Thought I’d get that out of the way first. After a tiring first day (with barely any sleep), we made up for it by only getting up around 10:30am. And by the time we were out, it was already noon.
But today, the skies were clear and sunny.
But despite the plethora of eateries and cafes, ‘the vegetarian’ (my friend Ramesh) found nothing to his taste. So we decided to go to Little India.
While the guys headed to Little India, I instead went to Sim Lim Square – Singapore’s famous IT mall.
Being a Sunday, few stores were closed but you still had plenty open.
I was looking for a good tripod and the Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS USM I lens. Most stores didn’t have the latter in stock anymore but I did get a chance to try out the non-IS variant.
Several shops I entered asked me why I needed the IS version and suggested that I simply go in for the non-IS version and buy a good tripod instead. Something I did give deep consideration later.
A few smaller shops did say they had the lens and it “could be arranged,” but I decided not to deal with them. After all, Sim Lim is equivalent to Bangkok’s Pantip Plaza — you have tread carefully when shopping here. You can get ripped off, at the same while scoring some really good deals.
I had only made it to the second floor before my friends called and told me they were done with lunch. Since I had to catch up with them, I had to leave Sim Lim. Just like yesterday, I left disappointed knowing I couldn’t explore the mall in its entirety.
I grabbed a quick bite and made my way out.
As I stepped out and crossed the road in front of Sim Lim Square, I noticed crowds and street shops ahead of me.
Bugis Street Shopping is the largest street shopping market in Singapore.
For me, it wasn’t really impressive. Not after you have visited Bangkok’s Chatuchak Weekend Market (or JJ Market). In fact, a lot of the merchandise sold here was from Thailand — which obviously meant it was slightly more pricier here.
I had to get to Suntec City to meet up with my friends, but instead of taking of the MRT, I just walked.
I passed through another mall, this time — Bugis Junction.
After catching up with my friends, Ramesh made his way to the F1 tracks to begin his evening. While myself & Loi pondered what to do next. I had plans of going to Marina Bay Sand Casino to go up to the sky deck. When I had called them up earlier in the day, I was informed it was only open to visitors until 4pm, after which it would be off limits to non-guests.
We were inside CityLink Mall (yes, another mall in the area) when we decided to check out the HMV store.
By the time we stepped out of the HMV store, we already spent SGD150 (around Rs. 5,100) on official band t-shirts — and it was past 4pm. So I pushed Marina Bay Sands for tomorrow and headed to Suntec City mall instead.
After shopping some more at Suntec, we made our way back to Victoria Street where I had plans to show Loi the Bugis Street shopping centre.
But lay before us was Iluma — the alluding building which I assumed was a boutique hotel.
But a funky one at that. Iluma is a pretty cool mall mostly targeting a younger crowd. Despite its appearance, we didn’t find the usual selection of high-end designer brands. Instead, we came across stores like this:
The merchandise on display was good enough to draw me & Loi in. Nearly half-an-hour later, we step out after having spent some dime on anime merchandise.
Inside the Otaku House was more anime merchandise; more necklaces and keychains (like the ones we bought from Comics Connection), to cosplay outfits and other props for rent or purchase.
But we sighed… and quietly walked out, reminding ourselves that we had already spent enough and would soon run of Singapore currency at this rate.
It didn’t stop us from exploring the mall still.
The top-most floor houses what they claim to be Singapore’s largest arcade. And then there is the open roof top.
As we made our way down, I realized iluma was one of the more unique malls in Singapore. Not only does it look cool, it really manages to cater to a young crowd with more affordable options compared to the rest of Singapore’s malls.
After we stepped out of iluma, I took Loi to the Bugis Street Chopping centre.
And by the time we were done with that, we were hungry. So we popped into the near by Burger King for a good ol’ beef burger
(Note: Beef burgers are a rarity in India due to religious sentiments so even McDs are too ‘chicken’ to serve beef burgers here).
After this, we took the MRT to Orchard Road, our next destination.
