Having booked our flights over a year prior on the new Emirates / Qantas partnership flying directly out of Adelaide, we arrived in Dubai on Thursday May 2nd 2013. Be booked two nights accommodation in the hope we might be able to spend some time with our dear friend Andrew. Our first impressions were mixed. Yes it was very hot (even at 5.00am). The first car I saw was a porsche. Our ‘met on arrival’ process involved at least four people and the car was very flash indeed. Our hotel (Ascot) was one of those deals where you pay for the cheaper room and can use the facilities (pool, sauna etc) of the flash one but, it was in the old part of town. Definitely not the ‘top end of town’ although rates were about the same. The only bonus was a free early morning check in, which landed us in a smoking room on the ‘smoking floor’ of the dodgey part of the hotel (complete with the dodgiest Irish pub in town ‘waxy’s’ according to a local).
Being too tired to think straight and not yet having any means of communication we dropped our bags in the room and walked around the block. By now it was about 7am and uncomfortably hot. We seemed to be in a ‘computer district’ and there were a whole bunch of people carrying shopping bags that looked like they would contain electronic gadgetry. The people on their way to work seemed to be mostly from India. Our Telestial SIM card burst into life and we were able to get in touch with our friend Andrew who gave us a few suggestions on things to see and an invite to his church the following day (Friday).
We took Andrew’s advice and used taxis instead of booking on one of the circular bus tour things. This worked out well and it was quite cheap to get to the places we wanted to see – like the famous Dubai Mall with it’s rather fancy fountain. It was almost deserted by the time we got there and we treated ourselves to an american hamburger at an empty Johhny Rocket franchise followed by a look at the aquarium.
By the time we got back to the Hotel, a non-smoking room was available and we changed rooms with a minimum of fuss – phew. We then took a short walk down to the Dubai Creek and caught a Abra over to the spice souk (market) on the other side.
We walked a bit too far then lost the will to live searching for a supermarket for some brekkie cereal and instant noodles. Finally found one & staggered back to find that we had no kettle with which to prepare the noodles. Had one beer at the very smelly Irish pub and went to bed.
Next morning we grabbed a cab to the ‘Madinat Jumeirah’ and enjoyed a fantastic breakfast looking at the Burj Al Arab then wandering the resort shops. A very short cab ride took us to the convention centre at another very flash hotel where our friend’s church meets. That was quite an interesting experience with heaps of ex-pats working in Dubai. We even met the Emirates pilot who flew our plane from Adelaide!
Next we enjoyed a wonderful lunch at an even flasher resort followed by a wonderful cruise out of the Palm marina in his boat. The feel from out on the water on a Friday was awesome. We jumped overboard and sat in the clean, safe water surrounded by locals and ex-pats having fun boating & skydiving around us for about two hours catching up on our respective life journeys. Something I will always remember fondly.
Feeling adventurous, we grabbed a metro to the Dubai Mall so we could check out the fountain again (they say it is better at night). In stark contrast to our Thursday morning visit, the place was packed – we saw the blasted fountain the joined an uncomfortably long queue for a cab back to the hotel. Slept well, off at the crack of dawn for our flight to Paris.