Pages

13 October 2014

A Personal Update From Dubai

Not much has changed since my arrival to Dubai, but I thought I'd give an update on where things stand with us. 

As of today, we have been residents of the City Premiere Hotel Apartments for 50 days and counting. If we are still in a hotel on November 5th, then Chris will have spent exactly six months living out of hotels and a suitcase.

On May 5th he went to Walnut Creek, CA for training for two months. Then after a four-day trip to Tennessee, he moved to Dubai and has been in hotels ever since.

The Southern Province: Bentota River Cruise and Galle Fort

After leaving the turtle hatchery we headed south to Bentota for a river cruise. There were many river cruise companies waving from the road to select theirs, and I'm not sure which one we picked. I'm sure all of them are about the same price and have basically the same tour.
View from the front of the boat

08 October 2014

The Southern Province: Turtle Hatchery

After the toddy tapper demonstration, we headed down the coast to a turtle hatchery. 

There are several turtle hatcheries in Kosgoda, and we stopped at the Sea Turtle Project.

The Southern Province: Toddy Tapping After Breakfast

After such a great day with our tour guide Mark Thamel, we hired him to see a different part of Sri Lanka -- the Southern Province. 

Mark picked us up at the hotel, and we headed south out of Colombo. We saw several things on this day so I'm going to break up the posts. I hope you enjoy reading about them as much as we enjoyed seeing them.

Our first stop was a true Sri Lankan breakfast at a place Mark knows along the highway. It was an open air buffet with all the typical Sri Lankan breakfast foods.


Sulferino Hut Restaurant

05 October 2014

Seeing Sri Lanka: Elephant Orphanage, Tea Plantation, and Kandy

After a rough start, we finally had a great day touring Sri Lanka. We used the private tour guide my trading coach had suggested, and he turned out to be a wonderful asset to our visit of the country.

His name is Mark Thamel and primarily does the day trips from the Ocean View Resort in Negombo.*(Contact details below)

Mark drove from Negombo to Colombo to pick us up at our hotel. We had a very early start at 6 a.m. and needed to hit the road to catch our first activity high in the hills at 9 a.m.



Inauspicious Start in Sri Lanka

Because of the Eid holiday in Dubai, Chris wanted to take advantage of the extra days off and visit Sri Lanka. I was a little surprised at this selection, but he had heard good things about it. The biggest factor was that it was tropical with nice beaches, so off we go.

Admittedly, we didn't do much planning for this trip, so we really felt like we were winging it from the moment we got off the plane. I'm not sure why we didn't pre-plan. Maybe because Chris was working around the clock, and we didn't have time to do our normal planning together. When Chris did get a little free time in the evenings, planning a vacation wasn't at the top of the list. In the meantime, I've returned to stock trading so my free time has been limited, as well.

After about two minutes in Sri Lanka, we knew we should have done a bit more research.

29 September 2014

Holiday Break for Eid Al Adha

This week marks the celebration of Eid Al Adha on the Muslim calendar. Businesses are closed for three or four days, depending on the industry.

Eid Al Adha is celebrated by Muslims to honor the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son Ishmael. Moments before Ishmael's demise, God provided a lamb to sacrifice instead. (Qur'an 2:196)

Does this story sound familiar?

27 September 2014

Same News Story, Different Details

Our hotel gives us an English-version of the local newspaper almost every day (we've yet to figure out the schedule of the paper's delivery - some days it's there, some it's not. But when it is, I feel like I've just won a free gift).

Having a background in Journalism, I always find it interesting to read the news in different countries to see how it differs from media reports in America.

Today is a newsier day with only
a quarter page ad below the fold.
 
The newspaper our hotel distributes is The Gulf Today, which seems to primarily cover news in all the Gulf States (UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman) and the Middle East, in general. There is also a large section for Indian news with smaller sections for news from Europe, Australia and the Americas (North and South), although sometimes these stories are mixed throughout the paper leading me to wonder why there's even an Americas section in the first place.

09 September 2014

Life in the Fast Lane: Dangerous Driving in Dubai

Now that I know the rules of the road, here's the fun part.... the dangerous side of driving in Dubai. 

Many years ago my parents were telling me to be careful driving back to college after a weekend at home. I can remember reminding them that I was a good driver, and they don't need to worry.

My mother responded, "It's not your driving I'm worried about. It's the other idiots on the road." 

Never were my mother's words more true as now when I'm driving in Dubai.

Life in the Fast Lane: Driving the Roads of Dubai

Before moving to Dubai, we had read our fair share of warnings about the driving habits of local drivers -- all of which seemed insane to the point of exaggeration. 

Excessive speeds on the highway mixed with third-world driving behavior means that driving in Dubai was NOT for the faint of heart. But before I could jump into that mix, I had to figure out the rules of the roads.

I couldn't wait.

08 September 2014

Smoking Shisha

In an Islamic country, alcohol and recreational drugs (and several prescription drugs) usage is forbidden. I would have assumed that that also meant smoking tobacco, but it turns out that smoking is one of the more debatable transgressions.

In nearly every Arabic restaurant we have visited in Dubai, smoking shisha (flavor-mixed tobacco) is not only allowed, but arguably, encouraged in some restaurants. In many restaurants the lunch specials include the price of the meal plus shisha (the lunch specials are called 'Happy Meals,' which was highly hilarious to me or maybe it was just the shisha talking).

