Revisiting old Dubai

It’s been a while since I featured the old part of Dubai – the part stripped off the famous Dubai glitz and glamor but is glorious in its own way. I love this part of the city, maybe more than I love the other side but alas after six years, I found myself rather staying put instead of going with friends or family wanting to visit old Dubai.

I kind of missed it.

I miss the smell of salt water of the creek, the ramblings of the vendors in the souks, the tourists clutching maps and taking photos. The general atmosphere of old Dubai is charming.

It’s interesting what you can find in the markets at Deira. I wonder if anyone still wears these kind of shoes or they are just for souvenirs/decors?

Colorful plates abound!

Look at these lamps and tell me they’re not beautiful. They exude mystery, uniqueness they’re almost magical to look at.

Oh and these, I don’t know what these are and the vendor was busy selling something to a haggling (really persistent) customer so I did not have the chance to ask. What do you think?

These photos were taken by a friend wandering around the old markets. I really need to pick up my dusty old camera, go out more and take photos. It’s really been a while and looking at these treasures, I think I have missed a lot of things!

I want to wander around and see Dubai in tourist’s eyes again.

Abra on the Dubai Creek

The best time to visit Dubai

Abra on the Dubai Creek

I have received a few emails from readers of my blog asking me, when is the best time to come visit Dubai? Is it scorching, unbelievably hot the whole year through? Can people actually walk outside in the heat?  When it comes to the weather, this is probably the travel factor that would discourage many, many travelers from coming here because of the notion that is is hot and summer-y all year round but as I repeatedly mention in this blog, IT IS NOT HOT the whole year through!

And even if it is, it shouldn’t hamper your holidays because there are so many cheap holidays to Dubai during summer! This period offers the best value for money. You might not be able to walk outside that much but lounging by the pool in the morning or dipping in the afternoon can be quite enjoyable.

Weather wise, the best time to come to Dubai and really enjoy the outdoors as much as you enjoy what’s inside the malls are in the cooler months of November to March (or even until April). There are lots to see and do here, not just the sun, shopping and modern buildings – you can go see the traditional (old) Arabic architecture down at the Bastakiya Quarters near the Dubai Creek or join a desert safari to experience the vast desert, do dune bashing, ride a camel and have dinner at a traditional Arabic Camp in the middle of the desert watching a belly dancer perform under the starry desert sky.

Morning at the Dubai Mall

Dubai waterfront

My leave started today and I spent my morning in a very relaxing way. No worries about packing (because I have already finished that task a long time ago – blame OCD). I went to Dubai Mall at 9 am to have breakfast by myself at the foot of Burj Khalifa.


Cafes line up the waterfront near the world’s tallest building and so grabbed a table and did al fresco dining. Free WiFi, healthy-ish breakfast and the perfect harmony of the warm sun and cool air in February.

Burj Khalifa

I need to remind myself that there are perfect mornings like this in Dubai too. I have to remind myself when summer comes.

Dubai Creekside Park

Dubai Creekside Park

I was in Dubai Creekside Park last Saturday and fell in love with it. Again.

The very spacious and green park, just off the floating bridge in Oud Metha is one of my favorite parks in Dubai. We frequented this place when we were new here and I don’t know the reason why we never visited it lately.

The grass is really green, the trees are vibrant and there are playgrounds for children. It’s a great, inexpensive place for a weekend day out.

Dubai Creekside Park

When you walk all the way to the end from any of the gates, you’ll find out why it’s called Creekside Park.

Dubai Creekside Park

The park is situated along Dubai Creek, a natural water inlet or shallow lagoon. I was there early Saturday morning when most people were still at home enjoying their weekend. I loved my stroll here. It was a short, refreshing break from the usual hustle and bustle of life outside the park’s perimeter.

Dubai Creekside Park

There were small wooden boats on the water. They weren’t there when we visited before. I’d like to get on in one of them someday soon.

Dubai Creekside Park

It’s easy to think that there’s nothing in Dubai but cemented roads and endless sand pit. No green patches of grass or trees other than date palms. It’s desert land, remember? But Dubai knows how to create something out of nothing and the government exert efforts so people living here may be able to see and experience what’s it’s like to lie down on the green grass, run around and just enjoy a bit of un-desert like atmosphere.

For that, I am thankful.


