
The price of oil (gas/fuel – however you call it) – is almost the same as the price of bottled water !… Yes! For real !
Which results in petrol stations literally every 5km, and most of them have huge queues at all times!
A Queue ; )
I remember – first thing I noticed after landing in Dubai – was the amount of white cars. Almost all the cars in the parking lot were white! Why? Because the Emirates are still on a desert, so it’s crazy dusty everywhere, and for simple reason that the cars are not getting dirty so fast – most of the people get them in white.
Also – the amount if cars, which cost more money that I will ever earn in my life is huge !!! Another interesting thing – the number plates – the ones which are 3 digits or less are crazy expensive (sometimes it it the worth of the car itself).
The plates with single digits are given only by sheiks, so it this case – you’re dealing with VIPs ; )
Oh ! And I saw a car with ‘1’ !!!! (I don’t really have to explain how excited I got right? Hahaha!
Another one about the cars …
It is definitely not enough parking spaces in relation to the amount of cars!
It is literally disgusting ! (Once we were searching for a parking spot in a shopping mall for an hour … AN HOUR !!!!)
Lets say – I consider it an introduction to the SE Asia drivers, but I must admit – I was shocked ! By how much of an idiots the drivers in here are ! Taking over on the right side, bumping into each other, beeping, not even mentioning the line changing !!!
But my personal favourite was when the cars were stopping all of the sudden – in the middle of the road !!!
Like can you imagine a road with 4 lanes, full of cars and somebody suddenly decides to stop in the middle. What on earth … ?!
I was surprised, because with quality of cars – I would be triple cautious – not to scratch it ; )
Everything needs to be operated by humans
Let me explain what I mean by this one. Basically, you know, when you’re entering a parking lot there is machine, which allows you to press the button in order to get a ticket? Well, guess what, in Dubai, it is most likely, that there will be a person doing it for you and handing you the ticket. Like you are so mentally slow – you can’t deal with it yourself.
I am not sure if it is because in the past people fucked up such a simple task and caused some trouble, or that it’s for creating more working places. No idea, but it happened couple of times and I was very intrigued by it.
No price tags in corner shops/petrol stations
I could find for example a price of water or a chocolate bar (not that I was ever buying one ; )), when went to a petrol station. It happened in couple of more places. So I’m not sure if that’s a major thing, or I just went to all the wrong places. And is it because people just generally don’t care of how much they spent in here ? I don’t understand.
Overwhelming customer service
It was very hard for me to accept. Especially, that I just got back from UK, where most people very carefully respect your ‘personal space’.
Anyway, what happens is – you get into a shop and you immediately get surrounded by their staff, trying to assist you on buying something. I was running away. I don’t know, I’m not a big fan of explaining my shopping choices to strangers and getting their most likely fake advise : p
So if you are obsessed about your space, just don’t go to a shopping mall. Like at all !!!
And the worst … Alcohol …
Well, I am well aware, that it is a religious and cultural thing, but my heart was crying, when I couldn’t have a cold beer, while having a dinner in a restaurant etc.
It was so normal for me, to just go to the shop and get a beer, that I was forgetting, that I can’t all the time. Like ALL the time. And trust me, I’m a quick learner ; ) But this was a little bit too much to wrap my brain around it ! : p
(Although, you can have alcohol in hotels, clubs etc. But no cold beer with your lunch ! ; ( )
I don’t know what else to say,
I’m just gonna quickly go through the attractions, so you will have a basic idea what to do in there (or my Mom will finally know what I did haha ! ; ))
Aquaventure – Water Park
There is a hotel called Atlantis, in the middle of the Palm Island (I’m sure, you’ve all heard about it).
Anyway, there is a water park sort of ‘attached’ to it. It is pricey, but if you like water parks, it’s definitely worth it! (my personal favourite is definitely a slide, where you get on inflatable boat with couple of other people and just slide down to the oblivion! There was a lot of screaming from my side ; ) haha !
