Lost in Translation

I had an interaction today that reminded me how living in a foreign country is not always easy.

My son needed new gym shorts, so off I went to the school uniform shop. A simple enough task, right? Ha, why would I think that? Silly me!
Walking into the uniform shop, I greeted the lady behind the counter. Our conversation went something like this:
I said, “Hi! I need a pair of extra-large gym shorts please”.
To the reply of, “Gym…? What do you mean gym?”
“You know, gym…umm…like to work out…umm…exercise…?”.
Blank look in response. I walked over to some sample gym uniforms hanging on a rack and pointed to a pair of gym pants.
“Like these but short”.
To which she repeated her question, “What do you mean gym?” In an effort to understand what I was trying to say, she went to her computer and begin a search. I have no idea what her search word was, but the result yielded a picture of jeans.
“You mean this?”, She asked while pointing to said picture of jeans. At this point, I’m sure she thought I was utterly crazy coming to a uniform shop looking for jeans.
“No, gym…er…umm…P.E.?” Ding, ding, ding! I could see her eyes widen as realization set in.
Off she went to find the shorts. When she came back, she was holding two pairs of gym pants.
“No, I need shorts. You know, short, not long.” I explained while pointing to my knees.
Off she went again. Returning empty-handed she said, “we don’t have any men’s extra-large. Our largest size is children’s 16”.
“Well, according to your chart right here,” I began while pointing to their sizing chart posted on the wall, “my son would be a men’s extra large (While he is very tall, Chinese sizes tend to run suuuuper small). If you don’t carry anything bigger than a 16, what is he supposed to wear for gym? I mean P.E.”
Again, blank look. She tap, tap, tapped at her computer, looked up and said, “maybe he could wear shorts for P.E.”
“Yes!” I replied, more than a bit exasperated. “Do you have size extra large?”, I asked thinking we were going around in some sort of vicious circle.
“Yes, we do.”, She replied with certainty. With that, she turned around to the fully stocked shelf behind her and pulled down two pairs of size extra-large gym shorts.

I left having completed my task but giggled and muttered under my breath, “what the heck just happened?”.

I wish I could say I was surprised by this interaction but things like this happen on a daily basis. Some days I wonder if I really do make any sense at all.

Here are a few more examples of things that just get lost in translation:

Hey, who are you calling a loser?
Well this is a nice shirt for Disneyland
Shanghai good-looking corporate image planning. Nice!
I can’t make this stuff up!
“waring danger”

All in all, this is just another part of our adventure living abroad. I am thankful for frustrating yet ridiculously funny things like this that happen. I hope I made you smile through my story. Sometimes it’s the ridiculousness that makes life entertaining and keeps you giggling your way through this crazy thing called life.

Forget Black Friday, Let’s Celebrate Cookie Friday! (Christmas Sugar Cookies)

In America, many people spend the day after Thanksgiving shopping. We call it Black Friday, and it is THE best day to stock up on Christmas gifts by hunting for the best bargains of the year. However, because we are a family who tends to avoid crowds at all costs, we began our own Black Friday tradition. Instead of Black Friday, we participate in Cookie Friday.IMG_7640

The day after we stuff our faces with turkey, we gather as many neighborhood kids as we can rustle up (a.k.a., my minions), and begin getting in the Christmas spirit by decorating sugar cookies. Not just any sugar cookies, mind you. The best sugar cookies you have ever tasted. Thick, chewy and soft. Topped with sweet icing and a lovingly painted design. Well, I do have kids painting these delectable morsels, so I will admit, not every design is lovingly painted. Having as many boys as I do in the house, I should have realized cookies in the shapes of people were bound to get creatively turned into something…ahem…inappropriate. The first year of Cookie Friday led the way to a new tradition quickly adopted by every male participant. The bikini. Not exactly Christmassy, but they sure do get points for creativity.IMG_1986

The yearly gathering for Cookie Friday happened in our home every year for 12 years. None of my immediate family members were allowed to even whisper the word “shopping” until nearly every cookie was decorated. It became a very special tradition not only for us but for our kid’s friends as well. Come to think of it; perhaps I was acting as a babysitter so that other parents could go shopping. Hmmm…maybe I planned that all wrong. That being said, Those 12 years were very special. We welcomed old and new friends, and slowly watched them grow up. But through it all, no matter how old the neighborhood kids got, they always came together on Cookie Friday to usher in the Christmas holiday together.

