Friday, 28 December 2007
Christmas has come and gone. We had a lovely Christmas dinner with half a dozen of our neighbours. The hosts went all out. The table and dining room were beautifully decorated in red and green with sparklies all around, the food and drink were top notch and the company was wonderfully engaging. Christmas day itself was topped and tailed by other 'does' around and about the place. It's been a lovely few days.
I ventured off to the zoo with my students on Christmas day. We had a ball.
The bird show is always a highlight. It was quite up close and personal as there were only 14 of us. Later some of the girls were even brave enough, after a few minutes, to have snakes dangling from their arms. Unfortunately it's not appropriate to take pics of the girls, so I didn't get many shots. This is the largest falcon in the UAE.
Now the New Year is almost upon us. My plan for this year is simply to survive another year reasonably intact. That's not so ambitious and should be achievable.
On a completely different note, we had pizza for lunch the other day and later ventured out into the laneway at back. I spotted a room full of sheesha pipes with these three out the front in the process of being cleaned.
Saturday, 22 December 2007
After that you drive through a kind of no-man's land for 5 - 10 mins before finally driving past an Omani immigration booth, handing in your passports, getting out of the car, going into a fairly swish building, queueing up to get your passports back, queueing up to pay for a visa, filling out some forms, queueing up again to have the forms and passports checked and finally being able to leave. But, hey, not so easy ... there was the issue of the Omani insurance that, though it had been paid for when buying the car, was not evident on the card we had. So we couldn't get past the immigration exit booth and had to go back to immigration to repay insurance that had already been paid! During our initial stint inside the building the other woman in our group was questioned about where her husband was (he was standing next to her) and K was looked upon with suspicion and questioned about why HE wasn't working in UAE. The implication here was that as a man he should be working. Never mind that he is actually working, just not in UAE and not for a UAE organisation. Also it seems that a woman on her own shouldn't be travelling. She should be accompanied by her husband. We were left wondering if these moral judgements made us unworthy travellers in Oman and why on earth the bureacracy couldn't get the insurance right. None of this was consistent with the stories we'd heard about how lovely and friendly the Omani people were.
An hour later, after passing a lone mosque set in the mountains, we found ourselves in Sohar. We'd heard about the beaches there and decided to check them out. Our drive took us through some narrow back streets that were really interesting for us. The housing was very basic brick huts, some with ornate doorways. Groups of men and youths were sitting in doorways (it was a holiday). We didn't see many women, but a few colourfully dressed girls were about. We got the impression that we were reasonably interesting for the locals too as they were all waving and saying hello as we drove by. Had no westerner gone this way before?
The sea seemed to be undervalued. A few old houses backed onto it, but none made use of the views. The sand was littered with debris; soft drink cans and papers. We found a relatively clean area and had a picnic lunch (making sure not to add to the debris!!). After lunch I ventured down to the water and was shocked to find that the 'lumps' I'd seen from the distance, and assumed to be jellyfish, were actually goat pelts. They were mainly skin and fur with the odd hoof. One goat consisted of just a pelt and a head. I quickly remembered that it was Eid. At this time of year the locals sacrifice an animal in memory of Ibrahim's sacrificial offering of his son to God. Along the highway out of Sohar towards Muscat there were goat carcasses strewn here and there. Although I knew about the practice, it was difficult being confronted with it in this way.
Things picked up once we hit Muscat. It is a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful city with many forts, magnificent mosques and an array of interesting buildings, old and new. There was no confronting evidence of sacrifical practices. We indulged ourselves well beyond any kind of sensible budget and stayed at the Grand Hyatt. Wow! It was sensational; a feast for the eyes. Every interior, every exterior view was magnificently opulent. From our room we had a view over the beautiful gardens and pools out to the Indian ocean.
