Wednesday 25 September 2013

Day 15 - Homebound

With the alarms set for 4am we didn't get too much sleep. We quickly finished the packing and checked out of the hotel by 5am.

All packed and ready to leave 

Terminal 3 at Dubai International Airport is like a Disco

After check in - at Dubai International Airport
We had to take a bus to the plane, a tad annoying, which did mean it took longer to load everyone on board, so we took off a little late. The fight was just over 8 hours back to Dublin.

Our boarding gate

Our vegan arabic breakfast on board Emirates
During the flight we managed to squeeze in three movies (including Die Harder A Good Day to Die Hard and Olympus has fallen) on their impressive in flight entrainment system, which provided up to three screens!

The "ICE" information, communication and entertainment system on board Emirates. 
Due to local fog we circled Dublin for quite a while but landed safe and sound.

We've had an incredible adventure over the last two weeks. The contrast between China and The United Arab Emirates is great. We have loved both cities and are sure to visit both again.

Thanks for taking the time out to come on this journey with us, it's been great reading the comments. It's really appreciated.

Until our next adventure!

Patrick & Vinnie

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Day 14 - Last day in Dubai

It's was our last full day in Dubai today, we fly home tomorrow morning. In keeping with our routine we got up around 10am and gorged ourselves on the massive breakfast buffet supplied by the hotel.
We spent at least 4 hours down by the pool you could get used to this heat. And today they even supplied some ice cold towel to cool use down! Perfect.

Ice cold towels where provided to cool down
We decided to head to the Dubai Outlet Mall in the afternoon. It's not connected to the metro so we had to take a taxi. They built this mall out in DubaiLand, an area which was meant to be home to numerous theme parks, alas nothing has been build. They do still have a gate for Universal World, but that's about it. It's all desert.

The Burj Khalifa (the worlds tallest building) as seen from the taxi
We didn't stay to long at the outlet mall as we just weren't in the shopping mood, so we jumped into a taxi and headed to the Dubai Mall (as you do).  Being the worlds largest mall it's more like a city. There is just so much to do there. We adore it.

Driving through the desert en route to The Dubai Mall
At the waterfall in The Dubai Mall 
A quick break for a very delicious Costa at The Dubai Mall
If you ever make it to Dubai, The Dubai Mall is a must see. It will take you hours to visit and experience it all. We've been back to it 6 or 7 times and we still haven't done it all. It's designed like a high street with a mixture of department stores, shops and restaurants along the same strip. It's also a theme park with an ice rink, aquarium and that famous dancing fountain which has a show every 30 mins from 6pm until 11pm. It is currently the  worlds largest choreographed fountain system!

The stunning aquarium inside The Dubai Mall
Under the Burj Khalifa, the worlds tallest building
The fountain show is worlds largest choreographed fountain system
After some supply shopping for the journey home in Waitrose we headed back to the hotel to pack and try to sleep. Our flight is at 7am so we aim to be out of the hotel by 5am. 

Monday 23 September 2013

Day 13 - Aquaventure

There was no pool stop this morning for us, instead we packed our bags and headed on over to the man made island , The Palm Jumeirah.

Getting there involved taking the metro to Internet city, taking a taxi to the Palm Monorail and riding that down to meet the Atlantis hotel and Aquaventure at the end of the palm itself. 

We did visit this Waterpark before but we had to come back as it only expanded over the weekend to include a new set of slides. It's expensive to get in, €50 each. No food is allowed in, they do search your bags (but not your pockets). 

On our first slide we somehow found ourselves on the one we didn't want to ride. Six of us inside a tube going up wards and falling with a weightless feeling mid air. It was horrendous but amazing. 

We remained in the park until closing which is sunset (6pm). We took a taxi back to the hotel and enjoy a massive dinner at Wagamama which is in our hotel. 

We walked off the dinner by taking a stroll around the gold souk area near Deira and the Creek. We were the only tourists. There where no malls or big brand stores. This area was very local and immigrant heavy. Great to see. 

We rounded he evening off with a dance at the hotel nightclub. It was "ladies" night and featured a guy planing the drums in time to the dance music.  

Sunday 22 September 2013

Day 12 - Downton Dubai

It was another HOT day in Dubai. After we ate our weight in food at the breakfast buffet (mainly Indian) we lounged by the pool until mid afternoon. A perfect way to unwind and relax. 

We took the metro some 50 minutes out into the sunburbs and the desert to visit the IBN Mall. Thankfully we had seats all the way. The mall wasn't linked to the station so we did have to brave the heat, sand and motorway. 

Some of the must have ladies fashions are below:

They certainly love their giant supermarkets and the one at this mall is no exception:

They burn oud insense everywhere here, it's very beautiful. 

They are even partial to the odd camel
milk latte!