  • Entrance fee to the park: 5 dhs/person (US$1.35)
  • Creekside Park on Google Maps can be found here

Al Qasba, Sharjah Silhouettes

There’s a place in Sharjah, the neighboring Emirate of Dubai (just a few minutes away from where we live) called Al Qasba, a quite popular waterside development of offices, shops, restaurants and a big ferris wheel named Eye of the Emirates. (not that big compared to the London Eye)

al qasba ferris wheel

We got into this ferris wheel once and I actually enjoyed it and got out smiling. And I’m not even a big fan of ferris wheels after I projectile vomitted inside a moving ferris wheel when I was 8.

Ew. Next topic. The lamp posts look elegant and beautiful I like to stare at it against the blue sky.

al qasba

We were there one early Friday morning when almost everyone is still in bed. The place gets really crowded during evenings on weekends but how do we know, we aren’t brave enough to drive to Sharjah when it gets hectic. When you live in the UAE, you’ll know the meaning of “hectic” when you see the Dubai-Sharjah road at peak times.

al qasba

Small wooden boats in Al Qasba: empty and sitting peacefully on a Friday morning.

al qasba fountain

We found something interesting in Al Qasba but I am not sure if these are still there now since it has been months since we went last. The silhouettes!

al qasba silhouette

They were everywhere and there are cute ones like this as well.

al qasba silhouette

And this really jolly dude looks so alive. If we ever return there, I know Pristine would say, this silhouette looks like Bruno Mars, with the iconic hat and all.

al qasba silhouette

But wait, Pristine just saw me writing this and said “it has breasts so it couldn’t be a boy!” So not Bruno Mars, probably not.

Hope you enjoyed the little tour to Al Qasba in Sharjah. If you live in Dubai, I think it’s worth a visit and a bit of traffic but don’t quote me on that! 🙂

Something fishy

Once, a wrong turn lead us to the Sharjah – one of the seven Emirates beside Dubai. We were hungry so we stopped in a mall to buy food and water. Entering that particular Sharjah mall was like slipping into another time. Contrary to all the glittery glitz and modernity of Dubai, we saw an entertainment area similar to those in the 80’s…even the lighting and the aura of the whole place looked so retro, and that’s saying it in a bad way.

We had our grocery and headed for the door when we saw a pet shop selling fishes. And no, not just the usual ones but something unique…

flag fish

People, these are REAL fishes. It’s such a pity I’ve met them during the time I forgot to bring my camera. Damn, I’m with my camera most of the time but not this time! I took these with my mobile phone camera so it’s a little blurred.

rainbow fish 3

Still. Can you see why there’s something fishy about these fishes? No? Look again!

rainbow fish 1


Who the hell, imprints the colors of the UAE flag into these poor fishes’ scales!?


And if you think that’s the end of it, I swear this fish is wearing red lipstick.

Read. Mah. Lipz.

Read. Mah. Lipz.

Can  you imagine how the work is done to color these fishes? How many fishes actually survived the procedure and lived on to show off their new scales? Last question: who buys this!? This is just weird.

Along Sheikh Zayed Road

Today I wanna take you on a ride to Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai’s main highway. There are 6-7 lanes, maximum speed limit of 100 km/h. Lots of idiotic drivers.

This video was taken one morning when the hubs and I were on our way to Jebel Ali. Here you get to see the buildings along SZR, with the world’s tallest building among them. You can also see how our mornings look like here. Basically it’s like this everyday – blue, cloudless skies. Great weather we love except the hideous heat in the summer.

There are mountains! There is water!

flat dubai

If you’ve visited Dubai, you’ll be amazed how flat the place is. As long and far as your eyes can see, there are no mountains in the horizon. The above photo was taken by M atop some random high building, showing how there are zero mountains in the city of Dubai.

I love me some mountains and have missed to see them since we lived in a place like this in Japan:

Japan Alps in the background

~ Japan Alps as seen from Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture, Japan ~

We drove far out off the city to go to Hatta, is an oasis town located 130 kilometers from Dubai. It promises mountains, wadis (desert streams) and rock pools. A great respite to the monotonous Dubai cosmopolitan scene, I must say. On the way to Hatta, you will pass a bit of Omani territory and there will be a passport check. Don’t forget to bring your passport or any identification card if your passport is being held by your company, like me.

It was almost lunch time so we dropped by Hatta Fort Hotel to rest and have our lunch. We saw this pretty camel, well, sitting pretty in the sun.


