Archive for January, 2010

Thailand & back

Posted in abu dhabi, Laos, Thailand, Vacation with tags , , , on January 25, 2010 by Amanda

So, I clearly haven’t written anything for a while. I was in Thailand for two weeks and though, I’ve been back for a few days now, I haven’t been feeling too well.

I won’t go into too much detail about my vacation in Thailand. I figure that it is kind of off-topic for this blog and more importantly, I really don’t feel like writing much at the moment. The Hill Tribe Trek, the part I had been really looking forward to, proved to be underwhelming to say the least and I found the country to be less vegetarian-friendly than I had anticipated. Other parts of the trip were quite enjoyable though, especially the seven-level waterfall in Erawan National Park. I also visited Laos which I hadn’t expected to visit. I was just there for a really short time and visited a market but I can now say I visited that country! Anyway, it was nice to see non-desert scenery for a bit. I put a few pictures on Facebook yesterday and will add the rest when I feel a bit better.

I felt perfectly well during my vacation but since I really haven’t been feeling well. It started with a really sore throat and now I feel quite congested and generally unwell. I had intended to started looking at cars after work yesterday and today but really didn’t feel up to it at all. Hopefully, I’ll feel well enough tomorrow!

I am currently looking into trip options for Jordan at the end of April. I find life is much easier when I have a booked vacation to look forward to!

See, it’s winter here too!

Posted in abu dhabi, Snow, Weather, Winter with tags , , , on January 5, 2010 by Amanda

I find this ad quite funny. While the weather here is undoubtedly cooler than it was when I first came here it is be no means cold! Even if some people find it cold here, it is much, much too warm for snow or frost! Anyway, I’m very happy that this is as close as I’ll be coming to snow/frost this “winter.”

The Runaway Maid

Posted in abu dhabi, Apartment, Maids, Police with tags , , , on January 3, 2010 by Amanda

Around 3:30 this morning I woke up to someone screaming “Help me!” repeatedly. I looked out both windows in my bedroom and didn’t see anything. I then went went out on my balcony and saw someone lying on the ground. So, I went outside to see what the problem was.

The woman was clearly in a lot of pain and had fallen. I promptly called the police. There was a rope of sheets tied together hanging down from the balcony of the apartment on the first floor. By the way, the first floor here is what I what we would call the third floor at home (there are ground and mezzanine floors below).

While waiting for help to arrive, the woman begged me to help me get her up. However, she also said her back and head hurt. So, I told her I worried that I would hurt her more if I helped her move. She also said she was trying to runaway from her employers.

The police didn’t arrive too quickly. They had trouble finding where we were. They called several times to ask where I was. They also asked the nationality of the woman; I said she was Asian but that I didn’t know her nationality. Nationality always seems to be very important here. I eventually saw flashing lights on the road and flagged the police car down. However, when they did arrive they were very nice. The police officer to mostly talked to, presumably because his English was definitely the best, was very familiar with my last name because of the beer.

The woman appeared to speak stronger Arabic than English. It made be wonder why she had only been screaming in English. You would think screaming in Arabic too would have been helpful. The police officer said the family she was trying to escape from was Syrian. So, maybe she thought it was safer to scream in English. She also had only been working for them for ten days and she is Indonesian. I was pretty surprised to learn that there was a maid living in that apartment. I never knew that people would have maids in small two bedroom apartments. I know some larger two bedroom apartments have a maid’s room but these apartments don’t.

I asked the police officer how common it is for something like this to happen. Thankfully, it is pretty rare. He said this is the fourth case of a maiding running away (and the first that involving injury) he has dealt with in his ten years here.

A couple of other police officers went up to the apartment she came from but couldn’t get an answer. I suspect the people were ignoring them. I guess they could have out but why would the maid have left through the window then.

Eventually an ambulance arrived and took the woman to the hospital. Hopefully, she is okay but she seemed to be in tremendous pain.

A few minutes after I came back up to my apartment, I received a phone call from the police thanking me for informing them of the situation. I don’t think I’ll be getting any more sleep.

Dubai, again

Posted in Chevrolet Spark, Credit cards, Driving, Dubai, Shopping, Text messaging, Weather with tags , , , , , , on January 1, 2010 by Amanda

I went to Dubai again today. Traffic was very light, even for a Friday morning, on the way there. I suspect, that unlike me, most people were not asleep at midnight last night. On the way back, traffic wasn’t too bad either but it was raining quite heavily at times. This was a bit worrying as people are not known to drive according to weather conditions here but people generally drove okay. I really, really need to start looking for a new car when I return from Thailand. My car is just horrible on the highway. It just takes so long to get moving; after leaving a gas station I was unable to even get the car up to 80 kilometres before I had to merge on to the highway and the speed limit is 120! Plus, my car makes some weird noises. I am thinking buying this car was not the best idea but I guess one cannot expect to get much of a car for only 10,000 dirhams!

I started the day at Safa Park. This is a very large park that today is right in the city but once was at the edge of the city. It is quite large and it wasn’t very busy (probably because it was Friday morning!). There are a lot of birds there.

Trees in Safa Park

Looking some directions it seems like you are not near anything but if you turn around you see lots of skyscrapers.

A non-skyscraper view

View with skyscrapers

Of course, I also went shopping. I went to Dubai Mall for a bit. I definitely do not recommend eating at the Organic Cafe. It seriously has the most tasteless food ever! If you are ever there, please try of the other hundred or so restaurants.

I later went to Ibn Battuta Mall. This definitely continues to be my favourite mall. It is just such a beautiful place to shop. It is large enough to be worthwhile visiting but not large enough to be overwhelming. I finally found vegetarian multi-vitamins there. I also bought a bathing suit for less than half price (109 dirhams instead of 225 dirhams). This was so much more exciting than it would have been at home! Firstly, clothing prices tend to be somewhat expensive here to begin with. Secondly, sales here had thus far proved fairly disappointing. The discounts were either minimal or they only had really huge sizes available. It is so disappointing to find something you really like and then see that the smallest size they have is like a 14! But there was a lot of selection and size small seemed to be available for everything!

I received a text message about my purchase before I even left the store. When I make a purchase, I always get a text message but it usually takes a few minutes. I’d be surprised if it took thirty seconds this time. I am still surprised at how prevalent text messaging is here. It seems to be used for just about everything here! For example, when I got my car insurance I received the policy number as a text message. I have heard that sometimes when you get a speeding ticket you get a text message to tell you about it.