Since I have been bitten by the travel bug and have started travelling quite a bit, everyone keeps asking me on how I manage the financing. No, I don’t ask my parents and neither do I earn a lot, but I have come to realise that gone are the days where taking a long international holiday or that dream vacation, meant an empty bank account. Nowadays with just a few hours spent on the internet, planning well and availing discounts available on the internet, you can actually take a vacation and also end up saving significant expenses.
Dubai is definitely the land of malls where you can’t drive for 10 minutes and not come across a mall. However malls here are not just for shopping, but they are more like an experience (including a cultural one). For some reason it seems like malls here intend to be a means of shopping cum entertainment cum sightseeing. Like the city, nearly every mall in Dubai has something unique to offer from ice rinks to skiing to themes to souks. And each one of them has its own unique charm and attraction.
As far as the actual shopping is concerned, while you find pretty much all the brands here (including the high-end ones) – nothing is cheaper. The only thing we found cheaper were TVs (as compared to India), rest everything was pretty much as it is in India.
Ever since I have been bitten by the travel blog, I have dreamed about a chance to win a travel contest someday and visit a new country; that too absolutely free. And if you too think similarly, then Makemytrip has come up with a virtual game contest for the likes of us to win “wait for it” – “ A FREE / ALL EXPENSES PAID SWISS TRIP” that too in a fun way
All that we need to participate and play the game is a computer and a webcam. Once that is ready just visit - http://switzerland.makemytrip.com/experience_adventure.php and ski along the icy slopes to score the maximum points. Play as many times and as long as possible as the top scorer wins the big prize. This game uses augmented reality which makes the game quite close to an actual ski experience. And the whole activity, super fun.
During my trip to Dubai I felt that this is one city which does not believe in being content with what it has; but is a city which must have everything possible in a place – skiing slopes, completely new islands in various shapes, 7 star hotels, water parks in a desert, the tallest structures in the world etc etc. This city has to have everything exotic that money can buy.
And I think one of the biggest examples of this attitude, are the artificial islands of the Palm Jumeirah and the World. While I havent seen the World Islands, I saw the Palm Jumeirah during my visit to Dubai last year. The Palm Jumeirah is an artificial cluster of islands, created and arranged in the form of a giant palm tree – complete with a trunk, a crown, 16 fronds and a crescent to complete the outline.
No trip to Dubai can be complete without a visit to one of its iconic buildings – Burj Khalifa. This tallest man-made building in the world, took 6 years in construction and has numerous designing, engineering and architectural feats associated with it. The design of the building is in the form of petals of a Hymenocallis flower (which is a regional desert flower) and you can see the actual petal formations from the observation deck. There are numerous other interesting facts and figures associated with this building and you can read more on it here.
So when we were in Dubai, there was no way that we were missing out on a chance to actually see this building or Dubai from such heights.
As many of you may know I am planning to be on the road again for quite a long trip soon, and all I have done in these last 3 weeks (apart from a hectic office and everyone unwell at home) is to plan, eat and sleep this trip. Things finally reached such a saturation point, that nothing seemed to be working and I just had to shut my brain and go for some form of spa therapy. And thankfully I came across the Four Fountains Spa.
The Four Fountains Spa’s USP is that it is one of India’s largest spa chains with a variety of spa therapies at affordable prices. This was a big criteria for me as my frequent travels always leave me with quite depleted (nearly empty) bank accounts. Also as I am always saving for that next trip, the first few things to take a cut are such seeming luxuries.
Our curiosity always pushes us to know more about the unknown, even more so when it’s forbidden. And this is quite true for me too. One of the things that I have always been curious about is – what’s inside a Parsi Fire Temple and a Mosque? While I am yet to actually see the insides of a Fire Temple (as peeping inside one from a bus does not qualify), I finally got to visit an actual mosque i.e. the Jumeirah Mosque in Dubai.
As a quick background, in 1998 the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) was set up under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoumin to raise awareness about the local culture, customs and religion of the UAE and to thereby increase cross cultural dialogue with guests. About a decade ago, under their “Open doors. Open Minds” philosophy, they opened the doors of the Jumeirah mosque to public and non-muslim guests (including women). Please note that this is the only mosque in Dubai which is open to public.