Saturday, December 08, 2007

City Stars in Heliopolis

I spent almost my whole Saturday exploring the City Stars in Heliopolis. City Stars is a mixed development comprising of a huge shopping mall, the biggest of its kind in Egypt, two international hotels (Intercon and Holiday Inn), residential apartments and offices.

I went in the morning about 10am by taxi which cost 30 EGP. There were not many shoppers around but the crowd began to trickle in after 1pm and the place was swarmed with people by the time I headed out around 5pm.

The mall is huge and there are plenty to shop and eat. There are seven floors filled with boutiques, cafes, restaurants, bowling alley, children arcades and large anchor stores. The variety is wide with many familiar brand names like Benetton, Timberland, Levis, Guess, Mango, Mothercare, Springfield, Samsonite, Nike, Puma etc. etc. The prices are generally higher than Singapore by about 20-30% so I do not think I really want to buy apparels here. Surprisingly, I did not come across any of the luxury brands like Chanel, Gucci and Armani which are standard features in the shopping malls back home.

Electronics like computers, LCD TVs, printers, cameras etc. are also more expensive compared to Singapore. The anchor hypermart is Spinneys which is located on the 1st floor. It's as big as any Carrefours I had visited and one can practically find anything they need in there, all under one roof. Virgin is the only bookstore I came across and it also has sections selling DVDs, games, music CDs, computer accessories and electronics like TVs and cameras.

Well, I can go on and on about City Stars but in essence, it is not very different from Vivo City in Singapore or the Taipei 101. I guess City Stars will be a regular shopping destination when we start our stay in Cairo next year.

Like most guys, I don't really enjoy window shopping and the four hours there is now causing severe aches in my limbs. At the end of the day, my trip to the City Stars was rather uneventful. However, my return taxi trip made the day. I got into a taxi off the street after some haggling. The guy asked for 40 EGP but I insisted on 30. I got my way and off we go. The taxi driver, Ayman, was quite a nice guy and we chatted along the way, giving me a chance to practice my patchy Arabic.

As we were going through a long tunnel, the left rear tyre of the taxi was punctured and Ayman had to replaced it. I got out to help direct the oncoming traffic to the remaining lane on the left so as to prevent any car from hitting Ayman. Fortunately, Ayman changed the tyre in 10 minutes flat and we were off the road again. In the end, I paid Ayman 50 LE to help him offset the cost of the flat tyre. I thought it would be a good gesture to help out the poor man trying to make a decent living. Ayman was appreciative and he readily gave me his mobile number and told me to call anytime I need a taxi. He made my day.

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