Since we have moved to Shanghai, Cookie Friday has been put on hold. It is too difficult to execute here. But I’ll be honest, although it was a lot of work (I baked hundreds of cookies, hence the need for my minions), it is one of the things I miss the most about being home.IMG_5111

I hope this recipe makes its way into your family traditions. It is a family recipe that has been passed down through generations. Gather around, call all the kids, put on some Christmas carols, and enjoy making memories of your own. And, if a bikini-clad sugar person makes its way into your traditional Christmas Sugar Cookies, consider yourself all the luckier. 😉


Christmas Sugar Cookies


3/4 C butter
1 C sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 C flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt


Mix butter, sugar, eggs, & vanilla. Blend in flour, baking powder, & salt. Chill at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week. Roll dough 1/2” thick. Cut with festive cookie cutters and place on ungreased baking sheet.


400 degrees for 5 minutes.
Make sure the cookies are only slightly browned on the bottom. They taste better when they are thick and chewy.


2 C confectioners sugar
2 egg whites

Beat to spreadable consistency. Separate into small bowls. Add food coloring. Paint cookies with frosting. Get creative. Top with sprinkles and a big heaping of love.


A Trip to the Market

Perhaps one of the most fun aspects of living in Shanghai is the many types of markets available for shopping. Fabric, fake, pearl, photography, electronics, produce, you name it, there is a market for it. Our favorites are the fake market and the fabric market. Pretty much anything you could need or want can be found in one of these two markets. Except for Bath and Body Works soaps. Oh, how I miss those. But I suppose if they did sell them they would be fake so maybe not the best idea. Who knows what ingredients would actually be in them. Anyway…

Last weekend we took a trip to both the fake and fabric markets. These places do have actual names. I think one is AP Plaza and the other, South Bund Spinning and Fabric Market, but really, who has time to say all of that? We like to keep things simple. We have even simplified names for some of the locals we buy things from. The lamp lady, jacket guy, pancake lady, DVD guy, etc. Mostly because we couldn’t pronounce their names if we tried, but you get the point.

So, our first stop was the fake market, and I was on a mission to buy some Christmas presents. Now one does not walk into a local market and purchase an item at face value. No way! Part of any good Chinese market experience is the haggling.

Not only does Jackson have to negotiate with the vendor, but also with his wife. Which will be the tougher sell? Then there’s Hunter with no money. Sigh.

My ultimate goal is to walk away feeling like I got a good deal. Negotiations usually go something like this,

Me: “How much is this?”
Vendor: “It’s 460 RMB.”
Me: “No, way too much.”
Vendor: “Ok, I give you good friend price. 380 RMB.”
Me: laugh and shake my head, “no way. Still too much.”
Vendor: “Ok, ok, you give me price.”
Me: “150.”
Vendor: Look of utter shock, “You joking me. No way. How about 350?”
Me: “No. Forget it, I don’t want it anyway.” Turn and leave store
Vendor: Chases me down the aisle. “Ok, ok 200 RMB.”
Me: “No, 150.”
Vendor: “Fine, fine, you are killing me. Ok”. Followed by a substantial amount of muttering under the breath while putting my item in a bag.
Deal done.

I walk away knowing I paid what the item was worth and the vendor plays the anger card but knows he/she also sold it for what it’s worth and they will get a lot more from the next sucker who walks into their store. So back to my mission. I knew I wanted some travel wine cups (apparently all the rage this year) And I knew I wanted to pay 22 RMB for them. After walking away empty-handed from two stores, without even so much as a chase down, I was in luck in the third. After a tough negotiation down from 50 to 23 RMB. I figured this was close enough to the price I wanted to pay. When I told her I wanted 36 cups her eyes nearly popped out of her head. Subsequently, I got the, “you’re killing me,” and “I make no profit” line quite a few times so I know I got a good deal.

Now how am I going to carry all of these?


