Everest – Day 3: Dubai

April 2 (Monday)

DSC_8245Camel statue in front of our hotel

After eating breakfast in our luxurious hotel we went to see the tallest building in the world, Burj al Khalifa.  I also got tickets a few weeks before the trip since they are cheaper that way.  One annoying thing was that our cab driver didn’t know where to drop us off.  You would think that Burj al Khalifa is a very popular spot for tourists and every cabbie would know the drop off points like the back of their hand…  Never mind though. We managed to find the right entry (through the mall) pretty quickly.

DSC_8246Burj al Khalifa

Our reservations were to be on top at 10am, but we ended up there at 11am.  The crowds were huge and the lines to get on the elevator very long, however, not too boring.  The Arabs kept us entertained by numerous displays comparing Khalifa to other tall buildings in the world, as well as little tidbits about the process of construction and the actual building stats.

The elevator ride was crazy fast and we were finally on top of the highest man-made structure, at 2722 ft (830m) high.  The horizon was very hazy again, either to the surrounding sand in the air or to smog.  We still enjoyed looking at the surrounding buildings though.

DSC_8254view of the buildings from the top of Burj al Khalifa

DSC_8257view of our hotel, Jumeirah Towers, from the top of Burh al Khalifa

DSC_8261view of Burj al Arab we splurged at last night

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DSC_8268picture of a poster of Burj al Khalifa at New Year’s Eve.  Now that would be something to see!

Before we went back to the hotel we decided to see the biggest mall in the world (can you see the trend here yet?  Most luxurious hotel, tallest building, biggest mall, highest mountain…), situated right outside Burj al Khalifa (the entrance to Khalifa is from within the mall).  I imagined that the mall would be very different from the ones in the States but it turned out to be almost exactly the same!!  Except that it went on and on and on…  And then when we tried to leave, there were more stores outside the mall!!  Like a huge mall within an even bigger one!

 DSC_8250this incredible fountain is inside of the mall, not too far from the entrance to Burj al Khalifa

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We went back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and *tried* to get to the airport.  I say ‘tried’ because our cab driver was again confused!! (And it was a different guy too). He kept asking which airport we wanted to go to, and he just couldn’t understand that there is only one!  I guess he meant which terminal, but how in the world were we supposed to know which terminal our plane leaves from??!!!  Again, for a touristy place like Dubai, you would think the taxi drivers would know the airport pretty well…

We finally got to Kathmandu where we went through customs very efficiently.  However, we got royally ripped off when it was time to tip the Nepali boys for carrying our bags to the van (Alpine Ascents, the outfitter we went with on this trip), and they literally grabbed $25 from my husband’s hands…  Welcome to Nepal…  LOL :). Hopefully tomorrow will bring a better day!

DAY 4

Everest – Day 1 and 2: Getting there

March 31 (Monday)

It takes a long time to get to the top of the highest mountain in the world.  Not only one has to walk and climb for extended periods of time, but he or she has to get to Nepal first!

Most people go through Singapore but we have decided to travel through Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.  I have always been fascinated by the architecture of this country but also knew that it was really expensive.  So I figured that one day in Dubai will not make us bankrupt.

After 3hr flight to Washington, DC, followed by 13 hrs on the next flight, we finally arrived in Dubai.  We decided to splurge on a hotel and spent the night at the Jumeirah Emirates Towers.  My first impression besides the awesome architecture was that the city was very clean and full of flowers.  For some reason I imagined that the downtown area would be similar to our big US cities, but it differed substantially.  The skyscrapers were a lot more ‘modern’ and also dispersed, not tight together as in New York or Chicago.

DSC_8243This was on the screen of the TV as we walked in to our hotel

After we took a breather in our hotel room, we took a cab to the only 7-star hotel in the world, Burj al Arab.  I made reservations to the Sky Bar a few weeks before the trip as nobody but guests and those with reservations are allowed on the property.

Burj al Arab looks very delicate from the outside, like a true sail in a steady wind.  Wen we walked inside, the lobby was just screaming ‘money’!!  There were huge aquariums next to the escalators and the whole thing was richly decorated.  We took an elevator (with escort) to the 25th floor to the SkyView Bar.  They sat us by a window but the views were less than optimal due to a haze.  We ended up ordering 2 drinks each.  I had a Camel Colada (since I just HAD to taste camel’s milk) and a Top of the World (how appropriate!), and Andy had a Blue Glacier and a Perfect Gimmick.  All drinks were very tasty, and they also came with a hefty price:  $50 per drink!!  No, that’s not a typo!!

IMGP5444the entrance to the Sky Bar, reminded me of Matrix =)

IMGP5446huge aquarium along the escalator at Burj al Arab

I’m glad we got to set our foot in the hotel but I’m also glad we didn’t order any food there (can’t even imagine what the bill would come to!!)

DAY 3