We’re back from a little jaunt to the Sandpit (Dubai). I’m still in a bit of a daze from the exhausting heat, the dizziness induced by looking up at all those glittering skyscrapers and the headiness of looking down at the ground from our birds-eye accommodation.
I was dazed by the supersized malls and their stellar window displays. I was drawn to the window of Bateel, their wares luring me in. They sell dates. Beautifully packaged dates. I don’t like dates – at all – and yet I was tempted.
I was fascinated (but not tempted) by the gold vending machines. Memories of putting pocket money into the vending machine at the local swimming baths and the chocolate getting tantalisingly stuck in the twirly dispensing mechanism put me off and there’s just no romance in buying gold from a machine is there?
Dubai Delights: Splash your cash
The big tourist attractions are slick operations. Everything is immaculate, organised and pricey. The costs can mount quickly.
Approximate prices below are for 2 adults, 2 kids in AED (United Arab Emirates Dirham)
Atlantis Water Park: 500-1000 AED, towels and lockers are additional.
Lots of slides including one where you bob through a tunnel in the shark tank. There is a lazy river with waves and rapids. This was a huge hit with our kids.
Dubai Aquarium: Basic Explorer Package 310 AED
See sea-creatures from the deep, creatures of the night, meet King Croc and ‘tour’ behind the scenes where new animals are quarantined and shark eggs are hatched. It’s a crowd pleaser.
Kidzania: 470 AED
Don’t go before 1pm. We did and were told there were already 700-800 school kids inside. We went to the aquarium instead. Kidzania comes highly rated by friends in Dubai.
Burj Khalifa Observation Deck: 430 or 720 at peak times
We just ran out of time.
Depending which combination of activities you plump for, the total cost can vary from a second mortgage, to a kidney, to the GDP of a tiny country.
BUDGET DUBAI: Inexpensive Pleasures.
Dubai Fort: Cheap as Chips – 10 AED
There is some questionable taxidermy on display and real sand on the floor, but it held our attention quite nicely. Learn about the pearl divers of old, wind towers and the visionary Sheik who realised the oil would run out one day and became the ‘architect’ of modern Dubai.
People Watching: FREE
I don’t think I’d ever seen a selfie stick before. It turns out they are not an internet joke and hugely popular in Dubai. I’m not sure which was funnier, the woman trying to walk and pout big eyed at her camera stumbling, or the woman in the aquarium tunnel trying to answer her phone while it was still attached the stick.
In the women and only children carriages on the metro I watched unsuspecting males (thinking they’d been clever jumping on the emptiest carriages) being politely directed to the more cheek by jowl, nose by armpit, areas on the other side of the pink line. Any male passengers flouting the rule faced a fine.
Metro: A day travel card is around 22 AED per person.
The metro might take longer and be less comfortable than a taxi, but you can get to a fair few places of interest. Particularly for the solo traveller, this must work out cheaper than a string of taxis.
Check out the Burj Khalifa, its fountains and Dubai Mall: Free, Free and Free
At the foot of the Burj Khalifa there is a lake with fountains that erupt every half hour in the evening and ‘dance’ to music. It’s a spectacular show. You won’t be charged for eye shopping in the malls either.
The Burj Khalifa is the world’s tallest building. It dwarfs the surrounding skyscrapers. It is more of a star-tickler, looking very much like a twinkling streamlined rocket ship. Look up…and up…and up.
Pickle’s highlight in Dubai was not the tallest building in the world, the dancing fountains, smooching a dolphin or anything else similarly gobsmacking. It was the doughnuts available at the hotel’s buffet breakfast and the 2 minute detour to a toy shop. Ho hum. Nevertheless, he’s keen for a return visit. He’s not the only one. We didn’t have time to go up the Burj Khalifa, romp through the desert or be dazzled by the gold souks. We might just have to fly by Dubai again sometime.
Exchange Rates 19th May 2015 according to Oanda.com
1 £ Sterling 5.76
1 U$D 3.67
1 SA Rand 0.31
1 euro 4.18