Theme (Post#3) : Gold Store – Dubai Gold Souk Store
“Souk” in Dubai means “Traditional Market”. When I had an almost a week training in Dubai, I grabbed that opportunity to stay for a couple more days to explore Dubai and my expenses on it will be cover by myself. One of the traditional tour that I visited is Dubai Gold Souk. In my opinion, I can sense that countries in the desert, there are tantamount stores for gold and Dubai or let say UAE which is a desert country is one of them. While walking around the area of Gold Souk, we felt awe that there are too many stores selling gold products and the like which looks like the other products being sell in the market without anymore differences. It’s overwhelming because we are not talking just a common store but a gold. Photo captured during my holidays in Dubai last
Random Angle (Post#1) : WAFI – Pyramids and Egyptian Themed Buildings
WAFI is one of the mall in Dubai that has unique exterior design of its building because it has EGYPTIAN theme architecture design. Because of my curiosity, I asked my college friend whom accompanied me in some nights while I was in Dubai, why WAFI has Egyptian style, and she told me that the owner of the mall are quite fascinated with Egyptian culture. It is one of the malls that I really like because I myself curious to understand the Egypt pyramids and the story behind it. Photo captured last August 2014.
View At My Window (Post#16) : Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
While wandering at Dubai Mall, we found a huge aquarium where people can go and explore it quite up close and personal without getting wet, I am referring to non other than Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. Photo captured last August 2014. People actually enjoy the aquarium for free from the outside though entering the tunnel has a fee.
It was Sunday, my last day in Dubai as holiday. In Dubai or let’s say UAE (not sure if all Arab countries are the same), they started their weekday on Sunday and will last on Thursday. Therefore, they treated Friday and Saturday as their weekends. Because I will be traveling alone, I booked a bus tour which is hop-in and hop-out bus tour type. Though there are places included in the tracks that I already visited, I still join the tour since it is the cheapest way to go around the city since I can’t rent a car because I don’t know how to drive.
Here are the routes of the BigBus Tour that I booked:
1. Red Route (City Route)
b. Creek Park
c. Creek Walk
d. Al Fahidi Port
e. Old Souk
f. Heritage Village
g. Gold Souk
h. Spice Souk
i. Abra Station
k. Deira City Centre
2. Blue Route (Marina Route)
b. Union House
c. Jumeirah Mosque
e. Jumeirah Beach Park
f. Jumeirah Public Beach
h. Souk Madinat Jumeirah
i. Atlantis On The Palm
j. Mall of Emirates
k. The Dubai Mall
3. Night Tour
a. Sheikh Zayed Road
b. Burj Al Arab
c. Palm Jumeirah
d. Skycraper City
e. Burj Khalifa
f. Downtown Dubai
g. WAFI Light and Sound Show
Self tour within the area: Deira City Centre, Dubai Mall, Souk Madinat Jumeirah, and Mall of Emirates
Since I have one day left, I did not go anymore to the places that I already seen and visited. And because it still summer in Dubai, the hardest part is walking outside in a hot sunny day. During the day tour, I went outside the bus when we arrived at the Public Beach of Jumeirah and Souk Madinat Jumeirah which both belong to Blue route or Marina route. I stayed inside the bus in other location because I am maximizing the time that I still have to see much as I can. The places I saw from the bus in this route are: the 2nd of December Street (from the formal date of nationalization of UAE from British), Union House (where the UAE was form and the huge flagpole of UAE located), Jumeirah Mosque, Mercato (an Italian themed mall), and Jumeirah Beach Park (which exclusive only for women).