We took the metro back into town and out to Deira to visit the City Centre mall. 

Rounding off the day we took a taxi to one of the only bars with beer gardens in the city, aptly named The Irish Village. It was packed with live music being performed. 

Getting back to the hotel after midnight we settled in to watch all new Downton Abbey live along with home. 

Saturday 21 September 2013

Day 11 - Pool and Mall

Now we are in Dubai we can in earnest start to relax more and more. This morning was spent feasting on the wonderful breakfast buffet in the hotel followed by a nice three hour rest by the pool. Again temperatures are high 30s. It's too warm to sit in the sun, so we remained under the umbrella and took regular dips in the chilled pool water to keep cool.

The view from our room - the desert
In the late afternoon we took the metro over to the Mall of the Emirates - the second largest mall in the area. This is the mall made famous for having a ski slope.

Inside the Mall of the Emirates

The Mall of the Emirates
Ski Dubai
Surprisingly there are no Abercrombie brands here in Dubai, so we where stunned to see a Hollister is opening here later this year. 

A new Hollister Store will open in Mall of the Emirates later this year
We stayed in later that evening (early morning) having a rest and catching up on some XFactor and TV from home.

Friday 20 September 2013

Day 10 - Dubai

It was a rather quick flight back to Dubai (7ish hours) - we landed around 4am just ahead of the morning rush. It felt odd seeing the airport so "empty". By the time we cleared immigration our bags where already revolving around the belt.

It was too early to take the metro to our hotel so we took a taxi. As we where arriving so early we had contacted the hotel in advance to move our last days breakfast move to this morning. We were allocated a temporary room to sleep too before getting a little mini apartment upgrade later that afternoon.

After a wonderful rest by the pool, temperature where high 30s, we freshened up and headed to the Dubai Mall. This place is massive. We spent 5 hours there, covered only two floors. Had dinner in Vapianos and watched the dancing fountain. Everything you could ever dream of is under it's roof. Last year we had to take a bus connection from the mall metro station, but over the last year they've build an air conditioned walkway, which must be at least 1.5km long. It's takes a good 15 mins to reach the mall. Thankfully it has moving walkways. 

Before heading back to the hotel we popped into Waitrose for some hotel provisions. 

We popped over to the Ibis hotel opposite ours for a drink at sublime lounge. We had to take a taxi as it was too warm to walk. Only €1 or so. Then we ventured into our packed hotel nightclub before calling it a night.

Thursday 19 September 2013

Day 9 - Until the next time Hong Kong

Our time in Hong Kong is up for this holiday. Today we leave for Dubai. As our flight is actually tomorrow at 12:30am we've booked the apartment for an extra full day to allow us the time to explore, pack and get to the airport without the rush of an early check out.

After a long evening the night before we kick started a little later. It's quite hard to "rest" when visiting a city like Hong Kong as there is just so much happening. You find yourself caught up in the buzz of the city that you spend little time at home relaxing. This isn't so much a problem as we move to Dubai next where all we plan to do is soak up the sun and relax. 

We ventured back to Kowloon and headed up the 100 floors to Sky100. It's an expensive experience but the 360 degree views were certainly impressive. 

We had read many positive reviews about a Chinese vegetarian restaurant nearby called Three Virtues, so we headed over for a bit to eat. We where the only non-local customers, thankfully they did have an English menu. Whilst being vegetarian the foods were named after animal counterparts like chicken cartilage and shark fin. We picked three of the safest dishes which was an experience. We started with jasmine tea and soft nuts and for mains we had rice with fake ham with sweet and sour wantons. 

Having 90 mins to get back to the apartment to start the packing we decided to squeeze in a little walk to the avenue of the stars and the waterfront to take in the views across the Hong Kong Island one more time. 

The mid Autumn moon was high in the sky. Locals took photos of it whilst kids wandered around with lit lanterns. Tonight is the festival and we are going to miss it! The skyline here in Hong Kong has to be one of the most impressive I've ever seen. It's hard to say goodbye to such a beautiful and energetic city. 

We took the ferry across the harbor and headed back to the apartment to pack our bags and make our way to the airport. 

Hong Kong station located near by is where yiu can take the airport express. For a small charge (on octopus) you can even check in and drop your bags there! It was as usual very warm out and we didn't want to drag out bags through the underground/metro and streets above. The plan was to take a taxi to the station. However none of them would pick us up! We hope it was not because we where two white men with bags and they want to only deal with locals and local journeys. Countless available taximen blanked us. We had no choice but to drag our bags. 

Time was tight now, so the in city check in was a saviour. It only took 30 mins to get to the airport (which is MASSIVE). 

Our flight to Dubai is due to take off at 12:35am. Goodbye Hong Kong. You have been incredible (again).