Welcome to my world - a platform for expressing myself

This is a place for me to blabber all that I feel, view or experience. I am going to put up some interesting stuff here and hope you find some value. All feedback is appreciated! More about me...


Some of the areas that would be covered :-

  • Informative - interesting facts and phenomenon
  • Controversial - views on political events
  • Resources - advise for preparaing for competitive exams

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

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Zipping Across Emirates - A Bus Ride between Dubai & Abu Dhabi

Since our stay in UAE last year, we have had quite a lot of acquaintances call us for information and advice with their plans for a Dubai vacation. We are always happy to entertain questions as it gives us an opportunity to share our stories and to some extent and for some moments be in position where we know something that the person in front does not 😈Now the fact of the matter is that most of the vacation planners consider Dubai as the destination and would plan around the city but when they talk to us, the capital of the country - Abu Dhabi - intrudes their itinerary and they try to accommodate a getaway to the city - a small or big depending on the time at hand. There also are those who have already invested enough effort in research and are already equipped with Abu Dhabi as part of their itinerary.

Travelling across the two Emirates - Abu Dhabi to Dubai and Vice-versa

One question is common in everyone's mind - 
How to best get across from Dubai to Abu Dhabi?

I would say this is a million dollar question given that the cities are quite a distance away and various factors go into deciding the mode of commute. It is good to plan ahead and not be surprised later - at least when the travel is between cities and so we sit down and explain the pros and cons of both the options. Since we stayed in the region for a couple of months, we used the various available modes to travel between both the cities and hence have a good idea on which of these would fit what requirements. When we have shared this information at least a dozen times, we finally decided to pen down our experience and advice for the greater good - we are the social engineers you know!

So how many options are available to travel between the two cities - Actually there are four, but three the most viable and recommended ones. We would hint the fourth one too in the trail section...

So let us talk about each of these options and our experience with them.

The easiest one is to take the taxi between both cities - Taxi may definitely be Sexy!

On one of our visits from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, we took a local taxi. Our hotel concierge arranged one for us when we called in for checking out. The taxis are available in plenty in both cities and it would not take more than a few minutes to hail one if you wait for roadside. You also have an option to call the company and ask one to be diverted to your location. Before boarding the cab, do let the driver know that you are planning to take the cab to a different city as sometimes they are nearing the end of the shift or are not ready for a long trip. However, in general, they would be more than happy to take you up as it helps them meet a major chunk of their daily quota. Drivers generally are aware of popular landmarks but are not too acquainted with specific locations so you may have to ask around a bit or have google maps handy.

Taxis - The Backbone of Transport System
The trip takes about 2 hours (a bit more if there is traffic) and the roads are immaculate so the journey isn't tiring. For us, the fare came to be about 260 AEDs which is okay for a 200-kilometer ride. The major benefit of this is flexibility in terms of when you want to leave and relative comfort of boarding your vehicle at the doorstep and being dropped at your destination. We loved the driver we had who kept talking and we loved the way he informed us so much about Dubai that we literally knew a lot about our destination. He would also engage us in various discussions on the way. So overall, it was a relaxed journey and we were pretty satisfied with this mode of transport.

Want to ride in more style - Book a limo in advance or Uber!

Another option to travel between two cities is booking a luxury sedan to ride in style. The added benefit over the luxury is time - these high-speed vehicles take only about an hour and a half to take you to your destination which is a huge add-on. We booked a Lexus vehicle for one of our trips from Yas Island, Abu Dhabi to Central Dubai area and it took us under one hour and 20 minutes for the ride. If you are in Dubai and want to travel to Abu Dhabi, you have an option to call-in an Uber - Uber in Dubai sends you all those luxury vehicles and we got another Lexus for our airport drop - we had a flight back from Abu Dhabi. These sedans generally take you back by about 350 AEDs but if time is at premium and luxury is your style - go ahead and shell out a bit extra. The only issue with sedans, in general, is you need to book them in advance and hence you are tied up with a said departure time.

How about some chic sedan?
Plush seats and zipping drive - not your thing?




