"Princes, Paupers and everyone else" Dubai by sirgaw
Dubai Travel Guide: 3,632 reviews and 9,943 photos
We arrived at the ultra-modern Dubai International Airport and somehow managed to clear customs and immigration - then we met the representatives for the travel company who had arranged our accommodation, breakfasts and transport to and from hotel and airport.
Like sheep we were herded out of the too-cold air-conditioning and for the first time hit the heat and humidity of the middle east in summer. It was 3.15am and the temperature was still 35 degrees and sooooo humid. I could almost feel the sweat starting on my little toes.
We were in a covered area for taxis, buses and limos and the exhaust fumes from all the vehicles kept running to keep their interiors too cool added to the overbearing atmosphere. We were shown to our mini-bus and the smiling bus driver took our baggage and asked us to get into the bus and wait - then the bus aircon hit us like a blast of freezing from the north or south pole. There was a wait while other passengers needed to clear formalities, so I joined the various drivers for a smoke and a chat. There was a gold braided Indian driver who was the chauffer for the super expensive Burj Al Arab hotel and he had a stretched Rolls Royce. Lolling around was a street kid - maybe aged 12 - wearing a bright red tee shirt that read "I f**k everything I kill" I just hoped he did not understand the meaning of the slogan.
Finally into the St George Hotel and hit-the-hay at about the same time the loud speaker system from a nearby Mosque called the faithful for the first of the prayers for the day. As they arrived for the service, we were just getting to sleep - suppose its called jet lag
We woke up late and what the hotel called it lunch, we called it breakfast - orange juice, hamburgers too big to eat and then coffee - lots of it to try and get our heads into Dubai time. We were met shortly after by the representative of the tour company and arranged to do 2 tours - a dune dinner safari and an orientation tour of Dubai city. As we only had limited time in Dubai the tour of the city was to be our last day before flying out at 2 am. It was suggested that after the dune dinner safari we would need a good clean up before getting to the airport - we heeded the local advise and so arranged for the city tour to be on our last day in the country.
That first afternoon and evening we wanted to go the Mall of the Emirates and do a bit of shopping that time and cartage had been a problem on our 2 months in Europe - and besides, my shopper-a-holic other half needed to be pacified. It had been suggested that we should go across the Dubai Creek by water taxi and then catch a taxi from there to the Mall - "saving money," said the tour company rep, but first we had to stock up on some of the local currency - called the Dirhams - which we nick-named 'Dramas.' The hotel doorman directed us to a building some 50 metres away where we could find an ATM and so for the first time we experienced the real heat and humidity of Dubai in the daytime. We really could not understand how anyone could do any out door work in the stifling conditions and leant that it was part and parcel of the lowest paid strata of society who just had to get out there and do it - or be deported and replaced by one of thousands eager to take their place - seemed very harsh and I know the Australian union movement would dearly love to try and help out those who are economic slaves - maybe I shouldn't be commenting on the politics of another country!
The ATM spat out large notes and we just knew that the water taxi operator would baulk at a 100 Dirham note, so the hotel reception assisted with change - then the friendly hotel doorman offered to get us a normal taxi for the ride to the Mall - "No thanks, we'll go by water taxi then catch a cab from the other side of the creek."
"Why would you want to do that?" He really could not understand that we were trying to save money and we did - about 3 Dirhams and all of $A1. "We could buy a couple of oil wells," I later told him. The Mall of the Emirates is huge (see separate tip) and was worth the average of 47 Dirhams each way by cab. Dinner in the food court of the Mall and then a very fast - too fast - taxi ride back to the hotel
The following day we just couldn't keep away from the shopping centres and went to another - Al Ghurair City. Not as big as the Mall of the Emirates, however we saw some of the local fashion for both males and females and were fascinated. We returned to the hotel just in time to be picked up for the dune safari (click on travelogue below "Sand dune safari") and returned late that evening to get the sand and sweat out of our clothes and hair - a great day.
Last day in Dubai and because of a late flight slept in as late as we could. After breakfast I tried to play cricket in the hotel foyer with the Indian doorman and got asked to stop by the hotel security - some people don't seem to have a sense of humour - LOL We just had time to pack and check out prior to pick up for the Dubai city tour.
The tour company hires limo drivers and their vehicles to ferry passengers from their hotels to the departure point for their tours, so we got to see the luxury side of accommodation at the Hyatt Hotel compound where we were joined by a couple who we'd prefer had travelled with someone else. Obviously very wealthy, they constantly talked over our driver who was trying to give us a running commentary - there should be lessons handed out in how to say "Shut Up" and not cause a war of words.
The bus departure point was a dusty paddock almost in the shade of the Burj Al Arab Hotel and contained a Pakistani restaurant that served lunch to men only. It seemed to be frequented by cab and bus drivers and nearby construction workers in their dirty sweat laden overalls - some difference in the price of that cafeteria and the 7 star hotels nearby - we constantly saw the contrasts between the haves and the have nots while in Dubai.
Our tour lasted about 3 hours and took in the best of Dubai and finished after crossing the Dubai Creek by water taxi almost at our hotel at the famous gold and spice souk. Time to get to another air-conditioned mall, dinner and then some more window shopping before returning to our hotel for a midnight pick up and the short trip back to the airport and the conclusion of our 2 months away.
Great fun - and if you'd like to read up on the afternoon and evening outing that we enjoyed - well most of it, please... more travel advice
The are 50 well presented, highly trained Pink taxis now operating in Dubai staffed by ladies for ladies. Price is the... more travel advice
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