Muscat is set in a valley with the white houses and buildings nestled against a magnificent rugged mountain backdrop. The roadsides are green and planted with colourful flowers again contrasting with the red / brown of the mountains and the white of the buildings. There were no signs of rubbish. Everything was kempt and picture perfect. Later we drove through some of the less salubrious parts of town. They were interesting in their own right. The older areas had narrow streets with fairly shabby housing. All of the housing seemed to have air-con and satellite dishes though. Some of the areas in, around and just out of the city have magnificent views of housing, mountains, bay and / or ocean. It is picture post-card perfect in all directions.
We visited a wonderful village. Goats and chickens were wandering freely in the sand, scrub and laneways. A few locals were sitting about or getting on with their day to day lives. Wooden boats rested on the sand attesting to the importance of fishing in this village.
Everywhere we went was either sensational to look at or remarkably interesting. I'd happily go back to do some exploring. I'd even give Sohar another look in, but not at Eid! The return across the border went reasonably quickly and without frustration.
Saturday, 15 December 2007
Saturday, I have to tell you, is not a good day to get sick as the hospital has a lot in common with the Japanese subway where they have staff employed to stuff half a dozen more people into the already overcrowded carriages!
We soon jumped the queues and got to see a nurse who wired K up to a machine and then attempted to administer some oxygen. Unfortunately the oxygen cylinder was empty, so an orderly was quickly called to bring in a new one. The new one was wired up and the mask was put over K's face. With his entire body pinioned under a series of leads going off in all directions, he started trying to get to his hand to his face and was told to leave the mask alone as he needed oxygen for his heart muscles. He kept struggling. The nurse took the mask off his face and K informed him with his last gasp that he couldn't breathe. It turned out that the replacement gas cylinder was empty too! A third one was soon delivered. After the ECG K was given some meds and choofed off to another room for blood tests. Two and a half hours later some of the results came back! I was despatched to an office in Area B. I wasn't told what for, but I dutifully went. It turned out that I had to pay my 50Dhs insurance excess. An hour later the rest of the results came back. Half an hour after that he saw the doctor, who was very good!
When queue jumping takes over 4 hours you have to feel sorry for those who patiently wait their turn!
The whole time in the hospital you are not sure where you are supposed to go or what you are waiting for. You get told to go to various locations, but you are not sure why. It seems that the staff know their routines and what everything is, and it is assumed that patients know it all too!
The standard of medical care is good (apart from the odd incident of almost suffocating patients with non-existent oxygen), but the standard of communciation about where to go and why is very poor. And ... I'm not sure that there is actually a triage. It seems that to get urgent attention you need to jump up and down a bit.
Well that was my Saturday! How was yours? Oh, K's much better now.
Tuesday, 11 December 2007
After this there is a sharp dip where we wonder what we are doing in this strange place with these strange people. Why are we doing what we are doing? Should we have come here? How long can we manage to stay? What is going to go wrong next? Were we crazy to embark on the venture? The graph bottoms out.
This period can last weeks to months and is then followed by a recovery period during which we tend to go up to between 60 and 80 percent on the satisfaction level scale and pretty much stay there, though it can be interupted by a period of homesickness.
For me the honeymoon is over. I'm tumbling and hoping I've bottomed out! Can't wait for the recovery phase to hit. It will hit, won't it?
Wednesday, 5 December 2007
We just got back from Istanbul. What a fabulous city!
It’s late afternoon and we drop into a sweet shop for something to have after dinner. The girl behind the counter urges us to try a piece of Turkish delight with pistachio in it. Yum. Next she wants us to try some pistachio with orange, then some chocolate delight, then some … and it goes on until we tell her we couldn’t possible try anything else. It’s all delicious. We purchase some of the things we tried and some we didn’t. There are some absolute gems amongst them. The 5-star winner is the pistachio nut surrounded by chocolate flavoured Turkish delight and then choc dipped with pistachio powder on top. Who thought of that one? Sensational! Some of the sweets are cut from 45 centimetre wide, 60 centimetre high cylinders much like the cylinders that kebab meat is cut from.
Some of the shop names make us laugh; ‘Dagi’ has to be a bad name for a fashion shop! The person who named the 'Hotel Ufuk' probably wasn't an English speaker!
