Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), is a business hub of the Middle East and major transport hub for passengers and cargo. It is emerging as a world class wonder in exciting destinations to visit. Its international airport is the world’s busiest by international passenger traffic. In 2014 there were 70.476 million passenger movements through Dubai International Airport (DXB), including 6 adults, 7 kids and a whole lot of luggage from Gladstone, Qld.
Our two-night stay in Dubai was a playful prelude to our European adventure to come. With the number of kids outnumbering the adults we wisely decided to break up the long flights. We could also then sample a destination and a culture very different from our own. On paper Dubai sounded like a bustling and boisterous place to be. We found it to be all this and more when combined with the spicy smells, the baking heat and the vibrantly exotic energy of the place.
Stepping out of the shiny (and air-conditioned) airport terminal we were smacked in the chops by the midday heat. The magnitude of the place grabbed our attention. There were sparkling sky scrapers as far as the eye could see. Our transfer bus driver, Pearl, was a wealth of information as we whizzed to our hotel. The kids were fascinated and pressed their noses up to the windows to take in the views and plenty of wide-eyed happy snaps. The air-conditioned bus stops were an eye opener as were the impatient Dubai drivers honking their land cruiser horns along the motorway. This was a place that was on the move. People had places to be and things to do.
Dubai City Driving. Photos by Esther Colavecchio.
Our ‘digs’ for two nights, the Novotel Suite Mall of the Emirates was very happily situated, as the name suggests, directly opposite the Mall. This was no ordinary suburban shopping mall though, boasting an indoor ski slope and a huge indoor Monopoly board complete with a game in progress with giant dice. We looked on in awe but soon focused ourselves on the task at hand which was to shop…!
Mall of the Emirates. Photo by Esther Colavecchio.
Our first ‘official’ morning on tour was spent enjoying the bacon-free buffet in the hotel before heading out into the steamy 40+ morning with our trusty transfer driver, Pearl. Team Colavecchio were dropped off at the Wild Wadi Water park for the day while the rest of our group headed off to tour Dubai and the famous souks.
The water park had been one of the attractions that had piqued our interest to make a stopover in Dubai. It promised to be the perfect place in the hot, Arabian sun for a few kids (big and small) to shake off our jet lag and have some fun. Located in front of the stunning Burj Al Arab hotel, Wild Wadi offers 30 rides and is listed as a “must-do” attraction whilst in Dubai. The park is themed around the tale of Juha, a known character from Arabian folklore.
Three J-boy Juha’s. Photo by Esther Colavecchio
It was already blisteringly hot as we lined up for a 10am park opening time so being in a place dedicated to getting wet seemed like a great idea. After throwing some of our stuff in a locker, we set our sights on four sun lounges then ploughed into the massive wave pool to cool down. It was awesomely crowded and fun! I went on a few waterslides with the boys then took happy snaps of them on the Flood River Rapids ride. This ride whisked eager participants along increasingly fast waterways on large inflatable ‘donut’ like tubes. The boys LOVED it.
Flood River Rapids Ride. Photos by Esther and John Colavecchio.
I resisted their persistent pleas for me to have a go until the sweltering, sweaty heat got the better of me. I relented. Master nine was brave enough to share a double ‘donut’ with his mum, who was quite unsure of the whole thing as she stepped into the inflatable and took a deep breath – ready to enter the unknown…
I am not brave when it comes to rides. The Ferris wheel is a daring adventure to me. So, here I was taking the plunge, pardon the pun, on a ride with my youngest son who probably lost 25% of his hearing due to my screams that day…!
The ride started quite tamely. We floated pleasantly along on a brightly coloured inflatable donut tube. It was a stinking hot day so what better place than to be on the water. All that was missing was a little drink with a parasol in it. What was I worried about? This was quite a placid ride after all. Even when a conveyor-belt grabs the donut and propels it up a water-slide heading upwards it was ok.
As I sat there quite enjoying the experience and berating myself at having been such a chicken, all of a sudden….WHOOOOOOOOOOOSH. We were hurtled along at a roaring pace, bumping and banging into the edge of the water-slide which was now awash with rushing water. I tried desperately to hold onto the side handle of the donut with one hand while I tried, equally as desperately, to hold on to my bather bottoms which were threatening to come off in all the calamitous chaos of the ride. I fleetingly thought about the horror of losing my daks in a theme park in Dubai and wished I’d chosen a one-piece bathing ensemble. That worry was soon forgotten as we were suddenly flung into complete darkness. We continued hurtling along this bumping, grinding, perilously slippery and sloshy ride towards a destination UNKNOWN.
Just when I thought I could take no more and it was going to be Death in Dubai in the pitch darkness of a turbulent, water tossed tunnel…..There was silence. We floated serenely out the other end and back into daylight and the quiet, calm waters of a summer’s day. My screams subsided and I decided that I had been so petrified by this ride that I had another go on it with Number One Son. He made me promise faithfully that I wouldn’t scream the whole way around this time and I ALMOST kept my promise….
I decided that my place was better served by being the team photographer. I was there to capture the moment when all three boys braved the most terrifying ride in the park, called the Jumeirah Sceirah. I couldn’t find the actual translation for this name but ‘jolly scary’ springs to mind.
From my vantage point at the bottom of the ride, I didn’t know that the boys climbed up to the top of a 32-metre tower. I didn’t know that they enjoyed a panoramic view of the entire waterpark from the top. I didn’t know that they climbed nervously into side-by-side claustrophobic capsules. I didn’t know that they had to stand there, shivering and scared. I didn’t know that a countdown started before the trap door opened and shot them down the 120-metre slide at an astonishing speed of 80 kms per hour in just a few seconds.
I am glad that I didn’t know these things as I stood, camera ready, at the bottom of the slide. I do know that I was proud of them and that they were very brave to have a go on this terror-ific ride.
Jumeirah Sceirah ride. Photo by Esther Colavecchio.
All in all, this was a pretty good start to our overseas adventure and we sampled enough of Dubai to know that is a place worth checking out and we will be back to see some more someday.
A bit more shopping and eating and it was soon off to our next destination – London!
Written by Esther Colavecchio