Dubai United Arab Emirates

You say Dubai, I say Hello!

October 27, 2017

Dubai Skyline

It was surreal. There is no other way to describe it. It was like looking at a postcard that was sky high and extends beyond one’s peripheral vision. From inside the taxi on our way from the Dubai Airport to the hotel, I caught sight of the silhouette of the skyscrapers standing next to each other. I pursed off my camera to allow myself to be completely mesmerized by the futuristic beauty. After all, there is no way my 50mm camera lens will be able to give justice to this otherworldly scenery in front of me.

Which explains why I didn’t have any photo of the Dubai skyline. And also the reason why I had totally forgotten having taken this single image of Burj Khalifa’s towering magnificence.

Dubai is a 23rd-century city mystically zapped into the present. If ever I would have to complain about this city, it’s only because it causes an extreme scarcity of superlative adjectives to describe it. Marvelous, magnificent, majestic. When presented with something so beautiful, you’re suddenly at lost for words.

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Marvelous, magnificent, majestic. When presented with something so beautiful, you're suddenly at lost for words. . Dubai is a 23rd-century city mystically zapped into the present. It was surreal. There is no other way to describe it. It was like looking at a postcard that was sky high with width extending beyond one's peripheral vision. From inside the taxi on our way from the Dubai Airport to the hotel, I caught sight of the silhouette of the skyscrapers standing next to each other. I pursed off my camera to allow myself to be completely mesmerized by the futuristic beauty. After all, there is no way my 50mm camera lens will be able to give justice to this otherworldly scenery in front of me. . Which explains why I didn't have any photo of the Dubai skyline. And also the reason why I had totally forgotten having taken this single image of Burj Khalifa's towering magnificence. . #dubai #burjkhalifa #troopertravels

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Dubai Mall & Dubai Aquarium

My visit to Dubai Aquarium was totally unplanned. In fact, I did not even go inside the Underwater Zoo. On the first day of my two-day business trip in Dubai, I consented to meet with my two sisters-in-law who were both working in that city.

Upon checking in at the hotel I pre-booked days before, I was informed that there was a bus plying to key spots in the city including the Dubai Mall. The bus was to leave at around half past three in the afternoon. It was still too early but I thought it was best to take that early bus rather than get lost in commuting alone later. As expected, I reached Dubai Mall before five, more than two hours earlier than our intended meeting time. Left with nothing else to do, I toured the mall looking for whatever it had to amuse myself with when I chanced upon the ceiling-high aquarium.

Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo

Having visited at least one aquarium center in every country I’ve been to, I did not have any plans to visit the Dubai Aquarium. But lo and behold, this ceiling-high aquarium greeted me inside the Dubai Mall.
Dubai Aquarium / Dubai Mall / November 18, 2014

The Dubai Aquarium was a massive 10-million-litre saltwater tank made to look like a living wall. It was huge but I did not find it very interesting. The artificial reef looked bleached and there were not enough fish to look at. It was like ogling at a dead rock formation, which could have been great had it been in a cliff or elsewhere outdoors. But that was an aquarium and I was expecting colorful reef and fish formations and not static gray rocks.

Located next to the ceiling-high aquarium was the cave-looking entrance to the Underwater Zoo, and above it was another tall aquarium. It was smaller compared to the main one, didn’t have fancy rocks but there were more than enough fish to give an impression of a real underwater scene. I was trying to take photos of the aquarium and the sharks swimming crazily inside it but the thick crowd was getting in the way. I put my camera away and stepped back to marvel at it from a distance when something else got me excited.

Most of the people gathered in front of the aquarium had their smartphones out, trying to capture photos of the sharks like what I originally intended to. The mall was slightly dim-lit which caused the light from the smartphones to stand out. It was like a scene from an old-school concert where people would light up their lighters against the dark, waving along with the familiar melody. Only there were no singers but sharks. I brought out my camera again and aimed at the crowd while adjusting the shutter speed to create a silhouette of the crowd against the bright-lit foreground.

