Sunday, 24 June 2007

six weeks to go

This has been a fairly frustrating week. I still haven't found anyone here in Aus who I'm happy to let adopt my dog. Also I still don't know if the apartment we've been allocated is dog-friendly. And ... time is pressing. If we're gonna take him to Al Ain, we need to get a course of needles started in the next week or so. If we're not gonna take him, we need to find a home with family or friends. Poor Oscar, sometimes I wonder if he has an inkling of what's going on. He seems happily oblivious to it all. We've got the cat sorted. It was quite easy to find a home for him.

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

seven weeks to go

Well I've made two discoveries this week.

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

minus eight weeks

Okay, so maybe I'm being a bit previous here. I'm not actually in Al Ain, but I'm in 'find out everything you can about Al Ain' mode. I've been scouring blogs and websites to find out what I can. What have I discovered so far?

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.