At WAFI (day time)
Raffles Dubai in WAFI (at day time)
Around WAFI (at daytime)
Khan Murjan Entrance (at daytime)
Etisalat Tower 2 (along Sheikh Zayed Road)
Jumeirah Beach Hotel
I got off from the bus when we arrived at Public Beach of Jumeirah because I thought I can take pictures there, but unfortunately, it is not allowed to take pictures in the beach that was why I was not able to take pictures of Burj Al Arab from that place. My disappointment in the beach was gone when I went to Souk Madinat which can be found inside Madinat Jumeirah Hotel. I was really fascinated with the place because of unique style of the market and the structure design of the hotel that you will really feel you are in an arab desert place. I went outside the souk and found a great place to capture Burj Al Arab hotel from Souk Madinat or from Madinat Jumeirah Hotel. I realized that I was standing in some part of the luxurious resort hotel in Dubai. Though not all part are free to all tourist, it was just part where there are restaurants outside the hotel. I enjoyed the place and if I will be given a chance to come back, I hope I can stay in Madinat Jumeirah Hotel resort.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah Entrance
Inside Souk Madinat Jumeirah
Burj Al Arab from Madinat Jumeirah Hotel Resort
Around Madinat Jumeirah Hotel Resort
Another area that I enjoyed without getting off the bus is the Palm Jumeirah. A famous man-made palm shape structure island, where you can find luxurious hotels and residential homes of rich people. I never realized how big Palm Jumeirah until our bus entered the island. There are lots of residential and buildings already exist and other structures are still being built. For me the place is already beautiful and I was excited when we saw Altantis The Palm hotel from a far. I can’t believe my eyes that I am seeing the hotel which I only saw in the movie of “Sex and the City”. It is a huge hotel that I was not able to capture the whole building with my phone when we were at the front of the hotel. Atlantis is another luxurious hotel that exist in Dubai, I can’t imagine how much it will cost when you stay even for one night.
View while entering Palm Jumeirah (Burj Al Arab from a far)
Atlantis The Palm (at Palm Jumeirah)
View of Dubai Marina from Palm Jumeirah
Next places I saw in daylight are Mall of Emirates, Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall, I took photos of these building again while inside the rooftop of the bus.
Novotel (at Sheikh Zayed Road) where I stayed in my first 5 nights in Dubai
JW Marriott Marquis Hotel
Mall of Emirates
Souk Al Bahar (near in Burj Khalifa)
After completing the blue route, I transferred in Red route or City route bus and in this tour, I saw more of Deira area and its old downtown. I saw the Creek River, Creek Park, wooden Arabian Dhow, Al Fahidi Port, Old Souk, Heritage Village, Gold Souk, Spice Souk, Abra Station, Baniyas and Deira City Centre.
Creek Park Main Gate (at Al Riyadh St)
wooden arabian dhow in Creek River (at Al Seef Road)
Creek River (at Al Seef Road)
Wooden Arabian Dhow
Old Dubai Souk Marine Transport
Old Dubai Souk Marine Transport
Around Al Ghubaiba MRT station
Around Al Ghubaiba MRT station
Around Al Ghubaiba MRT station
Around Al Ghubaiba MRT station
Creek River at Baniyas Road
Creek River at Baniyas Road
Deira Old Souk
RTA Marine Transport at Baniyas Road
Deira City Center
While waiting for my night tour, I did some souvenir and gift shopping, these gifts serve as a token to give to my relatives and coworkers when I returned in my country.
The last part of the tour is the night tour where I witness and discovered how grandiose the city of Dubai at night-time. We drove again at the same route of Blue route. Here I saw Dubai differently and witness how beautiful Dubai City is during night hours.
The night tour concluded. And I returned straight from Deira City Centre to my hotel almost 11PM. This was how I ended my last day in Dubai. I hoped that I can go back again in this beautiful city someday because I know there are more places to discover and my few days are not enough to see them all, if I will be given a chance, at least I wanted to live here for almost a year to learn more about Arab culture and its country.
I woke-up early, my stuff are all back in my luggage for my early checkout. It was the same day of my first day of having holiday in Dubai since the training was over. I checked-out early because I need to attend personal activity and I left my luggage at the hotel for the mean time. I was on my way to the place where I need to be, I thought the location was near from my hotel that was why I decided to walk instead of taking a cab, it was around 10AM in the morning wherein it was one of the time as the hottest hours during day time. I regretted that I walked because it was really hot and I was soaked in sweat. After such experience, I learned my lesson not to do that craziness again. When my morning activity concluded, I went straight to Mall of the Emirates, I walked to the mall from where I came from since it’s just nearby.
