30 December 2010

Ferrari World Abu Dhabi Part 1

Initially the first day of Abu Dhabi, my friend wanted to bring us for the tour around Abu Dhabi on the Big Bus Tour. Before we started long the day ahead, we need to have some breakfast first. My friend brought us to this place he goes once in a while for breakfast. It was an English pub style establishment called Mugs & Coffee. The cool thing about this place is that if you ordered the house blend, it is free refills. While waiting for breakfast decided to warm up the camera first.

I ordered the breakfast burrito.

Under the wrap it has sausage, cheese and egg. It was a good breakfast to start the day off with. Loads of energy for all the walking we will be doing throughout the day. We went to the Big Bus Tour counter and lucky the lady there was pretty helpful. She told us Ferrari World is closed on a Monday and we should go there today and take the Big Bus Tour tomorrow. So we took the free shuttle to Yas Marina Island and Ferrari world. 45 minutes later I saw this and got really excited.

I couldn't wait to get into the park to try out that monster roller coaster. I love roller coaster and such a big roller coaster attracts me like a fly to the UV fly zapper. Unfortunately the place only opens at 12pm and we were sort of early. So since got nothing to do, take some pictures first.

We got our guide and as you walk in, you see this massive funnel right in the middle of Ferrari World.

Within it is the G Force ride that is pretty much like the Solero Shot in Genting Highlands. Unfortunately it was closed for the day and we saw them doing some testing on it. Guess it was down for maintenance or safety checks. We wanted to go for the Formula Rossa which is the biggest roller coaster there but it wasn't opened yet. We were told that it was being tested by the engineers. So our next stop was the Scuderia Challenge. It is a F1 simulator and we had to register ourselves and wait for our timeslot.

We got a lap of the Yas Marine Circuit and it was a heck alot of fun. They used hydraulics to simulate the G forces that a person experiences while driving in a Formual 1 car. The crazy thing was that 30 seconds into the driving, I actually felt a little sick. However it was still really fun and more so when I was first after the first lap. They had bigger simulators that cost 75 Dirhams extra to ride. It is like the one we road but this on a much bigger scale. One of them is of a full size F430. Check the video around 00.18 Check out how much the car pitches forward on hard breaking.

The second simulator is of a Ferrari F1 F60 which is the 2009 F1 car based on the sponsorship decals as well as the smaller rear wing.

Too bad by the time I came back to ride the bigger simulator all the timeslots were booked up. After the Scuderia Challenge we walked back to the Formula Rossa and finally it was open.

I didn't know at that point of time when I sat the roller coaster but Formula Rossa at the moment is the faster roller coaster in the world. It accelerates the rides from 0 to 240km/h in just under 4.9 seconds using a hydraulic launch system that is similar to the ones used on aircraft carrier. It was such a rush that I decided to go for it twice.

Unfortunately the video doesn't show how fast it is, but one really crazy thing about this ride is that normal roller coaster or gravity coasters as they are commonly known, they bring your up a steep slope slowly and drop you down. However Formula Rossa shoots your really fast and in no time you are going down. So one moment you feel the G forces pushing you down to your seat and the next very second the seat you were sitting on is gone and you feel weightlessness. The effect was so crazy that on my second run, on the way down my chain was floating in front of my face and I had to catch hold of it before it flew off.

After all the excitement of Formula Rossa, we decided to take a break and did a few of the other lesser crazy rides. We first went for Cinema Maranello which is basically a 10 min movie about the life of Enzo Ferrari and how crazy racing was back then. With people coming up with their own concoctions of fuel and the sabotage.

Next was Driving with Champions, this was basically a motion master type ride where it talks about a young engineer that is about to join the Ferrari team. He was so full of ideas and he was bringing all his car plans for the first day and his first was "job" was to experience what Ferrari was all about. While they were talking, Fernando Alonso drives up in a Ferrari California I think and takes the engineer for a ride. The cool/stupid thing about this ride is that it is a 4D motion master. The seat shoots water at you and also as we drove by some flowers, you could actually smell the flowers. The smell and all was cool and the water shooting at you was stupid.

We had a late lunch and right after that we went for Fiorano GT Challenge. This is a smaller roller coaster compared to the Formual Rossa. This ride only goes to about 95km/h but the cool thing is that it is actually 2 roller coasters side by side both going on different tracks. It is called a Racing roller coaster because both coasters are racing against each other.

The seat is modelled to look like a Ferrari F430 Sypder and the most cool thing about this roller coaster is that it launches you a few times. In the old coaster you only get one big rush of speed when they drop you from a great high. This roller coaster has a couple of hydraulic launchers along the track so we get launched a few times during the 1 minute ride. It was so fun that my friend Jason Phua and I sat the roller coaster 4 times in a row. Twice on the left track and twice on the right track.

