After a leisurely morning at our hotel, our first order of business is to find some lunch at The Dubai Mall. Known as the largest mall in the world, there is certainly no shortage of restaurant and cafe options for those with grumbling bellies. We knew we were going to the right place.
The first thing I notice upon entering is the aquarium. Whilst casual shoppers stroll leisurely past the stores on one side, rays, fish and sharks swim by in their own little world directly opposite. This stretches on for quite a while, and is gorgeously relaxing. I try to visit an aquarium at every country I go to - it's one of my favourite pastimes. Ever. Is there anything more peaceful, awe-inspiring and other-worldly?
One of my rules when entering a new place, whether it be a mall, mosque, hotel, restaurant, bar or museum, is to always look up. I'm glad I do, for I am rewarded with a beautifully starry night sky.
We eat at pretty much the first restaurant we come across. Sushi is on our minds, and excellent sushi (and sashimi) we have, at Katsuya. Next on our agenda: more mall exploration. Well, what?! You could easily spend a full day here and not see every corner! I love a good mall. It reminds me of home (Shanghai), where super malls and food courts are aplenty.
A few hours later, we take a cab back to the hotel for a late afternoon snack of birthday cake, kindly provided by the PH for Jarv's 30th, and a few hours by the pool.
For dinner, we are heading to the sexy, sophisticated Armani hotel, which is situated inside the Burj Khalifa.
If you're looking for quality, delicious Indian food (much more refined and healthier than the takeout kind, might I add) and impeccable service, go to Amal. The staff training is impressive - when I get up to go to the bathroom, our waiter steps over to politely ask Jarv how the meal is going and 'entertain' him until my return. When he spots me walking back, he continues conversing with Jarv as he pulls out my chair, unfolds my napkin for me to re-place on my lap, and neatly finishes up the conversation to leave us to it. Now that's good service.
During our meal, we also have a direct view of the fountain shows that take place nightly from around 7pm onwards (every half an hour). Photos weren't really coming out well as the reflection of the open kitchen behind us was quite bright, but trust me - if you're booking there, ask for a table with a fountain view.
We finish off the night checking out a few bars. One, Bahri Bar, has a great view of the Burj Al Arab, but I wouldn't recommend it, personally. Live pop music, which gets an A for effort but unfortunately comes off a little like an awkward karaoke session, and simply WAY too many people crammed in together, mostly - it seems - all expats aiming to get drunk before finding a club for the night. People rave about it, though, so perhaps that was just our one-time experience.
A wild golf cart ride (this was the least blurry picture of the lot), another drink at another rooftop bar, and day one concludes with smiles as we flop, exhausted, into bed.