It’s hard to describe it. It’s just a huge water park with loads of attractions and you should definitely check out all of them! (I think one, which scares people the most – is ‘Leap Of Faith’ which is an open slide going down in very ‘aggressive’ angle.
Also, as a bonus, when you climb to the towers, when the highest slides start – you have breathtaking views to the sea, or Dubai City.
(We had a GoPro, so we were able to take couple of snaps, without being scared of flooding the camera)
Very cool aquarium inside the hotel, after aquaventure. Not too big, not too small. I was very pleased with it! And the way it was designed made me feel like I was in some sort of spaceship in fantasy movie. I also enjoyed the tanks, where there were numerous types of fish and trust me – it was better than watching any type of tv ! I could just sit and stare like this for hours!
Ferrari World – Abu Dhabi
This place is sort of Ferrari themed adventure park – you have couple of roller coasters, acrobatic show, simulators, factory shows and more and more.
It will be easier if you would google all the attractions, as it is being rebuild all the time and it keeps on changing.
IMPORTANT!!! Try to arrive at the place as early as it’s possible and make sure – when buying the tickets you ask which parts are closed at what times/times of the acrobatic show etc., as apparently we couldn’t go to the Ferrari Gallery (which I was crying about a lot!) because for some reason it got closed very early and we left it for last.
ALSO ! If you want to have a race on electric gokarts first thing, you should do after entering the Ferrari world should be to go and book it for particular hour (the time slots run out crazy fast and you will miss your chance to try if you’ll do it too late) And it was soooo much fun ! Trust me !
The same thing goes for the simulators. Remember please, it’s important ; )
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
First Mosque I have ever been. It was beautiful!!! I mean you can see, it’s not old and it took a lot of time to build. It is the biggest mosque in Emirates and I must admit – it is spectacular from the first glance. As it is very well lit and you can see it from far away when arriving.
It is huge as well from the outside as from the inside. I must admit – I don’t know much about local culture and religion and I didn’t know what to expect. But I was positively surprised, that it wasn’t so full of kitsch. I was expecting gold everywhere and tasteless ornaments, but it was very delicate and beautiful. (Except couple of elements like these huge chandeliers, which for me looked like bracelets sold at the sea side.
Also by the door there were those stands with big red buttons behind a glass, which looked like buttons to destroy the world from Hollywood action movies ; ) I was tempted to press obviously haha!
IMPORTANT FOR LADIES !
Try to wear clothing, which covers your legs and arms – long lengths. Plus scarves to cover you hair. If you do not have such, before entering the mosque from the side of the parking lot – go one floor down (via lift or stairs) and you can rent a gown suitable for you to wear. (it is for free, but you have to leave any kind of ID, which you’ll get back after returning the gowns).
This kind of attraction is mostly for tourists. It varies depending on a company organising it, but most of them are similar. I will describe the one that I went to, but as far as I’ve heard, it’s the same on them all.
You book your tour and you are being picked up from convenient for you and the driver spot. Next, you collect the people for the rest of the car.
In my tour – we had the same driver on the road and on the desert. We got outside of the city 20-30 min drive, stopped at a grocery store by the road – to get some water/beer (yes! They were selling beer there! ; )) And use the toilet. Afterwards, we were hitting the desert. Basically – there were many cars starting from the same point and driving more less in a line – through the desert and sand dunes. Our driver turned out to be quite exciting, because he was taking us on the sides, so it has given us a little bit more adrenaline. It was my first experience of sorts, so I was excited and pumped up ! I might have screamed a little ; )
We had a 10-15 min stop at the desert, to take some pictures, whilst the car was cooling off.
Next – we were taken to some sort of camp on the desert prepared for tourists, where we could have attractions like – traditional male dance and belly female dancer. We got food and shisha. We were also allowed to have a couple of minute ride on a camel and have a henna tattoo (more for girls). We could also try traditional Arabic clothing.
