Saturday, February 11, 2012

24/12/2011 Bound for Dubai and then Singapore on Christmas Day

Dubai is about the souks, abras and stunning sunsets

We reached Dubai at 7 am or 3am London time. I did not managed to catch any sleep in the flight and was completely stoned by the time I reached Dubai. It was a painful, slow wait at the immigration plus quite a long ride ( by Arabian Adventures via Emirates ) to Rolla Residence Apartment at Al Rolla Street ( $270, triple, Emirates stopover special ). By the time we got to our room, it was way past 9.30am. All of us were completely bushed although we were briefly awed by the ridiculously huge apartment. It was a pity the posh serviced apartment  furnished with free  internet connection,  kitchen,  2 toilets, a large hall and a huge bedroom were not well utilized  since  our stopover was barely 24 hours .
We tore ourselves from  very comfortable beds after  our nap at 12.30 pm and made our way about the area. Al Rolla St is a residential area, predominantly Indian at the Bur Dubai side of the Creek. We had a glorious Indian lunch ( butter chicken, badami, paneer kofta, naan and rice for merely 105 Dhm ) , at Nawab Indian restaurant along Au Ain Centre , our second this holiday, and raved about almost everything that went into our mouths.
Dubai by the creek, at the spice souk

It was then a short taxi ride ( 15.50 Dhm, with a 50 cents discount because the cabbie was out of small change ) to the Old Diera side of the Creek, the Spice Souq.

The sight that greeted me was unbelievably beautiful - the smell of spices, the songlike calls for prayer around us, swirling seagulls and sun soaked tourists taking the Abra. Everything excited me  I could barely contain my excitement and turned left and right to seize the moment. The sky lines of old mud houses arising above the spice souq and modern planes flying by above us  all added to its quaintness. The experience was very unlike that I had in London. There and then I was glad for this very expensive and trouble-laden stopover.

The shop where I bought my spices
We weaved through the souq and along the last part of our excursion there, bought 5 g(!) of saffron for 30 Dhm, about $10 ( incredible, I know ! )  , 100g of both pistachio and hazel at 10 Dhm each. The locals were concluding their afternoon siesta with spiced tea and we had too ours at 2 Dhm, which was very , very good. To end the spice souq outing, I bought 3 dried lemon ( Limo-amani ) at 3 Dhm , not exactly cheap.

That's me buying a bit of everything
 I am one of those swimmers who has an insane fear of boat rides so a decision to conclude our visit at the creek with a boat ride was a record breaking decision for me. I initiated an Abra ride, at 1 Dhm per person  across the Creek, much to Pat's and H's pleasure. 

It was a smooth ride by an experienced boatman, together with 9  other people. Seated sideways on the weathered but sturdy abra  , we soaked in the low afternoon sun across the Creek, gulls swirling , abra-loads of tourists back from where we came. What an experience !

Abra station across the creek, old souk side
We disembarked at the abra water taxi stop at the Bur Dubai side and walked  along  the Old Souq housed in an alley covered by ancient timber roof and flanked by quaint mud walls. Persistent traders hawked their goods of silk, pashmina and cashmere but we were unimpressed. We stopped by the Dubai Museum to admire the old mud fort but did not enter, by now sundown. Mindful that we have yet to enjoy the room , we bought chicken wraps and falafel sandwich back ( taxi 10 Dhm ) at a rare hole-in-a-wall and marveled at our unique experience.
Patient passengers
A modern market in the oldest market in Dubai

Pat had his after dinner nap while H and I had our Hollywood fix until midnight when we checked out. Arabian Adventure representative provided the airport pickup from Rolla where we made the last leg of the holiday - back to Singapore.