A change of plan shelved my supposedly tour guiding task over the weekend, but not my keenness to embark on yet another joyriding spree around the City.
Happily, my place in Port Saeed in Deira area, is conveniently located near bus stops, a 15-minute walk to either the green or red line of the metro (unless you are wearing killer heels) and close to familiar landmarks. This makes itinerary-planning easier to do and lesser chance of getting lost.
Since I frequently travel on the red line to work, to the mall, to the airport or to meet friends, I decided to skip that line and go for the green line.
Armed with a sling bag with a notebook and a pen, my Niko and NOL card, I walked towards Salahuddin Road where the Metro Station (MS) closest to my place is located. Walking the stretch from Trader’s Hotel towards Abu Hail reminded me of fond memories with my former colleague and good friend Graxia. I can’t help but chuckle! Those summer months back in 2007 and 2008 were the wackiest. Thank you to the home furniture showrooms lining up that stretch for giving us momentary ventilation during the warm and humid afternoon walks from the office, and of course, to the EMARAT convenience store that’s always our refuge for immediate refreshment.
Over the last 5 years, Salahuddin road developed dramatically. On this stretch alone, aside from a metro line zooming above the road, a new Movenpick Hotel filled the empty lot across Traders Hotel, and the old Dubai Cinema was replaced by an Emirates NBD building.
I took the Al Qusais-bound train once I got to the Abu Baker Al Siddique MS as I still didn’t get to see what’s on the other end of this line—the Etisalat Station. Each station has its own distinctive charm, making riding the metro more interesting. Unfortunately this time, my expectations weren’t met. I was greeted by wide open spaces. It was a Friday on top of it so there weren’t much commuters.
I returned to the platform to catch the train back. While I waited, I leafed through the Metro brochure. Suddenly I heard somebody call out, “Excuse Me!” When I looked to check who and what was it about, a metro housekeeping staff was pointing to the information board where a layout and map of the metro is posted. Thinking he was being helpful as he saw me reading, I smiled and said, “Thank you, it’s okay!”, and went on with my reading. A minute later, I heard another voice say, “Excuse me!” This time, it was closer. When I looked up, it was a police officer pointing to the other side of the platform. Only then I realized I was the only one standing on that platform while everyone waited on the other side. Darn! Yeah, it’s the end of the line so they use a single platform for arriving and departing trains. The platform I was on is only an alternative. Phew!
The sun was already setting on my way back. Watching it from a different angle is such a wonderful treat. I truly am a big fan of sunrise and sunset. They never fail to captivate me. Sadly, my shutter was not that cooperative that I was not able to capture a better shot.
Upon reaching Salah Al Din, I jumped on a bus waiting just outside the station. As to what its route is, I had no idea, except that it terminates at Gold Souk Bus Terminal. And since Gold Souk is one of the major bus terminals in Dubai, there was no reason for panic. Finding the right bus to your destination is no rocket science.
I didn’t mind asking the driver. I’m on a joyriding spree remember? There was no prepared itinerary to follow. So whatever comes to mind, that would prompt my next destination.
The bus drove straight through Salahuddin Road. So I thought of going back to Sabhka to catch the water bus. Suddenly, the bus took a right turn towards Al Muteena instead of going right pass the Fish Roundabout (a circular junction with a fish-shaped water fountain in the middle), I knew I was going the long way should I push through with my Sabhka plan. I then got off at the next bus stop and walked to the Union Metro Station, just 5 minutes away. From there I took another bus to Sabhka.
For those wanting to go to Bur Dubai (Al Fahidi, Al Ghubaiba and Old Pakistani Consulate areas) traffic-free, riding the water bus or abra (traditional wooden boat) is the best option. You can either board at Sabhka (near to Rolex Building) or at Baniyas Station (near to Sheraton Creek Hotel) and get off at either Al Ghubaiba (near to Dubai Museum/Al Fahidi Fort) or Al Seef (near KSA Consulate) and vice versa.
The water bus offers a comfortable ride with fancy seats and air conditioning at 2 dirhams a trip. You just have to tag your NOL card and sail away. It follows a schedule so whether it’s full or not, it departs when it’s time.
The abra, on the other hand, may not be as comfortable as its modern counterpart, but it is definitely more interesting and costs only 1 dirham a trip. You cannot, however, use your NOL card to pay for your fare so it’s always best to prepare your coin before boarding. It leaves when all seats are occupied. Most commuters prefer this so it’s always loaded quickly.
Sightseeing on this side of Dubai is a must! Early evening or before the sun sets is the best time. You’ll be awed at the beauty of Al Bastakiya and Al Fahidi back-dropping a busy Dubai Creek. Dhow cruises are offered here as well for those who would like to have dinner onboard a traditional wooden boat while cruising along Dubai Creek.
Just a girly advice, visit the place only with a companion especially when you go in the evening. I was perfectly fine being on my own though, except that the crowd was mostly men so it could get pretty uncomfortable walking the street alone with plenty of prying eyes.
It was already getting late so I skipped the water bus ride and headed for home.
I sat quietly on C7 bus bound for Abu Hail MS as it moves towards Al Muteena Road, took a u-turn at Sheraton Deira, went right on an interior road unfamiliar to me then out towards Hor Al Anz. As it continued to move in and around Hor Al Anz, I felt like being transported to either India or Pakistan as most of the people I see are Indian and Pakistani nationals. It was quite amusing to see groups of people outside every barber shop and cafeteria. No they are not eating or waiting for their turn to get their hair done. They were glued on the TV screens of these shops watching a cricket match no less. They are such a big fan of that sport. Just imagine how many more will be standing there if it was a championship game.
Ten minutes later, the bus finally reached Abu Hail MS. I then headed up to the Healthcare City platform and took the train back to where I started. Tagging out, the NOL reader showed 18.10 dirhams balance on my card. I had 25 dirhams at the start of my journey, meaning I spent a total of 6.9 dirhams in my entire 2-hour joyride. Not bad!
God bless and be safe everyone!