Monday 1 July 2013
Road to Dubai
"It's a dangerous business, going out your front door. You step outside onto the road and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to" - J.R.R. Tolkien. That's always been one of my favorite quotes but after just one day of traveling, I think I'm starting to see the true wisdom behind it. For the very first time in my life, I am 100% on my own which is both terrifying and exhilarating.
The last time I had a proper sleep, it was in the back of my car parked in a field on a friends property out past Camden, Australia. As I write this, I am lounging by the sparkling, reflective blue waters of my Dubai hotel's heated pool watching Wimbledon and drinking a beer that until 10 minutes ago I hadn't even heard of ('Carling' for those of you keeping track at home. Not a bad beer). Somehow, I can't help but feel the whole situation hasn't quite dawned on me though. It's quite easy to forget where I am in a place like Dubai, but I'll come to that in a bit.
The trip here was fairly uneventful. I was on the first plane out this morning which meant being at the International Terminal at Sydney airport at 4am for a 6am flight. Thanks again to Mum, Matthew, Kate, Dad and Linda for coming out to see me off at that ungodly hour. I can't guarantee I would have done the same at that hour.
The barman just brought me out some complimentary nuts. I mean the nuts are "free" complimentary not "congratulating me on my snazzy outfit" complimentary.
The plane trip itself wasn't too horrible. Although I was seated next to two large Italian men, neither of them spoke much English so we didn't feel the need to converse. Call me antisocial If you like, but i'll take comfortable silence over 14 hours of awkward conversation any day. I may request to be seated next to foreigners in all subsequent flights.
I was met at the airport by a valet from the hotel where I am staying. The hotel is quite nice but modest by the opulent standards of existence Dubai seems to run on. Everything here is big, clean and just fantastic. I've been in Dubai for only 6 hours and I can already tell that I want to come back here again.
After getting settled into my hotel, I decided to go out and see something. Following the advice of my travel agent, concierge, taxi driver and basically every other person, I decided to have a look at 'Dubai Mall'. Dubai Mall is the largest shopping complex in the world which sounds like a bit of a cop-out as far as international attractions go. That couldn't be further from the truth. I didn't bring my camera with me which I regret, because now I'm going to have to try in vain to describe this behemoth of a structure and accurately convey how amazing it is. Firstly, it's big. Really, really big. I don't know how big exactly (google it if you really need to know) but I walked around it for 2.5 hours and I literally did not walk past the same storefront twice. It has every store imaginable and sometimes two. Three stores, in the case of Gloria Jeans. It has two 4-story indoor waterfalls, a full size ice rink with 5 layers of tiered seating around it and an aquarium complete with scuba diving in the shark tank. The food court alone is literally bigger than most medium-sized shopping centres.
Other things I noticed are that Dubai-ers (Dubainites? Dubaiiegians?) love their flag. Everything here is painted red, green, white and black. Oh, and Tim's Hortons are EVERYWHERE here.