Sunday, May 8, 2011

Dubai to Bangalore – 2nd May 2011

I was free the whole day to explore the newer delights of the city.  That meant only one place –the Burj Khalifa, the tallest man made structure in the world today.  Quite interestingly, none of my friends I met in Dubai had been to the giant building that looked from afar like a taller Petronas Towers of Kuala Lumpur rooted on a single limb.  I got a drop to the Dubai Mall complex that stands at the foot of the giant tower.  The complex around the Burj Khalifa is awe inspiring.  The Dubai Mall, The Address, etc are classic styles in architecture and landscaping.  The Dubai Mall is a city in itself.
Walking into the Dubai Mall you feel dwarfed by the giant ceilinged structure and the experience.  Fashion houses and swanky stores ensure that the Mall has everything that good money can buy; it has everything you could desire, it has thrill, magic, romance and movies.  The Dubai Mall is the world's largest shopping mall going by the area and sixth largest by leasable area. It is part of the 20-billion-dollar Burj Khalifa complex and includes 1,200 shops.  The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo in the Dubai Mall has been acknowledged as the single largest acrylic in the world – it holds one of the largest tanks in the world at 51m x 20m x 11m and featuring the world’s largest viewing panel at 32.8m wide and 8.3m high. It holds 10 million litres of water and has more than 33,000 living animals including over 400 sharks and rays.  Dubai Aquarium's 270-degree acrylic walkthrough tunnel makes for incredible close-encounter experiences with some of the most fascinating underwater animals on the planet. A special 'lunar-cyclic' lighting system changes the ambience of the tank depending on the time of day.
The Dubai ice rink is another fascination in the Dubai Mall.   It is a multi-purpose venue which uses refrigeration plant technology – this ensures that the consistency of the ice-bed is maintained at all times - and has developed an Olympic-sized attraction. The Ice Rink has a capacity of seating 2000 guests with world class multimedia facilities including a giant LED screen.  This top class facility offers the best to train future generation of ice skating champs for which over 1,800 pairs of skates have been imported to fit children and adults of all ages and sizes.

Burj Khalifa was known as Burj Dubai prior to its inauguration.  At 828 metres, it is currently the tallest man made structure in the world.  Construction lasted over five years and the building officially opened on 4 January 2010 and is part of the 490-acre flagship development called Downtown Dubai.  The cost of the project has been given out as $1.5 billion.  The project's completion coincided with the global recession and Dubai was almost subsumed by its debt from ambitious projects and the Dubai government sought multibillion dollar bailouts from Abu Dhabi. At the opening ceremony, the tower was renamed Burj Khalifa. 
I was disappointed that I could not make a trip up the Burj Khalifa.  While a previous day booking costs 100 Dhs same day entrance costs 400 Dhs.  I did not perceive the experience to be of such premium value.  Hence, after drinking in the sights from the outside I set out to explore the Metro.  I bought a NoL (Road Transport Authority) card for 20 Dhs and was told that I could perform RTA bus and rail journeys for 14 Dhs, after which I could recharge the card.  I found the Metro very popular with commuters, visitors and shoppers.  The Metro links the happening places of Dubai and has good interfaces with RTA bus routes to link the rest.  This is the cheapest way to travel around in Dubai and is efficient too.
With the heat was getting to me a bit I had to get to the Hotel to cool off before setting off for the airport.  I went to the Panasonic showroom at the Fish roundabout and picked up the 42” TV which was on offer with a Blue Ray DVD.  With the packaging I was a bit shaky as to whether the Airline would permit it as check-in baggage.  The next stop was the Carrefour store in the Diera City Centre.  A couple of hours and many $ spends later I reached the Hotel and flopped, completely exhausted by the heat.  The Airline arranged pick up for the airport and I was assured by Nancy, the Emirates customer service agent at the airport, that the TV would pass muster as check-in baggage.  The first hurdle crossed I engaged two baggage clerks to take my baggage to the check-in counter.  The lady at the counter, with extreme politeness, told me that I have 19 kgs of excess baggage for which I would have to pay 1080 Dhs.  The baggage clerks cleverly pulled out a bag from among those I had planned to check in and said that two pieces of hand baggage are permitted in Business Class.  With one bag taken out I did not have to pay for excess baggage and only due to the alacrity of the baggage clerks.  I showed my appreciation of the timely assistance with a handsome tip.  All anticipated hurdles crossed it was time to it the lounge with a vengeance.  The food in the lounge was excellent and the drinks plentiful.  I helped myself to both in sufficient quantity and told the flight attendant on board not to disturb me till the aircraft lands in Bangalore.  I avoided all the in-flight hospitality and slept soundly on the flight.

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