With living in Abu Dhabi, like any foreign country, you have to sometimes accept that doing what would be considered a simple task in your home country can be a major undertaking. Having lived in the same city in Japan for twelve years, I generally felt almost as comfortable running errands in Fukuoka than I would in Milwaukee. Not so with getting something done in Abu Dhabi,. Here I feel like my comfort zone is expanding. In some cases, I feel qualified to give advice about certain things like a good bike shop to get parts or minor repairs done. Unfortunately, when it comes to children's bicycles, that's a different story.
Because the weather has finally gotten to the point in which it is comfortable to be outside in the daylight hours, I wanted to take the kids out on the bicycle ride they've been asking for. I'd planned to take them out on Saturday morning when it was cooler. I was putting air into the bicycle tires after they had been sitting on the balcony for the past seven months when I snapped the end off one of the valves. I have plenty of tubes for my bike but no idea of where to get one for my son's bike. I figured that I might be able to take the wheel to Lulu's, the department store where we bought the bike last year but wasn't counting on much help from them. Sure enough, they refused to sell me a tube and gave me the advice that I'd been dreading: go to a bike shop on Hamdan Street.
Hamdan is a part of town where you can find hundreds of little shops that sell almost everything cheaply. It is also under heavy construction and impossible to find parking. It's a maze of tiny streets with cars on either side and in the middle. If you are lucky enough to find parking, you'd better not leave your car too long unless you want it parked in. In the above picture you can see a sample of the parking I saw on Saturday while looking for a shop.
A friend of mine gave me some advice as to where I could find a good shop selling children's bike parts. I drove close to the area where I thought it was and as soon as I found a parking spot, I got out and began asking around for a bike shop. I didn't see any bike shops but I did see thousands of hair salons copy centers and electronics shops. After a while, someone told me that it had moved and I walked to the new area and began to ask around again.
Eventually I found it. The shop was a nice little shop selling only kid's bikes and various parts for them. The bikes were more reasonable than department stores and, I'm guessing, better quality. In addition, there was much better service than you'll get at stupid Lulu's. I was able to buy a couple of tubes for the bikes really cheaply. When the kids eventually outgrow their current bikes, I know where to go now. Since everything is so chaotic in that area of town, I've always avoided it. I went mostly as an exercise to see if I could find a shop. In the end, I got a new bit of knowledge and now dread going to Hamdan a little less than I did before.