So the adventures began on the evening of 5th April 2015. That day, leaving home, knowing that I wouldn’t see my family and friends for over a year or more was an experience in itself. I can’t say I have ever felt so emotionally unstable! One minute I was overwhelmed with excitement and the next I felt sick to the stomach with the thought of saying goodbye.


After a few tears at the airport that evening, I sorted myself out with a drink at the bar to calm the nerves and some chocolate (chocolate always makes things better). Then before we knew it we were on the plane on our way to Dubai! Even though we got our flights pretty cheap with booking through STA, we managed to land ourselves an Emirates flight. Meaning time on the plane actually passed pretty quickly with the free meals, newly released movies and free wine, which actually knocked us out for a good few hours of the flight too.


We arrived in Dubai at around 8am and got a taxi from the airport to the immigration office, where after some confusion we eventually got picked up by the host of our Air Bn’B villa which we were staying at for the week. Once we had freshened up and dumped our bags, we went straight out to explore! Our villa was in a local area about four or five stops away from the main centre. We got the metro to the Dubai Mall, which was absolutely insane! It was SO huge, we actually spent the rest of the day getting lost in it. Inside there was things such as an indoor aquarium, huge cinema, ice rink along with hundreds of shops and places to eat, including the famous American “Cheesecake factory” and bubble-tea stands, both of which we tried out and throughly enjoyed (especially the GoDiva chocolate cheesecake). After then finding our way back out of the mall, eventually! We went back to the villa and got a pretty early night since we were both feeling jet-lagged from the long travel.


The next day we got up reasonably early so that we would have time for the beach before our desert safari trip we had booked at 4pm. We walked down to the closest public beach, finding our way using “City Maps” App on our phones (highly recommended for any travellers or holiday makers). However, when we arrived at the beach we found out it was closed due to it currently being under construction (only in Dubai would a whole beach be ‘under-construction’). So we ended up jumping in a taxi to the next closet beach, got a few hours in of sun soaking and then headed back to the villa to get changed and ready for pick up for the desert safari. We booked the desert safari trip beforehand through, which we would definitely recommend doing as we got a much cheaper rate. The safari trip we did was to ‘Bedouin Camp’, it included pick up and transportation to the desert in a 4×4, close to an hour of sand dune bashing in the 4×4, with stops for photos and water refreshments.


Then we parked up at the ‘camp’ where we got to ride a camel (in a very small circle), watched some Arabic style belly dancing, enjoyed an Arabic style buffet and had the opportunity to do various traditional activities after the food such as henna hand painting, sand boarding, shisha smoking, Arabic coffee tasting and Arabic clothing dress up. Overall, it was a great evening and we were lucky to have a good group of people of similar ages to experience it with and a tour guide with a pretty good sense of humour too!



On Friday Gavin and I had arranged to meet up with my friend James, who I used to work with. James had recently moved out to work in Dubai, along with his sister, Lia, who Gavin also knew from school (small world). James gave us a wee tour around the Dubai marina and we spent the afternoon chilling on the beach! Later on that evening, we meet up with Lia once she finished work at 7pm and then all went back to James’s and Lia’s apartment for dinner (which is situated directly under the Burj Khalifa, so amazing!!!). We then had some drinks and headed out to a club on juriemh beach. The club had a great atmosphere, great tunes and with the great company we had we had such a good night there. We finally got back to the villa and rolled into bed around 5am.



The next morning was a struggle. We had arranged to meet up with one of Gavin’s friends, Varri, who he worked out with in camp America. Varri also lives out in Dubai now so she had offered to show us around the old part of Dubai. We meet her at the metro station at 12pm (just made it!) from there we headed straight to Old Dubai. It was completely different to the new, modern, westernised city that we had seen so far. It was full of local Arabs out in the street trying to sell scarfs, watches, food and spices to us as we walked passed. After walking around for a bit, we then got a half hour boat tour or Old Dubai. Varri then took us to another Dubai Mall a wee bit further out (smaller than the main one but still absolutely huge). We had lunch here and enjoyed some good old air con for a couple of hours! After the mall, next stop was a place called the ‘The Sukh’ down near the beach. We explored the cute little garden areas in there and then went down to beach to watch the sunset- another successful day, despite starting off a bit a rough!



On the Sunday Gavin and I went up the tallest building in world- the burj khalifa!!!! It was amazing to see the views from up the top and we both got some incredible photos. After that, we chilled on the beach and then went out for dinner. On the way back, I stopped in at the gym at James’s and Lia’s apartment and had a quick workout. In the gym here there was an outside area where you could take the matts out so I finished my workout off with doing an abs sessions directly under the Burj Khalifa, all lit up at night! It was so great!!



The next day we met up with James again who drove us to the Atlantis resort water park. We had another fun-filled day there, running up as many slides as we could and before we knew it, it was 5pm and we were driving back, experiencing rush hour traffic. Pretty scary, people in Dubai drive crazy! But James got us all back alive and after showering we all met up with Lia once she finished work. Then we all had dinner and drinks in their apartment again that evening before catching our flight to Bangkok early next morning. It was a good end to an unforgettable week iBurjn Dubai!


Gillian O'Neil

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