Wednesday, June 15, 2011

14 & 15 Jun 11 – Day 12 & 13 (Dubai)

Woke up late, had breakfast late and the breakfast spread wasn’t a lot. So toasted two slices of bread and ate them with some eggs and drank juice. Mag ate a lot of grilled tomatoes coz it was her favorite. The young couple went to ask the reception staff about information on the lunch in Burj Al Arab and in the end, they and the Tays decided not to go for it coz it was too expensive.

After eating, we went out to take a cab to Deira City Center Mall. There were a lot of cabs with different color top: green, yellow, red, blue, orange and so on. We took a yellow top cab and Kim paid the fare of AED15. Walked around the mall, Mag changed some AED, checkout the souvenir shops but didn’t buy anything coz we didn’t want to carry stuff around and we believed that such shops would be available in other malls. We saw Carrefour and went in to have a look. Mag said she needs the toilet and told us that she would meet us somewhere near the electrical appliances section so Kim and I walked the hypermarket on our own.

Took a small pack of Lay’s salt & vinegar chips coz recalled KC telling me that Lay’s brand has the sourest chips compared to other brands and a bottle of chewing gum. Kim saw some plastic files that came in packs and found them very cheap so she took two packs, some snacks as well. Made payment and she paid 20 Euro, when it was my turn, I also tried to pay in Euro coz I was out of AED. The cashier didn’t accept and so Kim had to pay for me using the AED she received as change earlier. Looked for Mag near the place she told us earlier but didn’t see her and it turned out that she was inside Carrefour in the area while we were trying to look for her outside Carrefour in the area.

Went out to look for the metro station but didn’t see any and so asked the security guard at the entrance. He told us that we needed to walk a bit further to see it. So we walked under the sun to get to the metro station. Once we got there we tried to figure out how to purchase the tickets. There were a couple of station staff wearing orange vest and one of them approached us when we were looking a bit lost. We told her that we wanted to go to the Mall of The Emirates station and she brought us to the information counter where we bought three tickets and Mag paid a total of AED19.50. Boarded the train and it was similar to our local MRT. During the journey, I could see the Burj Al Arab from a distance as mentioned by one of the people in the TripAdvisor.

Got to the Mall of the Emirates station, got out of it and there was a link bridge that connects the station to the mall. The mall was huge and we just walked and browsed the shops randomly coz we didn’t have anything in mind that we need to get. Was trying to spot the gold vending machine which I read should be in the Mall of the Emirates but couldn’t see any. Saw a Kipling shop and we went in to see coz Kim mentioned that her friend told her that it is cheaper to get Kipling’s bags in Dubai. Nothing caught my eye and the one that did is expensive. Kim was eyeing on a waist pouch but she didn’t get it in the end. Felt hungry and so went to the food court for lunch. There was some filming going on and so happened that the table we chose was close by.

Bought fish tikka rice and mountain dew and paid in Euro again coz I didn’t have enough AED. Mag had Japanese noodle and Kim had pad thai with soft drink. After eating, Mag went to the toilet again while I sat with Kim. She said the pad thai was good coz it was very spicy due to the chili padi. Sat and watched the filming and after Mag came out, we continued with the walking. Saw a souvenir shop and went in to browse. This time Kim and I bought a magnet and a set of coaster each and again we paid in Euro. Then we went to a shoe shop and Mag said she needs the toilet again and told us to go on ahead and meet her back outside the shoe shop later. Walked one round and went back to look for Mag but she wasn’t out yet. So I suggested to Kim to message Mag saying to message back once she’s done.

My lunch

Finally she came out and after a while we set off for Dubai Mall. Walked back to the station and were about the purchase the tickets from the ticket machine when Mag said that she wants to head back to the hotel. She asked Kim for the hotel name card and so Kim had to use her camera to take a snapshot of the card while I purchased two train tickets for AED13. Told Mag to message once she got back to the hotel and then we went our separate ways. While traveling on the train, there was a female staff in the cabin and she escorted a man to the next cabin. After a while, we realized that the cabin that we were in was only meant for women and children. Did I mention that sleeping on the train is prohibited? Yep, they have such a rule in Dubai and I was so impressed. Wondered aloud why Mag was having diarrhea coz all of us had the same breakfast and only realized that only Mag ate the grilled tomatoes.

Reached our destination, got out of the train and Kim said we could walk to the mall. But I saw the sign saying there was a shuttle service and so got out of the station and saw the bus. Asked the bus driver if it was a free shuttle service and only to find out that we need to get ticket. Saw Burj Khalifa and so took some photos before asking a man outside the station about the shuttle service. He directed us back into the station to get the ticket for the bus. Paid AED9 for two bus tickets and we bumped into the Tays on the bus. Got to Dubai Mall and we went our separate ways. Walked the Arab court where we saw many shops selling tailor-made abaya. Some with nice embroidery and some even have Swarovski crystals on them. We were tempted to get an abaya each but the price was too expensive. Headed straight to the end where the Dubai Fountain was and took some photos around the area before hiding back into the mall.

Burj Khalifa

Passed by Brunetti and I wanted to get ice cream. Kim who usually doesn’t eat sweet stuff also bought a single scoop of vanilla ice cream for herself while I bought a single scoop of strawberry cheesecake flavor ice cream. We stood and ate near the big aquarium. After we were done, we started walking around the mall. Popped into shops at random to look at things and there were simply too many shops in the mall. Saw another family of three: the parents and their son in the mall but was surprised that the other family of three consisting of the mother and two daughters weren’t together with them. We found a place to sit where Kim took out her camera and a blank piece of paper for me to draw the map of the hotel and write the address of the hotel.

