The City of Skyscrapers - Dubai

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The ground floor seems overcrowded and people were moving in a queue. At last, I managed to hop in a special elevator thinking what so special about it. There were 10 persons inside the elevator including my family members. Our faces were hardly visible, as there was no light inside except a small glowing blue streak. With a ’whoosh’ sound the elevator started moving upwards and I can sense the weightlessness within me. “Does everybody feels the same or it’s within me only”, I thought. There was a pin drop silence inside except the humming sound of one of the fastest moving lift in the world. Within one and a half minute we were at the top floor. “Welcome to Burj Khalifa”, I thought. The lift came to a halt now and the doors started to open.

But, I cannot see anything except darkness here. Then I felt the sound of an alarm which was increasing with time. “Is it a dream, I am still in Kuwait”, I woke up and kept the ringing alarm in silent mode. “Haa! Its looks like we have discussed a lot about Burj Khalifa and Dubai last night”, I told this to my family. My wife replied, “No more dreams now, today we are leaving for Dubai, in reality”. Then we started to finalize our packing.


“Finally!”, I thought, erstwhile 2-3-month events started floating in my mind as a movie scene. Me, my wife and our son along with my friend Prashant and his family had planned to visit Dubai.

“Pal! One of my friends had visited Dubai last year and took a package from an Indian tour operator for 3 nights and 4 days, I think that’s enough to cover all the attractions”, one of my friends suggested this during a discussion. Me and Prashant took inputs from everywhere and finally decided to do all the bookings by ourselves. “Bhai! We have everything online, just you name them and it is there. From Visa to hotel booking and every attractions are also having their online booking system, so why settle for less. Make it grand”, I smiled and told Prashant. Finally we agreed for 6 days Dubai tour covering Abu Dhabi for 1 day as well.


Now, the biggest hurdle was to plan this expedition. We researched a lot through many websites for hotels and attractions which includes TripAdvisor, TravelTriangle, Nivalink and Booking to name a few. We booked flights first, which was Kuwait airways, and then hotel booking was done. Earlier we were supposed to book the hotel in Bur-Dubai but later it was decided to go nearby Marina as this area was comparatively newer and we got the best deal for Hotel Atana (5 Nights - 6 Days, 02 rooms for KWD-350). We applied for Visa through ‘GDRFA’ in last week of January as only 1 month travel Visa is granted for an individual and we want to club our 02 days February Public holidays with this trip. Finally, the tickets for each attraction were booked by visiting the respective websites.

Day-1

09:30 hrs. - It was a bright morning. Kuwait airways flight KU-671 to Dubai was airborne on time. Through the clouds, refined sunrays were coming inside. My son had closed the widow lid and engaged himself in some inflight games. After some refreshments, I laid back on the stretched seat and tried to recollect all the travel information.

“Cabin crew prepare for landing”, I woke up suddenly after captain’s announcement. I observed that nose of the flight moved slightly up and then felt the humming sound of rear wheels coming out from the airplane’s body. This procedure is called as ‘flare’ in aerodynamics in which the aircraft maintains the approach attitude and rate of descent until touchdown. The rear wheels kissed Dubai’s ground first followed by the front wheel. Wing ‘Spoilers’ opened to reduce the speed of aircraft and after some time it was taxying smoothly towards the terminal gates.

After finishing all the Visa formalities we came out from the airport. It took almost 45 minutes to reach to our hotel. Check-in process was smooth and our rooms were allotted on the same floor. My watch was showing 13:30 hrs. and now we were starving. We decided to head straightaway to Dubai mall and take lunch there. I looked in my travel plan and today’s plan include Dubai mall, Burj Khalifa and Dubai Fountain. We already booked Burj Khalifa (At the top sky package) through their website which includes level 148 along with levels 124 and 125. There are many websites such as ‘getyourguide’ which provides combo tickets (like Burj Khalifa + Aquarium) in attractive prices and they are worth a try. It is advisable to book well in advance as there may be long queues for the tickets which anyone can avoid. We had 02 hrs.


left with us as our slot would commence from 17:00 hrs. so we decided to roam inside Dubai mall. “Never seen such a huge mall in my life, wonder how many days would it take for the complete visit”, I thought. There was so much to see and every luxury brand was epitomized here. The cluster of restaurants were amazing and all big names can be seen here. Free Wi-Fi was available everywhere and downloading the mall application is strongly suggested so that it can direct us, as we walk to our destination.

