I finished last night by going down for a walk on the promenade after dinner. The temperature had plummeted to a mere 33 degrees. The habit here is that at about 9.30pm everyone, but everyone, is out for a stroll in the ‘cool” night air. So I joined them for a bit of people watching and a paddle. The water was so lovely. I was tempted to strip off and dive in, but its not the done thing when many people around me were in national costume. I took this picture, and ask you to look at it carefully, as at first glance it looks like a wee bit odd. It is me paddling.
For the same reason my pictures suggest that there was only a few people around. There were loads, but I did no know who would mind being photographed.
Today Sophy kindly took a day off work and took me off to the old town. She took me to the other section of the canal, to a place she has known and loved in the past. Unfortunately, when we came out of the car park they had totally redeveloped the entire area, throwing a certain degree of confusion upon her. The redevelopment consisted of a load of recreated traditional buildings which are about 2km of shops and cafes. It is only half filled so it is still deserted, but will in due course be yet another wonderful tourist attraction, despite the camels!
The brown boats are Dhows, the traditionally shaped boat of the region. Most of what you see are tourist boats, but there are also real examples of trading boats, probably plying their trade between the peninsular and India and elsewhere.
Next we went to the Dubai Museum, and explored a bit of the history of the place. Dare I say that it was not the most exciting museum I have been to on my trip. But, since Sophy has managed museum projects here in the Emirates she was able to give me a much better commentary and answer all the questions I wanted to ask. It was great having her local knowledge alongside me.
We got to the Museum by crossing the canal on an Abra, the small local ferries which charge remarkably little. They cross cross the canal fully loaded with passengers (except the one we went on was not – but the other pictures shows a full one).
We went through the souk and were ‘molested’ by all the guys outside each bazaar. It is that wonderful tradition of greeting and inviting you in and suggesting what you want! All very troubling to this Brit abroad. But it was an experience not to be missed.
We then went for lunch. We found a restaurant which Sophy knew, and which had escaped the redevelopment. Here is a picture of it taken from the water and the food. We had a lovely lunch sitting watching the busy waterway beside us. My idea of heaven.
It was very hot (probably nearly 40 degrees) so we decided not to go on to the spice souk. Now, as you will understand, Sophy being a local checked how to get back to the car park via a ferry (Abra). It is great having a local guide at times like this.
So, anyway, we had a nice walk round the spice souk. (No, of course we did not get the wrong boat – how dare you think such a thing. We just adapted to developing circumstances – namely that we eended up by the souk instead of the car park. That is truly creative tourism!
It turned out to be a good thing. I bought some frankincense. That’s the Christmas sermon sorted! The stall we found, amongst the many, had a very nice guy who was less pushy than some.
We then caught a ferry back to the restaurant and started again! This time Sophy decided that given the heat we should grab a taxi, and so we found our way back to the car.
It was a fantastic and fascinating day. Perhaps one of the most fascinating things was how different that end of the City is compared to the end where I am staying and the central area where I went yesterday. The contrast between the Dubai Mall and the souk within 5km of each other is a good summary of Dubai, with its ancient history and modern identity. The old and the new (even though the old is redeveloped and updated) are so very different. I loved UEA!
So tomorrow morning I set off on my last leg – back to Heathrow. I shall send you a report tomorrow evening!
I have one ambition left this evening – to go for a swim in the Persian Gulf at sunset.
So I am off!