Travel in true local style - Take a bus and save money and explore as a local

There is a Dubai RTA bus service that runs between the two cities and provides an economical way to travel across. The bus starts from two stations in Dubai and drops you at the Main Bus Terminal in downtown Abu Dhabi. The bus ride takes about two and a half hours and you need to add the commute time from and to the bus station. In all, I would expect something around 3 and half hours of travel time and some wait at the bus station. There is a bus leaving both the cities every half hour which is pretty decent for an intercity travel. So what's the benefit - the ride costs 25 AEDs one way and that makes this mode the most economical way to travel across the two emirates.

E101 - Travel the Local Way

The Seats - Nothing less than a Business Class

Abu Dhabi Bus Terminal - Internal Scene
There can be queues in festive time - so stay prepared



How is the ride you may ask us and we would say that it is pretty comfortable. We took the bus from Ibn Batutta bus station (right beside the mall). We traveled from our hotel in Dubai to the bus station using a metro and then boarded the bus. You can use your NoI card on the bus and if you do not have enough balance, have it recharged there at the bus station. On return trip too, you could use your NoI card to pay the fare or buy a paper ticket at the Abu Dhabi bus station counter. Buses themselves are plush and nice. They have been maintained nicely and are clean for the most part with push back seats and ample leg space. You can keep your luggage in the bin accessible from outside and, considering the low crime rate, be assured that it won't be mugged. The bus driver before leaving asks if someone wants to get down to another station near Yas Island and if so, the bus takes a stop en route else it stops directly at the Abu Dhabi terminal.

What other options one may have?

The ones above are the modes that we would recommend to anyone in general. However, there may be other ways to travel between the two cities. Below are a couple of them:

  • From multiple locations in both cities, there are these vans driven by locals who take you across as shared travelers and charge a fixed amount per passenger. These are good and economical but the way they drive should tempt you away from them. 
  • Emirates and Etihad run shuttles across the two cities to pick and drop passengers in the city away from their base airport. One may book a seat on them but needs to be super-careful with the timings and hence we are not so sure of how effective a mode these are - at least on the way to the airport.
  • There are also carpool options available and some apps have cropped up but again, until you know the person you are driving with, we would caution you to err on the safer side and choose one of the regulated means of transport in a new country.
This is how the van may look like!
Hopefully, these pointers help you plan your travel from Dubai to Abu Dhabi or vice versa a bit better and we are content that we could help. If you are inclined, we would really appreciate a word or two in the comments. If you wanna know more about the country or various things to do here, do visit - 

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Sunday, May 6, 2018

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Hotel Landmark, Pokhara - A Welcoming Abode

What do you look for when you are looking for accommodation for the upcoming vacation? There could be a lot of things depending on who you are but a couple would be common across - a decent facility, well equipped, comfortable, clean, serviced and near to where you want to be! Is there something very obvious that we have missed? Well, on our fortnight-long trip to Nepal, we discovered that the Hotel Landmark in Pokhara ticked all these checkpoints perfectly. Here is a primer from our experience at this facility - not a plush but a welcoming home.
Welcome - Reception At Your Service

The Red Building!

Location

If you in one of the picturesque locations like Pokhara, you would want to stay at a place which allows you quick access to the best that the city has to offer. This place does complete justice to that expectation! Located on the road along the shores of the lake that forms the center stage of the city. You just need to step out of the hotel and you are on a circular road around the lake - crafted with shops on both sides. The location is perfect for a leisurely stay when you want to be away from all the hustle and still be able to enjoy that evening walk along the lake. And if you care enough, hike onto the roof of the hotel and enjoy stunning views of the morning snow peaks of the Himalayas around.

Views of Snowy Himalayas are a Treat
Find out more about things to do in Pokhara at - Picturesque Pokhara – Enchanting Nepal

Accommodation

A well-equipped room with all necessities
A bath-tub in this price range is a steal...
Hotel Landmark does offer a comfortable stay with nicely set rooms and providing all basic amenities one may expect in a hotel of its standing. There are broadly two types of rooms - one overlooking the hills while others overlooking the central courtyard. We chose the later considering security aspects and that we could enjoy the "other view" anytime from the terrace - having a bath-tub in later rooms did make the decision easier! The rooms are adequate in size and are equipped with facilities which are at par with most standards - tea kettle, small refrigerator, study table, racks etc. The place was clean and well maintained for the most part of it.

