Winter, 2016

Day 1

The first day, we went to The Dubai Mall. It fitted with a huge aquarium, spanning several hundred feet. There were fish swimming inside. The multiple floors of shopping heaven this mall offered couldn't be finished in one day.

After, we went to the Burj Khalifa. On the way up, I realized how Dubai turned itself from a mere desert to one of the largest tourist attractions in the world in less than two decades. At the top, I could see where Dubai ended, and the desert started. When we returned to the bottom hours later, we watched the nighttime water show right in front of the Burj Khalifa. That's when I learned that the entire building was covered in lights, as the building itself was showing a variety of patterns and animations.

Day 2

We relaxed and roamed Dubai for most of the day. Wandering around the city, it was crazy to see the poverty difference just within two blocks of one another.

Later in the night we decided to go to the Gold Souk. It was a beautiful - stores filled with jewelry lined the dark hallway. Don't let the availability of jewelry trick you though: the prices here are still extremely high. However, it's a great place to explore and experience.

Day 3

Today we took to the waters to sightsee the many spectacles of Dubai. As we pulled out of the port, you could see the unique skyline of Dubai against the harsh sunlight. Further along our ride, we saw the Palm Islands, Burj al Arab, and Atlantis.

After the boat ride, we went to Jumeriah Beach. It was decently crowded - there were many tourists soaking up the sun along the miles of coastline. As I watched the sun set, I met a man with two camels. He was giving rides to tourists for 100 dirhams.

Day 4

Today we took a day trip to Abu Dhabi, which was a two-hour drive. Our first stop was the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. Despite the heat of the day, there was a cool rush of air when we entered due to the sheer amount of marble the mosque was built with. Each room had intricate detail with marbled patterns.

After, we visited Emirates Heritage Village, where we had a traditional lunch. We then immersed ourselves into the rich culture through the various workshops that they offered. On the way back to Dubai, we stopped at the Yas Marina Circuit, an F1 track. When we were there, a few training cars flew by. The architecture and design of the building were astounding.

Day 5

We drove out an hour and a half to the desert in a Highlander. I thought we were pretty cool, until we reached our first destination. There were literally hundreds of other Highlanders scattered across the desert. The limits of the Highlander were tested when we sped across the desert mountains. It was a rough ride - we were going almost vertical up some slopes, and we couldn't see the ground when we were coming down.

After an hour of this rollercoaster, we stopped at the top of a hill, where we pulled out a sand board for us to slide down the mountains with. I flew down and ended up with a boatload of sand in my face. Regardless, as the sun set, we could appreciate the beauty of the Dubai desert.

At night, we went to a camp close by for a traditional "Arabian Night," where there were belly dancers and hookah. There were also camel rides, which were a lot more violent than I had anticipated.

Day 6

We visited the Dubai theme parks - Bollywood, Motion Stop, Lego Land, and Hollywood. The theme parks were larger than normal but didn't have anything extraordinary. There were some shows that we watched, as well as some rides.

Day 7

In the morning, we went to Miracle Gardens. It was truly amazing how they were able to care and maintain so many flowers in the middle of the desert. As soon as you walked in, you were greeted with the strong floral scent. There were flowers literally everywhere - even covering an entire plane.

In the evening, we went to the Global Village, where I experienced many different cultures that were shown in the booths. It was truly amazing to see the culmination of all the different cultures in just one place.