Some of the interiors that can be found inside Mall of the Emirates (above photos)
I wandered in Mall of the Emirates, from parking area, I went up to second level of the mall. I felt relieved and comfortable as I entered the mall because of the cold condition that I felt inside, then I went straight to food court for my lunch, I ate fries and hot dog sandwich. After lunch, I continue my stroll in the mall and while walking, I took photos as well. One of the features of Mall of the Emirates is the Ski Dubai slope, but unfortunately, I didn’t tried to find it.
Another hour of walking past, I decided to go back to my hotel to pick-up my luggage. Then, I moved to another hotel, its Landmark Grand Hotel which I arranged earlier, even before I departed Manila to Dubai. The hotel is located in Deira and it is near in Union metro interchange station. I arrived in the hotel past 4PM in the afternoon and rested for a while before the evening plan with my friend. I met my friend at the lobby of the hotel and we talked for another hour until we decided to visit traditional Gold Souk (Gold Market) which located at Al Khor street. We left the hotel and we went to my friend’s house unit and stayed there for half an hour. Next, we went to Gold Souk via public bus. While on our way to the market, I saw the other side of Dubai. My friend told me that Deira is the old Dubai. And by looking around Deira, I can feel the sense of history for most of the places we passed by. Most of traditional Souk are located in Deira. I enjoyed watching the place while inside the bus. And in Deira I discovered places quite differently from the impression that left on me while I visited places outside Deira such as places along Sheikh Zayed Road from Burjuman going to Jabal Ali where it is being called right now as the new Dubai. I realized that Dubai is far from where it was before, by looking from where it start, which is in Deira, Dubai is now a progressive and very modern city based from what it has and what it achieves.
We stopped at public bus terminal where the Gold Souk is just around the corner. After reaching the place, we quickly look around the place and most of the stores in each corner are showing off their gold products. We never tried to enter even in one store, because we never really intend to buy gold and we know nothing about gold for real.
One of the entrance to Gold Souk
One of the Gold Store in Gold Souk
Next place we decided to see was the Dubai Festival City Mall or DFCM, I think this was the third mall that I visited in Dubai. My friend told me that most of the concert events are happening around this mall. We tried to see the Festival Marina but we are not able to go around the area due to renovation .going on
This was the last day of the training, we started the training a little bit earlier and we ended it a bit earlier as well. I went out together with my Pakistan mates in a unique Arab adventure which is called desert safari tour. Though I was invited early on, I did not confirm ahead of time if I am going since I am not sure if I have other commitments. It was a little bit late that I confirmed that I am going to join them. Because of this, I made the group a little bit uncomfortable in terms of seating arrangement in the safari vehicle. But even that was the case, the group still able to managed the seats and the adventure has begun.
Desert where we had our desert safari adventure (photos above)
I thought that desert location was near in the city, but it took us sometime to reach the location. Based on the photos that I captured using my iPhone, we started the desert safari adventure near in Al Badayar near in Dubai-Hatta Road which is part of Sharja (Sharja – one of the seven emirates in UAE). At first I did not know what to expect in this adventure. We parked our vehicle near the road and there we waited for sometime. While waiting, we took some photos of ourselves, the whole group and of course the desert. I asked what is the name of the desert and someone answered me, but I forgot the name of it. After waiting for few more minutes, still unknown what we are going to do, I saw some groups of vehicles from a far in the middle of the desert, they are aligned to each other like they are in queue and they are driving together within the desert dunes. From the distance, it seems it’s just nothing until I realized what we are up to when we got back inside the vehicle and we started rolling. To my surprise, since there is another vehicle in front of us, we are like a convoy following the tracks of the vehicle in front of us. I understand that we are driving at the tip of the sand dunes in the desert. I saw the front vehicle that it seems its falling but it’s not then its drives on sideways, that makes your heart flutter if you will be surprised. The desert safari rides is like a roller coaster, we enjoyed the whole ride, until we reach the other end of the desert near where the Lahbab Desert Safari Camp is located which is already part of Dubai. The safari camp is where we will witnessed the famous belly dancing show as part of Arabian nights experience.
