16

O – Opera & Other Places | #AtoZChallenge

O – Opera & Other Places | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

An opera is a theatre form in which music plays the leading part but it is not a musical play. It originated in Italy around the 16th century and forms a base for western classical music. It is usually a collaboration between a composer and a librettist and is performed in an Opera house.

A western classical opera is the last thing that comes to mind when thinking of Dubai but keeping in sync with their motto where they have something for everyone it has an opera theatre, ‘the Dubai Opera.’

Dubai Opera

It is also situated in Downtown Dubai in the Opera district. It is the perfect blend of culture and art and truly showcases Dubai as a cosmopolitan hub. It is an excellent 2000-seat, a multi-format theatre that has an overwhelming collection of world-class abilities. The outside of it is designed to resemble a ‘Dhow’. Imagine opera in a dhow – that’s Dubai for you.

The theatre space is appropriate for large-scale drama productions, musicals, ballets, lectures, conferences and live entertainment options. There is an amazing rooftop restaurant, The Loft, and sky garden with The Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa in the backdrop. This is one of the best places to go out at night.

Timings: 10:00AM – 9:00PM

Price: AED: 50 to 550

There are other places of importance and of great interest to travelers. I would like to highlight them in this post before I miss them for this theme. Sadly there is only one ‘D’ in the alphabets and most of the locations in Dubai start with ‘D’. Some of them require a full post and would be taken up in detail after the #A2ZChallenge is over.

Dubai Miracle Garden

This is one of my favorite places to visit in Dubai. With a sea of colorful flowers and the aromatic breeze, this is a must visit for nature lovers, if you traveling during winters. When it is at its peak, there are more than 150 million flowers on display, which are used to create specific designs and colorful patterns.

You won’t be surprised when I say that it is the world’s largest natural flower garden. It opens from November till the end of April. Every year they come up with new structures that make it a must-visit every season.

Timings: 9am – 9pm Sunday to Thursday, 9am -11pm – Friday and Saturday

Tickets: Adult (12 years old above): 50AED, Children (12 years old and below): 40AED

Dubai Butterfly Garden

Though it is in the same complex of Miracle Garden it has a separate entrance and requires another ticket. By now you would be getting used to every time I mention that this is the world’s largest and biggest – It is the world’s largest and region’s first indoor butterfly garden featuring 15,000 butterflies of around 26 kinds.

I visited along with my father and sister and with so many butterflies fluttering around we ourselves became kids. Through its ten domes, it gives an opportunity to learn how butterflies evolve through each stage.

Timings: 9:00AM – 6:00PM

Tickets: Adults and Children (2 years and above): 55AED

Bollywood Parks

If you are a Bollywood lover and an adventure enthusiast then Bollywood Park would surely be fun for you. It is the world’s very first Bollywood themed park and has everything from rides, cafes, zones, stage performances, live entertainment based on Bollywood.

Bollywood is really popular in Dubai and our biggest stars are their biggest stars too. With 12 rides and 5 themed zones, it will keep you well entertained for the entire day. It is in the same complex as Dubai Parks and Resorts, where Legoland and Motiongate are.

They have separate winter and summer timings – Do check before going there.

Tickets: 99 AED onwards.

Inside of Dubai Gurudwara

Guru Nanak Darbar

It is the region’s biggest Gurudwara and is visited by people of all faiths. It is located near the Ibn Battuta Mall. It also holds a couple of Guinness records – Through “Breakfast for Diversity” it served around 600 people from 101 nationalities, the largest gathering of such kind. They also attempted to break the record for World’s largest distribution of saplings. It serves free food, ‘Langar’ to about 5000 people daily.

Timings: 04:30 AM till 09:30 PM

Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club

For all the rich people visiting Dubai for leisure and have lots of free time, then you will definitely have a wonderful time at the Dubai Polo and Equestrian Club. If you want to pamper yourself head directly to it. The things that you can enjoy at the club are – Gym, swimming pool, Zumba, yoga, horse riding, spa, etc. Dine world-class cuisines at – Palermo, Epona, Ippos, and the Splash Pool Bar.

Timings: 6:00AM – 12:AM

Tickets: AED 1620 onwards

When Papa posed like me 😀

Alserkal Avenue

An art and culture district made out of warehouses – yeah you read it right. The avenue was an area of industrial warehouses that have been converted into a wide array of galleries, facilities and platforms known as the Alserkal Avenue.

With 60 art houses, design and creative venues it was gathering the region’s artists. The best part is entry is free of cost.

Timings: 10 am to 7 pm (Friday closed)

Dubai Clocktower

The Clocktower is one of the most popular landmarks in the city, though it is not of architectural importance. It is a roundabout that is believed to be constructed by the people in Dubai lived during the 1960s. Its design resembles that of a clock and as the Telegraph newspaper once reported, Dubai Clock Tower is the prime attraction in Dubai and one of the 17 most beautiful clock towers around the world.

Hope you are enjoying this journey across the City of Gold with the Joker. If you want me to cover something in particular – Do highlight!

Come back tomorrow for more.

For all those who love opera,

For all those who enjoy theatre,

For all those who love flowers,

And

For all those who flutter like butterflies…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 15th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

Read the Previous post here: Dubai – City of Gold

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with the letter ‘P’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.

