- Anirudh Rowjee
Welcome to my first travel log!
This is a recollection and a re-telling of my first trip abroad to Dubai, in April 2022. My memories are somewhat hazy at the time of writing, but I've done my best to create a standing archive of this time, so if I wish to, I'll be able to look back at this, and bring myself back to this time.
It's an extremely eye-opening experience to see the world around you, and to meet different people from different cultures, different walks of life, and different lives, and see how they coexist together. Going on this trip showed me so much about how people live, and how rich human cultures really are.
This post takes a visual approach to the art of storytelling, and to that end, is filled with images.
The text you see in quotes -
And by that, I mean, the text you'll see like this
Is taken directly from the log I wrote while I was there, at the end of each day. The rest of it is text i've written while recollecting the time, with added context.
We did leave a little earlier to ensure we had wriggle room if we needed some. Thankfully, we reached on time, largely due to the Bengaluru Traffic gods smiling down on us.
Checking in was surprisingly fast, with everything being A-Okay!
Cliche Passport+Ticket Image that did not make it to my instagram
12:22 IST 21/04
Takeoff went as usual, and we cleared immigration with no hassles. From then on, it was straight to the boarding gate.
It was here I found out that Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru, also has the sliding walkway (travelator? flat escalator? human conveyer belt? you know what I mean)!
This! Picture taken as a screenshot of a video
Boarding went on very peacefully. The flight was for around four hours or so, and I was intent on making the best use of this time to read some books, and to relax.
That I did not end up reading is a blog post for another ten seconds of a modern-day attention span, but for now, we solider on.
Soon enough, we got our food, and it wasn't half bad!
I'm writing this from the flight to Dubai! The experience has been fantastic so far. The lights are awesome, headphones aren't half-bad, and the food was hot, and very, very tasty. The Dum Aloo was really nice and very tasty!
No comment. Airline food is sometimes nice.
Sunset Simulator: Emirates Edition
It appears the lighting on the flight was designed to help impose a Circadian Rhythm, and hence, simulated day and night.
Night Sky Simulator with Stars DLC: Emirates Edition
The lights in the plane were really cool, and the attendants were super polite! I managed to watch most of "No Way Home" on the flight.
Finally, we land in Dubai after four hours of lovely Emirates hospitality! I was not prepared for what was to come.
My first view of Dubai on the ground
Off the plane and into the airport we went. When I first set my eyes upon it, it looked like I was living out a fever dream - bright, fluorescent white, Chrome, and a small splash of bright colors. The vaulted ceilings and shiny reflections everywhere really helped tie this together.
initial approach to immigration in DXB
The airport in itself is huge, to the point that an in-house subterranean rail system is used to ferry passengers from one terminal to the other.
The automated(?) train system moved so fast that I was struggling for balance
Nothing special, just a 120-person elevator
High ceilings, open areas, tons of white, chrome and neon white, combining to make you feel like you're in a massive cavern of sorts, yet to be explored. The central concourse had fast-moving LED Displays advertising Expo 2020, and walking down the path, we were greeted by multiple folks, each hoping we'd decide to stay at their hotel.
Central concourse at the DXB!
Post immigration, we headed off to the baggage pickup, soaking in this amazing environment. It took us a while to get used to how bright it was after the dim calmness of the flight. We saw travellers from around the world here, and I did my best to not get too lost in the sheer marvel of the place.
waiting for the luggage gods to give us our bags
We finally get our luggage, and find a cab to take us to our hotel. It was then that I had my first introduction to the flat, speedy roads which I would later appreciate. We cruised with confidence down the absolutely spotless roads, pothole-free roads (can you tell where I'm from?) and though we arrived at around 2 In the morning, there was still traffic!
We reached our hotel around 3AM, and began to look for the nearest place to eat. Much to our surprise, we found plenty of places still open!
We checked in to the hotel the night before, and realized we had a rather large room.
The corridor of our hotel
We ended up eating typical Indian fare, deciding to delay the experimentation for a couple of hours.
Per expectation, we came back and crashed into bed, the adrenaline of the new setting having worn off a tiny bit.
I've just woken up, and we're getting ready to leave, and visit the Dubai Frame. It's already hot - I keep my hand on the window pane, and the window pane is hot - and the humidity hits you like a blanket.
No kidding there, it was hot - however, not has hot was we expected! It was a rather "pleasant" - higher 20s, lower 30s - so we didn't really need as much sunscreen as we'd brought.
I'm ready, and we'll be stepping out to check out the Dubai frame, which, supposedly, has the second-best view in all of Dubai - following which we'll be going to the Palm Jumeirah, where there's a lot more to see. We can have breakfast. I'm excited! It's still a little surreal that I'm in another country. It'll feel more real when I step out, is my guess.
