Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Wheels on the (Big Red) Bus…

(you know the drill…click on the pics for a better view)

Corey had meetings (the REAL reason for our trip) to Dubai, so for two full days I was on my own to explore.

I had done some research on tours and the pricing.  The offers were pretty standard: City Tours, Beach Tours, half day, full day, and then, by luck…I struck GOLD…nooo that’s later…I struck RED.

The Big Red Bus Tours of Dubai.

What could be MORE perfect than to be shuttled to the cities attractions.the tours cover ALL of the above…half day if I want, full day if I want…city, beach.  I was IN.

I found the cost reasonable.  $60USD for 24 hours, $80USD for 48 hours.  The bus picked up right at WAFI…one of the popular malls which was conveniently right next to our hotel.

The premise of the tours is “Hop On/Hop Off” As the bus travels a circuit, you just tour the city at your leisure. I am NOT a Big Red Bus Tour (BRBT) novice, having been on one in Hong Kong and London. It has proved to be a good touring solution in the past.

Now, let’s get one thing clear.  It’s not REALLY 24 or 48 hours.  The buses run from 9 am to 6 pm ish.  Night tours are extra.   There are a couple LAWS on the BRBT….if you lose your ticket you “lose your ride.” Next…when the time stamp on your ticket says it has been 24 or 48 hours you are OFF THE BUS.  No questions.  OFF.

I chose to grab a 48 hour ticket. 

IMG_2517 The tour comes in Eight languages…sigh.  No “American”  Well, I guess I would have to listen to it in “English”.  Every time the guide said “color” I would envision “colour”  I could handle it.


IMG_2598  There is a “proper” way to ride the BRB. If you have any doubts about this, just look at the conveniently displayed stickers!  Psst… the green check indicates proper BRB behaviour (look at that…I’ve been on the bus 5 minutes and I’m already spelling in “English”).

The BRB has two routes, the Red Route (city) and Blue Route (beach)

My first day out I chose the City Tour.

My first stop was the Dubai Museum. Along with the “hopping on and hopping off” the tour tickets come with “extras”   At this stop there is an optional walking tour that I thought would really help me get the lay of the land.

IMG_2518Dubai was a fishing and pearling village back in the day.  There is evidence everywhere of how important fishing and shipping are to the area.

Here is a picture of the fort itself:


IMG_2525 “The Creek” cuts Dubai in half and really is the lifeblood of the area.

There were some pretty cool excavation examples:

IMG_2532 This is a lady buried. And next to her:

IMG_2534 A couple buried together. (click on these..they are cool)

After moving through the museum (the timing was perfect – I was done just in time for the walking tour!

This tour is done twice a day.  There were eight of us.  I was surprised that more did not take advantage of this!  Our guide was Jennifer and she spoke perfect English.  She gave us some tips about the city (haggle haggle haggle) and plenty of history.

This is an Iranian Mosque.  You can tell because of how ornate it is. 

IMG_2553The whole building is mosaic.

Here is an example of another Mosque…much plainer:


We walked through the fabric souk (market).  Most of this area is wholesale only.  Store after store with bolts of fabric inside and out. 

IMG_2547There were so few shoppers I have to wonder how they stay in business…well, at least there were very few “physical” shoppers.

IMG_2549 The buildings are not “original” but have been restored in a historically accurate way.  The sticks you see were actually used to hang laundry!  They openness you see in the towers help cool the buildings in the summer heat (and BOY does it get hot there…up to 46C (SEE…1 hour on the tours and I am actually thinking in Celsius…damn “English’)

We continue to walk along, cross The Creek in a water taxi:

IMG_2561 These are used extensively….this guy is taking a little snooze, but normally he is quite busy I am sure.

Next we visit the Spice Souk.  IMG_2570

IMG_2571 IMG_2572

ANYTHING you want…you can get here.  In the second picture…the “ball” things up front are dried lemons.  Next to that is Hyacinth…good for high cholesterol and hyper-tension. One of the biggest sellers is Saffron.  You know…the spice that “by the pound” is pricier than gold?  They have tons of it and even advertise it as a “good gift”.  I blew that one.

Next, we move to what Dubai is known best for :  GOLD

IMG_2581This ring is in the Guinness Book of World Records AS the BIGGEST ring in the world!  I’m thinking it’s a ring that will fit an elephant…but, ring it is!

Hong Kong has a bunch of gold.  Hong Kong as a million jewelry stores…but there is something special about the Gold Souk.

Dubai is best known for its 22k gold.  It is an amazing color. Very different from 14k.

Next, the jewelry is (a little bit) negotiable.

The gold is so much more accessible with it hanging from rods, store after store.  Inside each store there are counters and back rooms, with gold all ready to be eyed, touched, tried, purchased.


After the tour, I said goodbye to Jennifer and made my way back to look at some souvenirs.  I saw plenty of Pashminas…but quite honestly I see tons of them here in Hong Kong and Shenzhen.  Quite honestly, so much of what I saw, I have seen before.   I passed.

Here are a couple of shots from the water taxi:


The Creek is also a huge artery for ocean shipments in the region.  I was amazed at how much freight is moved on these old wooden boats!  They go all over the area and as far as Africa!


I spent the rest of the day “hopping on and off” at my leisure.  The only stop I found disappointing was one of the Heritage stops…it was an area that comes alive at night, so not much to see there.

The BRB took me right back to the hotel.  Even after 7 hours of touring and all that hopping, I had not reached 10,000 steps.

Annoying!  But I was tired!  I settled into the lounge for tea and a look at my pictures

The BRBT was a great success.

Tomorrow:  The Beach Tour!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I love living vicariously through your blog.