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Archives for November 2013

Dubai, UAE: The Seven Star Hotel

Heading back to the city for the afternoon part of the tour, we encountered an impromptu camel crossing. Maybe it was the camels way of saying, “Hey, did you get your dose of us yet?!” And FYI, the cars were moving in such a way to herd the camels off the road.


The city tour did not compare to the adrenaline rush of the desert safari… at all. But, with a lot of wealth, this skyline will be looking a lot different in the next 5-10 years.


One of the buildings has gold in the window lining. So when the sun hits the building, it is a glimmering reflection. They are upping the ante on how to show your wealth status.

Now certain shops or areas of the city were closed because they were celebrating a holiday (Eid) when we were there. For that, we were unable to visit Deira Gold and Spice Souq, which was explained as an open bazaar. Those would have been neat to check out. We were able to see the Dubai museum and learned that Dubai was a fishing town before its metropolitan days.

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Probably a better known site that we visited was the 7 star hotel – the Burj al Arab – aka the only 7 star hotel in the world. No, that wasn’t a typo.

“But I thought the rating only went to 5 stars?” My rationale goes back to the wealth of the UAE. And then back to my initial post of Dubai, “Why not?” It just makes sense with that train of thought.


We made our way over to the Madinat Jumeirah, which is comprised of 3 hotels, a theater, and a shopping mall giving off the vibe of old Arabia. Here we also got another view of the Burj al Arab.

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The last site we got to visit before heading back to the airport was going to The Palm. No, I am not referring to the hotel in Las Vegas. Here an image I got from this site, so you have a better idea of what I’m talking about.


As the picture shows, the land is in a shape of a palm. Each frond are homes and villas where people live. At the top of the frond is the hotel Atlantis. It’s pretty awesome to see a replica executed quite well. There are also talks of building a replica of the Taj Mahal (according to our guide). But, I am unsure whether that is true or not.

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Keep exploring and have new adventures. Happy travels friends.

Dubai, UAE: A Check Off My Bucket List

My dad found this site called ToursByLocals, which is a giveaway of what they do – locals giving a tour of their city.

Because Dubai isn’t exactly exploding with historical culture (the city being built is relatively new), that was an aspect I missed that I really enjoyed with other trips. To take it back to its “roots”, we went on a Desert Safari. This entailed a camel ride, dune buggy riding and then dune bashing. <– I’ll get to that in a moment.

We drove about 45 minutes out of the city to the desert and this is where I got to check off one of my bucket list items: riding a camel in the desert!

I’ve come to report that camels really are strange creatures. First off, it gets off the ground with its hind legs first, so you lurch forward. Then you balance out when its front legs go up. Without the seating setup on the camel, I probably would have fallen off… with mister not too far behind.

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While riding the camel, you really could feel the camel shifting its weight with every step that it takes. It definitely is not like a trot of a horse at all. And because of the camel’s hump, you really are much higher than you anticipate. I was given the reins as well, and maneuvered the camel back to the stable. *Phew* Thank goodness… the road is right there! But, that’s another bucket list item checked off!

As for the rest of the morning (yes, this all happened in the morning), we cruised around the dune buggy and went dune bashing. What is that you ask?


Dune bashing is where they take the air out of the tires, so the vehicle grips the sand and then you drive through the desert…. kind of like in those car commercials. =) There’s a roll bar on the inside of the vehicle and you can ask your driver what type of “experience” you would like. The parents requested enough, but not too crazy. Oh, and our driver made sure we had our seat belts on and mentioned that there were vomit bags on the backs of the chairs if necessary =) Off we go!

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During the middle of the excursion, the group stopped so we could take photos of the endless desert. That was pretty neat.


They do the desert safari excursion with a group of cars just in case one gets stuck in the sand. That happened to our car towards the end, but managed to get out of it without any assistance.


Yup, had to make it official.


While driving, we also got to see a group of camels. They aren’t wild camels (as my video indicates), there is a brand on their back leg showing who owns them. It was still cool to see them in their “natural state”.


Before we got back on the road, we stopped to refill the tires with air, and then we headed back onto the main road back to the city to continue the rest of the tour.


This video compilation that I put together of a pretty much summarizes our morning experience during the desert safari:

Happy travels friends!

Dubai, UAE: Best in the World

Everything Dubai has is the “best in the world”… according to the 2 mega malls we visited: Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates, which had this phrase practically etched on to each store window. With the Dubai Mall showcasing an aquarium and the Mall of the Emirates having an indoor ski slope. It really seems to be ‘too exotic to imagine’.

I haven’t been on a mystery vacation since getting married to mister. Being that it was his first mystery trip, he was in for a vacation of major epic proportions! Truthfully, we all were =)

As soon as we learned of the mystery destination, we (at least mister and I did) jumped on our smart phones to check out “all things Dubai”. We learned that PDA is highly frowned upon except hand-holding. We had to be careful of things we were taking pictures of. Case in point: I took a photo of Dad and Mister in front of a sign and I noticed a lady in the back quickly dart out of frame. So, as much as I like taking photos, it was kept to a minimum on this trip.

13 hours later, we landed in Dubai, found a train that brought us to Chelsea Tower Suites and Apartments, our home for the next 2 days. The location was perfect, being a walkway across the highway to get to the train and vice versa. According to my Dad, it was less expensive to have an apartment/suite (ours was a 2 bedroom and 2.5 bath) rather than a hotel room. Yesh!

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Aside from the very modern architecture of the skyscrapers, which made the skyline view clean and pristine; we had a view of the Burj Kalifa, aka, the tallest building in the world.


After settling in, we took the train to the Dubai Mall. Beyond the high-end shops in the store, there was an aquarium and a darkened area with lights in the ceiling to simulate constellations. Our timing was right because divers were in the tank and they were feeding the fishies.

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We had dinner here, which really isn’t anything to boast about. After all, it is only “mall-food”. It really was the only true meal that we had in Dubai. So we went for local fast-casual in the food court. The result – tandoori chicken, and lamb with the fixings of curry, rice and veggies.


We headed back to the train and set off to another mall – the Mall of the Emirates. The solo reason for coming to this mall is because of the indoor ski slope. Only Dad and Mister went, I stayed back with Mom and we went on our own little shopping trip.

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I believe it was roughly $50 for 2 hours and you get the jacket, pants, boots and skis. Not bad. However, because it’s fake snow, that means it’s hard and very icy and slick. If I had the images from Dad’s camera, I’d share them with you. Since I didn’t, all I have is this from their skiing experience.


To say you got to ski in a mall in the middle of the desert. If that wasn’t on your bucket list, you might as well add that into your experiences of a lifetime list.

Keep experiencing life. Happy travels friends!