Oh my, Dubai!
Traveling the way we have the last 10 days has taught me many things about myself. It really has been eye-opening in so many ways. After being in Dubai, I realize that I enjoy being in nature, and in more low-key environments. Don’t get me wrong, Dubai is spectacular, but I prefer natural beauty. It is important for everyone to know this before continuing reading. We saw many wonderful things, but it can be a lot to take in (sorry Thomas and Diem, I hope you don’t disown me after this statement. I know how much you love Dubai).
Day 10: Holy Shit, That’s a Big Building
Today we started our trip to the United Arab Emirates, specifically Dubai! We drove to Dubai from Oman (only a 5 hour trip not including our stop through customs…so much fun…). After a couple meltdowns, a dance party, a forced nap, and a few suicidal thoughts, we saw the city. One of the things about Dubai I was most looking forward to seeing was the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world), and once the skyline was in view, it was prominent. The Burj Khalifa looks like it is easily twice the size of all the other skyscrapers. The skyline is truly spectacular!
We are once again going to fast-forward two hours because once we got into the city, this is how long it took us to find our hotel… thanks traffic, and sub-par infrastructure. Our driver also had an intense bout of road-rage (cough cough BOOKIE cough cough) which lead to the entire profane dictionary being screamed. After shouts, tears, and curb jumping (literally), we somehow made it to our hotel in one piece. Despite how terrible the car ride was into the city (and let me tell you, it was truly terrible) we were able to have a good laugh… about Popeyes (yes, the fast-food restaurant)
When we were in Monterey, I tried to teach myself Arabic (key-word, tried… Arabic is insane). I learned the alphabet, and I can sound out words, but I have the abilities of a preschooler. One of the things I like doing while Bookie is driving is reading the words as we go. It is great practice for me, and keeps me mildly entertained. I really love reading American companies’ names written in Arabic. For example, Starbucks written in Arabic sounds like starrrr-books (with a rolled “r”). Popeyes is a really fun one to read. The Arabic language doesn’t have a letter equivalent to “p”, so they replace it with the letter “b”. That means Popeyes is pronounced (wait for it….) boob-eyes. Once I figured this out I said, “Bookie look! Popeyes is Boob-eyes”, then the boys started cracking up. We started saying stuff like, “I love Boob-eyes”, “look at those Boob-eyes”, and my personal favorite (from Mason said with a motor-boating gesture), “I like to eat Book-eyes… nom nom nom nom”. That is now an ongoing Genest family joke, and every time Bookie has a bout of road rage, Hunter brings it up. Boob-eyes!
After the two hours it took to get to the hotel, we were done for the night. We ate dinner, put the boys to bed, consumed as much hard liquor as possible, and got ready for the next day.
Day 11: In a While Crocodile
Today was Bookie’s Embassy day, so I took the kids on an adventure! Our hotel was very close to a Metro Railroad, so I made Hunter and Mason’s day by catching the train to the Dubai mall. The moment those boys realized we were going on a train, they lost their minds. Both boys started screaming and jumping up and down like they had won the lottery. I probably could have taken them on the train and then came back to the hotel and they would have been happy, but we didn’t end our adventure there. Inside the Dubai Mall, there is the World’s Second Largest Aquarium (Atlanta, Georgia holds the record for largest… USA! USA! USA!), so I had to take the boys to see it.
The first thing we did was take a behind-the-scenes-tour of the aquarium where the boys got to feed fish with large pellets the size of a roll of quarters. Every time a pellet was thrown in all the fish started splashing. The boys thought that was hilarious.
Then we went to see the different exhibits. They were very nice. Lots of fish, turtles, and starfish. The boys had a great time looking around.
They got to touch a couple of starfish.
Then we came across this monster!!!!
This guy was my favorite part of the aquarium. He is the world’s largest crocodile! This guy is 16.5 feet long and weighs 1,650 pounds! HE WAS HUGE! The boys and I spent at least 20 minutes staring at him. That smaller Crocodile in the back was a full sized female! Look at the size difference.
Dubai is all about being big and flashy, and the aquarium was no different. When we got to the atrium of the mall, we were able to truly appreciate the vastness of the aquarium. There was a tunnel that we were able to walk through where we were surrounded by fish, sharks, and various other sea creatures. It was really cool.
Then we took the boys to the Rain Forest Cafe. They loved the moving animals, and the singing. Bookie met us halfway through our excursion, and he hung out with the boys at the cafe while I tortured myself window shopping. The Dubai Mall is huge, roughly 12,100,000 square feet (only half of the size of my dream house). That means there is 12 million square feet of shopping to do… sorry for the hesitation, I was daydreaming. I could have done some real damage to my checking account. Luckily for our finances, one of the only things that makes shopping unappealing is doing it with 3 kids and a husband.
When we got back from the mall we put the kids down for a nap, and I selfishly left Bookie in the hotel room and went to the spa. I mean, luxury is what Dubai is all about, so to culturally understand the area I needed to experience spa time. I was just exploring the culture, and took no pleasure in the afternoon. I was only supposed to be getting my eyebrows threaded (a 15 minute process), but came back two hours later. We were going on a date that night, so I HAD to get my nails done too. Then I HAD to drink the tea they offered. I really had no choice.
We went on a date that night to a fantastic tapas restaurant called El Sur. We had a ton of wonderful food, but the star dish was this bad boy:
They called it a Hendricks Perfect Pour, and it was perfect. Hendricks gin, cucumber, rosemary sprigs, roses, peppercorn, and elderflower tonic water. It was pretty and delicious. I will learn how to make this.
After the restaurant, we went to the lounge area at our hotel, and enjoyed a couple more drinks and some shisha while looking at the Burj Khalifa.
