UAE & India 2015
- Make Tomorrow Today, Please
- Hello Tomorrow
- Top of the World
- Feasting Like Camel Nomads
- Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
- Saadiyat Rhymes with India
- Fifty Shades of Brown
- Yes They Do!
- The End Is A New Beginning
- UAE & India Extras
The end of a fun vacation is a new beginning of a painful journey.
As mentioned earlier, being on the plane with our
annoying kids little angels wasn’t an easy task. We didn’t look forward to the upcoming 20-hour flights back home, especially when we were exhausted from all the traveling already. The Hyderabad Airport did not help with the stress, either. Our immigration officer scanned Hong’s passport and asked for my finger print, and spent a long time wondering why it didn’t match the records. Then there were separate security lines for men and women – four for men and only one for women, even though the ratio of travelers was closer to 2:1, and many women carried kids. This created an uneven wait time to get through security.
We were thankful for Abey, who helped us figure out shuttle to the airport and later got us into a lounge. He saved us some precious energy which definitely came in handy later.
A man with baby-carrying experience.
Now would be a good time to talk about our favorite part of India… the traffic. Here are some observations:
- The city’s roads were shared by pedestrians, scooters, motorcycles, auto rickshaws, cars, buses, and trucks
- While less common, we also saw camel riders, cows, and sheep on the roads alongside the motor vehicles
- Red lights were the only consistently followed traffic rule, as far as we could tell
- Honking was constant
- Anyone could be moving in any direction, at any time, regardless of the traffic flow: lane changes, turns, u-turns, street crossing, etc
It was hard to think of an adjective other than “chaotic” to describe such traffic, but was it, really? Hundreds of vehicles weaving in and out of thousands of near-misses, yet there was never even a scratch. The drivers had fantastic senses of their vehicles’ dimensions, and clearly calculated how the variations in velocities around them synchronized with one another. It was like a massive orchestra that had been carefully organized.
I had a lot of respect for a few maneuvers: (1) our car passing a bus by squeezing through 3/4 of a lane between the bus and a cement wall; (2) while our van was “dangerously tailgating” a bus, by the American standards, multiple motorcycles switched lanes using the space between the two large vehicles; (3) our car driving into the oncoming lane to pass the traffic, while there were plenty of cars in the oncoming lane; (4) riders getting on and off a bus while it was in motion in the middle of a road; (5) vehicles turning onto an intersecting busy road without even slowing down.
Next time I visit India, I gotta ride in one of these auto rickshaws.
This guy was single-handedly pushing his car in heavy traffic, and it didn’t seem to bother him or anyone else.
This duo must be on their way to a jousting match.
Our final thrill ride was the early-morning shuttle to the airport. Our driver reminded me of Discover’s “we treat you like you treat you” commercials, as he raced past every car on the elevated highway. The speed wasn’t high compared to what we were used to – only up to about 60 MPH – but with the highway surface not being smooth and the car being rather beat up, it seemed as reckless as it could possibly be. I had no doubt that this guy could have challenged the late Paul Walker to a street race.
Look at those furious eyes.
For months, we thought the UAE part of this trip was the real vacation, and India was merely the wedding destination. It turned out that we enjoyed our stay in India much better. Everything from the historic sites to traffic to hotel staff was more fascinating, and the heat was even more tolerable. On the other hand, while the UAE was super modern and glamorous, it was just so much like the US… people drove the same car models, ate at the same fast food chains, and wore the same designer clothing. While Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Emirates Palace, and Burj Al Arab were each one of a kind, the rest of Dubai and Abu Dhabi seemed more American than certain parts of United States! For example… there were more Shake Shacks in the UAE (9) than in the entire NYC metro!
In the early afternoon, we arrived back in Dubai for a 19-hour layover. We checked into Radisson Blue Dubai Deira Creek, and learned that it was the city’s very first five-star hotel with 40 years of history. The reception staff went out of their way to accommodate us – allowing for a very early check in and upgrading us to a suite, in addition to bringing us towels, date juice, and a kiddy bag. Having been defeated by the flight, we were endlessly grateful for the over-the-top hospitality.
Radisson Blu Dubai Deira Creek’s main entrance. Part of the lobby was under renovation and sectioned off, but I was too tired to notice.
Waiting for our suite to be prepared.
Getting into a very Arabian elevator.
Our original itinerary said that we had an entire afternoon to do see more of Dubai, but it turned out to be wishful thinking. We crashed for five hours and could have easily slept another 12. Hong and I gathered the final bit of our will power and dragged our asleep kids (it took 30 minutes to wake Xuan up) to the nearby Gold Souk. It was a “traditional” gold market that TripAdvisor highly rated, so we figured that we had to at least take a look. Turned out it was so much like the Manhattan Chinatown…
While different in design, Chinatown also had gold sculptures.
Chinatown also had heavy gold necklaces.
Chinatown also sold a variety of plastic toys.
Chinatown also carried very affordable garments to replenish your wardrobe.
Chinatown also had many eateries like this, with staff specializing in serving tourists…
… and of course, the said servers knew very well that Asians want pictures at the dinner table.
We were starving when we read the menu, so we ordered a lot of food. We weren’t hungry any more after taking the first bite.