I left for Kathmandu and had a layover on the way in Dubai for 8 hours, so I decided boredom and FOMO would definitely not let me stay in the airport that long, so I ventured out.
Actually, first I ran into a friend of mine on the plane who lives in Ethiopia. As in, I hadn't seen this man in person in years (because he lives in Ethiopia) and sure enough, there he comes down the aisle of my Emirates airplane, NBD. I get his attention across the middle row of seats and he's like "what are you doing??" and I'm like "going to Nepal!" and he just says...."of course you are!"
I love how small the world is.
So back to Dubai. My friend and I get off the plane after the 14 hour flight (wherein I proceed to not sleep at all, but I do finally discover Portlandia and read several chapters of Mindy Khaling's book, so not such a loss) and he's been to Dubai before and says it's totally safe and easy to get around during my layover, so he goes off to his connecting flight, and I:
discover how ridiculously gigantic and overwhelming the Dubai airport is. (8,500 acres gigantic, to be exact. I know this. Now.)
Oh my gosh, you guys. I walked at least a couple miles and I still wasn't anywhere helpful and people kept telling me "no, you need to go to @#*%@ *%115688 XZOO" (which is what it sounded like to me because they mentioned so many different areas of the airport and different terminals that my brain broke). And I couldn't find a place to drop off my heavy carry-on, and I couldn't figure out where I needed to be to board my next flight 8 hours later, and I was already getting blisters on my feet before (!) my trekking adventure in the Himalayas, and finally I just sat down and tried to gather my wits. And prayed. Prayed for discernment in my sleep-deprived state of being in that giant city of an airport.
Then I eventually found the ONE (one! in allll of the airport kingdom) location where I could drop off my bags.
Then I remembered I was supposed to ask my airline for a food voucher since my layover was so long.
Then I remembered how far back my airline counter was.
And I immediately let that food voucher go.
After another moment where I just had to sit and gather myself, I finally drop my carry on off and find out how to jump on their public rail system to begin my own self-guided tour of the city.
I'm able to purchase a Metro ticket pretty easily, hop on the train, and settle into the Universal Language of public rail systems: Staring silently up at the rail map while acting like you don't care about anything. Ah good, I fit in here.
I head to what I originally was going to see - the Dubai Mall (which I thought had a ski resort in it. We'll get to that way later). But then I realize the train goes above ground quite a bit, allowing me to just take in the city views, so I abandon my first plan and decide to take the train as far as I can and just get a feel for the city. (Because what I haven't mentioned is that I also have a layover in Dubai on the way back home from Nepal -- a 24 hour layover. We'll get to that eventually).
Here are some of the sights I was able to take in:
|Crazy cool buildings|
|The Burj Al Arab, AKA the "Sailboat Hotel" AKA "the only '7 star' hotel in the world"|
|aaand - The Burj Khalifa. !!! Tallest building in the world. Yes, those are sky scrapers that it is towering over.|
I wanted to see the famous man-made Palm Island, so I start to try to figure out where I could take the train to get near it when I realize the group next to me are pointing to a map. I don't understand their language but I finally ask one of them if they speak English. They do - hooray! And they, too, are trying to go see Palm Island. Travel buddies!
Turns out they were a group of very kind Polish people who ended up taking me along with them all the way out to the tip of the Island, having to stop and help me when my metro ticket stopped working, and slightly changing their plans to accommodate my schedule. I loved them.
|Here we all our on the Persian Gulf. Me, my Poles, and the thin glorified Fanny Pack I'm wearing under my shirt that makes me look slightly pregnant with cardboard. Lovely.|
|Here we are riding the Monorail that goes out onto the Palm - and those are rich people's houses.|
|There is the Atlantis resort where rich people vacation when they get sick of their own private beaches and nice houses.|
The Island is interesting, because it's totally man made and apparently looks like a giant palm tree out in the water, though I couldn't tell at the time since I wasn't seeing it from the air. But ridiculously rich people buy houses out there and the Atlantis hotel is out there, so it was fun to see. I finally had to leave my Poles and begin my journey back to the airport.
And good thing I did, because after I returned to "Terminal 1" where my bag was, I asked where I should go for my next flight and was told: "Terminal 2...you can take a $25 taxi there."
I'm sorry, what was that? Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 are so far apart that I have to take a cab that costs five Starbucks beverages? And why am *I* paying to get around *your* airport? You can pay to form islands in the shape of landscaping and you all don't have shuttles??
(Side note: Apparently Dubai Airport is hoping to become the "best airport in the world" - I have some not so subtle suggestions for them as they attempt to achieve this...)
So I skeptically jump in a cab and travel to this elusive Terminal 2 and lo and behold, it does cost that much and that is where my next flight leaves from. How convenient.
I manage to board my 5 hour flight to Kathmandu in time to completely pass out, waking only when we land around 10:00 pm, nearly two days after I originally left D.C.
I'm so tired by that point that I practically maim a man for not giving me his pen to fill out the several customs forms I need when I land, but more on that in the next post.