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23

M – Malls Of Dubai | #AtoZChallenge

M – Malls of Dubai | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

Dubai is famous for many of the World’s ‘largest’ and ‘biggest’ things and is equally rated as one of the top shopping destinations in the world. With modern cosmopolitan global cities, shopping and malls go hand in hand, which makes Dubai home to many of the world’s largest malls. In total, it has more than 40 places that qualify as shopping malls.

Dubai Mall

It is the second-largest mall in the world by total land area and is one of the world’s most visited shopping and entertainment destinations that welcome in excess of 100 mn visitors in a year. It is a part of the Downtown Dubai area with more than 1000 retail outlets. Some of the biggest names include; Topshop and Zara, and department stores such as Bloomingdale’s and Galeries Lafayette.

Inside of Dubai Mall

It is also home to some of the major attractions in Dubai – like the entrance to Burj Khalifa, The Underwater aquarium and zoo, Dubai Ice Rink, Kidzania, Reel Cinemas with 22 screens, VR Park Dubai, Rain Forest Café, Hysteria, Dubai Fountain and Souk Al Bahar.

It has connectivity with the metro through the Dubai Mall metro station.

Mall of the Emirates

Mall of the Emirates or MOE as it is famous in Dubai is another huge shopping mall in UAE. There has always been a debate about which among the both has a bigger shopping space. MOE is the place where you can find snow in the middle of the desert – Ski Dubai is a fun and adventure place for everyone especially kids.

With more than 600 retail outlets and 100 restuarants, it is one of the leading shopping destinations in Dubai. Some of the major attractions include – Magic Planet – one of the largest indoor family entertainment centers in Dubai, Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre and Vox cinemas with 14 screens. The famous restaurants are Tribes, Salero Tapas and Bodega and The Cheesecake Factory.

One can take a metro ride to reach the MOE.

Ibn Battuta Mall

Ibn Battuta is the world’s largest themed shopping mall and is named after the famous 14th-century explorer with the same name. In a way, this mall is a tribute to the travels of Ibn Battuta. There are six major courts whose designs are inspired by the regions he traveled – Andalusia, Tunisia, Egypt, Persia, India and China.

It is one of those malls that you can visit even if you are in no mood to shop. For travellers, it is a must and is my personal favorite because of the amazing detailed interiors of each court. You can find plenty of backgrounds to get clicked. It is also home to Dubai’s only Imax along with 21 other screens.

It is situated at the end of Dubai towards Abu Dhabi and has good metro connectivity.

Festival City Mall

Festival city mall is situated on the banks of the iconic Dubai Creek and it is one of the largest malls in Dubai. Just like Ibn Battuta Mall one can travel to the Festival City Mall for entertainment and leisure. There is an amazing fire and light show that takes place on the waterfront after the sunset. One can also enjoy the show from any one of the restaurants that silver line the waterfront.

The Festival city area is like a ‘City-within-a-city’ and you can find Dubai’s only IKEA there. Don’t miss Ikea’s sumptuous breakfast at a reasonable cost. The mall has the largest Aldo store on the planet and the only Mint Velvet outside the UK. The rock lovers can head straight up to Hard Rock Café – the only in UAE.

It is not connected via metro, hence a taxi is a best-preferred option.

Wafi Mall

Wafi Mall is another themed mall in the heart of the city and its styles are based on Ancient Egypt where you will find architecture reminiscent of Karnak, small pyramids, and images of pharaohs. It is a quieter mall compared to other malls in terms of foot-fall and makes it a perfect place if you are heading for a meeting over a coffee.

It also an immersive light and laser show in the evening depicting the era of pyramids. The place also has some of the best restaurant options in the whole of Dubai. Khan Murjan, an underground souk is famous for Arabic souvenirs.

Dubai Outlet Mall

As the name suggests, you will find factory outlets of all the major brands here. During my stay, I would regularly pay a visit to it to grab on some amazing offers which may range from 30% to 90%. It is a shoppers’ paradise with the location being its only drawback. It is located on the Al Ain Road and would take roughly around 30 min from the city to reach.

Make sure you visit on Mondays as they have extra offers on them. No direct connectivity with metro.

Mercato Mall

Mercato mall is a themed mall whose architecture takes you to the Italian Renaissance era. This mall is famous for its eateries and bakeries like Cakery Epicerie by Stephane Glacier and Alison Nelson’s Chocolate Bar for the city’s creamiest hot chocolate

Burjuman Centre

It has a long history and has the best location of all the malls – right in the heart of Bur Dubai. It has great metro connectivity with both the metro lines and you will find a taxi at any point of the day. Close to some of the main office locations it is the best place for a quick lunch getaway.

If you are staying in JLT, JBR and Dubai Marina then Dubai Marina Mall is the answer to all your shopping needs. Similarly, if you living near Mirdif and Deira then you can head to the Mirdif City Centre and Deira City Centre respectively.

Some of the other famous malls are DragonMart in International City, The Village Mall, The Beach and the famous City Walk.

Tips:

When going for a movie try for the smaller malls, as the chances of getting tickets are high there.

Do check out the location of malls as you may find one just next to you as there are so many of them.

