It was a late start to the day the sun was high in the sky before my day finally got started. I wanted to see a bit of the history of the city in order to see where it came from and how it got to be the destination that it is. As I started to walk to my destination I wanted to have breakfast out somewhere outside of my hotel. I have to be smart with my money as the more exciting destinations still lie ahead. It is easy to spend money here in this city. The VIP experience from yesterday has taught me that. It appeared that many of the shops were closed and soon the call to prayer sounded in the air. This call is not as dominant here as it was in Istanbul where the sound reverberated from all the mosques that dotted the landscape. Here there are relatively few mosques each small in comparison to the ones found in Istanbul. I found a grocery store and purchased some fruit, water, an energy drink and drinkable yogurt and ate sitting on a step at an entrance nearby, in the shadow of the arch listening to the prayer over the loudspeaker watching people walking by. I proceeded on in the general direction of my destination. After a while of walking I sought the comfort of the shade in a cafe. I wanted to download a better map onto my phone since the free one from the hotel was useless and not to scale.
The cafe was relatively empty and had a good wifi connection. I will be needing to delete some photos at some point off the phone and I put a big dent in the volume of pictures I’ve taken so far. It’s only the pictures on the phone that need to be backed up. I haven’t been totally satisfied with the iCloud service and are also using the Microsoft OneDrive thing as well. Thus, I ended up sitting there at this cafe for longer that I planned. Undaunted and with a saved offline map I continued on towards my destination. I was going to visit a restored fort that housed the Museum of Dubai. When I got there it was a lot smaller than I expected.
It was also in a neighborhood that seemed a bit dodgy with somewhat aggressive salesmen trying to sell me knockoff Rolexes. I went from polite to tearse after the fourth or fifth time being solicited for my business. They didn’t know what to say when I told them that I have a watch already. Their approach is not as smooth or measures as the guys doing the same thing in Istambul.
The Dubai Museum was interesting. It housed a lot of the valuable collection of artifacts underground. It was also quite cheap to get into. The settlement in this area stretches back five thousand years. It was mostly settled my nomadic Bedouin people who had a hierarchical societal structure and prized their possessions as they travelled light. A lot of the artifacts were weapons and I think that due to their limited resources they took advantage of their geographical location and became skilled tradesmen in goods.
They lived a simple life and adapted to their environment well as evidenced by the houses they lived in that were reproduced here. It is interesting to note that in the late 1950’s the population of Dubai was about sixty thousand people. The impetuous for modernization and investment came from the ruler at the time and was further compounded by the discovery of oil. This created a major expansion in trade and major investment in infrastructure that continues to this day. All the building and modernization is a drive to make this an attractive place for visitors in order to spur further investment and trade.
My next destination was the Gold Souk a market renowned for the gold trade. As I got to the river I passed by some of the old market stalls and realized by looking across that my destination was closed. This day is like a Sunday in the western world and a vast amount of the stores were boarded up. I decided to go to the other side of the city and find a spot from which to take a photo of the sunset. I didn’t time my travel or destination right. I thought that by going close to the Burj Al Arab I’ll find a good vantage point. This was not the case. There is restricted access for the public to visit.
Nevertheless, I thought I’d continue my journey onwards and visit the Internet city but as I approached closer my interest in it started to wane as well. I passed by vast spaces that are still undeveloped with palms swaying in the dark and areas marked off for development. I heard crickets chirping in the darkness and admired the buildings in the distance.
It was a night where the full moon shine brightly in the sky and eventually I came upon a station where I could take a tram and connect with the metro. The lovely attendant in the station was eager to help me buy a ticket. I asked her about the age of this system and she informed me that it was opened last November. That explains the long portions that I passed that weren’t in use yet. When I got to the station that I wanted I stopped in for a kabab and watched the parade of foreigners going to and fro some of whom were quite well dressed.
By this point it was late and the hotel was now quite far away. I decided to pack up tonight and sleep as long as I can. When I got off at my stop I saw many people walking carrying large boxes with TVs and other electronics. There was some kind of a trade show going on inside the World Trade Center here and the decision was made to check it out. There was a price for admission but the chaos inside was well with it.
There was all kinds of electronic goods being sold. A frenzied atmosphere of consumerism and deal making permeated the the air with the noise of announcements and pumping music to catch the attention of people passing by. Signs announced what was on offer.
If it was any other time on my travels I might have been tempted but I have everything I need now. As I packed after leaving this friended place I reflected on this. I probably have too much stuff. I wanted to buy a shot glass in every country I visited but the one from Istanbul fell and broke in a moment of carelessness and at that point I decided that I won’t buy anymore on this trip. As time passes many of the things that I brought with me will also be discarded making room for other things and generally I need to lighten up what I have already. By that point they will have served their purpose. I dithered with the packing late into the night thinking about what I needed to do once I get to India. It was a good stay here in Dubai it’ll be interesting to see how this place will have changed in that time. For now it is still a baby city that has grown up fast. It is not encumbered by historical plans but it is set up by modern methods of planning with modern infrastructure. No expense has been spared to make it grow. The people working at all the various establishments are very polite and courteous. I should probably stop now I have a plane to catch 😀