We found that the restaurants advertising 'authentic Turkish food' were very ordinary while the little cafes (borek shops) were fantastic; cheap and delicious. Interestingly we didn't come across what we understood to be Turkish food. We were familiar with Turkish food from Sydney Road in Melbourne, Australia. This kind of food didn't seem to exist in Istanbul, or we couldn't find it, and we are wondering if perhaps it is peasant food. The Turkish bread in Melbourne is senstational, and is quite different to the bread in the restaurants in Istanbul where it was largely Greek style white bread.
I adored the Blue Mosque. The Hagia Sophia was really interesting. It has a history of hundreds of years as a church before being converted hundreds of years ago to a mosque. Although I enjoyed visiting the Topkapi palace and the Dolmabache, I found that I got a bit of a case of 'opulence fatigue.' Gold plated walls and ceilings are amazing, but you can only maintain interest for a limited number of rooms. The remains of a Roman hippodrome are pretty amazing.
I'd never realised previously that the river Bosphoros splits the city in two with one side being on the European continent and the other being in Asia. But then, I'm sure that there's an awful lot I haven't realised!
Saturday, 24 November 2007
My son and his girlfriend are actually running a polling booth in central Queensland. Previously my son has shown lacklustre interest. This time he's right in the thick of it.
Voting in Aus is compulsory with a monetary penalty for not doing so. K and I had a 'vote and dine' trip to Abu Dhabi yesterday, so we've done our bit.
I'm ecstatic that my kids are taking their votes seriously; it's so good to see the younger generation feeling like they can make a difference. I remember when I felt empowered! Ah, thems were the days! NowI've become one of those jaded, cynical, older people. I vote in a safe seat that is held by a party I'd never support. My vote will be a vote against the incumbent, but it won't dislodge him. I wonder if there is any point.
I'll be watching the live streaming broadcast this afternoon hoping that my vote will be part of a swing that will see seats change hands and hoping that the results will continue to enthuse the younger generation and make them feel like they can have an influence. How good would it be to see the young actively involved and pushing for change to make this a better planet to live on?
Monday, 12 November 2007
Tuesday, 6 November 2007
I don't usually like going to the hairdresser because I don't like the whole 'pamper me' thing. I far prefer the 'do it quick and efficient' approach to hair cuts. I'm a happy customer today.
Al Ain has lots of little secrets waiting to be uncovered.
Sunday, 4 November 2007
If we go home, it becomes something of a struggle to make ends meet. Why would you do it?
Saturday, 27 October 2007
His passing struck my niece and nephew hardest. They lost their mother 10 years ago and now their father. Their courage in the circumstances was amazing. They are both married with young children. Both have a three year old and a one year old. They organised the funeral at which they both spoke. They met all of their father's friends and relatives and remained composed throughout. As well as managing their familes and the funeral, they had to sort out their father's business affairs. He was a lawyer who worked from home and had a large client list with many cases half done and in urgent need of attention. Neither of them work in that area, but they managed to contact the appropriate people to help them sort through it all. In addition they had to find the will and start thinking about what will happen to the property. I was amazed by their ability to cope. I was proud of them and know that my sister, their mother, would have been very proud of her children.
On a far more mundane note, I finally ventured over the border into Oman. We went to a souk in Buraimi and on to a hotel for lunch. Later we peeped at fossil valley which is quite a sensational landscape. Speaking of fossils, I wouldn't have been surprised if John Wayne had ridden by on horseback wearing his red and white kerchief. It is a stunning landscape.
Oh, and I recently went to the zoo. I just love it. We went during Eid but having heard about the likelihood of crowds, we got there at 8:30 in the morning so it was reasonably quiet. Some of the exhibits are a little sad. There is a lone gorilla who was intent on showing his back to any onlookers. The monkeys looked a little cramped. The highlight was the giraffes. It was quite funny to see a keeper wheeling a wheelbarrow along being followed by giraffes, deer, ibises, emu and an assortment of other animals. Clearly it was breakfast time!
