Saturday 5 January 2008

UAE: Up the creek in Dubai

Under cloudy Muscat skies, we departed for a few days in Dubai. Four hours and a painfully slow border official later, we arrived at the Golden Sands apartment complex which exceeded all our expectations...'it's like a little house,' said Little Miss M. A cup of tea later, we took a minibus to Dubai Creek for an evening cruise on a dhow. The hub of the bus' steering wheel was covered in crinkled plastic wrap, suggesting previous air bag deployment and the vehicle was in desperate need of an air-freshener or two.

At the quayside there was a long row of dhows with twinkly lights. We entered our boat, took our table and waited for the remaining diners. A curious mixture of Arabic songs and American hotel saxophone tunes filled the upper deck until the last group clambered on board and we set sail.

During the earlier bus ride, it was revealed that the cruise included a magic act. My lack of enthusiasm was hard to disguise. Sure enough, a few minutes after departure as the dhow headed along the creek and out to sea, the 'magician' tapped on a glass to gather the audience's attention.The gentleman displayed the confidence of a small boy that had just opened his first magic set for Christmas. Turning a burning napkin into a dish of paper flowers was the highlight until a member of the audience tied a knot in his rope which the magician could not untie. The astounding act eventually came to an end with barely-audible clapping which signalled a rush to the buffet. The food was extremely good - simple, but very tasty, particularly the Chinese noodles and fish.

With perfect timing, we arrived back at the quayside after the coffee to our awaiting minibus. During the return journey, we were entertained by a spherically-shaped gentleman who thoughtfully played tunes from his very tinny mobile phone. We slept very well.

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