Service and Hospitality

Cultural performance every evening breaks the clutter
This is not one of the starry plush facilities where the staff goes over the top to preempt your needs and address you by the name on your first entry, however barring that the service was impeccable. Since they had availability they showed us multiple rooms before asking for our choice and were accommodating to our requests for bits and pieces to come with the room. As we checked in, we were greeted with a welcome drink, basic information on logistics and invitation for the evening cultural show. Overall, we were satisfied with the service and welcome offered to us at the facility.

Restaurant and Food

While we are one of those kinds of tourists who avoid having meals at the hotels where we stay but we did try one of the meals at the restaurant. The meal was basic and something you would find at any decent restaurant - there are obviously better options around the Lakeside - but if you have to eat here, you may not be disappointed at least. The set-up of the restaurant is decent and themed traditionally - with comfortable seating and prompt service.

The restaurant is functional but nothing out of ordinary
While there may not be much in terms of facilities and "perks" but the place has all the components of a nice stay that one would look forward to during a vacation. The cultural performance during the evening - may be bit overrated - is a good way to engage tourists who may come back from a tired day-tour. This definitely is a place if you are looking for a no-frills yet no-nonsense accommodation with all amenities to make your stay comfortable.

Enjoy idleness in one of the terraces
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Monday, April 30, 2018

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Chokhi Dhani - Taste of Tradition in Style

There are restaurants and there are experiences - however, there are some restaurants which are experiences in themselves. That is what we would talk about today and take you to one such restaurant we came around during our stay in Jaipur - The Chokhi Dhani. We were in the city and were looking for spending one of our free evenings and all queries to locals regarding suitable options ended at this place. Having lived in the Northern part of India for quite a bit, we had obviously heard of the place and hence decided to give it a try. That is how the entire plan came through.

Time to Pay-up - Entrance Lobby for Ticketing
So the first thing to think about is Location and Logistics

The hotel cum restaurant is located near Sitapur Industrial Area - off the Tonk Road along NH8 - the highway connecting Delhi to Mumbai through Jaipur. The location is definitely a constraining factor as it is about 20 odd kilometers from the city center. As one would imagine transport would be a challenge for someone who is from outside the city. Either you have a vehicle and are on a road trip to the city and then the concern vanishes but if not - you have to carefully think through. Though the city has a good public transport system in terms of radio cabs and taxis and you can easily take one to this place, you may as well think of hiring a cab for the entire evening. The reason for the recommendation is while you easily get a cab to take you to Chokhi Dhani, getting a cab to return is pretty much a challenge as the location is relatively remote and away from most of the population. Activities in the area die down towards the evening and only a few cabs anticipating return business are available. We had to almost spend 20 anxious minutes trying to book a cab - at a time when the place was around its closing hours. All this is assuming you are not staying at the resort itself - if you are, all these worries are out of the door.

Time to Ride the Experience - The First Step
What is it all about - is it a hotel, restaurant or resort?

It is all three to say technically! It has nicely set up rooms to spend your vacations or conduct a conference and hence it is a good hotel. However, that is not what it is known for. The primary selling point for it is the theme restaurant that this place has developed - a traditional way of serving meals converting it into an experience. Given that the place provides you with an experience, a different theme of meal and place to stay - it can easily be classified as a resort destination itself. Having said this, if you really are looking for a place to stay, we would recommend something within the city rather than this far away - unless until you are looking to really avoid the city in which case Jaipur may not be the right destination for you.

What's different - why should you visit this place? A leaf from our experience...

This is a place with a difference - where the food is served in style - a style which is traditional - a style which is personal and - a style which creates an experience for the guests. The themed restaurant offers an overall experience where guests have an opportunity to go through a simulated village experience - each interaction picked and designed carefully - the idea being to replicate a typical Rajasthani village in the time of a fair. The set-up has been developed to provide the guests with all the traditional antiquities and raw flavor of the countryside. This was what we had signed up for and hence we were there at the gates of the Chokhi Dhani at around 5 in the evening.
Yeah - it may sound early for a dinner but dinner is not what you come here - it is an experience that you want to delve into and if you want to do anything close to justice to the extravaganza of this place - come in early.