Checkout the gold souk and I thought it was going to be a very big area with many gold shops but turned out that it was just a big area with many lanes line with two rows of shops and many were vacant. However, the decoration in the gold souk was nice and we took photos. Went into a LV shop coz Kim wanted to check the price of a bag and it turned out that it cost even more to buy LV bags in Dubai. Went into New Look and Kim managed to buy a pair of sandals. The shop didn’t accept Euro so we had to pool our AED for her payment. Then we went to the Kipling shop where I bought a pink sling bag and Kim bought a pink waist pouch. This time the shop accept Euro and the rate given was about 5.10.

Inside Dubai Mall Gold Souk

Mag messaged asking us to get her a 500ml bottle of water and a small bottle of cranberry juice. So went to the Galleria La Fayette Gourmet to get the water. Since the rest of us also need to drink so we bought a 1.5l bottle instead. However, we couldn’t find pure cranberry juice and so didn’t get that for her. It was evening and we wanted to see the Fountain show, therefore we walked towards the end of the mall where the fountain is. As we were on the top level and I saw a restaurant at that end and since we needed to eat dinner, I suggested to Kim that we dine in TGI Friday’s. I was surprised that she agreed to it so readily. We asked for window seats but only to realize that we would still be blocked. So I suggested to Kim that we move to the outdoor seats which offered a better view of the fountain.

I ordered a West Grouper while Kim ordered Sizzling Chicken and we had soft drinks each. The show started at 8pm to the music "Butterfly Lovers' Violin Concerto" and lasted about five minutes. My camera couldn’t take good night shots and so I took video instead. Our food came and we ate heartily while also chatting on and off. She talked about her work, how stressful she was, how bad her students were and so on. It wasn’t easy being a school teacher nowadays. 8:30pm came and the fountain show started again and this time with Michael Jackson’s "Thriller" and I took video of it too. Kim was surprised that each show comes with different music. There were some breeze and some water droplets fell on our faces and cameras.

The Dubai Fountain Show (P1) -
The Dubai Fountain Show (P2) -

Done with our food close to 9pm and we settled our bill. It cost a total of AED130, we paid in Euro and got back some change in AED. On the way to the cab stand, we checked out a shop that was having sale on some abaya. The designs weren’t fantastic and so we didn’t get in the end. It was only then I found out that Kim has the habit of getting national costumes of the places she visited. Went to the cab stand to queue for cab, got on to one and told the driver to go to Al Manar hotel. He lowered his window and started talking rapidly to the usher nearby. After a few minutes, we were told to get off the cab. We got off and stood there, didn’t know whether the usher would show us another cab or we have to get back to the queue. Finally one of the ushers flagged a cab for us and we told the driver our destination, we even showed him the map I drew. He took a few long looks of it and started driving.

As he drove, I was watching the meter and my heart was beating with the meter. We got caught with a few red lights and by the time the meter passed AED35, Kim and I started checking to see if we have enough AED. Calculated that we have about AED40+ and by the time the cab reached the area, the driver asked if that was our hotel, we said yes coz the surrounding was familiar. Alighted the cab after paying AED39 and we got a bit worried coz what Kim thought was our hotel was something else. After some searching, I saw the signboard of our hotel and we felt so relieve. As we didn’t have the room key, we had to press the doorbell hoping that Mag would open the door. She did and she seemed weak. Took out the water, she opened the cap and started gulping down water. Asked Mag how much she paid for her cab fare and she said it was about AED50. Kim was surprised but I reminded her that Mall of the Emirates is further than Dubai Mall from our hotel.

Showered, did some packing before hitting the bed only to wake up again about 2+am coz we had to be at the lobby by 4am to be picked up. The coach picked us up first before collecting the other two groups from the other two hotels. Reached the airport, checked in and Mag wanted to spend her AED. She had AED100+ left coz after she left the Mall of the Emirates station; she went to change another CHF20 worth of AED in case she didn’t have enough for cab fare. So popped into a shop and she bought some chocolates. As I still have AED1 left, I checked for things that I could get and in the end, I bought a pack of two-stick kit kat.

Soon it was time to board the plane and I watched a few movies so that I wouldn’t fall asleep coz I wanted to make sure I could sleep after I get back to Singapore. The plane landed about 7+pm and my sis came with her family to fetch me.

Thoughts: First time to Dubai and I went at the wrong time. Summer is too hot, next time I better go during winter which is from October to March. Didn’t go up Burj Khalifa and a good thing we didn’t make any reservations coz first it was too hazy to get a good view of Dubai and second, with Mag not feeling well, she could have wasted her AED100.

Next, it is better to change AED than to use foreign currencies in Dubai coz even though shops and restaurants may accept foreign currencies, the conversion rate that they use may not be favorable and also you may run the risk of the shops or restaurant not accepting foreign currencies.

Most of the female tourists seen in the shopping malls were dressed respectfully except a few who were in tubes or spaghetti straps but still covered up their legs or at least below knees. Some of them (I guess they were tourists) even wore the abaya, be it those wore over the top or just a drape over the clothes. I was so tempted to find something similar.

It is good that they have staff in metro stations to help tourists with the metro problems such as how to get tickets and which station to alight. Always remember to carry the hotel name card when exploring Dubai in case cab drivers don’t know the place.

The Dubai Fountain show is something not to be missed and is best to catch it from higher ground either during sunset or after dark.

No comments: