Incredible Dubai

Trip Start Feb 19, 2010
Trip End Apr 27, 2010

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Flag of United Arab Emirates  ,
Thursday, April 22, 2010

OK, here we are in Dubai...such a contrast with South East Asia!!! Everything in new Dubai is luxurious, sparkling and expensive. We found ourselves an appartement, much cheaper than a hotel, with lots of place (about 120 sqm). Arrived at 4:30am but luckily could check in right away and slept until 9:00....then went shopping!!!!!! There are like thousands of malls, all bigger and nicer than the others, incl. the biggest mall in the world (everything in Dubai is about being the biggest, nicest, most luxurious, tallest, etc...). 95% of the shops in the mall were way over our price range, which made it easy enough to shop!!!!!! The Dubai mall has its own huge aquarium inside the main hall with sharks, rays, can even go bottle diving in there!!!! Bought lots of delicious (and expensive, of course) dates to bring home. From there we went up one of the 21 elevators bringing us to the top of the tallest building in the world, of course, the Burj Dubai. 828 meters high and a beautiful view on the Gulf and the city! You don't really feel the speed in the elevators but once you are up there it's a bit shaky...Why make such a high building when like 2 km further there is nothing but desert????? Just to be able to say...we have the tallest one, lalalalère! That's about the spirit of new Dubai!! It's like Mickey Mouse Country for rich adults!!! The malls are full of Burka clad heiresses and rich expats shopping all day long, cause there is nothing else to do there on an everyday basis!!! Once you have done the tourist stuff (desert, water parks, etc...) there's nothing left. Can't even walk around in the new city, it's not nice, living there much be sooooo boring (says a professional shopper!!!!!). Anyway, found ourselves a delicious lebanese restaurant for dinner and went to bed quite early. 
Next day, after preparing a pic nic for lunch, we are off to Wild Wadi ( one of those crazy waterparks. It was located right in front of the Burj Al Arab, the one and only six star hotel in the world. Every room comes with its private butler...weren't allowed in to have a look!!!! I guess we didn't look much like the average guests there!!!! Pic nics were not allowed at the pool and we had to leave our stuff at the Lost and found (in a fridge, though!!!). At lunch time we got out of the pool park to have our pic nic but couldn't find a nice shady place to sit down...ended up in an airconditionned bus shelter!!!!!! Went back to the pool where Mathilde and Michael went down a slide at 80km/h....Had a great day at the pool!
Next day we decide to see some of the "real" Dubai...only 5% of people living in Dubai are real Emiratis, the rest are expats and "cheap"labor, mostly Iranians and Pakisanis. Very nice, smiling and helpful people! The old Dubai is just another world! Gold, souk, spices souk, etc...old boats on the Dubai Creek, very Arabian compared to the new Dubai that has no soul. In the afternoon we end a mall!! The Emiratis Mall, with its indoor ski slopes!!!!! So outside it's like 38°c and in the ski "resort" it's minus 4°c. So you're walking in the mall and suddenly come up to huge floor to ceiling windows...The girls glued their faces to the huge windows and couldn't believe that just on the other side people were sledging and skiing...all with the same outfits, rented at the entrance! Soooooo ridiculous! Had difficulties convincing the girls that it would be dumb to go in there!!! Didn't check the entrance fees but must have been unpayable!!! We went to the supermarket (Carrefour), of course 5 times bigger than any Carrefour in France, to buy breakfast stuff!  Another day full of contrasts!
Next day Michael is going for a 40 minutes flight over Dubai and makes tons of pictures. Dubai is most interesting seen from above, the Palms, the World, the buildings, etc...Speaking of the buildings, all constructions have stopped, not a single crane is more money! The locals are quite happy, it's quieter, less noise!!! In the afternoon we go on a desert tour, very touristic thing but king of the only way to really see the desert. We get in a 4x4 and head to the desert. Have to stop at the entrance in order to decrease the pressure in the tires and then go what they call dune bashing....well, it's worth all the rides in Europa Park, Six Flags and Disney combined!!!!!! It is so much fun. They just drive like crazy over the dunes, half toppling over once in a while, sliding sideways in the sand etc...The desert is just beautiful. The red sand dunes are all around, just unimaginable that a whole city has been built on that! It is just a shame that all sorts of junk lays around. You get high fines for littering, so the tourists are careful...apparently it's more the locals who leave their junk behind after parties, etc.. 
The Emiratis were originally Bedouins, living in the desert but even the ones not sharing the local wealth are now sedentarised. They still have camels all over the place for their milk, meat and racing! 
After the dune bashing we get to a kind of camp (very Disney World style!) in the desert where several activities are offered : camel rides (Amélie went like 10 times!!!), henna tattoes, sandboarding (snowboarding on the dunes), belly dancing etc...the girls loved it and I must say, eventhough very touristic, it was lots of fun!
Last day we decide to go to another of those water parks..Atlantis it is called, at the end of the Palm Jumeirah. Theres a slide where go through a huge aquarium, so you're sitting on your tube, admiring rays, fishes and sharks...just great! Lots of fun slides! 
At night we go for our very last dinner...everybody is now very conscious that tomorrow night we are sleeping in our own beds..the girls are looking forward to seeing their friends but Michal and I would be ready to travel 3 more months...we could....the girls are not going to be missed at school...but well, it has to end some time anyway! So we get a great dinner in a nice place along the river with cozy big cushions  and nice little lanterns everywhere , a little 1001 nights style. We order a strawberry shisha (water pipe) for dessert...even the girls are allowed to try, Amélie likes it a little too much....
Now we have to get back and pack our bags for the last time....pffff, not fun. Didn't think it would be so hard going back home. It's a strange feeling, not like coming back from a vacation. Somehow when you go on vacation you know that in two or three weeks you get back, but when you go so long you lose track of time and reality (at least our reality) and just live along, your only worry (actually more Michael's) being where ad what to eat tonight!!! It feels like yesterday that we went and on the other hand it feels like a lifetime...can't imagine who people travelling for a year or more feel when it's time to go back home. Met several families with children travelling for 12 to 18 months! I don't know how they do it, budgetwise....they most probably don't stop in Dubai!!!! We calculated that our 5 days in Dubai were as expensive as our 4 weeks in Laos!!!!!!!!! But it as worth it, seeing it!
Anyway, I guess this is my last entry....until I start our new blog, probably in 2012 (need to save money!!!!!!!!).


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