Today, I am to accompany my friend at the Riviera Hotel. I chose this hotel for her because of its proximity to the Gold, Textile and Spice Souks (Souk is an arabic term for market) and of course because of the superb breakfast. The hotel rate isn’t bad either.
We left home at 11 am and got on a taxi to take us to the hotel. Our room is not ready yet so we left our things and walked to the Gold Souk. We took the back street where the alleys were a little bit dirty – with small stores and saleman calling out “Pashiminas, madam” or “Pure silk, from Kashmir!”
My friend grabbed my elbow and said,
“This is not the Dubai that is in the guide books!”
Well, that’s point of this tour! I love to take my guests to the less hyped parts of Dubai. The less opulent, more of the old Dubai part of Dubai, to the streets that represents the rest of the population other than the rich, luxurious expats in Jumeirah.
The original gold market still glitters.
Yellow gold is not all the color that you can see in Gold Souk. I find this green mosque fascinating.
I took a bigger photo of it sometime in 2007:
After almost going blind looking at all the gold at the gold souk and getting dizzy with the spice scents, we took an Abra ride to cross the Dubai creek to reach the Textile Souk.
Abras are traditional small, wooden boats used to cross Dubai creek. It costs 1 dirham (USD27 cents) each person, one way. I say it’s not only a very cheap means of transportation, it is a very cheap way to learn a lot about the culture and way of life in Dubai. But of course you wouldn’t find the rich Western expats and their families getting on Abras everyday – just lots and lots of Indian/Pakistani men!
To get on an Abra, you need to go to the Abra Station. In Deira area, there are two stations, one near the Spice/Gold Souk and the other one near Riviera Hotel/ Deira Twin Towers. On the opposite side, there are two stations as well: one near the textile souk and the other one near Bur Dubai bus station.
The Abra station is bustling with activity from early in the morning until late at night. One suggestion: you might need to bring a handkerchief to cover your nose as the fumes from the motors are quite strong (and irritating to some allergy prone people, I suppose).
We made it to the textile souk after the abra ride. You can find everything in the textile souk, not just textiles. There are shawls, shoes, carpets, belly dancing costumes, undies, souvenirs and shirts going at $1.
My female companion couldn’t resist but she insisted that it was the shoes calling out to her and she was helpless!
These shoes are beautiful, all right, but I don’t really know how, when and where she can wear the 5 pairs she bought (when she goes back to Japan)!
I have to cut Day 3 short and put part two in the next post. Next up, is a tour of Dubai Museum, our Dhow Dinner Cruise, a separation anxiety and the headache of the year!