Christmas presents bought, we were onto the fabric market to get some things made. My husband, Brett, wanted a sportcoat made, so we went to a lady he has used many times before. Although she has his measurements on file, she looked at him and said, “we measure you again.” When she wrapped the measuring tape around his stomach, her eyes grew wide, and she said, “you got much bigger.” I snorted, then almost fell on the floor laughing. Poor guy.

The lady who noticed Brett’s “larger” stomach. And yes, Jack bought this hat at the Fake Market. Quite a find!

But hey, don’t ever get too much of a kick out of someone else’s misfortune or karma will get you back. Next, we went to my “shirt lady” so I could have a couple of, well, shirts made. Brett and the boys stood outside the store while I wheeled and dealed my way to a reasonable price. After we left, Brett showed me a picture he took while waiting. This was the sign on the store:CC2FE866-C3D4-4BD3-A36E-5EFB366119EB-11883-000004C6B690F516_tmp

At the end of the day, we all had a laugh and chalked it up to just another adventure in China. Every day there is something new to make you giggle. We certainly are lucky to call this place home.


The Dark Side of Living Abroad

Most of the time living abroad is pretty great. We have a driver and a house cleaner. Eating out happens more regularly. We have the opportunity to travel and experience new things. Yes, it is an experience I would highly recommend. Read 10 Reasons Why You Should Live Abroad to see why.

However, there is a dark side to living abroad. Things you need to really think about before considering such a big move.

A few weeks ago my phone rang. It was my oldest son, Hunter on the other end. He is still in the U.S. While it is not unusual to get a phone call from him at 1am his time (he is 20 and never seems to sleep before 2am at the earliest), I detected an odd sound in his voice. “Hi, mom…so, I don’t want you to worry…”, Were his first words. Well, as any mother could relate, within 5 seconds I had thought through every possible scenario of what could have possibly happened, as well as 50 ways to get home as quickly as I could. He continued, “so, I’m on my way to the E.R.”, followed by a nervous laugh. “I, um, was at a concert and got slammed into a wall and hit my shoulder and my head really hard and now it hurts to lift my arm.” Oh goodness, more scenarios went whirring through my mind. Would he need surgery? What if the doctors wanted to operate right away? Should I go ahead and book a plane ticket? Wait it out? What should I do?!?! He assured me he was fine and sounded it, but my mothering instincts wanted me to be there hugging him tight and be his advocate at the hospital. The fact that he is away at college and I wouldn’t have been there even if we still lived at home made no difference. The point was that I couldn’t get there quickly even if I wanted to.

Thankfully Hunter was fine. He handled it like a man, and I was impressed by his maturity. The next weekend our daughter (also in the U.S.) cut her finger and raced off to the E.R. to get stitches. I joked we needed to rent a standing room for the two of them since they live in the same town. But really, the dark side of living abroad hit me hard, and I thought it would be a good idea to give you some food for thought in case you are considering becoming an ex-pat.

On a side note, don’t worry, I’m not depressed or hate life. It’s all good. Whenever you say anything negative, people start to fear that an intervention or something of the sort is in order. But it’s ok. I have been able to tuck my worry away again and will soldier on with lots of prayer for safety and fortitude.

On another side note, experiences living abroad are vastly different. I know some people move overseas without much to their name. We have come on a very generous package from my husband’s company so I can only speak from our experience.

The dreaded phone call

To be honest, phone calls like the one I received a few weeks ago are a consistent fear for ex-pats. We pray something drastic will not happen while we are thousands of miles away, but we know it could so we constantly live with a nagging fear in the back of our minds. Sure, most of the time we push the fear aside and go about our daily lives. I mean, we simply couldn’t live if we didn’t. But if most ex-pats are like me, that fear hovers right under the surface and can explode when even the smallest of issues occur. Possibly one of the biggest things to think about when considering a move abroad is that you are going to be far away from family and friends. You realize very quickly that you honestly have no control over significant life circumstances. I know, none of us have control over the big things no matter where we live, but it is easy to fall into a false sense of security living within close proximity of your loved-ones. When you think about moving thousands of miles away, you need to be ok with the fact that it will take you a long time to get back home. Possibly even days. Are you ok with this?

