Wednesday 19 March 2014

Today we were up around 8:30 and after a quick breakfast, we were off to AUD to pick up some other students and Woodman Taylor. Dr. Taylor is currently a professor at AUD, but was previously a curator at Harvard’s Fogg art museum (and as a result, knows quite a bit about Cambridge!)

On the ride to Bastakiya, he told us a bit about an art project he did where he rode around on bicycle around Dubai (which is not a bike-friendly city at all!) and took photos and even videos of his excursions. He also speaks fluent Hindi and just seemed like an all-around fascinating man! 

The Bastakiya cultural center is “about as old Dubai as it gets.” Seriously, though, it showcases homes from the late 1800s(ish). Inside these homes are different art exhibits (including Dr. Taylor’s!) It was so cool seeing the inside of these old homes, and seeing Dr. Taylor’s finished product. After the tour of the cultural center, we sat down to a Question and Answer session with a very funny and culturally wise man who had a very approachable way of speaking and thus prompted us to actively engage in this cross-cultural exchange.  

After the cultural heritage tour, we had a nice lunch at a nearby Iranian restaurant. Since many of us were unfamiliar with how to eat the food, the owner graciously demonstrated by pretending to have Wael be his child. The owner stood behind Wael, cut up his food, mixed his rice with the yogurt concoction in a nearby bowl and spoon-fed him a few bites – it was priceless!

Once lunch was done, we headed to the Mall of Dubai. This mall (here I go using the same phrases again!) was literally out of this world. Every single designer brand you could ever want was here, complete with incredible window displays and security guards in every door! Oh, and casually there was a real dinosaur skeleton in the main lobby and an AQUARIUM inside, as well.

We quickly walked through the mall to get to the location where our Burj Khalifa tour would start. The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world. In a manner similar to Top of the Rock in NYC, we were headed to the “top of the Burj.”

I have to blame this next sentence on my bungee jumping experience: It didn’t feel all that cool being at the “top” of the Burj Khalifa. Now perhaps that’s because we weren’t technically at the top of the building (we were “only” on floor 124 out of ~170 floors, so there was still a lot of building above us). Also, we were behind very thick glass (and I guess the last time I was relatively high up, it was just air between me and the river/ground below!) Regardless, there were some spectacular views that could be seen from 360 degrees around this 124th floor.

After the tour, we got to go around the mall for a bit. We went in and out of a few stores, but by far my favorite part was just watching the fish, sharks and stingrays swim by in the aquarium (which is, quite legitimately, just there in the middle the of the mall for anyone and everyone to look at!)

We then headed to the area essentially caddy-cornered between the mall and the Burj. There was a man-made pond, which was home to a bunch of fountains. Said fountains, however, only spray water on the hour and half-hour, so we timed it so we would be there for the 6pm show.

And, in true Dubai fashion, this show was something else! The spraying of water from the fountains was timed perfectly with the beat of the song playing over the loudspeaker. To top it all off, the wonderful Burj Khalifa provided the perfect backdrop and the sun was setting, as well!

After two fountain shows (the 6pm and the 6:30pm) we headed off to dinner. Dinner was, quite legitimately, an Emirati feast! Sara (and the rest of the AUD organizers) really outdid themselves with this dinner! We were sitting in a restaurant that was on the water and had the most extensive (and delicious!) buffet imaginable. To top it all off, there was also chocolate cake. But this wasn’t just any chocolate cake – this cake (I kid you not) was dusted with real gold.

Once dinner was done, we took off our shoes and had coffee in a raised room outlined by sofas right near the dining room. It was the perfect end to an exhausting (in the best way possible!) day. 

TGT: 1) Wandering throughout Bastakiya 2) Delicious dinner 3) Touring the Burj Khalifa and seeing the amazing fountains!

Until next time,
~JK 

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