This girl woke up early on Wednesday, Nov 12, 2014 doing her usual “getting ready for work” thing like any other normal day—and within an hour of getting dressed for the day decided out of the TOTAL BLUE that she was going to go to the Middle East the very next day all by herself!
With absolutely NO PLAN, NO FORETHOUGHT, and NO IDEA HOW to pull it off she set her mind to it. My bosses at work looked at me crazy for giving them ONE day’s notice—but even I only had a day’s notice to plan everything since I had just decided that very morning to do something so, obviously, insane.
And with the help of a few awesome friends, I was able to pull off the impossible and figure it all out and left the next day on a 12-hour flight overseas to Dubai, United Arab Emirates for 10 days! THAT GIRL’S A THUG!! WHO DOES THAT?!
(I have SO many beautiful pictures and videos that this will be a 6-part series. I hope you enjoy all the videos and pictures from my time in the UAE. Wish you could have been there!)
This trip was so last-minute that I still didn’t even have a hotel reservation when my friend arrived at my house to take me to the airport! I was booking one on my computer as she stood there waiting for me. Then off I ran out the door!
My family and friends were freaking out and texting me all day when I was overseas checking on me—“where are you, what are you doing, who are you with?”
I don’t travel and have hardly been anywhere in my life that doesn’t involve cars, buses, or trains because I’m terrified of planes. Hence, my face in the second picture above when it just dawns on me at the airport what is about to happen! First of all, BY MYSELF; second of all MIDDLE EAST; third of all PLANE!
I don’t know why I snapped when I woke up that morning but I did. And now my life was about to get even more exciting. I didn’t have time to research ONE THING about this place I was going to. So I figured when I landed I was just going to “wing it” each day. Yes, I clearly lost my mind.
But, ohhhhhh, how I absolutely fell in LOVE with this city—and the entire country. As soon as I landed and got through the insane customs line, I pulled out of the airport in a cab and within 20 seconds I swore I never wanted to go back to America.
Someone asked me if I felt “safe” in this country. I felt much MORE safe than I ever feel in America. I did things in this country by myself that I would never even attempt to do in America. The emirati have this country on lock. They don’t play. Cameras are everywhere, too.
I just loved waking up every morning in my new home away from home.
I loved meeting so many people along the way. I was wedged between two awesome guys on the plane in a really tight space. We took selfies together. One lived in the States but was from Tehran, Iran and was going to visit family; the other guy was from America and told me all about his travels to Afghanistan and such.
I did a lot of sleeping, eating, taking selfies with the guys, and watching movies on the plane. It was all I could do to keep my mind off the plane.
My first excitement came when I landed at the Dubai airport. I got into trouble—well, scolded, for taking pictures of the Arab men in their attire that worked there. I couldn’t believe it! I mean, I was in LOVE with their long white robes. I wanted an outfit like that for my very own! But they made me delete my picture. “No, no. Delete that.” Aww, SHOOT!!! (But I snuck a pic of two Arabs at a hotel later. Holla!)
The first thing I did when I landed was exchange all my American money to Dirhams. Since you can’t spend American dollars there you might as well just hand it ALL over in one go.
It took some getting used to when I spent UAE dirhams. The number figure when you buy things is much higher than in the States and I kept thinking in “dollars” rather than “dirhams.” I had to keep using my calculator to see how much the cost actually was in American dollars—because 100 dirhams is NOT $100 even though my brain was in a constant struggle. But my calculator gave me relief and told me it was actually only $27 in American money. Whew!
I absolutely loved the view from my hotel apartment balcony. I could see the Burj Al Arab, the yachts on the sea, and the buildings in the Dubai Marina all down yonder.
And I never did figure out why there was a second “toilet stool” in my bathroom. It was only after I came back to the States that friends told me what it was—a bidet. Every time I used the bathroom, I would just sit there and stare at it and wonder what in the world it was. Is that a sink? Is that for men to use? Omg, hilarious! I had NO CLUE!
And I always heard a singing type thing throughout the day. I finally figured out what it was. It was the prayers coming from the mosque across the way five times a day. There are mosques everywhere—and if you’re near one when it’s prayer time, you’ll hear it coming from the mosque.
If you listen closely, you can hear the prayers in the videos above and below.
I loved looking at the night-time view of the Burj Al Arab from my balcony. It’s always shooting lights about itself.
This city is always so lit up at night. I would always stand on the balcony in my apartment just gazing out at night at all the lights everywhere.
The Burj Khalifa
I’ve always heard about the tallest building in the world—but to see it with my own eyes! Ahhh, this magnificent creature in all her glory—the Burj Khalifa. I didn’t get a chance to go up inside her, but I will next time. She hails right outside the Dubai Mall.
I believe you can go to the 124th floor for viewing and even as high as the 148th floor if you pay more. Above that, you have residences for the elite and such.
She a beauty that’s for sure. This is beyond! How can you not love her?
The architecture of the buildings in this city is utterly amazing, magnificent, and beautiful. I couldn’t get enough of it. And all the buildings are always lit up at night—everywhere! I wish all the buildings were lighted in my hometown. Yeah, right, that’ll happen.
What I love about the fast food places here is that they will deliver to you no matter where you are in the city—even if you just want ONE SMALL FRY or ONE SMALL DRINK! But not in America. Why?! Whhhyyyyyyy?!
And I was just fascinated by the fact that I could get an apple juice in a LARGE CUP from these fast food places—unlike in America where you get a kid-size box of apple juice. How hard is it to put apple juice in the size cup that I want it in?!
My favorite drink that I could get anywhere I went was fresh-squeezed watermelon juice. OMG! I was in LOVE with that drink! There’s watermelon growing everywhere and it was my drink of choice. You can get pretty much any kind of fresh-squeezed juice from any restaurant.
Rice with milk became another favorite of mine. It’s like rice pudding and I had to have it all the time—it’s so yummy sweet.
And an interesting thing when ordering egg rolls here is that they come with ketchup on the side—not sweet and sour sauce like I’m used to in America. I think I like the ketchup with them better.
So, if you have nothing else to do today, consider planning a trip to Dubai—or, better yet, don’t plan it at all! I, obviously, didn’t! Just GO!
Take-Away Life Lesson: A second “toilet stool” overseas is more than likely a “bidet.” No need to stare at it in wonderment five minutes each day like I did.