Playing Tourist in the Sand of Dubai

Cranky, tired toddlers on a plane are not fun at the best of times but especially when they are sitting in the seat across the aisle from you on an 7 hour flight from Scotland to Dubai. Cattle class economy... Hmmm. Business class, why are you forsaking me? Bon and Dudie managed to sleep through all the toddler tantrums...Bon curled up like a hedgehog, as only a nimble child can do and Dude...well, he has a switch off button. How Bel and I wish we could have found ours. I cannot believe that the Scottish leg of our journey is over...gone in a whirlwind of beautiful sights, misty moors and fairytale castles. I could have stayed a few more days, just to wander quietly in the village, drink hot chocolates and enjoy the fresh country air. We packed a lot into the ten days we were there and drove many, many miles to show the girl's some amazing scenery and sights, but in doing so, it hasn't exactly been a relaxing holiday! So much to see and do and experience. Thank you for a terrific holiday Scotland...I hope it is not another 17 years before we visit again! We have arrived back to Dubai with a very full fit in as many sites as possible before Dudie returns to Perth. We have been having the most crazily busy time in Dubai over the last few days...non stop. There is so much to do. I've enjoyed it, though it is certainly not a city you would travel to as a final destination. It is though, perfect for breaking those horrendous long haul flights from Australia. Dubai is a huge experience in sensory overload and incredibly overwhelming. A melting pot of every single nationality you could ever hear or see in one city...Emirates, Pakistanis, Russian, Brits, Yanks, Asian' name it. The eccentricities of Dubai are even more apparent after the natural beauty of Scotland. There is absolutely no natural beauty in Dubai, though many engineers, intellectuals and financiers have done their best to bring some semblance of striking masculinity and fairytale fantasy to this arid land. If you love concrete and glass and wow factor, yes Dubai has an abundance of in your face beauty. Not my cup of tea, but I am glad to be seeing it. There is one aspect to travelling in Dubai that is totally out of my comfort zone...the motorways. 7 lanes wide in one direction, surrounded by concrete barriers and driven at speeds that take your breath jar of toughen up is officially empty. I admit to finding the driving in Dubai the most terrifying experience EVER. White knuckling, hair raising and something I don't think I could ever get used to. We have seen a prang every single day we have been here and from a quick internet search, I read that Dubai has one of the highest death rates in the world from high speed car accidents. Speeds of 140kph in zones where we Australian drivers would be doing 100kph on empty country roads, the drivers do here surrounded by hundreds of other speeding trucks and cars, triple the number of lanes and expatriate drivers from all over the world who have brought every single bad driving habit ever known to man and condensed it into a concrete city renowned for its abundance of high powered vehicles and arrogant men who like to drive them fast. Not a good mix. I repeat...terrifying. My cousin and his family, who arrived in Dubai today, even had a taxi driver, who upon taking a wrong turn, drove in reversed for 30 meters on the motorway, back to the correct exit, with cars beeping and speeding around him...welcome to Dubai Skip! It has not stopped us from exploring though...the Atlantis aquarium (stunning) Wild Wadi water park (brilliant fun for the thrill loving members of the family) the Marina ((for Dude) the Gold, spice and textile souks, the Dubai Mall (shopping heaven) and various other sights we have stumbled upon. We jumped on and off the Metro train on Saturday - clean, efficient, without a trace of graffiti or grime to be seen. The train made sight seeing a lot more pleasant an experience than car driving and gave us a great bird's eye view of the city as it runs for most parts as a sky rail. The shopping in Dubai is every bit as good as is talked about...every brand you could possibly imagine... winter or summer clothes, luxury brands or main stream department stores from every corner of the globe - Debenhams, M&S, Selfridges, Galleria Lafayette. American, European, British brands, Australian brands and every designer store ever known. The malls are beautifully organised and luxuriously appointed. If you are looking for kids shoes for instance, the shops for that are all grouped in a similar area. Store after store of kids shoes. Such a great way to shop. The shops are open to the most ridiculous hour of the morning...1 am!! Dude and I stayed out shopping the other night until 12.30am. We conquered some mens shopping for Dude...he hates shopping at the best of times but something about doing it late at night appealed to him better and we left with quite a few bags of Nautica, Timberland and Polo - all at ridiculously cheaper prices than home. His shopping is done for the next two years at least!! The shops are all teeming with tourists and Arab families...with their small children in tow (tired and screaming) until closing. Nuts!! I wrote most of this post by the side of a pool, in a gorgeous 5 star hotel that we spent the day at yesterday. One of hundreds of luxury hotel oasis scattered throughout the city. Russian tourists every where around me, escaping their icy winter, soaking up the Northern hemisphere mild winter that is Dubai's. Winter!! They call this sublime weather winter? 16- 27 degrees. A glorious temperature that shows no hint of the intense 38 - 48 degrees in the height of summer. My big bro has seen two 52 degree days. Ouch. Today though, the weather is simply perfect, especially for lying on a sun lounge resting my tired tourist legs! Mean while, Perth and the rest of Australia are sweltering in heat waves and suffering horrific bush fires...thoughts and prayers. Dudie leaves for home in tomorrow...the girls and I in one more week. We will be less "tourist" and more "relaxed shoppers" without Daddy here, with plans to just wander and enjoy window shopping (Hmmm...with purchases no doubt!!) We have already made quite a few buys of Turkish glass lamps and pottery, pashminas and Turkish beach wraps...stunning, colourful and lovely bits and pieces to remember a holiday with. First things first....pack Dude off with all the winter gear, Christmas pressies and purchases to date....and buy another suitcase!! Mia x








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