We quickly finished breakfast, and decided to stay put for a while, planning out the day and soaking in the atmosphere. (By Atmosphere, I mean the AC, but we don't need to stress up on that).
we got ready and decided to visit the monorail instead, as we were running late. The drive down the E11 Road road was scenic, with it looking a lot like a video game as opposed to real life. Buildings so tall you need to crane your neck to see the top, and the distance ever so lightly reducing the opacity - it was a sight to behold.
The road in question is also Sheikh Maktoum Bin Rashid Road and Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Road, and what i've written about this road does little justice to how grand and amazing it actually was.
On Approach from Old Dubai
We had to get on a flyover, and once we were through, we went down an underpass. The sights we saw as we emerged are still burnt into my brain.
As you emerge, the heights of these buildings will make you crane your neck as you attempt to see the top. They seem to be incomprehensibly high up.
Here's what you'll see a little ways along - To the left, you'll see the Museum of the Future.
We continued to be awed by these buildings as we journeyed towards the Palm Jumeirah, where we got off at the Monorail station. A brief escalator ride later, we purchased our tickets, and were ready to travel on this famed train, all the way to the Atlantis Dubai.
Entrance to the Monorail Station
The view from the monorail station - I lost count of the number of fancy cars I saw on the road here
At the monorail station, near the ticket counter
We then went on the monorail, which traversed the Palm. We saw all the fronds, but the only complaint was that the window mesh on the monorail spoiled the view :/
The view from the monorail as we zoomed along the main line of the Palm was quite fascinating. You wouldn't be able to tell that you're on one of the largest man-made islands in the world at all.
The Burj Al-Arab, as seen through the window mesh of the Monorail
We then got off at the Atlantis, where we walked around the hotel, balked at the exorbitant prices, and took stock of all the stores around, including Gordon Ramsay's restaurant.
The view near the entrance of the Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai
I took this picture there.
no difference, we're the same person
We also saw the attendants at the water park holding tridents.
some of the wares on display for purchase | Picture Credits - My Mom
It was at this point that I decided that I saw (in hindsight, someone who looked very similar to) Sergio Perez, Formula 1 Driver for Red Bull. They were decked out in RBR Merch, so my brain saw it as the next logical conclusion.
I could swear to god I saw Checo.
We then left, and hopped back on a cab. Since we had some time to spend, we decided to go visit the Mall of The Emirates, one of Dubai's largest shopping malls.
On the way back, we decided to go to the Mall of the Emirates, which is HUGE.
Saying that the mall is large is an understatement, and it's something one needs to experience to understand. There's no end in sight, and all around you are stores for every possible thing you can dream of. We spend some time just walking around the mall, soaking in the sights.
Hunger calls, and we have our first tryst with the food of Dubai. In a rather anticlimactic turn of events, we chose to try out some Canadian food instead. We look around and settle on Poutine, which is a Canadian staple consisting of French Fries, Cheese Curds, and Gravy.
My phone's on Dubai time now, and I'm in the Mall of the Emirates. We're eating Poutine at the food court!
We had two types of Poutine - I, in my purist approach, picked the Original Poutine, while my sister chose to try a mexican variation of the same.
Mexican Variant of Poutine
While I knew that I shouldn't expect something familiar for the "Gravy" component, exactly how different it was did somewhat surprise me. Sure enough, My tryst with Cheese Curd, "Gravy" and French Fries ended on a
bittersweet somewhat interesting-tasting note.
The Roof at the Mall of The Emirates
As soon as we were done shopping in the mall, where everyone else spent a lot of time at Carrefour, and I spent a lot of time at nearly every tech store i could visit.
Carrefour is one of the largest retailers of the world, with a significant presence in the UAE. The stores are huge, and you'll find almost everything you need (and then some) in a regular Carrefour. There's even a mini restaurant in each one, so if hunger strikes, they're prepared to help you in that department as well.
If you're visiting, be prepared to walk. A LOT.
Carrefour had really nice discounts on some things, but nothing to the point that i'd pick buying it over here for. Also Carrefour is HUGE - easily three times the size of the main block of college. They had so many things over there.
I've been spoilt by deep discounting for my tech purchases, can you tell?
We then headed back to the hotel.
Once we were done shopping, we took the Metro back to the hotel. It was super fast, and the view from the metro was AMAZING. Unfortunately it was also very crowded, so i didn't really get to enjoy it much, but it was still an amazing experience nonetheless.
The metro had amazing views of the City, as it travelled along the arterial E-11 road. It was well-organized, and we were able to get on to the metro directly from the Mall.
The Exit of the ADCB Metro Station
We got back and lazed around for a bit, and then we decided to go somewhere close by for dinner. We decided on a place to visit, but spent some time walking around in the smaller streets instead, looking at what the locals usually had to eat and drink.