Lahbab Desert Safari Camp (above photos)
At the safari camp, all of the tourist were gathered, majority were seated in the middle and each group of tourist (based from tour company) has their own designated seats. Each has long tables and has pillows that serves as a seats, the setting itself feels the ambiance of Arabian nights. Few more minutes passed, the show started when the first woman entered at the middle stage. The woman started dancing, it was belly dancing. Another dance number followed and it also performed by another woman. Though its belly dancing, the style is different from the first one. It was the first time to experience watching belly dancing in a desert safari camp. The last number seems the biggest performance, the big man went to the middle stage and started turning around without moving its position from where it stand, a lot of people amazed because the man doesn’t show if he’s dizzy even though he’s doing it for quite sometime. The big man is wearing a costume with lights with vibrant colors. Because of this, the effect of the lights while he is turning around are like illusions and the view was fantastic. Before the show ended, he asked volunteers from the audience to do the same thing, there are few volunteers tried doing the same thing that the big man did and we had a good laugh when volunteers immediately felt dizziness. That’s how our Arabian nights experience ended. I had a great time. The whole group had a great time. After the show, we went back to the hotel, which means the night was over. That was the same night I saw my mates from Pakistan for the last time because they are going to back in their country, the next day morning, while I myself will still stay for few more days in Dubai to continue holiday.
It was Tuesday, second day of training, I focus my mind in the training knowing that I am going to enjoy another night in Dubai. I met my friend in Burjuman metro interchange station. Then, we transferred to green line going to Etisalat and got off at Dubai Healthcare City station. From the station, we walked for few minutes until we reached the WAFI city mall.
According to my friend the owner of WAFI city are inspired in Egyptian culture, that is why WAFI city mall were designed with the touch of Egyptian architectural design. Comparing the number of people visiting WAFI and Dubai mall, there are big differences. When we visited WAFI city mall, there are few people inside, you can count people whom you can pass by. I am not sure if WAFI mall targeted few people as their customer. There are luxurious store you can find in that mall, one reason why it’s not popular to the general masses or maybe the problem is the location. I can’t really give it as serious thoughts. Even though there are few people visiting the mall, I enjoyed walking around WAFI, because same with the owner of WAFI City, I like the pyramid because of mystery surrounded by it, I felt that I traveled in Egypt.
Some external view of WAFI (above photos)
Some interior design you can find at WAFI (above photos)
Raffles Dubai (at night-time)
There is one interesting place inside WAFI city that I really like, it is “Khan Murjan” (based from the mall directory brochure that I got, Khan Murjan is the legendary 14th century souk in Baghdad which is a hub for travelers and artisans). You can see how unique the place is. And even the restaurant inside it, it’s definitely has Arabian culture spirit.
After taking more minutes in strolling in the mall, we had our dinner and we waited for the light and sound show. The show entitled “Returns of the Pharaohs” which shown across the Pyramids and the other Egyptian themed buildings in the Central Courtyard in WAFI city mall.
Khan Murjan (one of the authentic arabian experience market and restaurants)
Inside of Khan Murjan (above photos)
That night ended again with feel of accomplishment by seeing another part of Dubai.
