I learnt something about myself during this trip. I’ve always been someone who couldn’t do anything by myself. I couldn’t even eat alone. There have been times when I’ve stayed hungry rather than eat alone. Yep, I was that bad. Therefore, when I decided to do this solo trip, I wasn’t sure that I could go through with it. I just booked my tickets on an impulse. I didn’t spend all the days alone, but the ones that I did I was fine. I didn’t mind doing things on my own. In fact, I loved it. I had no itinerary planned. Just did things on the fly. Which is a very rare thing for me to do. This was the perfect place for me to try doing the solo thing as well, as it is very safe. Even all alone, late at night, in a crowded metro, I felt safe. I think what made it easy was the fact that though this was not my country, it still didn’t feel too strange, like I was in a foreign country, as everywhere I went I saw a lot of Indians and heard Hindi being spoken. Another thing was that the people there were very helpful, right from the metro staff, cops, shopkeepers or any random stranger on the street!
Model of a Dhow at Dubai Museum
Juxtaposition of the old and new – The moderns Sky scrappers against the Dhows of the olden days.
I decided to do the touristy thing and try out the hop on hop off on the first day. Picked Big Bus tours. I bought the 1-day classic ticket priced at $70 online. It also included a Dhow cruise. Frankly, the cruise was a bit of a bore. However, it was a nice way to get a feel of the city. I thought I’d check the city out and come back on another day if anything caught my fancy. The tour had three lines. Red line – city tour. It takes you to the Dubai Museum and the various souks (Old, gold & spice). Green Line – beach tour. Covers the Jumeira beach, Burj Al Arab and Souk Madinat. Blue – Marina Tour. This was my favourite. It was a tour of the marina area along the walk, beach, and promenade. It also covered the Palm Jumeira. Loved the marina area. Thought I’d go back but couldn’t.
Jumeira Beach – spend a lazy evening unwinding at Jumeirah Beach. The beach is extremely crowded throughout the day. If you’re lucky, you might have a stretch of the beach all to yourself – stick around till sunset, it is spectacular.
The Burj Khalifa is a skyscraper in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. With a total height of 2,722 ft and a roof height (excluding antenna) of 2,717 ft, the Burj Khalifa has been the tallest structure and building in the world since 2008.
There is an outdoor observation deck, named At the Top, n the 124th floor. At 1,483 ft, it was the highest outdoor observation deck in the world when it opened. The Burj Khalifa Tower has the longest single running elevator, which is 140 floors. The elevators go 10 meters per second and are among the fastest in the world. It took us approximately only one minute to reach the observation deck on the 124th floor. What a sight it was! You could see most of the city from there. I could literally sit there for hours, crowds or not, and listen to the clatter of so many different languages being spoken while enjoying the view.
To avoid the daily rush of sightseers, you can purchase tickets in advance for a specific date and time. I bought tickets online but I reached early and was allowed to enter. The ticket price start at 135 AED. The price goes higher as it gets close to the sunset. When the tide is low and visibility is high, people can see the shores of Iran from the top of the skyscraper.
Sunset from the Burj
Had to rely on kind strangers to take pics!
The Dubai Fountain, located at the base of the Burj Khalifa, is illuminated by 6,600 lights and 50 coloured projectors. It is 900 ft long and shoots water 500 ft into the air, accompanied by a range of classical to contemporary Arabic and other music. It is the world’s second largest choreographed fountain. I reached it after the descent from the observation deck so couldn’t really get a good spot for pictures. But, the choreography and the music was amazing. Definitely one of the must see things in Dubai.
The Dubai Dolphinarium is a fully air-conditioned indoor dolphinarium, providing habitat to dolphins and seals, allowing the public to watch and interact with them through live shows and photo sessions. Priced at AED 105 (The 11 AM show is priced at 75 AED, so picked that), the show runs for 45 minutes and is really worth the money spent. Located inside the huge Creek park, it is accessible by Dubai Healthcare city metro station (with a 10 minute walk). Only hiccup here was, although I had bought the tickets online, I had to buy an additional ticket to enter the creek park, which was priced at 25 AED.
It was my first experience seeing a dolphin show. You get to be really up close with the dolphins and the seals. Avoid the first three rows for seating unless you want to get splashed on. The highlight of the show for me, was seeing the Dolphins hold paintbrushes in their mouths and paint some abstract on waterproof paper. Some of the performances presented were excellent especially where the trainers floated in speed on the dolphin’s nose. It was a really good entertaining show and demonstrated the intelligence of the dolphins and seals as well as the dedication of their trainers.
Can’t talk about Dubai and not talk about the Malls. The Dubai mall & Mall of Emirates just defy words. The famous Dubai Mall is located at the base of Burj Khalifa and is one of the biggest malls you will visit. With everything from a food court to hundreds of stores there are few things you’ll miss that they don’t have here! You will need more than a day to go through everything this mall has to offer. It has something for everyone and it is easy to get lost if you aren’t well organized. I did. It was one of the points in my hop on hop off tour. I stepped in to grab a bite and it took forever to get out.
Another thing that you notice about Dubai is the heavy constructions that’s going on. Everything from roads to buildings. They are gearing up for the expo 2020. The hope is that it will contribute to economic opportunities like new business generation and job creation across the region.
If you’re an adventurer at heart, you must go dune bashing in Dubai. A number of companies conduct tours (we booked a private operator so it was a bit personalized and longer than the usual tours). Once in the desert, the tyres of the vehicle are deflated, and that’s when the real fun begins. Dune bashing is definitely not for the squeamish at heart. I’ve always been afraid of roller coasters, traffic, driving fast on the road so was really apprehensive about trying out the dune bashing. But, Oh my God, what an experience it was. We went on a 35 minute drive and it was exhilarating. I wasn’t afraid. I don’t really know what it was… Confidence in the driver, no traffic or just high on life and just living my best life. The twists & turns, driving on the dunes at a 45 degree angle is quite a dizzying experience but I just loved it.
With this, I ended my trip. This trip was one of the most rewarding, refreshing & inspiring moments in my life so far. It was one of my best trips. I did not want to leave. I think this was the first time after a trip that I had this feeling. I wasn’t even aware of how much I craved my own company. I was alone with my thoughts, was able to take in the sights, sounds in a more real way, and soak up little things that I may not have recognized otherwise. It was empowering to be in my own company and the ability to plan every detail of the trip without someone else’s input was pretty great, too!