Dubai // Day 1
As always leaving on a trip, my dad dropped me at Schiphol airport.
We were lucky with the traffic because one week earlier my sister to pick up her husband from the airport and it took them nearly 4 hours instead of 1 and a half hour.
The flight to Kiev was on time. From Kiev I would fly, after a stop from 2 and a half hours, to Dubai international airport. On the flight we had a great sunset with a brights colored sky.
On the plane from Kiev to Dubai I I first slept for an hour but then started talking to the person next to me. She came from Kiev and just the day before she decided to take a job in Dubai. We talked about the opportunities for people from countries with low income to work in Dubai. She was quit sad to leave her mother and boyfriend alone not knowing when to be able to return.
At some point we started discussing the conflict with Russia. At first she had a very diplomatic point of view of the war but at some point she told me she fled very sad about the people being victims of the war. A few months ago she gave her apartment away to people that had to leave the conflict zone to a safer place. They came to Kiev where they needed a place to stay. So that's were she decided to have her apartment available for a family. To my opinion a very socially flexible and human thing to do. But I am wondering if we in the Netherlands would do the same so easily.. Find our selfs sometimes so spoiled and self centered. Of course it is easier to realize how you would react if poverty or war are so much more close to you.
The plane landed on time and I was very pleased to see my backpack arriving. It was checked in and at Kiev I asked to make sure it would be automatically send threw after the stop in Kiev.
The airport was very modern but not as spectacular as I aspected. I remember last time I was at Delhi and Bombay in India I was amazed by the gigantic and luxurious airport there.
At the airport I found a shop to buy a local SIM card. It costed only 15 euro and only a passport was needed to get it. All signs at the airport where clear so it was also very easy to find the Metro station. It wasn't opened yet because I arrived at 3:00 at night. I was at 4:30 at the entrance and the station would open at 5:00 so I only had to wait 30 minutes. Enough time to install my new Dubai SIM card. It also had a data bundle so it was easy to navigate from here.
After finding out the metro map, the right direction and the right train, I arrived 15 minutes later in the street where my hotel was. It got light when entering the metro so erasure most parts where above ground I could have a nice first sight at Dubai. This part was the old and lower part. Further from my hotel the modern and impressive skyscraper parts would start. You could see them on the horizon.
The hotel was as luxurious as I aspected. The lobby was amazingly lit with golden glittering a as you would aspect. As there are in Dubai mainly two choices. Or you chose a really cheap hotel with a club underneath and because of the noise not many sleep, or you can chose a modern hotel with a very high standard for European prices.
It was not possible yet to get my room. Not vary strange if you arrive around 06:00 in the morning at your hotel. You could store my luggage at the hotel. In a locked room and I got a ticket so quit safe. This gave me the opportunity to go into old town in the direction of the Creek (river) area. I visited the Dubai fort and Museum, The Heritage Village, Dubai old Souk (market) areas and Hindi lane, a Indian market street with there one and only little Hindu Temple. All in Bur Dubai part of the city.
During the afternoon I came back to the hotel and got my room. Also the room was great, especially because I got a free upgrade to a deluxe room. I asked for a good view on the skyscrapers, and I got it on the 15th floor. I unpacked and a shower was no luxury the log trip and warm first day in Dubai. I was really tired so fell asleep for an hour had something to eat and got to sleep again until 10:00 next day.
Dubai // Day 2
The second day I planned to visit the other older area of Dubai, Deira. You can find this area on the other side of the Creek. I first walked to the same area I was in yesterday and took some videos at the place were the Abras (old wooden taxi boats) picked up mostly locals to get across the Creek. After some time I also found one to get to the other side, for about 22 cent per person. In Deira I visited the Spice Souk (market) and the Gold Souk. To my opinion a lot of hasslers with fake watches and other stuff and for the rest a lot of greedy people. The parts of this area I liked the most were the streets with local shops and food places. At one of them that had quit a lot of customers I decided to take a plate of Biriani. This includes rice with vegetables, meet (I think is was from a goat) and a spicy and a coconut side dish. It was delicious food and some people from Pakistan and one from Bairoet to have conversations with. Like in Nepal and India the came to serve you more of all of it. Including a Chai (tea) it costed only 11 DHR what's at this time about 2,40 euro.
After lunch I visited the Fish and talked to the guys working there. They all came from Pakistan, just a few from other places. I went on to the Fruit Market. I have never seen so many different Dates so so many different places. I bought a Mango and some bananas and paid the same amount as the meal just costed. But the mango I found out later that evening, was beautiful.
On the way back I stayed for a while at the Deira Creek side, watched the Agras coming and taking off. Talked to a guy from Kerala, India. He was pleased to hear I loved his part of India with the tea fields in Munar and the Wayanad National Park. A little bit further all the bigger but old wooden boats were waiting to get loaded. I spoke with the guy hanging out on the boats. They seemed to all come from Iran. Unfortunately they didn't spoke much English so our conversation was a little basic.
