Dubai Day 1

Sun, 08 Jun 2008 13:23:07 +0000

Perth to Dubai Index Dubai Day 2

I had a fairly successful day today, within the parameters I'd set myself, so I managed to blow away the melancholy of being out on my own again.

Around 8:00 I ventured out to see if the neighbourhood had anything in the way of breakfast available. In one direction, past the neighbouring mosque, there's the "Al Dustan Centre", which I saw on the way had a McDonalds at least, so I thought I'd try there first. In fact it seems to be just a residential area, and even the McDonalds doesn't open until ten. Back the other way is the "Lulu Hypermart". This turned out to be a bit better: mostly it's a gigantic Tesco-scale supermarket, with some other shops and a food court around. Only the supermarket was open, but I got myself a fairly nice spicy pizza-like thing and some plums, which made a pretty good meal for breakfast.

I went back to the hostel and found out that the museum can be reached with bus number 3 from right outside. There's both a city map and a bus timetable at the bus station, so I was able to reassure myself that I knew where to go, and I have fairly good maps of Dubai for my GPS. It took ages for the number 3 bus to arrive, and enough number 13s arrived and left to make me wonder if I'd understood the timetable right, but eventually I got on the right bus. Air-conditioned too. Bliss. The journey took ages as well. Dubai is a bigger city than I'd thought, but it was mainly the awful traffic that did the damage.

The bus station isn't all that close to the museum, so I had a fair walk ahead of me. GPS was essential. I spotted a place selling baseball caps along the way, and picked one up for EUR 2. Maybe I should have haggled, but it was far cheaper than I would have got in Vietnam even after haggling, so I couldn't be bothered.

The museum turns out to be pretty good. It's built next door to the old fort and underground, so you start in the fort and work your way to the museum. I could have done with some air-conditioning first, so I went through the fort fairly quickly. But there's no doubt it's a very nice-looking place.

The museum doesn't have a lot to work with, since Dubai is less than 200 years old and spent half of that time as a tiny town of no importance. The museum is full of dioramas giving a taste of what life was like in a small fishing and trading town, and they do a pretty good job. I also liked the dioramas of Bedouin life. My only criticism is that since most activity in a place like this would take place at dawn and dusk, the rather literal lighting leaves many of the captions completely unreadable. The only photo I have is of the grocery guy, which I took to record the incongruity of the packets of custard for sale.

For lunch I went to the big Carrefour near the bus station. Again, mainly a supermarket, but with shops as well. Unfortunately not a lot in the way of restaurants, but I got a roast vegetable roll from a cafe.

I had a little trouble with the bus back because the bay labelled "3" that I first decided must be where I catch my bus turns out not to be used at all, for some reason. I waited for 20 minutes before exploring and finding the real one. There really was no way I could have known the other one wasn't in use. But I got on the bus OK, and GPS told me when to ring the bell, which is one of the major reasons I brought it along.

I checked into the hostel OK. It's pretty expensive here, with a dorm room costing almost EUR 20. I set about recharging my batteries and sorting out my various technological problems. My USB power adapter broke in Perth and I had to buy a replacement in Singapore airport. The first one I bought turned out to only deliver half an amp instead of the full amp delivered by my old one, and that's not enough for my hard disk. So I bought another one that promised a full amp, but it turned out that it only supplied that out its mains socket, not its USB socket. I finally figured all this out today. It's good because it means my hard disk is OK. But it still leaves me without music or TV shows.

While I was doing that I got to chatting with a couple of my roommates. One was a Irish guy between jobs who had been in Sierra Leone helping out with a friend's charity, building an orphanage. He seemed glad to be out, but satisfied with how he'd spent his time. The other guy was a Pakistani who was in Dubai to be interviewed for a position with Microsoft in Redmond. So Dubai is certainly something of a crossroads.

I went out to do some shopping at the Lulu hypermart again. Surprisingly they have a pharmacy which had some mefloquine for me. I had planned to stock up in Perth, but it was one of many things that got triaged in favour of sitting around on couches discussing life, the universe and everything with my family. I now have enough mefloquine to keep me protected against malaria for a couple of months.

I had my shower and got to bed before eight. So that's me back into some kind of regular sleeping pattern. It wasn't the most tranquil night's sleep I've had though. I've been having niggling symptoms of a cold for the last couple of weeks, but never enough to make me say "I have a cold". Well I do now, becoming completely mucusified over the course of the night. It shouldn't stop me sightseeing, but I'll try to take things even easier today than I did yesterday.

Perth to Dubai Index Dubai Day 2