Parking can be a huge issue on the weekend. Always note your location and drop the SMS for parking.

Carry a water bottle.

If you love shopping…then you will love Dubai…and its Malls.

For all those who love shopping,

For all those great at bargaining,

For all those who like discounts,

And

For all those who are always found in Malls…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 13th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

Read the Previous post here: Dubai – City of Gold

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with the letter ‘N’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.

9

I – IMG Worlds of Adventure | #AtoZChallenge

I – IMG Words of Adventure | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

A couple of days back, it was adventure coupled with fast rides at Ferrari world, then we headed to adventure in nature at Hatta. Today I will take you to a place where it is escapade of a new kind. It is an adventure with cartoon and Marvel characters. If you have been to this place you would have guessed it by now. I am talking about the ‘IMG World of Adventure.’

IMG World of Adventure is an indoor amusement park and is Dubai’s first mega themed entertainment destination. It is the world’s largest temperature-controlled indoor themed entertainment destination, with an area in excess of 1.5 million square feet, which welcomes more than 20,000 guests a day.

The park is divided into five ‘epic zones’. Two of the five zones represent global brands Cartoon Network and Marvel, while IMG Boulevard and the Lost Valley – Dinosaur Adventure zones are original concepts created by the IMG Group. Novo Cinema is the fifth section of IMG Worlds of Adventure, which has a 12 – screen Novo Cinema complex.

The adventure world includes rollercoasters; thrill rides, and other attractions based on popular Cartoon Network characters, iconic Marvel Super Heroes and animatronic dinosaurs along with a wide variety of themed retail stores and dining venues.

Adventure Zones

Marvel

The main rides and attractions are:

Avengers Battle of Ultron – Join the avengers team as they take on the evil villain Ultron.

Hulk Epsilon Base 3D – One-of-a-kind, state-of-the-art stereoscopic cinema dome to see Marvel’s Hulk, the Incredible Avenger, in stunning 3D in an immersive 360-degree experience.

Spider-Man Doc Ock’s Revenge – Battle Spider-Man’s nemesis Doctor Octopus in a ride you won’t want to end.

Thor Thunder Spin – You will be pinned to your seat by the laws of gravity as Marvel’s Thor, attempts to rescue you from the clutches of Loki.

Avengers Flight of the Quinjets – you will own a two-seat Quinjet and take flight with other Quinjets in a fun race.

Dining options include – Tony’s Skydeck, Chang’s Golden Dragon, Mama Scano’s Of Yancy Street and Downtown Shawarma.

There are multiple retail options to suit your shopping needs – Marvel universe, Empire News and Comics, Avengers Exchange, Epsilon Command, Daily Bugle Company Store and Marvel Vault.

The Lost Valley

Main attractions:

The Velociraptor – It is a rollercoaster through the prehistoric jungles. Not for the faint-hearted.

Forbidden Territory – A fun ride through time, where you can witness some of the most amazing and terrifying creatures.

Predator – Another rollercoaster with exhilarating loops and rolls.

Dino Carousel – It’s a dino-themed merry-go-round. Perfect fun for kids.

Adventure Fortress – its an adventure playground that includes ladders, tunnels, slides, bridges, nets and climbing challenges.

You want to experience what it was dining with the dinosaurs – Try these restaurants – Spice Valley, Carnivore Hut brought to you by Wingstop (America’s Number 1 Chicken Wing concept) and 360 Express.

Wanna take a dinosaur’s egg or a printed T-shirt as a souvenir – shop at these retail outlets – The Explorer’s Supply and Raptor Outpost.

Cartoon Network

The Zone is based on cartoon characters from Cartoon Network. It contains the world’s first 5D Ben 10 cinema and the largest Ben 10 store in the world.

Major rides and attractions include:

The Powerpuff Girls – Mojo Jojo’s Robot Rampage.

Ben 10: 5D Hero Time – Experience Ben’s world in this epic multi-sensory adventure.

Adventure Time – The Ride of OOO with Finn & Jake-monorail – Visit the varied and vibrant kingdoms and encounter the Ice King through this fun ride.

The Amazing Ride of Gumball-a dark ride – It’s a laser shooting attraction where you zap the objects that have come to life and are threatening to take over the town.

LazyTown – It is an interactive attraction full of climbing, adventure and other fun and exciting experiences. You will have to pay extra AED 25 if you want to enjoy Pirates adventure along with it.

Have fun while dining with your beloved cartoons at – CN Feast, Mr. Smoothy Richard’s Around the World Café and Finn & Jake’s – Everything Burrito.

Take back your favorite cartoon characters from these outlets – Cartoon Network Classics, Cartoon Network Store, The Amazing World of Gumball – The Store, Lazy Store and Ben 10 – Universe.

IMG Boulevard

IMG Boulevard is the exciting zone of the park, where you can have thrilling experiences along with enjoying vast retail outlets and a wide selection of dining options.

The main attraction here is The Haunted Hotel. It is a frightening experience where you negotiate a maze of corridors and changing scenery, encountering all sorts of scary characters against a chilling backdrop. Hold your nerve as you try to find the exit.

Warning – This attraction is only open to guests aged 15 and older.

