Is Dubai safe for a solo female traveller?

worlds tallest building
worlds tallest building

A lot of people that I knew had opinions about what Dubai was like. Many couldn’t understand why I wanted to go there and many questioned whether it was safe. I can now say that-

Dubai is one of the safest places to be a solo female traveller!

 

Yes Dubai has Shariah law but it’s a very lax place. A Disneyland of fun in the middle of some very strict Arab states.

Everyone in Dubai has money and a job. There are no beggers in the street and I felt very safe walking around in the dark. Even in the older parts of town no one bothers you.

The streets and malls are extremely clean and the city is fairly easy to navigate by metro or taxi. I would advise hiring a car in Dubai (if you can cope with the crazy driving!) because Dubai is a vast place!

Not once did anyone make a pass at me or say anything inappropriate. The people were all really friendly and helpful. Most people spoke English too.

The majority of people in Dubai are immigrants; they are mainly people from India and the Phillipines but there are people from all cultures and backgrounds in Dubai. You will not stand out there as a female travelling alone.

There is also so much to do in Dubai, most of it good clean fun. If you want to experience the nightlife there is always the option of going to one of the many expat bars. Be aware that there are many prostitutes in Dubai, (this surprised me!), but obviously they are harmless and only after the men. They don’t speak to women.

Remember that Dubai is an Islamic country, just treat everyone with respect and you will be fine. No sex in the back of taxis either….

People respect women in Dubai and women are well looked after here. There is even priority seating for women on the metro and buses!

Dubai is very Western. Western with an exotic twist.

 

 

 

Architecture in Dubai: Bigger is better!

khalifa model, Dubai

As you may have seen from my previous posts, Dubai has some of the worlds most breathtaking buildings. The Burj al Arab was not only the worlds first ‘seven star hotel’ but the worlds tallest hotel.  The almighty Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world! The impressive Palm can actually be seen from outer space! How crazy is that!

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Burj Al Arab

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Burj Khalifa

 

 

 

During my stay in Dubai I went to the interesting ‘Dubai museum’, housed in one of the oldest buildings in the whole of Dubai. There I learn’t all about the ancient ways of Dubai and how Dubai completely changed when they discovered oil in the Emirates in 1966. In 2003 there was the great property boom when Dubai started building extensively, making it un-recognisable to its previous Arabian desert state.

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Dubai museum, one of the oldest buildings in Dubai

When I was in Dubai I stayed in the older part of town: Bar Dubai which houses some of the older architecture in the city. When I travelled on the metro to the centre of Dubai it was quite surreal looking at all of the massive buildings. It felt like I was an extra in a sci-fi film! I found myself wondering ‘what is in all of these massive buildings’.

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Beautifully modern.

What do you think of Dubai’s architecture? Man made wonder or architectural manifestations of mans competitive nature?

 

 

 

It’s day 19 and I’m feeling homesick…

homesick, Sri Lanka

So far I have felt amazing on this trip, to be honest it’s felt like one big holiday!

I was origionally apprehensive about Dubai but I ended up falling in love with it’s exotic similarity. I was also nervous about my trip to Sri Lanka; a place that is not really established on the backpacker trail but I feel that throwing myself in to the deep end has done me the world of good.

I’m currently in Kandy, a mountainous region in the centr of Sri Lanka. The climate here is a little cooler and the architecture of the town is very colonial.

This has made me think about England. I feel homesick.

I actually feel a bit guilty about being homesick. I am having the time of my life and am blessed with different experiences everyday. I actually had one of the most exciting days of my life yesterday (I will tell you all about it really soon or check out my Facebook page for more info!).

I love travel but I’m feeling nostalgic about England.

Life is so much easier in England, i’ts very different here and very hectic. I miss my family, the time difference makes it really hard to skype and keep in touch. I’m also craving a proper sandwich. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!

So today I’m having a rest day. I’m not going to go sight seeing just chill at and near the hostel and think about my travels.

 

 

I have set myself 3 mini challenges. I actually completed one today- to eat rice and curry with my hands! (It’s surprisingly easy and it feels quite naughty!). The other 2 are; buy a fruit that I do not recognise and eat it and try meditation for an hour. I hope to try these later today.

How do my fellow travellers feel about homesickness? Do you have any tips on what to do if it hits me again?

 

 

First impressions of Dubai

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As I stepped off the plane after a long night flight I was transported in to another world. What fascinated me most was the men wearing kanduras and kaffiyehs . The long white robes and head-dresses that Emirati men wear. I knew then that I was in a place with a completely different culture than England.

 

 

 

I then navigated the metro  which was extremely clean and organised. I was also surprised to see that most people in Dubai were not Emirati or Arab. Most seemed to be from Indian and the Philippines as well as lots of ex-pats from every country imaginable.

Dubai truly is a cultural melting pot!

