Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thank God it's the Friday Market

Weirdly, although I'm reading reports of petrol shortages in Dubai, because of fuel prices, one of the cheapest things you can do for fun here is get in your car and drive around a bit so we got in Kevin the Toyota yesterday and headed east.

The Friday Market, near the mineral water producing town of Masafi on the way to the Emirate of Fujairah, has a rather confusing name as it is in fact open seven days a week and some stalls are open 24 hours. 

It's a collection of stalls along the side of the main road that passes through the weird deserty Hajar Mountains.  It's as if they have dumped all the rubble from digging up and concreting Dubai in the desert to form a mountain range.  That isn't what's happened, obviously, it's millions of years of geology but that's what it looks like to someone from a land of grass covered hills rather than sand dunes and peaks.

Stuff on stuff on sale there ranges from plants (we bought jasmine and desert rose), cheap knockoffs of the pure silk Afghan rugs which are very popular here along with other carpets, inflatable beach toys and exotic fruits.  It's a great place to go because it feels a million miles from Dubai and you get a chance to go traditional Arab and barter.  Being British, we probably failed miserably with our embarrassed attempts at haggling but the stuff we bought still seemed super cheap to us.  Apparently if the heat is too much for you, you can park your air conditioned car and imperiously beckon the traders over to serve you through your car window but we're not quite at that stage yet. 

We also stopped for a mutton biryani at a roadside restaurant there which cost us a mere 10Dhs each, ie, less than £4 for both of us.  That was more than 24 hours ago and we're still alive to tell the tale so it must have been ok. 

We carried on through Fujairah town and headed to the Mangrove swamp and coast.  There's still a community of fishermen operating there driving up and down in very battered trucks to find the best places to cast their nets.

There's none of that health and safety business here so if we wanted we could have driven for miles along the beach, however, we didn't fancy sinking in and getting stuck in the sand.  "I suppose if we rang the breakdown people to tell them what we'd done and where we were, they probably would have said 'fine, we'll be there tomorrow' rather than in an hour,"  I said.  "Yes, by which time the fishermen will have sold the car," replied the wise Sand Warlock. I'm so lucky to have him to think of these things.  He is very nice natured and optimistic most of the time and it's usually me that is the doom merchant.  But just sometimes, he is so much better at the forseeing of potential disasters. 

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