Walking around, soaking in the streets you don't usually see on youtube
No dearth of supercars anywhere
It turns out that the locals are mostly non-vegetarians, and finding vegetarian food in Dubai is hard. We ended up walking around quite a lot to find a place that had good, non-Indian vegetarian options.
Getting back onto the larger roads, looking for something to eat
At the end of this, we decided to head to the Beirut Grill and Restaurant, where we tasted authentic Lebanese food, and reaffirmed our love for Hummus.
The Mezzeh Platter, copius helpings of Hummus, and plenty of flat breads - a filling dinner
At the end of our hummus escapade, we went to a nearby dessert shop, where we had three different types of Khanafeh, some Khanafeh Ice Cream (which tasted a little like Saunf) and two coconut-based sweets.
Khanafeh! Creamy enough to make you forget you don't live here.
Some more sweets from the same place
Came back and slept.
the view on the way back to the hotel - it would make for a fine video game loading screen
Better rested than we were before and ready to find some more interesting things about this city, we set out yet again.
Today started off with us thinking we'll visit the Dubai Frame. We stayed for a while and took pictures.
The Dubai Frame, which glows beautifully in the light of the sunset
I've heard the idea behind the Dubai Frame is that it's a monument to Dichotomy, to both the old and the new sides of Dubai.
The frame is located at such a point that if you look at it from the Old Dubai side, you'll see the New Dubai - Skyscrapers, Luxury, and Power - and vice versa - Looking it at from the New Dubai side, you'll see the History, Culture and Industry that Old Dubai represents. Both, however, are framed in Gold, and that might just be the point to drive home.
Once that was done, we went to the Dubai Mall, which is really, really, really, need-an-app-to-navigate large.
The app works excellently. The scale of the mall in itself is hard to take in at first glance.
one of the many entrances to the Dubai Mall
First we saw this huge, HUGE fountain, which really added to the depth of the place. It looked very serene, and very, very calm.
A wide-angle shot of the fountain
This fountain wraps around a good part of the lower few floors of the mall, making it a sight to behold. The light glinted off the water, and the movement made it really calm.
A close-up of the elements of the fountain
The mall is, understandably, the de-facto shopping location for luxury shopping. Famous and exclusive brands were located as though they were mere stalls in this giant complex, offering up each and every whim a shopaholic might have.
what's the secret?
We roamed around for a while, first stopping at Paul's Boulangerie to have croissants. They were nice, airy and light.
can't really say no to these.
Post this, we walked around rather aimlessly, just taking in the sights. I happened to glance upon a scale replica of an F1 Car, which I wasted no time in taking photos of. This was at the IWC Store, where they also had really cool suspensions of watch parts so you could easily see how each watch was built.
Suspended (in) time
The Mercedes at the IWC Store!
We had lunch, and then we then went near the aquarium, where we saw so many different types of animals (sharks, manta ray, etc) and also noticed the "star-lit" roof of the mall.
We happened upon an extremely large candy store, which, for a while, made me feel like a child in a candy store, which was exactly what it was. We also saw someone make candy from scratch, which was extremely cool!
The wall of fish - this aquarium was multiple floors large, and had a transparent tunnel where you could walk into the tank!
One part of The roof - The Dubai Mall
Another part of The roof - The Dubai Mall
We roamed around the tech stores until we ended up at the Cheesecake factory, where we ordered two slices of cheesecake. Both were decadent and sinful, each bite being absolutely to die for. We had the original '30th anniversary slice', and the 'Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake' as well.
This is easily some of the best cake I've had in my life.
The 30th Anniversary Slice from The Cheesecake Factory
The Godiva Chocolate Slice from the Cheesecake Factory
It wasn't this dark, but it was definitely a very nice vibe!
We took a cab back to our hotel, where, after a small rest of 10-15 minutes, got ready to get on the Dhow Cruise.
The road on the way back - a much nicer view
The Museum of the Future, a little closer
Another car I don't yet know the name of!
We reached just in the nick of time and got on. We didn't have any of the food there, but the views were pretty nice!
We ran to reach the dock at Baniyas Road, which has a beautiful view.
The Dhow we rode on
The view was pretty nice.
Nighttime views of the bay
We had dinner, and then set off to roam the Gold Souk, which had a lot many more machinations of gold than I could imagine. Masks, dresses, even, made of gold. It was a little surreal.
This place is another one you need to see if you're in Dubai. Shops on shops, all dealing only with Gold and Silver - some with World Records to their name. Somewhere, some Aurum Aficionado is having the time of their lives in this street.
The Gold Souq
The skyline on the way back
That's it for now!
I hope you had fun! We'll see what happened next in Part 2, coming soon!