A Look of The Village Fair
The entrance gates and exteriors - all finished in mud texture and rural graffiti on walls -  give away the flavor waiting inside for us. There are small openings in the wall - each having an earthen lamp which create a marvelous effect in the soft light of the winter evening. As we approach the entrance, ladies dressed in traditional attire welcome us with tika - a tradition where they put a mark on the forehead as a mark of respect and perform a quick ritual praying for you. Then you find yourself in a big hall with multiple ticket counters. You have multiple options primarily ranging from a traditional meal (for which you sit on the floor and enjoy a serving) to an international cuisine (served in buffet format). We would highly recommend you to pick up the traditional option as that is what you are here for. As you finalize your choice and move inside you are in a setting which resembles a village fair. At first sight, you may find yourself overwhelmed with so much around but there is a method to the madness and you can start circling from one corner and travel deeper gradually.

Best of Traditions - Serving Food in Style
Here are some of the activities that you may want to try out as you delve into this maze:
  • Enjoy the makke ki roti, sarso ka saag and a variety of other local delicacies served freshly from the earthen oven or chulha in makeshift huts - could call them food kiosks but the traditional feel betrays the English name. Try interacting with the ladies cooking there and you would see a different world altogether.

  • Kathputlis or puppets dancing on the fingers of their handlers is a charming sight especially for kids - the deft hands maneuvering the puppets on folk songs intermingled with a storyline is definitely a major attraction. The same kiosk also offers a stunt show where a young boy plays with dangerous equipment and presents a heart-stopping visual.

  • On a corner, there is a snake-shaped stage where an old man shows magic tricks and catches the attention of everyone passing by. Waiting for the show which happens almost every few minutes is definitely worth it.

  • Girls dressed in traditional Rajasthani attire perform various dance shows across the campus in small hut shaped stages - they are happy to indulge you to dance with them so definitely take a stab at it. The most interesting of them is the famed Kalbelia Dance, a performance where the dancer uses dangerous props to support the show - dancing on freshly broken glass pieces, walking on nails, carrying fire or a long chain of earthen bowls on the head are only some of the tricks shown

  • Fancy riding on a horse, camel or elephant or wanted to ride a bullock cart after seeing the countryside movies - it is all here and grab a chance while you can - though the lines are relatively longer especially if it is a weekend but the prices are pretty low and why not explore this in a village fair

  • One may not find much of it in deserts and hence take a ride on the boat across an artificial water stream built out for the purpose - the ride isn't long and you don't see much in dark anyway so you may not miss much even if you avoid this

  • Enjoy multiple showcases and exhibitions that happen from time to time - one of the interesting ones is the life-size depiction of the famous battle of Haldighati - an important event in the history of Rajasthan
What about the food and service?

As the night dawns and you are tired of all the activities, it is natural to look for food - a traditional dinner was all you were here for right! Right on the other side of where you entered you would see a number of huts, with markings, ready to host you for a sumptuous meal. Based on the option you had chosen, you may proceed to the specific area. The international buffet is generally in a closed out marked area while the on seat buffet is served in another enclosure. For the traditional sit-in meal, there are two options - one is inside the covered huts and other is open areas - kind of verandas or open kiosks - where you can sit comfortably - of course on the ground - and enjoy a plentiful serving. We obviously chose for the later and were ushered into an open courtyard. After duly hand washing ritual we seated on the cushions spread around with small stools in front of us - these were our dining tables for the day.

Enjoying the Spread - A Sit-down Buffet
One can easily be overwhelmed by the number of bowls and glasses kept on the stools which are going to all contain a different item. As per the Rajasthani tradition, the serving starts with sweets - or desserts - and then goes on with an item after another. You are served a variety of sweets - numbering more than 4. Then they start with the vegetables and curries - a variety wide and creative - all covering various traditional dishes of the region. The most popular among the items is the Dal-Bati-Churma - a mix of a lentil, locally baked special bread and a sweet - served together creating a wonderful texture and taste. While the food is definitely mouth-watering, what is special about this place is the love with which it is served on the platter. The famed "manuhar" or insistence is spread in each serving and the servers try their best for you to try various offerings in the cuisine. While the family love is difficult to recreate but in this age where top restaurants use the best available tricks to reduce the serving size, a restaurant which nudges you to have more or at least try everything is a special luxury not available everywhere.

