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Thursday, July 21, 2011

24 Hours in Dubai

My dad insisted i take this picture of him. We suspected it was a conspiracy of Dubai Tourism Board to delay our Emirates flight but it was an adventure welcomed. That's one more passport stamp to collect.
Travellers collect fridge magnets, Hard Rock t-shirts, key chains and even Lonely Planet guides to mark where they've set foot. I thought about collecting men's magazines. Perhaps not a collection to proudly display on the racks in a conservative household but i felt it resonates the local's culture (in a warped way).

I didn't find a local version of FHM, that will probably reveal only the model's silky smooth fair arm, i found this.

Having only 24 hours, without much hesitation, research or hunting around, we signed up for 2 tours from Hotel Millenium's (the airport hotel) lobby. Because of the flight delay, we were entitled to a night's stay full board AND 3 minutes talk time each. It sounded like Prison with the limitation and we debated over who is worthy of the other's minutes.

The first tour was a 2 hour bus ride to see the city's sights. We were herded into a mini bus and they showed us the icons of Dubai from the bus window. They did grant us few minutes of photo opportunities in front of their icons (which are mostly hotel buildings), but no one could last more than 3 minutes outside in the sweltering heat. It wasn't a value-for-money tour (USD 20), but on hindsight, with Dubai's heat, would we want to do more than sit in a air-conditioned bus? If Singapore is bad, think three times of that.
Their bus shelters are air conditioned and amusingly covered with ads.
How do bus drivers see if there're people inside then?!

Again, as a will-do-anything-tourist, there're the pictures to fake an unforgettable summer and that's enough.
The second tour was a trip into the deserts. The brochure clearly over-sold the description, but i thought for a tourist who only had 24 hours, it was representative of the Arab culture.

Camel farm en route.
A 40 minute ride towards the fringe of the desert, we changed vehicles to prepare for a bumpy ride on the sand dunes. Along the way, you may experience sand storm and an endless horizon. We heard horror stories of the SUV sinking into sand or getting stuck and bursting into flames because of ignition, all that made it abit more thrilling and glad you bought travel insurance.
Reaching base camp, we can ride camels (i pity those poor animals) and enjoy dinner with entertainment under the balmy sky filled with stars. The entertainment surprised me, it was innovative and colourful.

The tours were abit of a disappointment, i would have preferred using this 24 hours in the water theme parks (there are many in Dubai). Then again, the brochures may have over promised too.
Unforgettable summer? The feeling of being stranded in a foreign country, wanting to go home so badly but ended up on 2 passable tours? You betcha.


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You know more of a road by having traveled it than by all the conjectures and descriptions in the world.
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