The holiday is over and it’s time for one last post. Anyone who’s followed the blog knows we don’t seek out the fanciest places to stay preferring instead ones that we find interesting. However, we did see some very fancy places when we went on our Big Red Bus tour around Dubai. This is the side of Dubai you usually see in advertisements.
You’ll probably need to click on an image to see it properly.
Burj Al Arab hotel
Just a carpark
A Health Clinic – one of dozens along the road they ranged from same day teeth implants to laser eye surgery etc
Wall of the Wifa Shopping Mall
Just a home, I think
gateway to Jumeirah Souk – contrast to the wooden entrances in the traditional souks
Fancy an apartment by a marina?
Roundabout with water feature – Jaumeirah
Just a few of the skyscrapers – distortion due to my camera lens not the builders
One of a pair of statues at an entrance to Wafi Shopping Mall
Laser skin clinic
No plain concrete supports for this overpass
Bob’s Fish and Chips
You can decide whether the food vans are there for the day visitors or for those fed up with rich hotel food.
Hope you enjoyed the journey with me. 🙂
Abras are small boats that zoom about the creek taking people from one side to the other. There are designated Abra stations and a person is in charge of allocating you to the next Abra to leave. You can also hire an Abra to take you on a private jaunt up the river, it’s very cheap and good fun. Just watching them maneuver and zoom about between the dhows is entertaining.
These passengers are on a large Abra, we saw one going along the creek to the Ferry Terminal near the fort then coming back to the Ferry Station down near the Happy Dubai Park, each time it was empty. It appeared to do that all day but at night there were two running and they seemed to be full each time. The ones like this have seats and parents are offered life jackets for their small children, not all parents saw any need for them. There was also a ticket involved unlike the smaller Abras where you just get on and the guy comes around and puts his hand out for your 1 dirham. If you give him more than that not a word is said he just takes your money and moves on to the next person. When he’s collected enough he returns with your change and again without a word drops it into your hand.
In the small Abras there is just a box like structure on the deck and everyone sits around it, 20 people per trip. No life jackets are visible and we even saw a woman with her child in a stroller casually taking a ride. The driver stands down in the engine bay.
Even though the Abras race about and there is a lot of traffic on the river it’s actually very relaxing travelling on them and far quicker than trying to get about on the roads. I love riding on them.
Looking across the creek we could see the world’s tallest building, The Burj Khalifa, through the haze. If you take a Dune Safari Tour you also get the opportunity to go to the viewing platform at the top of the tower. I wasn’t tempted.
I enjoyed seeing all the lights on the high rise buildings over the other side of the creek. My favourite is the depiction of an Arab just like the one on the Dakkar trophy.
The Deira creekside looks wonderful at night with most of the dhows decorated with coloured lights. Many of the dhows are connected to hotels but others are independent. Dinners on board are very popular, we could see tables decorated in different ways and also vans bringing loads of food. One dhow was set up with an Egyptian theme, statues on shore formed a gateway and everyone had to walk through it to get on the boat.
One boat was a modern, sleek, white design and everyone on it was wearing conservative traditional dress. People on the lovely old wooden dhows varied in their nationalities and clothing styles. While the people on the flash new boat were enjoying what the modern world provided those on the old boat were appreciating the feeling of being in the past. Looked like a weird reversal to me.
Our bodies are now safely back home but our minds are still swirling with thoughts about Dubai. I think it’s because when you’re there so much is happening around you, your eyes see things you just don’t have time to really process. I’m going to post some images that have stuck in my mind and made me think.
In the early evening the Deira creekside came alive with all kinds of people. This group of workers were happy to be out and indicated they wanted me to take their photo. Of course, I obliged. They represent to me all the workers who have left their homes and families to come and work in Dubai so they can send money back home.
