If Dubai is for adults what Disneyland is for kids, it’s been Mickey Mice and Donald Duck’s all round for us this weekend. From the world’s tallest building to its largest shopping mall; From perfume bottles that dwarfe children, to the Guinness World Record-holding largest single sheet of perspex ever used in a construction (see below*^); From 7 star hotels built on artificial islands, to canon-firing choreographed fountains, we’ve done it all. Correction: we’ve seen it all. This is a city where size doesn’t just matter, it’s the very reason for existing.
Dubai was a complete assault on my senses, and if it weren’t for the fact I was climbing into bed (itself big enough to sleep 12 across) with a man who prefers 1978 Bedford buses to Maxis (mall-taxis that ferry you from the Fashion Quarter to the Food Court) then I could very well have found myself following on behind the Piper too.
Because you can’t help but be impressed with Dubai, in a kind of guilty way.
We stayed in a beautiful boutique hotel built on quiet waterways whose hidden enclaves house some of the fanciest restaurants, pubs and nightclubs in town. They’re only accessible by quaint little Abras, or traditional wooden passenger boats. Dotted in between the eateries you’ll find yet more open-all-hours shops, just in case a 900 carat diamond necklace catches your not-yet-satiated eye after dinner. Or, for that matter, a pair of Havianas, Gucci handbag, Swarovski Crystal-encrusted Mercedes emblem, etc etc. It’s kind of like the Viaduct in Auckland wants to be.
If we stood on tip-toe and risked neck-injury, we could just strain far enough over the balcony of our room to take in the icon that is the Burj Al Arab. Constructed in the image of a dhow sail on a purpose-built artificial island just out from Jumeirah Beach, this stunning building was designed by a Kiwi. Well, lets just say there were Kiwis involved. Although it is only the second tallest hotel building in the world (losing out to its neighbour the Rose Rayhaan) it at least houses the largest fabric wall in the world.
Further down the beach is Wild Wadi, a waterpark consisting of – you guessed it, record-thrashing waterslides. The latest addition to the park include a series of enormous funnels that swirl you around in the open air before sucking you down near-vertical drops, ejecting you afterwards like hot curry from a burning bum. There’s a wave pool (but even P-town has one of those) but a Dubai wave pool includes “Hi-de-Hi!”-esque mobs floating around in candy-coloured life-jackets singing Y-M-C-A at the behest of the bossy DJ. With queues to literally swoon about (in 50 degrees) and people exercising their right to push-in at every opportunity, it was a very special kind of…experience. Especially for Malcolm, who, on top of it all, had his favourite jandals nicked (see below**). Unfortunately for him he was stranded in the “doosh doosh” pool until I managed to buy him a new pair (the concrete is so hot a getaway in bare feet is impossible).
On our last night we were treated to the Dubai Fountain – my descriptions will fall short so I’ll leave you with this video instead. Situated at the foot of the Burj Khalifa (tallest building in the world) it was the perfect end a wonderfully surreal weekend.
*^The purpose of the gigantic sheet of perspex is to hold back 10 million litres of water, 33,000 fish and several massive sharks. We’re talking about the Dubai Aquarium and Underwater zoo.
** Malcolm is not the first person in our family to have had jandals stolen, myself falling victim to the Jandal thief a few years ago at a small resort in Samoa. The question haunted us then as it haunts us now. WHO STEALS OTHER PEOPLE’S CRUSTY OLD JANDALS? Please, if you know, tell us.
# There’s an accompanying slideshow to this blog, here!