You wouldn’t really call me a morning person. And I have a well-documented fear of heights. So what was I doing at 5am heading into the desert to take a hot air balloon flight?? The desire for a great photo, it seems, transcends all else! And I have to say, the 4.15 wake-up call, the trembling knees, and the bumpy bus ride were well & truly worth it!!! What an amazing adventure!!!
In truth the scariest thing about the whole experience was the bus trip, the driver seemed to be hurtling down the highway at breakneck speed. We arrived in the middle of nowhere (it seemed) before dawn. There were around 40 of us, and two balloons. We were given our safety briefing & climbed into the basket. My teeth were chattering – though whether from cold or fear I’m not sure, but the heat of the gas flame soon warmed us up & we were airborne in no time at all. The sunrise was spectacular, and as the shadows shortened we just drank in the scenery. Our pilot was quite a character but exuded confidence & I knew we were in good hands. To tell you the truth, it really wasn’t that scary. And it was sooo beautiful. I would certainly do it again.
We had expected a “light breakfast” as part of the balloon experience, but it turned out to be only a small an of soft drink! So when we got a text from our Sydney friends Anna & Ken Harman, who currently live in Dubai, suggesting lunch, we were happy to comply. They met us at the Dubai Mall, and we shared a delicious meal at a swank French restaurant. It was good to catch up with them & hear about their life in Dubai.
Our plan after lunch was to head to the top of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. We joined a rather large queue only to discover that tickets must be pre-booked and were sold out for the next 2 days. There was a sign saying there were some immediate entry tickets available, which seemed perfect. Until we discovered that they cost AED400 (around $100) each, compared with AED100 for the regular ticket. What a rort! I am sure the view is very nice up the there but … Instead we came back to the hotel. Don’t forget we were up at 4am. We had a delightful swim in the hotel pool (on the 11th floor) and a refreshing mocktail on the pool deck. We’d have had the real thing but the bar wasn’t open!
Planning a quiet night in tonight as we head for Nairobi first thing in the morning. Dubai has been lots of fun. It is big, brash & bold. I do not think I’d like to live here, but it is a great place for a holiday. It is a city of extremes & superlatives, and there is much to occupy a visitor. I would love to come again some day. But Kenya beckons, and I can hardly wait!!
Photo Count Today 477
Modes of Transport: 10
Wrong Turns while walking: Lost count