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Photo TR: Coasters and Culture of the UAE!


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Hey everyone!

 

My friend Keith Kelly (chip422) and I recently returned from a fantastic adventure to the United Arab Emirates for some amazing parks and culture (and a break from the nasty winter!). Our primary goal was to ride Formula Rossa, but we experienced so much more during our week in the country. In this Trip Report, I hope to capture all of the wonderful things we saw and amazing things we experienced. I hope you all enjoy!

 

Part 1: Festival City Mall and Funfair, Adventureland Sharjah, and Emirates Palace Hotel

 

We flew into Dubai International on 2/26 and arrived after dark. The only thing we had planned for the evening was to visit the Hard Rock Cafe at Festival City Mall, but on the way, I spotted a coaster behind the mall! It took quite a bit of exploring to get to the Funfair, but we rode a surprisingly good Looping Star. I love surprise credits!

 

In the morning, we made the drive to Sharjah to visit our first official park, Adventureland! First off, the drive from Dubai to Sharjah is awful. If you're driving to this park, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get here (or anywhere else in Sharjah, for that matter). The park may not look like much from the outside, but this park is great! It's themed amazingly, considering that it's just some tiny mall park, and the coasters are fantastic! Kukulcan and Rocket Cycles are (in my opinion) easily the best coasters in the country behind Formula Rossa! If you ever visit the UAE, I definitely recommend visiting Adventureland!

 

After our visit, we made the drive down to Abu Dhabi. The first thing on our to-do list was to visit the Emirates Palace Hotel. This hotel is simply GORGEOUS and should not be missed! The detail on the inside is simply stunning. Don't forget to check out the Gold ATM machine!

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First off, the Hard Rock Cafe! We didn't eat here, but we did get souvenirs.

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The Festival City Mall looks great from the outside.

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I was shocked by how much nicer this mall was compared to American malls. But there were still plenty of other malls to visit this week!

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Surprise credit!

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The Funfair was pretty challenging to find. With the lack of signs and heavy construction going on, it ended up being quite a hike to get back here!

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We were surprised by how well this ride ran compared to others. It wasn't very rough and was a pretty good coaster.

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We first assumed this traveler originated in Europe, but its home base is here in Dubai.

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For being in a parking lot, this Funfair is pretty nice.

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I've heard good things about Tagadas on TPR. Too bad this one was closed.

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Wandering around, we came across this Wacky Worm, but it was only for kids. Oh, well.

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Good morning, Dubai Creek!

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All of the boats are getting ready for the day's work.

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After breakfast, we ventured to the rooftop pool to take pictures of the city. Dubai has such an interesting skyline!

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It's hard to comprehend how tall the Burj Khalifa really is until you see it in person.

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I hear Dubai is starting to become a growing cruise port.

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The Persian Gulf off in the distance.

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Fast forward to Adventureland! The rides here are really crammed into small spaces.

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It's remarkable that they were able to fit so many rides in here. Adventureland was one of the smaller indoor parks we visited.

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The supports for Rocket Cycles are definitely unique.

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But don't forget Kukulcan and Forest Train!

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These coasters are easily the best powered coasters I've ever ridden.

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Nerd shot!

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The stations for these two coasters are right on top of each other.

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That helix is insane.

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I'm not sure I want to know his plan for that vine.

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The attention to detail here was amazing. I honestly didn't notice the decorative paint on these supports until I was going through my pictures!

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Take this guy's advice: skydiving into the mall is easier than driving here!

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I thought this little ride was adorable.

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Goodbye, Adventureland! I'll definitely be back next time I'm in the UAE!

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The Rotundra is beautiful.

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If only I had the money to stay here! Oddly enough, I believe it's actually more expensive here than the Burj al-Arab.

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Just like in Adventureland, the attention to detail is simply amazing. This was a common theme in this country.

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A Gold ATM! The cheapest thing in here was approx. $120. You can find these in the Burj al-Arab and the Dubai Mall as well.

