Dubai ka Dil Dekho! (Part 1)


         The moment you land in Dubai, you are thrilled. The superfast metro that takes you out of the arrival hall to the baggage counters is your first adventure ride! For a first-timer to Dubai, a 'metro-ride' while still being at the airport gives a feeling of finally landing in a 'super-rich country'!

         It was pre-dawn. We had taken a late night flight from Mumbai (SpiceJet - mainly as it was one of the cheaper options and secondly we did not want to miss even a single day in Dubai!). After being whisked by our driver speaking fluent Hindi (again, for a first-timer, Hello?? Have I actually landed in another country or no?? Why is my driver speaking Hindi??) or actually a mix of Hindi and Urdu, (most drivers in Dubai are either from Pakistan or Bangladesh), we were dropped at our posh 5* hotel in Al Karama - 
Image result for park regis kris kin hotel dubai
Hotel Park Regis Kris Kin, Dubai
            Excitement overload! But, we were sleepy and dead tired! Alas, we did not have a room! I'll explain! It was 10th September, 4 a.m UAE time. Our check-in date & time was 10th September, 2 p.m! Ho gaya na problem?
        So the sweet receptionist at the counter tells us that we will have to pay the room charges for the night (or whatever was remaining of it!) What option did we have? Bye, bye half of the Dirhams that we were carrying! Who knew staying at a 5* star hotel cost so much?? 

Travel Tip No. 1 - If you have taken a late night flight from India, it is advisable to book your hotel room starting from the same night. (Even though you will be using it for only a few hours!) A better option will be to book at a low-cost hotel to save the dirhams!

          Day 1 - 

          Good morning, Dubai! A look outside the window told us that the hotel was located in a mainly residential area with a huge Indian population.




          We decided to take a walk in the nearby area. What we saw amazed us! Huge footpaths (bigger than the narrow gallies of Mumbai!) made walking a breeze. The temperature was around 34-35 degrees Celcius. Yet, being a desert, Dubai is dry despite being close to the sea. So no sweat! Thank God!

Travel Tip No. 2 - You will find a lot of eating options in Dubai, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. You can find South Indian, North Indian, Gujarati Thalis, Vada Pav (Yes!), Misal, Mediterranean, Italian, Mexican and all varieties. The price range depends on the kind of outlet (AC/ Non - AC) and the location. If you are not a very fussy eater and on a low-budget trip, try out the local shawarmas (they have vegetarian varieties with falafel). There are plenty of small eateries with good food. Avoid non-veg food in these small eateries. It is absolutely bland.

          Our walk in the afternoon sun took us to some local supermarkets like LuLu's Supermarket (a big hit with the local Indian population for the variety of Indian stuff that they keep), Day to Day supermarket (very cheap if you want to buy gift items) and TESCO supermarket.


                                                                              The biggest vegetables I've ever seen!

          The best part of the walk was the VVIP treatment you get as a pedestrian! Whenever you stop to cross the road, may it be a big one or small, the cars will stop to let you cross first! Every time they did this, we were amazed! It was unbelievable! After being treated as vermin in India, where every car driver thinks of himself as the king of the road and treats the pedestrian as an obstacle in his path (and vice-versa), this was too much to bear with! We started smiling and mouthing a 'thank you' to every driver who gave us a way. 
A push button to change the signal in case of emergency or any urgency to cross the road. Even found in many European countries, though hardly used by the locals.



Travel Tip No 3 - When in Dubai, cross the road only at the zebra-crossing. There are heavy fines (200 Dirhams) for crossing from anywhere else. Mind you there are CCTV cameras everywhere, plus their secret police roams in plain clothes and might catch you unawares. 

          The walk lasted for about three hours. We explored all the nearby shops. We checked out the prices of gift items, groceries, sports goods, but did not buy anything. It is advisable to keep the shopping for the last day as by that time you are well versed with the prices everywhere and more importantly you know how much forex remains with you.

Day 1 (Evening) - 

           Off to the first sight-seeing tour. Dhow cruise! A supposedly romantic cruise in the Dubai creek, overlooking the old and new Dubai. 
Old Dubai - Heritage village
The glitzy 'Dhows' - the word 'Dhow' was used for ships with one or two masts, mainly in the Arabian region.
         The cruise generally begins at 8.30 p.m and ends at around 10.30 p.m. Mostly managed by local Pakistanis, the cruise includes a belly dance show, magic show, and Tanoura dance show. Unfortunately for us, all this entertainment was missing as it was the eve of Eid and being a holy festival, it was a dry day in Dubai. A dry day in Dubai, it seems, is not just restricted to non-availability of alcohol but also of any kind of entertainment. 

        Dinner (included in the cruise bookings) is similar every time.
Starters - Mixed bhajji and dry Manchurian.
Main course - Salads, pasta/noodles, rice, dal, a veg gravy, bread/naan, a chicken dish 
Desserts - Bread pudding and mini cakes
Food is, as always, bland considering the different nationalities who are going to taste it for maybe the first time.

Travel Tip No 4 - UAE has only 3 main long holidays i.e. the 3 main Eids. Our holiday coincided with one of those - Bakri Eid. Hence, most of the attractions are either too crowded or closed. Make sure you plan accordingly. Thankfully for us, we did not miss anything as such except for the entertainment on Dhow cruise.

More of Dubai to come in the next blog in the series...
Till then, do leave your comments, questions and suggestions below!

Salaam!

Comments

  1. Wohhh jst a fabulous description abt dubai... Specially the travel tips which will be surely beneficial for first timers @ Dubai...cheers

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wohhh jst a fabulous description abt dubai... Specially the travel tips which will be surely beneficial for first timers @ Dubai...cheers

    ReplyDelete
  3. Fab Richa..relived my Dubai mini vacation while reading ur blog..n yes the respect that u get while crossing the streets is seriously unbelievable.. Even v kept saying thank u every time ..haha..

    ReplyDelete
  4. Awesome as always, Richa.. Travel tips need a special mention! Gonna be really useful for any first time traveller.. Awaiting the next one! Cheers :)

    ReplyDelete

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