The buses in Dubai are actually very good. They’re new, clean, pretty frequent and best of all most of the bus stops are fully enclosed with air conditioning, which makes the bus system usable in the hot summer months.
Here are a few handy tips for other babies travelling on buses here in Dubai:
- Buy your ticket before you get on the bus. They are called ‘Nol’ cards and are similar to the ‘Oyster’ card system in London or the ‘Octopus’ card in Hong Kong. You pre-pay to load it up with credit and swipe the card when you get on the bus. You can also use these cards on the metro and water taxis. See more info about the Nol card here.
- Make sure you watch for the bus coming and signal for the driver to stop otherwise they will just sail straight past.
- If you’re with your stroller use the second door from the front to get on (only ladies and children are supposed to get on the bus from any other door than the front, but in practise anyone gets on at any door). Only this door has a little ramp that can drop down to allow access for strollers and wheelchairs if you’re unable to haul the buggy up from the kerb.
- Touch your ticket on the pad on one of the red boxes by the doors (all the doors have these, not just the ones near the front) when you enter AND exit! If you forget to do this when you exit you’ll be charged the maximum fare. (Sneakily there are no signs to tell you this)
- There is a ladies and family section near the front of the bus – but don’t think you’ll be able to get your stroller there – the aisles are too narrow (unless you have a very skinny stroller) .
- The air conditioned bus stops have real-time electronic screens to tell you to the nearest minute when the next bus is going to arrive
- Make sure you press the button when you want to get off. They do not automatically stop at every bus stop. The bells don’t seem to make an audible noise so it’s difficult to know if the driver has noted the ‘ding’
- A single trip will cost between around AED 2 and AED 6 depending on how far you travel. Cheap as chips!
Check out another post I’ve previously on transport in Dubai with a baby.
Did you realise that a baby’s teeth should be brushed as soon as they start poking through the gums? My Mum didn’t, so I’d had two teeth for a few weeks before I experienced my first tooth brushing.
Dad thought it was pretty funny the way I tried to suck the brush but normally when I have plastic shoved in my mouth it’s a dummy so I think I can be forgiven for getting a bit confused.
As Mum eventually worked out, a baby’s teeth should be brushed twice a day with a small amount of fluoride toothpaste. There’s no particular need for a special ‘baby’ toothpaste (although they are of course fine) but you should check that the one you use has less than 1000 parts per million of fluoride. Use a very soft toothbrush, ideally one especially for a baby (Spinneys stocks them with the other toothbrushes and also in the baby food section). In the earlier days of toothbrushing you may prefer to rub a piece of gauze or one of these silicon finger brushes with a little toothpaste over the teeth instead. These can also help relieve teething pain – a little massage for my gums.
We’ve found to start with the best toothbrushing position is for Mum or Dad to sit me on their lap facing away from them. Brushing my teeth whilst dangling me over the sink was never going to work really, was it? As I’ve got more toward toddlerhood it’s best to let me have a good chew of it first before Mum swiftly grabs it and does a proper brush of all the teeth – and gums where the teeth haven’t come through yet- for as long as I will let her.
Despite Mum’s best efforts to demonstrate toothbrushing to me on her own teeth she hasn’t quite worked out how to get me to spit out the toothpaste when we’re finished. All that dramatic exaggerated spitting she’s started recently to try and encourage me to copy her does make me giggle. I do quite like the silly song she sings every time we brush my teeth to make it fun so I know that song means something good, not something to have a tantrum about! Now, if only I could work that video camera…
It’s still too hot to be outdoors during the day and I needed to come up with an idea for a day out based indoors that didn’t involve a mall so I decided on a trip on the Palm Monorail followed by a visit to Lost Chambers aquarium in the Atlantis hotel and a spot of lunch.
We could have just driven direct to Atlantis and valet parked the car, but that would have been really boring so Mum drove into the ginormous Palm Gateway car park (free to park here) at the base of the Palm pretty much next to The One and Only Royal Mirage. We then got a return ticket (well, Mum did – I was free because I’m below the height limit of 90cm) for AED 25 and hopped on the monorail.
The monorail was great fun for me. It was very like the Dubai Metro (which one day it will join up with) or the London DLR (which it probably won’t join up with) but the outlook was very different. Great views of the Burj Al Arab, Marina and of course the whole Palm. The train was driverless which meant I could sit right at the front and pretend to drive it, although there was a security guard or two on board to check I didn’t run off the rails.
There’s only one destination – Atlantis - but there are two further stops in between that you can’t actually get out at as they were planned in the middle of developments (Trump Hotel and Village Mall) that never got built further than their basements. Anyway, I didn’t mind – it spun out the 5 minute ride a bit longer.
At the Atlantis stop (aka Aquaventure – the water park at Atlantis) we took the lifts down to ground level so we didn’t have to negotiate the escalators with my buggy and fortunately the main entrance to Atlantis was just a few short steps away.
Lost Chambers aquarium was free for me because I’m under 3. The regular adult price is AED 100 but show your resident ID (Emirates ID card, passport or driving licence) and adults can get in for AED 75. The staff told Mum we could spend as long as we wanted there but usually people do it within 20 -30 mins. However, I don’t do anything quickly and I wanted to toddle around practising my newly acquired toddling skills so we took almost an hour. There were plenty of weird and wonderful fish and sea creatures to look at, it was well laid out with interesting lighting and great photo opportunities.
There’s a fair choice of places to have lunch in Atlantis and we were tempted by Kaleidoscope – a reasonably priced family buffet style restaurant- but as Mum didn’t fancy trailing around a buffet to fill our plates with me running away from her, we decided to slum it in Starbucks which was at least quick and cheap. There was also a fast food burger place (TBJ) and an asian food quick stop type restaurant – Asia Republic- in a semi food court area. As well as this there are of course the posher restaurants such as Seafire, Rostang, and Saffron to name but a few.
