Tuesday, February 28, 2006

3 months in Dubai

We've officially been in Dubai for 3 months now. It's funny how on one hand it feels like we just arrived last weekend, and yet sometimes like we've been here for much longer...

You know you have been in the UAE too long when:

* You think the best time to cross the street is at midnight, dressed completely in black, holding hands with your entire family.

* You no longer wait in line but go immediately to the front of the queue,
which can sometimes be one deep and three thousand wide.

* You stop at the bottom of an escalator to plan your day.

* It becomes exciting to see if you can get onto a lift before anyone can
try to get out.

* It is no longer surprising that the only minute made at a meeting is the
time and place for the next meeting.

* You rank the decision-making abilities of your staff by how long it takes them to reply 'Up to you!'

* You no longer wonder how someone who earns 2000 Dhs per month can drive a brand new Mercedes.

* Your Mercedes has leather upholstery but you still keep the plastic covers the car was delivered with on.

* You accept the fact that you must queue to get a number for the next

* You accept without question the mechanic's analysis that the car is
'broken' and will cost 'a lot' of money to get it 'fixed'.

* You find that it saves time to stand and retrieve your hand luggage from
the overhead lockers whilst the plane is making it's final landing

* A T-bone steak with rice sounds just fine.

* You believe everything you read in the newspapers.

* You regard traffic signals, stop signs and fake watch peddlers with equal

* When listening to the pilot prove he cannot speak English you no longer
wonder if he can understand the air traffic controller.

* You regard it as part of the adventure, when the waiter repeats your
order exactly but the cook makes something completely different.

* You have more knickknacks than your grandmother.

* You are no longer surprised when three men with a ladder arrive to change
a light bulb.

* You understand all the above

Monday, February 27, 2006

Made in China

Dragonmart is Dubai's equivalent of Chinatown. It is an impressive 1.2 km long structure in the shape of a dragon, housing Chinese traders selling all sorts of weird and [not so] wonderful goods from China.

...Chinese lanterns at Dragonmart...

We decided to visit Dragonmart as it is currently holding a Chinese festival promising live kung fu perfomances, entertainment and fireworks. However upon discovering that they still have no restaurants open yet we only walked a couple of hundred metres before deciding to leave.

Stomachs first!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

All you can eat Assam Laksa!

One of the restaurants at Shangri-la Dubai had a special Malaysian cuisine feature over the weekend, and I just couldn't resist booking us in for Friday brunch. It definitely exceeded my expectations. A team of Malaysian chefs from Shangri-la Kuala Lumpur were flown in to do their magic at live cooking stations.

The variety and quality was definitely impressive in a beautiful, relaxed setting. Kerabu, Assam prawns, crabs, satay, gado-gado, ais kacang, goreng pisang, kuih-kuih were just some of the delicacies on offer. Not to mention Assam Laksa! Who would've thought?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Drip, drip, drip

It rained all Thursday night and most of Friday. This is the most rain Dubai will probably see until this time next year. It's not a city built for rain, so when it's wet things tend to go awry. There are puddles and small ponds everywhere, some residential areas are flooded and even experienced loss of electricity and water! It's no surprise that leaky building syndrome is also alive and well here, given the rate whole areas are being developed.

The driving here reminds me of bumper cars, except the slightest bump requires you to call the police by law. Add a little water, and the result was 513 car accidents on Thursday.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

It's raining,

it's pouring!

I woke up this morning to the sound of raindrops. I've had false alarms before, but today it's for real. I can hear it and I can smell it. Heck, there's even thunder rolls. We're having a storm here in Dubai, and I'm enjoying every second of it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Sushi, anyone?

If you have not already seen this video clip, I highly recommend it. Especially if you like Japanese food. [Click on the image below to start]

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Puppy love

Gypsy Dog has a girlfriend. She is Miss K, and she's a German Shepherd twice his size and 4 times his weight! They have known each other since they were babies and love playing together.

If you say her name when she's not around, Gypsy Dog starts to look for her and gets very excited. In the weekend, we took him to the 'Greens', where he used to live and there are nice gardens he can run around in. We stopped by to visit M&M [his previous owners] and we also had the pleasure of finally meeting the lovely Miss K and her owner.

Gyspy Dog was so happy to see Miss K and when they are together you can really see the special bond they share. [Click on the image to enlarge]

Monday, February 20, 2006

A Dog-gone weekend

On Friday, we went to the Dubai Dog Show where some of the most beautiful and cutest dogs were on show. It was great to see dogs with their owners out in full force enjoying the day. It's surprising to see the variety of dogs here in Dubai and the number of purebreeds, especially Great Danes. They certainly came in all shapes and sizes.

...The Dubai Dog show 06...