Other main dining and shopping options include – Popcorn Factory, Boulevard Gourmet, Samosa House, Flavors of Arabia, The Coffeehouse, Haunted Hotel Store, World of Candy and IMG Emporium.

Note: Each of these rides has separate restrictions, especially if you are unaccompanied. Please check them before you take part in any ride or attraction.

Tickets and Timings:

Just like the Ferrari world, the tickets include unlimited access to all the rides and attractions.

  • Park admission: AED 285
  • Junior admission (under 1.2m in height): AED 255
  • Senior Citizens: AED 175
  • Guest with Disabilities:
  • Above 1.2m in height: AED168
  • Under 1.2m in height: AED115

IMG Worlds of Adventure brings imagination to life 365 days of the year.

Sun-Wed: 11 am to 10 pm.

Thu–Sat: 11 am to 11 pm.

Getting there

IMG Worlds of Adventure is located on E311 (Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road – near Arabian Ranches, next to Global Village). It is situated in the City of Arabia, along Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road.

The best option is to take a taxi or drive yourself.

There is so much on offer in IMG World of Adventure that each zone requires a dedicated post in itself. You can go there and spend an entire day and still you might not be able to cover everything. Go and have fun!

For all those who love adventure,

For all those who love cartoons,

For all those who are Marvel fans,

And

For all those who love IMG World of Adventure…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 9th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

Read the Previous post here: Dubai – City of Gold

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with the letter ‘J’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.

19

F – Ferrari World | #AtoZChallenge

F – Ferrari World | #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

Any trip to Dubai is incomplete without paying a visit to the iconic Ferrari World on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. It is one of the world’s largest indoor amusement parks and just lost the title of being the largest after the opening of Dubai’s IMG Worlds of Adventure. It still holds the record for the largest space frame structure ever built.

It is the first Ferrari-branded theme park and has won many awards over the years. It was named the ‘Middle East’s Leading Tourist Attraction’ on several occasions. Personally, I would not categorize it as an amusement park. It is far more thrilling than that.

Just to give you a perspective, it is like a Disneyland with faster and crazier exhilarating rides. It is about a 60 min drive from Dubai and serves as one of the best weekend getaways for the entire family. There is something for everyone here. It is also home to the world’s fastest roller coaster – the Formula Rossa.

Formula Rossa

To this day I will never forget those first three seconds of the ride. It is the world’s fastest roller coaster for a reason – it goes from 0 to 240 km/h in only 4.9 sec. I was sitting in the front row and was handed a pair of big transparent glasses to cover my eyes from any injuries. I still remember, funnily, the glasses came off with the extreme force of wind within the first three seconds. It was so fast that I couldn’t hear even my own scream and no breathe will leave your lungs.

Just imagine what the F1 racers feel when we can’t survive it for about 30 odd secs. Once you have paid for the ticket at the entrance you can go for any ride any number of times.

For other ‘Speed’ experiences you can head on to:

Scuderia Challenge

It is a timed challenge and gives you a feel of exactly how a Ferrari F1 driver feels. It is a simulator experience, hence arrive early to sign up and enjoy the fun.

Karting Academy

It is an amazing 290 m long track where you can test your racing skills. It is the region’s first electric go-kart circuit and this one is also a timed attraction.

Flying Aces

Inspired by the legendary ‘ace of aces’ aviator, Count Baracca, it is world’s highest rollercoaster loop at 63 m height and at 51-degree incline and reaches up to stirring speeds of up to 120 km/h.

Fiorano GT Challenge

If you are traveling with friends and want to challenge them in a race, this is the one to do it in. The circuit is swirling parallel tracks in a Ferrari F430 Spider based on real GT courses and speeds can reach up to 95km/h.

Turbo Track

If you love zero gravity falls then this one is surely for you. It is a back-to-back rollercoaster with a vertical climb that launches guests through the roof into the sky and back down in reverse.

If you are traveling with kids, don’t worry there is plenty to try out at the Ferrari World.

Attractions for Kids

You can head to the racing slides of Nello’s Adventureland to begin with. The RC Challenge is the perfect test for their fingers where they can navigate the remote-controlled boats and cars. Khalil’s Car Wash is an interactive obstacle course where they can climb the grandstand, slide down the carwash, and grab those remote control Ferraris and pedal cars.

You can definitely try out Junior GT, Junior Training Camp, Junior Grand Prix and Bell’ Italia for exciting offerings for kids.

Attractions for the whole Family

If you want to have fun with the entire family there are multiple options for that too.

In Tyre Twist the entire family can sit in a giant F1 tire and slide and collide with others. If you want to experience what it is like to do a pit stop try the ‘Tyre Changing Experience’. The ‘Speed of Magic’ is a 4D-simulated universe where you dive into oceans, fly over cliffs and venture into ice caves – watch out for that splash of water.

Some of the other family attractions include; Motor Midway Games, Made in Maranello, Galleria Ferrari, Driving with the Champions, Benno’s Great Race and Viaggio in Italia.

You can enjoy multiple shows and performances that happen at different places inside the park. There are multiple shopping and dining options also available that are catering to different requirements.

Tickets

Everything comes at a price and so does the adrenaline-charged experience of Ferrari World. There are basically three options.