It was amazing! The curious crowd was able to humanize what had been a monotonous scene. I kept taking photos while aiming at different subjects — the crowd against the aquarium, the bright-lit smartphones against the crowd, the whole scene with varying shutter speed to either light up the people or reduce them to silhouettes.

I lost track of time and before I realized, one of my sisters-in-law was already there behind me. She had been there while I busy myself with the crowd.

Meanwhile, my little companion went for a physical combat with the King Croc.

Yotsuba vs King Croc at Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo

Yotsuba vs. the King Croc
Dubai Aquarium / Dubai Mall / November 18, 2014

Yotsuba ended up victorious and brought peace throughout the land and as a token of gratitude, we treated her to a scrumptious seafood feast at P.F. Chang’s. Minutes after we started digging into our sticky, spicy shrimp, the crowd started cheering the nearby water fountain as its water danced off with Shakira’s music.

Excuse me, I’m busy.

P.F. Chang's, Dubai Mall

P.F. Chang’s / Dubai Mall / November 18, 2014

Souk Al Bahar, Dubai Mall

Souk Al Bahar / Dubai Mall / November 18, 2014

I was in Dubai on November 18 to 19, 2014. This was on the first day. On my first night in the city, the Filipino bartender at the hotel bar got me all drunk, I puked at the toilet in my room. Happiness overload!

Disclaimer: The punning title was first used by Cebu Pacific Air during their first commercial flight to Dubai.

Update May 26, 2018: Lots of new attractions and landmarks are being built in Dubai, including the Dubai Frame (constructed) and a dynamic skyscraper (on-going construction). Question is, will Jeddah’s 1-kilometer tower be able to eclipse the world’s tallest tower in Dubai? We will see.

Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE

  • Reply
    Veritru ST
    October 29, 2017 at 1:06 AM

    It’s the most bizarre place, everything is bigger, better, faster! The aquarium in the middle of the mall is beautiful. I think I stood there for a good half an hour just watching.

    • Reply
      Noel Cabacungan
      October 29, 2017 at 3:25 AM

      Indeed, so true! Dubai is like custom-made for sight seekers. ^_^

  • Reply
    Jolie Antoinette
    October 29, 2017 at 3:25 AM

    lol your post is so interesting and I love the quirkiness in your writing style 🙂 I can’t wait to visit Dubai hopefully some time in March.. The Dubai Mall is on my list

    • Reply
      Noel Cabacungan
      October 29, 2017 at 3:44 AM

      Thank you ^_^ If you’ll ever be in Dubai and is short for time but would like to visit as many sites, go to Dubai Mall. It’s situated right beside Burj Khalifa, Souk Al Bahar, and the Dubai Fountain. Take as many dress changes and take as much photos and you’ll pass to have had stayed there for several days. HAHAHA! Cheers!!!

  • Reply
    Somnath Roy
    October 29, 2017 at 2:24 PM

    Love your style of writing and the photos that you have used to make this post more lively and interesting

  • Reply
    Umberta
    October 29, 2017 at 8:32 PM

    Would love to visit Dubai. As you say, it must be an incredible, surreal city. Wanna se the skyline now!! 😉 I don’t know if I’d like the aquarium though as I don’t like to see trapped animals…

    • Reply
      Noel Cabacungan
      October 29, 2017 at 11:45 PM

      If you could have more than 12 hours layover in Dubai, you could try going out to explore the city. Head to Dubai Mall for these but there are also other destinations for a day trip depending on the type of traveler you are. Visa won’t be a problem, especially during a layover.

  • Reply
    Amit Sharma
    October 29, 2017 at 11:08 PM

    amazingly I’ve not been to Dubai yet but it’s on the list. There are so many places to see and things to do but the Dubai Aquarium sounds amazing. I could literally spend hours there. P.S the way you write made me enjoy this post even more.

    • Reply
      Noel Cabacungan
      October 29, 2017 at 11:46 PM

      Yes, aquariums are notoriously time-consuming. ^_^

  • Reply
    Farah Al Zadjaly
    October 30, 2017 at 12:18 AM

    Awww I love seeing blogs about my home city. There is soo much to do in the city. I consider it my food love city. I love Dubai and miss it. Great blog!!!

