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Cathay Pacific Business Class Hong Kong – Dubai
Dubai, Day 1 (Traiteur Brunch, Park Hyatt Dubai, Burj Khalifa, Atlantis Palm Islands)
Dubai, Day 2 (Shark Dive at Dubai Aquarium, Burj Al Arab, 360)
Cathay Pacific Business Class Dubai – Hong Kong – Tokyo Haneda
I wokeup relatively late on Saturday morning, and opted against breakfast since in my infinite wisdom, I’d consumed a massive cheeseburger at about 3am the night before. At that point, I met up with three friends in the lobby of the Park Hyatt where we caught a cab to the Dubai Mall. Today was the day I was most looking forward to:
We were scheduled to SCUBA dive.
In an aquarium.
An aquarium in a mall.
Dubai Mall has a very large aquarium smack-dab in the middle of it. It features an absolutely massive glass panel, which is the world’s largest acrylic glass panel. The aquarium is in plain view of all levels of the mall, so it truly serves as a centerpiece.
In the weeks proceeding the trip, we had arranged to dive in the aquarium with Al Boom Diving — a diving operation that runs dives to many sites in the Persian Gulf, as well as the Dubai Aquarium. We were asked to arrive at noon for an hour orientation and about a 45 minute dive to follow. We went through a brief orientation that went over the nuances of aquarium diving, and highlighted how NOT to get bitten by a shark. After the orientation and signing our lives away on waiver forms, we suited up and got in the water.
It was quite an experience. The Dubai Aquarium has an extensive collection of fish, sharks, and rays. In particular, this aquarium has the world’s largest collection of Sand Tiger sharks, a particularly ferocious looking, but relatively docile species.
While a couple other friends snorkeled above, we had another friend who took pictures of us from the outside the entire time.
Without a doubt, the most unique and memorable part of this dive was having an audience. It felt like I was a goldfish in a fish tank, and the humans were all gathered looking at me. Seriously though, it was pretty cool waiving back at the little kids who ran to the glass waiving with grins ear-to-ear.
The sharks were of no concern to me, and they really didn’t want much to do with the divers, as expected.
We finished up the dive, dried up, and then I headed for a dim-sum lunch with a friend while the rest of the group went to High Tea at the Burj Al Arab hotel – supposedly the world’s only 7-star hotel. After lunch, we went to check-out the Burj Al-Arab from the outside and the Jumeirah Beach Resort. It was entirely too hot outside, so we went back to our hotel to hangout at the pool.
I got a quick nap in after the pool, and then we headed to have a traditional Arabic dinner at Reem Al Bawadi. This place did provide a good sampling of some Arabic foods, but there were also some highly Americanized selections – like fried mozzarella sticks. Unfortunately, the service was extremely slow, but it was nice to have dinner with a huge group of about 16 people.
Once dinner was complete, we hailed a few cabs and took them to the Jumeirah Beach Resport, where we went out to have drinks at 360, the club at the end of the Jumeirah Marina’s pier. The views from out here of Burj Al Arab were phenomenal.
We had an awesome last night in Dubai out at 360 – the drinks were great, and the views of the area were just awesome.
We then called it a night and headed back to the hotel for some more fun. It was a late night, so I slept in pretty late on Sunday. I awoke to join some friends at the pool for a few hours before I headed back to the room to pack. I said my goodbyes to my friends, and met my S-Series Mercedes for a lift back to Dubai International Airport, where I had a 5:25pm flight scheduled back to Hong Kong and then to Tokyo.
Overall, I really enjoyed Dubai. It’s a shame that I didn’t get the three intended days here since I was planning to meet my former roommate and friend from Grad school in Dubai the first day before he left for Japan. Alas, this was not in the cards due to the debacle with my outbound flights. I also missed out on a trip to Abu Dhabi, but there’s always time for that in future trips. The biggest takeaway from Dubai is that it’s an interesting place. There’s obviously a ton of money here, and as a result you have some pretty phenomenal architectural marvels. Folks over here are also pretty intent on making Dubai a true tourist destination, and they’re well on the way to accomplishing this. I didn’t get a chance to go dune-bashing, which I really wanted to do. I do regret sitting out the Royal Tea at the Burj Al Arab, but when planning it, I couldn’t justify paying the price for it.
Food and especially drinks are not cheap in Dubai. However, cabs are dirt cheap. Our hotel was a bit out of the way — by Dubai Creek, but this was not at all a problem since the cabs were so reasonable. The city does have a metro system, but I never tried it. Dubai is a city of what seems to be a never-ending number of malls, so there are retail shops from every high-end retailer you could imagine. I’d love to come back to visit my roommate and knock some other things off my list, but honestly, there are many other places that I’d rather visit first. With that said, I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity to spend a few days in Dubai, as it’s a place where I’ve wanted to go for quite some time.