When going from Europe to somewhere in East-Asia it’s always the cheapest choice to go with one of the Arabian airlines since they usually over the best deals. I chose to go with Emirates who always have a stopover in Dubai and since I have more than enough time I decided to stay in Dubai for 4 days and explore the city.
When arriving at Dubai airport one can really forget that one is in a desert for a moment. The airport is nice and cold, the metro is airconditioned and even the walkways from the station to the mall are as well. It wasn’t till I first stepped out of the doors (well not doors, since the Arabs don’t believe in going anywhere by foot so the only way to leave the mall is to walk through the car park) that the heat really hit me, it’s like walking into a wall. You think you might get used to but you never really do. In the end I just tried to spend most of my time indoors.
On my first actual day in the city I went straight to Burj Kalifa, the tallest skyscraper in the world. And damn it really is tall. Here once again I made the mistake of thinking to European. I spend some time walking around the tower, taking pictures and trying to find an entrance since I wanted to go on the observation deck. As I found out after some time the entrance on the ground is limited to cars and otherwise an underground connection to Dubai-Mall is for the pedestrians. Well in the end in didn’t go up anyways as the entrance fee is 500 Dirhams which equals to 125€ which I thought was just way to much. Top Tip: Go to the fountains right around sunset. Not only are they really nice to look at in general, think Las Vegas Bellagio only way bigger, but once the lights are starting to turn on and there is still some light in the sky it will be perfect for pictures.
Later in the afternoon I went to Deira, the old-town district of Dubai which is known mostly for the Gold Souk. While it is still hot at least here you can walk around by foot and explore the shops like you would in any normal city. The whole district has a very oriental feeling to it with shops selling you everything from gold to silk. The vendors everywhere are trying to pull you into their shops and sell you stuff which is especially annoying if it’s quite empty and everyone can focus their energy on you. But they are still always friendly and in the end if you don’t buy anything it’s still ok. Top Tip: Even if you want to buy somthing just tell them you don’t want anything and bargening will be a lot easier. One guy started at 900 for a full outfit and was down to 200 once I left.
Also located in Deira is the Dubai-Creek and some small harbors where they load cargo ships going to Iran or even all the way to India. Yes the small, old and wooden ships go all the way to India. I learn about all of this on my private boat ride down the creek from my Bangladeshi guide. If you have the time definitely go for the long tour which is 120 Dirhams but really worth it to see some more of Dubai. Oh and while your on the water you can at least enjoy something like a mild wind.
To see more than just the city I went on getyourguide.com to look for some tours. I really do recommend this website, the bookings went perfectly and it’s a great way to compare offers and prices. The first tour I booked was a sunset desert safari. We left the hotel late afternoon and drove to the desert in a Land-Cruiser. Once you are there the fun begins, the dune-bashing. While it’s not the environmentally correct way to enjoy the desert it’s still great fun. Although this does lead to the desert not really being peaceful anymore as it’s full with all kinds of vehicles. After a sunset photo-stop you go into the camp for the evening. Here you get free food and a dance performance but mostly it was just a way to sell overpriced souvenirs. Oh well still a good way to experience the desert.
The second tour was into the Hatta, which is in the mountains on the border to Oman. It’s nice to see a bit of the normal life in the U.A.E. outside of thee big cities and it isn’t nearly as crazy as they are. And you actually cross the border into the Oman which makes for another country on the list. Only the timing isn’t really great on this one in regard of the light for photography.
Well to sum Dubai up, it is just completely crazy. If you think Las Vegas was a big fuck you to nature then Dubai can still top that. They have everything you can imagine. Everything is only accessible by car because who like walking anyways? And dunes are best experienced in an air-conditioned high-powered dune-buggy You fell like 42° is just too much and want to go skiing in a -4° hall? Sure go ahead, might as well pet the penguins while you’re there. Speaking of petting exotic animals, if you go onto our artificial palm-shaped island you can go swimming with dolphins. But still Dubai is a great experience with nice and friendly people which you definitely have to visit and experience for yourself. I don’t regret one bit doing the extended layover here. While in the city I only used public transport, which is OK to reach most of the important sights but it is only very basic, the metro mostly goes just in on straight line through the city. The only thing I didn’t see up close was Burj al Arab since there is no metro going there and I didn’t feel like paying for a taxi just to get in front of it for a photo since I couldn’t get into the bar anyways. Please fell free to leave any questions and comments you might have and I’m going to leave you with some more impressions of my stay.
Next Stop: Hong Kong!