Sunday, January 16, 2011

Exploring Deira; Northeast side of Dubai Creek

Unlike the Czech Republic, which is a landlocked country, Dubai sits along the coast of the Arabian Gulf, and Dubai Creek runs northeast-southwest through the city. Being raised near the ocean, I was so happy to smell the sea and feel so close to the water. Dubai has 5 different areas: Deira, Bur Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Rd, Jumeirah and New Dubai, and all areas except Sheikh Zayed Rd, which only has the exposure to the creek, has an exposure to the gulf.

Deira is the only area which is located east of the creek. The Dubai Airport is located in this area. A lot of the souqs (markets) including the Gold Souq are also in this area. Once you step into the center of Deira, you see lots of local electronic shops, clothing stores, restaurants and cafes with people sitting outside and enjoying the sheesha time with a big water pipe called hookah. Rather narrow streets surrounded by an array of oldish looking concrete buldings are not too rich-looking but vibrant and you would hardly ever see women.

As we were wandering around looking for the souqs mentioned in the map our hotel gave us, we ended up going into some alleys so narrow only a couple of people can walk side to side. One alley had a row of small tailor shops one after another, each probably 2x5 meters in size, and 3-5 men were crowdedly sitting inside facing their own sewing machine and sewing kandura like shirts. It was rather a bizarre sight again. They seemed to be treating their job as a labor which they were obliged to participate or something like that. It felt much different than the concept of "jobs" in the western countries.

And, as I passed one of the barber shops along the alley of tailor shops, three men were in the middle of their afternoon naps. I guess this is also a part of the "labor" in Dubai. :)

The gold souq was rather easy to find. It was basically filled with lots of tourists. The souq has around 100 or more stores selling all kinds of gold jewelries. I was hoping to get a big discount on a pair of white gold earings (btw, you can negotiate the price almost everywhere), but I realized that you can only negotiate so much.  After all, like my hubby said, gold is gold.  So, I gave up on the idea of buying something there, and we walked towards the creek. We found another smallish souq right by the creek and went into one of the spice stores. The small store was packed with all kinds of spices. We got a package of saffran, which was much cheaper than the US of course, cinamon sticks, and anise.

After exploring Deira for 3 hours or so, we decided to head back to the western side of the creek by a watertaxi. The watertaxi is one of the most convenient ways to cross the creek.  The simple open-air boat comes every so often to pick 15-20 people up and take them from one shore to another.  The ride was smooth and quick.  Within 5 mins or so, we were on the other side of the creek.

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