Sunday, July 3

Dubai, Day One: Strangers In Foreign Lands

In theory, night flights are extremely practical. You get to sleep through six hours of relative discomfort, saving your waking hours for your final destination. And since I was only spending six nights in Dubai (and the two friends I was traveling with, five), we figured that a night flight was pretty much necessary for us to maximise our time there.

The snag, of course, is that no one can ever really get any sleep on a plane - well not any of any quality anyway. Luckily for me, I got two and a half seats to myself and managed to lie down for a bit so I probably fared better than my companions. But it was clear that we'd need some kind of bedrest when we reached our hotel in Dubai.

So we checked in at around 11am excited with the new surroundings and our hotel room. We stayed in a three star in Al-Nasir Square, figuring that since the three of us were manly guys that we could rough it, but it turns out that the hotel was more than adequate. I'd recommend it if anyone needs a place to stay in Dubai.

A few hours of sleep later we made ready to go and check out what we could of Dubai. Before this, we needed lunch, and since it was my friends' first foray into a land of Halal McDonald's, we decided to treat ourselves to that. Mmm, Big Macs. I also took delivery of a local SIM card for my mobile, which turned out to be the key to making my holiday. For someone who hardly uses his mobile, it's amazing how liberating one is.

Armed with a tourist guide (plus map) and a list of things my uncle told me to go see, we then headed off to Bur Dubai and the sole museum that Dubai had to offer. We caught an abra across the creek, a crowded water taxi that cost us half a Dirham each to use (oh, and by the way, there are around 6.5 UAE Dirhams, or AED, to a Pound).

While we were on the west side of the creek we also (unbeknown to us) checked out Mina Bazaar (which took us around 20 minutes instead of the two days it would have had we had our mothers with us), a couple of mosques, and the general atmosphere of Dubai. To be honest we all began to start having reservations about the place and what, if anything, it had to offer - especially my mates who didn't have the main objective of attending a wedding during the trip. Having said that, I liked the museum even if they didn't.

On the way back we found ourselves wondering through Dubai's famous Gold Souk (or market), a street full of gold shops. After a brief meeting with my expat cousin who works there, we decided to call it a night (it was around 11pm at this point), find something to eat, and go to bed. My cousin recommend a Chinese called "Golden Fork" (which, frankly, should have been enough of a warning anyway) so we went and ordered the most oil soaked bunch of food we had ever seen. We are talking dripping like a sponge, here. We couldn't finish it (our arteries were already clogging up at this point), but it did serve as a warning that we had to be careful with our food; apparently this was the norm in Dubai.

And that was basically day one. Amazingly we had covered over a third of our list, vindicating our decision to take a night flight after all. The only problem was that we less than two third of things left to do...