On day three the Business session continued at the Grand Hyatt while spouses were taken for shopping. Places visited were the Gold Souk & Carrefour a large supermarket chain. Souk is an Arabic term for market. Lunch was arranged at Al Ibrahimi Palace Restaurant near the New Burjuman Centre,Karama. Food served there was Indian & extremely delicious. The ambience was nice & friendly. It is reported to be owned by a Pathan - the door keeper was a tiny Pathan about 3' tall & he is a unique attraction here. Next part of the tour was a visit to the wild wadi water park. As Shobha & I were not keen on water sports we decided to give it the skip and instead decided to explore old Dubai a bit on our own. (Log on to below website if you want to know more about Wild Wadi. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wild_Wadi_Water_Park)
We decided to take a walk down down Al Khaleej St. behind the Hyatt then into Al Khor St. We walk past gold shops of Indian origin like Joy Alukkas, Atlas & Chemmanoor and finally turn left into the Dubai Souks.
Dubai Souks are a striking contrast to the modern shopping malls. Shopping in Dubai is not complete without a browse through Dubai's famous souks. Souks swarm with people busy negotiating with the shopkeepers in traditional style of doing business. Dubai souks are located at Deira near the old docks and sell gold jewellery, traditional spices, perfumes and antiques.
We first walk through the Gold Souk which has a large number of shops exhibiting a dazzling array of gold ornaments - earrings, rings, necklaces, chains, bracelets, bangles and pendants. It is reported that any given time over 25 tons of gold jewellery is on display at the souk. It is an awesome display. We were tempted to buy but strongly resisted.
Next we entered the Spice Souk where fresh Arabic spices are on display - cloves, cardamom, frankincese, cinnamon, incense, dried fruit and nuts imported from all over the Middle East. The spices are sold straight out of large open sacks. We bought Irani dates,saffron,dalchini & frankincese(dhoop). We did some aggressive bargaining and could drive down quoted prices by half !
We exited the souk into Baniyas Road and boarded the Dhow (ancient Arabic Boat) at gold souk station and took a ride to Bur Dubai - it was dusk and light was fading. The fare was Dhm.1 per head and we were across in 5 mts. The boatman Husain was a friendly chap from Bangladesh. He advised us not to visit the old palace and museum as " it is just an old building & there is nothing there". We heeded his advice.
We disembarked at Bur Dubai station where the impressive Bank of Baroda skyscraper greeted us. We walked a bit through Mina Bazaar which displayed textiles & visited some electronic shops to check out I-Pods, Handycams & cordless phones. The weather was nice and a cool breeze was blowing. We had good South Indian coffee at Saravana Bhavan & then took another dhow back. By now it was dark and Bur Dubai looked enchanting & attractive in the night lights. We got off again at gold souk station took the pedestrian underpass under Baniyas Rd. and crossed into Old Baladiya St. adjacent to the gold souk.
We then went to Al Soor St where the Perfumes Souk is located - these shops sell only perfumes . You can find scores of shops selling a variety of perfumes with a thousand aromas ranging from traditional Arabic Ittars which are strong & spicy to the latest designer brands with light floral aromas. We did end up buying some perfumes and got some good bargains.
We finally call it a day and trek back to the Hotel.
Back to the room for hot bath and change of clothing we report to the ballroom at the lobby for dinner. It appeared that the groups that went on the Wild Wadi trip had had an exciting experience too and were animatedly sharing the details.