4th Mar, Dar Al Sondos, Dubai, UAE
Today was spent all over Dubai, courtesy of my good host =). I was chaffeured around the city. First to Dubai Mall, the largest around. I was left to wander for a bit inside the mall, to look around. And there was plenty to look at. Inside was of course every single conceivable shop you could think of. Besides window shopping, I also people watched. Besides tourists, which i think formed the majority of the people roaming around, there were also the local Emiratis, plus all the service and retail workers, many of whom were Filipinos. Other shop tenants were arabs, and many were of Indian or pakistani origin. Pretty much a cosmopolitan city, and in striking contrasts to the places i’ve been to. Here, the eastern, western, arabic worlds all meet and coexist together.
When i had enough of getting lost inside the mall, which includes a fountain, aquarium and an ice skating rink. I made my way just outside to the promenade leading to Souk Al-Bahar. From here, you could get the best views of the Burj Khalifa, the talling building in the world.
Later in the afternoon, i made my way to the Mall of The Emirates. By then, i was pretty mall-saturated and just relaxed with a Costa Coffee. Oh, and Ski Dubai, the indoor ski park, is located here.
In the evening, we went down to Mina Al-Salam, a really upmarket hotel, with room corridors that stretched on and on and on. Next was the Madinat Jumeirah, with bars, lounges, under fantastic dim lighting, with the buildings in a consistent architecture that evokes the old arab souqs. Inside is a shopping area, made to look like a traditioanal indoor souq. It is pretty upmarket here, with the twin hotels, and i must say, a fantastic ambience.
Then i was whisked to the Palm Jumeirah, that patch of land made to resemble a palm stretching outwards into the sea. Yes, its great to travel by car and having our own guy to drive us around, instead of taking a bone jarring bus on bumpy roads. Ok, back to the Palm. It was mostly residences, but at the last frond of the palm was Atlantis. Yes, Atlantis, which happened to be the site of a really posh, (even more posh!), hotel and shopping area. The highlight was a huge see through aquarium, more than 10 meters high. Inside were all manner of pelagics. From reef sharks, spotted and black mantas, barracudas, a whale (!!) and a host of other fishes that i could not identify. It was pretty awesome, like diving without the need to get wet.
Then i’ve got to mention this one ice cream place, Cold Stone Creamery. Just because of the way the staff do their business. They toss the ice cream in the air, throw ice cream around, dance with brooms, and in general are having a load of fun while they work. It reminds me of Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle. And the smoothie i had was good too!
From there we went to JBR, Jumeira Beach Residences, which is located by the beach and is a stretched of eateries and restaurants, where the yuppies hang out. It was pretty late by this time, but the place (it was thursday night, the start of the weekend here) was packed. Everyone was out in full force. Nice (and i mean nice!) cars, well dressed expats, fashionable locals, just having a drink and socialising.
Pretty much covered most of Dubai today, definitely a lot more than if i had been traveling around by metro myself.