The metro had an optional separate carriage for women and children. I liked this idea because there is nothing worse than being close to a mans sweaty armpit when on the tube! As I looked out of the window of the tube I was mesmerised by the Dubai skyline. Everywhere was extremely built up and every building was beautiful and unique.

It felt a bit surreal, like I was in a place that was not real. It looked too manufactured, too perfect!

But I kind of liked it!

 

I made my way to the Hotel easily. It was situated in an area that seemed predominantly Indian and it was buzzing with life. Everyone seemed very friendly and I felt very safe there.

My first impressions of Dubai were of a safe, organised, multi-cultural place. I had a nap in my room and then went to find out about the real Dubai….

 

Has anyone else been to Dubai? If so what were your first impressions of this city in the desert?

Pearls and Passports is on the road!

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As I write this I have just arrived in my guest house in Sri Lanka after the journey from hell. Over 16 hours to get from my hotel in Dubai to this guesthouse!

I loved Dubai and I can’t wait to write all about my experiences there!

So far Sri Lanka has been a complete culture shock, sooo different to Dubai. It’s definitely the developing world. I saw houses with corrugated iron roofs as I took the train to Hikkaduwa. Such a complete difference to the opulence of Dubai.

So i’m going to take it slow and try to avoid culture shock by having a nice long sleep and starting afresh tomorrow  🙂

 

Saying Goodbye

father and daughter

As I write this in exactly 48 hours time I will be high in the sky on a plane travelling to Dubai; the first stop on my big trip. I am so glad that I booked two weeks off work to prepare. Everyday has been filled with sorting my (many) possessions and completing little errands for my trip. There is so much to organise! More than I could ever have imagined.

I have had my two big goodbye meals this week. With my school friends from Widnes and with my family. Both have been quite emotional affairs. Rather than being my chatty self at these gatherings I have been quite withdrawn and contemplative. I’m happy to be realising my dreams but the enormity of what I am about to do is starting to sink in. Watching my parents cry tonight was especially hard, as was hearing that they don’t want me to go.

I will be travelling to countries I have never been to, alone! I have never even been out of Europe before! I am well aware that many women have done a similar solo trip but mine is slightly different because i’m going to Sri Lanka as my first proper stop. A country without a set ‘backpackers trail’ like countries like Thailand. Saying that, that is one of the reasons why I was drawn to Sri Lanka; because it’s different and real.

Believe it or not i’ m still trying to perfect my packing list. I have a pile of clothes that I want to take but I know that I will have to reduce that pile considerably. I will be carrying all of my possessions on my back so it’s imperative that I don’t take too much. In a way it’s unfortunate that i’m a girly girl. It would be so much easier to pack lightly if I preferred shades of khaki and trousers rather than flowing dresses and floral prints!

I want to buy unique clothes when I’m away too so I want to keep some space for that or send clothes home as I get new ones.

Sooooo much to think about.

 

In the end I know that it doesn’t really matter what I pack. I can get most things out there; people want and need the same things wherever they are in the world! Even if something isn’t available people manage to get by! Most other backpackers will be in casual clothes anyway. I’m well aware that I’m already a fashion anomaly with my penchant for dresses!

Tomorrow I will be assembling my final packing list. I think what I am about to do will really sink in then. I’m sure that I will be filled with excitement as soon as I step on the plane. Until then I’m thinking about what I’m going to miss. Which is normal.

Everything will be the same here when I come back in a year. Just like I never went….

What I’m going to miss from home

friends, retro, red hair

Can you believe that it’s only 4 days until I leave! It has come round so fast! I have had a very hectic week with moving out, sorting all of my possessions so that they fit in a box room and planning the perfect packing list! As I said in my last post I have also been feeling very sentimental about England and what I’m going to leave behind.

So here it goes! This is a list of what I will miss from home when I’m on my travels!

My Family

I’m very close to my immediate family. I have always made the effort to see them as often as possible and rarely a week has gone by where I have not popped by for a cup of tea one evening! I will miss having someone to help advise me on what I should do and talking to people who know me inside out. We are going to keep in touch via skype but I will really miss them.

 

Little Leo

Leo is my parents cat and he is the cutest cat in the world! He is so affectionate and can make any surface look cosy. Believe it or not his favourite ‘bed’ is a milk tray box from Christmas! I hope to pet many cute cats in Asia though, which is part of the reason why I got my Rabies jab…

 

Horse riding

I started horse riding about two years ago and since then I have had a slight horse obsession; so much that I actually go to Adult pony club where we do things like braid horses hair and practice putting boots and bandages on the horses as well as learn about horse theory. I love the freedom of riding. There is no better feeling than cantering at speed on a beach or mountain. It broke my heart to have to give up riding in the last few months before the start of my big trip. One of my dreams is to ride a horse through the Australian rain-forest when I’m in Australia!

