Hong Kong is not the kind of city you visit without an agenda. Even if that agenda is as simple as sightseeing and shopping, you need a reference point to navigate the bustling city streets and crowded alleys. Fortunately, Hong Kong’s metro (MRT) is one of the best and cheapest in the world. Just purchase an Octopus card for multi-rides and map out your destination before you get packed like sardines into a subway car in this cosmopolitan city of 7 million.
Our travels this month took us first to Hong Kong before jetting off to Indonesia. A big city is always a welcome experience for this island-dweller. Hong Kong has an easy, cheap, and efficient metro that allowed us to do a ton of exploring in just three days.
Singapore has risen to become one of the world’s most technologically and economically advanced locations in the world. It’s a great place to wander and is a true walking city. The cheap and easy MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) system connects all the top destinations through a series of clean underground trains. Eating and drinking in the subway is punishable with a $500 fine, which is a key reason Singapore is so clean.
The ultra modern Dubai Marina and a romantic dinner cruise down the creek…
Dubai shopping centers, like most everything in Dubai, are spectacular and completely over the top. Dubai Mall is the largest in the world with 1,200 shops and restaurants. With the imposing Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building) right outside, you could easily spend a week in Dubai Mall taking in all the shops, souks, fountains, ice skating, and of course, people watching.
Just minutes away from the record-breaking Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall (largest in the world), is Dubai Creek — a throwback to Dubai’s origins as a port of trade. Wooden vessels still ply the working creek and a bustling spice and gold souk awaits visitors and residents in the mood for something, well, a little more authentic.
The newly built, old-style Souk Madinat Jumeirah was one of my favorite spots in Dubai, even if it screamed “Epcot.” Lusting over turquoise from Afghanistan (expensive), admiring the Burj Al Arab in the distance, and gazing at gondolas gliding up the canal was a perfect way to spend a hot and lazy afternoon. This attraction is just one more example of how Dubai tempers materialistic extravagance with retro-leaning regional motifs. Color me impressed.
If you love architecture, you’ll love Dubai. Riding the metro through the heart of the city feels a bit like being on the set of “Star Wars” (that is, if it wasn’t all CG). It was unreal. As you can see, the construction has a global feel with a dash of Big Ben, Chrysler Building, a taco (okay, that’s probably supposed to be a boat), and even dolphin- and candy bar-shaped buildings.
Abu Dhabi, the oil rich capitol. Abu Dhabi is a little less glamorous and populated than Dubai, but a lot wealthier and older. We saw gorgeous one-of-a-kind tapestries at the women’s craft village, got up close and personal with a camel, and even saw wild camels galloping through the desert.
Music by Rachid Taha