40 years UAE!
Trip Start Feb 15, 2012
5Trip End Feb 25, 2012
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Bur Dubai and the Creek
On Monday, I took the taxi to Mall of the Emirates and then the Metro to the old part of town by the Creek: Deira on the north side and Bur Dubai on the south. I had planned on walking around Deira first, but then I bumped into a water bus, which sounded like fun, so I chatted a bit with the station attendant, Muhammed from Tanzania, and then took the bus to the old Souk in Bur Dubai
Bur Dubai is home to the Textile Souk, now mostly run by Indians, who also live in this area. It's one of the few places where you still find the traditional clay houses with the wind towers or barjeels. These are used as a low-tech A/C: they catch wind from whichever direction and cool down the house, and fight the moisture.
I quickly escaped the hustle and bustle of the docks and followed the Creek towards a small section with nicely restored traditional houses. There's a House of Sheikh Something or Other and a Heritage Village, where they have some displays about traditional building, customs, and they had a really cool photography display. And all this for 2 dirham (40 cents)!
It is so cool to see those yellowish pictures from the 50's: Dubai was just a small clay-house settlement around the Creek, people made a living by sail making, pearl diving, or fishing. The Sheikhs lived in tents in bedouin villages and had camels and falcons instead of Land Cruisers and gold.
Before I knew it, it was time to travel back towards the Mall, where Anton would pick me and Isa up.
Did I already mention that Dubai is big? It's misguiding, you think you just have to take 'some' stops on the metro, but really, you're traveling some 20 kilometers from one side of the city to the other
Souk Madinat and Burj Al Arab
On Tuesday I visited Souk Madinat, which is also a kind of Mall. Basically, it's a mock-traditional village, styled like those houses I visited the day before, but everything was built just a few years ago. They also dug a moat around the complex, where they drive fake abra boats (For the hefty sum of 70 dirham a trip! To compare: crossing the Creek on a real abra sets you back 1 whole dirham!).
Disneyland, but a bit more stylish, and a bit more expensive, too. Inside, there are lots of shops, made to look like they are traditional souk shops, selling tourist crap and expensive clothes and jewelry.There are some lovely views of the neighbouring Burj Al Arab, but they made sure that the best spots are exclusively reserved for hotel guests.
I took a stroll towards the Burj Al Arab, only to find that you really cannot set foot on the peninsula that it's on, if you don't have a reservation or a booking for a restaurant. We tried to book a brunch or a high tea, but unfortunately, all affordable eateries are booked solid at least a week in advance. I'll have to return to Dubai for that!
Marco met me to have some lunch at a restaurant in the Souk Madinat, after which I had to run again to pick Isabelle up from school.
You will probably not believe this, but Isa convinced me to go for a 'relaxing' manicure. Because these salons are manned by Filipino 'poppetjes', beauty treatments are really quite cheap here in Dubai, and since Isa's doctor ordered relaxation in all shapes and sizes, I agreed.
I found the treatment anything but relaxing, but maybe that's just me. Two girls tugging at your extremities, making you feel like you're playing Twister. And I found that I'm extremely ticklish, leaving the poor girl at my feet terrified that I would kick her. I did like the foot rub, though, and the fact that they made my short-trimmed, calloused sporty feet look half-way decent! We didn't remember to wear flip-flops, but they even had a solution for that!
That evening, I picked out a dress that matched my toe nails, wore my best open shoes, and we drove out to the Wadi (surprise surprise: another mall!). The Wadi is Egyptian-themed, shaped like a Pyramid, of course. But the inside is quite a surprise. There is a basic all-brands-you-can-think-of mall, but there's also an Arabic mall, with a street for every country: Syrian, Turkish, Moroccan, Egyptian, Lebanese, Gulf. And in the middle there's a restaurant that serves food from all these nations.
After dinner we enjoyed the light show outside: they project some random Egyptian-looking animations on to the mall's exterior, while playing loud film music. There didn't really seem to be a deeper meaning to it, but it's a cool sight: those pharaoh statues seeming to come to life, while Emirati and expats keep driving up underneath in their taxis and SUV's.
We found our own SUV's nice and polished by the garage-poppetje, and enjoyed the Dubai skyline once again on our way home.