Monday, April 5, 2010

24 hours in Dubai

March 26, 2010

This was my 24 hours in Dubai day and boy did I make the best of it. For those of you who know me quite well, you might get a kick out of this. All those times where I said “I hate being a tourist/I like to blend in/Why are you being such tourists?” finally came back to bite me in the ass. I present to you, my worst nightmare/best 220 Dirham investment ever: the double-decker bus. Yes yes, I gave in and boarded this monstrosity and milked it for all it’s worth. It was great for the 24 hours I was there because I was able to see everything. With my headphones set to English, I began the tour around the newer section of Dubai. Immediately, I was on the hunt for the tallest building in the world-the Burj Khalifa. Well, it took about 0.2 seconds to spot since it dominated over every single building in the skyline. This thing was HUGE. It would be one of the last spots on my day trip however. I continued along the road in ~95 degree + humidity in a shirt and PANTS, since that’s the respectable dress in the Middle East. Already I knew I was in for a long day. I saw a mosque and a couple shopping centers (all elaborate of course). Finally, I got to a destination I wanted to be at, Jumeirah Public Beach (the rest of the beaches are private and only accessible if you are a hotel guest). It was here where I finally felt like I was on my own doing what I love to do-travel. I didn’t mind being by my self, I didn’t mind sweating profusely, I didn’t mind that I didn’t speak the language. It was here where I finally took a sigh of relief and just relaxed. I dropped trow mid beach (figured it was ok since the guys were in Speedos/were European) and changed into my boardshorts. I laid on the sand and thought about where exactly I was and just kind of laughed to myself. To my left was the Burj Al Arab, the world’s only 7 star hotel. It’s in the shape of a sailboat and constructed on a manmade island. The water was clear and very warm, and I pulled another tourist moment and asked somebody to take a picture of me.

I hopped back onboard the tourist mobile and proceeded with my tour. The next stop was at Atlantis on The Palm. The Palm is the largest manmade marine land thing (it’s so weird I cant even explain it) in the world. It has several branches and a trunk all consisting with luxury living and private villas. At the crescent, is Atlantis. I walked around and saw the aquarium and salivated at the site of the water park. Next, I was ready to hit up a major air-conditioned place…like the Mall of the Emirates. This would be my demise of the tour. I went inside and was amazed at the size of the place. It had every store PLUS the necessity of an indoor ski winter wonderland equipped with ski lift, 12 runs, sled runs, and an orb you can jump into. I didn’t have time to really go snowboarding or anything like that so I tried to make my way out. With a place so big and having to find the right exit, I found myself in the mall for 2 HOURS trying to find the exit. It was purely awful. I literally kept making circles and was so confused why I kept ending up at the same place. Finally, I found my way outside and headed to…well…another mall. This time, the biggest mall in the world…Mall of Dubai. I didn’t understand why this tour kept going to malls but they truly are insane. I didn’t bother looking around, but I did see the largest viewing tank in the world (yes another aquarium). But I was on a mission and was determined to complete it. After a 20-minute walk through the mall, I found myself at my ultimate destination: the Burj Khalifa. This building is a jaw dropping half mile high with a hotel, residential, and businesses operating. The viewing deck wasn’t open yet so I just got a neckache looking at it. The building represents prosperity of the UAE. Frankly, I think its just overkill but that’s just their style. I walked around the outside courtyard looking at everything and began to witness a famous Arabian sunset. This was timed with a fountain show analogous to the one at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. The show was very well done, and to Andrea Bocelli (yay Mom).

After the show, the sun was going down. I really wanted to see the spice and gold souks. The souks are essentially a giant marketplace where they sell gold, diamonds, and spices for very cheap prices. It was dark when I arrived there so I made the trip pretty quick. There must’ve been 300+ gold and diamond vendors all displaying their jewelry in the window. I was beginning to get approached by random people to buy fake Rolex watches and Abercrombie and Fitch t-shirts. The people would start escorting you down some alley and into their shop. No thanks. The whole place just began to get a little sketchy for my liking so I essentially ran out of there. While running, I started looking around and I continued to see men holding hands. I had seen it throughout the day but didn’t really take note of it. It was very confusing to me at first considering all affection, gay or not, is banned in Dubai. But this hand holding was not two gay guys holding hands, it is just simply a sign of friendship and that you care for one another. So… is it easier to be gay than straight in Dubai?? Who knows? I considered my day over at that point.

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