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Camels against the sky

Some Travel Tips

If you get a flight to Sharjah, don't worry and just take it. Sharjah and Dubai are just about 15 minutes away from each other and most hotels provide transportation to either of the international airports.

Make your hotel reservations in advance. You can get decent accommodation for just about 40 $. The currency is Dirham and remember that the denominations on the coins are only in Arabic. So, check well before you pay. People are friendly and mostly Indians.

There is absolutely no danger of staying out late or walking in the city at night. The strict punishments are a deterrent to even the most dangerous criminals! Food is not a problem here (some hotels even serve parathas for breakfast!). You can even get traditional kerala dishes like Puttu, Appam etc.

Prices are generally negotiable except in big malls. If you are buying electronic goods, buy it from a genuine dealer as you can be palmed off by goods made in Taiwan and Singapore instead of goods made in Japan (One way to check is to see if 'Made in Japan' is written on the goods. Goods assembled in other places say just Japan). Remember that Dubai has a strange warranty system. The warranty is valid only in Dubai and not elsewhere in the world.

Also, when on a desert safari carry a light sweater or jacket as it gets cold towards the night.

Dubai - The great east west melting pot!

Sand DunesEnter Dubai - the land of endless excitement. I never really expected to do anything in Dubai except shop but I was in for a surprise. Dubai is well connected by road and air. All major airlines fly to Dubai.

Once in Dubai, there are many tours that one can take to see the city or simply plan the tour yourself. There is nothing more exciting than a self planned tour. An ideal thing to do is to hire a car and drive through the city. The roads in Dubai are excellent and you can enjoy the luxury of driving here (What with the wide variety of the latest models of cars available here!). As you drive, you can enjoy the sheer beauty of Dubai and its richness. Your eyes can't miss the architectural splendor and the bountiful elegance with which it is designed. The roads are straight and you will be surprised to see grass grown on certain stretches of the road and you thought that there was only sand there! And you have to see the beautiful glass buildings in Dubai, the whole city feels like one big 'La Defense' area of Paris.

Dubai is synonymous with Gold and the best place to shop for it is the famous Sona Bazaar or the Gold Market. Wait till you get there because even if you are not a lover of gold, you will wonder as to how there could be so many shops of gold, so many people buying and selling gold (there are some wholesale shops as well), and so many intricate designs in gold, all in one place. Men - Take a last look at your wallets, they will be empty soon if you are accompanying a lady. If you don't see this in Dubai, then you have missed something. Nowhere else can you see so much gold and the sheer sparkle of the yellow metal mesmerizes you. I was instantly reminded of Chandra Gupta Maurya's regime in History. His regime is called the golden age and it is believed that during his period gold and other precious stones were sold on either side of the street and Sona Bazaar is no different! You can now well imagine the country's richness. Need I say that you will be tempted to buy a piece or two of gold.

Having been in Dubai, can you miss the beautiful beaches? You can drive to the famous Jumeira beach. This beach is beautiful and clean. You can sit back and enjoy the sun set here. Sometimes in the evening once the lights are on, you can take an 'Abra' or the local water taxi and go in the sea. You could talk the driver into taking you around, and you can sit back and enjoy the cool breeze and watch the city decorated in lights! Here you can also see the Jumeira Beach Hotel, which is one of the finest buildings. You can also see another hotel in the shape of a sail !! This is Al Burj - a hotel that is a structure symbolising luxury. This is supposed to be the tallest hotel in the world. The hotel charges $ 5000 per night - what with all the gold rimmed taps in the bath and gold railing in the hotel. The hotel also has a excellent display of colours in the night. So, don't miss to take a picture or two of the ultimate form of luxury.

There are many shopping malls in Dubai and you could perhaps visit the 'City Center' or the 'Twin Tower' for a shopping experience.

If you are one of those who loves to rock 'n' roll then you should visit the Hard Rock Cafe - the first in the Gulf. HRC is a part of the world famous chain opened about 25 years ago in London for the lovers of music and food. Here in Dubai, you can enjoy great music and good food. This café is rich with souvenirs like Madonna's base ball cap, Michael Jackson's shoes and hat from 'Thriller' video, Elvis Presley's music box and many others. This place is ideal for a good evening of fun and frolic.

If all this is not enough, you could explore the sand dunes on a desert safari. You can contact your hotel reception or any tour operator who can organize a tour for you. It costs nearly 200 AED each for the tour. The tour lasts 5 hours. A four-wheel drive (mostly a Toyota Land Cruiser) will take you on a two-hour exciting drive amidst the vastness of the sand. Kids below three and people with motion sickness are advised not to go on this drive, as it is a real life roller coaster ride. You almost want this adventure to end when you get to some beautiful tents pitched in the middle of the desert. Here you are greeted by smiling people and there are camels on which you can mount and take a small ride (and pictures of course). The tents are beautifully furnished with lovely carpets and cushions. As you watch the sun go down you will be greeted by wonderful dancing - belly dancing to be precise. You can also join the dance and shake a leg to some lilting Arabic music. You are then served some freshly baked Arabic bread and refreshments and a barbecue. Then you are dropped back to the hotel, tired and shaken but thoroughly fascinated. A perfect ending to a perfect safari.

There are many other tours also available - details of which can be obtained from the information desk.

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