The standout items from my first week in Al Ain are that cigarette smoke is ubiquitous and it's challenging to get in a taxi and end up where you want to end up.
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.