Sunday, November 02, 2014

Two Towers

If there are two structures Dubai is famous for, it's gotta be Burj Al Arab and Burj Khalifa.  So we made sure they were part of our itinerary, even if we had to go there by our lone selves.

Burj Al Arab is a bit out of the way, but easily accessible via the Dubai metro and a short cab ride. We had wanted to get close to Burj Al Arab thru the Jumeirah Beach Park, but that is closed for renovation.  Luckily, Mykel over at the concierge told us we could go to the public beach instead. And he was so right - that area got us pretty close to Burj Al Arab, and we didn't even have to pay an entrance fee or anything.  Whattawinner.

How annoying is Dubai that even its beach is perfect.  The sand is powdery soft and fine like in the desert and Boracay, and the water is certainly a lot cleaner than in our beaches.  The kids can wade far out into the water, it's all shallow and easy to run around in (no sharp corals or mossy seaweed on the floor to bother them).

All that, as if it wasn't already enough that the beach offers dazzling views of Burj Al Arab.  Life.  Is. Not.  Fair.

For his part, Ches was dazzled by the wondrous sight of all these hot women in skimpy bikinis. Hahaha.  It was mostly Caucasian tourists on this part of Dubai, whereas in all other areas the tourists are largely Indian (apparently Mumbai is only three hours away).  I've read there have been formal complaints filed against males who ogle the female beach goers.  Well, the beach is the only part of Dubai that does not follow the strict dress code that requires covering up to shoulders and down to knees.

Ate noticed while we were in Central Park that we are alike in that she also helps Bryan scout the area for the hottest chicks, like I do for Ches all the time.  Hahaha.  We're so weird, I know.

Me:  I like the built of that girl in white.  Is she pretty?
Ches:  Pwede na.  Ka-level lang naman nina Sharapova at Kournikova.

Hahaha.  Anna Kournikova is so 90s!

According to my walking Wikipedias (Yoshi and Chestnuts),  Burj Al Arab is not officially a seven-star hotel, that hotel ratings only go as far as five stars.  So Burj Al Arab's claim to fame of being seven-stars is largely self-concocted.  I guess everyone else took its word for it, hence the myth of the seven-starred hotel was born.

For my part, I just like its unique architecture.  It's one of those distinctive landmarks you will recognize anywhere, like the Sydney Opera House, or the Great Wall of China, or Cape Cod Light.  (Oh wait, maybe only I will recognize that last one.  Hahaha.)  

We were so happy we made the effort to go to the beach, even if it was out of the way and we could've spent the morning lounging by the hotel pool instead.  I've learned that it's always better to go somewhere and regret it, than to not go at all and regret it just the same.  This is what I try to convince myself with to get off my big butt when I get another one of my usual lazy attacks.

We left the beach in the early afternoon bcoz Ches had booked us to go to At The Top of Burj Khalifa at 3:30 PM.  It was a l-o-n-g walk from the metro to Dubai Mall, where the entrance to At The Top is located.  Thankfully, it was easy peasy to redeem our tickets that Ches bought online, and we had a lot of time to grab a late lunch at the food court and browse thru the souvenir store.      

I LOVE the At The Top tickets. Each one of us got a different version with lovely graphics and fascinating trivia about Burj Khalifa.  Example:  Burj Khalifa is so tall that you can watch the sunset at the ground floor, climb up the high-speed elevator to the top, and watch the sunset from there all over again.

Slow clap.  Burj Khalifa is Why We Went To Dubai.  And Ches and I are just so happy to be able to make Boots' seventh birthday wish come true.  It was fun for Yoshi, too, of course.

Me, to Boots:  Pwede bang next time Lego lang ang birthday wish???


So we rode the infamous elevator that takes you to the 124th floor in less than one minute.  Gasp.   And then we were at the observation deck and taking in 360 degree views of Dubai.  Wow.

I'm not surprised if that elevator is also the world's fastest or has some other record-breaking feat.  You got to give it to Dubai:  it does not do anything half-baked - it always has to be the tallest building, tallest fountains, only seven-star hotel, palm-shaped islands, swimming pool with sharks. Clearly the word 'understated' is not part of Dubai's vocabulary.  Everything just has to be exaggerated.

Who should meet us At The Top but Pinoy photographers.  They're the kind employed by the building and you do some silly poses for them and you can buy the pictures from the souvenir shop at an obscene price.  I love my kababayan, I do - but these guys could not even take a single decent shot.  You would've thought they'd at least have some basic knowledge in photography, but they have nothing on the boatman we met at the sunken cemetery in Camiguin, much less the expert camera tricksters by the Cagsawa Ruins.  Yikes.

Omg, Pinoys are everywhere in Dubai.  Dr. Kim my beloved derma was so right when he told us Dubai is overflowing with Pinoys you'd think you were right in Metro Manila.  He said he got the shock of his life when he went into a 7-11 in Dubai and heard someone call out behind him, "Teh, pa-load!"


Based on Ches' and my research (yes, we can be Travel Nazis, too), the best time to go At The Top is at sunset.  He said you're allowed only two tickets during the sunset slot, tho, so we settled for the earlier one.  It was perfect bcoz we had ample time to go around while waiting for the much vaunted sunset.  

I felt bad for the tourists who rushed in after the sun had already gone down.  From the entrance it's a long walk and a slow line to get to At The Top, probably an entire hour's wait, so if you give yourself only a couple of minutes to climb up and witness the sunset from the viewing deck, you are so missing it.  You can still catch the Dubai skyline at night, of course, and that's also pretty amazing, but that view is there all night.

The sunset, on the other hand, is there for only a few fleeting, glorious moments.

Out of all the tall towers and buildings we visited, the way up to Burj Khalifa is the most interesting. They have all these videos and pictures and all sorts of materials containing fascinating trivia about the world's tallest building.  It heightens the excitement and makes the whole experience rather surreal, that you're actually standing right there inside this magnificent structure that broke all sorts of world records.  You almost never get bored lining up and waiting for your turn at the elevator.

We made a game out of spotting the Pinoys in this series about the different nationalities that built Burj Khalifa.  Ches read somewhere that it was built mostly by foreigners bcoz the locals are largely content to receive their substantial subsidies from the government.  (In my next life, I'm so getting born in an oil-rich country, so I can afford to not work and just be my own lazydoodles self.) 

And in my next visit At The Top, I'm having dinner at Armani Deli, which is where the exit directly leads to.  Ooops, there goes my entire month's salary, all blown for a single and most likely overrated meal.  

We watched one round of the Dubai Fountain show from the viewing deck before we went down. We had dinner and headed outside this time to watch the fountains up close.

Omg, I LOVE the Dubai Fountain.  I don't care that it's the tallest or whatever - it's darn pretty.  We watched two more shows (they play every 30 minutes) before finally heading home.  The second one was to the tune of Time To Say Goodbye, and the last was this cheerful Arabian music.  

The Dubai Fountain is definitely one of my favorite things in Dubai.  It's one of those things that are So Beautiful It Makes You Cry.  I will always remember the Dubai Fountain now whenever I hear Time To Say Goodbye.    

The base of Burj Khalifa is a good spot to watch the fountain show.  I LOVE the pix we scored with the backdrop of Burj Khalifa all lit up and positively glowing at night.  If you ask me, the Petronas Towers is more beautiful - it has that otherworldly aura at night and even during the day, as tho it's some alien spaceship about to fly off into the sky.    

But as Boots pointed out:  Burj Khalifa is The Burj Khalifa.  It has no equal, and far be it from me to detract from all its fame and glory with my own silly ideas of what makes a building the most beautiful.

These pix alone make our Dubai trip so worth it.