After what was a brilliant nights sleep, I woke up to a cool day in the Middle East.
I spent the morning editing and writing before taking a few quick snaps of the the Palm Jumeirah, which sits across from the hostel I was staying at. It is quite a sight – an artificial archipelago that extends well into the Persian Gulf.
Today though, I left the city centre and moved into a different hotel in Old Dubai. Sitting on the outskirts of Dubai itself, Bur (Old) Dubai is the throwback part of town – like Old Tokyo in Tokyo – serving as a reminder that Dubai is multifaceted in its own right.
Here, there are no towering skyscrapers and flashy cars. Instead, the buildings and cars are more humble – I felt like I was back in China – the roads are dustier, the air is earthier.
Little street shops line the back streets and alleys, selling all kinds of street food, gold of all kind, and knock off watches. In fact, my first meal in Dubai was a freshly made Chicken burger from this food stall deep in the bowels of Bur Dubai. Yaz (my mate I’m travelling around with) wasn’t too keen on it, but travelling for me is finding the dingiest and dodgiest food places and eating there. In my head, if the locals go there, it has to be decent pickings.
The burger itself was surprisingly delicious. Unlike any fast food, this burger took almost 40mins to make and the balance of all the elements – bun, meat, veggies, sauce – was perfect!
This delicious meal was followed by a visit to Dubai Mall – the largest mall in the world. And it was CRAZY.
You couldn’t possibly walk the entire thing in a day and there was just so much to do inside – there was an ice rink, an aquarium, multiple water installations and enormous shops of all kinds.
But the highlight of the day was seeing the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building standing at 830m from top to toe.
It was dizzying to simply stare up at the tower. A monumental testament to the ability of man, to consistently create and to innovate.
And Dubai is living testament to that.
Everywhere you look, there’s construction work happening on exciting new projects that continue to defy gravity and test imaginations. If you blink, it be impossible to catch up.
But in Bur Dubai, you find the city’s connection to where it started – simple dusty roads founded on working class people.
How they balance the two is yet to be seen.
Ryan Cheng is the founder of The 88, and is passionate about telling stories surrounding travel, culture and identity.
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