Archive for November, 2009

Dubai: The Historic Part

Posted in Dubai, Vacation with tags , on November 30, 2009 by Amanda

Yesterday, I found out that the parts for my car still weren’t available for my car. I have been told that should get my car back tomorrow but I am trying not to get my hopes up.

Anyway, I decided that I would take the bus to Dubai and spend the night there. I am certainly taking the bus a lot, which isn’t exactly ideal, but I figure that it is a lot better than just sitting in my apartment.

I decided to visit the older parts of the cities located along Dubai Creek. I stayed in a very small hotel within the Bastikiya area which is an area of restored historic buildings. Despite deciding to book a hotel the day I’d be staying there, I had lots of choices at pretty reduced rates. It seems like there aren’t too many tourists visiting Dubai these days.

Outside of hotel in Bastikiya

I explored the nearby area including the textile souk and went for an hour long abra ride along the creek in the evening.

Textile Souk

View from the abra

Today I explored the area further. I began with the Dubai Museum which is located in the Al-Fahidi Fort. It is very interesting to see how much the country has changed in just a few decades.

Entrance to the Dubai Museum

I next took an abra across the creek from the Bur Dubai side to the Deira side and explored some of the souks over there. I found that the sellers were very aggressive, almost to the Egyptian level of aggression. While at the spice souk, I saw a sign for a free museum and decided to visit. That was not a great decision as this was literally the most boring museum I’ve ever been to (and I’ve been to more than more share of museums)! It basically just contained government documents in Arabic.

The Spice Souk

When I crossed back over to the Bur Dubai side, I walked along the Shindanga waterfront and visited several museums. A couple were quite good and the rest were merely okay.

Sheikh Saeed Al-Maktoum House

Al Ain

Posted in Al Ain, Chevrolet Spark, Driving, Jebel Hafeet, Vacation with tags , , , , on November 30, 2009 by Amanda

For those of you who haven’t heard already, my visit to Al Ain didn’t exactly go as planned. In spite of the problems I encountered, I managed to enjoy my visit overall. I’m only putting a few of the pictures I took on this blog. I’ll put the rest of them on Facebook soon.

So, the trip started off well. The drive to Al Ain was very quiet and I didn’t see any crazy drivers (which is pretty much unheard of in this country). However when I arrived I noticed a bit of smoke coming from my car. This was obviously very scary. I eventually managed to find a mechanic to look at my car. The good news was that it is a fairly inexpensive problem to fix. The bad news (at that time) was that I would have to wait to Saturday because of the holiday for them to get the parts necessary to fix the problem and that continuing to drive the car could turn this into a very expensive problem.

At this point, I decided I would send an extra night in Al Ain. I was easily able to book another night at the hotel (though it did cost a little more than the first night) and I was also able to check-in a few hours early which was nice. As the hotel I was staying in was very nice this really wasn’t a hardship.

View from my hotel room

I then went to see the nearby Jahili Fort. On the way there I met this man who seemed nice enough and said he wanted to practice English. After we were done looking at the fort, he wanted my number so he could call sometime to practice English and I told him to call in like a week. He called me within an hour. It was clear he would be a problem, so I blocked his number. But he called back from another number a bit later and so I blocked that number too. I haven’t heard from him since, so I guess he got the message that I wasn’t interested in hearing from him. Anyway, the fort itself was interesting, free and quite quiet.

Entrace to Jahili Fort

I then went to look at the Al Ain Palace Museum, which was also free, quiet, and interesting.

Entrance to the Al Ain Palace Museum

On Friday, I attempted to take a taxi to the top of Jebel Hafeet, the second highest mountain in the UAE. I had originally thought of climbing the mountain but there really isn’t a good place to do that as the road up the mountain has no division between cars and the side. Also, there is a lot of construction going on right now. I managed to see the bottom of the mountain but some weird reason the taxi wouldn’t take me up. I saw a few other taxis taking other people up! As this place is a bit out of town and not really near anything else, I definitely wouldn’t have found an available taxi there. So, I gave up on that idea. I tried to visit the Al Ain National Museum but it was closed because of the holiday. I walked around town a bit but I really didn’t do a whole lot that day.

On Saturday morning, I was hopeful that I would get my car back. I began by phoning the number of the place I had been told that my car would be transferred but the guy there had no clue about my car. I then tried calling the number of the place where I had left my car but I was told that I had the wrong number. At this point, I kind of panicked. I went to the place I had left my car and it was sitting out front which was a definite relief. The guy there called this other place to come get my car. Apparently, not too many places want to (know how to?) fix Chevrolets here because they are not so popular. I found out that I would have to wait longer to have my car fixed because the supplier was not open. The guy there offered to drive me to the top of Jabel Hafeet because he was not busy. So, I did get to see the mountain from the top and I found out was was meant when I had read about people climbing the mountain. There is a bit of a climb you can do to the very top from the final parking lot. I was much too drained to do that then but I think I’ll go back sometime in the future and climb to the top.

View from near the top of Jebel Hafeet

I took a bus back to Abu Dhabi (which is unbelievably cheap by the way).

National Day

Posted in abu dhabi, National Day, Vacation, Work with tags , , , on November 24, 2009 by Amanda

National Day in the UAE isn’t actually until December 2 but it was celebrated today at work because starting Thursday we have holidays and we don’t go back to work until December 6. Anyway, I have been told that I really haven’t seen anything yet but it is already very clear to me that National Day here is a huge deal. Canada Day definitely pales in comparison to National Day. This country is pretty new (it is turning 38) but it is clearly very patriotic. The college had the police band perform, had children dancing, and national food given out. There were lots of balloons and decorations and there was a big tent set up outside. I don’t really think I’m conveying how big of deal this holiday is but it is clearly something the Emiratis take really seriously.

I wish I had thought to bring my camera to work to take pictures of some of the festivities. Below is what I had to bring home. There were a lot of things for sale but I didn’t buy anything. There are lots of National Days items for sale everywhere, so I may buy some things in the next week.

UAE flag and National Day card


Posted in abu dhabi, Apartment, Birds with tags , , on November 20, 2009 by Amanda

A surprisingly large number of birds congregate outside my apartment. They, not surprisingly, are not types of birds that I can identify. I have very mixed feelings around their presence. On the one hand, they can be interesting to watch. However, they have made a complete mess of my balcony and more importantly, they like to make a lot of noise especially on top of my bathroom fan. The first time I heard a bird on the fan I thought someone was breaking into my apartment (not that would be easy to do!). Anyway, here are some pictures of the birds:

A bird on my bathroom fan.

More shopping in Dubai!

Posted in Dubai, Shopping with tags , on November 14, 2009 by Amanda

I went to Dubai yesterday and went shopping. I do plan to do something else in that city soon! Anyway, I went to the Mall of Emirates which used to be the biggest mall in Dubai; it has now been surpassed by the Dubai Mall. The Mall of Emirates is still a very large mall and it features the famous Ski Dubai. Of course, like all the malls here, it was very nice there. Here are some pictures:

Ski Dubai





The Mall of Emirates took up most of the day but I decided to briefly stop by Ibn Battuta Mall on my back to Abu Dhabi. I’m glad I did because I finally found dry measuring cups at Geant.