Dubai Day 3 (13 Mar 11) – Dubai Museum to Dubai Desert Conservatory for a Night in the Deserts

The Dubai Story

We originally planned to spend the morning at Ski Dubai, however looking at the time we felt that we might not enjoy rushing for time. Instead we headed for the Dubai Museum to understand a bit more about the city and how it came about. I thought the museum was not too impressive, given the wealth of this country, I thought more could be done to the museum in terms of exhibits and introducing interactive exhibits. However the entrance is just 3dh, can’t really complain much. The museum was rather small and we finished it under an hour. The museum is built on the old Dubai fort. There are 2 sections to the museum, the outdoor section which displays old dhows, musical instruments, weapons and houses that were used in the earlier days of Dubai. The indoor section displayed a series of wax figurines depicting the lifestyle and the significance of the dressing style of the locals in olden days. We did not spend too much time in the museum partly due to its size and partly due to the exhibits did not attract us to stay any longer.

The old Dubai Fort, which is now converted into a museum
Entrance of the Museum
The outdoor displays
Outdoor area of the museum
These were the dwellings of the Emratis in the early days
Dwellings of the Emiratis in the early days
Some of the outdoor displays
There are also a ton of indoor displays in the museum
Indoor displays
Indoor displays
The depicts the livelihood of the Emratis in the early days of UAE
The depicts the livelihood of the Emratis in the early days of UAE
Indoor displays
The depicts the livelihood of the Emratis in the early days of UAE
This exhibit talks about the dressings of the Emratis
The depicts the livelihood of the Emratis in the early days of UAE
The depicts the livelihood of the Emratis in the early days of UAE

Al Bastakiya – Oldest District in Dubai

We exited the museum and wanted to head over to the Dubai creek. Our original plan was to take the dhow across the creek and then take a taxi from there back to the hotel. As we were heading over to the creek, we came by this bunch of traditional looking houses. These houses are the Bastakiya, which is the oldest residential district and was famous for its narrow lanes and wind towers. These houses are now converted into either guesthouses or art galleries. I felt these houses are rather artificial, and not really that old. They all looked kinda new to me, perhaps there has been some refurbishments to these houses. We wondered into a couple of them. The first one we went to was some government office. It had a sign that says “Visitors welcome”, so we popped inside. The entrance of this house led us to the courtyard, which was moderate in size. We saw the roof and wanted to go up, but can’t find the way. Moreover the staff inside the house doesn’t look welcoming (hhmmm…. what happened to the “Visitors welcome”?), so we left the house after taking some pictures of it. We then wondered along the streets of Al Bastakiya area and saw this art gallery that seemed to be opened to public. We went inside more with a purpose of seeing the house and the roof then the art. We browsed through the photographic art pieces on display and asked the staff if we could take a look at the roof. The staff here are more welcoming then the other house we “barged into”, they gave us the green light to go to the roof. At the roof, I can see the houses and the wind towers. However the air-con compressors are a sore to our sight, and it made the whole area looked fake. We did the touristy bit (taking some pictures) and headed to the direction of the creek. Soon we found ourselves nearing the creek. There is a mosque by the creek and this mock up desert area with sand and a real camel. I guess this is for the tourist to try taking a ride on the camel. As we were walking along the creek, we found this water taxi pick up point. It looked kinda deserted, just when we were waiting for a dhow to pull up, we saw one floating past us. We tried to give it a chase to see where it would stop at, due to time constraints, we gave up and took a cab back to the hotel.

Streets of Al Bastakiya
Streets of Al Bastakiya
Streets of Al Bastakiya, which resembles a lot in the streets of Old Yadz in Iran
Streets of Al Bastakiya
Wind tower of a building in Al Bastakiya
View from the roof in a building in Al Bastakiya
View from the roof in a building in Al Bastakiya
Panoramic shots in Al Bastakiya
Mosque round the corner
The mosque in Al Bastakiya
Inside a building in Al Bastakiya
Dubai Creek
Dubai Creek

Venturing into Dubai Desert

Once at the hotel, we pack up our stuff and checked out. Left our luggage at the hotel concierge and went over to the pick up point for our overnight desert camping trip. The guide who is supposed to pick us up was already waiting for us, despite us being 10 mins early. Soon we were heading out of Dubai and into the desert area. The drive to the desert conservatory was about 1 hour. As we were driving long the parameter of the conservatory area, our guide pointed out a desert oryx gazing by the fence. Too bad my camera has insufficient zoom to capture the oryx. I was fascinated by the desert landscape once we were inside the Dubai Desert Conservatory. I have not been to a real desert, and this is the first time I have seen a desert other then those images on TV and internet.

