Dubai - Day 1

Dubai Travel Blog

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Gold Souq

Did I really want to travel to Dubai to gloat over crazy and sometimes stupid buildings of some rich oil sheik? Well, thanks to a cheap Emirates flight I had no choice but to get a glimpse of this “city of the future”.


The nice thing about the Dubai International Airport is that when exiting the plane you are not pushed through one of those long metal condoms but are able to exit in the classic Pope style by walking down the stairs and kissing the ground. Last bit not recommended unless you ARE the Pope!

Leaving the plane is also the moment where you immediately get a slap in the face by the hot air.

Gold, gold, gold
35°C at 6 o’clock in the morning is in every sense of the word a warm welcome.

Then you board a shuttlebus which takes you past approx. 15 terminals and when arriving at the baggage claim your suitcase is already waiting longingly.

After customs I’m changing some money even though I have no idea if it is a good exchange rate or a tourist-rip-off-rate..

Somewhere outside a young guy is leaning against a wall smoking. I’ll ask him whether it is allowed to smoke here. He wouldn’t know, he says, taking a drag. Well, I guess they won’t fine us, is my reply while lighting a fag as well.

a Dhow on Dubai Creek
While enjoying my nicotine I’m having some small talk with my sweat buddy. Of course he is German, too. Germans are everywhere. He just arrived in Dubai from Auckland where he also lives, as he says. Soon he’ll fly on home to Frankfurt. Maybe he actually does live in Auckland but I assume that after one year of Working Holidays in New Zealand it is just a wishful thinking. I sympathise with him deeply.

After having tared my lungs I’m buying a big bottle of water and get a cab which hopefully brings me to my hotel. The start price of the taxi is 20 Dirham which suprises me a bit first and annoys me later when I find out that city taxis charge only 3 Dirham. The best way is to walk away from the airport for a few hundred meters and get a taxi there.

Despite the price the taxi driver is very friendly and informative and most importantly he takes me to my hotel, the Golden Sands No.

Dubai Creek
3, in a rolling refrigerator.

As soon as I put my luggage out of the taxi’s trunk and onto the sidewalk a porter grabs it and brings it to the reception before opening the door for me with a grand gesture.

Before it’s my turn to check in I have to wait a few minutes because there are two people in front of me who have problems understanding the concierge. Guess where they are from! The concierge takes the piss out of them by telling his guests that they have to pay another 500 Dirham extra for their room. They both look bewildered and say that “In sis case we must change more money”. However, much to their relief the concierge finally lets them in on his joke. They immediately start to laugh insecurely but still don’t seem to get it.

Then it is my turn.

Dubai Creek
The buffoon greets me with “good morning, sir” and introduces himself. His name is Nora which I always thought to be a female’s name.

I explain my situation to him which is that check-in is obviously not before 2pm but I’m here already (8am) and that I was wondering whether I could store my luggage until then. He calms me down and asks my name. I tell him. How I would pronounce that in German or how I’d prefer to be addressed. I tell him Mike is fine. He goes, okay Mike, you know, I am from Egypt and in my country the pronounciation of Michael is similar to the German pronounciation. Whether I have ever been to Egypt, he asks me. I say, nope, unfortunately not and he says “Well, in that case there’s no room for you, sir”. Isn’t he a big joker?

After another ten minutes of endless jokes he finally checks me in.

You could kill somebody with the Dubai Yellow Pages :-)
He asks me if I already changed some money and I say, yes at the airport and he goes, “don’t change money here in our hotel, our rates are really bad”. While saying that he leans forward as if letting me in on a conspiracy theory.

And the conversation goes on and on and on. By all means he is as friendly as a fairy, asking me ten times how I was and if everything was alright but the best part is that he lets me into my room straight away for no extra charge. Very generous, indeed.

The porter hauls my bag to the third floor and closes my room’s door behind me. The 28 sqm appartment is very nice and for a price of about $100 per night a cheap one as well. Then it’s off to bed to make up for the lack of sleep in the airplane.

I reawake at 1pm and immediately take a walk to the next shopping mall which is about ten minutes away.

Going down Sheikh Zayed Road in a taxi. Dubai, UAE The high building is the unfinished Burj Dubai, which is now the highest building in the world
The heat is overwhelming. Inside the mall • with a temperature drop of about 30°C • some children are singing the Ketchup Song on a little stage and I wonder how it got this far. I get some lunch at an Indian Takeaway. What the food’s called, I have no clue but the taste is good. Rice with cicken and vegetables. At least that’s what it looks like. When I taste a little red berry hidden among the veggies I burst into flames due to its spicy fierceness.

The rest of those mean berries are quickly arranged at a little corner of my plate. May they be offended, I don’t care.

After eating I just stroll along the corridors of the mall past numerous shops.

