I certainly hope my first post managed to give a good glimpse of the lovely exotic things you can see in Dubai. Anybody who enjoys being around things that are rich in character will have a wondrous time looking around. And anybody who loves unique trinkets and ceramics will have a field day shopping here and taking home a bit of that Arabian exquisiteness.
Well I can’t blame you. This place is so full of charm that it’s hard to contain it all in just a few days of touring around! Unfortunately a few days’ worth was all I had in my hands (not to mention my wallet haha!) so here’s another quick round of places we dropped by that I think you might enjoy as well.
Of course no tour would be complete without a visit to a museum for a touch of history– case in point, the Dubai Museum. It’s so basic every itinerary probably has a small amount of time allotted to a brief glimpse of Dubai’s history. And then we jump all the way to the beachside in Jumeirah.
That whole vicinity of Jumeirah is quite nice to be honest, stretching from the only 7-star hotel in Dubai called the Burj Al Arab, across the little man-made Jumeirah Beach, adjacent to the hotel of the same name. We were only able to frolic on the sands of Jumeirah Beach for a bit of picture-taking, but lucky enough to actually eat at Burj Al Arab’s JUNSUI. I’m going to apologize in advance for all the mouth-watering food photos attached to that.
So let’s get this rolling shall we?
First of all, I love that this museum looks kind of like a sand castle from the outside, but it’s actually a fort. Or it used to be a fort anyway back in the late 1700’s, called Al Fahidi Fort. It is the oldest building existing in Dubai but it doesn’t actually seem like it as it’s extremely well-kept. I actually was surprised to learn that this was converted into a museum way way back in 1971.
Inside it does actually feel a lot more like a fort, with high walls surrounding the compound. The courtyard of the museum has some old canons and wooden fishing boats to one side. On another side, there is a hut set up to illustrate the kind of homes during the mid 20th century here in Dubai. Made of mud and palm fronds, the hut is divided into “rooms”, complete with a “kitchen” with plenty of stone utensils scattered about on the ground. They did used to cook over open fire after all.
In the main bedroom within the hut is an air-ventilation system called a windcatcher, which is basically an opening in the ceiling that allows for cool air to shoot straight down inside. They can do this kind of set-up since it barely rains in the desert, but without it I imagine it would be too hot to live inside such a cramped space!
Entering the main museum, there are plenty of artefacts to see, coming from different parts of Asia. These artefacts are in fact the inspiration for some of the gift shop items being sold in the museum. Most of them are framed paintings, carvings, and old trinkets that have such an Arabian mood, as you can see.
Further inside the museum, there are dioramas that feature the simpler way of life people had before the discovery of oil changed everything. Life-sized figures depict everyday scenes from the souks, or the desert, or the Arabian gulf even. I might’ve been startled once or twice by some of the figures (especially that lady in black below) because they are so life-like. It’s almost as if you could expect them to move at any moment! My favourite diorama is the pearl diving one, by the way.
And I probably should mention that alongside many of the artefacts are these creepy tombs that were found in archeological digs in Dubai.
Now arguably one of the highlights during a visit to Dubai Museum is the gift shop at the very end. It’s filled with all manner of beautiful things, and some pretty interesting camel’s milk chocolate variations. If you’re curious to know what camel’s milk is like, it’s actually a lot like milk chocolate, but with a thicker creamy consistency, plus it feels kind of rich. That’s how I experienced it anyway. It has a different scent compared to regular chocolate, but it doesn’t have a strange flavour if that’s what you’re thinking.
There are plenty of ceramic figurines in here, and we managed to buy a beautiful snow-globe nestled on a camel. The first snow-globe I would end up buying during this trip! (FYI, I do collect snow-globes! :)) All of the tea sets, lamps, pots, vases, and gold-encrusted plates were so exquisitely intricate I was afraid to touch them!
I think it’s good to visit at least one museum whenever you go to a new place. It allows you to feel just a teeny more immersed in the country you are exploring when you know even the tiniest bit of their history. It gives you a better understanding of the “road” a certain country/city traveled before becoming what you know of it now. This museum is fairly small and really easy to walk through, plus it only costs 3 dirhams. If you’re interested in this kind of stuff, I can assure you you will see and learn plenty of things!