English food

I always feel a pain in my heart when people diss English food. Yes it may not be the most flavoursome or healthy of foods on the planet but surely nothing is more tasty than a roast dinner or fish and chips? I especially love good old Widnesian chips, peas and curry, mmmmm. I am looking forward to the food in Asia though. Especially in Sri Lanka where I hear that they eat curry three times a day! Now that sounds like my type of place!

 

Vintage Clothing and shopping!

You may have guessed that I like the vintage look. I especially love clothes from the 1950’s and 1960’s and I wear a lot of reproduction and original vintage pieces. Unfortunately real vintage is too fragile (and precious!) to take travelling and most of my reproduction vintage clothes are very heavy and crease very easily. I’m going to try my best to retain my style whilst I’m away though so I’m going to pack versatile pieces that look pretty and are easy to clean. I also want to see if I can find any vintage inspired dresses on my travels.

 

Work

What?! I hear you cry! Calm down, I don’t think that I will miss my actual job but I will definately miss being productive. I’m usually always on the go from work, seeing friends and my hobbies so my proper spare time is very mimimal. To counteract this I want to try volunteering whilst I travel to help local communities and seek casual employment if the opportunity arises. Saying that I may love having so much free time to spend how I wish. I want to work on this blog, practice photography and study the language, culture and history of the places that I’m visiting. I’m sure that that will keep me very busy!

The English/Welsh countryside

I think that there is nothing as beautiful as the UK on a sunny day (Which is about 10 days a year). I love the lush greenery of the British countryside. So much that in April of 2012 I joined the local young ramblers group in Liverpool. It was one of the best things that I have ever done. Because of the ramblers group I have been able to get to see the countryside in person throughout England and Wales and met many good friends with similar interests!

I think that the beaches in Asia and Oceania will be better than the beaches in the UK….

 

Red Hair

I had red hair for years but I had to dye it back to it’s original brunete colour before I start travelling. I have been a brunette for about two months now and I really miss red hair! I love how different and vibrant it looks. I love being an individual and red hair really made me stand out in a crowd.  Alas, after the infamous ‘Valencia incident’ I decided that it would be wise to travel as a brunette rather than a redhead. Being a redhead is very high maintenance and requires dying my hair weekly to keep its vibrant colour. Not to mention having to dye the roots every six weeks!

I will be a redhead again though, someday….

 

Liverpool

Fianlly I will miss my favourite city in the whole of the UK, Liverpool. Liverpool has everything that you could want from a city yet it has the small town feeling. It has an unrivalled nightlife scene and is full of history and culture at every turn. I love Scousers and their friendly outgoing nature. I feel extremely safe in Liverpool and I’m so lucky to have called it home for the past twenty two months. It does not deserve it’s reputation.

 

 

 

 

So fellow travellers, what do you miss from home?

 

Mourning England before I have even left…

peak district

The past few days have been an emotional roller-coaster. I have left my job,  packed up and moved out of a flat that I loved so much in an amazing city and I’ve moved back in to a box room at my parents house. (Only for 10 days until departure day) I never realised just how much ‘stuff’ I had accumulated!

What has surprised me is how nostalgic I am feeling about the UK. I have found myself looking around Liverpool and smiling, seeing it through new eyes. I have been craving English food like Sunday roast, mash, fish and chips and fish finger butties!

I find myself feeling warm inside when I think about how polite we British are, how we have a stiff upper lip and how we cherish good manners. The funny thing is that these are things that have annoyed me in the past! So I have come to the realisation that….

I am mourning the UK (Before I have even left!).

I have been ringing my mother everyday, making the most of what time we have left together. Soon I will be on the other side of the world and I won’t be able to just pop round for a cup of tea.

I am noticing how easy everything is in the UK. We have laws that most people abide by, we have freedom of speech, the shops sell absolutely everything and we never want for anything; we are always guaranteed a life without poverty.

I have realised how lucky I am to have been born in such a beautiful great country. It has it’s flaws of course and the main reason why I want to travel is because I want to experience the opposite of what the UK has to offer!

I want to feel free, for the weather to be warm and sunny, to experience different cultures, for things not to be easy and to speak different languages.

I have started being incredibly protective of the UK too, before if someone moaned about the food I would laugh with them. Now I vehemently defend it! It surprises me how people can judge a whole country on one thing. For example a friend complained that the sausages in the UK are horrible. Further investigation revealed that he based this opinion on the fact the he had a fry up in a cafe once and a sausage roll once. Come on! England has the best sausages! Bangers and mash, Toad in the hole and Cumberland sausages are national treasures!

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It has made me more determined not to make sweeping generalisations when I am travelling.

It takes time to really know and appreciate a place. It takes time to know a places quirks.

Who am I to judge what I don’t understand?

 

 

I love England’s little quirks!