No other destination in the planet evokes the kind of interest in my mind like Dubai. Blame it on a childhood filled with an overdose of Bollywood movies or media coverage of the past few years on the rapid transformation of the city as a global epicenter of architectural excellence, luxury and hospitality. Whatever could be the reason, Dubai remained on my top international destination list ever since my college days.
So, after working for a few years and having saved enough for my first international trip, I decided to embark on a holiday to Dubai.
Dubai was my first international trip, and like every other average traveler from a developing nation to a developed nation, I was extremely excited. Anything and everything about the destination during the first few hours after I alighted from my flight seemed out of the world. Be it the taxis which were luxury Toyotas unlike the ‘black yellows’ in India, the condition of roads, the traffic, the cleanliness of public places. Everything seemed from a different time and place (which it actually was J).
Since this was my first trip abroad, I had taken the package tour route which is quite unlike my travel behavior in India for domestic travels. I had always held the opinion that package tours ruin the experiences of a holiday as they tend to pack in too much in a much lesser time. However, this impression underwent a change after this trip as things were pretty well planned by the operator with plenty of time for various activities. (However, I cannot vouch for all operators organizing trips to Dubai though. Mine was pretty good)
My stay was arranged for in Hotel Karama, named after the locality in which it situated. Karama is a newly developed area in the Bur area of the city inhabited primarily by expats from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The hotel was a three star property with clean rooms and hospitable staff. The only discomfort about it, were its several pubs located in the ground floor that played music till late in the night. People visiting with families might find this uncomforting. In terms of location, it was an ideal location to stay as all the tourist hotspots were located just a few minutes away. It was also very well connected by the metro. And yes, one other thing – in addition to the ones at the hotel, Karama had a swarm of Indian and Pakistani restaurants, including pure-vegetarian ones which made things comfortable for us.
My 5 day trip in Dubai began with a half-day sightseeing tour of the city. This included all the major landmarks the city is known for – Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall, Hotel Burj al Arab, Jumairah Beach, Palm Islands, Hotel Atlantis and a few historical and modern landmarks en-route to these. The tour ended in the afternoon with a promise of some more excitement in the second day. Desert Safari, a major attraction for all tourists visiting Dubai was planned the next day and included activities like Sand Dune Bashing in a 4×4 SUV, cultural programme at a desert camp and ending with a dinner. The third, fourth and fifth days were left to ourselves and I utilised them for a detailed tour to some of the destinations we visited during the sightseeing tour. I personally visited the Dubai Mall, Burj-Khalifa, The Underwater Zoo at the Dubai Mall and made a one-day trip to Mussandum. More on them later in future posts.
To sum it up, Dubai with its unmatched investments in infrastructure, offers a multitude of experiences to an average traveller. My short trip of 5 days was filled with memorable experiences that I will cherish for a lifetime and I will always look forward to making a visit to it once in my lifetime again.