Last June, I flew to the UAE to watch my first ever concert, the MDNA Tour 2012 and found myself in the very cosmopolitan city of DUBAI. Though the concert was to be held in Abu Dhabi, we stayed in Dubai because 1) we had more friends to visit there and 2) the accommodations recommended to us was located there.
|HELLO DUBAI! I almost got tackled by airport security because I was taking this shot. Hihi.|
We stayed at a place called Al Raya Hotel Apartments and they have very affordable rooms that can be good enough for at most, 10 people! It doesn’t exactly have the five-star hotel treatment, but it’s just right for what you’re paying for. If I remember correctly, the charge per unit per day was 750AED. There were three of us sharing the unit, which had two rooms, a kitchen, three bathrooms and a huge living room (where you could probably throw a house party!) Everything was fully furnished, including the kitchen, which had plates, glasses, pots, pans, an oven…the works! But it also meant no room service for us; just a cleaning crew who went in during the day to fix things up. If you’re ever interested in this hotel, just let me know and I can forward some emails.
|With my good friend and fellow Toastmaster, TM James.|
|My corner of the unit at Al Raya Hotel Apartments.|
ANYWAY, this post is about my visit(s) to Dubai...particularly Dubai Mall. I was there almost everyday of my stay in Dubai, I swear I could have lived there instead. It was so accessible to where I stayed in and it was so freakkin’ HUGE. And fabulous. (But then again, everything in UAE was huge and fabulous). Gosh, there are so many reasons why you shouldn’t miss out on this mall when you visit…Where do I even begin?
|The Waterfall. One beautiful spot inside Dubai Mall. LOVE IT!|
Okay for starters, it’s a total no brainer: The Burj Khalifa. It’s protruding right smack in middle of the city center and with it being the tallest building in the world right now, visiting the Dubai Mall is the most affordable way to have a closer view at it. Probably even a photo.
|Taken with just my iPhone.|
|Of course, we couldn't bend enough to capture everything all the way to the top. :P|
|In front of the dancing fountains. Catch in during night time for best results!|
|Somebody tell me the name of this building...Hehe. ;)|
If you want to go inside the Burj Khalifa itself, you may want to try the At The Top experience, which may cost you anywhere from 100-400AED. Check out their website for more info.
There’s also the Dubai Aquarium, which is this amazing indoor aquarium with an underwater tunnel for you to enjoy. You would definitely have to marvel at how they were able to build such a structure filled with all these sea creatures! Amazing!
|Inside the Aquarium's Underwater Tunnel.|
|My first time to see a live penguin! :)|
Then for me, there’s Bloomingdales. If you’re a FRIENDS fan like me and have never been able to tote a big brown bag, they’ve got it at Dubai Mall and it’s so much fun! Saw these lil’ pink babies too.
They also have the Magnolia Bakery, which is notorious for their cheesecakes! Guess what I ordered for take out from this famed New York City gem of a bakery.
|Inside is a succulent red velvet cheesecake. But because it was for take out, I couldn't get a picture that would do it justice.|
Speaking of sweets, there’s also Cold Stone Creamery, which is also a dream come true for me. I only saw it in photos before but when I was there, I finally had my chance to taste it. Unfortunately, nothing too special… except that their ice cream is prepared “funkily” (meaning with matching dance/bartender moves) on a cold granite stone.
You also should not miss a chance to hit the Reel Cinemas. Lush, comfy and state-of-the-art! I was able to catch the "Avengers" days before it evaporated off from the big screen. :P
On one of my nights in Dubai, I met up with some of my college friends who were already based there. We ate at a hip, dimsum place called Ping Pong. If you're up for some delicious Edemame beans and nonstop dimsums, look for that place. I'd recommend it!
|With my blocmates from UPLB, BACA 2002. L-R: Isabel, Moi and Jaizle.|
It was amazing meeting old friends in a different country! Knowing that we all shared a chunk of our history together was heartwarming as we shared stories of how our lives panned out. We even chanced upon anohter batchmate of ours towards the end of our evening who happens to be an FA for Qatar Airways now...special shoutout to the lovely and artistic, Tasha B! Muah! It was awesome seeing you there!
|That evening, I spent a couple of more minutes adoring the Burj Khalifa.|
|And on my last afternoon...I still stared at it again.|
I may have seen the Burj Khalifa more than one trip to Dubai should muster, but really, everything about that city's infrastructure (and societal habits) amazed me. It really dawned on me how far away Riyadh has to go before they can achieve what I was seeing and feeling right there, sitting outside a cafe, sippin' on some iced tea and mesmerizin' at the buildings, the surroundings and the people. It would be an understatement to say that it was in that moment, on the promenade halls of Dubai Mall that I found myself falling in love with Dubai. It is seriously inches away from how much I love Riyadh, and deep inside, I found myself wishing that Riyadh can be something like this too someday.
Dubai was dynamic, urban and really gave you a sense of independence. Though I am sure there are known advantages and disadvantages living there as compared to living in Riyadh, but I just wanted to put it out there. Considering that I haven't even visited Abu Dhabi thoroughly just yet! Haha.
As for Dubai Mall, which what this post should be about (:D). It is EONS away from the kind of malls that we have here. I particularly featured some of the stores/sights that we don't have in Riyadh so that you can see the difference, but really, what I have posted here is only a "katiting" (miniscule) of the truly wide array of shops, sights and services that you'd find there. One whole day would not have been enough to justifiably feature Dubai Mall. Consider this then as a peek through a peephole! :)
Anyway, that's all for my Dubai report. I am definitely going back there!!!
Up next in our travel diaries would be Sampaguita Pride's tour of the European Union just last month!
'Til then dear readers...