It was Monday, first day of my training. Here I met my colleagues from Pakistan. Out of 18 people in the training, including our instructor, I am only the woman in the training. At first, it was surprising to me, and I just realized that all the other 16 attending the training, I am the only one from Manila and the rest of them are from Pakistan. After the training, I planned to meet my long time college friend at the hotel lobby and because of this I was not able to join my Pakistan mates that night. From the hotel, my friend and I walked to the nearest metro station (Sharaf DG station). I bought my NOL card (transportation card accepted in train, bus, and marine public transport) and then took the train going to Rashidiya. That was the first time I took train in Dubai, while on the train, I discovered and realized that it is true that there are lots of Filipinos in Dubai. Hearing people speaking my own language and looking at them, yes they are all Filipinos by words and by looks. I thought that I was riding MRT train in EDSA back home, but I am not, I am in Dubai, riding Dubai Metro train. After half an hour travel, we got off at Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall station. We walked for a while until we reached Dubai Mall.
Dubai Mall Entrance from train station
We saw a lot in Dubai Mall. Dubai Mall is said to be the largest mall in the world in terms of total area. There are lots of signature and branded store you can find in this mall. After walking a while with my friend, I honestly told myself that I will easily get lost in this mall, too many stores, too many things to see and too many places to go. I definitely advised that people who will visit Dubai Mall required to get a map, but if you are adventurer, just enjoy being lost in the mall. Significant part of the mall that I found are: Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo and Dubai Waterfall.
Before seeing Dubai Aquarium, I am wondering how big it is and after I saw it, the aquarium is bigger than 3 or 4 shopping stores inside the mall. You can walk inside the tunnel where the top of it is part of the aquarium. Next, we saw is the Dubai Waterfall, wherein it seems that the water fall starts from the top of the mall down to the ground level. One thing that this waterfall is interesting are human divers sculptures found in the entirety of the waterfall. At first, I thought those sculptures are like people flying in the air but to think about it, since it’s a waterfall, I realized that the structure are people who are diving from the top of the waterfall.
My friend and I continue our walk while talking, then we found the food court and had our dinner. After dinner, we went outside the mall to witness the famous dancing fountain at Dancing Fountain lake where Burj Khalifa is nearly located. Before the show, I enjoy observing Burj Khalifa tower, took a lot of photos and amazed how high the tower is. I am fascinated on the lightnings shining across the whole tower. Aside from the tower, another interesting building that I saw is the Souk Al Bahar just beside the Dubai mall. The show started and I watched it intently, though it’s a few minutes show, I still enjoyed it.
Burj Khalifa (top)
Burj Khalifa (ground)
Dancing Fountain Lake
Souk Al Bahar
Second night in Dubai was over with satisfaction of seeing part of Dubai even in just few hours.
I never thought that time will come that I will be able to visit a city belong to Middle East Asia. One main reason, limitation of my passport in terms of visa free entry to different countries in the world. I read an article that my country are only allowed to 50 countries with visa free entry. And most of the countries included in the list are part of ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nation) countries and countries which mostly considered as 3rd world country similar to my homeland.
I am lucky because of my work, I am able to travel in other countries because of project assignment and training. Last August 2014, my boss sent me abroad for training. The training is 4 days and the location is Dubai, United Arab Emirates. During the preparation process of my travel, this was before my final flight schedule has been arranged, I tried if I can add few more days from the original schedule plan. The end result, I was able to put additional 3 days from original 5 days travel after finding return flight which is cheaper from the original schedule.
My flight to Dubai was Sunday morning before 9AM leaving Manila and arriving in Dubai International Airport Terminal 3 through Emirates airline. The flight was 8 hours. We landed at Dubai International Airport the same day past 1:30 in the afternoon. Dubai is 4 hours behind from Manila time.
Dubai International Airport are known to be similar to Singapore International Airport because this airport becomes a hub for stop over terminal for most of international flights from Asia, America and Europe countries. It is like interchange airport. As we know that this city is booming its tourism industry for the past couple of years, Dubai Airport terminals had recent massive renovations and improvements. Terminal 3 is home of Emirates airline. Before arriving in this terminal, the only picture in my mind regarding Dubai Airport was based from what I saw in National Geographic TV show with an impression that it’s really huge. When I got off the plane and walk along the arrival terminal, I found out that it has similarity to Incheon International Airport where I need to ride a skytrain. Having a skytrain means one thing, the terminal is not just big, it’s ultimately big. Its size is massive, though I may not seen it all, but as far as what I saw, it’s not an ordinary airport. I don’t have photo souvenirs of the terminal during my arrival because I tried my best to behave myself since I am in a foreign country. I have this impression that though Dubai is popular Arab city with freedom, I kept myself in check and restrain myself on doing things that I am not sure if allowed, like taking pictures inside the terminal.