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This is (part of) the bar in the lobby. Here in the UAE, alcohol can only be served in bars attached to hotels (with some exceptions). I think it's the same for pork products, too. Remember, we're in an Islamic country.

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No expense was spared when they built this hotel.

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In case you forgot what country we're visiting.

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The stairs walking up to the hotel.

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In America, these fountains would be filled with people trying to cool off. That's definitely not going to happen here!

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After a moderate drive, we arrived in Abu Dhabi. The Emirates Palace Hotel is simply gorgeous! A special thanks to the van who photo-bombed me.

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This is the fancy gate for the hotel. Unless you're the Emir, you're not coming through this gate!

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But you do get a beautiful view of the hotel.

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That's it for Part 1! Stay tuned for my next update: Marina Mall, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, and ALL THREE Sparky's FEC's in Abu Dhabi!

Edited by GwaziBSRider1
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Can't wait to see more, love the UAE! Adventureland is a really cute indoor FEC and I wish we had quality ones like that in America.

 

Thanks, Elissa! I agree; Adventureland is one of the best FECs I've visited. I'd love to see a park like it here in the US, especially with a clone of Rocket Cycles!

 

Are any of the big Dubailand parks actually being built besides IMG?

 

Yes, but not the same ones as before the bust. Dubailand itself is now mostly a residential area, but some of the projects have been reworked and will be built in a different place. I'll be sharing some detail on some of these projects in later updates.

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I see these pictures and am amazed that this is in an arab country. You see how extremely conservative most middle eastern nations are and then you see this. This place looks so much like what you would find in western nations as far as modern cities and entertainment. It's refreshing to see a country in this region not be so uptight. They truly love to bring in the tourists don't they?

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I see these pictures and am amazed that this is in an arab country. You see how extremely conservative most middle eastern nations are and then you see this. This place looks so much like what you would find in western nations as far as modern cities and entertainment. It's refreshing to see a country in this region not be so uptight. They truly love to bring in the tourists don't they?

 

Very true! The entire time I was in the UAE, I truly felt like I was still in the West. It's still a fairly conservative country, but it's nothing like its neighbors. From what I understand, many Saudis travel to Dubai for long vacations of drinking and partying!

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Did any else hear the rumor about motiongate (or whatever it's called) getting a dynamic attraction coaster like mission ferrari?

 

I heard this rumor, but I don't think it specified Motiongate. I believe it just said a major park in the UAE, and there are several of those under construction right now.

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Is IMG still scheduled to open sometime this year? Their done with the exterior but have barely started on the interior. They also already built the launched mack coaster.

 

As far as I know, yes. The exterior is mostly complete (there's a large, gaping hole on one side of the building). From what I could see on the inside (which isn't much), I don't think much of anything is done inside. I'll have some pictures in one of my later updates.

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Cool. I haven't seen any updates for a while. Have they released any info about the rides inside the park besides Velociraptor Launched Coaster yet? I know that there was some spinning coaster track spotted on site and a spiderman themed car as well.

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Cool pics so far. I really hope to go to the UAE someday and finally see where Garfield mailed Nermal so many times.

 

Thanks! Abu Dhabi is a beautiful city (I actually like it more than Dubai); I'll post some more pictures of the city in my next update!

 

Cool. I haven't seen any updates for a while. Have they released any info about the rides inside the park besides Velociraptor Launched Coaster yet? I know that there was some spinning coaster track spotted on site and a spiderman themed car as well.

 

I'm sure the updates have been slow considering how little progress has been made. The site didn't look much different from the pictures I had seen that were taken in the fall. Another reason is how difficult it is to see what's going on at the site. The construction walls are high, the building is fairly far from any road, and there's security around. Getting good pictures without trespassing is difficult. As far as the rides, I haven't seen anything new. I believe the spinner was built inside, but I couldn't see it when we were there.