A few of my loved-ones far and near


A temporary life

An ex-pat’s assignment almost always has an end date. That means not only will you be going home at some point, but the friends who become a huge part of your life will be too. Goodbyes are always painful, and they are constant when you live temporarily. We are continually adjusting to old friends leaving, new friends coming, different routines, trips, etc. We just never seem to feel settled. Are you ok with this?

Becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable

Moving abroad means not only uprooting your family and leaving your home but moving to a foreign country where things are going to be very different. Many times this is great. You learn about different cultures and how they live. However, there are also times when it is pretty terrible. Here in China, we have to deal with squatty pottys in public restrooms, and people openly staring at us almost every time we leave the house. And darn it, we never found that ranch dressing we searched for during the first few months of our arrival. For more insight into our adjustment to a new life abroad, click here: The Good, the Bad, and the Hunt for Ranch Dressing. I know, first-world problems, right? So, while we have found our way, there have been many bumps in the road, and it hasn’t always been easy. Some days it can feel overwhelming. Ex-pats actually have a term for it that is widely used over here: Shang-lo days. Honestly, they can be pretty tough, and all you want to do is go home. Are you ok with this?

Now these look like classy squatty pottys


Living on a roller coaster

The above being said I would compare our emotional well-being to being on a roller coaster. Most of the time we are going up. Things are good, and we are excited about our lives here. But all of a sudden we get to the top and go careening down at break-neck speed. It could be the day. It could be the situation. I don’t know, but I have seen so many people here live on such emotional highs and lows. I mean, just running an errand can ultimately defeat you. For about the first 6 months after we moved here, I would set out and try to accomplish one thing a day. Just one thing. And you know what? Sometimes I couldn’t even do that. I would return home empty-handed and in tears because everything felt like it was just too difficult. It is much easier now after two years of navigating my way around, but there are still some days I return home empty-handed and utterly frustrated. Are you ok with this?

Medical issues

I continuously pray we will not have a life-threatening issue while living here. Ambulances are not available, we don’t have our own car, and we have to use specific hospitals, the most commonly used facility being 45 minutes away, without traffic. Any emergency would be very complicated to handle quickly. So yes, this is a real fear of mine. I rely heavily on prayer and faith that God will provide as needed. I have spoken to many people who live here with a child that has a food allergy and give them so much credit trying to feed their child safely while living in a foreign country where English is not the national language. Obtaining medications is another concern. Some are impossible to get here. We always buy our medications when we are home, especially those requiring a prescription. This involves a lot of preplanning and forethought. Are you ok with this?

A dog bite led to a trip to the emergency room for me 😦



I can’t even begin to tell you how skilled I have become with hand-gestures. Not in the profane sense…goodness people (insert eye-roll)! But as a useful tool in explaining what I want to someone who does not speak English. You may argue that we should learn the language of our host country and Lord knows I have tried. But it is just so hard! Terrible excuse, I know. That being said, many times communicating what you want besides asking how much something costs can become extremely difficult, if not impossible with a language barrier. So yes, hand gestures, pointing, I have even resorted to calling my driver and asking him to translate. But it is frustrating especially when it should be simple. Are you ok with this?

These are a few things to consider when contemplating moving abroad. Honestly, the list could be endless, but I have tried to hit the most significant issues we have faced, and continue to face on a regular basis. Most days are great, but some are not. A move abroad should not be taken lightly. You must weigh the pros and cons. Ultimately for us, the benefits of living a life abroad have vastly overshadowed the negatives. We love the opportunity we have been given and are very thankful. I wish you luck in your decision. It may not be an easy one to make, but in the end, you need to be comfortable with, and excited about your choice. Life can be an adventure no matter where you choose to live, whether moving overseas or choosing to stay put and live it out in your own backyard.



Fall in Love With Fall. An American’s how-to guide for making the season a success.

I could write a novel about how much I love the fall season. Crisp, fresh air, apple pies, deep vibrant colors dotting the trees. Yep, fall is pretty great. My husband and I like the season so much we decided to name our only daughter after it. It didn’t even matter that she was born in January, we decided Autumn was going to be her name. And yes, we are aware January does not actually occur during the fall season but darn it, Winter just didn’t seem the right name for her.

