We very reluctantly dragged ourselves out of bed far too early on a Friday morning to say goodbye to Kuredu and start the long trip back home via Dubai. The least enthusiastic I’ve ever been about a holiday coming to an end. We were not ready to leave it all behind yet, if ever. As a small consolation, we had a much more comfortable seaplane journey back to the airport. Apart from being suitably attired for the heat this time, this seaplane had air conditioning! We flew over the vast expanse of ocean and picture-perfect islands wishing we were arriving again. But no, we were soon deposited back at the airport, shuffling through the queues and back onto a normal plane.
A few hours later we were moving through Dubai airport, waiting to pass through immigration. Suddenly an almighty crash came from the direction of the large escalator we had just come down minutes earlier. A few years ago on our travels around the world we’d heard a similar sound. As we’d drawn close to the bottom of another escalator, we’d heard the terrifying BUMP, BUMP, BUMP that signalled someone above had carelessly managed to drop their oversized luggage. It was ominously tumbling down the stairs coming right for us like a cartoon boulder about to squish us. Luckily we just reached the end of the escalator in time. We hurriedly side-stepped just as the bag bounced past. A very narrow escape, and all the apologies following it down the escalator wouldn’t have helped if it had actually hit us. This time round we were well out of the danger zone, but that was definitely the sound of a heavy bag (and/or person) meeting the floor at speed. Fortunately or unfortunately, our view was blocked by a massive pillar, but we could see plenty of people either rushing towards the scene of whatever calamity had occurred, or scurrying away with horrified faces. Someone had definitely come out the worse for wear this time. We were ushered on to scan our passports and didn’t see the outcome. Hopefully just some nasty bruises.
A short taxi ride later we were arriving at our accommodation and being greeted with a tray of orange juices. Sadly the juice was so laced with sugar that it was virtually undrinkable. Unfortunately we had a thirsty toddler eyeing up the glasses. Giving him some was unavoidable once he’d seen them, the only damage control was to ensure that just a small sip remained. We refused the many offers to produce a glass for the Rascal while we reluctantly drank. The little traitor sipped my dregs and announced loudly to the enchanted receptionists, “Juice! Nice juice. Mmmmm. Want more!”. Next thing we knew, a third glass of sickly sweet orange was in front of a delighted toddler. It’s no wonder really, that he outright refused a nap and was still racing about our hotel room like a deranged lunatic an hour later.
Our stopover in Dubai was purely in order to break up the long journey home with a toddler, so we didn’t have a whole lot of time to spend. We took a brief walk along the creek. We walked back through a bustling souk that evening, to the constant background of traders imploring us to come back and view their wares. The following morning we woke to speakers droning from the mosque, and took a taxi to see the Burj Khalifa. Typically, we got the one taxi driver that did not know how to get to the biggest attraction in the city. After a lot of wrong turns he then tried to drop us off at the resident’s area. But eventually we made it to the Dubai mall where we decided not to pay the expensive price to enter the Burj Khalifa. Instead we purchased a box of delicious cookies and spent a couple of hours wandering through the strange spectacle that is the Dubai Mall.
We ignored the glittering array of shop windows completely. Instead we saw an indoor ice-rink, fake camels in the souk section, a giant fish tank, and fountains with silver figures diving from a great height. The kind of flashy extras you won’t find in a normal shopping mall back home. The toddler favourite was definitely the aquarium fish tank, crowded with dark figures lurking in the background.
Aside from that short trip downtown, we stayed close to our hotel. The shimmering heat beat down harshly as we wandered down to the cultural centre nearby. A welcome respite from the heat was the deliciously cool Arabian tea house which is well worth a visit. We were happy with the brief glimpse we got of Dubai. The big city life and relentless heat on dusty streets isn’t really our thing. The one big excursion we did manage to squeeze into our brief visit was a touristy desert safari trip that we enjoyed a lot despite being just one of the hordes of tourists all being served the exact same highly unauthentic experience.
After this brief taste of Dubai we continued on home. Alas even with the short break, the flight home was not pleasant. We had tried, but failed, to begin adjusting to the reverse jetlag. The Rascal was by now entirely done with planes, and out of patience for strange time-zone differences or noisy engines. He WOULD NOT SLEEP. The more I tried to help him calm down and nod off, the louder and more annoying he became. Despite having extra seats on this flight, there was no time to stretch out for a nap myself. Probably the biggest factor in the misery was that I, too, was totally done with planes, jetlag and little sleep. I was very thankful for the friendly stewards who popped by every so often to provide a diversion for all of us.
Finally though, we touched ground in Dublin. We were home. Ready to settle in for those long wintry months. Our tropical island days well and truly over. All that remains of them are some wonderful memories.