When people think of Dubai, mostly we think of an ambitious nouveau riche city. Its tallest building in the world punching a willful want for wealth and power into the sky. It wants you to know that it will not be ignored.
We talk about the desert mall so big it has ski slopes in it.
The palm frond island so big it’s seen from space.
The Burj Khalifa water fountain display so big it was built by the winner of all the chips. It makes the Vegas Bellagio fountain look like it was built with the pennies found on the floor.
We celebrated my 50th birthday at a Thai restaurant on the edge of the fountain. The water danced and sang every half hour or so. Here’s video but squeezing this enormous display in this tiny box on this page does no justice to it. Like when you are there in person, your eyes cannot even see it all. You have to tilt your head up and look from side to side:
Also crank the speakers up, way up, and maybe you’ll get the feeling of thunder and stomach-rumbling music.
If you ever go to Dubai and want to see this, in the evening go to the promenade that runs along the water. You can stand there with a front row view of a free show.
Yeah it’s all very impressive. But I’m not looking for the things that were built during the last 50 years. I like the older, quieter areas. These older areas line the Dubai Creek, where people lived for centuries and traded in fish, pearls and dates with Silk Road travelers. It’s Old Town and Bastakiya Quarter with stone lanes, souks, boutique hotels and art galleries. Instead of shiny glass, the buildings are the color of desert sands.
Money still walks these lanes though. You’ll see in the gold souk, and the $14USD gelato.
Every other photo, my eyes are closed. The sun is so bright and bouncing off everything. You know that test at the eye doctor where they shine the light in your eyes and you want to tear your eyes out, you can’t take it anymore? It’s like that. You gotta bring your shades.
Having come to Dubai from India, we kept having “where are all the people?” moments. But it was a nice break.
I liked the sandy understatement. Some restraint in style. Things all lined up. Perfectly spaced apart. Pairs and symmetry.
Though after awhile, it did start to feel theme park-ish. Everything was so perfect, so orderly, so clean! Made for tourists perfect.
After living many weeks with the chaos and mess you can easily find in India, this was the transition we needed as we headed back to our suburban American lives. You know, where we try to keep everything perfect, orderly and clean!