While in transit to Tanzania from Sri Lanka, I made a stop over in Dubai. Had ~12 hours from 5pm-5am to kill, decided to go and have a night in Dubai. Had no clue what the currency was, how to get downtown or anything. Will note that the customs getting in was the easiest / fastest yet.
Get in and look for a taxi, ask a few people what the conversion is and none seemed to speak English. Maybe Russian, German, Arabic but not English. Met a gent who said the subway will take you there faster and cheaper.
Went to subway and got on, met a gent who worked at the airport who mentioned some spots. Got off in front of the Burj Khalifa aka the tallest building in the world. This thing is a monster. I’ve been to the top of the CN Tower in Toronto and even had a lunch in their revolving restaurant, it’s not half as impressive as this building. You can go to the top if you want. It’s like ~$50 ahead of time and ~$100-150 if you do it on the spot. Opted not too.
At 6PM there is a world famous fountain show outside the Dubai Mall. Basically all these water jets and lights, it’s quite impressive. The place is crowded and there are countless patio restaurants on the side of the mall facing the fountain. To the right is the worlds tallest building and to the left the Address Downtown Hotel.
I’m dressed like a bit of a backpacker bum but decide it’s time for some luxury and head to the hotel. The place is stunning to say the least. Cruise through the lobby and out to the patio and ultimately find a bar near the fountain, great place to have a drink and watch the festivities. The fountains come on ever ~30 minutes until who knows what time.
Begin chatting with some US Oil Execs working in Tunisia, have a few pints. Meet a private banker from Switzerland, he’s in charge of HR and the bank is privately owned by a family in the region. Lots of people from all over the world and have to mention, some of the best looking women from every corner of the globe.
I go to pay my bill at about 8PM to see what else is going on in town. Go to pay with credit card, denied. Turns out m pin is blocked because I withdrew cash in Sri Lanka earlier that morning. I go to pay with debit, they don’t accept it. GREAT.
This has never happened to me and now, of all places when I already look like a bum!? I suggest they hold my camera and I’ll go get the cash. (so lame) I go to the bank machines and it’s denying my debit card, $@#$ is all I can think. Move over to the mall and first 2 machines don’t work. I have no way of getting the cash and they do not take foreign money. Just local currency or credit card and nothing else.
Stressed out but incredibly relieved the 4th or so machine works. Only reason I had this issue is I was being cheap and didn’t take out that much (lose on exchange) assuming I just needed cash for perhaps taxi and could charge meal and drinks to a credit card.
Get back and the banker is still there, pay up and explain what happened. Apparently it had happen to him and it sucks. Suffice to say we had already discussed that both of us were going back to airport earlier. Asks if I’m leaving or hanging around, he’s on the company card and if hungry can get a bite then roll out to the airport, sure.
The buffer at that hotel was arguably the best buffet of my life. Perhaps because I’ve been backpacking for so long but flip side is I’ve enjoyed some of the world’s best food in the process. Talking prawns the size of my fist, every type of curry your curious mind could conjure and sushi, out of this world sushi. Quite the step up from the lady I’d buy it off at the market.
Have another pint, roll back to the Airport, offer to get the cab, he just expenses it. Shake hands and go to the Air Ethiopia Checkout… What a nightmare that place is. It’s like everyone is bringing back a lifetime worth of supplies. The final check before boarding is even worse, everyone is overweight with too much stuff and smuggling cokes and heavy stuff under dresses, it’s madness.
Pass out and wake up on the airport floor at 4am, off to Addis Abba.
Was a good stop over, feel like I got a good idea of what the place was about and was fortunate enough to enjoy some of the finer aspects of the place. It makes Vegas look cheap, I know it sounds crazy but the buildings are just out of this world and the fountain show is world class.
Downtown Dubai is VERY close to the airport by subway and the customs was a breeze. The cab on the way home wasn’t very expensive either. If you have a few hours go downtown to the mall, check out the buildings, the fountain and enjoy a few drinks and a meal in one of the top tier hotels.