Archive for February, 2010

Water came through my windows!

Posted in abu dhabi, Apartment, Flooding, Rain, Weather with tags , , , , on February 27, 2010 by Amanda

There was thunder and lightening and lots of rain this evening. We had a lot of rain a while back but I don’t remember the thunder and lightening.

This time the rain came down very quickly. I found that a fair amount of water had come through both my bedroom windows and the floor was a bit flooded. This isn’t what you’d expect in an upper floor apartment. I don’t keep anything near those windows so nothing was damaged. Apparently, a lot of other apartments here are flooded and one across the hall is really badly flooded. When I first discovered the flooding my phone couldn’t find a network connection. This hasn’t happened to me before; there is a cell phone tower practically behind my building. The part of the parking lot that is prone to flooded flooded very quickly (luckily, I’m parked where it doesn’t really flood). This all happened in well under an hour! Nothing in this country seems built to handle any rain at all and yet rain doesn’t seem all that rare!

I’m really hoping that the roads aren’t too bad tomorrow and that there isn’t any more rain!

Hello, new car!

Posted in abu dhabi, Driving, Dubai, Dubai Shopping Festival, Metro, Nissan Tiida, Shopping, Weather with tags , , , , , , , on February 27, 2010 by Amanda

My new car!

So, you can see by the title of this post that I now have my new car. Unfortunately, getting it didn’t go as smoothly as I had anticipated. I went to the dealership this morning and was told that they didn’t register it on Thursday and had to wait until tomorrow. But I had been promised that I would have it this morning! I suggested they let me use a dealership plate temporarily as they obviously have them. I was told that that was impossible. However, upon a little bit of crying and telling them how badly I wanted to go shopping the impossible was suddenly possible.

I was told before I left that Nissan recommended that you didn’t go over 100 km per hour for the first 1000 kilometres. Um … I bought this car because I wanted to be able to kept up with traffic on the highway. I then asked the men at the dealership what they would do if this were their own car. It was clear that they would not follow this advice themselves. So, why should I? By the way, this car only has a tiny light that flashes when you hit 120 instead of the loud beeping that my old car has.

I actually didn’t go that fast on the way to Dubai because I was driving through a sandstorm. While driving in a sandstorm is way easier than driving in a snowstorm it still isn’t the easiest driving.

I parked at Ibn Battuta Mall and then took a very short (and not unpleasant!) bus ride to the nearest open metro station. From there I took the metro over to the Mall of the Emirates. I have been meaning to try the metro for a while and I quite liked it. It was very clean, new (obviously!) and not too busy.

Inside the metro.

Unusual sinks in the washroom in the metro station.

I really wanted to go shopping in Dubai today because the Dubai Shopping Festival is about to end and I wanted to see what the sales were like. I found a few things between the two malls but not a lot, which is probably just as well because the car was kind of a big expenditure though I’ll be getting a bigger pay cheque than usual on Monday because I requested the money for yearly flight early. This will allow me to not have to pay any credit card interest, so I’ll still be able to say that I’ve never spent a cent on credit card interest! Anyway, the sales had some pretty good discounts but they tended to be on things I didn’t want or only available in the larger sizes (as usual!). It is definitely not good to wear the smallest size a store sells! This happens to me with shirts surprisingly often because of this whole vanity sizing non-sense. I am not that small! I seriously don’t know how some women find clothing (that’s not intended for children) these days.

When stores have sales they often have special bags.

The drive back from Dubai was very pleasant. I am finding it amazing how easily this car accelerates. It is feeling pretty big to me right now though I know that many people would consider this a small car.

Goodbye, old car!

Posted in abu dhabi, Arabic, Cars, Chevrolet Spark, Inequality, Nissan Tiida, Police, Salik, Staring with tags , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2010 by Amanda

My former car.

Last night I got rid of the Chevrolet Spark and thus, I am temporarily without a car. The good news is that tomorrow morning I’ll go and pick up the Nissan Tiida I wrote about before. I really don’t think I’ll miss the Spark!

Transferring the old car was very quick and easy. However, the new owner wanted a police report because of previous damage on my car (which, for the record, was pretty minor and had been there when I bought it). Apparently, it could be needed at some time. Anyway, we went to the police station that was nearby. However, we had to wait around for a bit because the man that dealt with this things was busy at the adjacent mosque. Then when he came back he talked to the all the people waiting (maybe a dozen) and then he walked around and took photos of all the cars and everyone followed him. Then everyone went back to the office and he wrote up the reports. It was just an odd experience, especially since I was the only one who didn’t speak Arabic. Literally, the only word I understood was “shokran” (thank you)! This kind of made me wonder if I should make some effort to learn Arabic but I’m sure that thought will pass because I’m lazy and generally English works just fine for me here.

Upon getting home, I decided to call Salik to deactivate the tag on my former car. To travel on Sheikh Zayed Road (a highway) in Dubai, you need to purchase a Salik tag that debits your account when you travel through the gates. I’m not the biggest fan of making calls, especially in this country. So, I was annoyed to find that I had to do the deactivation by emailing them because I live in Abu Dhabi rather than Dubai! There website says you are supposed to call them! At least, I didn’t have to wait on hold to be told this!

Today, I decided to be cheap and try out the city bus that now goes by my place. This bus route is fairly new (I think it’s been around for about a month). The positive thing was the super cheap price (2 dirhams versus 30 to 35 for a taxi). Otherwise, it was long and tedious. It eventually got crowded and despite the front seats being clearly labelled for ladies men were trying to take them over. I really don’t think I could tolerate riding the bus on a regular basis. I suspect most of the other women on the bus were maids and the men were clearly overwhelming labourers. So, I stood out to say the least and, as always happens here, I was starred at by the men quite intensely. This is still something I’m having trouble getting used to. I know these men are almost certainly harmless but it still makes me feel uncomfortable. Sometimes, I really miss how invisible I was back in Canada.

I walked around the city for a couple hours. One thing I’ve noticed many times here is how a rather nice building is right next door to a very rundown building.

Very different buildings side by side.

Eventually, I ended up at Abu Dhabi but it was before most of the stores were open. On Fridays, a number of places don’t open until late afternoon. So, I decided I’d go to a movie. I was very surprised to see how small the theatre was and how much legroom there was! The counted 35 seats and the theatre ended up being less than half full. If the air-conditioning wasn’t so cold, it would have been so comfortable there!

The theatre.

Camping in the desert

Posted in abu dhabi, Camels, Camping, Desert with tags , , , on February 20, 2010 by Amanda

Camels walking alongside the road

I went on a short camping trip in the desert this weekend. It wasn’t that far into the desert but it was still a worthwhile experience (and I got to see a bunch of camels walking along the road on the way there!)


The campfire

Camping stuff here is so cheap (to the point that the prices in dirhams seem reasonable enough in dollars) though so things aren’t of the greatest quality. Plus you can pretty much camp wherever you feel like it which is certainly convenient.

If I go camping again, I think I’ll buy an air mattress. The sand under the tent actually felt harder than regular earth; I had been it expecting it to be much softer.

Camel milk

Posted in abu dhabi, Camel milk with tags , on February 18, 2010 by Amanda

I finally got around to trying camel milk this evening which is something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now. Camel milk is pretty easy to find here. I tried the date flavoured variety which I had heard was particularly good. While I didn’t find the taste horrible, I don’t think I’ll have it again. I think it was the date taste that I really didn’t like. So, I might try the chocolate, strawberry, and/or banana sometime in the future. I don’t like plain cow’s milk so I don’t see any point in trying the plain camel’s milk.