Single day ticket: Starts from AED 295 – gives complete access with all the rides for a single visit.

1 Day – 2 Parks: Starts from AED 395 – there are other amusement parks in Yas Island, one can choose any other park along with Ferrari World on the same day.

2 Day – 2 Parks: Starts at AED 435.

If you can afford, it is always advisable to buy the VIP or quick access tickets to avoid waiting in the queues.

Note: Try booking the tickets online in advance – they have decent discount options available.

The Park is operational from 11am to 8pm. Anybody traveling from April to June – Formula Rossa will be closed from 28 April 2019 to 2 June 2019.

How to Reach

If you aren’t driving on your own or taking a taxi there are other options available that are free of cost from Dubai. You can catch a Free Shuttle Bus from any one of the locations to Yas Island – Dubai Mall, Mall of the Emirates and Deira City Center. Check the website for timings.

Go and have fun with the entire family and take back memories of a lifetime.

For all those who like an adrenaline rush,

For all those who enjoy rollercoasters,

For all those who love the Formula Rossa,

And

For all those who love the Ferrari World…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the 6th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

F – Ferrari World

Read the Previous post here:

A – Arrival in Dubai

B – Burj Khalifa

C – CREEK – The Heart of Dubai

D – Desert Safari

E – Emirates of UAE

Please do visit on Monday for the next post with letter ‘G’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.

22

D – Desert Safari | #AtoZChallenge

D – Desert Safari #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about the Gulf region? Many would say skyscrapers, some would say Islamic traditional dresses, few would think about dates. Well for me it is the Desert.

Tourism is the backbone of Dubai’s economy. Dubai got ranked as the world’s 7th most visited city by international tourists, according to the recently released list and survey of Euromonitor in 2018. It keeps on adding attraction on a yearly basis but one experience, which is a must when traveling to Dubai is the ‘Desert Safari’.

No trip to Dubai is complete without going for a desert safari. Away from all the hustle and bustle of the city, from the maddening noise, the flashing lights, the never-ending traffic. If you are working or staying in Dubai then it is the perfect thing to indulge in your weekend.

Desert Safari comes in multiple options suiting your timing and needs.

Morning safari: When you don’t have the entire day and still want to be in the desert. It is a two-hour trip to the desert and includes pick and drop from your location and 20 min desert sand dune bashing usually in an SUV. You can also go for a camel ride, quad bike ride and sand boarding for additional charges.

Timing: 8:30 am to 11:30 am

Prices: Starts from 80 AED per person – do checkout coupon websites for some awesome deals.

Evening safari: This is a more complete alternative as it includes more things apart from 20-30 min dune bashing, one can also enjoy sunset photography, camel ride, belly dancing, fire, and Tanura show, followed by an unlimited BBQ buffet dinner.

Timing: 2 pm to 9:30 pm

Prices: Starts from 80 AED per person

We went for an overnight option at a camp, where we could spend the whole night right in the middle of the desert and experience the nomadic way of life.

For this, we chose the Bedouin Oasis Camp in Ras Al Khaimah and booked online for an overnight stay. This cost us around AED 1000 for four people for a large tent. It is about an hour’s drive from Dubai depending upon where you stay. One cool thing about Ras Al Khaimah is you can carry your own booze if you want to enjoy that.

We started around 1 pm and reached around 2:30 pm after taking a small coffee break. Subcontinent guys mostly manage it and one of them greeted us at the gate and we checked in to our so-called ‘tents’.

Well, the tent doesn’t sound like a tent. I was impressed as it has all the luxurious facilities that you can associate with a high-end hotel with proper air-conditioning. Soon after the check-in, we headed straight for our SUV for dune bashing. It is an exhilarating ride – your heart will skip a beat when the SUV comes down from a steep sand dune. It was getting dark when we returned. It was time for some sunset photography and sand boarding.

The camp is designed to give an authentic immersive experience – it is surrounded by high dunes followed by tents (rooms) on all side with a central place for performances and dinner.

Around 6:30 pm the announcement was made regarding the commencement of the show. People from the evening safari also joined us. The whole place was packed and was buzzing with excitement. There was unlimited coffee, tea, and water for all the guests.

The show began with the fire show. It was immediately followed by the Tanoura show or Tanoura dance – it is a folkloric dance of Egypt but is a highlight of Dubai Desert Safari. The performer kept it interactive asking the visitors to volunteer in the fun. The entire show ended with a scintillating belly dance performed by a very agile Russian. (I think 😉 )

It was followed by a lavish BBQ buffet. The hummus was lip smacking. I was overwhelmed by the fact that they prepared veg Indian curries just to cater us. The day visitors left around 9 pm leaving the staying ones to enjoy the activities.

There is something for everyone in a desert safari camp. There was a campfire placed in front of all the tents, which were set up for seating only. Each of these was facilitated with an unlimited supply of ‘Sheeshas or Hookas’. There was another stall where one could try out traditional dresses and take snaps.

Breakfast with a view

We wanted to make the most of this opportunity and hence we decided to carry our telescope. The atmosphere was free of any pollution and with city lights miles away it was perfect for stargazing. It was a surreal captivating experience. My sister and I woke up around 5am to see the morning star and then witness the breathtaking sunrise.