As you may know, the U.S. does everything big. Holidays, football games, even portions of food. The bigger, the better is our mentality and the fall season is no exception. We love fall in America. Everyone transitions from pansies and American flags to pumpkins and mums. We have parades, seasonal drinks, and even an entire holiday in honor of our beloved season. It’s as if all of the country transforms into orange, red, and yellow. And why shouldn’t we love the season? After all, it is an incredible time of year. If you ever have the privilege of driving through New England when the leaves are ablaze with color, you will know instantly why we love it so. People move to New England just for the fall season. I’m not kidding. That’s how spectacular it is. This time of year makes me nostalgic for our time spent in the Northeast. But that is a post for another day.

Today I am here to spread the word about all things fall in the U.S. Your insider’s guide, so to speak, about everything you should do in order to do the season justice and celebrate it big like us Americans.

√Get your craftiness on

First of all, start decorating early. After all, you want to take full advantage of all the season has to offer. I always decorate my house before the school year begins which is usually towards the end of August. I always justify decorating rather early by saying the start of school is the unofficial entrance of the fall season, so why not decorate accordingly? My entire house becomes a fall wonderland…wait, is that even a thing? Pumpkins, apples, and mums can typically be found both inside and out. I have boxes and boxes of decorations. Ok, I’ll admit I may get a bit carried away when I even add decorations to my bathrooms but come on, fall is just so great I don’t want to miss it anywhere I go.IMG_4972

√Treat yourself

Since all that decorating takes so much time and energy, make sure you recharge yourself with a pumpkin spice latte. In America, you can pretty much find pumpkin-flavored anything this time of year so finding a festive drink should be pretty easy to do. And go ahead, pile the whipped cream on top of that baby. It’s like a bonus treat when the coffee is all gone, and we all deserve a treat every once in a while, right?IMG_4758


Now that you are all sugared up, it’s time to hit your local farmer’s market. Now listen to this bit of advice very carefully. BUY EVERYTHING! I fill my car with pumpkins, hay bales, mums, you name it, and it never seems to be enough. Make sure you buy a variety. Big pumpkins, small pumpkins, green pumpkins, orange pumpkins. This is essential stuff people, don’t limit yourself by only one type of decoration. Just remember, you are doing like the Americans do…the bigger, the better.IMG_3093

√Become Betty Crocker

When you are done transforming your house into a red and gold Pinterest perfect picture, it’s time to turn to your sense of smell. Your home shouldn’t just look like fall, it should smell like fall. So get in the kitchen, flip on that oven, and fill your house with the scents of cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. Yummm! You really can’t go wrong as long as you stick to the primary food groups of fall-pumpkin or apple. Bake anything that contains either of these two fall “superfoods,” and you will succeed immensely in pleasing your nose (and your tummy). Here’s an extra bonus! Click on this link for a delicious fall recipe: Fall Favorite Apple Crisp

√Get your hands dirty

Ok, your house is ready inside and out. Now what? It’s time to rake up a pile of leaves, of course. Take your time and get a big pile together right in the middle of your front yard. Then do as all self-respecting Americans would do. Walk to the end of your yard, turn around, and run full speed towards your leaf mountain. Lose all your abandon and leap into that pile of red, green and gold happiness. It’s ok if your neighbors watch you. Let them talk. After all, you know they secretly wish they were doing the same thing.IMG_1979

√Stuff yourself

Well, here you go again. You have worked so hard your stomach is rumbling. Now is the time to drop everything you are doing and head to an apple orchard. If you are like me, you will think, “I am not going to make an effort to go all the way out to an apple orchard just to pick a few apples.” No way. Instead, make this trip worth your while. When you leave your car (and your stomach) should be full of apples, apple cider donuts, and (most importantly), apple cider. In other words, your wallet should be empty, and you should feel as if you are going to throw up in order to know you have done the apple orchard justice.

Sharing apple cider with someone you love makes it even more special.