I actually wanted to go back to Sim Lim Square, but Loi needed to meet his cousin — and since he didn’t have a local SIM, I had to tag along with him.
When we got to Orchard Road, we stepped right out to Ion Orchard mall.
Orchard Road is Singapore’s famous shopping stretch (as if the rest of the city didn’t offer enough already), home to many star hotels and a very popular stop for tourists.
And boy, does this one-way road live up to its reputation!
Once Loi met up with his cousin, I was on my own to explore the rest of Orchard Road for some time.
I got back to the other side to continue from where I left off.
After this point, the malls slowly disappeared.
After catching up with my friend Loi, we decided to see off his cousin at the bus stop and take one ourselves as we hadn’t done so yet.
Since we didn’t really know where to get down, we just got off at the end of Orchard Road.
As I looked at the map, we realized that Victoria Street wasn’t very far from where we were currently, so I asked Loi if we could just keep walking.
It was nearing 11pm, so we stepped into a food court to have dinner and to quench our thirst with some beer.
After ‘dinner,’ we resumed our walk towards our hostel.
I couldn’t help but remind ourselves how good a location we chose to be stay in, given how close we were to a lot of what Singapore has to offer (especially if you a re shopaholic!).
We were finally back in our room…. oh wait, we ran out of drinking water.
(Steps out again)
Once back from the nearby 7-Eleven I was finally done with day 2! As we checked out out our merchandise, we also counted how much we had already spent and soon realized we were running out of Singapore dollars.
We just had one more day left in Singapore, so it was either going to be Sentosa or the Singapore Zoo. I also wanted to hit the sky deck at Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Casino.
As we came out of the tunnel, to our right was our next stop.
Once we took a left and got on to “The Walk,” I pretty much knew why people throng to this place. It’s essentially Dubai’s ‘Exhibition Road’ (a once very popular stretch in Bahrain where traffic moves slowly and people, well, come to show off — among other things).
The Walk is part of Jumeirah Group’s massive property by Jumeirah beach. Lined along the stretch are shops, restaurants, hotels and the Jumeirah residences.
We finally managed to get a parking spot and while there were the usual luxury brands, given this is Dubai, one really needs something too rare to really stand out from the crowd.
And whoever was the owner of this Batmobile-esque Mercedes McLaren SLR, surely had it!
Freakin’ sweet. A supercar indeed!
After watching the sun set, we went back to the parking lot.
Since it was time sunset prayer, Azhad and Jassim made their way to the prayer hall like good muslims, while I waited out looking at the slow moving traffic.
After prayers, we moved on.
Jassim told me that we needed to crossed over to the other side as he wanted to show me something. I didn’t really know what or why but I figured it would be more buildings.
It was buildings alright…. but I never expected this!
I really wasn’t expecting a sight like this in, of all the places, Dubai. I was looking forward to seeing all this when I go to Singapore in September and in Hong Kong next year, but in the middle of a freaking desert? Wow.
Now I get what Dubai Marina is all about. It’s like the guys at Emaar Properties (the same folks behind Burj Khalifa) visited Marina Bay in Singapore and Hong Kong’s Kowloon Bay and went: “Hmmm, very bretty… very nice… we like… we want also.* ”
And then came back, spent a few billion, dug out a lot of sand and half a decade later — voila!
After being mighty impressed with the world’s largest man-made marina, we headed back to ‘show-off boulevard’.
We set off into town and made our way to the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, the venue for tonight’s David Guetta’s concert.
Upon reaching the venue, we figured we still had some time to enter so we decided to do dinner. Jassim parked his car near Emirates Towers and we made our way to Nando’s.
Me and Jassim had a good meal, Azhad didn’t 🙂 … and wanted to get home quick!
So after seeing our friend off at the metro, me and Jassim went back to the car to get ready for ‘the party’.
After finding a parking spot, we walked towards to the concert hall where there were a lot of guys with heavily waxed hair and girls with heavily waxed skins.
