Thursday, March 3, 2016

A Week in Dubai

If you've been reading my blog for a while you're probably thinking, "Dubai, again? Really?" Yep, that's right! The Husband and I recently went to Dubai AGAIN, which marked my fifth visit there. I don't have some crazy obsession with the place, don't worry, it's just that two of my siblings happen to live there.. (and I definitely don't mind the fantastic shopping...). Also, it works well as a hub for my family to get together, as my parents live in South Africa, my oldest brother in the States and The Husband and I are all the way on the East side in Taiwan.

Over Chinese New Year break, we made our escape from the miserable weather in Taiwan and headed west for some sun, family time and relaxation in the desert. The weather, by the way, was fantastic! Over the past few years, I've visited Dubai during the summer, which I probably don't have to describe to you? Hello, this is the desert. This time, we could actually do activities outside without turning into human jerky. I highly recommend visiting the UAE in the winter months, your options of activities are much more vast than in the scorching summer months.

My mom also flew in from South Africa to spend the week with us. FOMO? (Just kidding, Mamma!). It was lovely having her there, too! Unfortunately my dad couldn't make it, as he had to work and was also in charge of taking care of the fur children at home.

Burj Khalifa Emirates
I was lucky to get this shot of an Emirates airplane flying over the Burj Khalifa.

We weren't even in Dubai for 12 hours before the mother ship called me home; The Dubai Mall. One of the largest shopping malls in the world, and one of my favorites for a proper shopping spree. And it's not just the shopping; The Dubai Mall is right next to the Burj Khalifa and The Fountains, so that means lots of Instagram opportunities and incredible scenes to admire. We also stumbled onto the Wanderland Exhibition by Hermès, which was incredible as we got to see 30000 items, including pieces from the Emile Hermès private museum.

umbrellas ceiling
A sky of umbrellas decorated the ceiling at The Dubai Mall

I loved all the quality time I got to spend with my family. We don't get to see each other that often, so when we do, we make it count. We were basically laughing, eating and drinking 24/7. I truly treasure my time with these silly folk I call my family.

Cheesecake Factory drinks
Having lunch, and good times, with the family
This time around, I was set on going out into the desert. I haven't been yet, because in the summer months it's just too damn hot. So I was delighted when my sister's friend offered to take us on a desert safari in his Hummer. We went dune bashing in the desert outside Abu Dhabi right before sunset, and it was both terrifying and exhilarating! Although people often spot wild camels in the desert, we weren't so lucky. We did see a few in a gated area, but I couldn't pet them. Entire vacation ruined! 

After driving over dunes and holding on for dear life, we stopped and had a champagne picnic, overlooking the sunset on the horizon. It was magical, and I highly recommend doing this when you're in the UAE.

Desert Safari Abu Dhabi
In the desert outside Abu Dhabi

dune bashing abu dhabi
Desert for days

It was my first time visiting Abu Dhabi (about an hour's drive from Dubai) and I just HAD TO go see the world famous Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. I didn't know how "grand" it was until I got to see it with my own eyes. It's mandatory for all females to wear an abaya to cover your shoulders, legs and head. (By the way, entrance to the mosque is free, as so is the abaya rental.)

The mosque took my breath away! The bright white walls, the detailed tiles and gold trimmings, contrasted with the bright blue sky, was magical. I probably took a thousand photos, and really, the photos can't do it any justice. We spent hours there, admiring the details and grandeur of the structure. We even got to go inside! The interiors reminded me so much of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, although luckily the carpet didn't smell like the one in the Blue Mosque did... By the way, the carpet in the main prayer hall is insane; it's the biggest hand-knotted carpet in the world and measures 5627m2 (60570 square feet). It is absolutely beautiful! 

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque exterior

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque columns
Beautiful decor and details of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

The majestic interior of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Another place I got to visit this time around was the Dubai Marina. I've heard my siblings mention it many times, and thought that it was just a residential area. I was surprised when we got there to see that it was actually a very impressive area with a beautiful beach, lots of 5 stars hotels, restaurants and a walkway. We walked along the beach and soaked up some sunshine. We explored more of the area and had delicious seafood there.

The Dubai Marina

Dubai beach
Soaking up the sun in Dubai

The day before we flew back to Taiwan, we went to The Westin for their famous Friday Bubbalicious brunch. Now, this is not your regular run-of-the-mill Eggs Benedict and mimosas brunch. This is an EVENT that locals and tourist can't get enough of! It's on the pricey side, but the hotel offers a spread that you can't even imagine, and the alcohol is included in the price, too. (I couldn't help but think of all of my friends whom would have LOVED this experience!)

The hotel opens all of its restaurants, and guests can sit outside under the palm trees in the sun. Each table has a server who makes sure your champagne glass is filled to the brim at all times. The buffet selections were overwhelming, to say the least. Delicious Chinese, Thai and Indian dishes, a sushi bar, an outrageous seafood spread, cheese, cheese and more cheese, Mexican and Mediterranean food, chocolate fountains and and and... We literally ate and drank for 4 hours straight. Needless to say, we were all five kilograms heavier and not sober when we rolled out of there in the late afternoon. Another awesome experience that I'd love to do again!

sushi dubai
Sushi madness

seafood buffet
Fresh seafood

Although we only spent a week there, we did so much that I felt we were there for a month. I don't think I'll ever get sick of visiting the fam in Dubai, we have a blast every time. And there's still things that I'd love to do... Next time, I want to go for afternoon tea at the Burj Al Arab, and I'm still obsessed with the idea of taking a hot air balloon ride over the desert. Also, I still haven't been to all of the souks. And last, but not least, I want to pet a camel, dammit. So badly!

Dubai winter
Winter in Dubai

You can read the ramblings of my previous trip to Dubai here.

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