Dubai, United Arab Emirates
All in all, it’s been a pretty good day for me. Was awoken at dawn to the dulcet tones of Islamic prayer chants blaring over a nearby loudspeaker. Went back to sleep for a little while then got up for an early breakfast with the plan of hitting the town fairly early. Just when I was about to leave, I realised “Uh-oh, no wallet!” Narrowed down places I could have lost it to last night’s safari. Got the tour representative at the hostel to give them a ring and she told me to come back at twelve. Sat around ’til twelve and saw her – she said, “Come back at two.” Now, having already wasted the morning, I figured I should really do something ’til then, so went to a local mall. (By midday it is really rather warm and not all that conducive to wandering round.) The local mall was fairly small but rather lavish and made for interesting people watching. I watched a group of three people fully clad in their black burkahs (the dresses that cover all bar the slits for their eyes). They had black shoes and black gloves on also, and I watched with interest as they first entered a rather glitzy jewellery shop, then a formal wear shop with mannequins out the front dressed in skimpy sequined brightly coloured formal dresses with spaghetti straps! An interesting contrast against their own completely black ensembles. There was a Barbie for sale – except she sported a hijab and was called Fulla, and I swear this other girl about my age wearing a hijab had coloured her eyebrows in so that she looked like she had a monobrow! I swear! In the middle of my shopping trip, came the prayers again and a few shops even closed briefly for this purpose. Went for a wander, saw a mosque and an adjoining kids play equipment and soccer field, all aptly with sand for ground cover. By this time, it was time to head back for the hostel to decide my fate. Good news! The lost was indeed found and faithfully returned to me! Thank you God! Little lesson learned. (Again!) Now, time to hit Dubai. I had hoped to look at the wildlife sancturary – I wanted to see some flamingos, but I missed that boat so I caught a but to the Al Ghubaiba St Bus Station. Buses are so cheap here. It appears you can get anywhere for AED 2 or just under AU$1. It wasn’t a long walk from here to the Dubai Muesum, which was amazing!! It’s in a late 18th Century fort,which apparently was Dubai’s main defence and also where the ruler lived.The building appears fairly crude – it’s made of sea mud and coral and bits of shell. The museum shows how people in Dubai lived since then and it seemed that they were actually kind of primitive til the early to mid 1800s. Most of them lived a nomadic lifestyle, living in palm frond huts, etc. After this, I had a wander around Bastakia; through the Textile Souk (very Indian feeling), a look at the Grand Mosque, then stumbled across a couple of lovely art galleries and a craft market. There was some great stuff in the galleries. I particularly liked this artist who worked with traditionally Emirati objects (jewellery etc) and set them in resin. I jumped in a cab and asked him to take me to the Mall of the Emirates. Half way there, I realised I had jumped into an unmetered cab – too late by then! It ended up being AED65 so about $30 – not much for Aussie taxis but still a bit more than it should have been. Another lesson ! The mall was really impressive. Obviously. It was huge and beautifully decorated and the indoor ski slopes looked great. The supermarket was unreal. Must have been the size of Menai Marketplace and the carpark and then some!! After this went for a little wander up to check out the Burj. It changes colour at night. Very pretty. Another taxi ride, this time back to the hostel and in a metered taxi! He pointed out some of the sights for me – the big picture of their former Sheikh mounted in the middle of the main road, the World Trade Centre, a few fancy hotels and the tallest building in the world. All in all, a great day: 1 found wallet 2 lessons learnes 2 malls 2 art galleries 1 museum. What a happy day.