Way back in February or March of this year when we booked the initial trip to South Africa, Chris and I thought that it would be cool to book a ‘trip within a trip’ to another country or two while we were in South Africa. We had the world at our fingertips and our options were limitless! We debated and threw around potential countries like Turkey, Germany, and Madagascar. All were great options but we ultimately chose Dubai of the United Arab Emirates and Morocco. Dubai was Chris’ top choice and Morocco was mine. We had the two countries over the course of about three weeks. I was looking forward to this time even still when I was in Southeast Asia!
Chris knew what countries we were going to, but thats pretty much it. I left him clueless about accommodations and what exactly we were going to be doing. I get a kick out of surprising people with good things and this was no exception. I hired a taxi driver early on Monday, October 7th and he took us to the Cape Town Airport. Thankfully, we had a direct flight to Dubai which would be around an eight-hour journey through the Emirates Airlines; one of my favorite airlines I have ever been on! I already wrote about why I love the airline so much on a previous post, so I won’t get into that again. On the long flight, I ended up watching a few episodes of The Big Bang Theory, World War Z (which is nothing like the book!), and Oz: The Great and Powerful. I tried to watch The Man of Steel but the beginning part of the movie took way to long and I zoned out. Plus, in the canon story, Clark Kent and Pete Ross are best friends. In the part I saw in the movie, they were pretty much enemies! Thats when I turned it off. I’ll give the movie another go sometime when I get home. Anyways, before I knew it, we finally landed at the Dubai airport!
We landed around 1:15 am, a horrible time to arrive anywhere! While in Cambodia, I booked a pretty sweet five-star hotel in Dubai called the Auris Plaza, but we couldn’t check in until noon! I told Chris we would have to crash at the airport until the morning. I didn’t give him a reason why as not to spoil the surprise but just told him we have to! He rolled with it and we found a spot at a Burger King to chill out. It was almost 4 am and I still couldn’t really relax nor sleep. If I didn’t sleep now, then I would be sleeping the day away in Dubai, which I did not want to do. Maybe I can ask the hotel if it’s possible to get our room early? I woke Chris up and told him “Let’s go”! I caved in and informed him that I booked a hotel for us but we couldn’t check in until later. Even if we couldn’t get our room early, I’m sure their lounge would be better to sleep in than a booth at Burger King. We found a taxi outside and I asked him to take us to the the Auris Plaza, which was about 25 km away, right behind the Mall of The Emirates.
Driving through Dubai is just like I imagined; tall, magnificently built sky scrapers and bright lights everywhere. It kind of reminded me of Las Vegas. Anyways, we pulled up, grabbed our bags, and walked into the very ritzy hotel. It looked just like the pictures! I told the front desk about my reservation and asked if there was anyway possible way we could get our room now. Thankfully, he was such a nice guy and was able to get our room for us. Music to my ears! I could sleep! We were on floor 13, room 1322. We walked into our spacious room to the sounds of enchanting Arabic music playing on the tv with a welcome screen that read “Welcome Daniel Sellers. We hope you enjoy your stay.” How classy! I certainly will enjoy my stay! Neither of us went to sleep on the flight, so we almost immediately passed out.
We woke up around noon a few hours later in complete darkness. I woke up and opened the curtains and was instantly blinded by the light outside. It was time to get up! We both could of slept longer but we didn’t want to waste our day away. Chris has always assumed that I had everything planned out for Dubai from the get go, and initially that WAS my plan. But I thought it would be better if we decide as a team instead of me picking everything. What if I booked something he didn’t really like? I let him know all of the cool things we could do and that we should start off the day by going to Ski Dubai at the Mall of the Emirates. Ski Dubai is an indoor, man-made snow hill where you can ski and snowboard down a few slopes. What better way to spend our first day in the desert than by going snowboarding! The Mall of the Emirates is the second largest mall in Dubai and is a five minute walk behind our plaza. Man was it hot out there!
I didn’t mind the heat too much though. We were in the desert, so the heat was expected. On the brief walk to the mall, I found my shoes had sand in them. This would happen everyday here actually. But it wasn’t long before we stepped inside the huge, air conditioned mall. We found the Ski Dubai place inside and went and got our gear! We had jackets, snow pants, boots, socks, and a rental snowboard in tow.
