Friday, April 15

Travelog: Dubai trip

We toured Dubai City and Abu Dhabi between 6-Apr and 11-Apr this year. Here's a travelog of the trip:

Cities covered: Dubai City, Abu Dhabi
Travellers: Four
Duration: 5 days, 4 nights
Airline: SpiceJet (not recommended, better go for Emirates)
Hotel: Hyatt Place Dubai/Al Rigga

Day 1: Wednesday, 6-April

Once we landed at the airport and finished immigration procedures, we walked into the Airport Terminal 1 metro station and took a Silver Nol Card (Travel card in Dubai). You can travel in the metro, city buses and trams only with this Nol card. Cash payment is not accepted in public transportation.

We made an early check-in to the hotel and went to the Dubai Mall. This mall has an entrance to Burj Khalifa as well. We initially planned to go to the top of the Burj, but all slots for the day were already taken. So we booked one slot for 9:30 AM the next day.

In the mall, we visited the Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, SEGA Republic, Dubai Mall Waterfall and musical fountains. This suspended aquarium is one of the largest in the world and hosts around 30,000 marine animals of over 140 species including Sand Tiger Sharks and two King Crocodiles. They also have a marine life conservation and breeding research facility which we can visit in a 'behind the scenes' tour.

In the evening, we found a 24x7 Indian restaurant called Landmark near our hotel. This restaurant is owned by Keralites and serves decent Indian food. I personally liked Kerala Paratha and Egg Masala the best.

Places covered: Dubai Mall.
Admission fees: Dubai Aquarium - 100 AED.
Travel details: 
Metro train Red line from Al Rigga to Dubai Mall station, 15-minute walk from station to the mall.
Food details: 
Breakfast at Avenue hotel coffee shop, Lunch at the mall, Dinner at Landmark restaurant.

Day 2: Thursday, 7-April

We started this day early to catch up with the Burj Khalifa slot. After that, we went to Jumeirah mosque at around 12 PM to find it closed. Originally, we planned Burj Khalifa on Wednesday and Jumeirah Mosque at 10 AM on Thursday to attend the mosque tour. But we had to change plans to accommodate Burj Khalifa and found the mosque closed when we reached there. However, we took pictures of the mosque from outside and returned to the hotel.

In the afternoon, we took the Desert Safari tour. This is the package we took. We also visited Zabeel palace on the way to the desert. The driver picked us at the hotel at 3:30 PM and dropped us back by 10:30 PM

Places covered: Burj Khalifa, Jumeirah Mosque, Zabeel Palace, Desert Safari.
Admission fees: 
Burj Khalifa - 125 AED.
Desert Safari - 160 AED (We got discounted price due to a friend).
Travel details:
Burj Khalifa - Metro train Red line from Al Rigga to Dubai Mall station, walk to the mall and to the tower entrance in the mall.
Jumeirah Mosque - Bus from Dubai Mall to Jumeirah Mosque.
Food details: 
Breakfast at the hotel, skipped Lunch (I had a banana and a cup of tea), Dinner at Desert Safari camp.

Day 3: Friday, 8-April

Friday and Saturday are weekend in Dubai and Metro trains start at 10 AM on Fridays. We started late at 11 AM this day and went to Palm Jumeirah. This is an artificial island built in the Persian Gulf. The main attraction on this island is 'Atlantis the Palm', a resort that has a big water park and other water adventure activities. I visited the Lost Chambers Aquarium in the resort, which is an ancient-ruins-themed aquarium.

From Atlantis, we went to JBR beach where we took a stroll along the shoreline and watched the sunset. From the beach, we went to Dubai Marina Mall and returned to hotel.

Places covered: Palm Jumeirah, Atlantis, JBR beach, Dubai Marina Mall.
Admission fees: Lost Chambers Aquarium - 110 AED.
Travel details:
Metro train Red line from Al Rigga to DAMAC properties.
Walk to Dubai Marina Tram station, Tram to Palm Jumeirah.
Walk to Palm Gateway monorail station, monorail to Atlantis the Palm.
JBR Beach: 
Tram from Dubai Marina station to Jumeirah Beach Residence 2. Walk to the beach.
Dubai Marina Mall: Tram from Jumeirah Beach Residence 2 to Dubai Marina Mall station.
Food details: 
Breakfast at the hotel, Lunch near JBR beach, Dinner at Landmark restaurant.

