Part 2 of my Dubai trip. Read part 1 here.
Based on recommendations from many, we finalized on Big Bus tours to explore Dubai. My initial preference was to do the exploration on a camel, but gave up on this idea in face of the intense heat. 🙂
From my personal experience, I too would highly recommend Big Bus. The advantage of this hop-on hop-off bus tour is getting both local guidance, and the freedom to plan your own itinerary (maps are provided). Buses run at half hour intervals and the stops are located very close to the tourist spots. Buses have A/C as well as open tops and come with earphones to guide passengers about the places as they pass by.
Post a breakfast of an apple (food here might be very hygienic but oily Indian food is still heavy), we headed to the Mall of Emirates Big Bus kiosk and bought a 2 day 1 night ticket.
The tour is divided into 2 routes, with the transfer point at Wafi mall. We decided to take the red route first, through the older city.
The bus dropped us at the Dubai creek at 12 pm. This creek, separating Deira from the newer city of Dubai might be considered Dubai’s initial claim to fame. Merchant vessels coming and going to the Indian subcontinent and beyond started taking breaks here and soon it developed into a big town. We had beautiful skyline views of the creek during our ride on a traditional Arabian boat known as dhow.
After that, we visited the Al Fahd fort, which is now the Dubai museum.
Limited aspects of the history of this area were highlighted, such as how pearl diving was an important industry until cultured pearls were created by Japanese in 1920s. Oil was found in 1960s. This will run out in another 20 years or so, hence the focus on tourism, finance and real estate (oil now forms just 5% of total revenue of Dubai emirate). The only interesting thing I found was the fact that civilization had existed at a place called Al Quasis in 3000 BC.
Back in the bus, we passed the various famed souks (markets) for gold, spices and other commodities.
Got down at the Deira city centre mall to meet up with a friend. The evening was spent with her family eating Lebanese food at “Beirut” restaurant, which primarily consisted of falafel and humus since we were vegetarians. 🙂
The next morning, our 3rd day, we were ready early and pumped to see the new Dubai. The blue route took us via Union House to Jumeirah mosque. Unfortunately we couldn’t visit the mosque being a Friday, so we got down at Jumeirah public beach.
I was dazzled by the extreme brilliance. White sand, blue sea and the Burj Al Arab in the distance. Although the pictures of this beach will make for very good desktop wallpapers, I can’t say I had a great time – it was too bright, hot and humid.
Missing a bus, a sweaty 20 min walk past Burj Al Arab and we reached the comfortable air-conditioned Souk Madinat. This place recreates an Arabian market place but with A/C.
A snack of cinnamon rolls and then we boarded the next bus to the Palm Jumeirah. The super rich of the world including Shahrukh Khan have bought villas on this palm shaped island. Due to its shape, you get to have a personal beach on both sides of your villa. I dropped my plan of buying one only because of the extreme weather. 🙂
Passing the spine of the palm, we reached the hotel Atlantis at the very edge, which also houses a huge aquarium.
2 more such palm islands are being constructed, though currently on hold. (For those who think everything is rosy – Dubai reached bankruptcy in 2009, with its nearby emirate Abu Dhabi bailing it out.)
The return trip took us through the newly developing Dubai marina area, which is slated to become the biggest business district in the world.
Back at our Mall of Emirates, we got refreshed and caught the bus again for our night tour starting at 7.30 pm.
Read the final part here.