Most of the construction workers seem to be Pakistanis, the hospitality workers Filipinos, Abra drivers Bangladeshi and Indian, young Pakistani and Indian men work in the Souks alongside Arabic traders. The workmen you see about the streets during the day all seem to have mobile phones and I think many wait each day for an offer of a day’s work. Loading and unloading the cargo boats would need more than just the crewmen so many would be employed doing that.
The men we’ve spoken to haven’t seen their families for 2 years, one was looking forward to going home for a holiday next year and another was giving up on Dubai and going home on May 2nd this year. He said he was working 12 hours a day driving a taxi but the rules were very stringent and fines extremely high, he didn’t get paid a wage and had to reach a quota before he made any money.
Life is tough for the itinerent workers and I wonder how many of them realize their dream of a better life for themselves and their families.
Squad of itinerent workers amongst the re-bar on a building site.
I read in a brochure about the Ras Al Khor Nature Sanctuary where you could see large flocks of Flamingos, we found the place on the map but that was the only place. One of the crew working at breakfast was exceptionally helpful and explained how to get there by public transport but I’d already asked the concierge about it and he was very keen to get us a taxi, After our last experience with the condescending VIP one (Black car, all black clothes including cap and tie – she matched the car to a “T”) we were a little reluctant but the concierge was convincing. He called up a cab and we got in then the concierge and the driver made every attempt to find out how to get to the sanctuary. The concierge managed to get a phone number for the driver so we set off, the driver with the phone number on a piece of paper clamped between his teeth. He tried to contact someone at the sanctuary but they weren’t answering. While driving he was also typing info into his GPS, then talking to someone else on the phone, presumably HQ, about the sanctuary. W-I-L no, no, L, L for Lima, D , no D for Dad, no, D, yes, yes, yes D for Dubai, F, no F for father. Eventually we decided it just wasn’t working out so we thanked the driver, gave him some dirham and got out.
We went to the Spice Souk, the Gold Souk and then the Fish Market where we were offered whole, big Tuna and Yellow Fin rather than Pashminas and copy watches. I needed a rest then because it was hot walking so we went to our favourite eating place, The Bayt Al Wakeel, where I had another fruit and icecream dish while Alex had a “Hangover Cure”, a delicious drink made from pulped fesh fruit. We walked back to the hotel through the backstreets avoiding as many “nice moustache” traders as possible and calling in at a very convenient little store on the way. We bought some flatbread and a bottle of juice to have in our room. Not a wildlife sanctuary but a cool, peaceful one.
Our flight leaves at 2:05am!
The Fish Market
Not fishing, meditating maybe
The Fresh Food Market
In the Spice Souk
No Farmers Union here
Old Timey Rules
The Gold Souk
Alex tried for a catch but the hit went wild!
Not sure about the cultural significance of hair dyed orange.
Fish chopped to order
We were very lucky and Alex managed to get us better plane seats but I think we’re just not good travellers so we arrived feeling exhausted. If we come back to Dubai again we won’t allow the airport staff to choose our taxi for us, again we were directed to a VIP “taxi” which is annoying when we’d be perfectly happy in a normal one instead of paying the extra for a flash black car.
This time we’re staying in the Carlton Towers Hotel and we dropped on the bed and slept for about 2 hours as soon as we got into our room.
For lunch we went back to a restaurant which sits over the creek, it was very busy, mostly tourists with just a few locals. A beautiful lady came around trying to convince people to have henna tattoos, she had sheets of designs but no one took her up on it.
Alex felt hounded again going through the souk but there was no other way to get from the water taxi to the restaurant – and back. The vendors were calling out to, “moustache” again and Alex wished he’d shaved before leaving Glasgow, he thought they remembered him but I think they’re just skilled salesmen saying anything to get you to focus on them.
All around us are so many wonderful sights but I decided this time I’d focus on the human faces of Dubai but there is a snag. My camera battery is only lasting for about 10 shots from a “full charge”, I’ll post this now while I have a connection but will try to add some photos later tonight.
OK, here is what I managed to snap today. I like to capture people just being themselves.
Faces of Dubai