VILLAGE BY THE CREEK

Something feels a little askew as I step outside onto the balcony at 3 am - the wind is blowing fervently, yet I feel like I'm standing right beside an exhaust, enveloped in unadulterated heat. I guess that's just the way Dubai is in June, even in the middle of the night. Along the murky horizon faint lights are aglow, the only suggestion of the skyscrapers that dominate Sheikh Zayed Road. Rhythmic pulses of light much higher than the rest of the hazy skyline emanate from the city's crowning glory, the Burj Khalifa. I've been to many of these buildings on previous trips, and feel a sense of boredom growing in me. Fighting off the jet lag, I sink back into bed, sinking even slower into slumber deep. The following afternoon, deciding rather foolishly to brave the 40°C sun, I followed the path less travelled and opted to visit the city's heritage sites and traditional areas rather than the conventional tourist hotspots... on foot. These historical neighbourhoods are located not too far from where I was staying, a short twenty-minute walk. So, with earphones on and water bottle in hand, I begin my journey. Barely five minutes later, I cave and casually enter a roadside store to cool down. Forty minutes and multiple pit stops are what it really took to get there. Finally, with the mechanic hums of abras growing louder, the Dubai Creek materialises before me. My first thought: can I jump in for a quick cool-off? No? Aw shucks. I walk north along the strangely blue creek, shimmering like topaz between the dull and dusty banks of Bur Dubai and Deira, towards Al Shindagha. In this neighbourhood I find a lost city, several sand-coloured courtyard houses huddled together, unimpeded...
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