It was an unusual journey to the airport. The hotel that we’d stayed at overnight was very close to the terminal building, one of the big, corporate places that spring up around most airports, surrounded by similar hotels, empty roads and not much else. Eight days after we’d arrived in India I’d become (almost) acclimatised to the traffic to the extent that the lack of cows, camels, suicidally reckless cyclists or certifiable Tuk Tuk drivers trying to occupy the same small patch of tarmac as us felt odd. Not even so much as a single truck heading towards us on our side of the road…..
Once into the airport, normal service resumed. The scrum at the check-in desk was negotiated in time to catch the flight and watch a harassed looking attendant rescue a passenger’s hold luggage from half way down the main conveyer belt in order for said passenger to retrieve a phone charger. Try that on at Stansted and see how far you get.
The flight over to Dubai was fairly quiet (or at least seemed that way after so long on the road), passing happily in a hazy blur of curry, dozing and Bollywood movies.
After the cheerful laissez-faire attitude to regulations we’d become used to over the previous week, Dubai airport came as a bit of a shock. The gleaming, cold, super-efficient spaces were matched by gleaming, cold, super-efficient immigration officers. The one I got was not particularly impressed with the fact that my passport photo showed glasses and no beard, whilst my face showed beard and no glasses. He scowled at me for a couple of minutes before tossing my passport back across his desk to me without a word and the kind of disdain that is usually only found in police chiefs in Bollywood movies. I didn’t like him.
Once out and in to the taxi the super efficiency continued. The traffic all moved at a uniform rate, all stayed on the correct side of the road and the wildlife was nowhere to be seen. We hurtled through downtown Dubai, the place being so far removed from the genial chaos of the previous week. Skyscrapers with anything less than 20 stories looked like they just weren’t trying and the Metro stations looked like something lifted straight from a Ridley Scott movie.
Our hotel for the week was large and comfortable and very well air conditioned, Mrs A was hugely taken with how well it was perfumed, I was impressed with the glass lifts, we were both amazed by the price of the dinner….
And so we spent 5 days in Dubai. In truth, I think we’d have both preferred a little longer in India, although there were highlights:
- Sitting on a beach looking across at 30+ storey skyscrapers was surreal, as was the sea that was pretty much too hot to swim in.
- Heading down to the creek at night and catching an Abra with the locals to mooch round the souk and watching the commercial vessels being unloaded by hard working men against the backdrop of the Gucci and Rolex skyline appealed to my sense of the obscure.
- Riding the metro and watch the moon pass behind the world’s tallest building.
And then we were on our way home. The flight back to Heathrow passed uneventfully, the plane fully occupied and a little cramped, but not so bad. We got home, dumped the cases and slept.
The journey overall was incredible. Would I recommend India? A million times yes. It was friendly and exciting and chaotic and just brilliant fun. Would I recommend Dubai? If air conditioned all inclusive type places are your thing and you like shopping centres then go for your life. It wasn’t so much for me.
I would thoroughly recommend a travel companion of the calibre of Mrs A though. Everywhere’s better with a Mrs A alongside.