We pulled up to a convey of vehicles, where it seemed to be the gathering place of some sort. Hordes of tourists are already in the sand, taking pictures and running in it. I got out of the car and ran up to the nearest sand dune to take a closer look at the desert. The wavy sand on the sand dunes, caused by the wind that often blow across the deserts was amazing. Running on the sand is a different experience. My feet was constantly sinking into the sand, it is actually quite fun. Once the guide had deflated the tyres of his vehicle, we went back onboard for the next part of the trip – sand dune bashing. As the convey of vehicles depart the gathering area heading towards the somewhat marked sand dune bashing area, I was rather excited as I read that some people who have done this described it as a roller coaster ride. The initial part was alright, however I got bored after awhile. I felt it would be more exciting if the driver had drove at a faster speed.

Driving towards Dubai Desert Conservatory
Driving towards Dubai Desert Conservatory
Oryx sighting
Arriving at Dubai Desert Conservatory
Desert!
Inside Dubai Desert Conservatory
Just love the wave pattern on the sand
Inside Dubai Desert Conservatory
Inside Dubai Desert Conservatory
Inside Dubai Desert Conservatory
Inside Dubai Desert Conservatory
Sand dune ride
Inside Dubai Desert Conservatory
Inside Dubai Desert Conservatory
Sunset in Dubai Desert Conservatory
Sunset in the desert
Sunset in the desert
The sunset makes the sand turn golden
Sunsetting over the horizon
Sunsetting over the horizon
Sunsetting over the horizon
Me in the desert
Sunsetting over the horizon
Sunsetting over the horizon

Dinner in Desert

After some 30 mins of sand dune bashing, we were driven to this large camp site for dinner. The entrance marked the words “Al Sahara”, I guess this is the name of this artificial camp constructed purely to do tourist business. This is where we will be having our dinner for the night. We walked around the camp site, everything looked very fake to me. Oh well, it would be fake since the sole purpose of this camp is to entertain tourists. We found seats by an Irish couple, and we started to chat. The Irish couples are very friendly, we chatted about the places we have been to, our countries. This is the part I liked about traveling, you get to meet and talk to people from all over the world. Dinner was served shortly, first appetizers then main meal and then desserts. There was a belly dancing show after the dinner. It felt like some cheap production as there is only 1 dancer. I didn’t liked it because I find it boring. I have seen better belly dancing. Having said that, I do admire the stamina of the belly dance, who was able to dance non-stop for about 30 mins (perhaps more). After the belly dancing segment, the lights to the camp was shut for about 10 mins, perhaps done so that people can see the starry night skies. After 10 mins the lights came on, we left the camp for the site .

Al Sahara
Up close with a falcon
Desert beyond the fences of Al Sahara
Inside Al Sahara
This is where our dinner was served
Inside the Al Sahara
Getting ready for dinner
Dinner is served
We enjoyed some belly dancing with our dinner
The stamina of this belly dancer is just amazing

Overnight in Dubai Desert

We left the dinner camp for our camp site where we will be spending the night at. Our tent is already pitched up the moment we arrived. Our guide told us he saw a baby falcon earlier on when he was pitching the tent. He said the falcon can be sold for as much as 30,000dh! My friend and I climbed to the nearest sand dune and watched sunsetting. Watching sunset in the desert was rather refreshing. This is a good photographic opportunity, as the day turned into night, the moon replacing the sun to illuminate the desert. Soon star began to blink in the night sky, we spent some time trying to take pictures of the night sky and identifying the various constellations. I can only recognize 2, the Big Dipper and the Orion. We were experimenting with our camera, trying to take good pictures of the stars in the sky. The desert in the night was cooling and emitted a sense of mysticism. After taking pictures, we sat on top of a sand dune, chatting under the blanket of the desert night starry sky. It is a very rare opportunity to be doing this and indeed felt very relaxing. It is a nice feeling. As the guide was waiting for us to retire into the tent before he goes to bed, we got off the sand dune and headed for our tent. As the night went on, the desert wind turned from cool to chilling. I was not well prepared for the desert nights, and did not get too much sleep. Nonetheless I tried to get as much sleep as I could, hoping the sun shine would come sooner to heat up the desert once more. Despite being ill-prepared for the desert nights, spending a night in the desert is a rare chance for a city-dweller such as me. If not for my friend’s suggestion, I would have gave this rare opportunity a miss.

Camping out in the desert
The night desert skies
The night desert skies
Camping out in the desert
Camping out in the desert
The night desert skies
The night desert skies
I can see the big dipper
The night desert skies
The night desert skies
The night desert skies
Orion constellation
Orion constellation at the bottom
Starry night
The night desert skies
Orion Constellation
The night desert skies
The night desert skies
The night desert skies
The night desert skies
The night desert skies
The night desert skies
The night desert skies
The night desert skies
The night desert skies
The night desert skies
The night desert skies
The night desert skies
The night desert skies

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