Saturday, October 6, 2012

Travel Diaries - Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. [Part 2]

What seemed to be an endless tour the day before (and a late night filled with fine food and hotel exploring), it was a very early start for the second part of our U.A.E. tour.  I was probably more excited for Abu Dhabi than Dubai because the focus was less focused on crazitecture (cray cray architecture) and more focused on the rich history and the traditional customs of the Islamic world.

But before I splurge on, I must mention the breakfast at Yas Hotel or rather the hotel itself. The Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi Hotel is the first time I experienced the luxury that comes with staying at a five star hotel. Being a complete novice when it comes to the hotel lifestyle, I forgot to check out the rooftop swimming pool before preparing for the group dinner from the night before. So I missed out on the views from the rooftop and the opportunity to be a complete diva while lounging on one of the pool side outdoor chaise. Being a typical tourist, checking out the hotel rooms which my friends are scatterd throughout the hotel in was the first thing that accord to me. As we were all architectural study students, the main comparison discussion points revolved around the view and the bathroom. Depending on the location of your room, some windows were blocked by the panels from the Grid Shell and the structure holding it up. (Solar shading device maybe?) One thing is for sure is that, with the lights turned on for each panel, the Yas Hotel is definitely one of the more groovy icons in the landscape...a.k.a the desert. Those that were lucky enough to get the rooms up top that wasn't blocked by a giant pixel got a glimpse of Ferrari World in the distance. Le Fancy~ Once again, the dust storm impacted on the hotel so when you looked out from the glass viewing platform, everything is obscured by dust. The glass cleaning business in U.A.E. must be booming. The other discussion point revolved around the bathroom which was mixed with hilarity and bemusement. Glass walls for bathrooms became the number one enemy on the trip because most of the time one would find themselves sharing a room with a not so close classmate. Awkward moments ensue.

The hotel is built over a F1 race circuit as as you are dining at one of their fine restaurants, the view is over the race track and the marina. Being too tired from the night before, I forgot how good last nights dinner was and the types of food available. (Long story short, there was a slight confusion with one dish that night which could have been called "chicken nibbles" or "chicken liver." Being Asian it didn't really matter since we eat just about anything anyway but caused a bit of a kerfuffle with those with a more limited palette. In conclusion, I wasn't wearing the right pants for breakfast. The spread for breakfast was epically long. The variety was spectacular and from the photo... well I tried to get a bit of everything. I ended up sharing bits and pieces with my friend in hopes I could save some room to try something else. (side note: the mango smoothie was amazing -  smooth, creamy, mango-y with no annoying bits or ice) Let's just say, it left a very beautiful memory in all our minds and probably gave us all food babies for the rest of the day.

One niggly thought that still plagues me is the balcony. For some bizarre reason, the door to it was nailed shut even though there were chairs outside which suggested that the balcony can be occupied. After a chat with a friend we concluded on two possibilities:

1. The hotel isn't finished yet - some what unlikely
2. They realized the impact of dust storms which makes balconies a hazardous feature for each hotel room.

Enough of that for now, back to the tour...

First destination for day two (more like half a day before a mad rush to Dubai Airport for our flight to Milan) of the U.A.E. tour was to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. This required a quick wardrobe change into more conservative clothes hence short-shorts went back into my luggage bag and back into jeans. A slight delimma because of the heat and because I didn't pack a long skirt... not like I own one anyway. Thankfully this was remedied by the tour bus air conditioner turned to full blast. (Yes, hypocritical, when we call advocate for sustainability.)

A formidable presence from both near and far, its possibly the only building that is not impacted by the dust storm. Meticulously maintained everyday, workers move from one section of the mosque to another to preserve its pristine condition as well as mend any damage incurred by tourists everyday. Every inch of the place was opulent. Smooth marble mosaics with precious stones and gold plated surfaces that are truly incredible. It's really worth taking a booked guided tour around the mosque because the guide that we had for our class was very informative and a natural stand up comedian. It was a real eye opener going into such a religious place and getting the chance to learn about the customs and history of the Islamic culture. Before entering the courtyard, all of the women were given a black burka to wear. Weird thing was it did not feel hot wearing it, though the head scarf kept threatening to slip off (which it did a few times without me even realizing ..but then I have black hair so it all just blends anyway). Before entering the mosque, shoes are removed and we were presented with grandeur.

One of the largest chandeliers I've ever seen and intricate hand knotted wool carpets lined the floors. Cool fact -  the wool used for the carpet was from New Zealand. Inside it was very cool due to the thermal mass quality of the thick marble walls. But there were also hidden extractor fans between the four columns at the that held up the archway just in case the interior became too hot.

The tour took longer than expected so we had to skip Masdar City in order to get to the airport in time. YEAH I WAS PISSED!!! It was the one thing I looked forward to the most and we couldn't even see the technological innovations and the city's sustainable buildings.

And to this day I'm still guttered about it...

I end this post with some silly looking buildings. {rage quit} Next stop - Milan

 Left: Capital Gate - RMJM Dubai
Right: Al Dar Headquarter


  1. YEAH I WAS PISSED!!! It was the one thing I looked forward to the most and we couldn't even see the technological innovations and the city's sustainable buildings.

    Khalifa City A

  2. That is one magnificent architectural design there. It just look so awesome.

    property shop real estate