Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dubai StopOver

Well technically this is not an Indian backpack vacation, but a free stop over on the way to India. For many North American travellers to India from the east coast there is a hop somewhere in Europe or MiddleEast. One of my visits to India I took a stop over in Dubai while flying Emirates. Ask me any questions and I will try to answer, the trip is fresh in my memory.

Arrived at Dubai international from Bangalore at around 1pm. Emirates picked me up to my complimentary room at Le Meridien. Once in room quickly grabbed some maps and booklets and hired a cab to go to Burj Khalifa and the Dubai Mall. The Mall itself was sparkling new with retailers from all over the world. I didnt like the prices too much and so didnt buy much. The aquarium is impressive (just like the one in Mall of America in Minneapolis). The gold souk in the mall is nice but not anything like the real gold souk. After roaming around end to end a couple of times I headed out to see the Burk Khalifa. The sun was shining right behind the tower, so was hard to get good shots. After a certain height every tall building looks alike (yeah yeah I still like the CN tower OK?), but the very thought that I was near the tallest building in the world was exhilarating.

I was debating if I should hang around to see the musical fountain, but then decided to find the Metro station. Dubai Mall metro station is now open and is very walkable to the Mall. Since it is brand new directions were not good and I ended up going around the Mall (which is huge), but did not regret the walk. I bought my 4.5 AED one ride ticket and went to the Union station. Took a cab to the Abra station by the creek. The wind from the creek was refreshing and the sight was soothing. I took an abra across the creek to Old Souk. Sorry didnt I tell you what an abra is? Its a traditional arabian boat, powered ofcourse which seats about 20 on the sides.

Shopping in the old souk was nice, lots of street vendors and I would say its better than in India
Most garments are imported to Dubai from India, but the lack of exercise duty and taxes makes them cheaper than in India. What Dubai advertises is true, it is cheap but you need to bargain hard. After an hour of walking and shopping I found a nice little restaurant by the water and ordered a shisha. I got mint flavor molases soaked tobacco and smoked away in joy. The experience is nothing like smoking a cigarette, it was aromatic mild and equally poisonous.

I walked back to the abra station and crossed the creek and headed to the souks - gold and spice. The spice souk did not interest me, the markets in India are just like this one. But the gold souk took my breath away. Definitely worth a visit and purchase. I was amazed and literally flabbergasted. Time flew in the souks and it was close to 11pm. My half a day trip is over and next time I am returning for a 3 day trip. The Emirates free stop-over was good value, I did all this and took back merchandise for $160 (CAD). Not bad :-)

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