√Eat your veggies

Next, you have two stops to make on your way home. Bath and Body Works, and the grocery store. Whew, this day is getting exhausting! I genuinely believe Bath and Body Works makes all of their money from August to December. Remember I told you the importance of things smelling like fall? Well, that’s where this store comes in. Grab a bag and fill it with soaps and candles to bring the smell of the season into your house. Yay for more apple, pumpkin, and cinnamon. I mean really, could you ever have too much of those smells floating through every room of your house? Next, hit the grocery store for a big old bag of candy corn. I go crazy over the stuff and usually have over candy-corned within a week or two so just remember to pace yourself!IMG_0536

√Get in the game

Another very important fall past-time in the States is football. This is typically the men’s favorite aspect of fall although I have known quite a few women who get more worked up over the game than the men. My favorite part of a football game is the snacks we eat while watching. You may remember the winning touchdown of the game, but I am going to remember that delicious queso and chips I couldn’t get into my belly fast enough. To each his own.IMG_7076


To us, fall means cross country races. We loved getting up and out on a crisp fall morning to cheer our kids onto the finish line of a race. So go check out a cross-country race. If that isn’t your thing, sign up to run a race yourself. Fall is the perfect time to train for and run a race. Although if you are like me, you would rather cheer loudly from the sidelines. No judgment that works too. However, perhaps I should be running more races considering all the lattes and candy corn I have consumed. Hmm…

√Pick a pumpkin

And finally, visit a pumpkin patch. Who knows, perhaps you will get a visit from the Great Pumpkin. Haha. As if you didn’t have enough pumpkins from the farmer’s market already, right? Speaking of which, make sure you go home and watch It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. That’s a must if you want to do as the Americans do.IMG_4824

There you have it, an American’s guide to fall. You’ve got a lot to do! So what are you waiting for? Now get out there and get festive. Oh, and on a side note, if you think this guide is extensive, just wait until Christmas. That season is in a league of its own!

Dubai in a Day

I have a confession to make. I am an obsessive planner. For those of you who know me, this comes as no surprise. I have lists upon lists, 4 calendars, and written schedules for everything going on in our lives. So when the opportunity came up for us to spend a day in Dubai, I joyously threw myself into hyper-planning mode. But boy oh boy, what to choose? Where to begin?? This was going to be a challenge even for an A-type person like myself.

Just like many other places in the U.A.E., Dubai proudly boasts its wealth. There is constant competition as to who’s is the largest, tallest, or the most opulent. That makes for a pretty cool trip in and of itself. After all, it’s not every day you can boast you went up to the top of the world’s tallest building, through the world’s largest mall, and looked down upon the world’s largest fountain. No sirree! So if you are into big, glittery, and super fancy stuff, put a trip to Dubai on your list for sure.

Ok, let’s keep it real. We both know one day in Dubai is not long enough to truly experience the city in all its gold-studded splendor. However, it is long enough to hit the highlights. And hey, as long as you see the Burj Kalifa everything else is gravy.

Ok, are you ready? On your mark, get set, go!

Here are the things we did. I think we hit the most important sites but this is by no means an exhaustive list, so get your hourly calendar out and begin penciling in all the must-sees for your day.

How we did it

We were staying in Abu Dhabi for the week so decided it would be most convenient to hire a car for the day. He drove us to and from Abu Dhabi and was at our beckon call in Dubai. He totally smelled like b.o. and had absolutely no sense of direction, but we still managed to get where we were going and didn’t get too nauseous in the process. The drive from Abu Dhabi to Dubai is just under two hours so very doable either way.

What we did

1st stop
The Cocoa Room


Again, for those of you who know me you are not surprised at all to see that food was first on the agenda. But hey, one needs to have energy in order to get through a day like this, right? Cocoa Room instantly became one my favorite restaurants of all time. As far as I can remember, they did not accept reservations so try to arrive as soon as you can after they open. Also, and this is your most important piece of advice for the day, make sure you get their burnt marshmallow salted caramel hot chocolate. It will make you feel as if you have died and gone to sugar heaven!IMG_1640

Cocoa Room (becomes Slider Station after 11:30)
cocoaroom.co +971 600 544005
The Galleria, Al Safa (G Floor)
Al Wase Rd., Jumera 1

