Dubai – Day 1, Middle East

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DUBAI – Day 1
My first trip to Dubai was on the 17th Jan 2010. Overall it was a very interesting trip and I had vowed to do this again.

First Day – paid AED 220 ( approx Aud$63) per person for The Big Bus Company (whole day bus tour) . This is somewhat similar to the double decker bus in London or in Sydney. The decision to take a double decker tour is to familiarize ourselves as to what is worthwhile seeing before we spend more time at a specific spot.

We decided to take the beach section ( rather than the city section) of the tour in the morning as it will be cooler. We took the city section in the afternoon. Because we stayed at Oasis Apartment AED 400 (approx Aud$115 per person) near Bur Juman shopping centre, we jumped on the first bus from there. Our apartment is only 15 minutes walking distance to the shopping centre. Started the big bus company tour at 9am from the Bur Juman shopping centre, however the actual bus tour started at Wafi, (another shopping centre that looks like an ancient pyramid) just a 5 minute bus ride. Included in the tour is a free Murjan Discovery walk, which we had chosen not to take as we wanted to see the sites on our list of top priority sites and we did. By the time we went to check out what the Murjan discovery walk is all about at the end of the tour, we decided that we didn’t miss anything much. It is just rows of shops that sells Indians and Persian goods in what I would consider a ’basement’ shopping arcade.

Our first quick stop on this bus tour was the highest flag pole in the world at the Union House. We traveled along the Jumeitrah Beach Rd where for a stretch of a few kilometers, you see many 2 stories building that catered for private hospital to cosmetic surgery clinic. I presume mostly for foreigners. We drove past the Jumeirah beaches, where one of them caters only for ladies and children on Monday. Dubai is a Muslim country, thus it is understood that women doesn’t swim with the opposite sex.

We drove past the Dubai Zoo which used to be owned by an Australian, who sold the zoo to the people of Dubai. Heard that it is worth going, (if time permit) but not for us.

From one of the beaches, we had a good view of the Burj Al Arab, one of the most expensive hotels in the world. The only one that advertised themselves as 7 stars in the world. However due to time constraint, we didn’t get a chance to go inside the hotel.

Next the tour bus drove to the Atlantis on the Palm.

It is actually a high class resort sitting on a man made island. The design of the resort is like the shape of a palm leaves on a palm tree. Apparently this is one of the man made structure that on can see from the moon. Inside is the most wonderful aquarium as high from ceiling to floor. The fishes in there are more beautiful than any aquarium fishes I have seen,. Much better than Sydney or Melbourne aquarium or the aquarium at Bali. Checked out the beach at the Atlantis at Palm, very clear emerald waters. Didn’t see any of the many islands is suppose to be situated on the right side of Atlantis Resort. These islands are sold to expiate and foreigners eg film stars and royalties for a high price off course.

Next stop was at Mall of the Emirates , where the indoor ski slope is situated. We had a great view of the ski slopes and it looks mighty impressive. Decided that we will head there tomorrow by ourselves.

Next stop is another mall, Dubai Mall. There is another aquarium but that is not as impressive as the ones at the Atlantis on the Palm. There is the ice skating ring, a double storey waterfall, a section that only sells gold and precious stones and an atrium. Not bad but if you have limited time, forget this mall., in my opinion, unless it is just to see the tallest building in the world, the famous Burj Khalifa opened on 4 Jan 2010. It looks like the Malaysian Twin tower but this is a single tower and much taller. Maybe I am not standing at the right place to see the tower but it doesn’t look as impressive as the Twin tower. In my humble opinion. I accept that yes, it is the tallest in the whole world but for me, the twin tower in Malaysia still looks more impressive, overall.

The next tour is the city tour. There are many stops but the ones that I find worthwhile going are the Dubai fort and Museum. Entrance fee is only AED3 for adult and it looks more impressive that the outside of the fort. Before I went in, I thought it is a small museum because the fort is small in size but I didn’t realized that the fort has another level, the underground level. The converted Al Fahidi Fort originally defends the city, but today it houses an extraordinary collection of Dubai’s history. The exhibition is very impressive as well. Well worth the visit. Open late into the night. I didn’t have time to visit the Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House, the grandfather of the present ruler of Dubai.

Dubai old Suk is great place to soak in the local culture. See the money changers, Cloth souk and take a ride across the Creek for only AED1 per person. Quite an experience.

Walked along the Al Seef Rd, along the Creek, especially in the evening with the cool breeze and the night lights. It is a must. The city tour includes a Dhow (Creek River) cruise. It is quite an experience to see it fro the river side. Depending at the time of the month, it can be cold, so don’t forget to bring a jumper along so that you can enjoy yourself without worrying about the cold.

If time permit, check out the gold souk and the spice souk and the Deira Fish meat and vegetable market. Dubai used to be a peal and fishing town before the oil boom.
Make sure you bargain if you choose to purchase gold in the souk. Prices are marked up to approx 10%-15%.

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I simply find that there are too many things to see to complete the city & beach tour n one day. I should have purchase the 2 days ticket for a discounted price.
Because I lived very closed (45 mins walking) to the museum and souk, I managed to see everything in one day and only came back to the hotel very late approx 10pm. The last tour bus finished approx 6pm.