A Travellerspoint blog

March 2018

Holi and The World's Tallest Building

Yesterday, I awoke early to take a walking tour near the Museum in Dubai, but the walking tour wasn't to be. I left the hostel later than I thought-I was tired and I slept later-then I caught the Metro downtown, which was running late. For whatever reason, it took 1/2 an hour for the Metro to come. And when it did come, of course it was very crowded because of the delay. When I got on-i got onto a part of the metro with only woman-it was then I learned there are men and women's sections of the railcar-and i was standing in the ladies part-i went over to the men's part of the railcar (which was men basically pushed against each other).
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i wanted to look for the hop-on hop-off bus which would supposedly take me to where the 11:00 tour would be-and from yesterday, i remember getting off one stop after the Dubai mall and finding the tour bus in front of the mall-but my memory failed me. I got off one stop behind the mall, and found to get to the mall I had to walk up and down different roads-under highways, and before I knew it-it was 11:00 and I wouldn't make the walking tour. No big deal-I wanted to go to the top of Burj Khalifa-the world's tallest building. So I walked through the mall to the ticket office. I learned that i wouldn't be able to get to the top of the building until tomorrow (Saturday)-because there was such a wait-but if I paid over $100-I would be able to get a special ticket-meaning that there wouldn't be a line, and I could go to a special observation deck on floor 149 (vs 124 for everyone else), plus there would be a special room with teas and cookies-and I could go that evening (after 6:00 pm) So I bit the bullet and bought the expensive ticket-it was the world's tallest building-can't get that anywhere else. I had lunch of falafel at the food court, and then got on the hop-on hop-off bus again to make the 2:30 walking tour.

I got to the Museum site, and asked about the tour-I learned that there was no afternoon tour on Fridays since everything was closed (How was I supposed to know it was Friday ? It is hard to keep track when travelling). So I wandered around the area where the museum was, it is an old part of town, with lots of historic buildings, old shops, and restaurants. I noticed a lot of folks with paint on their faces. After passing about 20 people with paint-I asked someone what the paint was for-I was told it was the day of Holi-a happy day in the Hindu religion (although UAE is a Muslim country-lots of Hindus reside here from India and Nepal to work), and he proceeded to throw powdered body paint over my face)

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So now I had paint over my face. As I wandered around the district, some people smiled at me-others laughed at this white guy with Hindu body paint on my face. I took my picture with one lady in a store.

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After having a bite to eat at a small shopping mall, I found a stop on the Metro and took it back to the Dubai Mall, where I could go to the top of Burj Kalifa-but i had time-so I went to an aquarium in the mall, (admission was free with the ticket to the hop-on hop-off bus). For a mall aquarium, it was impressive-there we're all types of fish, and there was an "underwater zoo"-with crocodiles, see otters, and nubita, otherwise known as water rats. It took me about 45 minutes to walk through.
(People still looked at me strangely because I had the body paint on)

After walking through the mall-I went to the entrance to Burj Khalifa. As mentioned, since I paid the premium amount, so I was ushered to a special room with cookies and tea.

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After about 15 minutes here-I took an elevator to the 124th floor, which took 77 seconds (making it the world's fastest elevator)-then we went on another elevator, which took 15 seconds-to the 149th floor, and went to the world's tallest observation deck. We we're offered more teas and cookies.

The view was nice-but just like what you expect of a tall building, I saw lots of lights. It was hazy out so I couldn't make more out. I mean, this was the world's tallest building-but I couldn't see my house-I couldn't see the NYC skyline-it was just a tall building-but I was there.

I did meet a few guys from Russia up there-and talked to them in their very broken English. I leaned that they like Putin, and after learned I was from the US-they wanted to know if I voted from Trump (ummmm....no), and in very broken English, they said Hillary Clinton then).

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I then met one of the photographers there, who was taking photos so folks could pay. He was a Hindu from Nepal, and was impressed I had the Holi body paint on. He took a lot of free pics of me. He promised to email them to me (I am still waiting for them as of this writing)

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At this point it was about 9:00-so I just went back to the hostel.

