Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Day 1 & 2 - Dubai

It just isn't right to complain about jet lag when you fly Qantas business class. The trick is to set your body clock as soon as possible for the new timezone.

So I stay awake for the 16hr flight which means we arrive dog tired at midnight Dubai time ready for sleep and then try to wake up in the morning of the new timezone. It seems to work ok - although we were tired last night out body clocks are about as good as you could expect.

The flight over was uneventful except for the Pilot being granted permission to turn the plane in such a way that both sides got to see Uluru. So although we missed going outback on this trip we still got to see an Aussie desert icon.

Uluru from the air.
So we arrived on time. It was the first time I could remember arriving in a country where an arrival card was not required. So entry was pretty straight forward.

Our friends met us at the airport and in 20mins we were in our home (for the next 2 days) in Al Sarjah.

View from our friend's apartment.

One lasting memory will be the seeming random nature of development in Sharjah. Our friend's apartment block is in the middle of a sandy area with no driveway or street leading in. For access you simply make your way across what used to be desert towards the building.

Day one included a trip to Dubai to the Dubai Mall where the Burj Khalifa is situated. The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world and like most iconic building you can take a tour to the 124th floor to take in the view from 452m - fantastic! The day we went the views were somewhat obscured due to the haze - but it was a great experience nonetheless.

View from Burj Khalifa looking north towards Downtown Dubai
Jet lag saw me done by 9:00pm last night and after a great sleep we were up around 7:00am ready for day 2.

Day 2

Today we walked down to Al Qasba to wait for the Sarjah bus hop on / off bus tour. For AED 85 you get a 24hr ticket for this tour that runs a few buses around a circuit. The buses have an audio track that must be linked to a GPS to ensure the commentary is in sync with the location.

We stopped at the Souk, a place like a market where you can buy a whole range of things like rugs, jewellery, trinkets and perfume from local suppliers. Next we went to the Mega Mall, not as big as Dubai Mall but reasonably big and the only time we found a shop that I found interesting, a large Electronic store Sharaf DG billed as the largest electronics store in the UAE. It was laid out pretty well and prices seemed OK.

The buses are supposed to run every 35-45mins but we just couldn't get our timing right. After waiting in each spot for over 30mins in 33C heat we gave up trying so we took the rest of the tour staying on the bus and listening to the audio.

The tour explains a bit of the local culture and reassures Westerners that Emiraties are a tolerant and welcoming people. The tour runs past a number of Mosques, the government sector and the Aquarium.

The old traditional fishing village ruins on the shore of the Persian Gulf were very interesting. The traditional desert dwellings are still there albeit in ruins.

The tour is a great way to see Sarjah in a short amount of time, although if all you want to do is go to a few spots, a cab is certainly more efficient and possibly cheaper if there is more than one of you. You will miss the audio which was probably the best thing about the red bus.

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