Deserted in Dubai

I woke up bright and early to head to the Dubai mall to purchase a selfie stick. I know, very vain, but it seemed like we were the only tourists in Dubai without one. Besides, it would be useful for our desert safari. This selfie stick was kind of a big deal.

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Addicted to the art of negotiation, we went back to the Deira Gold Souqs for more souvenirs. We would soon learn, Dubai is the best place to negotiate because, in my experience, shops in Abu Dhabi were more expensive and not as willing to. I searched for the Arab scent. It’s a scent that you cannot help but smell when passing some of the men in Dubai. Someone told me Musk and Rose were the ingredients. Yet, the guy trying to sell me this scent was a crook, so I left the souq without it!

Dubai is infamous for its traffic. We were going to be late for our pick up to the desert, which was scheduled for 3:30PM. We were stuck in traffic for about 30-minutes and arrived back at the hotel at 4PM. The driver, who picked us up was so nice. We thought we would be the only ones on the safari but he then drove to a residential area of Dubai to pick up an older Irish couple and their granddaughter. The minute I saw we would be on this desert safari with gramps and granny, I knew we were in for trouble. They would probably warn the driver not to go so fast and blah, blah, blah.

For about an hour we drove on a highway until it gradually turned into the desert. The brown sand was beautiful. We got out of our jeep to meet with the other group of jeeps that would be traveling with us to our secret location in the desert.

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IMG_0394As we were zooming through the high sand dunes like a roller coaster, up-down, to the side and around, granny asked the driver if he could slow down for her granddaughter who was getting car sick. I nudged Myllz and rolled my eyes. Really? Did I pay to go slow on the sand dunes? Who goes slow over sand dunes? I guess we do. I was so annoyed!

I couldn’t wait to get to our secret desert camp. The first thing I did was ride the camels. They were so cute. Scary but cute. I almost wanted them to spit so I could see it in person but their mouths were covered.

The scary part of riding a camel is when they come up and come down. It’s sort of like levels. Some of the camels have no sense of space and will be all in your face. Camels are very treasured by the people in Dubai. It’s a serious crime to harm them.

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Oh My Dubai

I am going to Dubai. Thank You, God.

It was great to see a familiar face as soon as I got to the airport. Not really familiar, I’d never met Mike before but after talking to him and others on our Travel Noire GroupMe chat, I was excited to know that he and his best friend Morgan would be taking the same flight as me and my best friend Myllz. We met up with a few others from our crew and were off on our 12-hour flight to Abu Dhabi.

IMG_9722 IMG_9718 IMG_9727 There was a certain curiosity about this unknown country. The flight was long. After 9-hours I needed to stretch. The one great thing about Etihad is how much they feed you; at least 3-4 times en route, and the food was delicious. I was enamored by the beauty of the skies. We flew into 3 different time zones during our flight. It’s amazing how the world works. When we arrived it was Friday morning in Abu Dhabi. The sun shone brightly in my window.

IMG_9730We walked out of the plane and I inhaled. That’s something I tend to do when I arrive at a new destination, I want to see if the air smells different (It didn’t). I proceeded to find customs and was surprised by how many men were at the airport. We were in the Middle East for sure. I was initially taken aback by the custom representatives. They were traditionally dressed in their Disdash’s. Their skin was beautifully tanned, and their smell was enticing. I didn’t make eye contact, only from afar. The rep handed back my passport, with a smirk.

Myllz and I proceeded to the parking lot where we awaited our ride with Mike and Morgan. They were also headed to Dubai and suggested that we join them. The morning sun was hot. I haven’t felt this heat in a long time. It was refreshing. We walked to the all-white range rover that would drive us to our destination. Almost everyone in Dubai and Abu Dhabi has beautiful new cars, so this was just a taste of what we would see during our week-long stay. We talked about the States and our travels around the world on our ride to Dubai, gradually stopping to take a pic if we noticed a unique structure in our view.

IMG_9738 IMG_9743 IMG_9744 IMG_9750Approaching Dubai was breathtaking. There’s no doubt when you leave the midst of Abu Dhabi and enter the land of enchanting tall, pristine and glistening structures. The driver dropped Mike and Morgan off at their hotel and Myllz and I hitched a taxi to ours. When we approached Jumeirah Emirates Towers it was surreal. The bellboys rushed to our doors to let us out and grabbed our bags. From this point on there was no touching, or holding our bags, they had it all covered. Check-in was a breeze, I paid in full to avoid any mishaps later and was greeted with a hot towel and a delicious cold beverage, accompanied by a purple lily. We went up to our room and the first thing I noticed was the view, a beautiful view of Downtown Dubai. To be honest I wanted to sleep and asked Myllz if I could take a quick nap to be rejuvenated for the rest of our day.

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I Traveled to Dubai for $200

Would you believe me if I told you I only spent $200 for my ticket to Dubai? Not many would, but I did. How? The answer is simple, there’s no theory, no special time you have to book or strategy, just two simple words: Glitch Fare. On Christmas morning 2014, I was at my friend’s Holiday Party when I saw a deal break out, $187 to go to Asia and/or Africa via TravelNoire. I hurried home and booked Dubai at 3:30AM. I almost booked South Africa as well, but I knew, taking two extensive trips in one year with my new position at work would be troublesome (there’s always next year).

The next morning, I informed some of my friends about my good luck in hopes that they would catch the same deal. Some did, some didn’t. With these kinds of fares, you may have one hour tops before it goes away. Glitch Fares or deals like this happen a couple times a year (if that). It’s when an airline charges an extremely low amount for a fare, sometimes by accident and once these fares are purchased you run the risk of the airline honoring the deal or not. Etihad honored this flight deal. Tickets for Dubai would usually run a person $800-1200+ so to get a ticket for significantly less than that was a risk. You have to think fast, no time for planning, just figure it all out later and book. That’s what I did and it was the greatest rush I’ve ever felt. I was going to Dubai. To be more precise, I was going to Dubai in 2-months. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I was capable of seeing the UAE in my 20’s maybe my 30’s but 20s….No…you have to be rich to see such a place…right? I would soon find out, I couldn’t be more wrong,

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Unchartered Territory

It was Christmas Eve and I was at my friend’s holiday party. I got home around 3:30AM and realized that a major deal broke out among travel extremist. Flightdeal and TravelNoire revealed that Etihad Airline had tickets to the Middle East, Hong Kong, India and Africa for less than $700. I booked my ticket to the Middle East immediately for $200. I went to sleep nervous, excited and in disbelief as to what I just did. Now I am taking a major trip in 1 month to unknown territory and I want to again chronicle the whole process.
So here’s what I’ve done so far:

Booked the ticket: I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to travel to the Middle East for less than $225, that’s unheard of.

Pulled out a map:
This is always the most exciting part of planning a trip. A map illustrates the surrounding countries. Sometimes you can maximize a trip by taking day trips to other surrounding cities. Unfortunately, the Middle East is not one of those places where I can venture too far off especially as a woman.

Talk to someone who has been to the country: Bring on the advice. It’s always a great thing when you can talk to someone who has insider information on how a country operates. I learned that in my case it will probably be best to get an apartment rather than an expensive $700 a night hotel.

Research! Where am I going? How many cities are in this country? Which attraction do I want to be near? Transportation? To-do list?
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