Day 4: Saturday, 9-April

We started much later (10 AM) than we planned (7:30 AM) and reached Abu Dhabi by 12:30 PM. We met our friends there and they drove us around the city for the day.

We reached Ferrari World in Yas Island by 1:30 PM. This is a theme park that hosts the fastest roller coaster in the world (240kmph), another roller coaster with the tallest loop in the world (52m) along with other rides. We took this fastest roller coaster twice, the loop coaster once, and a bunch of other rides in the park. Luckily, the crowd was sparse on this day, and we managed to finish everything by 5 PM.

After finishing lunch, we reached Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque by 7:30 PM and checked it out for a couple of hours. Then we drove back to Emirates Palace for a quick look and headed back to the bus station. We reached Dubai by 12:30 AM and took a cab to the hotel.

Places covered: Ferrari World, Grand Mosque, Emirates Palace.
Admission fees: Ferrari World - 290 AED.
Travel details:
Abu Dhabi:
Metro train Red line from Al Rigga to Union station. Change to Green line and reached Al-Ghubaiba.
Took inter-city bus from Al-Ghubaiba bus station to Abu Dhabi.
Food details:
Breakfast at the hotel, Lunch at Abu Dhabi, Dinner at Landmark restaurant.

Day 5: Sunday, 10-April

One of our friends left in the morning to India and the remaining three of us planned this walking tour of Old Dubai.

We checked out of the hotel by 12 PM and visited Gold and Spice Souks. From there, we took an Abra (wooden boat) and reached Bur Dubai. There we visited Old Souk, Heritage village and Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum's house along the creek shore. To be honest, we didn't enjoy much this tour and the Dubai Ferry ride caught our attention. So we ditched the walking tour and took the 6:30 PM ferry from Al Ghubaiba to Dubai Marina.

In this ferry ride, we enjoyed Dubai cityscape, sunset and a good view of Burj Al Arab. We took metro from Dubai Marina Mall station, returned to hotel to collect our luggage and headed to airport ending the tour.

Places covered: 
Gold, Spice and Old Souks, Dubai Creek.
Heritage Village, Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum's house.
Ferry ride.
Admission fees: 
Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum's house - 5 AED.
Ferry ride - 50 AED.
Travel details:
Gold Souk: 
Metro red line from Al Rigga to Union station. 
Change to Green line and reached Al-Ras. Walked to Gold Souk.
Heritage Village: 
Abra from Old Souk Abra station to Bur Dubai. Walk along the creek to Heritage Village.
Food details: 
Breakfast at the hotel, Lunch at an Indian paratha joint in Old Souk, Dinner at Landmark restaurant.

Final comments:
  • I enjoyed Desert Safari, Ferrari World, Grand Mosque, Dubai ferry Ride, Dubai Mall Aquarium the best.
  • Burj Al Arab was breathtaking in the night view.
  • JBR beach had practically no waves (We visited it on the day after new moon).
  • Abu Dhabi Grand mosque is the finest structure I've seen in my life. I found its beauty amazing.
  • Don't miss the fastest roller coaster in Ferrari World. It is an unbelievable experience.
  • Alcohol cannot be bought easily in the city. We were told that a buying license is needed for it and only residents can get one. So if you want alcohol, better buy in Dubai airport or look for shady shops willing to sell alcohol without license (at your own risk)

Photos: Check my Facebook albums.

Tuesday, March 8

International women's day

On this international women's day, I think it is blatantly superficial to just wish women around us and let it be. Of course I am thankful to all the women in my life - from my mother, sister, teachers to friends and colleagues.
Along with that, a few thoughts:

Where young boys are not programmed to refer women as maal,
Where society doesn't make women flag-bearers of family honor,
Where rape culture is not normalized by silencing and shaming the victims,
Where jokes objectifying women are not considered funny,
Where religions that discriminate women become irrelevant,
Where everyday sexism is routinely called out,
Where those who are proud of not being feminists are non-existent,
Into that modern society with free thought,
Into that culture of parity may my country awake!

I hope we achieve this in our lifetimes for a better society :)