Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Dubai - Day 8 - Medinat Resort, Burj Al-Arab

Playing Hide and Seek with Burj Al-Arab

sunny 32 °C
We moved back to Fraser Suites today. Loved the space. You can fit the whole hotel room of Holiday Inn Express into the living/kitchen/dining room area in Fraser Suites.

At first sight, Fraser Suites seems like it locates in the middle of Woop Woop because it's the only tall tower around and not much else. Looking out from the swimming pool area on level 7 towards north, I can see the world renown Palm Jumira(h) on my left (NW direction), and Burj Al-Arab on my right (NE direction). Both of these iconic landmarks are about roughly 2 km away from Fraser Suites. The hotel itself sits in the SW corner of Al Sufouh 1, which is immediately East of Al Sufouh 2, where I stayed in the last 6 days. The hotel is actually on Sheik Zayed Rd.

After studied the map, and did some aerial survey of the place from the swimming pool area, I marshaled enough confidence to walk to Madinat Jumeira(h), which locates right next to the Burj Al-Arab. Since we can't get into the gate of Burj Al-Arab, and I remember seeing a photo of Burj Al-Arab being shot from the private beach of Medinat Jumeira(h), so this is how I get to the aloof Burj Al-Arab. Very clever, I thought.

Looked like a mild day, so I decided to walk there. Could call a taxi, but you see more (definitely take more photos) by walking. After 20 mins, I was a little regretful with the decision. But pressed on, the sweat in my back started to break out like Wild Wadi Water Park. The Burj Al-Arab that I used as a landmark beacon appeared and then disappeared, playing hide and seek with me, but I was tired and no mood for it. So near yet so far.

The ground here are naturally sandy as Dubai is a desert except for the developed part where the surface is sealed with asphalt. Most of the ground I walked on so far are sandy until now, and this street is not only sealed, but lined with greens! I'm getting very very close now to where the action is. Very close. So hot, and tiring. I'm too old for this shite. And then I saw it. No, not the Burj Al-Arab, again. A bus stop! I bet you would be excited too if you see what I saw. Right now, this bus-station is an oasis in the desert. See the air-cons at the back of this (in)famous sleek steel enclosure that's the bus station? See also the recycling bins behind it?

bus-station.jpg

Even before the beginning of summer like today, it's quite uncomfortable to wait for the bus here for 20 mins. In the midst of summer when the mercury reaches above 45 °C. Anyone, especially older persons or young kids, can easily get a sunstroke waiting for the bus in more than 30 mins.
I went in the bus station to cool myself. Now that I was in the comfort of an air-cond interior, and far from being threatened to imminent collapse, I can now, and only now, think about the environment. 5 mins ago, all I can think of was water. I'd seen many of these air-cons bus stations around Dubai before, and RTA announced proudly that thousands would be rolled across Dubai. Whether these bus-station is famous or infamous, depending if you're greenie or not. Greenie wouldn't be too pleased with them, pointing out to the recycling bins next to the bus stations, and say, "Green here", and then point to the bus station, "but not so green here". Yes, I like pointing too. Pointing is fun.

I guess for a country, in fact, region, where oil flows like water, and much cheaper than water, fossil fuel is an obviously energy source. Solar panels would have been an obvious option to the Greenie (like me. Seriously. but I wouldn't shout it from rooftop. Too late). But in Summer even night time would reach above 40 °C (I was in Bahrain for almost an entire Summer), so some kind of battery storage are needed, and so on. Solar power would increase the costs of building these booths while decreases the size of the carbon footprint. I almost miss, almost, the days when I can suck freely in public second hand smoking (which is composed mostly of CO2, and a cocktails of some hundreds of little known chemical toxins). The good old days.

After cooling down, and getting off from my high horse before falling over (Gladly, I hate vertigo. But I do like the view and the rarefied air up here), I continued to hit the beloved asphalt. As it turned out, I was only 7 minutes from Madinat Jumeira(h) - the largest resort in Dubai that contains 2 boutique hotels. It's fronted by a large fountain with sculptures of horses (Arabian horses, I presume). Sculptures of horses can be seen around town. I think it's a symbol of Dubai (Not the same one I mounted before. Nah, just horsing around).

This resort recreates everything in the Old Dubai Creek: the characteristic charming UAE traditional wind towers, the gold souk, and various other souks, and compeletd with Dubai Creek waterways and Abras. What it lacks in history and weathering characters, it makes up for in polished recreations and concentration. It's a good things that I visited the Dubai Creek twice already to appreciate the effort of these detailed reproductions. Of course, I wouldn't trade this for the real things for a thousand dollars (a million is another story).

My goal was to take a photo of Burj Al-Arab from the private beach of the hotel. At the entrance to the beach, was stopped by security, who told me that access to the beach was for hotel guests only. Disappointed, I decided to find solace in a cup of bitter coffee, and arrived at Starbucks. Not surprisingly, Starbucks occupies the most scenic spot in any tourist destination. In this case, it locates next to the spot that offers the best view of Burj Al-Arab for people who couldn't get to the beach. You know it is the photogenic spot because the professional photographers set up shops here. You can view Burj Al-Arab as you sip coffee.

After the caffeine stop to recharge my battery, I left the hotel re-invigorated and tried to get to as close to Burj Al-Arab as I can. I eventually got there and got to he same spot that the Bangladesh cabbie dropped us last week. Yep, been here, done that. Now that I was here, I may as well take some near dusk photos.

I saw a long taxi queue next door, which turned out to be the Wild Wadi Water Park. It was a long queue with families who left the water park for the day. I imagined it probably would take 15 mins with cabs cooperating. Besides, My legs screamed at me for some rests. And when I said a long queue, I meant a not-so-long queue with loooooong waiting time. The cabs arrived infrequently. I ended up waiting for 1 hours and 15 minutes! I asked the cabbie why so long. He said it was time for morning shift drivers to knock off work. Taught me a time saving lesson not to wait for a taxi at 6:30PM in Dubai (or probably anywhere).

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