After the multi-course dinner and desserts, it's time to bid goodbye to this wonderful experience. If you have your own car, ask the driver to bring it up or get it from the parking. If you are cabbed, begin looking for one as soon as you can.

Chokhi Dhani is definitely a class apart place for anyone to experience a holistic environment of a village fair in an urban setting. Some may find it a bit pricey but it is well worth it. Though we have reservations about it being a perfect accommodation for a tourist, it is definitely a must visit for any traveler or tourist touching Jaipur.

Here is a glimpse of all the activities you can involve with!

The Stunt Show
The Charmer - Magician
The Puppet Show
Bowling Alley - Countryside Format
Kalagram - A Shopping Arcade
Take a Camel Ride
A Boating Experience
Some Dance Moves .... with a difference

Have you been to Jaipur? Did you get to go to Chokhi Dhani? How was your experience there? What are your views on the article? - Express it all in the comments and feel free to reach out to us to help you plan a trip to Jaipur !!

In case you want to know more about Jaipur or places of interest in Jaipur, do visit the article on the city at

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

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Dialogue in the Dark - Dinner with a Difference

We have all been to restaurants and have all been pleased with the food. In fact, today, if there is a decently popular restaurant - it would serve a good meal. That has become a baseline as that is what the business is. However, restaurants need to differentiate themselves in terms of the experience they offer to the guests - that is how you get people to the door now. While the trend is up about having a theme which merges the names on the menu, the interior, the decor, and the staff - however, it mostly seems cosmetic in nature and provides limited appeal. During our recent trip to Hyderabad, we had a chance to visit one restaurant which breaks from the league and offers a unique experience - right from when you enter the door. Let's talk about our experience at - Dialogue in the Dark! 

Mind you, this is not a review but an experience that we present to you in this article.

As we searched for a place to eat for one of our dinners, we stopped at this seemingly interesting place which offered something we hadn't had a chance to experience. Given that it was located in a shopping mall - The Inorbit Mall in Madhapur area - just a 10-minute drive away from our hotel made it an easy choice. We readied ourselves and ubered to the mall and climbed to the 5th-floor corner which said the name of the restaurant.



What is so special about it - you may ask.

This is a themed restaurant where the entire concept is pretty novel and interesting. The food is served in complete darkness as you may guess from the name of the restaurant. The idea is that the entire staff at the place is blind and they invite guests to experience what it is to live in pitch dark world. Interested huh!

Here is more - our experience at the place

We reached the restaurant's front desk by around 8 in the night and there was already a hustle there. We imagined that it was a popular place and hence a wait was on the cards. There was a small wait but the hustle was on a different thing itself (let's get to it in a bit). Once you approach the front desk, the staff asks you for your choice of meal - there are four choices in all - a snacks platter or a full meal with an option of vegetarian or non-vegetarian fare. The menu for each choice is fixed and the meal is served on your table. After quick deliberation, we opted for a vegetarian snacks platter - partly because of the fear of unknown. We were not sure of how the experience would come out to be and how long would we be able to bear the dark and so hesitated in investing much at the start. We were billed and handed over the receipt.

Now, the server asked us to lose our mobile phones and any other glass items we had on us - watches, g, bags. This is what caused the hustle as we - and everyone else today - is not used to a life away from mobiles. Also, when you are asked to part with those belongings, your first reaction is to be alarmed. What was going to happen inside was a question on everyone's mind. The staff explains that the step is a precaution to ensure that the items do not get damaged inside the restaurant as you find your way in pitch dark. That makes sense! They provide you with a locker to store your stuff while you are gone and you carry your keys with you. What if they have another key outside? With an anxious mind, we decide to go with it.

