We’re now entering the time of year where, not only is it unbearably hot, but the humidity has quickly begun to settle. And it’s here to stay for the next two months. People are taking to the malls more, getting up earlier on the weekend to beat the mid-day heat and staying inside as much as possible. Bars and restaurants have either shutdown their outdoor area until September or have put up the air-conditioned canapes to keep business booming during the ‘dog days’ of summer. Of course a small number of people will continue to go to the beach, dine outside in the evenings and even exercise later on in the day or at night. Ultimate last night was particularly difficult–after running on the beach for about 5 minutes, it felt as though someone had filled my lungs with cement. Not a pleasant feeling. Though I don’t think I’ll ever get ‘bored’ of jumping into the sea after running around on the beach. Our numbers were down drastically from the week before–where we had 20 people, we now had 10 at the most. So as life in Dubai begins to brace itself for the next two months of unbearable heat, Adam and I decided to get in some more exploring this weekend, before the weather becomes too much.
If you were to visit the part of Dubai where Adam and I live, you’d quickly forget that you were in the ME. Aside from the Call to
For less than 1p you can tour the creek on one of these. I highly suggest holding on for dear life…
Prayer 5 times a day, there’s nothing to say that this part of Dubai isn’t actually located in any international city around the world. Western restaurants and stores line the Marina, JBR and JLT. Expats freely mingle and go about their daily lives side by side with the Emirate people. But take a step outside of this Western ‘bubble’, head 20 minutes down the road, and you are quickly reminded.
Karamas is the one stop shop place to go for deceivingly accurate fake clothing, watches, shoes, sunglasses and purses. Once out of your taxi, you are transported to, what feels like, South East Asia. Dark alleyways and bazaars lined with shoes, bags, sunglasses, tea sets and clothing. All for a cheap price. All the ‘best genuine fakes’. Countless times we were bombarded, sometimes by 5 or 10 shop owners at once, trying to sell us the ‘the best genuine fakes’ around. It was like trying to part of Red Sea at one point. Chinatown in the City doesn’t hold a candle to what lies in store for you at Karamas. Both in quantity and quality. Most items are shown freely in store windows and shelves. Cochella, Mulberry, and Jimmy Choo all displayed. But ask for products like Louis Vuitton, Channel or Hermes, and you’re taken out of the store, down the street, into a non-ACed building, up the creaking elevator, through a heavy door and into an apartment that has been converted into a massive room with shelves of fakes that would deceive even the most trained fashionistas. These bags are truly something else. Real, high quality, leather (and flame tested to prove it), intricate detailing that would only be found on ‘the real deal’ (or so I thought), and the card or care instructions typically found in these high end items. All up to date with this seasons designs. All for the tenth of the usual price.
Haggling is a must–you run the risk of insulting the owner if you don’t. Typically you can get them down by at least 30%, though 50% is sometimes an option. Once you’ve made your purchase, a trip to one of the many restaurants down the main streets is a
Brings the meaning of ‘bling’ to a whole new level…
must. Our trip to the Iranian restaurant was a great find (we were hoping to find the one Sri Lankan restaurant we read about), with a great menu and even better prices. Nothing like a mint and lemon juice with pitta and humous to cool you off after a few hours of walking around and haggling.
After Karamas, hail a taxi (or take the 30 minute walk up the creek if it’s later on in the year) up to the Gold and Spice Souks. What you will find there is unbelievable. Never, in my life, have I seen that much gold or that many spices in one confined area. Both sections are covered, replicating something like the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. Yellow, White, Platinum, precious and semi-precious stones all line the windows and shops of the souk. Store owners are busy inside dealing with the many tourists who are drawn to this area to purchase well made, high quality, jewellery at (literally) over half the price they’d pay back at home. Once again, haggling is a must in this part of town.
Close by, the smell of spices drift in with the creek breeze. Mounds of every spice and herb imaginable, all at (you guessed it) reasonable, and negotiable, prices. You can also find a variety of souvenirs to bring back home.
After purchasing your diamond rings and pounds of saffron (ha), I highly suggest that you take a walk up The Dubai Creek. There you can see the wooden ships that go between the Gulf States (and we assumed Iran) with piles upon piles of consumer goods that would eventually be sold off to stores and shops around the area. You can even take a tour of the entire length of the creek for the
Houston, we’ve left the bubble….
price of less than 1p (1AED). But hold on, you’ll be sitting on top of the boat, rather than in it and at high speed, this can make for a fairly rocky experience.
With the mosques lining one side of the creek and cargo ships on the other, this part of Dubai is a stark contrast to the glitz and glam that most have come to expect. And yet, it’s refreshing. After living in a city where some of the buildings date back to the 1500s, it’s nice to know that, with the Western familiarities that Dubai offers its expat community, there’s still a part that is pushes you out of your comfort zone and into fairly uncharted territory.
Photos to come shortly. Having issues with my iPhone at the moment. Stay tuned!