Going down Sheikh Zayed Road in a taxi. The driver is talking on the phone in Pakistani or something. Dubai, UAE
Then suddenly some people dressed in a baroque style walk past me on stilts. Austria in Dubai. After this strange encounter I walk back to my hotel, take a little rest watching crappy TV chanels before I take a taxi to the Gold Souq. This destination is obviously not a good one for taxi drivers, at least not in late afternoon since everybody’s off work. My taxi driver is complaining numerous times about the traffic. After finally arriving there I just stroll along the streets, absorbing new impressions, smelling the different fragrances and watching the people. Sheiks in their white robe tow their two or five wives dressed in black behind them buying them their one hundredth gold ring. Tourists with white legs in cheap sandals walk around looking addlebrained and alien, some even distressed asking themselves why Arabs are dressed like that… Isn’t it hot wearing a veil like that? they seem to ask. That it is them who are violating the local dress code by wearing shorts instead of long trousers, they probably have no clue about. They just want to buy a cheap gold ring to tell people back home “look, I bought this in Dubai’s Gold Souq where everything’s golden, mate.”

I leave the Gold Souq and walk to Dubai Creek watching the drive at the wharf for the dhow.

I'm crossing the Dubai Creek on a Dhow, which is a kind of wooden boat, in Dubai, UAE. The price for the journey is only 1 Dirham (about 0,20 Cent)
Dhows are wooden boats that take you to the other side of the creek for only about $0,50.

Some guys from Afghanistan are trying to sell fake rolex to me. But who buys shit like that? Credulous Germans with white legs?

I walk north along the Dubai Creek watching goods being loaded onto ships. Where is the system? How do they know what’s in all those boxes and how many boxes there are?


My plan is to walk to the northermost wharf, board a dhow and ship all the way down again to the other side. Dusk begins to fall. Once I get to the wharf there is no boat leaving. So I just lean on the ballustrade looking out over the creek and the skyline that lies past it and the skyline that lies past the skyline and so on when two Pakistani approach me and say hello. They are working here as sort of accountants and have been in Dubai for only two months. They like it a lot here, only “the heat is too hot”. After the usual small-talk they tell me that the horrible thing about Dubai is prostitution. One of them says you could get sex everywhere and all the hotels didn´t care if you ordered a prostitute to your room. If they speak out of experience, I don’t know but one of them confides to me later that he has never had a girlfriend and now being 23 years old he is a bit worried whether he could still find one. I cheer him up a bit saying the right one is sure to come and that he shouldn’t be too desperate, because if you are you’ll never find a girl, the right girl always appears when you least expect it. He seems to like that thought. One reason why he never had a girlfriend before might be that he never goes out, that is to a nightclub or something, it’s not his thing. But what do I know?

When I ask him what time it was he says he didn’t have a watch which I think is great. And then he goes “Let’s see, we finished work at 7 and we talked for about an hour so it must be around 8 now”. What a lovely answer.

At one point there is a boat at last and I jump aboard immediately. Being the only one on the boat the driver asks me 100 Dirham for the trip. Knowing the actual price I want to get off the boat again and despite his haggling and a 360 of the boat he lets me jump ashore again. So I walk down south again to the next wharf and take a dhow for 1 Dirham.

Sitting amongst locals - that are not really locals but locals for me - we cross the creek, greeting other boats, watching the light’s reflection on the water and inhaling the steamy exhausts of the boat. Save and sound on the other side I take another taxi back to the hotel and have a big helping of dinner. The food is plentiful and delicious although at one point I start to choke heavily probably for eating too greedily. The waiter looks at me panic-stricken. I just nod my head towards him and hope he understands my need for rescue breathing. I skip dessert and hury up to my room where I cough out my lungs. Then I watch some TV, leaf through the free women’s magazine and enter the land of Nod.

Morle says:
Hi Ehab! Thanks for the correction and information! I appreciate it! I´ll do another stopover in Dubai on the way Singapore at the end of July, but this time I´m only going to stay at the airport as it´s a short stopover. But I´ll remember your input :)
Have a good day!
Posted on: Jul 01, 2011
EhabZ says:
Sorry to contradict you, but the local guys you saw in the gold market are definetly not Sheikhs! Just normal locals with probably one wife and a couple of daughters, since the wives wouldn't go out with the other wives ( from the mouths of the ones who do have more than one!). Anyway, hope you did enjoy the rest!
Posted on: Jul 01, 2011
the_bloodsucker says:
nice one! =D
Posted on: Jun 18, 2008
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Gold Souq
Gold Souq
Gold, gold, gold
Gold, gold, gold
a Dhow on Dubai Creek
a Dhow on Dubai Creek
Dubai Creek
Dubai Creek
Dubai Creek
Dubai Creek
You could kill somebody with the D…
You could kill somebody with the …
Going down Sheikh Zayed Road in a…
Going down Sheikh Zayed Road in a…
I'm crossing the Dubai Creek on a…
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photo by: vances