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Saturday Misadventure

September 25, 2008

So, following our Friday adventure, we had an interesting Saturday. We had two missions we wanted to complete – find the quilting store to buy sewing supplies and go to Homes R Us (yes, that is what it is called) to order our bed frame. The quilting store is in Bur Dubai, the area of the city that is across the “creek” from us. Daddybird figured out what bus line would take us there and we got on the bus without too much trouble. This particular bus had display screens on the ceiling telling you what stop was next, HOWEVER, the display was off by several stops, so we exited the bus way too early. It was hot and we walked quite a ways trying to find the landmark we were seeking, then walked all the way back in case we had gone the wrong way. So, Daddybird studied the map in the bus stop shelter, which was air conditioned, thankfully. We got on another bus and were able to get within a couple blocks of our destination. We found the quilting store, which was interesting in itself. It is a small retail space. It wasn’t really designed for shoppers to come in and browse. It was clearly an Indian family business and they were set up to actually make quilts right in the shop for you, apparently. Anyway, I was successful in buying some thread, needles, seam ripper, etc.

Next we set off to figure out how to get to our next destination. After standing/sitting in the heat, watching the buses go by and being unsuccessful at flagging down a taxi, I was getting dehydrated. I suggested that we go to a shopping center I had seen as we got off the bus and get something to drink. Which we did, but since it is Ramadan and one cannot/should not drink or eat in public before sundown, we each took our drinks into the restrooms and drank them there, out of sight. Next, we ended up back at the same bus stop waiting for buses/taxis. We got on a bus that Daddybird said showed on the map as going right by our destination. It did indeed go right on by our destination at full speed. So, we ended up staying on the bus all the way to the end of the route which went out into the industrial area and the labor camps.

These pictures aren’t particularly good, but what can you do when you are in a moving bus? As you can see, it is somewhat bleak in the industrial area. Large areas of open space between industries.


The picture above was taken at the end of the bus line. There did seem to be some civilization out there, so it wasn’t like being completely stranded, but in the heat, those buildings were a very long walk away.



Here is Daddybird at the end of the bus route. There were three buses. The one we came in on. The one at the front of the line that had no driver and the hood over the engine was up, which is never a good sign. And the bus in the middle, which we were able to take back the way we came after a short wait. It took an hour to get out to the end of the line and about an hour to get back.

This is a picture of one of the labor camps. It is not a very good example, but the best I could get from a moving bus. They actually call them labor camps (for Westerners that is a loaded phrase). Employers here are required by law to provide housing for expatriate employees. There are an astronomical number of expatriate construction workers, housekeeping workers, etc. Many employers have these apartment buildings out in the boondocks and bus their workers into work. The livability of these accommodations varies greatly. Some are clearly well maintained, others are very slum-like and overcrowded. There were some where the air conditioner was missing and there was just a gaping hole where it should be. I cannot even imagine how hot it would get inside. There is clearly room for better regulation of worker accommodations. I’ve noticed a tendency here to declare that something be done without a clear delineation of what that means – like how many people to a room, building maintenance, air conditioning, etc.

I’ve heard people remark about how bad these labor camps are and I agree some are very bad. But, I also think what American employer would provide housing and transportation for manual laborers?

So, Daddybird and I seem to be bad tourists, or maybe just accidental tourists who get on the wrong bus and see things 99.99% of tourists don’t see. It’s not a bad way to go, I think. (By the way, our adventure cost us 2 bus fares each which is about $1.10 each. We’re not only accidental tourists, but cheap ones, too. Just try to find a 2 hour tour for $2.20.)

P.S. We did make it to the store eventually and ordered our bed frame which is now in place and beautiful.

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