Archive for June, 2010

Liwa

Posted in Desert, Driving, Liwa, Sand, Sandstorm, Weather with tags , , , , , on June 26, 2010 by Amanda

I visited Liwa this weekend. It definitely wasn’t the best weekend to go and I actually suspected so before I drove down there but I’d be charged for the hotel room whether I showed up or not so I naturally went and hoped the weather would improve. The problem was that there was a pretty big sandstorm which made driving not so easy and visibility very limited in parts. However I did see enough to confirm that it definitely is an area worth visiting again, the roads were very quiet (most people were probably smart enough not to be driving on them!), and the hotel room was very inexpensive.

On the way to Liwa I stopped by the Emirates National Auto Museum Auto Museum, also known as the Rainbow Sheikh’s Museum, but it wasn’t open. I decided to take a different highway on the way back so I don’t know if it was open then.

The entrance to the closed museum.

Initially the desert was pretty boring but it gradually became more interesting. There were a lot of small parking areas along the highway so it was easy to stop and take pictures. However, it was also very windy which was not so fun. Along with being a desert the area is also an oasis. Still while I saw the dates I was expecting, I also saw bales of hay! This was a pretty big surprise to me.

One of the many date palms in the middle of the highway.


The bales of hay.

There were not any washrooms along the way so by the time I arrived at a gas station I was pretty desperate to pee! The hotel was easy to find and pretty nice. I’d heard mixed reviews of it but the room was nice and large and the balcony was enormous. The building is a former palace. Normally there would be nice views from here but not yesterday.

The lack of view from my hotel room.

Later in the afternoon the weather cleared somewhat so I decided I would drive to Moreeb Dune, a huge dune which is 287 metres high. I was literally the only vehicle on that road. I almost made it there but the road became impassable, for a regular car at least, just before I reached there.

Headed towards Moreeb Dune.


Where the road became impassable.

Things had cleared up a fair bit this morning but they were still not great. There was at least a view, though a dusty one, from my room!

The view from the hotel room this morning.

However, I figured all the sand would still be on the road to Moreeb Dune. So instead I decided to head back home a little earlier than I’d planned. I took a different, less scenic, highway back and at times one of the lanes was covered by sand. So I think I made the right decision. I drove through Madinat Zayed and while there isn’t a lot there, there was more than I had expected. For example, they have a public garden. While my weekend wasn’t what I had originally planned, I did see some things and the blowing sand can be interesting to watch.

Again!!!!!

Posted in abu dhabi, Apartment, Frustration, Power outage with tags , , , on June 19, 2010 by Amanda

So it happened again. By it, I mean my power went out. So, they obviously did a fantastic job of fixing it the first time around! I was even more annoyed this time. Once again, I could get no answer about how long it might be off. The guy gave some excuse about the weather being hot. Um, isn’t this normal weather for here? Plus, other places (some very close by) appear to be unaffected.

This time, thankfully, the outage was much shorter. It began at 8:45pm and I’m not sure when it was over but definitely by a few minutes ago when I returned home (a bit after 2am). I decided to go watch a movie. The closest theatre has a grand total of two theatres so the choice wasn’t great but I really didn’t feel like driving any further. I liked the movie more than I’d anticipated and it was definitely better than sitting around a hot, dark apartment with nothing to do except read until the the hallway lights faded out. I was in a definite minority at the movie; almost everyone else was an Emirati male.

I’m really, really hoping the power doesn’t go out tomorrow night but some reason I’m not so optimistic.

The most annoying power outage ever!

Posted in abu dhabi, Apartment, Frustration, Heat, Power outage with tags , , , , on June 18, 2010 by Amanda

Around 7 o’clock last night I was sitting on my couch waiting television (the news on Al Jazeera because as usual there really wasn’t anything on). I had been planning to continue watching the news for a bit and then to read for the rest of the evening. But suddenly the power went off. I went and looked in the hallway and it was clear that it wasn’t just affecting my apartment this time.

There was actually still enough light to read as the hallways and kitchen in my apartment have lights that go on when the power goes off, though I later learned that they gradually fade out.

Light with the power off.


However, it started getting pretty uncomfortable without air conditioning pretty quickly. Even though it was evening, it was probably still 40 degrees and it was fairly humid.

So, I went out shopping and figured that by the time I came back the power would surely be back on. Yet when I returned more than two hours later, my building and several surroundings on were still dark. In attempt to cool down, I decided to have a bath. This would have worked really well if there was such a thing as cold tap water in this weather. Still the warm water coming from the taps did feel somewhat cooler than the air.

Around midnight (around 5 hours after the power first went out!) I finally decided to call the electricity company and ask when I could expect the power to be restored. After waiting for some time, I finally talked to a very unfriendly customer service guy. While he did tell me than a transformer had broken, he refused to give me any idea whatsover of when I could expect the power to be back on. Plus he even hung up on me! Isn’t the customer the one who is supposed to do that?

I actually did manage to fall asleep in spite of the hot, sticky indoor environment. I was very happy to be woken up by the sound of the air conditioning coming on at around 4:30 this morning!

Reaching a new high (temperature)

Posted in abu dhabi, Heat, Temperature, Weather with tags , , , on June 15, 2010 by Amanda

This afternoon I experienced the highest temperature I ever experienced in my life: 46 degrees celsius. I suspect that 50+ degree temperatures aren’t far off. The humidity wasn’t too high though. I was only outside for a couple minutes at that temperature and I found it be unpleasant but not unbearable. We’ve been experiencing more humidity lately but that has been more in the evenings and at lower temperatures (high 30s). I think I’ll soon have the answer to whether I can tolerate really hot temperatures and high humidity. I’ve always much preferred hot temperatures to cold temperatures but it remains to be seen whether this will continue. In any case with extremely hot temperatures there no snow or ice to deal with like there is with really cold temperatures!

Now I can say I’ve been inside the tallest building in the world!

Posted in Armani Hotel, Burj Khalifa, Dubai, Dubai Mall, Shopping with tags , , , , on June 12, 2010 by Amanda

I went inside the Burj Khalifa in Dubai in today. While I didn’t go anywhere near the top (I actually didn’t leave the ground floor which houses the Armani Hotel), I can still now say that I’ve been inside! I’m sure I’ll eventually go up higher.

The Burj Khalifa


Just inside the hotel

I had lunch at Mediterraneo at the Armani Hotel. The lunch buffet was very good especially the dessert which I had way more of than anything else. Many of the dishes were labelled which as a vegetarian I very much appreciated.

Some non-dessert food on the table


View from inside the restaurant

The Armani Hotel itself, not surprisingly, was very nice and had lots of staff standing around. It is not a hotel you can just enter without a reservation of some sort. The whole place was a bit on the dark side so my pictures didn’t turn out all that well.

A not so great picture but better than the others

Before and after lunch I walked around Dubai Mall for a while. Despite having been there a least five times by now, there are still a lot of stores I haven’t been in yet. I was pretty self-controlled and limited myself to one book and a few frozen vegetarian entrees that I can’t find here in Abu Dhabi. Even though there were some fairly good (for here) sales on clothes I didn’t let myself even try anything on as I’ll be going home in just over a month and I know I’ll find much better prices. There was a lot of noise from pretty watching the World Cup in the stands and actually on the ice. I guess the profit is better from people sitting on the ice than skating!

People watching the World Cup on the ice in Dubai Mall