|Fly at 12:10pm...
Wiki Info Dubai
Wiki Info Burj Khalifa, Tallest Building in the World
Still in Doha:4-27
Thinking we had plenty of time, we left our lovely Al Kahleer hotel after another HUGE breakfast with 'stocking up' and headed to the bus station with our Smartcards in hand getting there about 9:10am. First off, we found out from one of the friendly bus personnel that on weekends (Fri-Sat) the buses to the airport leave from a gravel area outside from the main terminal area about 100 meters away. Got there and the kindly fellow from bus company asked if we were going to departures (strange qs us loaded with our packs but...), then says we must take #19 - which goes only on the hour. When we had checked previously, we were told there were two buses #19 & 109 which goes every 20 minutes, thus our laid back attitude...miss one (express #19) and take the more frequent, slower bus #109. NO, the 109 goes only to the NEW airport, we must take the #19 which goes to where departures are at the OLD airport and supposedly will not be departing for another half hour! Then ensues a 'discussion' about leaving early enough, must take #109 (about to depart), who was ready when, not understanding that our plane leaves at noon so a half hour wait is unacceptable, etc. etc. Quite heated in the already elevated 90 degree temp. As it turned out the #19 which was parked next to or 'discussion' was also preparing to leave, apparently a bit earlier than expected ( due to our panicky outbursts, or?). So we prepared to board but upon scanning our Smartcards we did not have the required $10 rial credit left on our cards to go to the airport. Now we're standing in the blazing sun and watching our bus to the airport pull away, we must take a taxi.
A bit of an aside here...in every country we have to watch our 'nickels and dimes' i.e. country currency closely so as not to pull too much from the ATM, but also, not find ourselves going back to the 'trough' for small amounts which incur disproportunate charges for the amount taken out. This concern becomes heightened the closer we find ourselves to departures, trying to have 'just enough' as we board planes, buses, ferries, whatever transport to cross the border. During the past week whilst moving from one country to another with varying exchange rates our fixation on this exchange thing has intensified especially given the increased daily costs exceeding anything we have previously encountered (other than Brazil and very briefly, Fr. Guyana)!
So, here we are in the blazing sun faced with the problem of getting to the airport by taxi, which we thought would not be necessary due to our 'shrewd investment' in a now defunct, TOO Smartcard! Yes, some emotional involvement, some discouragement, some dismay, all mixed with varying degrees of blame and/or be-here-now, can-do, work the problem attitude as well. Luckily, Bonnie has the $ rial to get us there as it turns out since the government metered taxi only costs $22 rial (actually, $8 rial less for 3 of us than the bus!).
At FlyDubai check-in we are informed the flight has been delayed an hour, it now is scheduled to go at 1:10pm, so we have 3 1/2 hours to wait! So it goes...
In Dubai:Well, it didn't go, not until 2:30, ha, that'll teach us, something I hope! Plane (FlyDubai is super budget, you pay for everything beyond the fare) landed 4:30 Dubai time (we lost an hour)...easy passport check, no visa necessary. It took awhile because there were lots of Bangladeshis with work visas in line ahead of us. Since the Metro only goes to terminal 1 which is 8-10 km away and no bus (5 P's), we were again forced into taking taxi! Finally got on Metro with our Dubai Smartcard (can,t go anywhere w/o one), good for buses & boats as well, and headed for Dubai Youth Hostel, a ways out of town but with our Smartcard...well, let's hope our plan works. Checked in, very reasonable with room & 4 beds but we're the only ones in this room so I doubt they'll put another person with us....Hostel here is huge, but now in low season.
Breakfast - corn flakes, pita bread, jam, a slice of chez, butter, cube of chez, tea or coffee...very basic but very hostel-like. We've been spoiled but still even at these 'cheap' rates ($25 US) are helping bring our budget in line a bit. Headed for one of Dubai's main attractions, the Dubai Mall...waterfall, aquarium, skating rink, massive number of stores, restaurants, and sign up to go up world's tallest building - tomorrow at 1:30pm. Then onto the metro & feeder buses to Mari's favorite place to visit, the Post Office! Everything is air on so when we do go outside the 90+degrees seems even hotter, but dry,dry,dry. Back to The Mall and Subway dinner and GREAT fountain display! We stayed to see the fountain performance 3 times, each very different...the choreography was quite amazing. See photos. A long day went easier here due to having the Smartcard for Metro & feeder buses, simple and convenient. Didn't get back to the hostel 'til 11 tho since we stopped at Haggen Ass for tea.
Again, Mari discovered more Filipinos at H.D. along with 3 working at Subway and another at a fresh bread store in the Mall! I met 2 Nigerians in the Metro, one going for a job interview (all duded up in suit & tie), the other with a job already in IT. On the way back to the hostel I met an Iranian fellow who was here helping his Mom get a visa to visit her son (his brother) working as a Veteranarian in the UK. He is a mechanical engineer in Tehran, says they/he doesn't like his govt., hopes things will change...I told him ditto for me in US, we laughed. Our time in these oil-rich countries and now especially here in UAE is quite a cross cultural experience - but not with the locals, ha! It is a great help being able to say we have been in their countries and to share a bit of the places we've seen of where they're from. I've noticed this is especially the case with Filipinos (due to Mari's connection and knowledge of the country) and Indians, they are always so helpful, kind, gentle people. They're much more into relationships in a cooperative sort of way instead of a competative or individualistic way. Their cultures have trained them this way - likewise I see this in the Nepalese we've encountered, very unassuming and even timid but always trying to please.
The down side of all this is the lack of power over their own lives. Working here they are beholden to superiors and a very distinct hierarchy. The potential for abuse of this situation certainly places all ex-pats in jeoprody? not only threat of losing a job but far worse, human slavery is just a very thin line to cross!
To old town, Al Raz, and across the river by boat taxi to Dubai Museum. Found all the tourists! Arriving by the bus load, mostly Japanese but also heard some German and English...overwhelmingly Japanese though! Made short walk thru in museum, mostly what we already knew but well presented. Less than an hour and we were heading back thru the touts in the Souk (Mari insists on being rude to them always talking back as if they were some insult to her instead of just saying no). Since our appt. to go up the Burj Khalifa (tallest building in the world) was for 1:30 we still had a boat taxi, metro, and bus ride to get to the mall entrance to the tower. Quite an amazing feat of engineering but very hazy so we could not see far (photos). Next on our crowded schedule, a trip to the only 7 Star hotel in the world...only seen from a distance since it's on an island an only guests are allowed in...mostly those with Fararis, ha! After a short pit stop at a lesser hotel (Jumeirah, only 5 Stars), we headed to Mall of the Emirates to see the indoor ski hill. See photos.
Mari was quite impressed by all we saw today so the subject came up "What are the 10 most notable or most sought after sights to see in the world today!" This would include natural as a separate category from man-made. I said I'd put the question on the website so visitors might put in their suggestions. Will see what comes of it, might be enlightening.
See separate entry for day trip to Abu Dhabi.