Once ready, guests with similar choices are lined together outside the restaurant gate - remember the human trains from the school time. A staff gets to the front - this staff member is one from inside the restaurant - and ushers you inside acting as the locomotive for the train. As soon as you cross the doors - which close behind you - you are struck with darkness - actual darkness, one where closing or opening your eyes has no meaning - one where you are as good as without this sense of sight. The staff guides you through the darkness to your table and helps you sit - all through oral cues and a slight hand-holding if at all required. As you (un)settle in your seats, you cannot help wonder the sudden change in how your brain works. When there are no visual signs, your brain starts picking other cues and all the voices suddenly seem to mean something. Your other sense organs start becoming more sensitive to provide you with external inputs. You in a sense start living the life of a visually challenged person - it isn't easy - IT IS VERY VERY DIFFICULT.

A server comes to your seat and provides you with an overview of the facility and the story of the German mastermind who introduced this idea. The aim was to provide meaningful employment to the differently abled within the society. They are even happy to answer all your queries regarding the place and its significance. Our server Taobji was definitely patient with us and responded to all our queries. Post this, the food is served on the table. Again the server guides you through the meals and the items on the table. He also provides you relative location of the food on the table and helps you navigate in the unknown environment. The food was delicious and the spread was generous but that is not what was top on our mind then.

Once the meal is over the act repeats and you are ushered out of the restaurant in your own world. As you work your eyes to adapt to then new-found light, you cannot help imagine how difficult life is for those who are not as blessed as some of us. The things that we take for granted suddenly start gaining value at this moment.

Have you been to any such restaurant which is unique in itself? What's your take on the concept? Did the article make you feel like visiting here once? Drop in all your views, appreciation and critic in the comments and we would appreciate each of it. Let's work on getting you something new from another corner of the world and till then enjoy what is already on the portal. Cheers !

Dialogue in the Dark Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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Monday, April 16, 2018

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Big Bus Abu Dhabi - A Touristy Travel Across The City

Every traveler takes on a tourist hat at times and we too are struck by that streak at times!

Hopefully, the first line gave you the hint that this post is going to be as touristy as it can be. We had been in Abu Dhabi for over a month and had quite often seen two-storied, open roof bus plying on roads with groups of people seem to be having great fun in it. While we are more of that kind who like to immerse into the city and use public transport to travel around, this definitely intrigued us somehow and we decided to spend one of our weekend hopping across the city - truly like a tourist and experiencing something we saw others enjoying. This was how we started looking into the what, where and hows of the city bus tour in Abu Dhabi.

The Big Bus Arriving at First Stop
What and How to book?

As the research ensued, we realized that there were a couple of tour operators in the city which offered such a service but the most networked of them was the Big Bus Tours. They provide similar services across many cities in the world and hence we found them a tad more reliable than others. The Big Bus Tour is a hop-on-hop-off service which covers major tourist attractions of Abu Dhabi plying on a combination of two circuitous routes at a fixed time interval. The reviews online were decent and having seen their buses on the road we were inclined to take our chances with them.

Once we were settled in on the operator, the next thing was to finalize the best plan and get the tickets done. Big Bus in Abu Dhabi offers multiple options for tourist passes depending on the number of days you want to spend on their network. Generally the more the number of days, more are the freebies they offer to the buyers. We found the Deluxe Ticket - a 2-Day pass - to be the most valued-offer which allowed us unlimited travel on the two routes they have and allowed access to the Sky Tower and Observation Deck @ 300 (with a 50% of the access fee). We decided on the offer and checked the prices on their website. However, we being us - how could we have taken their price on the face value and spent some time trying to figure out the price at various third-party aggregators. We stumbled on a relatively new player which was offering some discounts for first-time users along with a reduced basic rate. In general, we would have been wary of such players but this one had good reviews on a couple of sites we trust and we booked our tickets online. In case you are not opting for a busy season - a weekend trip, you could also choose to pay while boarding the bus for the first time on the day of the trip. Alternatively, one could also book a trip at one of their kiosks - which are located in most of the shopping malls in the city.

To know more about the Big Bus Tour and its routes please visit - https://www.bigbustours.com/en/abu-dhabi/

Enjoy a ride - across the town!

How was the experience?

