All of Dubai isn't spanking new, though everything pretty much looks like it could be. For instance, this is the Bastakia Quarter, known as the historical part of Dubai.
It's where you go to see the wind towers, ingenious buildings that funnel the breeze to make the ridiculously hot summers in this region slightly more bearable. But doesn't it kind of look like a new condo development?
Even this time of year, midday is not neccesarily when you want to be up and about.
The oldest section of Dubai (with buildings dating back to the early 19th century) is found around a inlet of water known as The Creek. The souks, or markets, are right nearby. A particularly atmosperic way to get there is via abra, or motorized wooden boat. It costs about 35 cents, or 1 dirham, to ride across the Creek with 20 or so new friends.
The Spice Souq is a neat labyrinthine area of wonderful sweet and spicy smells and shop owners thrusting various powders, dried fruits, stamens, and crystals in front of you and saying "Do you know what this is?" in any of five or six languages.
It's a good way to get us to stop, because of COURSE we want to show that we can recognize cinnamon! Or dried lemons. Though we did learn about (and buy a small jar of) natural menthol crystals!
There are several specialized souqs that are not tourist-oriented, like the mattress souq and the small household goods souq. If you aren't careful walking through the tourist souq, though, you might look down and realize this has happened to you:
Sheik Logan is supercool.
The Gold Souq is a must-see, especially if you want your eyes to pop out of your head. We read that at any given time there are 25 tons of gold on display in the windows here. It's quite a sight!
There's also the largest gold ring in the world. With me, for scale.
Traditional "Emirati" food is apparently pretty hard to come by (though sushi, Thai, and Mexican are well represented), but we did have an Emirati-style burger and shake!
Make that a camel burger and date-and-yogurt shake. Camel seems pretty lean, and the Local House likes to pile on a lot of rosemary. After Turkey and the Middle East, though, I'm pretty well obsessed with yogurt drinks (and now here we are in India! LASSIS FOR ME!).
So, there is a slightly more authentic Dubai under the crazy hotels and indoor ski runs. It's shiny and clean and altogether safe, but if you need a reminder that you're in the Middle East, heading to the souqs is a great way to pass an afternoon.