...the big and the small..

...beautiful Saluki basking in the sun...

...I'm not fat, just a little chunky...

...A live falcon on display at the Dog Show...

...on the way to the Dog show, we saw camels crossing the road...

There were also lots of treats and toys you could buy for your pooch, so much was on offer we left before I could do any more damage! Gypsy Dog got a new cushion for his 'room', a new black and white mat [that matches him!], a soft toy, a kong and some dog shampoo. He was very excited with all his new things and somehow just knew they were for him.

...Gypsy Dog on his matching new mat...

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Introducing Gypsy Dog

You will have had a brief encounter with Gypsy Dog in my previous post 'A walk under the pylons'. Gypsy Dog moved in with us officially on Wednesday last week.

...chilling in his new home...

He is a cocker spaniel cross and is very sweet natured and very clever. I know every dog owner thinks this of their dog, but he's truly one of the smartest dogs I've come across. At 10 months, Gypsy Dog is still just a pup but he's very eager to learn and is easy to train. It's great that Mrs M, his previous owner did a fantastic job raising him as a very obedient dog with really good habits.

He has a training cage which is like his bedroom. It has a cushion inside and his soft toy, aka his 'friend'. He loves spending time with us, but he also likes to spend time in his 'room'. He is often lying on his cushion in his 'room' with the door open.

...in his room on his favourite cushion...

Gyspy Dog loves to play ball. He gets excited when it's play time and when we're about to go for a walk. When he's happy and excited he twirls! He's just the cutest.

I have always always wanted to have a dog, and this is like a dream come true for me. I loved my rabbits, guinea pigs and mouse that I got when I was little but they're nothing like having a dog, especially Gypsy Dog. He's just perfect.

More doggie tales to come soon...

About the 14th of February

St Valentine's Day. Lots of people have asked me: 1. what we did to celebrate; and 2. if it's done in Dubai.

1. Nothing. We don't really believe in V Day. I think it's very commercialised and just can't bring myself to get into the spirit of putting on something special just for the sake of it. Restaurants are always fully booked, florists are flat out and deliveries are usually late. I don't have anything against others who celebrate it, I actually think it's sweet. It's also good to have a day in the year where teenagers and secret admirers pluck up the courage to send roses and soft toys anonymously. I'm into love and romance, flowers and chocolates etc but for me, it doesn't have to be V Day to do something nice for your loved one. Just my 2 fils worth!

...Floating rose petals at Mina A' Salam Hotel, Madinat Jumeirah...

2. Yes, the malls and shops are decorated with love hearts while hotels and restaurants put on special romantic packages and menus. I spent the afternoon with a girlfriend here shopping and exploring the Madinat, one of my favourite spots.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Long hours, late dinners

Contrary to popular belief, the general population here work very long hours. 14-16 hour days are normal, as are 6 day work weeks.

In that sense, Gypsy Boy is lucky - he gets a 2 day weekend. The hours however are very long hence our dinner time has been pushed out to 8 or 9pm, sometimes even later. Those of you who know me personally, this is quite a big adjustment. I still basically eat when I'm hungry which is very often so for now, that's a good coping mechanism.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

No, I'm not kebaya.

There's quite a large Filipino expat population in Dubai, and apparently I look Filipina. Everytime I go out, Filipinos greet me with 'Kebaya' which means 'Fellow countryman' in Tagalog. If I smile they will rattle off a conversation in Tagalog.

Gypsy Boy will also get this when we are out together. However if he is alone, apparently he looks Chinese. His standard answer to whether he is from China is, "No, but my grandfather is though".

Almost tempting to invest in some of those tacky T-shirts and get 'No, I'm not kebaya' printed on them! Just to save repeating myself when I'm out.

Friday, February 10, 2006

A walk under the pylons

Dubai is not the most dog friendly city in the world. Dogs are not allowed in parks or on beaches, which doesn't really leave many other places where you can take your dog off or even on-leash.

So when the local charitable dog welfare organisation K9 Friends, puts on the annual sponsored dog walk, it's not a walk in the park. The desert is easily accessible, and many choose to take their dogs for a wander in the desert. Close to where K9 Friends are located are huge pylons and this was the venue for today's walk.

If you don't have a dog, you can 'borrow' one from K9 Friends! The purpose of the walk is to raise funds for K9 Friends by getting people to sponsor you. We took a dog that we are about to adopt from a lovely Greek couple who are expecting their first child and therefore feel they're unable to take care of him anymore.

Soon-to-be Gypsy Dog

He is a real darling, but at 10 months old he is not (yet) neutered and therefore got a little over excited when he saw the 50 or more other dogs. He was actually so excited we did not make it to the registration and started the walk before everybody else did! He was absolutely delightful and we enjoyed our walk under the pylons (a first for all of us, I think!). There are lots of interesting plants that grow in the desert and as you will see from the first picture above, it is quite green.

