Lolitalane was sponsored last month, to do a tourism review of Dubai (sponsored by several travel companies). It may seem like a pretty weird choice but if you possess enough general knowledge and a rough sketch of economics off late, it isn’t too much of a wonder. So many people have come up to us asking if Dubai was really as sketchy, sleazy or seedy as they heard which is really sad since we were really impressed with our experience there. We were asked to write about the many other facets of Dubai and quite honestly, it wasn’t a challenge. Here’s the first part of our four part focus on why it’s definitely, Dubai.
‘It’s hard not to feel a certain amount of dread when you’re visiting a country for the first time with horror stories of the country. Kidnappings, girls going missing, even firearms. Never mind that we are traveling with a team of five, when you have a whole country against you. Thoughts like this can really mess with one’s mine, especially when I’m battling my top most fear when traveling. Cabin pressure. The last time it happened, I was pretty much screaming. Thank goodness nothing like that happened.We got here…close to 6 am? And woke up to one of the best sights ever. The Burj Khalifa Fountain having one of it’s many daily rehearsals.’
‘We were brought to the world’s largest shopping mall, The Dubai Mall for lunch and a whole day of exploring the 5.9 million square feet (and that’s just internal area, how crazy is that?!) expanse of retail heaven. I think our trip down was planned to coincide with the prelude of the Dubai Shopping Festival since unlike Singapore, they have a PRE-SALE. I swear we just about went bonkers. Firstly, their pre-sale, has about the same or more discounts than Singapore has, or will ever have. Secondly, sales are store wide, meaning new collections too. Last and most importantly, if you compare their regular priced items with those in Singapore, it still is cheaper in Dubai. Can you understand our delirium now? I curse our schedules for not being available during the actual festival.’
‘Lunch at Social House was interesting to say the least, if I had a choice, I’d sit here the whole day just listening to music and having a good chat with friends. The food was a mix of Asian specialties and International flavors, including Singaporean fare. I’m surprised at how authentic the food was and I guess we were lucky to dine here for our first meal since it helped us ‘settle’ into being in Dubai. Comfort food at it’s best.’‘The most amazing Iced Lemon Tea I have ever had. It was the perfect blend of red tea, sweetness and fresh lime and lemons. If that didn’t already cool me off from the blasting heat of the dessert, they had lime sorbet and a good dose of fresh mint leaves too.’
‘We just had to, the team we were with kept raving about the prata, we caved. I have only one thought to all the prata lovers. You have never had prata, until you’ve had this. It was not, and I repeat NOT oily at all. Plus, perfect balance between a crispy exterior and chewy, stretchy layers. The curry, however, will not even come close to Asia’s. It’s almost similar to Thai green curry and even had prawns in it.’
‘Claris’s pasta, we were impressed by it’s portion but disappointed with it’s flavor. It wasn’t bad but the basil pesto was so overwhelming, it just got ‘jelat’. In English, it basically means you get sick of it. Easily.’
‘One thing I had to learn to get used to, was the heavy usage of mint in just about everything. Shampoo, scents, drinks, food etc. I really liked the soup base of the Pho and the mint gave it quite an interesting kick. My only thoughts were on how tough the beef brisket was. It’s hard to achieve perfection, isn’t it?’
‘Having a new boost of energy after lunch probably made us gutsier…because these were taken when it was so hot out, there was barely anyone walking around. On hind side, it made for really pretty pictures. These are taken at the famous Dubai Mall Fountain (aka Burj Khalifa Fountain) and we realized quite ridiculously that we never stepped on that breathtaking bridge until our last night. Everything may be man made, but it still doesn’t take away the beauty of things that are well made.’
‘I hate to admit it, but I’m a really touristy tourist, the kind that takes pictures of everything, and anything. One more thing I’d hate to admit? I get really excited about it too. Confessions can be pretty therapeutic. So after being typical Asian tourists, we had to indulge in yet another sinful act; navigating the insane Mall of Dubai, and getting addicted to it. Finding Cold Stone is made me extremely happy (ala Borat =P), I’ve been on an ice cream craze off late but believe it or not, still haven’t tried Cold Stone.’
‘This piece of art, is breathtaking. Claris was so obsessed with this dress, she literally stood still and gawked. Dragging her away may have been embarrassing, and the outfit might have been waaay out of our budget, but at least we got a picture of it to drool over. Shopping here, is a mad bazaar of 600 plus or so shops and they carry literally, everything. If the world has a zombie apocalypse, Dubai Mall would be THE place to loot. Heh.’
‘Gold Souk is like an Arabic dream, with all the elaborate, intricate detailing on every nook and crany and all the GOLD. It’s a maze within the maze that is Dubai Mall, a maze filled with 200 over shops just selling gold. I think I got gold fever. There is so much to do, we spent the whole day and night and still never completed the mall. My one regret is forgetting to visit the section called The Grove. It looked really unique, featuring a retractable roof, fountains, rich foliage and overhanging balconies. Pity.’
Zoom in and check out some of the bizarre side dishes they serve!
‘Dinner for the night was something familiar but we could tell we were being nudged towards trying new cuisine. We went to International City for Hot Pot/Steamboat which is very familiar to us, but this was AMAZING. International City has a mall too, it’s called Dragon Mart because it’s topography is shaped like a dragon, cool huh? The soup base we got (Healthy Mixed Herbal) is like nothing you would have ever tasted before. It was herbal, which we are used to, but it was also tangy AND had mint in it too! See what I mean by mint in everything?! The twist is, you don’t taste the mint but the soup chills your mouth, the feeling was nothing short of surreal. I actually miss it, which says a lot since I know I can never find it in Singapore.’
‘One thing we realized that is in abundance in Dubai, is the pastry cafes, dessert bars and chocolatiers. They’re crazy about it! Well, for me it was paradise because I love desserts and pastries too, except it caused us (or me, rather) to have this undeniable need to explore each shop. I swear I saw a pastry/dessert cafe with an (at least) 6 meter long display case filled to the brim with the most mind boggling desserts. I can just weep at the beauty of it all. I have a problem, I know.’
Picture totally taken from http://topplaces.blogspot.com
‘The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo was such a distraction for us, we realized after we exited, that we hadn’t taken any pictures! If you’re curious as to what we were like in there, here’s a rough gauge. Claris stalking penguins and saying “So cuuuute!” quite shrilly, and me obsessively pointing at various species of fish and stingrays proclaiming also quite loudly, “You’re good to eat, you too, and you too!”. Imagine that complete with “Nom, nom, nom” sounds. I think we were either quite entertaining to watch, or a disgrace to ourselves. Anyway, check out the virtual tour on their website. Click click!’
‘It’s been an amazing day so far, itinerary for tomorrow includes the beach and clubbing…which should answer the questions we’ve gotten about the dodgier side of Dubai. Quite honestly, my opinion is that if you look for sleaze, you’re going to find it. If you aren’t looking for it, you wouldn’t even notice it, which applies to any destination you travel to.’
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our Dubai escapade!