Thursday, 11 October 2007
To say the traffic was bumper to bumper is to put it mildly. It was side panel to side panel, front right corner to front left fender, back left fender to bumper. If there was half a centimetre to spare anywhere, a car was sure to see that as an opportunity to jump in. Pedestrians were leaping off dark sidewalks criss crossing the traffic, so anytime cars moved at more than .25 of a km an hour brakes were slammed on suddenly. A couple of times we wanted to go one way, but someone more determined and more assertive muscled their way infront of us and forced us to go another direction. At one stage we ended up in a grid locked car park we hadn't intended to be in. It took a 53 point turn and some derring-do to get out. It was impossible to see what was happening at roundabouts because there was almost always either a 4WD or a car with tinted windows on our left.
I should laugh, but it really is quite stressful.
Monday, 8 October 2007
Friday, 5 October 2007
This time it was a magic place. At sunset we wandered through the narrow cobblestone laneways of a souk near a river where dhows were making their way up and down and the call to prayer was sounding in the background. (The cost of a dhow trip is Dh1 unless you are a westerner in which case they'll try to charge Dh10. If you happen to be Japanese it seems that the cost is likely to be Dh100. The thing to do apparently is to hand over Dh1 and laugh if they try to tell you it is more.) We'll save the dhow trip until next time as the spice market across the river wasn't open; and that seems to be the place to go.
That evening we went out for dinner and had drinks on a lantern-lit terrace by a river upon which once again dhows were criss crossing. It was beautiful; straight out of a fairytale. I wouldn't have been too surprised if Aladdin had flown by on a magic carpet. The weekend was topped off by getting up at 8am on Saturday morning just in time to watch the Australian Football League Grand Final live from Melbourne. A sensational, unexpected treat; and Geelong won for the first time in over 40 years - way to go Geelong!
So what do I think of Dubai? Well, it has bad days, but it definitely has good days too.
Thursday, 27 September 2007
On the other hand, I can't imagine life without technology.
Damned if you do and damned if you don't.
Saturday, 22 September 2007
Wednesday, 19 September 2007
Either this is going to beat me, or I'm going to beat it. I think I have to just grow up!
Monday, 10 September 2007
Friday, 31 August 2007
Two buses, too much speed and then indecision at a red light. Our bus slams on the brakes and comes to an abrupt holt jolting us all forward and then back. Then miliseconds later ... kabang! The second bus runs up the back of my bus shattering the back window and again throwing all the passengers forward and then back. Whiplash and confusion all around. People in shock. People holding their necks, some crying, others limping. Taxis taking people to hospital. New buses to ferry the other stranded passengers to our destination.
And all of this by 11am. The day ended reasonably well and I believe (and hope) that no-one has a lasting injury. It's certainly a day to remember. I hope it's the last experience of a traffic accident for all of us.
Thursday, 23 August 2007
Luckily for me, I get to go to work during the day. K is supposed to be working from home, so he gets to do most of the waiting. Of course, K can't actually do much work yet as the net connection which is supposed to be 2mg is less than a quarter of that speed, so the provider is going to pull up the cables which they laid last week and relay them next week. So our net connection is likely to disappear.
Whenever someone turns up to do something at the apartment, there is always one guy to do the job and two who just watch. I haven't quite figured that one out yet. A couple of days ago an Arabic guy turned up with 3 guys who spoke no English. While the Arabic guy was talking to K, I was communicating with one of the non-English guys via sign language. We had a good understanding of what I wanted and what he was going to do. We'd sorted it. The Arabic guy then turned to me and said something quite incomprehensible. I said, 'sorry?' He repeated it. I said 'Sorry, I'm not sure what you mean.' He repeated it looking quite annoyed. I had to tell him that I just didn't understand. He asked me, in a very irritated tone, if I spoke English. I had to laugh.
So far I've learnt about 10 words of Arabic. They enable me to communicate reasonably adequately with most taxi drivers. Most of them seem quite amused at my pronunciation, but that's fine. It's kinda fun and a bit of an ice-breaker.