BURJ AL ARAB
Dubai is a place where it seems that shattering world records is a habit. They take pride in having structures that are the “world’s largest/tallest/grandest” this and that, so it comes as no surprise that you will find “the world’s only 7-star hotel” in Dubai. Honestly, I’ve seen a bunch of 5-star hotels in my life, but I wasn’t sure what a 7-star one would be like. It might be important to note that you are required to dress a certain way in such a high-class place. Smart casual is definitely the way to go.
The Burj Al Arab is one of the most iconic buildings in Dubai, as its unique sail-like shape is quite easy to spot. You can see it most clearly from the Jumeirah Beach, which is right across it.
The great things about man-made beaches is how picture-perfect they look. This beach stretches across several large hotels and resorts like the Jumeirah Beach Hotel. This is a great backyard to have for sure!
We drove over to Burj Al Arab for lunch, but had a bit of time to take a look around the lobby and second floor of the hotel. Since it was Christmas season, the hotel decorations were very festive. The nutcrackers featured quite heavily!
I was really surprised by the interior design, which was a mixture of gold and colourful paneling. Looking up I felt like I was in a spaceship, while looking down I would remember I was indeed in the land of gold, seeing all the chunky gold pieces embedded into the tiles. The hotel is 28-storeys high and has 200-something rooms, which I am sure are quite a splurge. They say if you ever want to spot any Hollywood stars out and about in Dubai, this is the place to do it.
The place we were to have our very very late lunch was their Asian buffet restaurant called JUNSUI. The word actually means pure in Japanese, but the cuisine here is a mix of East Asian cuisines (Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Indonesian, Korean). There are 12 live cooking stations in total, which means most of the food is prepared as you order.
The dining area is quite classy, the Swarovski crystals notwithstanding. I like how bright and clean it is. Not overly decorative but very straightforward.
So now you’re probably wondering about the food. Well the food is as good as it looks. I expected nothing less from a 7-star hotel, you know! I loved how fresh the lobster was, and I loved pretty much everything I put in my mouth haha!
The matcha ice cream was so so good. The desserts were all quite interesting and bejewelled with giant berries. I most especially took noticed of the layered desserts as many were comprised of not just cake and frosting, but sometimes gelee or mousse would make appearances between cake layers.
As I mentioned, we were quite late for lunch and so ended up finishing our feast right about the time the sun was about to set. This is the story of my Dubai trip really—it was week full of body clock adjustments! Sometimes I wouldn’t notice it but I’d only have eaten twice in a day (heavy breakfast, late lunch) but wouldn’t be hungry in the evening. Probably because of the 4-hour time hop adjustment. But thanks to the late lunch anyway, we were treated to a sight that always makes me feel ever so satisfied in any trip I take: Sunsets!
Sunsets always seem so different and yet so similar from every location. Something about them calms me unlike any other. It’s that rare moment when it seems like the whole world has a collective face turned toward the sun, riding on a silent understanding that we’re supposed to just bask in the beauty of the sunset and say nothing. Do nothing. Am I being too dramatic here? Long story short, I freaking love sunsets.
From the entrance of the Burj Al Arab you can appreciate the sunset view of the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, which stands right behind the beachfront. Just one of the many pretty and unique structures in this place!
And even better is this absolutely stunning sunset view right beside the front parking area of Burj Al Arab. Lovely how the sun makes everything it touches golden at this hour!
Such a gorgeous way to end the day.
Here’s my travel video that pretty much sums up all the highlights of my Dubai/Abu Dhabi trip. Check it out to know what to expect in my Dubai Travel Blog series! A note on the links below, they will all go live as the days go by. 🙂
Other posts in this series:
- Part 1: Exploring the city + Souks of Dubai
- Part 3: Things to do inside the malls in Dubai
- Part 4: A night and half a day at Atlantis The Palm
- Part 5: The awesomest Yellow Boat Experience
- Part 6: Dancing in the desert of Dubai
- Part 7: Crossing over to Abu Dhabi
- Part 8: The grandest mosque I ever did see