My second Dubai experience is definitely a different one. Thinking about it even makes me laugh out loud! So where do I even start? When Michelle and Delali were sitting on the side walk waiting for the police or when Delali had to run behind the taxi as it pulled over to drop off its passenger, open the back door half way through the break and sit in the back sit before saying a word to the taxi driver. Or when we had to move out of the hotel room because Delali couldn’t produce a marriage certificate for she and Leo’s relationship. Oh wait! Or when Delali was told off for drinking water in public during Ramadan. I am sure you are wondering how much drama we have encountered in the first 2 days of our 12 days vacation, Accra-Dubai-Abu Dhabi-Dubai-Bangkok-Accra. Just wait for it!
Day 1: My friend Michelle was confident she would get to the airport and wait on me as my friends say I am always late. I was determined to prove her wrong so I got there at 3 pm on the dot! I must confess that’s an achievement as I am not always time efficient. I am always a few minutes late. Nothing to be proud of yes. I am praying for change. Don’t judge me and I won’t judge you. Talking about judgement today’s verse of the day Luke 6:17 said “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
Ten and a half hours later, we landed in Dubai. It being the last day of Ramadan we thought it wise to eat at the airport before leaving incase we didn’t get food during the day. And Delali, Michelle’s cousin who arrived a day earlier from Afghanistan where she works said she was told off for drinking water in public during Ramadan. We decided to fuel up before we got out. The food court was also cordoned off but there was access. You can’t exhibit eating during Ramadan. A Burger King and a slap of immense heat in the face later we were in a woman chauffeured pink roof taxi on our way to the hotel. After a nap, we had dinner at Cheesecake Factory of course and headed to Deira Market for some late night shopping. Shopping at midnight felt just like shopping during the day in Makola Market in Ghana. It was extremely hot only not sunny, loud, stuffy and chaotic. Getting a taxi back to the hotel at 1 am was the start of the real adventure. There was no queuing system or calm way of getting a taxi. It was the last day of Ramadan, it’s time to celebrate Eid. Everyone is out but there weren’t enough free taxis so it was a hustle. After observing how people were getting taxis, Delali found the way. Michelle and I stood by the shopping and Delali was looking out for the taxi. She spotted one and as he pulled over to drop off his passenger, she started running behind it to catch it before anyone tried to. She opened the door and sat in the back seat even before the existing passenger in the front seat could pay and get out of the taxi. That was the only way of securing that taxi. Rolling over in laughter she got a thumbs up by a pedestrian and we got laughed with by other pedestrians. It was fun but the driver wasn’t. He sat in traffic even though he had the option to use the free way just so that his meter reading would go up. After a short argument we let it go. He missed the turning to the hotel but that was no big deal. A few more dirhams on the meter. Finally arriving at the hotel, as Michelle opened the door to get out we heard a bang! She opened the door into an overtaking vehicle slapping off its side mirror. The rage of the taxi driver!!! He was yelling at her “Weren’t you looking?” She calmly replied “But I didn’t know!” I was just patiently waiting for the taxi driver or the driver’s car who we hit to act more aggressively than they already were acting before I say more than the words I had spoken. Now we had to wait for the police. Delali and Michelle chose the pavement. The extremely bright serene pulls up about an hour later and the passengers are free to go! The first thing the police said was, it was the taxi driver’s fault. It’s 4 am lets try and get some sleep.
Day 2: The girls went off to the mall and I sat in my room and worked my day away on my laptop. Yes I take my laptop with me on vacation. It is extremely hot and to be honest I had no interest in dealing with the heat. Moreover I was tired. Besides Dubai is a night city. The mall is open till midnight with nice restaurants who take orders till 1 am. What is the rush? Mahogany is crying out work work work. I submit. Leo arrives from Qatar at 9 pm but the hotel would not allow him to stay because he and Delali aren’t married. There goes our plans to go to the dubai mall and watch the water fountain show. We decided to check out and find another hotel. I suggested we went to the hotel Golda, Rhoda, Tina and I stayed at when we came to Dubai for my 33rd birthday earlier in the year. That was my 1st Emirati Experience. All we needed was 1 night before we went to Abu Dhabi for the weekend. That unexpected move changed our plans entirely, placing us out of our timelines and budgets completely. Felt at home, and decided to go for a late steak dinner at Dubail Mall. Mouth filling Food! It’s 3:30 am. Time for some sleep! The true vacation starts in the morning.
Day 3: ok I am writing this whilst tipsy!!!! For the first time in my life I have had a pitcher of strawberry mojito to myself. It gave me a crazy appetite, not like that was a problem before. I laughed the loudest at the table even though I am naturally loud when laughing with tears running down my cheeks and I yearned for the new bed in our Abu Dhabi hotel room so much. The food at the Mexican restaurant at the hotel where we had lunch whilst waiting to check in at 3 pm was awesome!!! We shared great jokes and it is definitely a good memory.