I daily feel more comfortable here. Tomorrow I'm off to Abu Dhabi to check out the 'bluer than blue ocean' I've heard so much about.
Saturday, 11 August 2007
In Aus smoking is banned in hotels, restaurants and most work places. It's restricted in outdoor areas. So we've been quite spoilt. Al Ain is a bit of a blast from the past with smoking allowed in most places. Some restaurants seem to have non-smoking areas, but no one has told the smoke to keep within those boundaries and it wafts around as it pleases. Even our hotel room reeks of smoke. I can normally tolerate a bit of smoke, but it is quite overwhelming here as we seem to be subjected to it all day only to retire to the hotel room and inhale it all night.
I'll finish the rant at that point as smoking is obviously something I have to learn to be more tolerant of.
The taxis are all fun and games. We've had some really good taxi drivers with quite good English, but several who have no English, not even 'yes' and 'no.' We can't even show them maps of where we want to go as they are illiterate. They don't understand our poor pronunciation of things like 'jebel bil maya roundabout.' I haven't figured out yet where anything is in relation to anything else, so I don't know my way anywhere and have to rely on the drivers. I even had trouble at one stage communicating 'Hilton Hotel' to a driver. After numerous attempts he eventually got it. He put the stress on 'ton' rather than 'Hil' which explained why he had trouble understanding my prounuciation.
We're moving out of our hotel today and into our apartment. That's a bit scary because at least the hotel is a landmark and it's not too difficult to get drivers to understand. How on earth can we consistently get drivers to and from our apartment? Clearly I'll have to work out where things are myself so that at least I know where I'm going. It's funny to think that in a few weeks this will all be quite easy, but now it's challenging.
Monday, 6 August 2007
We arrived in Al Ain at 3am this morning and were hit with a burst of 37 degree heat as soon as we walked out of the airport. Amusing! We were escorted through passport control and the visa process went through quite easily, though I did feel some guilt at the queue jumping. Scores of people were waiting and we were taken the front of the queue each time.
I've only been here a few hours, but what has struck me so far is the number of staff involved in each service. For example we had brekky at the hotel this morning and each time a plate was emptied or we finished a cup of coffee, someone was at our side offering us more (it was a fixed price smorgasbord, so there was no finanicial incentive for the service). There seem to be scores of staff at the hotel sweeping leaves and sand from paths, polishing floors and doing various jobs. This could take some getting used to.
I'm not sure about the tipping situation. The hotel staff don't seem to expect it, so I haven't given anything. I'd have no idea how much to tip anyway. A website I just checked out said that 2 - 5dhs was a good tip. I'm not sure though and would be interested to hear from others on this.
Oh, and the other point to mention (again) ... it's a bit hot outside!
Saturday, 28 July 2007
On the upside though, a lot was achieved last week. Best of all my 18 year old daughter and her friend finally found a house in Brisbane. They'll be moving out in a few days, thus making the rest of my packing and the house cleaning and letting easier to organise and putting my mind at rest. J will be fine.
The big challenge for this week is firstly to make sure that all the loose ends mentioned above, and those not mentioned, are tied up and secondly to somehow squeeze our worldly belongings into 54kgs of luggage. I keep wondering why the luggage itself has to weigh 4 - 5 kilos per case. Surely they could get it lighter!
Wednesday, 25 July 2007
I've been wondering just what the dirty air is. Is it pollution? From what I've read Al Ain doesn't seem to be an industrial city. I'm thinking that the yellow may be sand in the air.
Saturday, 21 July 2007
OMG What'll we do with the cat and dog when we go?
Solution - Stage 1: Ask all our friends and rellies. Finally ... T, our son will take them.
Response: Great! Problem solved.
OMG. T lives 8 hours away by road. How will we get the pets to him?
Solution Stage 2: Make some phone calls, get some quotes. Finally ... send the dog by plane and cat by road.
Response: Great! Problem solved (again).
Hmmm. The transportation won't happen for a couple of weeks. So is the problem actually solved at this point or have we got a virtual solution, or maybe a solution in waiting?
