A Travellerspoint blog

United Arab Emirates

Dubai-from the Ethiad to the Great Stunt Show

i started out early once again, looking for the Jumeirah mosque, which was on a different bus tour-still on a hop-on hop-off bus. I hoped this would be a more historic tour, then the more modern one from yesterday, where I saw the world's tallest building.

So I had a long free breakfast at the hostel, where I met a few others-one who was travelling from India and stopping here for a few days (she lived in Virginia), and another who was on spring break from College (he was from New York). After a leisurely breakfast, I once again took the tram to the metro to another mall-which is called the Mall of the Emirates. Here I was to catch another hop-on hop-off bus, which would take me to the Mosque.

I rode the bus for approximately 1/2 an hour, and arrived at the Mosque. Before arriving, the tour guide mentioned that tours are given at 10:00 am every day, and there is no admission after that day. I took that to mean that tours are given STARTING at 10:00 am every day-but as I found out when I got there-it is actually 10:00 am they are given. (it was now about 11:15). So I walked around the property a little bit-and I decided what to do next. As the mosque is near the beach, I went to a beachfront shopping mall, and then walked back towards the hop-on hop-off bus.

I then discovered the Ethiad museum, which was in a beautiful modern building on the side of the road. I went in and the exhibits we're interesting. i saw a film in the auditorium, where i took off my shoes to relax my feel (i was the only one in the Auditorium). I listened to different leaders talk about how the UAE was created, and their feelings, (The UAE was a originally seven different states, or emirates' , including the emirates of Dubai and the emirates of Abu Dhabi) The states used to be a British protectorate, but they united after the British pulled out and they wanted the clout for defense and to deal with their relatively newfound oil reserves. While the speakers we're interesting, I also took a nap there. (the seats we're so soft). I then went out into the exhibit area-I saw exhibits on the leaders, their personal belongings, and an exhibit on the Military of the UAE. Most of the folks in the museum we're Arabs-i think I was the only white non Arab in there.

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After that, I got back on the hop-on hop-off bus, and got off at the Jumeirah Souk, which was modeled after an old fashioned Souk, but was mostly modern stores, anyway, the architecture was interesting, and I got off and took some pictures.

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It was late afternoon. I then got back on the bus, and went back to the Mall of The Emirates. This mall was small compared to the mall of Dubai (only 700 stores). It does have the only ski slope in the desert, complete with melting snow. I was looking for a book on the UAE, and went to Borders in the mall, but couldn't find the book. (yes-Borders still exists in the UAE).

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After that, I wanted to see about upgrading my hop-on hop-off bus ticket to 7 days (from 3 days). The schedule said it would be about 50 AED (roughly 14 $). When I got there, I was told it was 100 AED (closer to $30). I was upset-but the people selling the tickets wouldn't budge (largely immigrants from the Philippines and Pakistan did these lesser paying-service jobs). I wanted to take the bus to the Dubai Mall (where I was yesterday), so I could watch the huge Fountain show which was renowned, but that bus just left, so I missed it. I just caught the next bus-because i didn't know what to do. The bus, which left int he late afternoon, just went to two places (1) Miracle Garden-which was a huge flower show. i learned it was expensive, and I already spent too much money, so I skipped this, and the next place (2) Global Village. I had a free ticket to Global Village, another perk for the hop-on hop-off bus. I didn't have much hope for Global Village-but i was wrong.

Global Village it like what it sounds like, for the most part. Pavilions from countries all over the world, selling different foods and goods. Mostly just yet another attempt at commerce. While walking around was interesting (I had almost 2 hours to kill, as I had to wait for the next Hop-on Hop-off bus to pick me up to bring me back downtown), I saw a car show, and walked around.

I did encounter two interesting things here:

The first was the Great Stunt Show-this was an attempt at American Culture, no doubt. American Style buildings we're in the background-a bank, a bar, etc, and this was a mix between monster truck show, Evil-Knivel style motorcycle rally, and a vague Back-To-The-Future style theme with some invention that allows folks to go back in time. it was rather entertaining:

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And then my all-time favorite from the fair: From the Americas tent-a kiosk selling American style signs (e.g. Never mind the dog-beware of wife)


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It actually was a rather enjoyable evening-I took the Hop-on hop-off bus back to the Mall of the Emirates. I was going to go back to the Dubai Mall to find a book and see the fountains-but I got on the wrong bus-which actually went towards the Marina area, where the hostel is located, so it worked out.

Posted by DavidPearlman 17:58 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (0)

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)

Welcome to Dubai

After 17 hours of travelling I finally arrived in Dubai.

- I flew a 9 hour American Airlines Flight from Miami to London. The flight was full. I was fortunate-I was in an aisle seat with just one big Jamaican man next to me who took up the armrest. (I was in the last row near the bathroom (there we're only 2 seats in this row vs 3 in every other row)-which fortunately didn't stink. I slept mostly-and watched parts of movies I have seen before-the first part of Snatch and on and off parts of Sideways. The food was fine and the service was fine (not exceptional-just American airlines).

- In London, I had a 3 hour layover, where connecting passengers had to go through security. This took an hour of the three hours. I just took a nap.

- The last leg was on Qantas flight from London to Dubai-I scant 7 hours. This flight was comfortable as there we're only 2 of us in the 3 person row, a middle age guy moving from London to New Zealand. The seats reclined pretty far back for economy. The food was good-they had an interesting Lamb roll a snack before landing. Too bad my Jamaican friend from the previous flight wasn't here because it looked and tasted like a Jamaican beef patty. On Qantas, the service was great, and as much as it pains me to say, the flight attendants we're young and attentive. One even took an interest in my accent-and she told me how she always wanted to live in the States. I had to dote on the age of flight attendants-as I think it's disgusting how people complain about flight attendants being too old and/or ugly on US carriers. But on Qantas they we're young-and it's been a long time since any woman ( particularly a young one) took any interest in me.

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- Landed at 11:05 pm. After taking an elevator and then a train that felt like it took an hour through the Dubai airport-I went through passport control after a very slow line, and went right through. It amazes me that when I used to go to Canada, passport control always asked me what I was doing, where I was from, etc. Pretty much anywhere else I went through without question (including here-where the agents dress in the traditional Arab white garb, and I am here with my Jewish name and no return ticket).

- i was overcharged for the cab ride I am sure-it cost roughly $45 USD from the Airport to the At The Top Hostel, which is supposed to be the highest (altitude) hostel in the world-on the 66th floor of a building in Dubai. The blond girl at the desk with a Russian accent, who's country I couldn't guess, brought me to my room-with 8 people in there I think, and showed me my locker. I accidentally put my key in the wrong locker, and woke up some blond kid with a British accent, who's locker it was. Unfortunately, even though it was the wrong locker-my key opened it, and I was able to get in.

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I finally went to sleep.

Posted by DavidPearlman 21:38 Archived in United Arab Emirates Comments (0)

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