After that we went for the V12 Engine ride. While we were lining up, they started to hand out rain jackets and we could smell water. This wasn't a good sign and as we got into the ride, we understood why. We were actually sitting on a boat and the "track" was actually a "river". We did get wet a few times and the ride is about going through a V12 engine. So you can see a few stages in the engine like the combustion chamber, the crank shaft and the exhaust, etc. We thought it would be crap but in the end it was pretty fun.

Next we went to the Scuderia Ferrari Paddock where they have brought the trucks the Scuderia Ferrari team drives to most of the circuits and combined together it becomes the "entertainment" area for the Ferrari team and their VIPs.

The last free shuttle out of Yas Marina Island was at 5.50pm, so we had to go out to wait for the shuttle. This is how my friends look like after a full day of roller coasters and walking.

This is how I look like...

Took some pictures of the surrounding area as well. This place is really nice.

We didn't know but the shuttle had a few places to stop and pick passengers before we went back to Abu Dhabi. The first stop was the entrance to the Yas Marine Circuit and I had to a do a runner to take a few pictures.

The next stop was the Yas Hotel, now this is a fantastic hotel. The Yas Hotel was built to integrate directly with the Yas Marina F1 circuits. It sits almost in the middle of the track and to get to the main entrance of the track, you need to cross a bridge which actually goes over the F1 track. It would be a terrific place to stay during the F1 race but also I would think freaking expensive. Maybe when I am a Billionaire (Singing I Wanna Billionaire Song in my head).

That basically concludes Part 1 of Ferrari World. The next part will be basically about all the Ferrari Cars in Ferrari world. Stay tuned.

29 December 2010

Food in Dubai

We only spent a day in Dubai and since my friend is not from Dubai, he didn't know the good places to have food. So we just simple went into anything we feel like it. Food in Dubai isn't exactly cheap. Each meal averages around RM20-RM30 but maybe because we were eating in shopping malls and not the roadside stalls and "coffee shops"

We had lunch at one of the food courts and Dubai Mall. My friend was telling us this burger place is owned by Queen Latifah. However after some wikipedia, apparently she only owns a couple of franchises that is all.

Fatburger has this pretty cool way of ordering, when you make an order the lady at the counter will take your order and punch it into the POS System. Then once your order is confirmed and you made the payment she will shout out your order loud and everyone in the store will repeat your order out loud as well. Once in a while they will start singing. It sounds kinda lame but actually makes the ordering experience more fun. I ordered to the original fatburger with fries and they gave us this.

It a cute little road cone to tell the people serving what you ordered. I thought it was quite a nice touch compared to the normal numbers.

The burger was pretty nice and juicy. The only problem is that it taste almost like Big Mac. So there wasn't nothing special. My friend was telling me that all the burgers taste like Big Mac but I thought Wendy's 1/4 pound burger is way better then Big Mac's and taste different as well.

For dinner, we were at Mall of the Emirates and we decided to have dinner at this place with the view of Ski Dubai. We ordered food to share.

Unfortunately the food wasn't great. The chicken swarma was very dry, the peking duck wasn't all that crispy and the pancake to wrap the duck tasted more like naan. The pasta was pretty ok and the bryani was not too bad as well. It lacked a little of spice but it was ok.

28 December 2010

How you know you are poor?

You know you are poor when you can use this machine and you do not have the below:
  1. You do not have foreign cheques to bank in
  2. You are not part of the elite group that gives you Maybank Mutiara Damansara Cheques
  3. You do not have cheques worth more then RM10million dollars

22 December 2010

Dubai Part 2

After all the shopping and the tall buildings we were once again on the train heading towards the world famous Palm Jumeirah. Basically the Palm is entirely reclaimed from the sea in a shape of a palm. Palm Jumeirah is actually the smaller of the 2 palms and the second one is Palm Jebel Ali. The construction is such large scale that you are able to see the entire palm from a satellite.

While on the train we got a glimpse of what used to be the building that defines Dubai. One look at this building and know it belong to Dubai.

This is the Burj Al Arab, is a 5 Star deluxe hotel but it was referred to as a 7 star hotel. It is so expensive that I was told that even the cheapest room will set you back a cool USD5000. Oh yea they will also send a Rolls Royce to pick you up from the airport when you arrive. It is built on a man made island and it was the icon of Dubai. Unfortunately it has been over taken by the Burj Khalifah. Right beside the Burj Al Arab is the Jumeirah Beach hotel.

From this picture it looks like just any ordinary sail looking hotel. Nothing special compared to the Burj Al Arab. However from the top it is a completely different story.

You can see that it is actually in a shape of wave and apparently it also has an attached water park similar to that of Sunway Lagoon but much bigger scale.