The Dubai Fountain, Burj Khalifa and Souk Al Bahar were all accessible from this Mall. Spending 02 hrs. in such a gigantic mall was just like a miniscule droplet in an ocean.

At 16:30 hrs. we started heading towards Burj Khalifa which was on the back side of Dubai mall. It is strongly recommended to arrive here 30 min before the slot timing as we need to queue, go through security and wait for the lift. It gets very busy around the weekends and sunset when all the lights are on. We reached the location at 16:45 hrs. and were accompanied towards a waiting hall to make groups. The priority area was nice for the VIPs which constitutes 148th floor group. We got a nice tutorial and speedy clearance from the logistics formalities. Along the way towards the lift there were numerous things to view such as facts, figures, pictures and videos related to construction of this iconic building. Our batch, constituting 10-12 persons queued outside the elevator and everyone was excited to go on the top of the world tallest building (2717 ft.). The lift arrived at ground floor and then it was just like a dream coming true. We were now heading towards 148th floor at a speed of approx. 35 Km/hr. At such a speed and height I can feel the pressure within my ears.

Once we reached the top floor we had a complimentary refreshment there. I feel that anyone should not miss the opportunity to go to the highest observation point in the world. Although it cost a little extra, but getting the VIP level 148 experience, we will never forget it. This was far apart from the atmosphere prevailing at level 124/125. Level 148 is unrushed, calm & relaxed. The views were spectacular and photographic opportunities were amazing. The staff was very helpful, but as anticipated all the gift items in official gift shops were slightly overly priced in my opinion.

We stayed there for about one and a half hour, witnessed the sunset and got splendid views of Burj Al Arab, Palm Jumeirah and Dubai City. Then we moved down to 125th floor where anyone can stay for unlimited time. The fountain show had started which was looking remarkable from the top floor. Floor 124 & 125 was also well organized with restaurants, restrooms and small souvenir shops. Here, we can immerse ourselves in VR lounge, can do a photo shoot with the professionals and spot the distant scenes with digital binoculars. Besides being the tallest building, definitely it was a major work of art with marvelous and lavish interiors and exteriors.







At 19:30 hrs. we came down near Dubai fountain which was operating in its full swing with feet thumping music. It was such a charm to watch these fountains twirling with rising and falling beats. Surrounding area was very much crowded and I am finding it difficult to take the photographs. These fountains were operating from 18:00 to 22:00 hrs. and if we want to witness this spectacular show it is advised to arrive 30 minutes before in order to get a good spot. We decided to do a boat ride there which cost AED 65 per person. We boarded on the wooden boat traditionally called as ‘Abra’ to enjoy the dazzling lights and astonishing views of the illuminations and reflections. We took many photographs there and concluded our tour at 22:00 hrs.

Day-2

Today’s itinerary includes half day Dubai city tour and Desert safari which we had already booked through ‘Dubai private tours’. During our planning phase we found many renowned operators such as Lama Tours, ABC tours, Traveco, Alpha tours etc. but after seeing the reviews we decided to go with Dubai private tours which was a precise decision. At sharp 08:30 hrs. Our vehicle Nissan Patrol arrived inside the hotel premises. The driver was very well spoken and he had complete information about Dubai. In 04 hrs. we covered Jumeirah Mosque, Jumeirah Beach, Hotel Atlantis, Burj-Al Arab, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Creek, Deira Towers, Dubai Museum and Spice souk. We didn’t went to gold souk as similar location is already there in Kuwait. Water taxi (abra) ride towards spice souk was an amazing experience. One should not miss Dubai museum and must be a part of their rich culture and heritage which was showcased there.





