As we had chosen an Emirates flight, we had a 10-hour stopover at Dubai. It would be highly impossible for us to join a city or desert tour given the short stopover, hence we decided to explore the city on our own. We reached Dubai International Airport early in the morning (4am)but the sun was already rising as if it is 7am back in Singapore!
Dubai Airport is huge and we had quite a DIFFICULT time finding the exit to the city centre. This is because there are practically NO signboards in the airport premises. The customer service officer advised us to get around in taxis and not buses as buses would require a day card. Taking a taxi from the airport would have a surcharge of 20Dh while from main road would be only 3Dh. Ok, obviously the 3Dh taxi tempted us but where the hell is the main road?!?!
So we decided to try taking a bus which should be more economical. And we found a ticket top up-cum-purchase machine opposite the bus waiting area at terminal 1. Frankly speaking, the Arabians were very willing to help and advised us to get a zonal day tix but 'smart' as we are, we thought that a zonal single trip tix would suffice...
So we took bus C8 down to Gold Souk in order to get to the banks of Dubai Creek. Dubai buses are very long (those kinda bendy ones) and empty. Is it off peak hour or people are simply rich and they drive?
Anyway, bus drivers are enclosed in their seat cubicles - erm, to prevent potential assaults??
Dubai is very much like Singapore except for the sheer size of the land. The weather was unbearable at 40 deg cel. Hot and dry. We got the driver to alert us at the gold souk stop and he got us to alight at a public library stop which did not a tweeny bit resemble the glitzy gold market described in travel guides. Unable to find the gold souk, we moved on in search for the abra or water taxi at the creek.
The exact boarding point is at the deira old souk station which is near to the cargo loading area along the main road. The 1Dh cheap ride will only take you across to the other side of the bank while the 100Dh 1-hour ride cruises along the entire creek.
We chose the cheap ride for an experience and we are the only non-
locals and females taking together with the locals going to work. Oh
yes, we noticed that only males are seen on the streets. Where are the
females and children?
The abra ride was a great and truly wonderful experience! Love it! <3 Across the creek, we couldn't find
any bus stops nearby or any comprehenable signboards to guide us. :( It was high time to hop on a taxi to get to Jumeirah Mosque which seems rather near from our map (reduced version). Taxis are plentiful
in Dubai so we got into one within seconds and that was when T-R-O-U-B-L-E spells... ...
Surcharge is 3Dhs and 0.5Dh per 100m. The meter ticked as we got stucked in jams and long barriers dividing the two-way traffic made u-turning within short distances impossible. We alighted at a bus stop
as we decided to walk to the mosque.
Dubai bus stops are incredible. They are shaped like mini Burj al Arab and enclosed with strong air-conditioning of 20 deg cel. Totally cool but waste of electricity. We realised that we don't have any tickets to take buses to the airport since cash payments are not accepted on board. And we have not enough cash to take taxi either. The only choice was to take a taxi to the nearest metro station then we can purchase tickets back to the airport.
Our perception of the nearest metro station from the map was greatly flawed. The driver took a long time to drive us there and costed us a bomb. The metro price was quite reasonable and the card can be topped up for 10 times. Again, few people take the metro.
There was supposed to be a FREE airport shuttle to terminal 3 but due to some random large-scale dramatic fire drill, the traffic was halted. And we had to fork out more money to take metro. Tsk. What a day.
After all the crappy encounters, we seriously think that to better tour dubai, join a tour. No landmarks are easily accessible by foot. If you wanna be true backpackers, please please remember to buy a map from the duty free shops to avoid getting lost and buy a day bus ticket from the airport.