Out & about (and up) in Dubai

You can’t help but notice the Burj Khalifa when you are in Dubai. By the way Burj means tower in Arabic. At around 830 metres high it’s not far off being a kilometre into the air. It dominates the skyline and dwarfs all other buildings.

The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building on the right
The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building on the right

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Petra, Jordan

Petra is extraordinary.

The Treasury, Petra, Jordan
The Treasury, Petra, Jordan

A Swiss chap named Burckhardt rediscovered Petra in 1812 and we are so glad he did.  The first sighting of The Treasury as you reach the end of the Siq is just breathtaking.  The spectacle of the whole site is just wonderful.  When you stop to think of the engineering involved in building such a city built into rock faces and that this occurred around the 3rd century BC it is even more amazing. Continue reading “Petra, Jordan”

Jordan, November 2015

Floor tile at the Citadel, Amman, Jordan
Floor tile at the Citadel, Amman, Jordan

I was in Jordan during the 2nd week of November 2015. As I was travelling around it became apparent that tourist numbers were down. On enquiring about this I was told that this was their high season but this year it was like a low season in terms of tourist numbers. I asked what their next real low season would be like Continue reading “Jordan, November 2015”

Amman, Jordan

Amman was originally built on seven hills but has now extended to nineteen. It is hard work getting up and down those hills so, depending where you’re heading, you may want to take a taxi. Taxis in Jordan are expensive. There are no train networks in Jordan only taxis, buses and rental cars. From what I have heard rental cars are reasonably priced but you do take your life into your own hands. The driving is pretty crazy. Nobody sticks to lanes. It’s not unusual to see three cars astride in a two lane highway. I have been white knuckled a few times in the taxi with some of their antics. Having said that their system seems to work.

Today I decided to hang out in the downtown area of Amman. I started at the Citadel which sits on the highest jabal (hill) in Amman called Jabal al-Qal’a. Aside from some great sites such as the Temple of Hercules, the Byzantine Church, the Mosque and the Monumental Gateway/Entrance Hall, there were fabulous views of the city.

Temple of Hercules, the Citadel, Amman, Jordan
Temple of Hercules, the Citadel, Amman, Jordan

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Visiting a Bedouin house in Wadi Rum Village, Jordan

On the way to Salman’s house he became very quiet and then said ‘I want to ask you personal question’. I said that this was ok. ‘In Australia’, he began, ‘Is it tradition for woman to marry?’ I indicated that most women, yes, do marry, but not all. ‘You are not married’. This was pretty much a statement and because he seemed worried about this I was a little naughty and said that my husband had died. I feel very guilty about this now. At the time I felt that in Jordan it was hard for many people (especially in rural areas) to  understand the concept of not getting married. For me to say that I don’t want to get married seemed to worry them. I can understand this as it simply is not part of their culture.

Goats wandering around in Wadi Rum
Goats wandering around in Wadi Rum

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Wadi Rum Part 2

Early morning in Wadi Rum, Aqaba Province, Jordan
Early morning in Wadi Rum, Aqaba Province, Jordan

I was woken by the sound of farm animals (roosters and goats) making their morning sounds and got up at about 5.30am to go for a walk. It was still very cold but walking warmed me a little. I couldn’t actually see the sunrise as it was on the other side of the mountain and would have taken me hours to climb over or walk around the mountain. Everywhere there is soft sand that you sink into making walking for me a slow affair. It was wonderful though to watch the sun hit some of the surrounding mountains and then make its way down those mountains as the sun rose. Continue reading “Wadi Rum Part 2”

In the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia – Wadi Rum, Jordan Part 1

I had contacted Wild Wadi Rum Desert Adventure website by email and ended up corresponding with a young Bedouin man called Salman. I remember saying at work

‘Guess what I just did at lunchtime?’

No answer.

‘Emailed a Bedouin!’

‘What’s a Bedouin?’, was the answer.

I caught a taxi from Wadi Musa (Petra) to the visitor’s centre at Wadi Rum (it cost JD40 = AUD80) and met Salman who turned out to be a 22 year old Bedouin whose family lived in the Wadi Rum Village. He informed me that the Bedouins don’t really live in Wadi Rum anymore as they have all moved into the village. He was very enthusiastic and told me he had studied at university to become a primary school teacher but had not found work yet.  As we drove out into the wadi (valley) my jaw started to drop. It was both immense and beautiful.

Welcome to Wadi Rum!
Welcome to Wadi Rum!

Continue reading “In the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia – Wadi Rum, Jordan Part 1”

On the road again…Amman to Petra, Jordan

The JETT bus from Amman to Petra
The JETT bus from Amman to Petra

I arrived in Amman, Jordan after having no sleep the night before. I’m coming back to Amman so I wasn’t too fussed about falling asleep shortly after checking in to my hotel. It was my birthday and I struggled to stay awake even for dinner which I ended up taking in my room. That night I slept like a baby… Continue reading “On the road again…Amman to Petra, Jordan”

Sleeping in the desert in Dubai

Dune bashing in the 4WDs in Dubai
Dune bashing in the 4WDs in Dubai

Straight off the bat I have to say I loved, loved, loved this. But first there was a little shock to overcome…

Cool sand, hot sun. Dubai desert sunrise.
Cool sand, hot sun. Dubai desert sunrise.

I paid for a tour to go out to the desert in Meydan near the Oman border to do some dune bashing in a 4WD, eat a traditional meal and watch a belly dancing and Emirati dance show. Also thrown in was henna painting on hands/arms, camel ride, shisha pipe and I paid extra to camp out overnight in the desert.

