Friday 25 September 2015

Day 14 - Outlets

Another relaxing start to today. More pool and lounging. 

With the sun setting we headed out to the Dubai Outlet Mall. It's a good 25 minutes taxi ride from downtown Dubai. 

The journey takes us out into the desert past the site that should have been a universal theme park. 

We picked up a few bargains but cut it short to get back into the city to see the dancing fountain at Dubai Mall. Now the three day mourning period was over it was normal service around the city. 

We arrived by taxi to the mall - we'd usually take the metro. But doing so allowed us to see the cars the local millionaires drive. All gold. 

After dinner in Vapiano we retired back to the hotel. In celebration of Eid our local nite club was closed. Perfect excuse to stay in. 


Tuesday 22 September 2015

Day 13 - Bur Dubai

Like yesterday we started the day with a great feed at breakfast followed by many hours of sun bathing and pool swimming. Glorious. 

Our afternoon adventure took us to Bur Dubai, and old Dubai. The metro seems to be jammed packed every time we take it. Vinnie almost ended up in the women's carriage. 

We started off creek side before heading over the water in a water taxi. 

This area is very local unlike the large shopping malls of downtown Dubai. We found the old souk before taking the water taxi. 

It only costs 1 Dirham to cross the river. There is no schedule. The boats fill up and leave when full. 

It's about a ten minute crossing. There is no safety equipment or sides to these small boats. You sit facing out and hold on for a bumpy ride. 

We spent a while exploring the hustle and bustle of the Deira side. Business here is old school. 

Heading back to air conditioning we ventured onto the Deira City Centre mall. 

Eventually we found ourselves back in the Dubai Mall. It's the last day of the three days official mourning. Flags at half mast continue to fly on all available TV screens. The fountain outside is postponed until tomorrow when the period ends. 

After a quick stop in Waitrose we made our way back to our hotel to eat at Wagamamas. Delicious. 

Monday 21 September 2015

Day 12 - Golden Marina Walk

Breakfast at the Crowne Plaza is always a highlight of the annual holiday. The buffet includes Indian, European and American foods. Rather too much. We stick to five courses - don't want to overdo it. 

After a massive feed its time for the pool. Some 6 hours by the pool in glorious 40 degree heat. The perfect way to unwind. 

With the sun setting and temperature droping, it makes it more accessible to get out and about for an adventure. If you attempt to walk outside during the day you really can't last more then 5 minutes. 

We travelled in Gold class today. All public transport here has three classes. Gold (twice the price), Women only and everyone else. In all our years visiting we've never travelled gold. Today we did. 

You have your own private cabin up front, plush seats with no visibility of the others. It's an odd way to travel when you know how multi-cultural and packed the rest of the metro carriages are. Taking advantage of the class we headed to Dubai Marina to connect with the newly opened luas/Dubai Tram. They are made by the company who supplied the Dublin tram, even the bell is the same. 

The tram has 11 stops and one loop. We travelled the full length and the loop twice by accident. We had plush leather seats up on gold. Quite the treat. 

We did stop for a ramble around The Walk at Dubai Marina. A facinating man made Maria enclosed by crazy high apartment towers. This is where the internationally workers live. It's exotic yet residential. 

The Maria Mall was our next destination. We had never visited before thinking it was too small. But it's massive. Catering for the local residents it's full of UK brands like Waitrose and WH Smith. 

One restaurant was like a sushi place, with a rotating belt. But rather then fish you had cup cakes. Yum.

Taking the tram in the wrong direction we enjoyed gold class travel some more before finally connecting to the metro and onto the Mall of the Emiriates for some late night shopping (around 10pm local time). 

We finally got back for midnight, tired after our little Golden Dubai Maria adventure. 

Sunday 20 September 2015

Day 11 - Good Morning Dubai

We touched down at Dubai International airport around 4am local time. Your connection to the world it was announced; at least 95% of those travelling on board did make connections. 

So few staying over in Dubai these days it would seem. Even in Taipei we were asked several times it we were sure we weren't connecting ourselves.

Emirites are a sponsor of the Rugby World Cup which started as we where in the air. For fans, you could stay up to date with a live sports channel available showing every game durning the tournament. 

We got to our hotel just after 5am, a very early check in. We were thrilled to receive the suite style room as previous years. We settled in for a mornings sleep as the sun was rising; we didn't sleep a wink flying here. 

We spent the afternoon by the pool. It was glorious. 40 degree heat. Just perfect. Come sunset we headed off to the Dubai Mall. 

This is our 5th time to visit Dubai, so we feel right at home. The scale of new construction is slowing down, but nevertheless we have spotted new buildings and the odd change since last year. 

Hungry we headed to the food court and ate at a New Zealand burger chain who have recently opened up here - Burger Fuel. They have three vegetarian options, a tofu burger, pumpkin with beetroot burger and a mushroom one. Spoilt for choice. However it wasn't cheap at almost €25 for fast food. But it was worth it. So delicious. 

It took us 3 hours to complete one of the three floors. This mall is massive with over 1,000 shops. Total store frontage is said to be around 23km. 

We did notice something odd this year. There was no music being played in any of the stores. I had to ask someone, it turns out the son of the ruler of Dubai had died that day and the city was in a three day mourning period. 

Still on Taiwan time we started to feel tired around 10pm, so we popped into the Waitrose for some groceries (lots of Irish food in there too) before taking the metro back to our hotel. A nice relaxing day. 

Saturday 19 September 2015

Day 10 - Black Bear

It was our last day in Taipei today. It's been an incredible city and we are both sad to move on. As mention before we highlighly recommend a visit to Taiwan - so few tourists and so lush with greenery too. 

The plan today was to get back to the zoo to see the panda and more importantly the native black bear with the white next tie. Yes this native black bear has a white V neck marking under his chin. So cute. 

The zoo is connected to the metro on the brown line, which is fully automated. No drivers. Entrance is so cheap, €1.60. You can even pay with your Easy Pass card. 

The zoo is massive. We somehow managed to get lost. The plan was to find the black bear first, which is at the back of the park, and work towards the entrance. However we somehow ended up in a loop lost in the insect jungle. We did see some massive butterflies. 

Once back on track we saw the giant pandas, which happened to be asleep before waking the 1km route to the black bear. 

There is a train within the zoo which can be riden using Easy Pass for a few cent. We walked. When we got to the black bear he was asleep too!!! 

Mission accomplished we made the trek back home for some lunch at Vapiano and dessert at Ice Monster. Mango ice shavings are all the rage here. Expect to see them take the world by storm in about 5 years like bubble tea has.

Ice monster is the original and best. It's like eating mango snow. So delicious. Perfect for sharing too. 

We got back for 5pm to pack. We had organised a car to pick us up at the apartment at 8pm to take us to the airport. Above is the last view from our apartment of Taipei 101. Stunning. 

Our flight to Dubai took off at 11:45pm. Taking the red eye we aim to arrive Saturday morning around 4am. The flight is just shy of 9 hours. 

Taipei has been incredible. It's very accessible for a first time visitor to Asia. English is abundant. The people are incredible friendly too. It's very safe with so much to do and see. 

Try to see Taipei and Taiwan before the rest of the world discover it. We will be back.