Before leaving home: Blair, “So the place I have chosen for us to stay is sort of random and off the beaten path. Just to give you a heads up.”
Sean, “Mom I have been traveling the world with you since I was 6. You always choose random and off the beaten path. We expect it.”
I carefully hand picked our hotel room. The hotel and I sent emails back and forth about the right room. Then two days before we were to leave, the hotel sent me an email that there was municipality maintenance, and they were going to put us into a different hotel. What could I do but say okay. The first night’s stay was great. The hotel ungraded us to their Master Suite, it was a treat. But it was in downtown Bur Dubai on a busy street. It was not the quaint heritage guest room I had booked that sat on the creek, which is really a slow moving inlet. They moved us over to the Barjeel Guest House for the second night’s stay. I suspected all along that they had given our room away and I turned out to be correct. There had been maintenance needed, but not to our room, it was to the other people’s room who they put in the room promised to us. They put us in a less than stellar room for night two. The truth is though, we were so tired that it really didn’t matter that much, but still. What with jet lag and everything else I was irritated. Then they told us they had hoped that we would just want to stay at the first hotel. But they didn’t tell us that when we were there!?! The second room was very small and stuffed with furniture with a grate high up in the wall that opened into the guest next door’s bathroom. You could hear everything that went on in their bathroom and the light from their bathroom shined into our room. (Yes, we could hear the other guests shower and go to the bathroom.) Just as I started to get irritated Sean and then Jim started to laugh. “Well,” Sean said, “You always like to experience the road less traveled Mom. I think you succeeded this time.” He was right of course. In the end it was better this way.
This is the grate into the next door neighbor’s bathroom.
Then there was the last night’s stay. It was everything I hoped it would be. At one point, I thought the hotel would really benefit from an American coming over and getting the whole thing into shape. The problem with that is it might lose its flavor and charm and other-worldliness if that happened. It definitely felt like we were not in Kansas anymore 😉
This is a pickup cricket game that was happening out in front of our 2nd hotel. The men are workers from India and Pakistan.
This Dodo was in front of our room. I loved it.
This is a good example of a typical heritage style home. Check out all that greenery coming from the top of the courtyard. This is next door to our hotel.
Another building next to our hotel which was the Barjeel Guesthouse, http://heritagedubaihotels.com/barjeel-guest-house-dubai.php. Barjeel mean wind tower in Arabic. The narrow alleys help to keep things cool by providing shade and funneling cooling breezes through them.
The entrance to the souk near our hotel. I bought some spices there, including saffron. I got so excited, I forgot to bargain, so I paid more than I should have. Oh well. It was all a bit overwhelming.
How many women do you see?
Sean had trouble telling the sellers no.
Breakfast at the hotel. Despite the non-western haphazardness of our hotel. After a day on a bus traveling through Dubai I am so delighted with where we stayed. We definitely felt like we had wandered into another culture. I began thinking about period pieces I had read of course and imagining the pages of books had come alive.
No alcohol served within blocks of our hotel btw.
After breakfast Jim talked Sean and I into taking a bus ride around the city. I had never taken one of these before and will never do it again. I visit countries to take in the sights and sounds and meet people, not to be driven from place to place on a bus tour, but it was eye-opening. It was a great view into the dichotomy between the haves and the have nots. Once we got of the main street that smelled very strongly of rotting fish, we walked through streets that did not look rich or glitzy. My guess is this is where the immigrants are living with multiple people to a room.
We got off the bus at the Gold Souk. It was closed. So we wandered a couple of blocks over and into a different world. This must be where the immigrant workers live.
These photos are both of dhows. The dhows (ships) transport goods all over the Arabian Gulf, including countries in Africa.
The courts use Sharia law except for traffic offenses & one other area (which I have now forgotten). Westerners are not subject to Sharia Law, but we were told by a Pakastini that the courts were bad news, you don’t want to go there. So maybe the Pakastanis are subject to Sharia Laws. The police are mainly Yemenis and Iranians, not from the UAE.
The beautiful side, photos
This is a 7 star hotel. Note the presence of women everywhere, including in bikinis. This is the Western side of town, and it is as if you have walked into a different world from where we were staying.
At about 10:00 there is a woman in a burka looking out onto the beach.
I wanted to get a photo for all of you. Women were much more commonly viewed on this side, with traditionally dressed women everywhere in these outfits. I felt bad taking a photo which was sort of objectifying in a country where women are totally objectified. Btw, the color black on the UAE flag stands for natural resources. I really hope that is not what the black color of the burkas stands for. And black of all colors! It is really hot here.
A look at part of the Dubai skyline for the new city.
The world’s tallest building, or second tallest depending on who is talking.
Ski Dubai, the ski slope inside the Mall
Back toward the hotel we saw the museum at night.
Our hotel has a courtyard on one side. The other side bordered what is called the Creek.
Jim and I wandered out to a museum. Sean fell asleep in the room. The museum was the home of the Sheik who was the ruler of Dubai, Sheik Saeed Al Maktoum’s house
Dubai built in the 1800’s as a fishing and pearling village
A representation of how traditional villages were constructed.
Serving my man!
The sheik’s home at night, the towers are Barjeels, wind towers.
This is a photo of a photo. I wanted you to see what the mask the women in Al Ain were wearing looked like. It is not a pretty mask.
This was taken for the creek side at our hotel.
The inner courtyard at the Barjeel Guesthouse.
We locked ourselves in from the inside using this traditional lock. It was very cool.
One final view of our hotel front. The non-creek side. This entire area is being renovated. Before they started renovating it, the area was home to Pakistani and Indian workers. One day the government came in and bulldozed it down and told them all to leave and live somewhere else.
Here are some final notes I want to share.
Car beeping if you go over a certain speed: In the UAE cars are equipped with a beeping sensor, and if you go over a certain speed limit the car starts to beep at you. It is very annoying, and effective at maintaining speed.
The UAE and water: 97% of water usage from desalinated water. One of highest water consumptions per capita in the world.
In the morning we were picked up by our favorite driver of our stay. Here is his story as told to us by him, as he rushed through the city talking a mile a minute.
He is from the Swat Valley, Pakistan. He has been in Dubai since 1982. He was very friendly and not sexist in the least. At least he didn’t show it. He takes care of his entire family on the salary he earns working in Dubai. He visits home for 45 days during the summer when it is so hot in Dubai tourists don’t visit. He said you don’t want to go to the Dubai courts. His name was Hyatt. His children did not go to school for a while because of the violence from the Taliban in the Swat Valley. They could not even leave their house, but now the Taliban is gone for that area; there is peace there, and the girls have been able to go back to school. He told us, “No Taliban, no problem”. I tipped him 20$ American, and told him it was a gift for his mother and wife from an American lady. I also told him the Americans want peace for his country, especially the American mothers.