2nd stop
Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood

An interesting pedestrian-only area to wander. Sandstone houses tower above snake-like alleyways with many shops housing the bottom levels. Interesting fact: still standing in the neighborhood is the last remaining part of the gypsum and coral wall of old Dubai, which at one time was the city’s protection from attack. Go figure! Although I wrote this cool fact down in my meticulous notes, do you think we remembered it and saw the wall? Of course not (insert eye roll now).DSCF1553

AL Fahidi Historical Neighborhood
04-515 5000
Al Fahidi historical area – Bur Dubai

3rd stop
Gold, Perfume, and Spice Souks


There is nothing that screams Dubai more than these souks. Here all that glitters really is gold! Whether you can afford that 1.1 million dollar necklace or not, it’s fun to walk around and see some of the outrageous pieces of jewelry. We were not able to get to the perfume souks because I was wholly consumed by the spice souks. Arabic coffee, spiced nuts, dates, and of course spices are all things that I get totally geeked over. So I pretty much had to be dragged away in order to stick to that darn schedule I created.IMG_1707

Gold, Perfume and Spice Souks
54 Al Khor St
People typically spend 45 min to 2.5 hr here
can walk to all three
open at 4:00
One word of caution. You will be aggressively approached by street merchants trying to sell you everything from bags to belts. I live in China and deal with this kind of people all the time. This, however, was aggressive even for a seasoned pro such as myself.

4th stop
The Dubai Mall

If malls are your thing, you could spend a week here alone. The Dubai mall is massive. It even houses an indoor ski slope and aquarium! We barely scratched the surface of all the mall had to offer, looking in a few stores and grabbing a quick bite to eat. No rest for the weary!

5th stop
The Dubai Fountain

Attached to the Dubai Mall, this is the largest fountain in the world. It offers incredible views of the Burj Kalifa towering high above.

Dubai Fountain
Show Schedule
Afternoon shows (Fridays only)
1:30pm and 2:00pm
Evening shows, daily
6:00pm – 11:00pm, every 30 minutes
Free to see from various locations, but lake rides in the evening are 65 AED
The fountains are in Burj Khalifa Lake, right outside The Dubai Mall on Lower Ground Waterfront Promenade in the heart of Downtown Dubai.

6th stop

The Burj Kalifa.


A must-do if you are in Dubai. Don’t be afraid to shell out the big bucks and go to the top. You will be rewarded with one-of-a-kind views of the city and surrounding area. We went back and forth between going during the day or going at night. Both times come highly recommended so you really won’t lose by choosing either.IMG_1687

Burj Kalifa
1 Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Blvd
closes at 10:00
Pre-purchase tickets online. Make sure you splurge for the fast pass option called, At The Top Level 124. If not you will be waiting in line forever.
For a sunset visit, be sure to book your entry time approximately 90 minutes prior to sunset.

Thoughts and Things

What to wear

  • no need to have your head covered
  • wear closed-toe shoes
  • no revealing or tight clothing
  • wear pants or long skirt
  • no bare shoulders
  • always have knees covered
  • it is cold at night (80 day/50 night, a/c used heavily)


Things in Dubai are not cheap. Expect to spend a good amount of money, especially if you go shopping in the Gold Souk. 😉

Getting around

You will find very few actual street addresses. It is best to have a map printed with exactly where you want to go. I never did quite get this quirky fact being in a city this large.

Tipping Customs

  • Not compulsory-but common practice so “yes”
  • Most restaurants tack on a service charge which is considered the tip (usually 10%), PLUS there is a 6% Tourism Fee)
  • Taxi-round up to nearest DHS
  • Note: A tip added to credit card bill rarely gets to the person who provided the serviceDSCF1522

All in all, we did a lot during our day in Dubai. That being said, we practically killed ourselves in the process and fought to keep our eyes open on the drive back to Abu Dhabi. Still, as you can see it is do-able. I hope you will have the chance to go to this unique city, but perhaps allow yourself more than just a few mere hours. Take a few days to relax, shop, and see all the glittery sites Dubai has to offer. And while you’re at it, please don’t hesitate to buy some spices for me! 🙂