Anthony & I knew that we wouldn’t be able to go home for the holidays, so we wanted our first Christmas together in Dubai to be epic. We decided to visit Ski Dubai’s Penguin Encounter at the Mall of the Emirates, so we could have a white Christmas in the middle of the desert. I booked our tickets on Christmas Day at 6 PM, and each ticket was 150 AED (around $41). We purchased the least expensive package, which included 40 minutes of penguin time with a group and a trainer.
We arrived about 90 minutes before our reservation, because we didn’t want to feel rushed through the boot and snow suit rental and getting our gloves at the ski store. Good thing we planned for an early arrival because Ski Dubai was absolutely chaotic. Guess we weren’t the only ones who wanted to have a white Christmas!
There was no drama as we waited in line to pick out our stuff, and we finished within 30 minutes. With about an hour to spare, we decided to stay close to Ski Dubai and browse the neighboring stores. Our first stop was Virgin Megastore, one of my favorite places at the mall!
There was a Virgin Megastore at the outlet mall near our home in California, but it was closed down years ago. But the one over here is thriving! Same with Borders bookstores, but that’s a different blog post. 😉
After Virgin, we checked out a huge sporting goods store and then decided to treat ourselves to Cinnabon.
The smell of the fresh cinnamon buns right out of the oven was just too good to pass up. It’s pretty fancy over here at the Mall of the Emirates. There are tables to sit at and servers come over with menus to take your order. 🙂 We ordered a cinnamon bun to share and a chocolate milkshake. Delicious way to start our penguin adventure!
About thirty minutes before our reservation, we finally headed back to Ski Dubai. After getting dressed and booted up, we waited in the designated area until it was our turn to go in. Truthfully, I didn’t get any photos of us as we waited, because Micah was NOT HAPPY with the snow suit, as I figured he would be. He looked adorable in it, think Maggie from The Simpsons, but he wasn’t having it.
Thankfully, he calmed down when it was time to go in… Do I have to say that it was FREEZING when we walked in? It was -4°C/ -28°F!!! We walked through caverns of “ice” and saw breathtaking ice sculptures before we were ushered into an area where we briefly glimpsed penguins swimming in their pool.
We then sat down on facade ice benches surrounding a little Gentoo penguin named Pebbles and her trainer. We couldn’t touch her because she didn’t know us, but she was so cute because she was trained to walk to the other side of the room, climb up a tiny hill, and pose on a rock next to guests while we took photos with her.
After everyone took photos, about 20 minutes later, we went to the next area where 2 bigger King penguins were waiting for us with their trainer. These penguins were much bigger then the Gentoos and were also much friendlier to strangers. There were two penguins in this area, a male named Jumeirah and a female named Squeaky (named because she squeaks a lot for more food!). Jumeirah spent his time walking around the group and checking everybody out.
All I could think of the documentary March of the Penguins, which, incidentally, made me sob like a crazy person.
The female penguin named Squeaky was the one who stayed still for us to hug, touch, and kiss! I didn’t really want to kiss her, but I figured when in life do you get the opportunity to kiss a penguin? So I kissed her. And she felt like a cold wet fish! I’ve never kissed a fish, but I would imagine that’s how it feels. 😀 Her feathers were wet, so they felt like fish scales but much softer. And she didn’t smell. So good on that! Micah wanted nothing to do with the penguins, so Anthony and I took our photos with her:
All in all, it was a Christmas that we’ll never forget. Despite the fact that we weren’t with our loved ones and friends, we still made the best of our first Christmas alone here in Dubai, and it was an amazing experience!
We hope everyone else had a wonderful Christmas, even if you didn’t get to hang out with penguins! 😉