“They say all sunsets are different, I say all sunrises motivate too in their own way.”

After enjoying a sumptuous international buffet breakfast, we headed to try out some more activities that were left last night. There was a camel ride on offer but I wanted some more of the desert dune bashing and hence decided to go for the quad bike option. The guide was kind enough to take me around for about an hour instead of the 45 min he charged me for and took a video of me too. It was one of the most adventurous memories of the camp.

Note: Cover your eyes and head during the dune bashing as it can cause irritation and sunburn. Please book well in advance because these places are mostly sold out during winters especially over weekends.

It was time to leave and we headed back to Dubai around 11 am.

People take back souvenirs when they visit a place in the form of magnets and key chains, I say why not take home a souvenir in the form of an amazing memory.

For all those who love sand,

For all those who the Bedouin camps,

For all those who like dune bashing,

And

For all those who love the Desert Safari…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

See you tomorrow.

This is the 4th post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

D – Desert Safari

Read the Previous post here:

A – Arrival in Dubai

B – Burj Khalifa

C – CREEK – The Heart of Dubai

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with letter ‘E’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme –‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.

38

A – Arriving in Dubai

A – Arriving in Dubai #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z

The first thing I got to hear when I told my relatives that I would be going to Dubai for a year was, “Ohh! You are going to Saudia or Saudi.”

Let me begin with this. It is a general misconception in our part of the world that Dubai is in Saudi Arabia or going to any gulf country is like going to Saudi. The people are a little apprehensive about traveling to the Gulf given the strict nature of their customs and rules.

Well, Dubai is the extreme opposite of that and to be clear it is not a country either. It is an Emirate and a part of the United Arab Emirates. Dubai is most cosmopolitan in nature in the Middle East – about 85-88% of the population is expats. I may be going overboard but Dubai is like the Vegas of the Gulf.

Dubai International Airport

Dubai international airport is the busiest airport in the world for international travel for the past two consecutive years. There are currently three Terminals operational with Terminal 3 being exclusive to the Emirates Airlines. It is also the largest airport terminal in the world. There is an even bigger airport coming up soon known as the Al Maktoum International Airport. You can also choose to fly to Abu Dhabi and Sharjah depending on the flight you select. Each of them is only about 90 mins drive from Dubai.

There is a lot you can do even if you are traveling with a transit visa and only have a few hours to spend at the Dubai International Airport. The airport has a Zen garden, innumerous retail shops, and amazing lounges with spas. There is even a ‘snoozecube’ in terminal 1, where you can take a nap in their soundproof cabins. The airport has a five-star hotel and one can check in without exiting the premises.

Things to keep in mind before arriving in Dubai:

Climate: Apart from its towering skyscrapers Dubai is often associated with hot temperature. Best time to visit is October to March – during summers it can get really hot but it is one of those cities where it is mandatory to keep every place air-conditioned. Even the bus stops on the roads are glass covered and air-conditioned. So if you aren’t an extreme outdoor person – the summers won’t harm you that much.

Medicines: I personally didn’t find much information on this online but telling you from my experience. If you are carrying any medicine please keep a prescription for all the medicines. Not all the medicines are allowed and considered safe which might otherwise be in your country. If you are caught during checking it can cause a lot of trouble.

Respect their culture and views: Dubai being officially an Islamic city has its share of customs and cultures. All I can advice is, please be respectful of that. It is the least conservative of all the places in Gulf. If you traveling during Ramadan, be polite in your habits. Most of the restaurants are either closed or covered during daylight hours. Avoid PDA in public places and don’t take snaps of locals without their permission.

Clothes: Pack according to the weather. It will hardly rain in Dubai but during the winters it can get chilly and windy in the nights. You can swim in bikinis and walk in shorts but do cover up one you are in places where it is clearly mentioned. Dress modestly.

Avoid flouting rules: If a city has to maintain its superlative standards it has to be governed by strict rules. There are strict traffic rules, especially for the expats. You can be severely fined for jaywalking.

Safety: With stern policies and law, comes greater safety. It is among one of the safest places. Even if there is unrest in that part of the world UAE is considered one of the safest countries.

Alcohol and Food: Contrary to the assumption, Dubai is not a dry city. Having said that you need to procure a license if you want to purchase liquor and take home. Though there is no restriction on pubs and bars. The city offers a wide variety of places to dine and drink, offering every possible cuisine in the world, depending on your class and taste.

Travel: The city has a pretty efficient public transport system with metros, taxis, and buses. The metros and buses can be boarded with the same card but taxis are the best way to move around the city. You will find one at any hour of the day. It might seem expensive compared to the other options but it is one of the cheapest if compared globally.

Weekend: Important thing to keep in mind when you are planning your trip to Dubai that the weekend is Friday and Saturday. Sunday to Thursday is their weekdays.

Mecca of Shopping: Dubai is the home to many of the biggest shopping festivals. Do try to visit during any one of them and you surely won’t be disappointed. From January to February it hosts its biggest festival – DSF – Dubai Shopping Festival.