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MINI-UPDATE: Dubai Parks and Resorts & Abu Dhabi

 

I found a few pictures that I didn't post in my first update, so cue the first mini-update! On the drive from Sharjah to Abu Dhabi, we had the pleasure of driving past the construction site of Dubai Parks and Resorts! I only got two pictures of the construction/advertisement wall for the resort, but not the actual construction. There wasn't much to see in terms of construction, but I was able to spot the shell of a four or five-story building that was being worked on. In case you didn't know, there will be three parks here: Legoland Dubai, Motiongate Dubai, and Bollywood Park. From what I understand, all three of these parks are going to be FANTASTIC when they open at the end of 2016!!

 

Apologies for the quality of some of the photos, all but two were taken with my phone instead of my camera.

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The vast desert that is rural UAE. I think this is just south of Dubai looking toward the Persian Gulf.

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Everything is awesome when Legoland is here! Fun fact about this construction wall: it's 3 km long! That's over 2.75 miles! And yes, the advertisements stretch the entire length!

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Don't forget about Motiongate and DreamWorks! Sorry, but my picture of the Bollywood logo didn't come out.

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Now, to Abu Dhabi! This is ADSAC HQ. We never figured out what ADSAC is, but their building is definitely an attention-getter! No wonder they put an advertisement for the nearby Yas Mall!

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I believe this is the Sheikh Zayed Bridge (You hear that name A LOT in this country, which I'll explain in the next update). It's a pretty funky looking bridge, though.

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Some of the Abu Dhabi skyline.

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More of the Abu Dhabi skyline.

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Even more of the Abu Dhabi skyline.

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These are both hotels under construction. The three on the left comprise Eithad Towers (I can't remember which luxury chain owned it, though), and the tan one on the right is an independent hotel. I love how it's inspired by traditional Middle Eastern architecture.

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Our hotel for the day: Hilton Capital Grand.

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I'll close this update with this twilight view of the Abu Dhabi expo center and it's weird leaning tower. Thanks for reading! Part 2 should be posted next week!

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Now, to Abu Dhabi! This is ADSAC HQ. We never figured out what ADSAC is, but their building is definitely an attention-getter! No wonder they put an advertisement for the nearby Yas Mall!.

 

That's the Aldar Properties headquarters. They are the development arm of the Abu Dhabi government (and, coincidentally, owners of Ferrari World, Yas Waterworld, and the new Yas Mall)

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PART 2: Fun City at Marina Mall, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center, and ALL THREE Sparky's FECs in Abu Dhabi

 

And on we go! This is the conclusion of the first full day of our trip. All-in-all, we visited three Emirates (Dubai, Sharjah, and Abu Dhabi), two major cultural sites, five indoor FECs at five separate malls, and added seven credits to our list! That's one hell of a day, especially with it being the day after a fifteen hour flight!

 

After our tour of the Emirates Palace, we made the short drive over to Marina Mall, home of Fun City and Shark Coaster. After how wonderful Adventureland had been a few hours ago, I was really disappointed by Fun City. It wasn't a very nice FEC, and Shark Coaster was pretty terrible. However, the mall itself was the nicest one of the day.

 

After a few spins on the coaster and a quick lunch, we checked into our hotel and went to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center (SZGMC) for a 5:00 tour. Initially, I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy touring a mosque, but this place is SPECTACULAR. The free tour is a bit long and winded, but you really do learn a lot about SZGMC, mosques, and Islam. As much as I'd love to spit out all of the details about SZGMC, that would spoil the whole tour for all of you! You truly haven't been to Abu Dhabi until you've been here!

 

Then it was back to coasters for a "Sparky's marathon." We visited the Mushrif Mall, Khalidiyah Mall, and Mazyad Mall locations. First, Mushrif; I believe this was the largest of all of the Sparky's that we visited, and was a half-decent FEC. Khalidiyah's Sparky's was the nicest of the three in Abu Dhabi. It's also home to one of the coasters that TPR broke (the creatively named Roller Coaster), which was an okay ride. Mazyad's Sparky's was one of the worst FECs I've visited to date. It's small, run-down, and the coaster is simply terrible.

 

On to the pictures! I hope you all enjoy! Some of the following pictures were taken by my trip companion, Keith Kelly. All of these pictures are marked (KK).

