Saturday, March 5, 2016

Dubai, UAE: 24 Hours in Dubai

When searching for places to head to from Africa, I was seriously torn between India, Australia, and Argentina. Clearly, these places are all super-related so I obviously had a very clear vision of what I wanted next.  I was always sad about having missed India on the way over from Nepal (and now India has an easy online visa application that doesn't involve an embassy run!). Then again, even though I'd never planned to go to Australia, I thought it'd be fun to have Jesse show me around for a week and use Australia as a halfway point on the way to South America.  Ultimately, my panic about my trip winding down (it's been 9 months on the road at this point, people! 9 MONTHS. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT) led me to book a one-way flight to Argentina.  The problem is that with all these places, you need the time (at least a month) to properly dedicate to each and every one of them, and time is unfortunately a luxury that I am running out of. Even saying that sounds insane.

Booking the cheapest flight to Argentina led to the next chain of events, which I would heartily NOT recommend to anyone else: a 9-hour flight to Dubai, 24-hour layover in Dubai, and a 19.5 hour flight from Dubai to Buenos Aires.  Total travel time: 51 hours.

But 24 hours in Dubai allowed me to explore it for a day!

What It's All About:
Dubai is the original baller, glamorous, super-developed Middle Eastern city. Like what Doha aspires to be.  It's home to these ridiculous mega shopping malls, the world's largest tower, The city is huge - there's an old quarter, where you can see what you would traditionally think of more Middle-East-type stuff - the souq, market, etc.  And then there's the bling-y new quarter - where there are the zillions of high rises, the largest mall ever, the tallest building in the world, the marina, etc.

This is the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. It is so tall that it wouldn't even fit in my camera frame.

Cliffnotes of the Day:
  • Landed in Dubai at 7AM. Jesse was on the same flight (every Emirates flight stops in Dubai), so we said our good-byes at the airport and he headed on his flight to Brisbane, while I exited towards customs. I headed to a hostel I'd booked for the night - there's only like, 2 of them as Dubai does NOT seem to be for backpackers because it's ridic expensive. 
  • After a quick nap at the hostel, one of my hostel roommates, Ellie, and I headed to the Old City to visit some of the souks (traditional markets, though I shouldn't have to remind you if you read the Qatar post...  =) ).  

Our first stop was the gold souk, which, as you can see, was full of tourists

The streets of the gold souk

Lots of bling-y necklaces

Next stop, the spice souk. See exhibit above; all the spices

And then we took an incredibly cheap boat ride (the only cheap thing I experienced in Dubai!) across the harbor to the clothing souk

Ellie and I on our lovely cheap boat ride

What is this boat

Somebody was feeding the seagulls. And it wasn't me. Seriously.

This mosque looks like a bunch of eggs

And I liked this building
The streets of the clothing souk

If only I needed a traditional Muslim dress....

  • Ellie headed back to the hostel and I took the train further into the New City, to the Dubai Mall.  People told me that even if I didn't like shopping (which I do, so moot point), the Dubai Mall was the craziest place ever and a must-visit.  It's the second-largest shopping mall in the world (the largest is apparently in Edmonton, Canada - super weird). 

Dubai Mall!  3 levels of overwhelmingness. Fun story, I basically ran myself to the Sephora as fast as possible (SO MANY MAKEUP NEEDS), but it's full of all the crazy, insane super-expensive makeup brands only! Sephora is totally different here and I do not like it.

In the Dubai Mall, there is a giant aquarium

Oh, and a skating rink

And huge waterfall sculptures

IHOP is fancy here!


Giant Bottega Veneta bags you can walk into and buy the real things

And then at night, there's a fountain show to music (a la the Bellagio in Vegas), but in front of the Burj Al Khalifa (aforementioned tallest building in the world)


Part of the skyline

And then they lit the Burj Al Khalifa up for National Kuwait Day or something

The super-crowded, super-happening scene outside the Dubai Mall

  • At the end of the day, I walked a billion miles around Dubai. The thing that struck me most was how many different kinds of ethnicities and people who make up this city - there's literally every language you can imagine being spoken on the train.  This city definitely draws people from all over the world to come work here.  If I'd had more time, I would have added in the Dubai Marina and the Burj Al Arab (the famous sailboat-looking building), but glad I got a super-quick whirlwind of Dubai.  The next morning, I hopped up at 4am for my delightful 19.5 hour journey halfway across the world.

See you all in Argentina!


  1. Your post makes me think Dubai is like NYC...but with space! Love you❤️❤️