Life must be a bit on the humdrum side when one's waking hours are consumed by such thoughts.
Things are plodding along nicely with lots of problems (mostly employing the two stage panic technique) disappearing and the 'to do' list being whittled away.
The cold here on the GC is unrelenting. It is the coldest winter on record. Usually the highs and lows in winter are 12 - 22. This year they are 0 - 19. What's the point of moving north for the warm winters when the lows are just as cold as in the south?
Sunday, 15 July 2007
This is home on the Gold Coast (to be later contrasted with 'home' in Al Ain.)
Firstly, the beach.
Next, my lounge room.
And a frill necked lizard in my front yard.
And ... it turns out it's very easy to upload pics.
Saturday, 14 July 2007
Flights are organised.
It's Saturday night and we just got back from spending the day in Brisbane watching hockey. I'd have liked to have gone to the Gabba to see a game of Aussie Rules Footy tonight, but K and our hockey playing daughter had run out of steam! Pikers!
The local Chinese takeaway is supplying dinner tonight. ... I wonder if there will be many/any Chinese restaurants in Al Ain. They're all over the place in Aus, many dating back to the gold rush days of the 1850s when there were many Chinese here.
Just found out that the Socceroos (Aussie team) copped a walloping from Iraq in the Asian Cup last night! Sigh.
Time to go hunt and gather dinner (from the local Chinese).
Monday, 9 July 2007
I'm sooo ready to leave the cold behind me. I'm over it!
Not much has happened in the last week. There're boxes all over the place and our abode is looking more like a house than a home as pictures, books and knick knacks disappear into the bowels of the boxes (do boxes have bowels? nah ... didn't think so!).
KG hasn't told his workplace yet that he's off for a bit of a jaunt across the world. He works from home and rarely makes the 20 min trip into the office. Maybe it'll be years before they even notice that he's 12,000 kilometres further away.
I'm off to do a stint with the boxes.
Sunday, 1 July 2007
Australia Post have confirmed that both sets of documents have arrived safely at their destination in Al Ain. However, they haven't updated their online tracking system to reflect this and the college still hasn't confirmed receipt of the documents. But, hey, they gotta be there!
Apparently we are getting a two bedroom apartment near the college. It isn't dog-friendly. I've been apartment hunting with my 18 year old daughter here in Aus (cos we're turfing her out when we go!). She's looking for a 2 bedroom apartment. We've seen shoeboxes for mega-bucks rent per week. And we've seen some that are half-way decent, but aren't in the trendy location an 18 year old likes to hang out in. I'm hoping we find something for our daughter pronto and that our 2 bedroom apartment in Al Ain isn't a shoebox. Our daughter is interstate at the moment playing in the National Hockey Championships, so the apartment search is on hold for another week until she gets back. Time is fleeting - there's a rental accommodation shortage here at present. Worst case scenario she'll stay in our house (which isn't in a suitably trendy location) until she finds something. We'll lose rent money, but at least she won't have to sleep under a bridge!
We've got two possible homes, with relatives, for the dog so hopefully the dog issue should be sorted in the next day or two.
The removalists came in on Friday to give us a quote. We were reprimanded for not swinging into action a month earlier. Sigh! The quote will be back mid-way through next week, so hopefully we can give more serious thought to what to take and what to leave and we can start sorting through years of accumulated 'stuff.'
Sometimes I think that the current issues are kinda fun and keep the old brain ticking over. Other times I wish that I could fast forward a few weeks to avoid the manifold mundane decisions that need to be made.
Looking forward to the drive to Al Ain and the sights along the way.