We spent couple of hours there – sitting by the tables and it was very enjoyable. Some trips also offering the sand boarding, but I wasn’t really keen on that, so it wasn’t a huge loss for me personally, that we didn’t have this option.
Afterwards – we were taken home.
Burj Khalifa aka The Tallest Building in the world.
One of Dubai’s ‘must see’. It would be a shame not to take this opportunity.
I have mixed feelings about it. I mean, don’t get me wrong – it was absolutely spectacular and I enjoyed every second of it, but I didn’t really feel how high it was. Maybe it was just me, but I was trying to compare the high of it to the other buildings, but it was very abstract feeling. Like it wasn’t real. I got to the top when there was still a day time and watched a sunset from there, watched the fountains show (happening just by Burj Khalifa on the ground level) and rode down.
IMPORTANT! Book the tickets in advance, as it’s getting sold out quickly (there a time slots for particular days).
Dubai Mall was the biggest shopping complex that I have ever seen! It even had an inside waterfall through couple of floors. I don’t know if it’s humanly possible to go through the whole thing in one day. I’m quite sure it’s not haha ! It had an ice skating ring. (It was somewhere, where I didn’t get haha!)
It had it’s own designers shoes section, which was the size of a separate mall! Crazy !!!
Smaller than the previous and easier to handle, but still huge !
It was also very pretty and the roof was designed like in some sort of castle : )
The malls were full at all times (open till midnight)
There is this other side of Dubai called ‘Old Town’/’Old Dubai’ etc. It is a huge contrast to the tall newly build sky scrapers! It is sort of ‘poor’ side of Dubai. I should be saying poor – more like original, just before the whole economic boom, if I could say it like that. This was for me a glimpse of the actual Asia that I had in mind. I went t the museum, where was shown how people lived in Dubai before the discovery if oil and how they were making living etc. It was very interesting as it shown the pearls fishing and how people were diving for so long to find them, how they lived in houses and what they were made of (houses ofc ; )).
The original clothing and all the interesting stuff that I am a bit scared to talk about just in case I’ll get it wrong. Anyway, it is worth going to the museum as you can get a sense of who the people of Dubai were before the oil and gold.
Later on, I went on the boat to cross the river and get to the Markets. There was the Textile Souk, Spice Souk and Gold Souk. It was something I’ve never seen before, especially the Gold one made a huge impression on me, as I’ve never see so many shops with gold jewellery!!!
(the most popular cat calling by the guys on the markets is definitely ‘Shakira/Maria’ – literally, every 5 minutes someone will call you that ! – It must have worked for some girls I assume ; ) )
(The easiest way to get to the old Dubai is catching a metro, as apparently there might be a problem with parking in this area.
Oh ! I also ate a burger made from a camel and I was great ! : )
So. One of my sister’s friends organised a cruise. How it looks like? You rent a yacht. Bigger/smaller, whatever you want – that’s up to you. We could take our own alcohol on this cruise, but the food was provided.
The boat sailed a little bit into the bay – so we had a chance to have a close look on Dubai cost line. It was so much fun, to just stay on the water and enjoy the beautiful weather. The boat put the anchor down somewhere on the west side of the Palm Island and we had a chance to jump to the water and swim a little.
Also – funny story – I sort of hitch hiked with a guy on a jet ski and we got stopped by the water police for speeding. It was so much fun!
The views were breathtaking on the way back to the harbour! And no, it wasn’t because of all the beer ; )
I was very impressed when getting there as there is so much happening! It was clearly full of expats, but there were people playing all the sports!
There are couple of beach volleyball spots – full most of the time! Also at the time I was there – there was some sort of festival, so there was a complex of shipping containers, where you could buy all sorts of food. And after the sunset, there was a DJ everyday.
So, if you wanna catch some sun in place with loads of activities and nice scenery – this beach is definitely worth a try!
Ok, this is as much as I think I wanna write about Dubai.
I enjoyed it very much ! To be honest – much more than I expected.
Anyway, I might come back to that : )
See you in Vietnam ; )