|Burj Khalifa from the Dubai Mall|
Bill had collected a whole lot of air miles from his previous jobs and business. I should have, too, but I didn’t bother. Well, we have been using those miles for our European trips. This time, however, traveling to Rome required an overnight stay in Dubai. I said, “Why not?” especially since I wanted to take a peek at this wonder of the modern world. Besides, we wanted to visit Jay, son of Zennie, a dear friend in Manila, who had made Dubai home since nine years ago.
|No, I wasn't jealous!|
We loved the flight on Emirates. I loved the light lavender, pastel orange, and cream theme; it was very pleasing to my eyes. The flight attendants looked stunning with their low red pillbox hats accented with a cream one-sided veil. They complemented a cream top and light beige skirt. It seemed that the airline had made everything possible to make our 14-hour flight from Seattle to Dubai comfy. We had a cream blanket and a matching brown overnight kit.
|Bill's bloody mary|
The seats were all equipped with chargers for electronic devices. The airline had an award-winning package called ICE (information, communication, and entertainment). It had an inventory of 500 movies, including the latest Oscar nominees and many from every language, including Tagalog. I watched four! We also loved the Meditteranean/Arabic cuisine, very fragrant and spicy and the in-between-meals snacks and a vast selection of complimentary drinks. It is just too bad that Bill left his Lexus jacket at the overhead cabin and no one had brought it to the Lost Property Department.
Our plane landed at 7:30 pm and we were out of the airport by 8:10. The airport is massive, built for a maximum of 150 million visitors. In 2014, the airport officially became the busiest airport in the world with 70.5 passenger traffic. Terminal 3, where all Emirates flights dock, is the largest terminal in the world. Jay and family welcomed us to a warm Dubai night. Jay is a general manager of an import-export firm while his wife Honey is a beautiful flight attendant of Emirates. They have three kids Hayley, 4, Dylan, 8, and another girl due in two months!
|Bin Rashid Boulevard|
They took us to the heart of the city. Thursday is the last day of the workweek because Friday is prayer day, so everyone was out on the main street, S.M. Bin Rashid Boulevard. Traffic was horrendous. Dubai is the most densely populated (2.1 million) of the cities of the United Arab Emirates. It is incredulous that 21% of these are Filipinos or almost 450,000! Outstanding Christmas lights adorned both sides of this main thoroughfare. For about four long blocks, there was a fabulous display of vintage vehicles under cream tents.
Then we reached Dubai Mall, the most visited destination in the world with 65 million in 2012, more than New York City’s 52 million. It is famous for unique large displays such as the Waterfall of Illusions with two cylinders 30 meters wide each, 24 meters high. It features about twenty statues of men diving into the water collecting below from the falls. Dylan immediately asked us to focus on one of the divers. One by one, the other divers disappeared. What an unusual spectacle to see!
Next, we went outside the mall to the square/plaza. Voila! We were greeted by a glittering show of the Dubai Fountain, 25 % larger than the Bellagio Dancing Lights. The same firm designed both delightful shows. It is on a fabulous man-made canal around the modern Souk Al Habar with its luxurious entry bridge and gondolas plying around.
|at the Souk|
The 163-floor Burj Khalifa, currently the tallest skyscraper in the world at 2,722 feet, provides a dramatic background to the Fountain. This magnificent building is followed in rank by the Shanghai Tower in Shanghai at 2,073 feet, Abrasj Al-Bait Clock Tower in Mecca at 1,971 feet, and the One World Trade Center in New York at 1776 feet.
|the Dubai Aquarium|
As if these were not enough, Jay also led us to the Dubai Aquarium. It is the largest suspended aquarium in the world at 10-milion liter capacity with 140 species of aquatic animals, including the largest collection of Sand Tiger sharks in the world. Called King Croc, scuba divers can experience playing with a crocodile for $250!
But soon we had to go to the Premier Inn, our airport hotel, for out late check-in at 11:30 pm. We needed several hours of rest before our morning flight to Rome at 9:10 am. We thanked Jay and Honey for a few hours of fun at their modern city. We got about four hours of sleep and did not miss or hotel shuttle to the airport. Less than fourteen hours after we arrived, it was “Goodbye, Dubai!” We have to go back and find the time to see the Palm Hotel and the other wonders on the other side of this ultra-modern city.