I never thought that time will come that I will be able to visit a city belong to Middle East Asia. One main reason, limitation of my passport in terms of visa free entry to different countries in the world. I read an article that my country are only allowed to 50 countries with visa free entry. And most of the countries included in the list are part of ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nation) countries and countries which mostly considered as 3rd world country similar to my homeland.
I am lucky because of my work, I am able to travel in other countries because of project assignment and training. Last August 2014, my boss sent me abroad for training. The training is 4 days and the location is Dubai, United Arab Emirates. During the preparation process of my travel, this was before my final flight schedule has been arranged, I tried if I can add few more days from the original schedule plan. The end result, I was able to put additional 3 days from original 5 days travel after finding return flight which is cheaper from the original schedule.
My flight to Dubai was Sunday morning before 9AM leaving Manila and arriving in Dubai International Airport Terminal 3 through Emirates airline. The flight was 8 hours. We landed at Dubai International Airport the same day past 1:30 in the afternoon. Dubai is 4 hours behind from Manila time.
Dubai International Airport are known to be similar to Singapore International Airport because this airport becomes a hub for stop over terminal for most of international flights from Asia, America and Europe countries. It is like interchange airport. As we know that this city is booming its tourism industry for the past couple of years, Dubai Airport terminals had recent massive renovations and improvements. Terminal 3 is home of Emirates airline. Before arriving in this terminal, the only picture in my mind regarding Dubai Airport was based from what I saw in National Geographic TV show with an impression that it’s really huge. When I got off the plane and walk along the arrival terminal, I found out that it has similarity to Incheon International Airport where I need to ride a skytrain. Having a skytrain means one thing, the terminal is not just big, it’s ultimately big. Its size is massive, though I may not seen it all, but as far as what I saw, it’s not an ordinary airport. I don’t have photo souvenirs of the terminal during my arrival because I tried my best to behave myself since I am in a foreign country. I have this impression that though Dubai is popular Arab city with freedom, I kept myself in check and restrain myself on doing things that I am not sure if allowed, like taking pictures inside the terminal.
After I transferred from the terminal to concourse using skytrain, I walked straight to immigration area for passport and visa check. As I’m not used to Arab world, I was bit surprised when I saw all the immigration officers in their Muslim outfit, after seeing what officers are wearing, that was the very moment that I realized that I am really in Dubai, an Arab city. At the front of the officer, he checked my passport and requested my visa, and then a photo of myself was taken.
My luggage platform was far from the passport control check, and for this reason, I had a chance to walk for a while inside the terminal. The terminal is really big and its clean. Though one thing that I just noticed, the ambiance of the lights in overall are quite dim for me, not sure if there some reason behind it or it was the design of the lights. I found the platform and waited for my luggage. When I found my luggage, I straight forward on my way to exit, passing the custom area easier since I just have one luggage, one laptop and hand bag. Then, I tried to look around to find some tourist information booth but unluckily I did not find brochures aside from travel company booths and information center. I approached the information center and asked if the airport cabs accepts credit card since I did not withdraw too much of cash. Someone responded to me and to my surprise, a Filipina woman talked to me in my own language. For that inquiry, I learned that there are two types of taxi airport in Dubai, one is the ordinary which only accepts cash and black limousine cab which accepts credit card.
I exited the terminal, to my surprise I felt the hot temperature outside and that kind of heat was first time, never experienced it before, it felt very hot and very dry. I walked to the taxi lane where the limousine cab is waiting. I got in and told the driver where my hotel is. While on our way, I learned from the driver that there are lots of Filipinos working in Dubai, wherein he himself has a lot of Filipino friends. He told me as well that the current temperature at that time was around 50 degrees Celsius (that temperature is higher than the temperature of a person with fever).
From the airport to hotel it took us at least 30 minutes and there was no traffic at all. While inside the cab, I realized that Dubai is a big city and not just a city but a developed modern city. I can’t believe with my eyes that this kind of city will exist from the desert world. Though Dubai is really famous, I don’t know much about it, my idea was came from the movie of Tom Cruise from Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol where some shots were taken from the tallest tower in the world – Burj Khalifa.
Within the 30 minutes drive, most of that time were spent along Sheikh Zayed Road (named after the first president of United Arab Emirates and the principal driving force to form UAE as a country – Sheikh Zayed). Along this road, we passed a lot of towers, high-rise buildings and structures. In this road, I got a chance to glimpse the Burj Khalifa from a far and then after few more minutes I arrived at Novotel Albarsha, where I stayed for 5 nights and where the training was held.
When I entered the hotel, I saw familiar faces, I saw Filipinos working in the hotel and Filipinos whose traveling similar in my case. Some Filipinos working are assigned in concierge and some are assigned at the lobby counter. With this scenario, I felt at ease, seeing people same with my own race and nationality makes me feel comfortable in a foreign land. After processing my check-in, I went straight to my room. I checked the time and it was past 3:30 PM, since it’s still early, I thought that I can still go out for few hours to see some part of Dubai, but unfortunately, I fell asleep, time passed faster that I anticipated and I woke-up past 10 PM in the evening. Because of this, the only thing I got to do was to have dinner and to prepare myself for the first day of my training. In between the time that I arrived from the airport and from the time I fell asleep in the hotel, I was able to send messages to my college classmate and friend who currently living and working in Dubai. She is my personal contact outside work who can go help me while going around Dubai.
During my stay in Dubai, I tried my best to see places as much as I can because I don’t know if I will be able to come back. I will tell a story of all the places that I have seen so far in Dubai. Below are the list of the places that I visited in Dubai, each day has its own posted story to tell to distinguish the places that I had seen and experience.
Day 2 – Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall, Dancing Fountain and Dubai Aquarium
Day 3 – WAFI City
Day 5 – Desert Safari Adventure
Day 6 – Mall of Emirates, Gold Souk and Dubai Festival City Mall (DFCM)
Day 8 – Dubai City Tour