As we have to gear up again for Desert safari which was scheduled at 15:00 hrs. it was decided to go back to hotel and take lunch there. At 15:45 hrs. We were speeding through the highways towards the camp which was around 80-90 km from Dubai. Normally shared tour cost between 100-150 AED while private costs 175 - 300 AED. Our private tour was around 1350 AED for 04 adults and 02 kids. We stopped near a big farm for refueling and vehicle inspection before heading for sand bashing. Meanwhile we had enjoyed quad bikes for half hour at an additional cost of 150 AED. At 17:00 hrs. we were back in our 4 X4 vehicle and ready for some action.





We never ever imagined to have such a fun once we reached the sand dunes. It was a bit scary sometimes but altogether we had a blast definitely. Our talented driver drove the vehicle at some bizarre angles, I thought any moment we were going to roll over even though our vehicle was equipped with roll bars. We forgot the best roller coaster rides we ever had while we were going up & down the sand dunes at such a thrilling speed. There were lots of screaming and laughter inside but we never felt unsafe. We stopped at a view point and took ample photographs there. It was truly a spectacular experience to watch the sun set in desert. After 30 min of the best bit of amusement we had in ages, we went to a Bedouin camp.





The sunset, camel ride and simply sitting on cushions in the desert sand under open clear sky gazing the stars was an experience in itself. There was an entertainment show which consists of two dances, one by a male (Tanoura Dance) and the other by a female (Belly Dance). There were other opportunities such as shisha, henna, tattoos, photo in traditional Arabic dress, falcon on your shoulder etc. waiting to be explored. The buffet dinner had a nice variety of veg and non veg items and it was really scrumptious. The barbeque portion of the meal was pretty delicious though.

After such an eventful evening experience we were ready to be driven back towards the city.

Day -3

“You know, Dubai Miracle Garden has its name in world records”, I informed everybody at the dining table during our breakfast. “Which places are we covering today”, my son asked. With a smile I said, “you will come to know within the course of time”. Today we had planned to visit Dubai Miracle and Butterfly Garden which was almost 15 km from our Hotel. One nice thing about Dubai is public transportation. They have Metro, city buses and ample amount of shared & private taxis. Our taxi took 60 AED for Dubai miracle garden and we reached there by 09:30 hrs. It may be noted that this garden is operational during winter time only (December to April). The opening time is 09:00 to 21:00 (Weekdays), 09:00 to 23:00 hrs. (Weekends) and ticket cost is 40 AED for adults & 30 AED for children. Miracle Garden had a nice array of flowers everywhere and I wonder how they managed that in a desert environment. We took a brief 30-45-minute walk around the garden and astonished after seeing its beauty. Lots of floral sculptures in form of buildings, objects and displays were there that inspire reverence and pleading to be photographed. The 3,600-foot continuous flower wall and flower laden Emirates airplane had made their place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's longest wall of flowers.





Our next stop was butterfly garden which was nearby. The ticket cost was almost the same as miracle garden. It consists of 9 domes (3,600 square feet area), each filled with different colors, sizes and species of exquisite butterflies. We walked around these domes and found a fascinating butterfly museum and a flower park stationed between them. All the designs were built consistently according to the butterfly garden theme.





Here anyone can find enormous photo opportunities and if we wait for some time nearby any flower, these colorful butterflies would sat on our body. We found this experience to be amazing and after spending one hour we took a taxi for our next destination Dubai aquarium and underwater zoo which was around 25 km from this place.


Continue to part II


Express your comment on this article

 
Asha
Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Travelogues need not be this long!!! I wonder who wants to know what you were doing at 12.30, 16.30 etc. It should be short n informative. This is my opinion

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