We had a great date. If anyone is wondering what we did with our three kids while we were on our date, we left them with a hotel babysitter. I mean, they were fine, and if they weren’t, I’m sure we would have been given lavish apology gift from the hotel. Definitely a win-win situation if you ask me.
Day 12: Choo Choo
The boys enjoyed the train so much, that we decided to take a train through the city of Dubai. It was our way of getting a “real” view of the hustle-and-bustle of the city. We started in the middle of the city (where we were staying) and went to the man-made islands. This is what one of the islands looks like on googlemaps:
The train we took went right down the center of the island. The outside arch is full of skyscrapers, and the palms are houses. At the very top (where it says Atlantis) is a huge hotel with a waterpark. It is REALLY nice, and if you want to spend $8,167 per night you can stay in room that is underwater. No, seriously! You can literally say you slept below sea level! I am accepting donations now. Come on people, hook a sista up here! You have got to love the extravagance of Dubai!
Talking about extravagance and man-made islands, they are in the process of building this man-made group of islands:
They call it, The World, and this is what it currently looks like:
Each island is for sale, and each island is named after a country. OMG I was just looking up the island to make sure I wasn’t feeding you a bunch of horse poo (AKA I didn’t want to be Trump), and each island tries to mimic the topography of the place it represents. I’m sold! After I spend a week in my under-the-sea hotel room, I am going to buy an island here!
Okay, I’m going to reel myself in now that I have gone off on that tangent. Between the mall, the hotel, and these islands, I think my imagination has spent about 10 million dollars.
After our train excursion and much needed naps, we went to have dinner at the Dubai Fountains (located outside of the Dubai Mall). If you have seen any movie that has featured the Bellagio in Las Vegas, you have seen the Dubai fountains… except for the awesome, huge, 163-story Burj Khalifa that acts as backdrop. To get to the Fountains was a bit of an adventure though.
First, let me start off by talking about the taxi drivers in Dubai. They are all assholes. Wait, that isn’t fair… we took 5 taxis, and 4 of them were pricks, so, 80% of taxi drivers in Dubai are complete assholes. The one that we attempted to use to get to the fountains was the worse of them all. We asked him to take us to the Dubai Fountains (a pretty big freakin’ landmark), and he pretended not to understand. After about 20 second of trying to get him to understand where we wanted to go, Bookie jumped out of the cab and asked the Bell Man to tell him. The Bell Man walked to the window (and this is not an exaggeration) said, “Dubai Fountains”, and the jackass said, “Okay Dubai Fountains”. The Bell Man pronounced it the exact same way Bookie did. Then, he purposely turned into traffic (we know this because of the two hours it took to get to the hotel). After watching the meter creep up, and only traveling one block, we got out of the cab and just took the train. We were so angry. We missed our dinner reservations because of this guy! I am still angry just thinking about it.
We rushed to the train, got on, took it to the mall, rushed through the mall (yes, the 12 million square-foot mall…), and got to the fountains (45 minutes after out reservation). Oh yeah, I was wearing my sparkly 3 inch hooker-heels during this debacle. Once we got there, my amazing husband walked to all the restaurants and found me a place to sit and eat while watching the fountains because he knew how badly I wanted to see them. He really is the best! And, after all that, I can confidently say, IT WAS WORTH IT!
The boys loved the fountain! Even Austin was captivated!
After all it took to get there, I wanted to enjoy it, so I didn’t take many pictures. Sorry for the quality. We got to see the fountains twice, and in between each fountain show, they lit up the Burj Khalifa, which was almost better than the fountains.
It ended up being a fantastic evening. Sometimes you just need to push through the insanity.
Day 13: A Persian, Saudi, and American were Sitting in a Pool… No, Seriously
Dubai was a lot to take in. Everything was just so big and so grand (that’s what she said… or is that not cool anymore?). We decided to relax by the pool our last day in the city. It was a great day! Bookie taught Hunter to swim without floaties on (yeah, Hunter learned to swim in Dubai, in a pool overlooking the Burj Khalifa… no big deal). Mason and I had fun playing together while a nice Iranian woman held Austin. In all fairness to me, she was standing right next to me the whole time, and I spoke to her for about 20 minutes before I handed him off. Which leads me to what I think is the thesis of Emirati culture.
I was in the hot tub (which was only 10 degrees warmer than the pool, so that is where the boys were playing) with my four men, and a woman and her husband jumped into the pool. We stared talking, and it turned out they were Persian. Bookie and the husband started talking about Iranian politics, and the wife was telling me about how beautiful Iran is. A few minutes later a little boy about Mason’s age joined us in the pool. His mom sat outside of the pool (because she was wearing a Burka). Mason was playing with the little boy, so I started talking to her… in VERY broken Arabic. I was able to ask her what her and her son’s name was, where she was from, and how old her son was. I told her that I was American, and that I live in Bahrain. ALL IN ARABIC… okay my brag session is over. After that I had no clue what she was trying to say to me, and sadly, the conversation ended.
Dubai is like my pool experience on crack. It is just a mix of so many nationalities all doing business with each other. Just walking around I heard so many languages, and saw all shapes and colors. People ranging from wearing shorts and a tank top to full Burka. It was cool so see.
Day 14: Flowers Grow in Dubai?
Believe it or not, Dubai had also dabbled in botany. They have a large garden that reminded me of the Rose Parade on steroids. The park was large and full of beautiful flowers.
Mason found a train made out of oranges!
Hunter found his favorite building (the Burj Khalifa)
This area made me think of Kali
They even knew it was Bookie’s birthday!
The purpose of the visit was two-fold, first, a rose garden in the middle of the desert… further proving Dubai’s extravagance. second, it was a nice way to let the boys get some energy out before heading to our next destination… Abu Dhabi! We still have 5 more days to go!