After I transferred from the terminal to concourse using skytrain, I walked straight to immigration area for passport and visa check. As I’m not used to Arab world, I was bit surprised when I saw all the immigration officers in their Muslim outfit, after seeing what officers are wearing, that was the very moment that I realized that I am really in Dubai, an Arab city. At the front of the officer, he checked my passport and requested my visa, and then a photo of myself was taken.
My luggage platform was far from the passport control check, and for this reason, I had a chance to walk for a while inside the terminal. The terminal is really big and its clean. Though one thing that I just noticed, the ambiance of the lights in overall are quite dim for me, not sure if there some reason behind it or it was the design of the lights. I found the platform and waited for my luggage. When I found my luggage, I straight forward on my way to exit, passing the custom area easier since I just have one luggage, one laptop and hand bag. Then, I tried to look around to find some tourist information booth but unluckily I did not find brochures aside from travel company booths and information center. I approached the information center and asked if the airport cabs accepts credit card since I did not withdraw too much of cash. Someone responded to me and to my surprise, a Filipina woman talked to me in my own language. For that inquiry, I learned that there are two types of taxi airport in Dubai, one is the ordinary which only accepts cash and black limousine cab which accepts credit card.
I exited the terminal, to my surprise I felt the hot temperature outside and that kind of heat was first time, never experienced it before, it felt very hot and very dry. I walked to the taxi lane where the limousine cab is waiting. I got in and told the driver where my hotel is. While on our way, I learned from the driver that there are lots of Filipinos working in Dubai, wherein he himself has a lot of Filipino friends. He told me as well that the current temperature at that time was around 50 degrees Celsius (that temperature is higher than the temperature of a person with fever).
From the airport to hotel it took us at least 30 minutes and there was no traffic at all. While inside the cab, I realized that Dubai is a big city and not just a city but a developed modern city. I can’t believe with my eyes that this kind of city will exist from the desert world. Though Dubai is really famous, I don’t know much about it, my idea was came from the movie of Tom Cruise from Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol where some shots were taken from the tallest tower in the world – Burj Khalifa.
Within the 30 minutes drive, most of that time were spent along Sheikh Zayed Road (named after the first president of United Arab Emirates and the principal driving force to form UAE as a country – Sheikh Zayed). Along this road, we passed a lot of towers, high-rise buildings and structures. In this road, I got a chance to glimpse the Burj Khalifa from a far and then after few more minutes I arrived at Novotel Albarsha, where I stayed for 5 nights and where the training was held.
When I entered the hotel, I saw familiar faces, I saw Filipinos working in the hotel and Filipinos whose traveling similar in my case. Some Filipinos working are assigned in concierge and some are assigned at the lobby counter. With this scenario, I felt at ease, seeing people same with my own race and nationality makes me feel comfortable in a foreign land. After processing my check-in, I went straight to my room. I checked the time and it was past 3:30 PM, since it’s still early, I thought that I can still go out for few hours to see some part of Dubai, but unfortunately, I fell asleep, time passed faster that I anticipated and I woke-up past 10 PM in the evening. Because of this, the only thing I got to do was to have dinner and to prepare myself for the first day of my training. In between the time that I arrived from the airport and from the time I fell asleep in the hotel, I was able to send messages to my college classmate and friend who currently living and working in Dubai. She is my personal contact outside work who can go help me while going around Dubai.
During my stay in Dubai, I tried my best to see places as much as I can because I don’t know if I will be able to come back. I will tell a story of all the places that I have seen so far in Dubai. Below are the list of the places that I visited in Dubai, each day has its own posted story to tell to distinguish the places that I had seen and experience.