    • Reply
      Noel Cabacungan
      October 30, 2017 at 4:37 PM

      I read somewhere that there are several food tours in Dubai. Dubai is my alcohol escape route from KSA. ^_^

  • Reply
    Alexander Popkov
    October 31, 2017 at 7:20 AM

    Dubai is one of the most surreal places on earth. Never knew there is such a cool aquarium.

  • Reply
    Nicole Hunter
    October 31, 2017 at 7:47 AM

    I went to Dubai in March. I agree! I found the buildings, the architecture and the grandeur to be awe-inspiring. I also saw the aquarium from the outside. I thought it looked beautiful but I didn’t feel tempted to go inside.

    • Reply
      Noel Cabacungan
      November 1, 2017 at 8:04 PM

      I think I’ve seen enough aquariums everywhere, so I didn’t went inside.

  • Reply
    Neha Verma
    October 31, 2017 at 2:18 PM

    The luxurious atmosphere and the skylines of Dubai are indeed impressive. I have seen the twinkling lights across Dubai from a plane and it does look wonderful.

  • Reply
    Neil Alvin
    October 31, 2017 at 4:05 PM

    Very nice article. It’s very informative. Your photos of Dubai mkes me want to visit the place. 🙂

  • Reply
    Louiela
    October 31, 2017 at 10:10 PM

    Hello myDubai… 🙂 wonderful experience looking at the skyscrapers and of course The Burj Khalifa..
    The time of the year you visited Dubai is just perfect,, no scorching summer heat..

  • Reply
    Fábio Inácio
    October 31, 2017 at 10:18 PM

    To be honest Dubai is not, for now on my list, but of course i am always looking for awesome stories around the world. In your post I really loved when you said: “I pursed off my camera to allow myself to be completely mesmerized by the futuristic beauty” You did just the best thing everyone can do even after that you realized that you don’t have any picture. Sometimes in our travels we spend so much time taking pictures that we even don’t understand and learn about the places were we are.

    • Reply
      Noel Cabacungan
      November 4, 2017 at 4:23 PM

      There are times that I, too, gets guilty with this. Especially when around with kids, we tend to take too much photos that we are actually start to ruin the moment.

  • Reply
    Shreya Saha
    October 31, 2017 at 10:30 PM

    This blog is so nicely articulated. I was in Dubai this July and all memories refreshed. Thanks for writing!

  • Reply
    Vyjay Rao
    November 1, 2017 at 8:34 AM

    Dubai is indeed the stuff that glitzy dreams are made of. The range of experiences that Dubai offers is really mind boggling. From shopping to history and heritage, from beaches to deserts, the place seems to have everything. Nice to note that you had an immersive experience of the place without unduly worrying about the photos.

    • Reply
      Noel Cabacungan
      November 1, 2017 at 8:03 PM

      The first time I didn’t care about the photos, actually. Hahaha

  • Reply
    Swati Sinha
    November 1, 2017 at 10:52 AM

    Thanks for the candid post. The aquarium seems a little underwhelming but I am sure the kids would love it. Dubai skyline is of course legendary and I do want to visit Bhurj Khalifa someday. Look forward to your other adventure in Dubai

    • Reply
      Noel Cabacungan
      November 1, 2017 at 8:02 PM

      There’s a real aquarium center underneath it featuring a huge Australian crodile, the King Croc.

  • Reply
    Kartik Kannan
    November 1, 2017 at 10:56 PM

    Skyscrapers in the night look so beautiful. I have seen Jakarta, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Hongkong and Singapore all having a similar skyline and it kind of worries me, if the city’s actual preserve goes away as most cities are clones of each other. But Yes, This makes for a great experience with the kids.

    • Reply
      Noel Cabacungan
      November 4, 2017 at 4:20 PM

      I wasn’t sure how Dubai looked like prior to its massive development. But I agree, natural reserves must not be disregarded just so the skyscrapers could be beautifully erected.

  • Reply
    Somnath Roy
    November 4, 2017 at 2:11 PM

    I have’nt been there before but fel in love with the aquatic love expressed in your pictures..

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