If you’re looking for something else to do on the Palm, have a look at my post on Al Ittihad Park. I also recommend this website on the Palm Monorail for more information. If you’re driving to the Palm Monorail station car park it’s easy to see (a huge huge brown building on the mainland close to the road onto the Palm) but it’s very easy to miss the entrance to it! When driving on the Al Sufouh Road towards the Marina, drive as if you were going to take the Palm turning (just after the Nakheel offices entrances) but go straight ahead and immediately after the turning for the road onto the Palm is the turning for the car park on your right – very easy to drive straight past it so slow down! Drive into the car park and go up to level 3.
It’s still just about cool enough to enjoy have my lunch outside as long as there’s some shade and whether you’re in Dubai on holiday or you live here you’ll probably agree it’s always nice to have a view too.
So for discerning babies, here’s some inspiration Read more…
Considering its massive size, Mushrif Park is not a park that’s often talked about but bearing in mind its far out location (beyond Mirdif) perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. We went in the middle of the day during the week and it was totally deserted. In fact other than gardeners and park wardens we saw absolutely no one else at all.
After hearing it recently described as ‘barren’ by one of Mum’s friends (well that’s the publishable description anyway) I wasn’t getting too excited beforehand, but although it’s fair to say it is a ‘desert park’ (rather than the much more lush Creek Park or Safa Park), it was certainly worth a visit.
The highlight of my trip was a wander around the International Village (not to be confused with Nakheel’s International City development, nor Global Village next to the Arabian Ranches). The park’s International Village is a small but shady area in the centre of the park with traditional houses from around the world. They’re not full sized but they are just big enough to walk inside and I can imagine once I’ve mastered walking I will really enjoy toddling in and out of them.
Next to the village was a rather sorry looking animal pen with several rabbits, pigeons and a peacock all in together- it seemed a bit pointless and sad, but the rabbits with their babies were cute, I admit.
Elsewhere in the park there’s the usual unappetising Malik Burger cafe, a swimming pool, several average looking playground equipment areas, barbecue areas, a cycle track and, most excitingly, an equestrian centre. We didn’t go in but if I were a bit older it would be great to hire a horse here and trot round the bridle paths. (Click here for more information about riding in Mushrif Park) As the park is quite undulating in places it would be great for mountain biking.
I would definitely advise bringing a car- not just because it’s nowhere near any public transport and you would probably struggle to get a taxi- but because it’s so huge you really need a car just to get around it.
Admission is AED 10 per car or AED 3 per individual. There’s no ladies days and no dogs allowed.
From the E111 heading towards Sharjah, take the next major turning to the right after the turn off for Mirdif City Centre Mall (D89). Head under the under pass and the park is further up the road on the right hand side. It’s well signposted.
A Dubai summer will guarantee you have a real challenge to avoid overheating in the back seat. However, there’s a few things you can do to make sure your baby is as comfortable back there as possible:
- The most obvious one is air conditioning. Not all cars have an AC vent in the rear so if you’re in the market to buy a car this might be something to put on your checklist. Before the summer really kicks in it can be worth taking your car for an AC service as from time to time the gas in the AC system will need changing. A check over at a garage or service station is only around AED 200 – 300 and will make sure it’s working at its best when it’s needed most.
- Recirculate the air in the car so the AC is cooling down air that’s already cool, not working flat out cooling the hot air from outside.
- When you get in a car that’s been parked in the sun the air inside is much hotter than the outside so give your AC a helping hand and open your front windows for a minute to let the really hot air escape.
- A heavy tint on your rear passenger windows reflects infra-red rays and can make a significant difference to the air temperature. It does need replacing every few years though and beware not to go too dark or you’ll find yourself paying to get it removed when you next register your vehicle.
- If you don’t want to go for a tint, window shades can help. You can get retractable ones like this or similar ones are also available from Mothercare, but check that they’re not obstructing the driver’s visibility. Shades or tint are also great for privacy if you want to breastfeed in the back of the car. Just be careful not to try and open the electric windows with a shade attached (like Mum often does).
- Parking under shade reduces the temperature in the car by 5C compared with parking in the full sun. If it’s not possible at least use a windscreen shield to pop on your dashboard.
- Always always keep bottled water in the car in case you break down in the summer. Remember to replace it fairly regularly as the heat can make chemicals leach out of the plastic bottle and into the water. (see my post on drinking water) A bottle of water can also come in handy to top up your windscreen fluid if you get caught in a sandstorm.
- Leather seats can be excrutiatingly hot on little bare feet, especially when you’re in a rear facing car seat and you like to press your toes into the leather. Drape a muslin or blanket across the seat, but just be careful not to let it interfere with the fixing of the car seat.
- Most Maxi Cosi car seats have an optional fabric cover you can attach which are less sweaty in hot weather. I have a ‘summer cover‘ for my Maxi Cosi Pebble which is cooling in summer and machine washable too. If you choose a car seat which does not have ‘summer cover’ then consider getting one in a lighter coloured fabric.
- Keep a water spray in the car for an instant cool down. You can either buy an empty spray bottle which you can refill (like this one from Boots) or you can buy something like the Evian aerosols from a pharmacy or supermarket. On very hot days don’t leave the aerosols in the car or they can explode in the heat. If, like me, your baby is not so impressed at having a mist sprayed in his face you could spray a flannel or muslin and pat his little forehead cool with it.
- Most importantly keep everyone well hydrated. If breastfeeding, allow extra time to park up in a safe place or make sure your baby has water in his bottle / sippy cup.
- Don’t be in the habit of running low in petrol – it’s no fun getting stranded in the summer and with no AC it could quickly become a dangerous situation for a young baby.