And boy were we glad we bought our tickets well in advance! The show was sold out and many were around seeking extra tickets. We got in around 11pm where an opening DJ was was warming up the crowd.
The man himself didn’t hit the stage until 1am. And just when he was about to… disappointment. My Nokia E72 with the 5 mega-pixel camera dies out on me. All I’m left with is my mom’s basic 2mpx Nokia and even that was low on battery.
Sorry, but these grainy photos are all I have. (Some are from my friend Jassim’s iPhone)
Grainy photos won’t do the concert justice, so just watch this if you want to know what the atmosphere was like:
To sum in up in one word: AWESOME! This was one of the best concerts I have been to. The crowd was insane! Over 10,000 people packed into one massive hall. And I would so pay to see David Guetta live again!
David Guetta left the stage exactly at 3am, the time when all of Dubai has to shut off it’s loud music and stop the sale of liqour.
By the time we reached the car, our legs were tired as hell! This was one packed-evening/night/dawn. I saw a lot, ate a lot and danced a lot.
Today was going to be one heck of an ‘out-&-about’ day. My friend Jassim was free to drive me around and show me the parts of Dubai (as of the above date) the metro service hasn’t covered yet. After all the sight-seeing, we were then going to close out the night with one of the biggest events of this trip — catching David Guetta’s performance in Dubai!
But first, the day.
The morning started out slow and I was mostly indoors. As for lunch, Azhad decided to treat me to a local experience. So we headed to Al Rigga road in Deira.
The restaurant was Bait Al Mandi, a popular Yemeni joint.
What’s unique about this place? Well, they serve Al Mandi — essentially meat on top of flavoured rice. You might be thinking biriyani. but you’ll get a better picture once you see the photos.
We sat upstairs, where you had individuals cabins in which you sit down on the floor.
The meal consists of a lentil soup (which was lovely), an entire cup of curd, and the main dish itself — be it mutton or chicken. And yes, that is an entire half chicken you see above.
Just that… it was too much! We couldn’t finish all the meat. And the amazing thing is, all this costs less than Dhs 50 (Rs. 600/$13/€11). You can’t ask for a more filling meal in Dubai.
Once we were (partly) done with our heavy lunch, our friend Jassim arrived to pick us up. He had a plan in mind (since he’s done these ‘tours’ for visiting family) and we began our drive.
We made a quick stop at the Al Badia Golf Club — an impressive, built completely from the ground up, golf course.
We moved on shortly after.
We then made a brief stop at the gas station to stock up on junk food.
The souk is the shopping mall attached to the Madinat Jumeirah resort, an impressive resort offering from the Jumeirah Group — the owners of the iconic Burj Al Arab.
Yes, this yet another mall and I thought I was done with malls because once you’ve seen the biggest and the best, it takes a lot to interest you in another. But Jassim assured me this was a mall that was quite different from the others.
Madinat Jumeirah in Arabic translates to ‘City of Jumeirah’ and is resort complex designed keeping in mind old Arab architecture. It houses two hotels, several restaurants and a few hundred stores.
We just did a roam-around of the mall.
Of all the malls I’ve been to in Dubai, the Souk Madinat Jumeirah really stands out as one of the best. It really is a great place to visit, be it for a date or a casual hangout. Plenty of restaurant options and you really can’t beat the setting.
With that, we were done.
Up next was another landmark of Dubai — and one that is best seen from the sky.
But since we couldn’t afford a helicopter ride, we had to see The Palm Jumeirah islands from the ground.
We drove past a lot of (what looked liked to me) empty apartments. To the left of the above photo was the proposed Trump Tower, now on hold.
We were heading towards to tip of The Palm Islands to see the famed Atlantis resort.
There’s a lot more to Atlantis The Palm than it’s exterior — but to enter the hotel, unless you are guest, you have to pay an entrance fee. I wasn’t too bothered because we had still more on ‘Jassim’s planned drive tour’ of Dubai’s hotspots.