Background
My first exposure to shisha was in Turkey, and there it is called hookah.

No, I take that back. It's possible that both your and my first exposure to shisha was in Alice of Wonderland. The caterpillar is smoking from a shisha pipe and blowing smoke rings while repeatedly [and annoyingly] asking Alice Whooooo are you?
Alice in Wonderland

Renting a Car in the UAE

There's nothing more freeing than a set of wheels. I feel like a bird that has been caged for two weeks then set free to spread its wings. Not that I've actually been caged, but the miserable heat makes exploring or doing anything outdoors... well, miserable.

This weekend I rented a car for a month. It's just a little car -- a white Nissan Sunny, which equates to about a stripped down Nissan Sentra. It came with a handful of small scratches and dings, which is exactly how I like my rental cars. That way if I add to them (or someone else adds one), then it's less likely to be noticed.
Nissan Sunny


I decided to rent from a company that we have in America, because I thought the process would be similar to rentals back home.

It sorta was. Kinda. Not really.

01 September 2014

Friday 'Brunch' in Dubai

In my last post, I highlighted eating out and grocery shopping in Dubai. Apparently, food and where to get more food is a favorite topic of mine. 

All meals in Dubai thus far have been interesting, flavorful, and with the exception of a few nuances, not really anything out of the ordinary for a typical restaurant endeavor. 

Which brings me to the next dining experience we had. 

Friday Brunch is practically a national pastime in Dubai. Since Friday is akin to the Islamic Sabbath Day, most everyone is off work. Almost any upscale, sit-down restaurant across Dubai offers what is known as 'Friday Brunch,' and from what I can tell, the only accurate part of that nomenclature - in the traditional sense - is that it happens on Friday. 

Eating Out and At Home in Dubai

As I mentioned in my first impressions, the food selection in Dubai is something to behold. I can't imagine that there is any place else in the world that could possible match the variety that is found here.

Local Cuisines
Any and every ethnicity of food is available, although some types are more available than others. Of course, Arabic food is plentiful, and most of it in the form of Lebanese restaurants (I haven't seen an Emirati restaurant yet).

27 August 2014

Undercover: Dressing Conservatively in Dubai

When writing my first impressions of Dubai, clothing and dressing conservatively was one of the first things I observed, even though I had researched and thought I fully understood what this meant before I arrived. 

After I began writing how I felt about it, the topic seemed to warrant its own posting, although I must admit that I'm a little nervous about releasing this post or even addressing this issue in a public forum.

Since I was feeling so perplexed in my emotions regarding Muslim attire, I decided to back up and reflect on what it is that I wear, in addition to, my very first dealings with someone in Middle Eastern apparel.

25 August 2014

First Impressions of Dubai - Part 2

These are just a few more observations I've made in my first few days in Dubai (click here for Part 1). As people described to us, Dubai is like Las Vegas on steroids without the gambling. Everything is big and blingy. And now I'm going to add: Dusty.

The Sand
This may be a little predictable, but there is quite a bit of sand in the city. Not outside the city, but all over the downtown area. I wasn't expecting this.

First Impressions of Dubai - Part 1

After the first few days in Dubai, there are definitely some early impressions that have created a lasting impact on me. 

The Heat
We knew it was coming. People warned us and warned us. We'd lived in Las Vegas in the summer, so we knew hot. But nothing -- no, nothing -- prepared us for the scorching inferno that is Dubai. Daily temperatures of +100F with +30% humidity (one day was 66%) make moving outside feel like every drop of energy in your body is dissolving.

The air is so thick and heavy that it's like trying to breathe in syrup, unlike Vegas where the sauna-like air is so dehydrated that your lungs feel like they might dry up and crack.
Feels like 114F.
As Alyson said, "Every good Southerner knows,
it's not the heat. It's the humidity."  

14 July 2014

The Process of Moving to Dubai

This moving process has been a bit of a roller coaster for us (and I have the high blood pressure to prove it). 

I'll start from the beginning and recap a few of the first parts.

Back in late April Chris accepted the new job to be located in Dubai. They wanted him in Walnut Creek, California (outside of San Francisco) A MERE two weeks later to begin training on a new accounting system the company was installing. The training would last two months.

As anyone knows who has moved, especially overseas, this put us in quite a bind by having such a quick turnaround.

06 July 2014

Typhoon Neoguri **UPDATED - TUESDAY, 8 JULY**

Murphy's Law strikes again. Chris is about to be hit with a Super Typhoon. 

A few weeks ago, Chris's company won some work in Okinawa, Japan to build some schools on a military base there. As exciting as going to Japan would be, Chris didn't think they would send him because he would have just arrived in Dubai (he arrived on June 26), plus Japan is not his working region. Chris is over project controls in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe, and someone else is over the Asian projects.

20 June 2014

How NOT to Take a Passport Photo

To move to Dubai or most Middle Eastern countries, you will need about 30 to 40 passport photos. Passport photos must be attached to nearly every piece of paperwork you submit -- from a driver's license (which makes sense) to setting up a post office box (which doesn't make sense).