It was crazy to think we were about to snowboard in the desert! We got a two hour pass and if we wanted more time, we would just extend it later. We walked to the inside of the ice arena and suddenly we were in a whole other world! A massive slope filled with artificial snow. Ski lifts streamed through the air to the peak. There were even cabins, lodges, and pine trees scattered about to give the feeling of being on Colorado’s famous hills. It was awesome! However, of all the life threatening things I do in my life, snowboarding would be the one most likely to kill me! Its been a few years since I last attempted to snowboard and it was for good reason; I had a horrible experience last time. Snowboarding is fun, I’m sure, but I could never figure out how to control my lighting fast speed and I could never stop properly. Back home in Michigan, I braved one of the biggest slopes nearby. I went at a super fast speed, not by choice, only because the board fully controlled me and not the other way around. I ended up going so fast where I had to leap over the wooden gates at the bottom because I didn’t know how to stop. That resulted in me tumbling to my potential doom through nearby trees and mounds of snow for what seemed like a whole minute. I wasn’t wearing a helmet. My head was in serious pain. It could have been a lot worse! Ever since that debacle, I haven’t tried snowboarding again.
I was a little nervous going in, but thankfully there was a bunny hill I could practice on with all the other sucky people. I went down the hill and went fast and straight just like I remembered. The only way I could stop was to fall over, also just like I remembered. I wasn’t liking this one bit to be honest. But anyways, we decided to take the ski lift up to the bigger hill, just because. On the way up, I grabbed a helmet because I felt like something bad could and would happen to me. We made it to one of the summits and I watched Chris go down first and he made it to the bottom with relative ease. I stared at the hill for a minute or two before I decided to walk back down. Too many flashbacks of my last incident kept playing in my head and I shouldn’t have come up here when I couldn’t even master the simple bunny hill. Chris wondered what happened. I told him I didn’t feel confident and wanted to practice on the bunny slope some more. It was a great decision on my part because at that same time there was a couple getting a beginners lesson there. I watched and paid attention to what they were doing and had a free lesson! In about twenty minutes, I learned how to control my speed, turn at will, and how to stop properly! My confident took a significant boost and I felt brave enough to attempt the bigger slopes. So up we went!
I’d like to say I went down the big hill without falling, but then that would be a lie. I fell once in the middle. But that’s it! I tried numerous times afterwards and made it down without falling over and with proper stops. My love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with snowboarding has turned into a whole lot of lovin’! We continued to snowboard for the next couple of hours before we realized how hungry we were. We haven’t eaten anything all day! Luckily for us, there were tons of restaurants to choose from in the Mall of Emirates. Our taxi driver who took us to the Cape Town Airport has been to Dubai and suggested we go to a restaurant called Japengo’s. He said the food there is of great value, tastes amazing, and has plenty to offer! We reached the food court and found Japengo’s and pigged out on a delicious hamburger, chicken sandwich, and fries.
Immediately afterwards, we found one of millions of different ice cream shops the mall contained! I got a Butterfinger ice cream with a wafer cone covered with chocolate sauce and more Butterfingers! I love Butterfingers. 🙂
We both felt like happy fat kids and went back to our hotel to relax and digest for awhile. We decided to check out the pool and spa that was on the roof of the hotel. From the roof, we had a great view of Dubai sitting in the dusty orange horizon. The sun shines bright almost permanently everyday here. Today was no exception, as it was still quite hot out. So we jumped into the pool! It was a little warm, but went to about 12 feet deep or so. We wanted to investigate the spa so we went into that area. The hot tub had lights inside that changed colors, the steam room was the hottest room I’ve ever been to in my life, and the sauna was your typical average sauna. It was a great place to cool down and relax your muscles, especially after spending all afternoon attached to snowboards.
Once night fell, Chris and I returned to the rooftop to enjoy a traditional Arabian shisha. A shisha is otherwise known as a hookah and it’s everywhere here in Dubai. I never had a shisha before, but it was suggested I try the grape mint flavored one. It was a good choice. It didn’t taste horrible. The whole time, we were both taking pictures and talking about how great chips and salsa sounded and how we both needed some. There was a Chili’s at the Mall of Emirates we saw earlier that we were pretty sure had chips and salsa. So like the fat kids we were, after the shisha we went back to the mall and into the Chili’s. We ordered our chips and salsa, along with fried mozzarella sticks and a chocolate coke for myself. Yes, you read that right – CHOCOLATE COKE! I think it must be coke with a little bit of chocolate sauce stirred into it. It actually didn’t taste bad! I’ll be sure to try it again when I get home!
One thing about staying in a nice hotel, is looking forward to going to sleep in your big cushy bed! I was looking forward to it all day especially after how little sleep we got last night. Chris wondered what we would do the next day. I didn’t have anything booked at all, but I suggested we set our sights on going to the nearest beach and starting from there. From our hotel we could see one of the famous land marks in Dubai sitting on one of the man-made islands. I think that would be a great starting point for the morning!