Sunday, May 27, 2012

Weekend #1

"A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving." 
             -Lao Tzu

So ends the first weekend of travel through Dubai. Having lived in country for a few days and only going to work, Lisa and I wanted to travel a bit more through the city, but we didn't want to have fixed plans, but rather wander instead. So here's how the weekend went:

Thursday night:

Started off by heading to the Dubai Marina after work. When I say the Dubai Marina, I mean a marina unlike any other marina that you have ever been to. Restaurants and open eateries sit next to shops and stands, ringing the waterways. We found an Iranian eatery, where I ate the most delicious mixed kebabs I've ever had. When we went to go pay, the owner came out and insisted that we sit and enjoy a complimentary pot of tea before leaving. 

We then walked further down the waterway and stopped at a sort-of courtyard, decorated with Arabian relics and lights, to smoke a shisha. Since neither of us really had any idea what we were doing, they showed us, although laughing while they did. We ended the night but walking around through some of the bigger waterfront hotels and stopped for a drink at Le Royal Meridien hotel.


After waking up far later than I had planned, we headed to the Jumeirah Beach walk, a collection of shops and restaurants near the public-access Jumeirah Beach Resort (JBR for short). 

After checking out the walk and the beach, we headed over back toward the Dubai Mall near the Burj Khalifa, to grab a dinner and drink near in the Souk al Bahar and to watch the Dubai Fountains. This fountain, in the Khalifa Lake at the base of the Burj, is the largest in the world, with a lightshow, choreographed to famous Arabic and English songs. Though we didn't see Michael Jackson's show, check out the video below:


Starting off the day right, as my Dad would think, by going skiing. Except this time, we went skiing in a mall, in a desert, in Dubai. Pretty damn cool. We got a two hour pass, which included skis, boots, and an overcoat and baggy ski pants to wear over our other clothes, all for $50 equivalent. The big drawback was that there was only one run, but I guess that's understandable, given that it was indoors and in a mall.

We then went over to the traditional Souks (open-air markets) in the neighborhoods of Deira and Bur Dubai, the oldest neighborhoods in the city. After taking the metro to the station at Union, we walked along the waterway by what looked to be fishing and shipping boats. These boats definitely showed a less modern area of Dubai, as they smelled briny, were covered in rust, and were stacked 4 and 5 deep since there weren't any docks. After getting "ripped off" for two small drinks at 10 Dhs ($3.30ish equivalent, which I didn't see as too bad), I later got another much larger water for only 2Dhs (less than $1). We wandered around by the Gold Souk in Deira, and found the Heritage House, which is a fully-restored house in the style of classic Arabic architecture, which was kinda cool to see. 

Finally, we found the entrance to the Souks, which reminded me of the markets in Jerusalem- close quarters, full of sounds, smells, and sights, with older men sitting hunched in corners and children running and playing through the streets. Things I heard and thought while walking through the souks:

- "Hey, Mr. Bond! Want a spy watch?" It's funny to hear any Western culture hurled at us to try and bring us into their stores.
- "Want Rolex? Omega? Breitling?" "No, thanks." "Oh, ok. How about Viagra?"... I wonder what American and western business men have been through here??
- After realizing that we're American, 10 consecutive shop owners come out. I found it funny that literally every one of them tried to sell pashmina scarves- if I said no to the first 9, then why, Mr. Tenthbusinessman, do you think I'm suddenly going to buy the same scarf from you?

Anyway, it was definitely an amazing weekend and a great start to my short life in Dubai.

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