Awoke not too late, not too early but still early enought for breakfast, after which I sat in the T.V. room and started watching an old Egyptian movie with subtitles about a night club photographer and his daughter who thwarts a jealous husband's attempts to kill his cheating wife and the wife's lover, a famous singer, by standing in for the wife at just the right time. The daughter after trying to deny true feelings for the singer falls in love with him, although she gives him a real hard time wooing her. I don't know the name of the movie or the characters name (apart from the photographer dad, 'Yousef'.) Anyway, must be a classic in Arabic countries.
I'd been meaning to check out the museum for days and by the time I got around to it today time was already running short.
The museum is well worth a visit and shows not only the rapid economic growth of Dubai but also the daily life of people of years gone by, with some spookily realistic waxwork dummies. The entrance to the museum is ground level and takes you around Al Fahidi fort which has traditional rooms with artifacts from daily life. Next you descend down into the basement, where you can see street scenes and mock-up shops etc... It's easy to spend at least two hours there to see everything and take photos etc... Well worth it at only 3 Dhirams.
By the time I left it was already dark outside. I'd arranged to meet Garth and Darren at the Irish Village pub. I checked out a bus route to get to the general area of the Aviation club and found that from the south side of the Creek that the number 44 would do the trick. Only 11/2 Dhiram compared to whatever a taxi would be. On the bus ride there I met Andre, an Iranian Canadian athlete who was in Dubai trying to set up an athletics association. We exchanged numbers as there always could be the opportunity to step into Iran on my way back to Taiwan (Depends on how far south I go.)
At my 'Outta here' farewell party in Taipei, now already three weeks ago, I'd had one surprise guest, a Canadian, Brett, who I'd met in Xi'an, China last year. He was wondering wether to go back to Canada to make more money to keep travelling and learning Chinese. Over a couple of beers I'd managed to convince him that Taiwan was the place to be and lo and behold he actually turned up in Taiwan while I was back home in the UK last year, so I'd missed him. Anyway he settled in Taichung and when I sent out my e-mail list to pretty much everyone I thought was in Taiwan I'd sent one to him too forgetting of course where he was. Why am I explaining this now? There's a point. At my party he was explaining that maybe he'd be in Iran in the summer. Linking up would give me a good excuse to go south. (In the past I've found it useful to keep my eyes open for 'signs' as to where my path should take me next.)
Anyway my conversation was cut short with Andre as I saw the Aviation Club and got off the bus. I'd judged it pretty well and I only had a short distance to walk. I got into the Irish Village and was amazed to see so many expats there. I hadn't seen so many white faces in one place since... since... oh, well there's always Kaoh San Road, isn't there. I had to walk around the place a couple of times before seeing Garth and Darren. We chatted, joked and quaffed a few beers (it was a few - 17 Dhirams a beer saw to that.) After a short while we were joined by the guys' boss, Roger- I think. Of course the main part of the conversation was 'Ali G'. "When you hears da name Wales, the first thing you thinks of is da fish wid da biggest dick in da ocean!"
Up early - man with a mission. Found out that the no.16 bus goes to Hatta, locally famed for having an oasis of it's own lined with palm trees, the works. After getting my bus into the City Centre I transferred back out on the 16 which cost only 10 Dhiram for the two hour trip which takes you through the desert. Look out for the camel farms on the way.
Two hours later and I was arriving in Hatta - by this time it was already 2 in the afternoon and not the most suitable time to be out gadding about. Mad dogs and Englishmen... The bus dropped me in the center of a dusty dry village, shops shut, the fort towers visible not too far away. As far as I could see I was to be alone, for the time being anyway. I crossed the road to ask how much the entrance to Hatta fort was - absolute bargain for free. As it was hot - upper 40's lower 50's I took my time.
Within the museum not only can you see the fort and the exhibits inside but also other buildings, preserved around the fort. There are information plaques around the museum that covers what must be the old town before modernisation set in. As previously said, I took my time and had a good look around. I must have been there nearly two hours looking around the different kinds of rooms, some bedrooms, some meeting rooms for men and of course, seperate meeting rooms for women.
As I was leaving the museum the curators invited me into their 'guardhouse' to drink cola. As was becoming customary they asked me what I do, which I know always steers round to 'And how much do you make?' or 'How are wages in Taiwan?' Sometimes to steer round that I just tell them that I'm a student with a scholarship, which is partly true.
Not a taxi to be seen as I set out on foot (forget buses) for the dam which I'd asked about earlier. I heard it was a fair way so I hitched a ride to Jima. Once I got there I found that all that was left of the dam was the bed. Apparently there's not been any rain to speak of in the last 3 years (last years rainfall amounted to 1 1/2 hours. Once at Jima I walked around the dried up dam and decided to look at the 'interesting' rocks up the hills that surround the dam. From down below I could see some caves in the hills and decided to look around a bit.
Ihad and hour until the next bus so off I set. I was a little cautious as i got closer to the caves, which were just large holes or hollows in the sides of the hillls, as I didn't know what kind of natsties I might find there. Are there scorpions in Dubai? I clambered around for a good while getting as high up as I thought was safe, being alone, and still got to get a good view of the village.
Leaving myself enough time I made a slow and delicate descent. The hills were mostly loose rocks and one wrong footing would of course mean making rather a rapid descent.
I made it back down to ground level and was just passing the village square (with markings for football in the dust, it seemed) complete with grazing goats, being waved to and called to by young local kids. I saw the bus coming from a distance so I pegged it as fast as my worn out feet would carry me to flag the bus down. Luckily he did see me and stopped. He was even kind enough to stop for me in Hatta so I could buy something to eat.
Another two hours ride back, admiring the varied colours of the sunset and looking out at the twilit desert. Sadly, not enough time this time to trek the desert itself. That would have been so cool. I was the only passenger on the bus for the better part of an hour or so, so I spent my time up front chatting with the Lebanese driver about living in Dubai, the lack of rain, etc...
Got into Dubai and walked to Al Fahidi stree to the Tastey Bite for dinner. Not so busy tonight so I chatted with the guys who work there. Arranged to meet up with Kinan, as he said he'd show me around. In the morning I'd kept my eyes open for shoe stores as the soles on the only pair I'd brought with me had completely collapsed. They'd been through and absolutely gruelling 2 1/2 weeks and were not at all in a good state. Time for an upgrade. I went to about 4 different places and decided on a pair of Timberlands for 41GBP which I used my card for. This definitely was an emergency and I didn't feel the need to change any more travellers cheques. Better then to use the plastic. New shoes bought and on, and on the bus back to Al Quseis. I decided to stop at a little cafe just by the Al Ahli club and was just crossing the road when I heard such a commotion from over the road. Young Arab kids were driving sporty, expensive cars pretty dangerously while being followed by friends in another car with a digital video camera. Driving like maniacs and saving it for posteriority, uploading it onto the net to show off and impress their friends with their recklessness and stupidity. I know understood what I'd seen at an internet cafe a day or so earlier. One young kid was accessing this kind of video file at the termninal next to mine.
I sat at the cafe, drank tea, wrote my journal and contemplated incredible wealth freely given to, not earnt by, these reckless youths.