Day 1We didn't get to bed until 3am local time on the eve of our arrival, so needless to say we slept in a bit. We were very lucky to be staying with the gracious Tewari family, Gaurav was one of Martin's former colleagues in Dallas. They had arranged brunch at the famous Atlantis Hotel, located on one of the Palms (you know - that famous set of islands shaped like a palm tree?). It had a delicious spread of every kind of food, including a chocolate fountain. I was happy.
After dropping off the Tewari kiddos at a bday party, the adults + Simon headed off to the old part of the city where the souk or markets were located. We sniffed out the spice market and were not disappointed. It was full of delicious smelling spices, with every vendor chatting you up, hoping you will choose their saffron or their curry powder. With a return flight more than 3 months away, it was not tempting to buy, just disappointing not to.
We then took a little boat trip across the river, which was surprisingly pleasant. It's amazing how just a little different perspective can make things look different. And the sun was just setting so the lights on the boat were especially nice to see.
Day 2Not unlike the first day, we were a little slow out of the gates. Unfortunately we were on our own that day, as Gaurav had to get some work done. We slowly made our way out the door, heading for Wild Wadi Waterpark, to beat the heat. It was a great water park with lots of fun space for Simon to hang. Even though he loved the slides when he went down, he mostly wanted to observe other kids or play in the wave pool. Mama and Pappa had a little more fun, taking turns going on some of the big kid slides, including a tube ride that shot you all the way up a long windy slide before going down a completely dark tunnel. Martin had never even been to a waterpark. I think maybe he had the most fun!
From there we headed to the Dubai Mall. Coming from MN (home of the Mall of America) I just had to see what this mall was all about. It was a mall. A very fancy, mall, I will give you that. If I liked to shop I am sure I would have been more impressed, but I have to say I really wasn't.
What was impressive was what stood just outside the mall - the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa. Standing 828.8 meters (2,722 ft) high, it was completed in 2009 to become the tallest building in the world. It's original name was Burj Dubai (Dubai tower), but due to the financial crisis that almost brought the project to a halt, it was named after UAE President Khalifa for bailing them out. We didn't bother going into the building, but it was a beautiful sight from the outside, especially as the sunset and the building was lit.
We returned home, left Simon with the babysitter, and headed out for drinks and a Diwali party. Diwali is the Hindi Festival of Lights. We found out that many celebrate with gambling, hoping that the Goddess of Wealth will shine upon them for the next year. Martin joined in the festivities, which resembled a sort of 3 card poker, with a different variation for every dealer. It was really quite fun and everyone was in festive and light spirits. We were happy to be invited.
Day 3Sunday, back to work for Dubai. Because it is a Muslim country, the UAE works Sunday-Thursday, as Friday is a sacred day for prayer. We went downtown, checked out the beach, had a nice lunch, and then headed back to the house to be ready for our 3:30 pickup for our desert safari. It was really the highlight of the trip and deserves a separate blog post.
Dubai was a great way to start the trip, thanks especially to the Tewari's for being such gracious hosts. I think staying with a family living locally (not a local family, 80% of the population of Dubai are expats) gave us a very different feel for the city than we would have otherwise had.
Next stop: Bangkok!