Visa, Flights and Stay: Get your visas done in Advances. For an Indian, a regular visit visa for 30 days would be done in 4-5 business days. Be careful about the visa – if you overstay in any manner then there are hefty penalties. Please book the flights in advance if you are traveling during the festival season or around the New Year. Similarly for the Hotels; if you traveling around the New Year’s Eve you will literally have a lot of difficulty in finding a place to stay. Hence plan in advance.

Though Dubai is home to many of the biggest and largest things in the world, the biggest delusion is one need to be super rich to visit Dubai – it isn’t like that. Everyone can find things depending on your budget.

To be honest, if you aren’t disturbing, troubling or interfering with anyone – Dubai is a fantastic cool fun place to be in. It totally depends on what kind of traveler you are and what all you want to visit and focus on. The best part is Dubai will definitely have something of interest for every kind of traveler.

For all those participating in AtoZ,

For all those who love shopping,

For all those who love travel,

And

For all those who love Dubai…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul

This is the first post for the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z. My theme in Travel Category is ‘Dubai – the City of Gold’, where I would be covering everything about the city in the course of 26 posts.

A – Arriving in Dubai

Please do visit tomorrow for the next post with letter ‘B’

I am also taking part in the #AtoZChallenge #BlogchatterA2Z using another theme – ‘IPL – Indian Parliamentary League’. If you are keen on following key issues pertaining to the upcoming General Elections head over to the Politics Theme and share your feedback.

35

The Land of Thunderbolt – Darjeeling

After spending a complete weekend in Kolkata, I still wasn’t satisfied and wanted to explore more of the region. Since childhood, I have been hearing stories of friends visiting the hills of ‘Darjeeling’ during the summer vacations. I thought this was the perfect opportunity to explore it since I was already in West Bengal.

I enquired for the tickets and was fortunate enough to procure a confirmed ticket in Shatabdi that runs from Howrah railway station to New Jalpaiguri railway station. To reach Darjeeling via train one needs to travel to the twin cities of Siliguri and Jalpaiguri. New Jalpaiguri is like the gateway to the North Eastern states and is the railway station where the maximum amount of trains passes. I reached around 10:30 pm.

Things to note when you are exploring that part of the country. Their day starts early around 4 am and invariably ends by 8:30 pm.

Climbing the Tenzing Rock

HISTORY

Darjeeling has a turbulent history. It would require a separate post if we completely want to indulge in the history of Darjeeling. All I can see, keeping it brief, that for long Darjeeling was a part of the Sikkim Kingdom. It also became a part of Nepal as well as Bhutan for short periods during the British Era before finally becoming a part of the current state of West Bengal. It has seen its share of violence and war as well which keeps simmering every now and then for various reasons.

ABOUT THE CITY

Darjeeling is known as the ‘Land of Thunderbolt’. It gets its name from the Tibetan words ‘Dorje’, which is the thunderbolt scepter of the Hindu deity Indra, and ling, which means ‘a place’ or ‘land’.

The nearest airport is Bagdogra airport, which is about 15 km from Siliguri. From there one can take a shared taxi to Darjeeling directly or can come down till Darjeeling More, Siliguri and board the same.

Engine of the Heritage Toy Train

To reach Darjeeling one can take the scenic and iconic Unesco world heritage Darjeeling Toy Train, but please make sure that you have got the tickets in advance because of the limited availability. It is also the most expensive option to reach Darjeeling unless you are hiring a private taxi only for yourself.

The best option is to take a shared taxi usually a Tata Sumo from the ‘Darjeeling more’. It will cost you only Rs. 150 (updated May 2018) and will take about three hours to Darjeeling.

It was late in the night by the time I de-boarded the train. I decided to spend the night in Siliguri and then leave for Darjeeling the next morning.

Note: Finding public transport in the night in New Jalpaiguri is pretty difficult. It is best advisable to ask the hotel to arrange a pickup. I wasn’t that lucky, hence I took a shared e-rick, which will charge as much as they want.

The Peace Pagoda

The next morning after breakfast I left for Darjeeling by taking a shared taxi. Just like Kolkata, Darjeeling too greeted me with rain. From the drop off point, I walked in the rain for about 1 km before I finally got a decent option to stay at a reasonable price. It was only 10 mins walking distance from Mall Road as well as the city center.

It was past lunchtime and I inquired at the hotel reception what all places I can cover now. The receptionist informed me that all the shared taxi options had left for the day and it was best that I would either take a personal cab or rent a bike. Given the hilly terrain and the rain, I went with a personal cab.

TOP ATTRACTIONS

The driver was a young boy in his teens and was very friendly. He said if I cover the places without wasting much time he could take me to 3-4 places before the sunset.

I started with the Darjeeling Zoo.

Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park

An impatient Bear at the zoo

The Darjeeling Zoo is a unique zoo. It is also known as Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park named after the daughter of Sarojini Naidu. The zoo is known internationally for its breeding and conservation programs and also includes an off-display breeding center for snow leopards and red pandas.

Must-See: Siberian Tiger, Red pandas, Himalayan bears, clouded leopards, and Tibetan wolves.

Opening hours: 8:30 am to 4 pm

Entry fee: INR 20 for domestic and INR 50 for others

Inside the same complex walking further down, there is the famous HMI.