Sunday, 24 June 2007
The other issue we've been grappling with is the documents. They've all been sent, but have they arrived? AusPost have this wonderful system where you can track documents sent overseas. So I decided to try it out. It turns out that documents I sent 6 weeks ago are recorded as having been despatched from Brisbane, but then the trail runs cold. So I can confirm that they made it 100kms from home! The second lot of documents I sent a week and a half ago. They are recorded as having arrived in the USA, and then the trail runs cold. Can postal workers really mix up USA and UAE? I've called AusPost and they are 'looking into it.' I've contacted Al Ain to see if the documents arrived there, but I haven't heard back on that front either (though it has been the weekend!). It'll be a mega-pain if the documents haven't arrived. My faith in AusPost is at an all time low. At Christmas I sent a package to my daughter who was in England at the time. I paid a fortune to send it express so that it would only take 3 days and would arrive well before Christmas. The package never arrived!
So I'm not a happy pre-traveller this week! Hopefully the documents issue turns out to be one of sloppy record keeping rather than lost documents!
Monday is almost upon us and I've got lessons to prepare. Better get to it.
Saturday, 16 June 2007
Firstly I found out that it is plausible to bring my dog to Al Ain with me. It seems that you can get a villa with an outdoor area. Poifect! That's the upside. I was worried about what I was going to do with him. He's cute and reasonably obedient (when he deigns to be), but he's ten years old, so a bit hard to re-house. And the downside ... the cost from Brisbane to Al Ain including all vaccinations, crates, service ... the whole shebang ... will cost just under $3000. Ouch!
My second discovery is a reason to reconsider making the move at all. I've just discovered Rocky Road at the local Cheesecake Shop here in Aus. It is turkish delight-flavoured marshmallow with almonds and chocolate. It is soooooo good.
Other more minor discoveries:
1. There's a chain of shops in UAE that sell most foods and bits and pieces an Aussie would want.
It's a good idea to pencil in a bi-monthly trip to Dubai for any bits and pieces not available in the chain in Al Ain. Eventually as one adjusts to UAE life the Dubai stock-up trips become less necessary.
2. Newcomers are allocated a buddy by the employer. A buddy is a kind-hearted expat who has been in town for a while and is willing to act as a mentor to help with basic survival tips.
3. It's not a good idea to cook in or drink the local water.
4. On arrival the first essentials to buy to furnish the new abode are: a bed and a bottled water cooler.
5. Knee length dresses for women actually means calf-length.
6. Almost no-one is out on the streets during the day. At night people dress up and hit the shops.
7. If you haven't got a helicopter and have to brave the roads, a 4WD is the safest vehicle to be in.
8. Some people actually enjoy driving the freeway between Dubai and Al Ain. They enjoy the sights as they drive at the legal limit of 120kms per hour and become oblivious to the cars speeding past at 180kms.
Well, I think that all of my paper work has been submitted and now I have to work out how to manage things at this end ... what to take, chuck, sell or donate.
Time is fleeting.
Monday, 11 June 2007
1. Driving in Al Ain is somewhat nightmarish and not for the feint-hearted.
2. The population is around 400,000 (similar to my city in Aus).
3. This city in the desert is actually the greenest part of UAE. It uses water from an aquifer.
4. There's a Starbucks there - not that I'm into Starbucks, but at least I know I'll be able to get a decaf when I want one - hmmm - or maybe that's an assumption! I wonder if Starbucks in Al Ain have an online menu. ... will have to check that out.
5. I've found two posts about accommodation. One says that their apartment is crappy and that the landlord isn't interested in fixing anything. The other says that their aircon doesn't work properly and it stinks and the landlord doesn't want to know about it! Hmmm. I sure hope I don't get one of those two apartments when I turn up. If only the bloggers had published their addresses! Okay, I know that's too much to ask!
6. Conditions for teachers have deteriorated to the point where people are resigning. Hmmm. That doesn't bode well. I wonder where they were teaching.
7. Furniture and white goods are cheaper than in Aus. So I'm thinking of buying over there rather than shipping everything from Aus. I wonder if that's a good idea.
8. Medical care in UAE generally is the same standard as in Aus.
9. It'll be 50 degrees when I arrive in August. Really? Truly? Surely not!
10. Many streets don't have names. So my address is likely to be ... turn right at the first round about and left into the second street. My apartment is the third one on the right.
Well, I've got pets to rehouse and documents to authenticate. I'd better get back to it.