We headed to our final destination in the UAE, Dubai, I can’t believe we only had 2 days left.  

Lets see, we trekked in a desert, surfed, rafted, shopped, ate, water slided, went 150mph on a roller coaster….what else did I want to do here? Oh yeah, go skiing!

If you have not heard, yes you can ski in Dubai. We went to the mall to see the people enjoying the winter wonderland inside while it was 110+ degrees outside, having a large feeling like it would be fun we skipped on this. Next time, next time.

 

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I don’t know about you but I always dreamed of a souk as a mystical place where camels and shady characters roamed around under huge mazes of tents.  A place where you might still find Aladdin’s lamp or run into Indiana Jones. We headed off to the Spice Souk, followed by the Perfume Souk and finally the Gold Souk. What we found was not what I dreamed.

San Francisco is famed for its Fisherman’s Warf. Have you been there? Yes, it is a massively historical site and picturesque to a fault.  But at first glance all you see is rows and rows of cookie cutter restaurants, souvenir stalls and touts selling Segway tours. Well that’s what I thought of the Souks. I was more than a little disappointed as we bolted through the mostly new structures with new canvass tents. It was like Stanford Shopping center with some kitschy stalls. Needless to say we did not stay long.  On the bright side, there was a massive amount of gold packed into those tiny shops.

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As traveling does, you learn to trust your instincts and look for the sunny side of the street. Since we were in the area already we decided to poke our heads into one of the oldest building in Dubai and the oldest school.  We soon found out that they aren’t really that old as we looked at the signs and discovered our house was built around the same time, but hey come on look to the sunny side remember. The historical house and the school were both gems. It was like opening a box of ice cold chocolates. Each place had about 10 doors centered around a courtyard, inside each door was either a diorama or some cool photos or short films about life back then. Each room was also air-conditioned to the hilt. Imagine walking around in 110 degree heat all day with your kids. Then you walk into a one room museum that is cool and clean and quite, your kids and you have a sudden lust to read all the placards and just stare at all the displays as the sweat dries and leaves cool white salt rings on your clothes.

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After the “cool” history lessons, we headed back out into the streets.  This particular district is much older than the rest of Dubai and the streets twist and curve around like the Arabic writing.  I have not seen Chai Wallas since India, but there were lots of them here. Also lots of people with huge wheel barrels for moving goods. This seemed like the engine of Dubai, where the real people toiled and worked. Not part of the machine but the actual metal, the people were sweaty, hot and dirty like oil. The people were walking with fever and purpose as goods were being purchased and sold all over. One street would sell only womens shoes “wholesale only” plastered on the store fronts. Another street sold only rice, another TVs, all with the “wholesale only” signs on display. I did not think anything of it, until we got to the river front.

Big old boats lined the river front, 3 to 4 deep at times. The boats were being loaded with boxes and bags of everything imaginable. They seemed extremely unsafe and way too loaded down. “Where are these boats going?” I asked someone. “To Iran” I was told.  Ah…now I understand why all the stores said wholesale only.

 

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It’s hard to believe we have been in the UAE for almost a week and only eaten at restaurants and malls. If you know us, we like street food! When we exited the old Dubai area and saw what looked like a great chance to get some real fresh squeezed fruit juices and shwaramas we jumped at it. The tables were on the street corner of what seemed like a 14 way intersection.  The customers were from Pakistan, India, Arabia, Africa…then us. The food could not disappoint.  It was delicious.

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Feeliing like explorers we ended our day by jumping on the river bus to cross the river. “why are we on this boat” aksed Soleil. “So we can see what we can’t see from land” I told her.

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