Himalayan Mountaineering Institute

Himalayan Mountaineering Institute is recognized as one of the best mountaineering institutes in the world and one of the oldest in the country established in 1954. Anyone who is interested in learning the craft of mountain climbing this is the best place to be in. It has and had some world-renowned faculties like the great Tenzing Norway. There is also a mountaineering museum inside it which is of primary attraction.

Entry Fee: INR 40 for adults, INR 10 for camera

Timings: 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM & 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM, Closed on Tuesdays.

Happy Valley Tea Estate

At Tea Estate

It would be criminal of anyone if they visit Darjeeling and don’t pay a visit to the Happy Valley Tea Estate. It is the second oldest tea estate in over 80 tea estates in Darjeeling. My driver agreed to take good snaps of me on the promise of me purchasing some fresh Darjeeling tea from his sister’s shop. Being a tea lover I couldn’t resist trying a couple of flavors right there.

There is no better feeling than the aroma of tea in the hills, the chilly wind, Kanchenjunga peak in the background and mesmerizing sight as far as one can see.

Timings: March – November: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM

Entry Fee: No Entry Fee

Guided Tour: INR 100 per person

It was getting dark and we headed in the opposite direction of the city to visit the Buddhist Temple and Peace Pagoda.

View from Summit at Peace Pagoda

Peace Pagoda and Buddhist Temple

No amount of words can describe the amazing soothing and scenic experience of the Peace Pagoda. The pagoda stands as the symbol of spirituality and peace. Peace Pagoda reflects four avatars of Lord Buddha depicted through four statues of Buddha in gold polish and is located adjacent to Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Temple.

Don’t miss the panoramic view of Darjeeling, the valley, the mountains and Kanchenjunga in the backdrop from the summit.

Opening hours: 4:30 am to 7 pm

Entry fee: Free

The driver dropped me near mall road where I headed for dinner. I went to bed early, as I had to wake up around 4 am to leave for the tiger hill. The hotel at a nominal charge for around Rs 200 can easily arrange the shared taxi.

Tiger Hill

Kanchenjunga from Tiger hill – Image ref – Pixabay

The moment I woke up, my heart sank after noticing the weather. It was already drizzling with dark clouds covering the sky.

Tiger Hill is most famous for its splendid sights of sunrise from where you can see the peaks of Kanchenjunga illuminate before the sun is seen at lower elevations. On a clear day, the entire Himalayan range can be seen. At sunrise, the peaks of Kanchenjunga are illuminated before the sun is seen anywhere else in the city. Do remember to try the super fresh Darjeeling tea, which the hawkers would be selling there at a meager price of Rs 10 each.

Batasia Loop

Center of Batasia Loop

On the way back to the city the driver will take you to Batasia Loop and Ghoom Monastery.

The Batasia Loop is a lush green toy train pathway that is meant to minimize the elevation of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. Right at the center of the garden, a War Memorial was created in honor of the Gorkha soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the many wars post-Indian Independence.

Timings: 5:00 AM to 8:00 PM

Entry Fee: INR 15

 

Ghoom Monastery

Inside of Ghoom Monastery

The Yiga Choeling or old Ghoom Monastery is the oldest Tibetan Buddhist Monastery of Darjeeling. Established in 1850 by Lama Sherab Gyatso, this shrine is part of the Yellow Hat sect known as Gelupka who worship the ‘Coming Buddha’ or ‘Maitreya Buddha’. In front of the Maitreya Buddha statue hang two huge oil lamps which keep burning throughout the year.

Do not forget to taste the awesome breakfast, momo, and thukpa just outside the monastery.

Timings: 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM Entry Fee: No Entry Fee,

Still camera: INR 10,

Video shot: INR 50

After spending a decent amount of time in the monastery and a wonderful breakfast we headed back to the city.

The sun was out now and I wanted to use the half-day I still had at hand. I decided to visit one of the best picturesque locations in Darjeeling – the Rock Garden.

Rock Garden

At the Rock Garden

The Rock Garden or the Barbotey Garden as its commonly known is located a little far from the city around ~10 km away. It is a man-made rocky garden enriched with flora, waterfalls, and bridges. The pleasing view from the hills provides you with just the thing you were looking for when you planned your trip to Darjeeling. The tea gardens all over the hills, beautiful flower gardens and beautiful waterfalls make the place a heavenly location.

Timings: All days of the week: 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM Entry Fee: INR 10 per person for Indians, INR 50 per person for foreign tourists

FOOD and STAY

A bowl of Thenthuk Soup

Darjeeling being a popular hill station there is no shortage of places to stay. There are options available which cater to every class of tourists and travelers.

The Deveka’s Restaurant: Must try their momos and Thukpa. Awesome Tibetian food options.

Kunga Restaurant: It is very close to Deveka’s. The best way to reach both places is to locate the Hotel Lunar board which is visible from a distance. Both the restaurants are just located beneath the board on Gandhi Road. Thenthuk and Bhagthuk soups are a must try. You will fall in love with them.

For all those who love tea,

For all those who love hill stations,

For all those who love toy trains,

And

For all those who love the Land of Thunderbolt…

It’s not a goodbye,

But it’s a GOOD BYE.

Manas ‘Sameer’ Mukul.

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