We took him (Soon-to-be Gypsy Dog) home with us after the walk so he could spend the day getting used to what will be his new environment soon. I think he was a little confused at first, as we expected but coped very well. He is very intelligent and obedient and his current owners, M&M are loathe to give him up. M&M however will retain visiting rights and we have actually become friends in the process. They are a lovely couple from Greece, and Mrs M is a qualified vet!

A lot was explained when M&M came over to pick him up and rattled off commands to him in Greek! He understood and obeyed perfectly - looks like that may be the next language I'll have to start learning!

Anyway, today was definitely another interesting and unforgettable one filled with adventure!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

What type of weather are you?

You Are a Rainbow

Breathtaking and rare
You are totally enchanting and intriguing
But you usually don't stick around long!

You are best known for: your beauty

Your dominant state: seducing

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Making progress...

Unpacking is taking so much more time than I'd envisaged. We also got lots more stuff than I remembered...

Anyway, unfortunately that is what's taking up most of my week so there probably won't be any terribly exciting news to blog about till after the weekend. Going to spend the day with my lovely friend from Northern Ireland on Thursday and on Friday, plan on going on a sponsored walk in support of
K9 Friends
[a volunteer organisation rehabilitating and rehoming unwanted dogs].

Till then, I'll be battling with a sea of boxes, paper and bubble wrap.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Women's queues

It sure feels like Christmas right now! Our shipment of goods got delivered today, and I've been unpacking boxes all afternoon. With every piece it's like, I wonder what's in here under all this packaging? It's great to see all our bits from home, like my antique marble table [an heirloom piece that belonged to my grandmother], and my sculpture from Nelson... Then, with some of the other stuff it's like "hmmm, did I really pack that in?".

Before the goods actually got delivered to our apartment, we actually had to go to the port to sign for our stuff and be present for the customs inspection. There was a queue going out the door for the paperwork and naturally we went to the back of the line. Then, a guy queues in behind us and lets me know that I don't need to queue because I'm a 'lady'! I felt a little guilty as I'm sure those guys had been waiting for hours. Oh well, better them than me.

I'd forgotten all about 'Ladies queues' as when we first arrived in Dubai, I came across these a few times (usually banks, utility offices etc). There are a lot more men than there are women here. To avoid queueing up with men, there are places that offer a separate queue or waiting area just for ladies. This is great as the queue is either a lot shorter or non-existent so you definitely get quicker service!

Pimp my ride

We spent most of this long weekend getting the car up to scratch, being second hand and all. Competent and trustworthy mechanics that are not out to rip you off are as rare as hens teeth. So, it's lucky we managed to find a place with some really good guys that we feel will be our new regular mechanics.

They're are on the same premises as a petrol station conveniently offering various different services for your car. We also stopped at the vacuum bay and got the Jeep vacuumed and the interior cleaned and polished for 10dhs (approx. NZD4.00!). For this price, 3-4 guys will work at cleaning your car while you wait and relax on a bench nearby.

There are lots of 4WD's and generally large vehicles on the road here, Chevies, Prados, Landcruisers, Cayennes, Wranglers, and Hummers etc are not a rare sight. There are many roads here that are still being worked on and with the amount of construction, you often will have to drive on curbs and take detours. Driving a 4WD will also make it easier to go off-road or into the desert.

...Bling Bling, a snapshot of some cars parked in a local shopping mall carpark...

It's currently winter in Dubai and the weather and temperature is just lovely. Yesterday, we drove to Jebel Ali Beach, about 20 minutes drive from where we live. It was perfect that we had our Jeep as everyone simply drives their 4WD onto the beach, step out and lie on the beach! I've never seen anything like it. The sand is really soft and fine and it's also quite private and peaceful compared to some of Dubai's other beaches. We will definitely be going back next weekend.

...Jebel Ali Beach...

Being the last weekend of the big sale, we wanted to also take advantage of the huge discounts, so after the beach we spent a few hours yesterday browsing the malls [as well as took another quick trip up to Global Village again!] and managed to pick up some more great bargains!

So far, most of our weekends have been really busy and full of adventures like this one has been. This is definitely a wonderful time of the year to be in Dubai. The beaches are beautiful, the weather's perfect and the shopping is amazing! What more could a girl want?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

New toy for Gypsy Boy

One residency visa done, our shipment of goods' arrived at the port, and Gypsy Boy bought a car! [pictures to follow].

Now, I just got to get my residency visa, and wait for our stuff to get moved into the apartment. What a week!