A desert sunrise Dubai
A desert sunrise Dubai

There were 15 4WDs so I thought at least a few people were going to be camping out with me.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that I was the only one doing the camping overnight. In the 15 4WDs all the passengers were returning to Dubai at 9pm after dinner and the show. Okay so that made me quite nervous, however, I was assured it would be very safe by our 4WD driver Fadi. I decided to go ahead with it.

My camp bed
My camp bed

If I was going to have my throat slit in the middle of the night it would be after I had enjoyed myself seeing new things. I was told there would be a staff member there too.

At the end of the show I watched everyone go wondering if I had made a big mistake by staying. The three staff members Aziz, Ahmed and Yasirali (I hope I have the I have the spelling correct) started cleaning up. A sleeping bag was brought for me and I was asked where I would like to sleep. I indicated under the stars and the sleeping bag was laid out for me. Did I need a drink? Yes please.

I was told the power would go out at 10.30pm. I wondered if I should find some kind of weapon. I was quite surprised when the last staff member Yasirali took his falcon and disappeared saying goodnight to me. I had imagined that the staff members were going to be sleeping nearby.

The power made a loud noise when it turned off at 10.26pm and I was momentarily stunned in a frozen position unable to move because you might say I was a little scared. There was silence. I was alone. But a calm descended upon the world and the campsite took on a different character. A gentle warm breeze could be heard and felt. The stars majestically came out to play in the dark and after a few minutes the stress and worries of life melted away. I relaxed a little and a peaceful feeling came over me eventually.

Belly dancer, Dubai
Belly dancer, Dubai
Hi there camel!
Hi there camel!

That sky was the most beautiful thing I had seen. So many stars and a crescent moon which disappeared quickly. However those stars stayed and hung out with me and were my friends for the night. I was watching planes go past overhead with a frequency that seemed to be every few minutes. Man, I can’t believe how busy that sky was. I didn’t sleep a lot but why waste the wonderful show that nature had provided for me. In between flyovers it was wonderful to experience SILENCE.

Check out that sun getting smaller
Check out that sun getting smaller

 

The desert area was covered by sea many years ago. Fossils were found on this hill that support this fact.
The desert area was covered by sea many years ago. Fossils were found on this hill that support this fact.

 

 

Magic sunsets in the desert in Dubai
Magic sunsets in the desert in Dubai

 

Love those sunsets in the desert
Love those sunsets in the desert

At 5.30am I noticed the sky was getting a little lighter so I grabbed my camera and climbed to a higher point. The sun hid behind a cloud for quite a while and I waited patiently. Finally the sun made his grand entrance and I was off taking photos.

Empty campsite
Empty campsite

When I had had enough I returned to my campsite and packed up a little. Soon the sun was starting to get stronger so I moved my things to the shade. I had still not seen anyone yet.

Emirati dancer
Emirati dancer

At 7.00am I was greeted by the three smiling faces of Aziz, Ahmed and Yasirali and a good morning. I didn’t get breakfast as promised but hey I was alive and I had just experienced nature at its best at night-time. After a few hours Fadi returned to collect me.

Sunrise in the desert
Sunrise in the desert

He had a friend in the car and we spoke about Emirati life in general. Back at the hotel I came back to earth.

Come on sun I know you want to come out...
Come on sun I know you want to come out…
Orange sky Dubai
Orange sky Dubai
It's a beautiful day Dubai!
It’s a beautiful day Dubai!

Do, buy in Dubai

Sunrise, the drive into Dubai from the airport.
Sunrise, the drive into Dubai from the airport.
Taking a dhow ride on Dubai Creek.
Taking a dhow ride on Dubai Creek.
The courtyard of the Dubai Museum.
The courtyard of the Dubai Museum.
Dubai Museum. These two people were so kind to stand still while I took their photo.
Dubai Museum. These two people were so kind to stand still while I took their photo.

Or do, don’t buy in Dubai in my case.  I have arrived in Dubai and am enjoying my very first day here. My impressions of Dubai so far are:

  • the people are friendly.  So many people asking where I am from and what I am doing here.  The hotel staff are very nice and went out of their way to get a room ready for me when I arrived 7 hours before check in.
  • yes it is quite warm here. It was going to be 36-37 degrees celsius today but it was quite manageable and just a little more humid than what I am used to.  Overall quite nice I think.
  • it is a city of contrasts.  Skyscrapers and modern architecture beside mosques and traditional buildings with wind towers.
  • you need to take traffic and peak hours into account.  I have just found out that tomorrow is the new year in the Islamic calendar and so it’s a kind of long weekend here even though it is Wednesday today.  So tomorrow being New Year is a holiday and Friday (the next day) is usually a day off (like a Christian Sunday) for prayers at the mosque.  I’m still trying to work out whether their weekend is Thursday/Friday or Friday/Saturday.  Anyway the point is that everyone was rather keen to get home today for their ‘long weekend’ and so the peak hour traffic tonight was busy and impatient.

I spent this afternoon at Bur Dubai (the old section of town) which is near Dubai Creek.  Dubai Creek, by the way, is more like a river than what I know as a creek.  I visited Dubai Museum which is housed in old Fahidi Fort.  It is a great building with some traditional architecture. They have displays of boats and armery in the courtyard but the main displays are housed inside the buildings and are actually underground and being underground means it is nice and cool there.

I wandered through the Bur Dubai souk and the vendors tried everything in the book to get me to look at their wares and hopefully make a sale but I was determined not to buy anything at this stage.  There was one part that had a lot of textiles.  Actually it was shop after shop of textiles – so many beautiful fabrics.

I quite liked the creekside walk and looking at the abras and dhows that were transporting people to the other side of the creek or just up and down the creek for fun.  I think a ride up and down the creek is well worth it and was lovely at dusk.  It got dark at around 6pm so beware if you are in Dubai during October that you will lose light at that time and it doesn’t take long before it is ‘night’.