Unfortunately there is no train into the Palm but we were told by our taxi driver that they are building one. We got off the train at the Mall of Emirates and took a cab into the Palm. Just as we got into the cab the sun was setting and it was a great opportunity to take some cool sun pictures.

On ground level, you can actually see the scale of development in Dubai, while driving to the Palm we passed a massive construction site.

I was told that at one stage, 75% of the tower cranes in the world are actually in Dubai. The Palm Jumeirah actually consist of luxury hotels, apartments and shopping malls on the "trunk" of the palm and then luxury house the "leaves". There isn't much to see but right at the tip of the palm, sits the Atlantis Jumeirah which is suppose to be a true 7 star hotel.

See how up ahead it looks like we are going into a tunnel, our taxi driver told us that at that point we are actually driving below the sea. The building right at the end is the Atlantis Jumeirah.

Now this hotel is so exclusive that they didn't even allow us to walk into the hotel unless we are guest of the hotel. However there is a "water park" at the side of the hotel where visitors are able to check out. It basically consist of another aquarium but much bigger scale compared to the Dubai Mall aquarium and apparently there is also an area for a dolphin show. We didn't go for the main aquarium but we did pay 30 Dirhams for the smaller route. Didn't take many pictures as most of the fishes were the same as Dubai Mall but they did have a gigantic wrasse. It is one of the biggest I have ever seen. If you do not know what a wrasse is, it looks like this.

I only took a picture of the very colorful ceiling.

After that we took another cab back to the Mall of the Emirates and the main attraction of the Mall of Emirates is Ski Dubai. Ski Dubai is actually a winter wonderland in the middle of the desert. It has a 85m ski slope and yes it snows in there. You don't really need to go far to see snow falling.

A little more walking around at the Mall of the Emirates which is one of the biggest mall in Dubai and we took the bus back to Abu Dhabi. I am so impressed with Dubai that I do not mind coming back to this place to explore a little more of it.

21 December 2010

Dubai Part 1

This time for our business trip to Paris, we took Etihad Airlines cause it was dirt cheap. Etihad stops at Abu Dhabi and we had an ex colleague working there. So me and Jason Phua decided to stop over for a couple of days to check out Abu Dhabi. 

First day in Abu Dhabi, we took a bus to the neighbouring city Dubai. The train ride cost us 15 Dirhams each and took about 1 hour 45 min to 2 hours. The first bus stop on entering Dubai is the World Trade Center near the Etisalat building. Just one look at this building and you realise the scale we are talking about in Dubai. Mind you that we are in a desert but check out the nice green lawn in front of the building.

On entering Dubai, it is like you are transported to a different country. It doesn't feel like you are in the middle east anymore and the scale of their infrastructure is amazing. We are talking about 6 lane highways in one direction and buildings that are huge and super modern looking. Just one look at the MRT station and you can see that they had serious money back then and it was put into good use.

Now if you think the MRT stations looks familiar, means you have been to Singapore before. Yes apparently my friend told me that Dubai hired the SMRT guys as consultants for their train infrastructure. Everything looks exactly the the SMRT including the card reader to read the pre paid card and even the interior of the train itself. That is a smart move by the Dubai Sheik and I always say Malaysia should hire SMRT or the London Underground to plan the train system in Malaysia.

Our first stop is the Dubai Mall and just as we got out of the train station, we saw the Burj Khalifah. The Burj Khalifah is at the moment the tallest tower in the world. Standing at 828m with 160 floors it is just under twice the height of the Petronas Twin Towers at 451.9m at 88 floors. So to imagine how tall this building is, just think the Twin Towers stacked on top of each other.

We took a bus to Dubai Mall and the first thing we saw was an gigantic aquarium in the middle of the mall.

Kinda reminds me of KLCC since KLCC also has the Aquaria at the basement of KLCC. Check out the roof of the aquarium.

It looks like they were trying to paint a dolphin on the roof. We paid 25 Dirhams to get closer to the action and walk through the tube.

Initially we saw like 1 or 2 sharks but walking into the entrance of the tube there were like 10-15 shark hovering just above us in the dark. It was a pretty scary sight and more so with the teeth on these guys.

After the aquarium we walked around the mall a little to see if there is anything to buy. Unfortunately I found out there were all out of my budget.

After all the walking in the mall, we decided to head outside for some sun and to check out the scenery. Guess what greeted us?

Check out how it it just dwarfs the other buildings around it. Just for comparison...

The buildings around the Burj Khalifah is also pretty stunning and if you just dropped me into this place without telling me where I am, I would not guess that I am in the middle east.

That concludes the first part of our Dubai visit. The next part, we will be heading to Palm Jumierah and going to a 7 star hotel.