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Welcome to Marina Mall! First thing we noticed was a Mercedes dealership. I guess you can truly buy EVERYTHING in UAE malls! (KK)

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But our main goal here is Shark Coaster! (KK)

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I rode it again to use up the credits on our Fun City card. (KK)

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This coaster isn't worth going out of the way to ride, honestly. It is unique, though. (KK)

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I regretted my second ride... (KK)

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I did enjoy the look of this fountain in the mall.

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Onto the SZGMC!

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It's a BEAUTIFUL mosque!

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Trying to be artsy.

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Sometimes, the courtyard is filled with people praying. I can't imagine how many people it takes to fill this place!

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The attention to detail here is incredible! They truly went all-out when they designed and built it!

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I love this picture of the Wing. (KK)

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The gardens around the mosque are well taken care of.

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These towers are very cool! They light up the mosque differently depending on the phase of the Moon!

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You can see the individual marble tiles on the courtyard floor. All of these were laid by hand!

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The entry area is simply gorgeous. I'm already in awe of the craftsmanship, and we're not even to the main prayer room yet!

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These flowers were designed by a British artist. I can't remember what his name is, though.

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Their custom clock lists all of the prayer times and ranges for the five daily prayers.

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The prayer room blew me away with its beauty!

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This indent on the wall points to Kaaba in Mecca, the holiest Islamic site. All Muslims pray in the direction of the site. If you stay in a hotel in this part of the world, look at the ceiling! You'll see an arrow that points to it!

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Again, the detail is simply incredible.

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It's so big that there's stairs for the cleaners to access it.

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More detail.

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These columns serve a double purpose: elegantly supporting the structure and concealing the A/C unit! Look closely, you can see the fan!

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This is part of the world's largest single piece of carpet. It weighs 32 tons and is a hand-woven Persian rug.

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Personally, I think the pattern is ugly, but it's quite a feat!

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This was the world's largest chandelier when it was purchased.

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Facing toward one of the secondary prayer rooms.

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When we finished our tour, we got to see the mosque partially lit up. (KK)

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Goodbye, SZGMC! I'll come see you again when I'm back in Abu Dhabi!

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Time for more coasters! We were greeted by this aquarium upon entering Mushrif Mall.

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Crazy Twister isn't quite as crazy as you might hope.

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It's not a terrible ride, though.

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Some of the cars spun a LOT.

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Overview of Crazy Twister. (KK)

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Fast foward to Khalidiyah Mall! Here is the coaster that TPR broke! (KK)

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Its name is VERY creative. (KK)

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It's a decent coaster. The laterals are surprisingly high! (KK)

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Now to the crappy Sparky's in Mazyad outside of Abu Dhabi.

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This ride is simply described by one word: crap. Seriously, you can and should skip this one!

 

Thanks for reading Part 2! Stay tuned for Part 3....YAS WATERWORLD!

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^ Thanks!

 

And a BIG thanks for the front page feature! I can't wait to share the rest of my (and Keith's) incredible trip to such a wonderful country! Yas Waterworld will be posted tomorrow! To keep you all occupied until then, I've linked the TPR video of Roller Coaster at Sparky's FEC in Khalidiyah Mall. Luckily for us, we didn't break it like TPR did!

 

[youtu_be]

[/youtu_be]
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I would go and visit there, for the temple/mosque architecture, alone.

Having a a few coasters here and there, is cool too.

But the architecture looks so beautiful and well balanced.

And so ornate, too!

 

Great "next part" Michael.

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I would go and visit there, for the temple/mosque architecture, alone.

Having a a few coasters here and there, is cool too.

But the architecture looks so beautiful and well balanced.

And so ornate, too!

 

Great "next part" Michael.

 

Thanks, Bill! Many of the mosques were absolutely beautiful, especially GSZMC! The only downside to lots of beautiful mosques near your hotel is the prayer calls. When you've got 14 (yes, 14) of them in sight of your hotel, and all of them are calling for sunrise prayer, it can be a little loud in the morning!

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