Or "Doobers" as affectionately known to some...
28.03.2011 - 31.03.2011
The fourteen hour flight between Sydney and Dubai was amazingly comfortable on Emirates even for cattle-class; however, after thirty-odd hours of travel we were glad that our hotel let us check in early so we could grab a shower and some much needed sleep. When we were feeling slightly closer to human, we emerged from the hotel and went for a wander through the Deira City Centre Mall - conveniently located across the road from our hotel (thanks Eve...)
Having not found anywhere else to eat, we settled for a fast food outlet in the mall. Foregoing the tried and true MacDonald's or BK for a random Lebanese place proved to be a big mistake. Mystery meat repeating on us for the rest of the afternoon was not a pleasant experience. One positive we can take out of the experience was the discovery of Moutabel, which is similar to hommous but with chargrilled eggplant instead of chickpeas.
We then caught a cab to check out the Gold Souk and Spice Souk, which are basically old school shopping malls decked out to look like “old Dubai”. Mildly interesting but reminded us too much of Bali to be anywhere near intriguing. After Eve bought some completely useless sh*t to get some change, we caught a water taxi from the Deira area to the far bank. This was really cool because the panoramic view from the river clearly showed the contrast between the old and new sections of Dubai. On the far bank we wandered through the restored Bastakiya area and found the old Dubai Fort, which now houses the Dubai Museum.
On our second day in Dubai we caught the Metro to the Mall of the Emirates. At one stage this place was the second largest mall in the world and actually has its own indoor ski slope! Of course, within five minutes of Eve finding herself in this Mall of Malls, she naturally gravitated to the one store I have a vested interest in keeping her out of.
After that we caught a cab to Jumeirah to check out the Burj Al Arab. The Burj Al Arab is an impressive building: but if you don't have a reservation at either the htel or one of its restaurants, you have to settle for admiring it from the outside. We used the (surprisingly) long trip out there as an 'excuse' to spend the day at the Wild Wadi water park directly next door to the hotel. We have to thank AJ for the recommendation – it was f*cking awesome! Nothing says moderate Middle East like a swimming burqua. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photos inside Wild Wadi, so you'll have to let your imagination do the rest. Hint: Think ninjas in colourful lycra.
After Wild Wadi, we went to the Renaissance themed Mercato Mall before heading to the Burj Kalifah (tallest building in the world) and Dubai Mall (biggest mall in the world). We didn't see inside the Burj Kalifah which is a shame because the view from the top would have probably been spectacular. As we had built up quite an appetite at the water park, we had a bite to eat at a Lebanese restaurant, Abdel Wahadi, overlooking a large lake at the base of the Burj Kalifah. The food was excellent (Moutabel again, of course); but the portions were huge - we shared three appetizers and waddled out without even attempting mains! We also happened to be there in time for a fountain/light/sound show which was pretty cool. We took a video and will try to upload it when we get a chance.
The following day was pretty much all in transit to Egypt, so nothing much to report.
All things considered, Dubai was pretty cool. Well worth a visit, but unless you like shopping malls, designer brands and sand (or you work there), it's not much more than a interesting stopover to somewhere else. The contrast between the glitz and glamour of the malls, and the dusty streets and crumbling sandstone houses was striking. There is also a sense of the absurd: A ski slope and ice skating rink in the middle of a desert; a massive man made archipelago designed to look like a world map; and women wearing full burqua shopping for clothes at the Armani and Gucci fashion boutiques...