Wandering around Dubai like a real tourist, Day 1


A friend of mine, who is so interested in Dubai even before I hopped on the plane to relocate here came to see me last month, just after Christmas. Japan offices are off on the last week of the year so she had the chance to finally come, bringing all her guide books and t-shirts. She really never believed me that it’s quite chilly here in December.

After picking her up at the airport at 5:30 am, we went to have breakfast at the Riviera Hotel, a small B&B hotel at Baniyas Road, facing Dubai Creek in Deira. They offer very affordable breakfast buffet at 50 dhs only. I say “only” although I don’t want to spend an amount like that for my breakfast everyday, because it is still inexpensive compared to the other hotel restaurants in the city. They had Japanese food also, with menus changing daily thanks to a resident Japanese staff they have.

After a sumptous breakfast, I took my friend for a stroll along the Dubai Creek – a very relaxing thing to do on a Friday morning where everyone, I suspect, is still sleeping. The usual rush of the dhows and the traffic was not there, just us and the sea and the very pleasant winter weather.

A funny coincidence: a man drinking tea near a giant brass pitcher along Dubai Creek.


My friend smiling despite still jetlagged from her long flight.


Then we went to Radisson SAS Hotel, just on the same road. I love this hotel in Deira. Sure it is not one of the newest and most sophisticated hotels in the city right now but this was the first five star hotel in Dubai so it has a lot of history. They recently underwent major renovations so the establishment is good as new and with great service.

There were lavish Christmas decors at Radisson SAS.

A giant tree:


A huge ginger bread house where the walls are really made out of biscuits!



That same day, my friend and I were to board a bus, along with 10 other tourists for a city tour. My husband acts as a guide and we got special approval from the tour coordinator to join for free. I thought it was a great opportunity for my friend to tour around Dubai (for FREE) and a rare chance for me to see my husband at work.

He was very impressive. To say that I am extremely impressed would be an understatement. You could say I was awed, amazed, dazzled by the way he handled the tour. He really takes his work by heart. I am proud of my man – and what he had become compared to what how he was the day we arrived in Dubai. He’s a totally different person. From a man very dependent on his wife on everything because of the language barrier (he didn’t speak English that well 2 years ago) to someone beaming with confidence and being fluent on the language.

I feel like a mom looking at her grownup son. * sniff *

Moving on before I start looking for tissues for my tears….

The tour took us to Sheikh Zayed Road first to see the buildings – those tall, unique buildings you see in every Dubai guidebook and postcards.

Then on to Souk Madinat Jumeirah, a shopping area styled to resemble typical Arabian market. The Burj Al Arab can be seen from here. The group shopped for souvenirs while I cautioned my friend that she can have the same particular item at half the price at the local market in Deira! We were the only ones empty handed.


I don’t know what this is for but I found this near the washroom. The rose petals were lovely.


My favorite tree in all of Dubai was still standing, very beautifully against the blue skies.



Next, the group went to Atlantis Hotel at Palm Jumeirah. In case you don’t know, The Palm Jumeirahis the largest manmade island in the world. There will be three Palm Islands in Dubaibut the one completed right now is only Palm Jumeirah yet. The contractors are still busy hurling big boulders to the see to construct the othe two.

(Atlantis Hotel photos to be uploaded shortly!)

Then the group proceeded to Jumeirah Beach Road and because there is not much to say about this “New Dubai” part of Dubai except for the the opulent lines of villas, the Jumeirah Mosque and Mercato Mall, my husband talked about the history of Dubai and the UAE – of how it was become what it is now from the time when pearl diving was the only means of living for the people. Everyone was listening at every detail and asked questions which our tour gladly answered.

The final leg of the group tour landed us in Dubai Museum in Bur Dubai. I love going to this museum as it has galleries and dioramas depicting people and their way of life during the olden times. The group was to have lunch at Basta Art Cafe – an outdoor cafe with great ambiance and good food. My friend and I had to go since we will be leaving for desert safari that evening.

The 4×4 picked us up at 3:30 pm. The desert will be cold at this time of the year so we packed jackets, scarves, winter hats and even gloves. My friend almost laughed at us. She’s from Japan where the temperature was zero at night when she left.


This is my second desert safari but the first time taking Pristine with me. It might be because we have a kiddo in tow that the driver made the safari very mild the first one was a blast. I only let out a few screams and didn’t break my mother’s arm everytime the car dove down sand hills.

We stopped by to take photos.



On a regular desert safari, the cost of the tour will include pickup and drop-off,dinner buffet, camel ride, henna body painting, belly dance show (where you can participate if you like), dressing up in National costumes and of course, the safari itself.

After the mad driving in the sand, we reached the camp site and took advantage of the camels resting. Some of the tourists haven’t arrived so we had the pleasure to get on the camels many times until the camel grunted with anger. I need to lose weight before getting on in one again.

Pristine and my friend posed with the camel and a handful of tourists.


It’s my mom’s first time to ride a camel. She was so nervous, but I bet the camel was too!


This man asked my two friends to pose with him and his wife so he could say when goes back home that he has THREE wives in Dubai!


Night fell and cold crept in but we were ready. My friend was not. She wished she brought the winter jacket she left in her cabinet in Japan.

After dinner, we were treated with a belly dance show.


She pulled a man from the crowd, who gamely put on a costume on his hip and shook his booty.


By 8:30 pm, it was time to go home. You bet everyone fell into a deep sleep the moment we closed our eyes!

Whew, it was a long day and this, a long post. Are you sure you still want me to continue writing about Day 2?


  1. Found your blog through blog around the world. I have always been curious about the middle east. I love the photo of the shadows in the desert. It is amazing.



  2. What was the name of the desert safari tour company for this tour? I will be in Dubai next week and I would love to do a tour like this that comes with a recommendation.



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