Tuesday, November 04, 2014

You Say Dubai and I Say Hello

Dubai is one of those places that are hard to forget.  We were there for five days, and the city certainly left indelible images that we would carry around for a long time.

The skyscrapers top the list.  They are not only sky-high, they also have all these unique shapes and distinctive features.  They are such a joy to behold, whether during the day or night, and their beauty is so worth cramping your neck for to catch a good, long look.  

Maybe the builders are like me - they can't draw a straight line, hence they have to create buildings in all kinds of fascinating designs.  Hahaha.  True to the Dubai way, they have to be super tall, too.  In fact, Dubai Marina, one of the prominent sights from the Burj Khalifa viewing deck, is supposedly called the tallest block in the world, bcoz of the sheer number of high-rise residential buildings within the same compound.  These buildings are among the tallest in the world.

Look, Dubai even has its own version of New York's Chrysler Building.  It doesn't look as bad at night, actually, when its spire is all lit up in strategic angles.  In the daytime, tho, the top of it looks ... skeletal.  

I'm sorry, but I LOVE the Chrysler Building, and to me Al Kazim Towers in Dubai just seems like nothing but a second-rate, trying-hard copy paste.    

Even their buses have got to be some of the longest in the world.  They're roughly the equivalent of four of our rolling-coffin buses in EDSA.  We called these Dubai buses 'long vincil' bcoz when Boots was younger he read 'vehicle' as 'vincil'.  Hahaha. 

And the cars!  Omg, the cars!  Boots, of course, has been obsessed with them for a couple of years now, and Ches is only too happy to indulge his passion by bringing home car magazines and showing him websites to surf thru.  Even geeky, no-nonsense Yoshi, tho, was pretending to spot Ferraris by the end of our trip.  Hahaha.  Always a riot, is our firstborn.

In Manila, limousines are as rare as honest politicians.  In New York, we saw them frequently enough.  But in Dubai, they were everywhere, all the time.  Like maybe the oil-rich Arabs use them when they need to go to the grocery, you know. 

Bentleys, Porsches, and Ferraris are a dime a dozen in parking lots and stoplights - and those are just the names of the luxury cars I know.  Boots would rattle off all these other brands and models that I've never even heard of when he catches sight of them while we were out on the road.

The valet parking area by the entrance of Dubai Mall alone is a veritable show room of what has got to be some of the fanciest cars in the world.

Me:  Mukhang required yata na may certain price range ang kotse para payagan magpa-valet sa harap ng Dubai Mall!
Ches:  Yes, mukhang may unwritten rule nga.   Baka pag pina-valet natin dito mga kotse natin, batuhin ng kamatis!


This is the bus stop in front of our hotel.  It is not only all steel and futuristic-looking - it is also air-conditioned.  Kayo na, kayo na talaga ang mayaman!  Hahaha.

Yoshi:  You know, Mom, UAE has the lowest mortality rate in the world.  The Philippines is in the top 20s.
Me:  You know, Yosh, when I visit a foreign county, the mortality rate is not one of the things I Google up.

Hahaha.  I always tease Yosh:  Hindi ba nakakapagod maging isang Yoshi?  Alam mo lahat!

No boring, plain garbage bags for Dubai, either.  Instead these huge, floral-inspired beauties adorn most street corners.  I thought initially they had some corporate sponsors advertising some feminine product or the other.  That's usually the case in the Philippines if you see anything new and colorful out in public - it's bound to be privately-funded rather than provided by the government.  But no, these trash cans in Dubai clearly state that they are the property of the Dubai government. 

We took the metro to the beach.  Luckily, Al Ghubaiba Station was an easy five-minute walk away from our hotel.  Omg, it was amazing.  It followed the Arabic theme from the inside and out.  We'd also seen the stations going to Jumeirah Beach as well as that connecting to Dubai Mall, and while they were clean and modern, they did not look as grand as Al Ghubaiba Station.

Maybe it's bcoz our hotel was around the heritage area in Dubai, so they gave the metro station the same traditional design.  It was vast, high-ceilinged, liberally decorated with art pieces, and spotlighted in all sorts of dramatic angles.  How sad that Dubai's train station is way nicer than our airports can ever hope to be.  Well, maybe in Boots' lifetime, our airports can have a fighting chance. Sigh.       

If our MRT is unreliable, and Singapore's is efficient - Dubai's is opulent.    

Pinoys are another familiar fixture in Dubai.  They're simply everywhere.  They were working in the Dubai airport and greeting us 'kabayan' as soon as we got off the plane.  They made up a majority of the staff in our hotel.  They were the official photographers At The Top in Burj Khalifa.  They served us camel millk ice cream in The Majlis.  They served behind the counters at Sanrio, M&S, Debenhams, KFC, and most other shops in Dubai Mall.

We even found one of them dressed as an Arab and escorting tourists to the camp in the desert safari.  Apparently he's from Batangas and works as one of those cool, fierce, dune-bashing 4x4 drivers.  Winner.  Mabuhay ang Pinoy!

I wondered about these Christmas lights strung on some of the terraces in the condos across Dubai. Ches and I thought maybe Pinoys lived on those units, and their hanging Christmas lights is their one way to connect back home, while they're in this far-away foreign land, where Christmas is not even recognized at all.  Sigh.