Dubai – A Travelogue

My brother’s XII Board Exams got over mid March 2010 and the entire family was in dire need of a break. Dinner time discussions threw up a host of suggestions and finally a 4 day trip to Dubai was hastily chalked out. We left for Dubai on a Saturday evening to reach there around nightfall. Next morning, after a good night’s sleep, we officially started our sightseeing. The weather was just right as the oppressive summer temperatures had not yet kicked in.

The first thing that struck us was the sparkling cleanliness of the place. Littering attracts a hefty fine in Dubai and the result of its strict enforcement was evident in the litter free roads and public places. Dubai is truly the land of the wealthy as is evinced by the imposing infrastructure and towering skyline. Opulence is suggested not by loudness but by grandeur. It is an aesthetic display though, with shrubs of vivid colors lining the pavements, egg-shaped metro stations to elicit admiration and of course mosques, each one an architectural wonder.

Ignoring the well-intentioned suggestions given to us by the concierge to visit the Dubai Museum, we headed out to the Dubai Mall, the largest mall of the world. With 1200+ shops, it would have taken days to explore the entire mall; we only got a few hours. There is a huge aquarium spanning across three floors including an underwater viewing tunnel where you can see more than 33000 marine animals, including menacing looking sharks, swimming above you. There is also a viewing area where you can stand on a see-through floor and see the aquatic denizens swimming under your feet.

The same evening we went on the famous Desert Safari which started with around fifteen minutes of dune-bashing. On paper it is merely driving up and down the sand dunes in the desert in a land cruiser but reality begs to differ. As the driver happily guided his vehicle in all sorts of unimaginable twists and turns, that too with only one hand, we held on for dear life. In those fifteen minutes the vehicle was oriented in all directions except upright and when it slanted down sideways a huge dune, its wheels kicking up a veritable sandstorm, it felt as if we would topple over in an instant. But our shrieks and exclamations could provoke only a complacent grin from the driver and with good reason too; his expertise and control came from of years of experience. The view of the desert was absolutely stunning, miles of desolation stretching out in a beautiful yet cruel landscape. The safari also included dinner with succulent kebabs at a camp in the middle of the desert followed by a touch of the exotic provided by a belly dancer. All in all a delightful experience once the adrenaline from the dune bashing ebbed.

The following day we went to the Carrefour. This departmental store offers fabulous discounts and attractive deals; little wonder people soak in the ambience of the luxurious malls and then head over here for their purchases. A visit to a Gold Souk was not to be missed either. Basically an entire market dedicated to gold, it had all the gold items displayed like vegetables in an ordinary market. Finally Monday evening was spent in an hour-long leisurely dhow (Arabic sailing vessel) cruise.

We spent Tuesday, the last day of our trip, in visiting the beach, taking pictures of the Burj Dubai, where Andre Agassi and Roger Federer had played a promotional friendly match on the helipad and rambling in yet another mall. A buffet lunch at an Arabic restaurant was the icing on the cake. Food in Dubai was simply sumptuous with kebabs and desserts deserving a special mention. I would definitely recommend trying out Umm Ali, a bread pudding which is a delicacy in Dubai.

Finally, fed-up and fulfilled, in an awesome sense, we made our way back to good old Mumbai, but not before picking up chocolates, perfumes and other stuff at the airport duty-free stores. After all, Dubai is a shopper’s paradise and duty-free haven.

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