On the date of the trip, we decided to take the bus starting from the World Trade Center stop.  We found a representative available at the stop along with a few other tourists. The bus arrived on time and we started two days of fun-trip across this Emirati City. Over the two days, we were able to spend time evenly on both the routes. The trips did give us a chance to visit some of the spots which we would have not covered.

Here are some of the areas where we thought the tour adds value:

  • At Your Own Pace
    The Big Buses arrive at each stop every 10 minutes and one can choose to spend any amount of time at a stop and board the next bus (of course considering the end time of the service). This gives you a way to choose your pace and decide the amount of ground you would want to cover each day. Also, it allows you to visit the same spot again if you are inclined to do so.

  • Covers all the potential Tourist Spots
    Well, that is given but still, if you are in town only for a couple of days and want to go through all that there possibly is - may be obviously not doing justice to each of them - this is the perfect way to cover all spots. Their research in terms of places that a tourist may want to go seems through and hence you save that effort on yourself.

  • Live Commentary
    All seats on the buses have a headphone jack (headphones are offered complimentary) through which you have an access to a live commentary of the city of Abu Dhabi. Listen in to an entertaining and informative pre-recorded commentary during the tour. The commentary is definitely interesting and engaging, offering fascinating insights into Abu Dhabi's history, culture, architecture, and landmarks. The commentary is offered in 8 different languages. Don't worry if you lose your headphones - simply ask for one from the driver.

  • On-Time Service
    The buses are scheduled at every stop at an interval of 30 minutes and we found that the service was timely to most extent. We found the bus already waiting at the stop or arriving in time as we tried to hop on from across the city. There, of course, is the pressure from traffic during office hours and you may notice a few minutes of delay at times but that is all you are going to bear!

  • Top Notch Staff and Hospitality
    One thing that definitely they offer is the top-notch hospitality. All the drivers and attendants are courteous and helpful. They would do anything in their power to make your experience memorable. In their own words - "you've paid hell lot of money for this experience - you may as well get some value."  They provide complimentary water bottles and wifi on board – so you are hydrated and connected!
Free Wifi on Board

What's not so good about the tour?

However, there is certain education that you need to equip yourself with. They marginally misrepresent facts and to some extent showcase things that aren't. Also, to some extent, there are things which aren’t their fault but you may not get value for the money you spend. Things to consider include:
  • Limited points of interest
    There aren't many places to visit as such in Abu Dhabi. The only worthwhile place to visit as a tourist point of interest in the entire tour is the Grand Mosque and Marina mall area. A Yas Island tour is included however if you are not planning to go to the Ferrari World or the Yas Waterworld, the tour ends up being a journey on the bus. You would anyway not take a bus in case you are planning a visit to these as you don’t want to waste your ticket time on bus roaming around the city before reaching there. Most other places on the itinerary are exhibition centers, malls or hotels.

  • Misrepresentation or Lack of information

    1. They advertise a free access to the Marina Sky Tower – only they forget to mention that it is closed for renovation. This you only come to know when you are at Marina Mall asking for the way to the tower! And it is then you realize that the top of Sky Tower anyway is a cafe with free access.

    2. With a Deluxe Ticket, they advertise a half-price entry to the Observation Deck at 300 (Etihad Towers) which is right away lying. The normal entry ticket to the deck is AED 85 which includes a food coupon worth AED 50 (effectively a 35 bucks ticket). Now what Big Bus ticket gives you is an entry to the deck for AED 50 with no food coupons. So you are basically paying 50 bucks for something that a normal ticket charges 35 (85-Food Coupon).

  • Identification of Bus StopsWhile on some of the stops, there are representatives or kiosks, other stops clearly are devoid of any markings in terms of where the bus would stop. Many spots cover large areas and we found tourists scouting for the potential bus stop - especially if you are going to board the bus for the first time from the spot. I would say that it would have been handy if they offered an app based navigation to guide tourists. Learn from the city's transportation department - their app rocks!

In all a good way to go around the city if you have time to kill and are alone. For any group more than one and interested in the most iconic city places, a taxi may marginally come to the same cost and save you a great time!

Do let us know what you think about the article and if you have any experiences on the Big Bus or similar tours. Let's compare notes :)

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