On my way back from Europe, in search of cheap rates, I had booked a flight which had a 9 hour stopover in Dubai. I was completely clueless what will I do and had made up my mind that I was going to get bored to death gazing at giant airport terminal.
Though there are spot visas available in Dubai, going out for sightseeing was completely out of question. Dubai is famous as the playground of rich and famous and I was neither of them. Forget being rich, I was already travelling on a shoe string budget and going around this ostentatious city seemed a bad idea.
But after landing at the Dubai airport, I felt like a fool who had reached all the way here but did not go ahead exploring this place on the southern coast of Persian Gulf. I met another passenger from the same flight who was also facing the same dilemma. Both of us finally could not further resist our temptation of getting into Dubai and got our stopover extended to two days.
We enquired at the airport and found that there was a ‘budget’ hotel few minutes from the airport. Named ‘Gulf Pearl’ we got a room at around $71 per night and then we took the city bus to get to the commercial center of this town. I got completely lost in the surroundings, the clean paved roads, mind astounding skyscrapers road wondering if I had landed in Los Angeles Downtown. The commercial city centre was completely opposite noisy with various sounds and people rushing around. My quest of Dubai started with something Dubai is too famous for – gold. I visited the gold souk, which is a giant bazaar selling gold jewelry. It seemed like an endless sea of glittering yellow gold and I strolled through the bazaar window shopping the endless varieties of ornaments. I realized why Dubai was considered as a heaven for shopping freaks but my limited budget permitted only window shopping.
We spent our afternoon in the most inexpensive yet treasured way. We took a hot air balloon to saw this city from a bird eye view. We spent the rest of our evening at the sea shore admiring the unique shoreline of this place. We ate the Dubai’s cheap-eat street called Al Dhiyafah Road comprising of restaurants offering various foods. On our way back to the hotel we admired the monolithic skyscrapers glittering with lights. The next day we visited the Dubai Museum which is located inside Al Fahidi Fort, a 200 year old fort. For a minimal fee of 3 dirham, the way the museum portrayed development of Dubai museum amazed me. Then at the water creek we took an ‘abra’, water taxi and joined other commuters for a tour around the waterway. The public ‘abra’ charged only 1 dirham per person. We were supposed to catch the flight at midnight and finally saying an end to this mystic place we left for the airport.
The most important lesson we learnt from this trip was that Dubai is not only for the rich and famous, it has lots to offer to a budget traveler also. It is a wonderful place and I will surely visit it again for a longer period.