5 things we love (and 5 we don’t) about Dubai
What we love…
- The place is a massive, water soaked pretend oasis at the edge of a desert. The clothes people wear are different, the hazy light looks different, the thick heat feels different. It sort of wakes you up when everything is so unfamiliar, which is great.
- Someone certainly picked up some tips from Disney when they were putting ‘the Atlantis’ together. There’s an immense aquarium in the middle of the hotel and a running ‘Atlantis’ back story.
(I thought it would be nice to regale Chris with some highlights from the brochure. About halfway through, ignoring his glazed expression, I paused; ‘Oh. I’m not sure if it IS true actually. It says that the king had an ancient computer with interactive screens!’ Chris raises a bored yet somehow condescending eyebrow; ‘And the men in special suits, on page 2, venturing to the core of the earth seemed plausible to you? Didn’t wonder where the Atlanteans found their blue trading crystals, page 4?’ Oh. I see).
Attached to the hotel is a water park. Slides plummet through twisting black tubes before spitting you out in the middle of an aquarium. So a bit of sheer terror, then a nice peaceful float through a transparent tube inside a fish tank alongside sharks and manta rays. I was pretty nervous before committing to this ride, mainly as I kept getting flashbacks to that terrifying scene in Willy Wonker and the Chocolate Factory where the fat kid gets trapped in a tube of liquid chocolate under the impassive gaze of the creepy oompa loompas. In terms of childhood trauma that scene is second only to the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz.
- A good hot tub temperature is about 38 degrees. I was reliably informed that much over that and your internal organs start to poach. The sea in Dubai ranged from 33 to 36 degrees. Freakishly warm.
- After we took a sunset dip and dried off on the shore an usual calm would descend. Traffic would quieten, everything seemed to still. Then that unique and other-worldly music would start, calling the devout to the Mosque for prayer. It was beautiful and atmospheric.
- Taxis were pretty cheap, and even in ‘rush hour’ there were hardly any cars on the 6 lane highways. I don’t know where everyone was, but they weren’t in bars or restaurants, that’s for sure.
Looking back at Dubai from the beach
The world of Atlantis…no need to go snorkelling!
Sunset on the Beach
What we weren’t so sure about
- Asking a man a question and their replies being directed to Chris. Grrrrr. It was like we had some sort of ventriloquist act going on.
- I have no issue with the principle of maintaining a bit of modesty in keeping with cultural preferences (although turns out that by middle eastern standards my summer wardrobe is positively slutty. Knees AND shoulders on display?) But in 40 degree heat, who isn’t going to struggle in a cardigan and leggings, however respectful they would like to be.
- This year the month of Ramadan fell in August. This means particularly long, hot days. The rules are no eating or drinking between around 6am to 7pm. And for those not observing the fast, no eating or drinking in public between those hours (It would be a tad insensitive to be slurping down a bucket of slushy when those other poor souls haven’t had so much as a chew on a piece of gum since 5 o’clock that morning). But with that 40 degree heat I’m pretty sure if we had stuck to our planned ‘wandering round the souks and sand boarding the dunes’ itinerary we would have dehydrated to the point of mummification within a couple of hours. Back to the hotel for another round of mocktails it is then!
- Food and drink cost a bomb. Alcohol is understandable. But still, it would have been nice to enjoy a bottle of beer for less than ten quid. It probably saved us a fortune that alcohol wasn’t permitted until after 8pm (and it is only available in hotels). A lot of hotels operate ‘club’ schemes. This means that you get exclusive access to a certain bar (or in the case of our hotel what looked like a residential care home lounge) and a number of complimentary services. In our hotel, ‘club’ privileges were the curious choice of a full afternoon cream tea (where you get an insight into who else is living above their budget and skipping lunch for the freebies) and a happy hour from 8-9pm. Happy indeed, all drinks were free. Now that’s going to bring out the best in human nature, surely?!
- Did I mention the heat? Turn on a hairdryer and hold it near your head. Imagine that this hair dryer is not just concentrated on one patch of your scalp, but is in fact enveloping your whole body. The temperature didn’t even drop at night. It was like being gently baked in a kiln.
The only place to be if you are outside!
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HOT = 40C!
Have you been to Dubai?
What do you think of it?
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