Saturday, June 27, 2009

Discovering the beaches in Abu Dhabi

Don has to go into the office for half a day every other Saturday but this past weekend was his Saturday off, so we decided to track down the best beach to swim at. We tried the public beach in the morning. When we got back to the apartment, we saw our neighbors who were off to the beach, and they told us about a little beach just at the end of our street (it's a long street). Takes us 5 minutes by car, to get there, so we were delighted to discover this. It will be great for Don as we can go for a quick swim when he finishes work, as well as on a Saturday. We have spent many Saturdays working on getting the apartment set up, but we can finally see the end in sight, where we can do some sightseeing and Don can have more leisure time. We are looking for someone to come and put up our shade cloths on the the back and front patio, (always takes ages to get things done) and then we are pretty much done. Feeling pretty comfortable in the apartment and enjoying the convenience of living in Al Mushrif. Not too far out of the city, but has a suburban feel to it, and a lot less traffic. And a beach 5 minutes away!

Sun, sand but no surf

The island city of Abu Dhabi is surrounded by the azure blue, calm waters of the Arabian Gulf. However, public beaches are few. Many of the beaches are private, attached to the hotels. Some are restricted "ladies only", men only allowed to swim there if they are with a woman or family.
Abu Dhabi has a subtropical, arid climate that is blistering in the height of the summer months. We have had a lot of days where the temperature is over 40C and we have been told it can reach 50C in the hottest months, June, July and August. The white sandy beach looks inviting, but the sun is so hot, you won't see too many people sitting on the beach. You go straight in for a swim and then out and leave. We swam and then stood in the water for ages, but made sure we wore our rashies and hats.

Waiting for the Wave

The water at the beach is the temperature of a warm bath. It is an azure blue, flat and calm all the time. Looks lovely, but not quite the same as swimming in the refreshing surf at an Australian beach.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Date Picker

Spotted this man picking dates across the road from the villa which we meet in for church. Usually the local people don't like to be photographed but he had his back to me. I have learned to carry my camera with me as you never know what you might see, in this often fascinating part of the world. Life here is such a combination of the old and the new. In the left hand corner, you can just see a crane, an indication of all the new buildings going up in this progressive and modern city. But at the same time, you will see a local person picking dates by the roadside.

Sharing architectural skills

Our sabbath day here is actually on Friday. Don and I work in the Nursery with the youngest of the Primary children, 18 months to 3 years. That two hours goes really quickly as we rotate through numerous activities, to accomodate their short attention span. Don says that it is his exercise for the week. If we can teach even a small thing each week, we feel a great sense of accomplishment.

Our Sunday which is actually Friday

Thursday, June 18, 2009

This is definitely worth posting. I drove the car by myself today. I have been practising with my co-driver. Fortunately we are still on speaking terms. Now, wouldn't anyone be confused about which is the kerbside when there's a kerb in the middle of the road on a dual carriageway?? I took Don to work and then went and did the grocery shopping. I only turned on the windscreen wipers once instead of the indicators. Driving on the right hand side of the road has been a big issue for me. My brain has been permanently programmed to left hand driving for many years now. Don reminded me that I did the right hand driving thing while living in the US and Europe, and even drove in snow and ice. But I reminded him that I was much younger then. The roundabouts are scary as it is a bit of a free for all. I have got used to reading other drivers' minds as to when they are going to change lanes, as nobody indicates. I did enjoy shopping at leisure today and not worrying about how I was going to get it in and out of the taxi with all my bags of shopping, after having stood in 450 heat, waiting for a taxi. I can see that the benefits of driving myself will outweigh the fear of driving in the crazy traffic here. Actually, it's not too bad on our side of town, nice wide roads and I can mostly drive in a direct way to where I want to go.
As each week goes by, I feel more comfortable that life will eventually become "normal" here. I bought a new Bernina sewing machine this past week and was told that they have a Quilters Guild group here. So maybe I will join after the summer. There are things out there to do, it just takes time to find them.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I am still finding my way around with doing a blosgspot. I hope to get more creative as I go - still a lot to learn when I see others' artistically arranged blog pages! Just posting some pictures taken in Al Ain today with description following.


Exploring Abu Dhabi has been on my priority list since coming to live here. It is interesting to read about the history of the United Arab Emirates, and then go and see the places that have literally grown up out of the desert. A relatively short time ago, the emirate of Abu Dhabi was little more than empty desert inhabited by nomadic Bedoin tribes.

My friend Paula and I arrived in Abu Dhabi around the same time. We are both keen to explore the area and see as much as we can. As she is happy to drive, with me to do the map reading (ha ha - me being directionally challenged), we set off on a trip to Al Ain, 150 kms out of Abu Dhabi city. The town of Al Ain is part of the Buraimi Oasis and in earlier days, was the summer respite of the Sheiks and their families, during the summer months. We visited the Summer Palace ( Rhonda pictured with the guards, very friendly fellows). Also at the old Fort and driving through and oasis. We spotted shampoo for camels in a local shop! We'll know where to go when the pet camel needs a bath.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

First day working in the Nursery

Friday, June 12, 2009

June 2009

Some of the original Hong Kong Quilting group

Rhonda returned a week ago from a trip to Hong Kong and Perth. She spent a week in Hong Kong catching up with friends and even managed to attend her old quilting group there. Pictured are some of the original members of the "Thursday Girls" quilting group. Shopping was a big attraction with a trip to Shenzhen (China) to get some clothes made. Getting reacquainted with the delights of the Hong Kong street markets was also on the agenda. Then on to Perth to spend time with family and friends and enjoy the cooler weather and sunny days of winter in Australia. All in all, a wonderful trip.

Shopping in Hong Kong

Don is becoming very good at taking care of himself while Rhonda is away visiting family. He fits shopping, laundry and cooking into his busy work schedule. Abu Dhabi is very hot right now, in the middle of the summer season, with temperatures of 45 degrees and up. The city is modern and attractive, with a fascinating history. As we look at some of the beautiful buildings and the pleasant waterline of the Corniche, it is hard to believe that we live in the desert. We are learning about the Muslim culture as we live alongside the local Emiratees in their cultural dress of the black abaya for the women and the white tunic dishdash for the men.
The many mosques and the "call to prayer" five times a day are becoming part of everyday life for us now.

Don at the Grand Mosque - the third largest mosque in the world. Getting some ideas for the design of the mosque which is part of the project he is working on.