Tag Archives: heritage

Bastakia: Art, Heritage and Crafts in Dubai

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series The Emirates

A stroll through Dubai’s Bastakia Quarter is like a stroll back in time, or a walk through a movie set. If you take the chance to step away from Dubai’s bustling, shiny shopping malls or its luxury beaches for a walk through this historical neighbourhood, you will find peace, beautiful architecture, and Middle Eastern art and heritage.

A beautiful mosque stands at the edge of the Bastakia Quarter. Photo © Kathryn Parsons

Bastakia in Bur Dubai is easily reached by heading to Al Fahidi metro station and walking up Al Satwa Road towards the creek. Once you reach Bastakia, immerse yourself in the area by walking around the tiny alleys and seeing what you discover! The neighbourhood is home to the Coin Museum, the Coffee Museum, various art galleries, craft shops and cafes set in sunny courtyards. Most of my purchases during my visit to Dubai are from Bastakia — there’s a wonderful incense shop where I brought some oud crystals for burning and an art shop where a lovely man wrote my name in Arabic and framed it. There are also shops filled with Iranian pottery, handicrafts and jewellery.

Often named ‘Old Dubai’, Bastakia is also home to the remnants of Dubai’s old wall, constructed in 1800 from gypsum and coral. The neighbourhood has recently undergone restoration and is now a completely pedestrianised heritage centre, so it’s a perfect, peaceful place to see traditional Middle Eastern buildings and visit the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. Here you can also go upstairs for great views of the neighbourhood.

Shops, cafes, galleries and museums are hidden in the narrow winding allies. Photo © Kathryn Parsons

My favourite part of the Bastakia Quarter is the Arabian Tea House Restaurant and Café, and not just because the food is delicious — this courtyard café is dreamy! In my opinion, there’s no better word to sum up the atmosphere as you sit down under the white canopies amidst the trees and flowers, order a cool minty lemonade filled with ice, and enjoy your surroundings. They also boast a selection of over a hundred different kinds of tea from all over the world, and an impressive variety of dishes to keep you going throughout the day, from traditional breakfasts, to barbecue, to hearty salads and afternoon teas.

Mosaic graffiti spotted in Bastakia. Photo © Kathryn Parsons

One of the best things I found about visiting Bastakia was that it was an ideal place to visit with others or alone. I first went with a group of people, which was ideal for meandering around the lanes, checking out the art and enjoying a nice lunch — even if we did occasionally lose somebody to the next alluring alleyway or art gallery! But it was also great to visit the quarter alone. The second time I went, I was visiting my sister who worked in Dubai at the time, so I had a few days to entertain myself. Aside from being invited to lunch by two men on the metro who were on their way to their mother’s house, I spent the afternoon in uninterrupted peace walking round Bastakia. I got to spend as long as I wanted pondering the interesting graffiti, sampling the scents of each incense and, best of all, drinking coffee and writing alone in the serene courtyard café.

Featured image © Kathryn Parsons


Biking Australia: Sydney to Wisemans Ferry (West)

Distance: 73-79 km

Estimated Time : 1 hour and 30 minutes

As one of the world’s greatest driving destinations, people who have travelled to Australia agree that there’s always something new to love each time they come. Whether it’s the picture-perfect coastal views, endless rows of relaxing bush lands or even the man-made wonders like the Opera House in Sydney, there’s no telling which one you’ll be fixated on first. For me, it’s always been the freedom of the open roads.

This itinerary takes you along the convicts’ trail. That’s right! In order to get to Wisemans Ferry, you have to follow the road built by prisoners.


Did you know that a reformed convict once ruled this quiet town? Those of you who are renegades at heart have probably heard of him — he went by the name of Solomon Wiseman. For those who haven’t, it was once called Lower Portland Headland and then changed to Wisemans Ferry in his honour. Transforming from lawless Continue reading


Meet the ‘stans: Uzbekistan

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Meet the 'stans

Fun fact: Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country. This means that it is a country landlocked by other landlocked countries… lanlock-ception? There are only two doubly landlocked countries in the world, the other being Lichtenstein — which makes for a pretty impressive  fact if you ask me.

Power of the People

You can experience all the wonders of a country ­— from landscape to the architecture, cuisine to climate —but in many cases the resonating impact of the country travelled can often be the locals themselves. When I hear negative travel stories, more often than not the disappointing experiences involve an unfortunate encounter with natives of the country they have travelled to. The problem with a negative spell is that it can form a loud echo of your travels, despite the numerous positive experiences.

But Thomas, what does this have to do with Uzbekistan? Continue reading