after a hefty lunch at my favorite indian briyani restaurant, mr. khairul and i took the girls to the dubai creek, the line of small river that separates the old dubai and the new dubai; deira and bur dubai. dubai citizens have a choice of four roads, all crossing the creek. or else, they could take the many small boats with fare as low as 1 dirham!
a word of caution - it provides no life jackets, and when you ride on the boat, you sit precariously at the edge! very windy, but very dangerous, as well! diorang ni dah biase sangat kot!
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if you're already at the creek, take the chance to visit the 'historical bastakiya', which consists of buildings built like those in the olden days of dubai, roughly around the 19th century. it covers a considerably vast area, with gorgeous brown-colored buildings, and some with narrow lanes in between - much like what they had back in those days.
i was really keen on bringing my sisters here so that they too can experience the classic identity of old dubai.
i've been here three times, bringing guests or just hanging out - and this was the first time there was a real camel for tourists to take picture with! dari jauh ingatkan patung unta! suddenly its head moved! eh, unta betul la!
it was a nice setting that they provide for tourists to take pictures of - a make-shift bedouin camp at the back, with (i guess) 'arabs' sitting inside, 'acting' like they own the place hihi. and the well-decorated camel was the cream on the cake, completing the picture of an arab camp.
at first we thought we have to pay to take pictures with the camel, but it's free! and the camel-man was very obliging, even coaxing khaleef to touch the camel.
"so smelly!" said khaleef. and he didn't want to touch the camel!
then we took a stroll along the lanes of the bastakiya, admiring the arab architecture of yore. oh, and of course to take lots and lots of pictures! in those days, these buildings lined the creek, and was the home of the arabs. it was also a marketplace.
the rough walls, the potruding wood from the walls (which i have yet to figure out why and for what) down to the timber doors all painted the identity of traditional dubai homes.
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also noticeable is a distinct feature of old dubai buildings and houses, 'the wind tower' - originated from persian architecture. it's the one right on top of each residential building. this was a must in every household back in those days - days before electricity and air-cond.
the wind towers are basically used for ventilation, and especially to cool the house during summer.
how does it work? warm wind enters the house through the wind towers at the top, and it cools down as it flows downwards into the courtyard. cool, eh?
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other than the tall wind towers, another distinct feature of classic arab houses are the courtyards. as we know, normal modern houses has its lawn on the outside, right in front of the main entrance. some have lawns on the sides and at the back of the house as well.
however, in traditional arab houses, there are no 'lawns' but they have courtyards - right in the middle of the house! upon entering the main door, the rooms surround a small clearing - the courtyard.
rasanye rumah baba nyonya pun macam ni, kan?
now the historical bastakiya are utilized as museums, art galleries and cultural centers. the museums are open throughout the day and the sign warmly said, "visitors are welcome". there are stamps and coins museum, as well as a demo for arabic calligraphy, also many more.
there's plenty to look at, and it's very comfy to walk around and bring the kids on weekend as they have the whole place to run around!
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also an interesting spot is this 'wall of old dubai', complete with the 'actual' stone of wall at one side. my sisters and mr. khairul took the chance to touch and feel the wall, knowing that its age might be hundreds of year old!
it's made as a defensive wall, protecting the old city, the bur dubai. a wall? made to defend? so we called it, 'the great wall of dubai'!
the bastakiya district is a destination not to be missed when you're in dubai, as it still retains the quaint little charm of olden dubai; featuring the traditional courtyard homes and classic old wind towers. with the arabic atmosphere in the air, it's a must-visit!
come one, come all - let's bask ourselves deep in the historical past of dubai!