Two hours of sleep later, I missed out on Michelle and Delali’s trip to the Abu Dhabi Mosque and Zouk. I wanted to join in their evening swim but I was sucked into the event my team are styling back in Accra with back and forth communication on Whastapp. Before I knew it, they were back from the swimming pool and it is 10 pm. Quiet frankly I would rather just take it easy for tonight as I need the energy for the girls’ plans of us going to Ferrari World in the morning for the day. One interesting observation I made during the drive from Dubai to Abu Dhabi is, people would stop their cars and pluck dates from its palms. Some where taking photos under the dates palms. The fruit has sustained generations and has become an integral part of the Emirati Culture. According to history, Dates were Prophet Mohammad’s (PBUH) favourite fruit and this is evident in the Quran, which mentions them 26 times, referring to them as God’s Bounty. Also, according to Islamic tradition, a date tree was said to be the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden and to have sheltered (in another place) and provided a rich food source for Mary when she was pregnant with Jesus.
Day Four: We made it!!!! A day at the Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi….And it was fun! Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is an amusement park located on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. It is the first and only Ferrari-branded theme park and largest indoor theme park in the world. We were early enough to avoid the long queues at the rides. A relaxed atmosphere but with enough entertainment/adrenaline rush to make it memorable. We were brave enough to go on the world’s fastest roller coaster ride. The Formula Rossa Roller Coaster and clearly, we survived it! We went on the Fiorano GT Challenge Roller Coaster three times!!! And loved it each time even more! We were determined to destress from life’s challenges, work and study load. We also visited other stimulating attractions. It was a fun day to say the least and glad I was part of the experience. We posed for photos in Ferraris, with Ferraris and around Ferraris. It was a heaven for the lover of speed and roaring engines. As we queued for the Karting Academy Racing Challenge, I heard “Mahogany” and my instant reaction was “in Abu Dhabi too!” Michelle whispered “Oh Lord”. I turned around and pleasantly, it was the sister of my most recent bride, Mandy. The world is truly a small place. She wasn’t the only other Ghanaian there. Apart from her group, there was another group of 8 colleagues from a petroleum distribution company in Ghana. We were all in the queue for our Michael Schumacher moment.
Michelle won the race, I came second out of the eleven people on the race track.
As you have already read, it was amazing! Would I buy a Ferrari if I were a millionaire? Maybe not. Maybe that is simply because I probably haven’t thought that far ahead yet. But never say never!!! I asked Michelle the same question and she said “why not! If I have the money, yes even though it isn’t my type of car. Saying that though, your taste changes as you get more money”. One thing that is for sure is, we sure looked good branded Ferrari! There was only so much we could handle. I guess when you hit 30, your heart weakens a little, unable to withstand all that test you put it through on those rides. We headed to the exits. We then decided to visit the Emirates Palace, located in the heart of Abu Dhabi, to look at and to admire the world’s most expensive hotel. The “7 Star” Iconic Hotel. Built as a landmark showcasing Arabian culture, Emirates Palace has created a niche in luxury hospitality. Situated on 1.3 kms of private beach and surrounded by 85 hectares of gardens and lawns, with 114 domes that are 80 meters high. Emirates Palace comprises 394 rooms and suites carefully designed and furnished to offer guests superior comfort and luxury. On arrival, we weren’t even given access through the hotel’s gates without reservations. We simply wanted to see the talked about masterpiece! So! We decided to make a reservation on the phone to enjoy a drink or coffee in one of the bars and lounges as we had just had lunch. But sandals were not allowed. We give up trying. Back to the hotel it is! Four hours later, Michelle and I went for dinner and late night shopping at the Yas Mall, which was a 10 minutes drive from our hotel. Its almost 2 am. Dubai calls in the morning.