A bit further I asked an owner of one of these old wooden transport boats if I could get on the frontside of his boat to take some photos and he didn't minded. . From the high boat I had a great view on the Creek are with sunset.
After sunset I decided to return to the hotel and eat something at one of the local places on the way back. I stopped in Bur Dubai at a Indian restaurant. Like on of the places that are really basic but can have beautiful food for almost nothing. Indeed was like that. I had a nice Masala Dosa. In India many times they don't serve Dosa what is a lunch dish, during the evening. But here it is 27/7 so no problem anywhere, anytime. When I walked in the restaurant also an other tourist walked in. I sat down at the same table with a guy from Eastern Europe living and working in China. As many people he just stopped by for one day. Always nice to share travel stories. After dinner I went back to the hotel for a shower, some reading for tomorrow and afterwards a good sleep.
Dubai // Day 3
After two day in the old town parts I decided to see the modern Dubai.
First I went to see the World Trade Center, further checked out if there was anything going on on the horse racing course and then walked to the Emirates Towers. The views on the enormous skyscrapers are amazing
Second I went by metro to see the highest building of the world, Burj Khalifa and the biggest mall of the world, Dubai Mall. Both were mind blowing. I decided not to go to the 124th floor of the Burj Khalifa but just see it from the outside and continue to the Dubai Mall. If you enter it is already amazing but then you still don't realize how big this really is. You can walk around from hall to hall with shops just everywhere. Hen you come to the food court. Hundreds of people eating at all kind of food places. I ordered something that cost me double the price from the restaurant yesterday and it were just 4 little pieces of thin bread with some curry inside.
I went further and came across the enormous aquarium. All kind of fish and corals. Not as great as the corals can be but still...in a shopping mall.
I went back to the metro to continue to Dubai Marina. The sunset just started so I would have Dubai Marina at it's best lighting. A few stops further with the metro and the most recently build area, in the last 5 years, an enormous skyscraper area with surreal architecture. Can't explain how unreal this all looked. Stopped on a bridge to takes photos and video and met a guy there who also was taking photos with his tripod. He was from Beiroet but as so many was working in Dubai, as a constructing engineer. Always great to talk about photography and compare each other's images. I continued along the walking track around Dubai Marina and from any point spectacular views.
Dubai // Day 4
At 8 sat at breakfast and at 9 I took the taxi to Jumeirah Mosque and got a lecture there about the Muslim religion. Very interesting to get to know more about the real Muslim religion and not being inter faired with all extremists on this planet. She made a few jokes about it to explain the things you read in the newspaper have nothing to do with the real religion.
After the very interesting visit to the first Mosque of his day I took a taxi to the Al Ghubeiba Bus Station in Bur Dubai.
As most taxi rides, cheap. 10 minutes and paid about 3 euro.
From the bus station in Dubai there are several busses to take to Abu Dhabi, just ask around at the station. It takes about two hours and at some points you have great landscape views and it is crazy driving on the five lane Sheikh Zayed Road with everywhere you can look, big Skyscrapers.
At Abu Dhabi Bus Station ask around again and the bus will take you for 4 DHR in about 15 minutes to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque. The Mosque was bigger then I aspected and even more beautiful at sunset. I took the audio guided tour and got to know about the influences on the architecture by the Islam and the Koran. For instance there is a lot of calligraphy on the walls and ceilings that comes from the calligraphy in a certain chapter of the Koran. Like in every Mosque you have time times of prayer on a digital board. Big chandeliers with crystals and carpets in matching colors. Mozaiek on walls and floors with flowers. To much to tell. Go and see. You have to dress properly, like long pants and shirt but like if you don't want to walk with these cloths all day you can get a Hijab, Burqua, Khimar or Abaya (Muslim dresses for women) or a Thobe (for men) for your visiting time for free. Before entering very most you have to take your shoes of.
I stayed till after sunset and found a viewpoint on a stairway that could bring you to the other side of the freeway. Probably called a pedestrian bridge or transfer. From there I photographed a took videos of the sunset behind the Mosque. Below his tower I found the bus stand that could brig me back to the central bus station. So again no taxi messes art. Busses every 10 or 15 minutes. At main bus station Abu Dhabi I bought a ticket and my bus was leaving already after 10 minutes. In the bus had a talk with a American that worked in Afghanistan as a teacher at the American University in Kabul. He was searching for a job in Dubai and surroundings because he explained Afghanistan was getting to dangerous. Two of his colleagues got killed by Taliban ruin into a restaurant en shooting everybody inside with machine guns. Later they explained this restaurant was selling alcohol, what is official illegal there. Strange world..
I got out of the bus and took the metro further to have another Masala Dosa, for 1,80 euro. Double pleasure.