You know what happens next.

maki and p on camel

Notice the oh so beautiful blue sky? That’s what we love about “winter” here in Dubai! My two pals here are even wearing short-sleeved clothing. After the camel ride and a burger lunch (as usual, Pristine had her own packed lunch since this kid do NOT eat burgers, at all), we got into the car again in search of the mountain range mentioned by our guide – my husband.

After about 20 minutes, there it was!

Hatta mountains

M says we need to go down the valley to see the desert rivers and water formations. He never said we’d be trekking so I was kind of upset that Pristine did not have the proper shoes to which he solved by carrying her piggy back style. She was amused. I found this tree on the way down.

old tree

It reminds me of the bush that burned somewhere in the Moses story in the Bible.

hatta mountains

The rock pools and wadis:

rock pools

I suppose there’d be more water if it’s the rainy season.



Look closely, there’s a running stream:

desert stream

The rock formations tell me this place used to have plenty of water some tens or hundreds of years ago? I wonder where it all went.

rock formations

people at hatta

The mountains of Hatta do not resemble the snow capped mountains of Japan during winter but it was awesome in its own way. I’m glad we went despite all the dust and fine sand in our feet.

Dad and daughter

The mountains of Hatta look like mountains but with no trees in them, they look really bare, like huge lumps of rocks instead of mountains. No sound of music will make these hills alive. Ok, bad joke.

This is the reason why we don’t have curtains

Dubai winter sky

One of the things I look forward to when November comes is this: lovely morning skies in Dubai. Along with cooler, very pleasant temperatures, Dubai winter morning skies from November to around March are just so beautiful that I don’t mind waking up early in the morning, waiting for God to show me his painting of the day.

My mornings are always a rush, waking up at 5:30 am so I can at least, wear a bra while taking Pristine to meet her bus at 7:00 am. On most days, I can’t even comb or my hair smells of onion or garlic – don’t worry I take a bath before coming to the office. It’s hectic around the house on early mornings but during the winter months, my camera and I are ready to capture the moment.

If something like this awaits when I wake up, I won’t mind doing it the whole year through.

Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization

arabian lamp

Sharjah is one of the seven Emirates that comprise the UAE. Since Dubai has risen to great heights among the seven Emirates, people seem to have little knowledge of Sharjah and have missed to see some of its beauty, thanks to the horrible traffic going into and out of the emirate.

sharjah museum of islamic civilization outside

sharjah museum of islamic civilization outside 2

We visited the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization located in an old area of Sharjah. The building was only the second of its kind in the Gulf region, after Sharjah’s “New” or “Central’’ Souq constructed in 1977, to use traditional, Arab-Islamic design elements in its ground-plan and décor.

sharjah museum of islamic civilization outside 3

The building with its impressive architecture and attractive design features was subsequently renovated and reopened in 2008 as the Museum of Islamic Civilization. Its most outstanding feature is its majestic, gilt central dome, decorated on the inside with an intricate mosaic depicting the night sky and the signs of the zodiac.

sharjah museum of islamic civilization outside 4

Here we learned a lot about Islamic culture. My mother became too engrossed with an image of pilgrims doing the Haj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

mama looking at mecca

Some photos of what’s inside the building:

sharjah islamic centre 4

Even if we went on a Friday (off day for most), the building was almost empty except for a few staff, us and a couple of tourists.

from above

See? The halls look ghostly.

sharjah islamic centre

On the second floor, you can see the beautiful interior of the dome, decorated intricately to depict the night sky with glittering lights to form the zodiac. Sadly, I only brought a 50mm lens with me so it was impossible to get a full  shot of the ceiling.

An old door:

old door

Traditional utensils for Arabic coffee:


There’s some sort of cafe upstairs which wasn’t open. The chairs are exquisite.

nanay and p

Outside the weather was so nice, blue cloudless skies, typical UAE “winter” weather.

mosque in sharjah

BONUS PHOTO: We passed by three men who had just finished with their Friday prayers at the nearby mosque. They didn’t seem to mind a stranger taking their photograph.


If you are living in the UAE, I’d suggest a visit to the museum on Fridays, preferably so you won’t have to endure the horrific traffic between Sharjah and Dubai on other days. However, the museum is only open from 4pm to 8pm on Fridays.

You can view the photo gallery from the main website here.