Friday, January 3, 2014

TRAVEL | Abu Dhabi - Dubai 2013 : Couchsurfing in Dubai

Day 2 : December 26, 2013

10:30 am - Woke up a little late today. We had hangover from last night's drinking frenzy (if I can call it that way.

11:00 am - Sinigang na bangus was still good for breakfast (leftover from Max the day before). Dazzle had to go down and buy some loaf of bread. I was left inside pondering on the day ahead. I am after all scheduled to depart for Dubai.

1:30 pm - Dazzle left the house. I opted to stay and take a short a nap.

4:00 pm - I temporarily bid the house adieu. I'll be back after a day.

5:00 pm - I was at the bus station figuring out how to get to Wafi Mall. There are apparently two bus stations in Dubai, but I had to go Al Ghubaiba station which is nearer my destination.

At the bus I met this Filipino. He's working in a restaurant somewhere in Abu Dhabi. Anyway, the good thing about Filipinos when you meet them abroad is that you can rely on them for help. This time, I needed to call somebody so I asked to borrow his phone which he gladly did.

And this is also another vital skill when backpacking- being able to ask help from others. I'm sure not many of us can ask a complete stranger for help, but in a foreign help all forms of help is essential.

7:00 pm - The trip en route to Dubai is almost two hours. When I got off the bus, the next concern I had to deal with is find a cab. And boy, it was not easy! I had to walk and find a spot to catch one.

In Dubai, it's not so easy finding a cab- so it's important to alot ample travel time.

I was actually panicking. I am running late for my dinner appointment. But being the backpacker that I am, I was able to get to Wafi Mall on time. Thanks to the Syrian taxi driver (who needed some deodorant, seriously).

8:00 pm - Wafi Mall is an amazing structure designed after the Egyptian theme- pyramids, anubis, hieroglyphics  everywhere. The funny thing is, I couldn't spot Seville Spanish Restaurant. The only reason why I wanted to eat here was because of the salsa night, but unfortunately salsa is only every Tuesday.

So, instead of walking out again I decided to stay (despite of disappointment). I had to ask the waiter to call my friend on the phone.

You should know that it's not easy traveling without any means of communication. But I've lived up to this day without a smart phone or any modern gadget. But I guess I would have to purchase one soon.

Seville Spanish Restaurant is a cozy resto with Spanish motif and low lighting. Interior is mostly from wood and it looks really classy (see related review)

I took the liberty of drinking wine prior to dinner. My friend, Mark is late anyway. I met him through this couchsurfing network and decided to stay with him for the night (see related review on couchsurfing).

Meeting with Couchsurfing Host

9:15 pm - My rendezvous has arrived. Mark had to walk despite of his aching legs due to injury. I felt sorry for him.

Mark Angelo De Leon, 28
Finance Manager-Kraft Dubai
UP BA Alumnus
We talked a lot about couchsurfing and mostly about his experiences. It was my first encounter so I didn't have much to share anyway. I kept listening and it was truly interesting- meeting people from other countries.

In the Philippines, this will be really unthinkable. Letting strangers sleep in your house is seriously uncommon. But for couchsurfers, it's always the thrill of having people enjoy the comfort of your home. 

What I do remember about Mark's stories are the following:
- He went to Copenhagen (Denmark), Munich, Rosenheim, and Ibiza (Spain)
- In Munich, he forgot his keys inside the room and decided to go out and party all night long. The following is day is his flight at 8am, and the hotel staff was biking her way as if she's on the moon. Good thing Mark didn't unpack his things.
- He was the last to board the plane and everybody clapped when the pilot mentioned that he's in. Ironically, the flight was delayed.
- In Germany, he got served with spacecakes (you google it) and couldn't move afterwards
- Germans are brutally frank that at a barbeque party, a lady asked a friend if he wanted to f!@k (wow)
- Ibiza is a fantastic place to party where people get drunk and sleep on the streets (something I would have to think twice, as I've never really slept on the street)
- He's already booked for the year with all couchsurfers coming in Dubai
- That Turkish French tend to be arrogant
- Asian couchsurfers are generally polite

But what I really learned when couchsurfing are the following:
- Prepare yourself with anything (luckily, Mark has a nice place)
- Stuff yourself with the essentials (slippers, toiletries, blankets, food, etc. -anything that you'll need to survive)
- Be very considerate and polite (would be nice to give something to the host)
- Make sure that social skills are on and activated (as a couchsurfer, you are expected to mingle and not reflect in solitude)
- Arrangements can be done on length of stay and how to use the house (the other couchsurfers stayed max of 3 weeks- wow)

I'm sure I'll be able to learn more about couchsurfing in the future. But for now, I guess I would have to stick to saving first for future travels.

11:00 pm - We drove to Mark's flat. He was kind enough to give me an inflated bed, pillow and blanket. I never thought about these things when I decided to have a go with couchsurfing. I got so used to with staying in hostels- bed and pillows available. So it hit me on the head- ah, this is different now.

I don't know what time it was, but I had a really light sleep. I just felt that the other couchsurfer came. Our beds were beside each other and every move he made, every word he hushed- I felt. He was talking on the phone for some hours. And then he stopped and slept. It was already morning.

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