“HAPPINESS IS SITTING DOWN IN AN EMIRATES PLANE.”
Especially when that Emirates plane is bound for Dubai.
Ever since Tom Cruise climbed that magnificent mirror-covered Burj Khalifa in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, I had near-unhealthy obsession with Dubai. The reflection of Monsieur Cruise (not that I am particularly a fan) and the insane backdrop of this city from an alternate reality, where skyscrapers rose from bare deserts.
I am, and was, fully aware that it’s nothing but a man-made heaven for the rich, and potential hell for the less rich. Packed with sprawling malls, exorbitant jewellery and gold shops, concrete havens and all-consuming, sweltering heat, it really doesn’t sound like my cup of tea. But I love cities, I love desert, I love skyscrapers, and above all, I love surrealness (though in the case of Dubai, skyscrapers, or well, a certain one, is competing for top spot).
When I realised I could fly from Ho Chi Minh City to London handily with a night in Kuala Lumpur and two in the United Arab Emirates, and flying with my beloved Emirates, and especially since I now had a friend living just an hour from Dubai… it was time to do it.
I hadn’t intended on doing Dubai so soon. It was one of those surreal dreams you, in a way, didn’t want to experience, because then it would stop being this fantastical dream. But dreams are meant to be fulfilled, and, well, I WANTED TO VISIT DUBAI.
My Dubai-situated friend, Kim, is amazing and talented in numerous ways, but as an airport-welcomer she is ultimately the best. I arrived at Dubai airport, sleep-deprived yet beyond ecstatic, and she was there with a sign. Yes, a sign, a proper hand-made welcome to Dubai sign for me, me, me, me, in Dubai, Dubai, Dubai, Dubai !!!!!!!!!
Before I knew it, we were on the Dubai metro, this sleek and silent method of transportation void of any pointless things like humans as drivers. And we saw the Dubai skyline. The Burj Khalifa. It was there, it was there as if it thought it were just your average building amongst others, with no sense of superiority or cockiness that I would have had, without a doubt, if I were the Most Magnificent Skyscraper on Planet Earth. If I were the Burj Khalifa, I would be an irritating snob, making the most of my magical powers I would be sure to possess an abundance of, burning the eyes of anyone who happened to glance my way. It felt strangely unnatural. I was there, looking at the building of my dreams, simultaneously ecstatically in awe, but simultaneously still getting through it alive. Life works in strange ways.
It’s all a bit of a dream. We got off at the Burj Khalifa metro stop, which is also home to the Dubai Mall.
Of course you’d expect nothing less than grandiose from something called the Dubai Mall, and it comes as no surprise, I’m sure, that it is the largest shopping mall in the world, with an area larger than 50 football fields, incorporating more than 1,200 shops. “Welcome to Everything,” its guide leaflet greets you humbly.
And in case you were wondering, they do have an ice rink but they don’t have a ski resort. The ski resort is inside another mall, the Mall of the Emirates.
But we skipped the everything galore, and went outside to give ourselves a neck ache whilst admiring the BK. My beloved Burj Khalifa (not Burger King). The top had literally disappeared into the clouds. Incredible is an incredible understatement for this moment.
We also chanced upon the #1 on Dubai TripAdvisor – the dancing fountains! Accompanied with bouncy Arabic music, the fountains in front of the Burj Khalifa performed an entertaining and highly skilled dance involving fast-moving water twirlings, high and low splashes and a bunch of intriguing moves only the most skilled fountains got. ‘A breathtaking extravaganza of water, sound and light’, describes the mall leaflet. Oh I wish I were so eloquent with my speech. ‘More than a thousand unique water expressions set to musical pieces’, it also boasts. Dancing fountains is not something I go massively out of my way to find during my travels, so it was cool to experience this novel famed show and very much appreciate it!
The rest of the first day was spent at various cafes and restaurants around Dubai malls, sipping green tea lattes in this mahoosive book shop (Kim’s fave) and outrageously priced ginger mojitos at the bar next to the indoor ski resort (as you do). By the time we got to Kim’s place an hour and a half bus ride away, I’d been awake for 24 hours and was, as you may imagine, somewhat tired.
Not that we’d be getting much sleep, as the next morning was due an early start to climb this little molehill of a building…
I hope you’re as excited as I am for the next entry.
Till then, some more Dubai facts:
See ya soon,