Posted by DavidPearlman 19:54 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (0)

Full Day in Dubai #1

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Yesterday was my first full day in Dubai. After some cereal (the hostel provides free breakfast), I walked outside-not sure what to do. As per usual, when I get to a new city, I am not always sure what to do. Fortunately, the tram runs right in front of the hostel. A woman working at the station could see i look confused. Looking at a map-i figured I would to to the tallest building in the world, which is in Dubai-that seemed like a good area to go towards. She pointed me to the direction I needed to go to. So I took the tram 10 minutes to the metro.

It was then when I realized how sprawling a city Dubai is. The hostel is located in the Marina District-near the shorefront, which is a city in itself. The hostel is on the 66th floor of an 80 something floor building, and there are a bunch of these very tall buildings around here. But to get to where the tallest building in the world is-I needed to take the metro 1/2 an hour, past other districts of very tall buildings, past office parks with big Multinational companies like IBM and Microsoft, past sprawling giant car dealerships (just about every type of car is sold here-including Tesla-go figure in an oil-filled city), and past giant shopping malls.

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I finally debarked the metro near the tallest building in the world, and found a hop-on hop-off bus. I normally don't like these buses, as I don't want to sit on a bus with headphones-but I wanted to find out more about the city. The driver suckered me into paying around $100 for a three day pass.

From the lady with the pre-recorded voice on the bus, I learned that there is a free-zone in Dubai, where money earned can easily be repatriated back to their own country, and passed by the leader of Dubai's residence. I passed by a golf course, and a natural preserve was a little bit of the desert left in Dubai. After a while the bus came to the Dubai Museum, where I debarked. I learned then the entrance to the museum came free with the fee for the hop-on hop-off bus. The museum was interesting-I learned how Dubai was founded by diving for pearls, and about the Bedouins in the desert, and how the UAE came into being when the two separate Emirates' of Dubai and Abu Dubai were combined in the 1970's,

After roughly 45 minutes, I got back on the bus, rode past the gold and spice souks, and came to a short boat cruise. I learned that the boat cruise was also free with purchase of the hop-on hop-off bus, so I got on the 2 story boat, which took me up and down the river, past large yachts, and beautiful looking historic buildings (there wasn't much of a narration-so I don't know what I saw). I met an older woman who came from Italy on the ship. We both met by taking some food the boat's crew was passing around-as we both thought it was free until the second mate came along looking for payment (That was stupid on my part, as why would a free boat tour also have free food?). The lady didn't speak any English-but we we're able to communicate via my limited Spanish. I learned she was on the Costa cruise stopping in Dubai, and lived in Venice. She also taught me how to say some words in Italian.

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After the tour, i got back on the hop-on hop-off bus. By now I was tired, and haven't eaten since breakfast at the hostel. The bus was creeping through the late traffic, and the narration was speaking about malls in Dubai, which unlike the US, keep growing, and they keep building, because of the demand. Being hungry, I got off at the Dubai mall, and looked for the food court.

At the Dubai mall, a uniformed doorman opens the door to the shopping mecca, with high-end stores like Cartier abound. There is a separate part of the mall called the Souk, which is supposed to be like a Middle East Market, and a ginourmous ice skating ring in the middle. I found the food court, and had some Indian food. When I was done, a mall worker actually took my tray.

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I was trying to find a bookstore to find a book on Dubai, and found one, but I couldn't find a book I wanted, and I was exhausted. I followed a pathway to the metro so I could go back to the hostel. It was a loooong pathway lined with much more stores....I walked along the pathway-about 1/2 a mile in I think-a pretty woman spritzed me with cologne. I didn't really smell it. Then 2 doors down, a man with a beard splashed me with more cologne, which was quite pleasing. I kept walking along the pathway-probably another 1/2 mile to a mile passing the stores and over the highway, and I thought that it has been a long time since I have bought cologne, and that woman was pretty-so I walked 1/2 a mile back to her kiosk, and bought her cologne. After popping down approximately $50-I learned I didn't like the smell that much (I guess I confused her colognes smell with the man's).

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Then I took the metro back to the tram back to the hostel for a nap.

After a few hours, I walked out looking for a place for a drink. I wandered around and found a Westin hotel across the street from the hostel. I wandered around the grounds. I met a woman from Nigeria-she suggested we go to a dance club next door for a drink. After buying her a drink, it was then I learned she was a hooker and I excused myself, bought some dinner of salmon cakes and Simosas at the Carrafour market next door, and went to bed.

Posted by DavidPearlman 20:55 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (0)

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