The flight was surprisingly full and consisted of mostly Middle Easterners and Malaysians. We found out later that most of the Malaysians were transiting at Sharjah before making their way to Mecca and Madinah to perform the umrah. Only a handful of Malaysians including ourselves were actually travelling to the UAE.
The flight was pretty bumpy especially over the Arabian Sea and we encountered innumerable air pockets during the last three hours of the flight until we reached landfall. The food served was pretty decent:
|simple and adequate meal|
At approximately 6.30am local time we began to catch glimpses of land, and an hour later we landed safely at Sharjah International Airport
|first sight of landfall|
|the excitement grows!|
We were finally able to disembark from the aircraft at around 7.45am and we got our first whiff of Arabian air. The cool invigorating morning air immediately lifted our spirits, and we quickly shook off our fatigue after having endured the bumpy flight.
We were shepherded into a waiting shuttle bus and arrived at the airport terminal a short five minutes later.
|the invigorating morning air|
|organised and orderly|
|a good mix of nationalities|
|small but functional airport|
|our first Arabic sunrise|
|serves mostly Air Arabia fleet|
|a short commute to the terminal|
We encountered very little problems clearing Immigration and Customs, and was glad that the airport personnel was kind enough to usher us through the “Gulf” citizens line that was shorter although we are Malaysians. We supposed that they wanted to shorten the queues that were forming, and we were grateful for their considerate measures.
exited the departure hall, and after freshening up at the washroom (Cat was amused
at the lines of women at the sink brushing their teeth!) we headed to an
Etisalat service counter to purchase our tourist sim cards. We recommend that visitors
staying for less than 2 weeks purchase the Etisalat Talk, Text and Surf
counter personnel was kind enough to help us set up our smartphones with the
Etisalat sim cards. He politely asked us about our passports, whether it was limited
or normal (in his words). We took his question to mean whether we had any
travel restrictions, so we told him apart from Israel we were pretty much able
to travel anymore in the world. He sighed and said that he was born in the UAE
but was not eligible for a passport. Being a descendant of Indian nationals, he
would only be eligible for an Indian passport.
As soon as we arrived at
Sharjah’s Al Jubail Bus Station 1
we discovered by pure dumb luck an express bus
that would take us directly to Abu Dhabi! The fare was only AED33 and it would
save us the merry-go-round we had earlier planned, with large cargo bags in tow.
As we left the
bus station we passed a large expanse of land that comprises a total of 36,664 square metres in the middle of Sharjah town, called
Rolla Square Park
|a place to visit next time?|
Along the way we took a couple of (very shaky) hand-held videos of our first glimpse of the vast expanse of desert, as well as the iconic Aldar Headquarters Building
It took us a little
over 2 hours to get from Sharjah’s Al Jubail Bus Station 1 to Abu Dhabi Central Bus Station
|this is the express bus that got us from Sharjah...|
|to Abu Dhabi :)|
Since it was lunchtime we lugged our large cargo bags across the street to Al Wahda Mall
to eat and rest up. We promised to meet up with Ginny and Sern after they got
off from work later in the evening. We headed to a large food court on the 3rd floor of the mall and had ourselves a sumptuous meal as we waited for Ginny and Sern.
|looks can be deceiving|
|what looked like a diminutive food court|
|hosts a large variety of restaurants|
|with all kinds of cuisines|
|from all cultures across the region|
|and Brendan settled for Popeye's?|
A few short hours later Ginny and Sern picked us up and after a hearty round of hugs and kisses headed to their lovely home in Al Reef Villas
. We had a delicious round of Iranian Biryani rice delivered to the home for dinner.
|happy jet-lagged people|
We will end our post here as we rest and recuperate, and re-energise ourselves for the adventure that lie ahead in the coming days. The gleam in the eyes of Ginny and Sern told us we were in for another amazing and exciting experience in the UAE!
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