It was a sunny day in March in southern California. I’m inside the international terminal at LAX – Los Angeles – staring out of the terminal window at a double-decker plane. It has Emirates splashed on the side of the cabin in English and Arabic. Today, I will be traveling 16 hours, 5,250 miles to The United Emirates for my first solo vacation. The flight was definitely, luxury. Not to be a spoiler-alert, I’ll just say the flight had large seats, hot facial napkins, and real silverware!
As I landed in Dubai, I was lost. I just had to make it from the airport to my reserved room at a nearby Holiday Inn. Perusing through the terminal to find a legitimate taxi driver, I found my way to the ground transportation section. Not being familiar with the US Dollar and United Arab Emirates Dirham conversion, I felt somewhat over-charged by the taxi driver upon arriving at the Holiday Inn. Nevertheless, I paid the reasonable fare and arrived at the hotel during the Saturday night peak social hour. After relaxing in the downstairs lounge bar for a few hours, I learned one thing about myself – I CAN stand up for myself even 5,000 miles away from home. Little did I know, the platter of cheese and crackers, three rounds of drinks for myself, and one champagne toast over the loud speaker costed me more than $800 USD. The waiter and the bouncer were pissed that I said I wasn’t paying that ridiculous amount. I talked them down to $200 USD, I walked out….
New day, new adventure. I woke up and checked out of the Holiday Inn and took a taxi to a shared AirBnB room. I walked into a quaint studio room with two beds, a small kitchen, and a small bathroom. Meet Tariq. He was my AirBnB host and ensured me that we would go out and explore the local eateries. Tariq and I shared our stories and interests about real estate. He told me a little-known fact that, in Dubai there is no income tax. He was soooo friendly and refused to let me pay for any of my meals. We had Afghan, Persian, and Lebanese food – delicious. I was getting use to sitting on the floor on top of a rug and eating family style at these restaurants. He tricked me into eating goat brains – I knew that I just gained a life-long international friend.
Fast forward to the adventures. The first image I think of when I think about my trip to Dubai is sand, lots of it. I went to a man-made beach, drove ATVs in the desert sand with a group of international tourists, and road on a camel! Even though it was March, the temperatures were still in the 90’s. They say, your tourist experience can fund almost any adventure in Dubai. Did you know Dubai’s 10-million-liter aquarium is the largest suspended aquarium in the world? I also went to Ferrari World with the fastest roller-coaster in the world too. Now that I’ve been to Dubai, my next destination will be somewhere closer to water with a real beach. Nevertheless, on the flight back home I couldn’t stop reminiscing about the endless memories I had on this trip.