Day 5: Monday 20th July 2015 a date Delali will never forget. Why??? Wait for it ha ha ha. I love the suspense. Woke up in Abu Dhabi, had breakfast and headed to Dubai with the team. Checked into the Amazing Jumeirah Beach Hotel with an amazing room view. A couple of hours later, soaking in the thrill of this one time luxury, we met in the corridor to head out for our Yatch Ride and fun fun fun water activities at Dubai Marina. We arrived with a warm welcome, got onto our Luxury Yatch, with reaffirmation that it will be amazing to have money and to be able to afford to live this lifestyle everyday. But as one of the one offs, lets see how it goes. Lets make the best of it. Delali docked in her iPod, we got into our swimsuits, and tuned into maximum fun mode. It was a beautiful ride with lots to drink and eat in great company, listening to good music and enjoying the environment. Soon came the activities. We got on to the inflated canoe with our helmets and live jackets, held on for speedboat drag. We battled with the waves, we battled with speed, we battled with the wind, we battled with speed, we battled with our fears, and we battled with uncontrollable laughter and also battled with keeping our balance whilst being thrown up and down the ocean. Next thing we knew we were in the sea tasting the extra salt. As much as it was scary, we still couldn’t help but to laugh. That moment we were fell from our inability to hold on, we all lost conscious for a split second until we floated back up out of the water. Leo was under the capsized canoe. We started shouting out his name until we saw him. Glad it was a fun experience otherwise it would have been panic attacks till our hearts gave in. But I am sure you have gathered by now from our world’s fastest roller coaster ride that we love adventure! We didn’t stop there. We got back on the canoe to continue the adrenaline rush. This time we were more focused. We held on tight. We were not ready to fall. We flew over the waves, thrown left and right, up and down and we kept our grabs on, moving to the speed. Soon I see Michelle sliding left in front of me. No! I cant let her fall in, once she does, we will all most likely go in too as the canoe would probably follow with her strength of holding on. I grabbed out to pull her back on and just before I could pull her back, we were all in! Once we floated back up, we checked to make sure we were all out and alive and who do we see holding on to the canoe? Leo! He was determined not to fall. Ha ha ha. He hanged on! We then went on to the next activity. This time we were dragged in another type of inflated boat. This was when our over weights came in most handy! The sailor said “the fat girls in first” and Michelle and I burst out laughing and asked why and he said to keep the boat well balanced. But we told him off for calling us fat. Ha ha ha. Michelle said he could find a better word to describe us like full figured, voluptuous, etc… and we all settled with Beautiful African queens. Ha ha ha. The two fat girls got in, me to the left, Michelle to the right and the slim girl in the middle and there we go. We were dragged over the waves like criminals on escape. We were up in the air most of the time laughing uncontrollably. Till date we don’t know what was so funny. I am sure it was nerve giggles. At one point, I was out of the boat in the air with my hand still in the boat and it was at the point I had to decide if I would let go and fall in the ocean or fight against the speed and wind and push my weight back into the boat. I got into survival mode. I made it back in! The fun continued. There is only so much of that you can do at any one time whilst tasting that extra salty ocean water under the Dubai heat. Dubai is hot! And coming from a hot country, Ghana, you would think I would be used to that heat. Dubai is a different type of heat. It is dry heat. At least in Ghana there is wind and the temperature is not as high. The rest of the ride was a relaxed one, admiring the view with occasional swims in between. Michelle and Delali had more exciting swims, jumping in and out of the sea. We headed back to the hotel at 9 pm. As tired as we were, Leo insisted we met at 10 pm for dinner at the rooftop of the Jumeirah Beach Hotel as some of his friends visiting from Qatar where he works were joining us. After the food filled yatch we agreed on just drinks and dessert. We dragged ourselves up and the waiter brought Delali a glass of strawberries with an engagement ring imbedded under The Petal Beneath The Strawberries. On his knees he got to propose to his girlfriend of 2 years in the presence of her cousin and their friends on 20th July 2015 on the rooftop of Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai. How did he pull it off? Read all about that in the blog post “The Petal Beneath The Strawberries.“
Day 6: I had to work on a proposal for a client so I decided to spend my day in my hotel room, on my laptop overseeing the amazing view for grand inspiration (smiling). During that time, the team was out at the Wild Wadi Waterpark enjoying the fun water activities. Jealous? Yes I was but I had to make time for my work in order to also make it to my 5 pm appointment at Contessa Dubai before the marriage proposal celebration dinner at 360 Degrees Restaurant. I remember the first day Delali saw me pull out my laptop on this trip. She said “You are supposed to be on vacation” and my response was “if I don’t balance it, I cant afford any future vacations” and we laughed. That’s the truth! Running your own business is a while different ball game! I walked into the Bridal Store and this bubbly gentleman turns around and said Debra! I knew that was Mohammad 🙂 We went down to the nearest café and spoke over a drink, came back into the store, had a look around and signed the contract! Whilst he prepared the contract, there was a bride from Nigeria waiting to do her fitting so we got chatting. I saw the dress and she looked damn good in the fit. She was tall, with a model figure and a sexy personality. She sure will make a hot bride. Zapphaire Events in Nigeria is doing her décor so I know we are in for a great one. They are awesome! The meeting went extremely well and I left there happy. What was the contract for? Well you will find out soon 🙂 Back to the hotel and we were off to dinner at 360°. Located at the end of Jumeirah Beach Hotel’s Marina walkway – one of the world’s most impressive locations. Now, aren’t we having a great vacation???
Day 7: We woke up with mixed feelings. Leo is heading back to Qatar and we three women whom you have fallen in love with all over again are heading to Bangkok! I am sure many of you readers will find this interesting because I can bet you GHS 10 each that you have never taken time out to know about Thailand. True or false? You are fancy and have occasional Thai massages and love Thai Food from their restaurants. Shame on you! Don’t mind me. I am the number 1 victim. To be honest, Thailand was never on my holiday spot list until Delali suggested it. She said next year she is going to China or Singapore. At least I have done China and you can check out my blog post on that trip here. See you Thailand!!! You can read about my experience here.