Fordsburg, a neighborhood in Johannesburg, is a vibrant blend of spice, colour, aroma and a constant buzz of activity. Populated mostly by Indian and Pakistani people, Fordsburg is the place to go for decently priced fabrics, beautiful clothing, delicious food and absolutely any spice that you may want. Situated quite close to central Joburg, Fordsburg can be seen as the shopping hub of the city, one with much character. Here are 10 scenes from Fordsburg that capture the flavors of the neighborhood.
1. All the spices
If you are looking for a particular type of spice, chances are you will find it in one of the spice shops in Fordsburg. The shops get all of their spices directly from India, making sure that only the best is brought in. You will find bags and bags of spices for sale, and at really reasonable prices. Walking into the spice shops will definitely get your senses going with all of the strong smells wafting around.
2. Freshly cut coconuts
Dotted along the streets in Fordsburg you will find a few street vendors selling fresh coconuts. For as little as R10 (about US$1) you can ask the vendor to cut open a coconut to drink the coconut milk through a straw. Stroll along the streets with your refreshing beverage, then cut the coconut up later to enjoy the flesh. Healthy and delicious.
3. Tasty treats
From spicy and salty snacks to deliciously sweet treats (known as sweatmeats), you can feast on the tastiest goodies on sale in Fordsburg. Be sure to try as many of the snacks as you can. They usually have a few samples to taste, so get your taste buds going!
4. The land of pigeons
The locals of Fordsburg often sprinkle seeds or bread crumbs on the streets for the pigeons. Resulting in loads of pigeons taking up habitation on the street poles, pavements and roofs along the streets of Fordsburg. They generally stick together in packs and hang out in the areas where they are likely to get fed. It is not uncommon to see a flock of pigeons frantically flying around after someone has chased them or a car has driven past.
5. Fresh vegetables
There are many street side vendors in the market and randomly set up on the street selling various fresh vegetables. You can usually get a good bunch of vegetables for a very reasonable price. Lots of greens and reds to choose from.
6. Old-style buildings
Like many buildings in the city of Johannesburg, Fordsburg houses many buildings that have been around for hundreds of years. Buildings that have been involved in the rich history of the country, and that have many stories to tell. Dotted along the streets you will find many traditional Dutch style buildings that were originally built for the miners in Johannesburg. They add great character to the streets, even though they aren’t kept up too well.
7. Food, glorious food
Delicious smells come wafting from all corners in Fordsburg. From spicy tikka chicken, masala, rich curries and delicious rotti’s. There are a few restaurants to sit down and enjoy a delicious meal in comfort, or you can buy something from the street market or various take away places. My favourite meals include tikka chicken from a stand in the market, or a chicken schwarma from House of Schwarma. Both are absolutely delicious. Go hungry.
There is nothing that can awaken your mouth and taste buds like a fresh chilli. The smaller and redder the hotter. There are often piles of chillis for sale on the streets of Fordsburg. If you’re brave enough try snack on one as is. Otherwise rather just buy a few to take home to add to your dinner that night.
Fordsburg is renowned for its shopping. Bright and colourful garments, the most exquisite material and funky fashionable items. If you ask around you will find the best shops with the best prices. The quality of the clothing ranges from top notch (those imported from India) to fake brands and not such great quality, so make sure you find the right places to go. You can get your hands on some beautiful cotton and silk items.
10. Oriental plaza
Oriental Plaza is the shopping hub of Fordsburg. It is the more commercial side of Fordsburg housing many shoe, clothing, material, linen, tech gadgets, sound and take-away food shops. It is everything in one central location and will most probably have what you need. The locals generally stick to the shops outside on the streets as the shops in Oriental Plaza tend to be a bit more expensive. But if you are new to the area, Oriental Plaza is much easier to orientate yourself around.
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