The moment we walk out of the airport doors in Dubai the heat hit us. It was almost like a wall smacking us in the face. It was a shock at first but luckily we have a car booked ready to take us to our hotel, so we weren’t in it for long. The air conditioning and the cool leather seats are a welcome relief from that very brief but very intense few minutes in the warmth.
Lesson one- Dubai is hot in the summer
We are already sweating in the car and the driver looks back at us and smiles “welcome to Dubai in the summer”. Dave and I look at each other pretty confident that we are going to shrivel up or faint at some point during this trip.
This is why all the guide books tell you to avoid travelling to Dubai in the summer. And this is when we learnt the hard way that 45 degree heat is no laughing matter. This is lesson one. If you are going to Dubai try to go in the cooler months.
Lesson two -there are peak travel times for taxis
Lesson two comes later that afternoon when we decide to get a taxi from the Dubai Mall to a Gold Souk. After marvelling at modern wonders we wanted something a little more traditional. We spend ages lining up for a taxi and realise that we are in the midst of a taxi shortage.
Still we are adamant that we are going to make the most of our time in Dubai so we wait. When our chariot finally arrives we ask the driver to take us to the Gold Souk. He looks confused so I show him the picture in the Lonely Planet book. For whatever reason he doesn’t seem thrilled about taking us there and spends the whole journey complaining about it.
On top of this he is annoyed that he will get stuck in traffic trying to get back to the Dubai Mall. We sit in the taxi awkwardly counting down the moments until we can get out of the car. What makes it even more uncomfortable is his inherent dislike for “foreigners” and he proceeds to tell us how terrible they are at driving.
He does this whilst shaking his fist out the car window at a group of labourers sitting in the back of a pick up truck. They look at us uncomfortably and we just stare out the window pretending this isn’t happening and avoiding eye contact. All the while the taxi is veering over into the next lane obstructing traffic.
Also subnote don’t always trust your taxi driver
We eventually get dropped off in some unknown part of Dubai. When we ask about the location of the Gold Souk he waves his arm and mutters something about it being down the road. We would have been reluctant to get out of the taxi had it not been for his complaining and fist shaking on the drive here so we depart, and make our way down the road. It’s scorching hot and the dust is irritating my eyes, our water supplies are also diminishing due to the heat.
There is literally not enough water in the world to quench my thirst right now. It did not come as a surprise to us that there was no Gold Souk here. In fact there was not much of anything. There were three dodgy looking shops although one of them is selling large bottles of water and we both mentally note this in case disaster strikes. There is also a hotel which looks really out of place in the middle of this dusty road.
We circle the neighbourhood with our energy levels dropping rapidly. It is so hot that I am pretty confident I could have successfully fried an egg on my forehead. There are no taxis in sight so the chances of leaving this place soon are not looking good. It takes every ounce of energy to seek shelter in the hotel, and they inform us that it is peak time and that taxis are few and far between.
Eventually we spot a taxi, and its like seeing a Panda in the wild. It’s so rare but so beautiful. We manage to outrun two business men who have also spotted the taxi and we slam the door shut. I have never appreciated air-conditioning this much before. I feel like the lesson here is not to annoy your taxi driver, but also to have some idea of where you are going. Also back to lesson one- try not to visit in Summer.
Lesson three- bartering is important
When we do manage to eventually visit a Gold Souk I manage to learn a hard lesson in bartering. The lesson being that I am terrible. I saw a genie lamp that I was interested in purchasing as a souvenir. The shop keeper named his price and I tried to barter. In the end the price went up but instead of just getting a genie lamp I also inherited 3 metal camels. I had already purchased a toy camel at a gift shop in Downtown Dubai so needless to say I was giving out camels as gifts for a long time.
Lesson four -dune bashing can make you feel sick
The final lesson comes when we go out dune bashing in the dessert. We need to be at the airport in 6 hours so we figure it is the perfect way to kill some time. Little do we realise how sick we are going to feel afterwards. We are stuck with a combination of jet-lag and motion sickness and to be honest probably a bit of heat exhaustion that lasts well into the evening.
As we board the flight I am still feeling queasy. We have a bit of a rough take off and this leaves me getting sick for the first hour of the flight. A few ginger ales and some kind words from the Emirates air crew later, and I manage to feel slightly better. The lesson has been heard loud and clear. It is probably best to avoid dune bashing right before catching a 7 hour flight home.
Dubai you taught us some hard lessons but you also gave us memories that we will never forget. Stay tuned for our next blog post as we tell you how to make the most of your Dubai stopover. Trust us we have learnt the hard way.
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