May 13, 2007

Second chance

How would you feel when you had taken a 3 week vacation, where all you had to do was to roam around the city, spend the evenings visiting new places, wake up late with no hurry, eat at new restaurants and realize the minutes of the clock moving slowly? Don't you want to experience it often? Don't you love to give a second chance? This topic has brought back those wonderful memories I got to experience in Dubai last May. 3 weeks of a complete vacation! Most importantly, I returned with a fresh mind and took a very important decision in my career. Vacations do help to give clarity in your thoughts, think from a new perspective and provide a break from day-to-day schedules. I wish I could have such a vacation every year, where I'm totally away from workplace and get to see new places and meet new people.

I guess this is the best time to share my Dubai travelogue I had written for my office magazine.

Dubai - A friendly city for everyone

I was really looking forward to my 3 week vacation in Dubai. My husband and I boarded Air India and after 3 hours, the sprawling Dubai airport greeted us. Tall buildings on either side of a well-laid road, different kinds of cars moving at a very good speed but strictly following traffic signals, beautiful parks at almost every junction - Dubai impressed me within the first few hours since I landed.

At temperatures soaring above 45 C, Dubai was at the beginning of summer in May 2006. The shopping city, the city of gold - Call it whatever you want. But this beautiful city can be a host to anyone by catering to the different tastes and likes. The city of Dubai is divided into two parts - the traditional Dehra and a cosmopolitan Bur Dubai, thanks to the creek that runs through the middle of the city. The commuters cross this creek everyday using the water taxis that cost just half a dirham (equivalent to six Indian Rupees).

If you are a shopping freak, there are a number of malls worth visiting, especially the City Center, Bur Juman and Lamcy Plaza. City Center also has a multiplex, so you can catch a movie after a busy day of shopping. There are many electronic showrooms like Lulu Center and Jumbo electronics where you can get good deals. Bur Dubai caters to many computer showrooms, especially in Al Fahidi Street.

A good place to unwind and relax is the well-maintained Dubai creek park. There are many families who manage to have a picnic every Friday in this park. As you might know, Friday is the official weekend in Dubai. The 45 minute cable car ride is a visual treat that covers the entire stretch of the creek park and gives a wonderful view of the creek. Another nice park is the Zabeel Park where you can spend a few hours amidst greenery. Jumeirah Beach is a clean, crystal clear beach where you can go for a swim or just watch the waves and spend a nice evening. A water theme park "Wild Wadi" with many adventurous rides is also worth a visit.

If you are interested in knowing more about Arabic culture, the heritage village is worth a visit. It depicts the lifestyle of traditional Arabs, the houses, the utensils they made use of etc. The Dubai museum also portrays a conglomeration of Arabic culture and traditions and shows the various stages of growth of this city. You definitely need more than two hours to have a look at this museum.

Many travel agencies organize a three hour City Tour that covers the important places by bus including the King's Palace and the famous 7-star hotel Burj Al Arab. The highlight is of course, the Desert Safari. A couple of hours from the city is where the desert safari begins. It is an amazing and fun ride on the jeeps that pass through sand dunes of different heights and shapes. The ride ends somewhere in the middle of the desert for us to take a superb view of the sunset. A short camel ride in the evening, Henna designs, Arabic coffee, belly dancers and a sumptuous Arabic meal are the other interesting aspects of this trip. If you are a non-vegetarian, the dinner will definitely be a feast to your taste buds.

As far as food is concerned, there are many Indian restaurants like the Woodlands, Sukh Sagar, Saravana Bhavan etc and also places serving traditional Arabic food like Yahala. Commuting through the city is easy, thanks to air conditioned public buses and taxis. But the traffic situation gets worse during the peak hours. With respect to climate, June to August are the peak summer months when it becomes difficult to go around. The shopping festival happens in January every year when the city is at its best.
If you are planning for a short vacation abroad, then make sure Dubai is on your list.

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