Day 14

5th August, 2016

I never got to blog about this day, but it is worth blogging about!

Ok … so you understand that it rarely rains in the UAE – a handful of days in the past 3 years only – so you will also understand how surprised and confused we were to see the sky becoming an ominous grey/red colour.

I was my second or third day of driving, from the wrong side of the car and on the wrong side of the road, so I was still getting used to the weirdness of it all. I had offered to take some of my new friends here to a furniture store I found earlier in the day so that they could get curtains and rails. First, we had to swing by my flat so that I could drop the stuff off that was in the boot so that I could fit their shopping in – I knew there would be lots!

Driving towards Al Markhaniya, I commented on the sky. By the time we had reached my flat and got inside a fierce, red sandstorm had blown in. We were watching from the window in the lounge when a metal fence panel from the building site opposite blew across the road towards my car, which was parked in it’s usual place out the front. At this point we decided we better get out and head back towards the hotel, or at least the furniture store which is en-route.

Then the rain came … not much, but big dusty red drops … and I thought nothing more of it as driving in rain is common in the UK. But wow, what an effect this small amount of rain had on the streets – which instantly flooded!

We made it to the store and shopped while the rain continued. The ground is so dry all the time, that any rain just runs right off and the drains can’t cope initially. Eventually the water does drain away and the streets clear once more.

The souk where the furniture store is located was flooded when we came out – I drove through a foot of water to extract the car from said souk, and we navigated flooded roundabouts and hideous traffic back to the Al Ain Hilton. There were fallen branches and trees too as the  gusts of wind had been strong at the front of the storm.

People commented that they had watched the storm rolling in and were thinking they were glad to be in the hotel, but it had been kinda fun to be out in it; the first rain that Al Ain had had in some time!

Day 10 – Day 18

It’s my birthday .. and it’s been a full on week leading up to today, hence the lack of blog posts.

So .. to recap, on Day 10 we attended a housing meeting. We were given contact details for our landlords and sent on our merry way to visit them (at their various offices around the city) and pay deposits and collect keys. This is where we hit a slight hitch as our landlord was a representative at a bank that is currently being refurbished – the office we went to visit is essentially a building site!

Anyway, to cut a long story short, we eventually found their temporary location and visited just before the 3pm end of the day cut off – our contracts were unfortunately not ready so we had to wait .. meanwhile, I went shopping for furniture, but more on that later!

2 days later I got on the road early, paid my deposit, collected the contracts and the keys, and finally got to see my new home for the first time!

I am very fortunate having one of the first floor flats that faces our street as the windows are HUGE and look fab.

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(first floor, r to l) My bedroom, kitchen, guest bathroom and living room windows.

Would you like to come and and have a look? Welcome to the 10 minute tour … please leave your shoes at the door …

Completely … I agree … gorgeous! Al Markhaniya, Al Ain … my new home.

the built in floor to ceiling cupboards were such a bonus, and the rooms are huge. (Phew, as my bed is a monster SuperKing sized 200 x 210!

The following days were all about getting the  appliance and furniture deliveries arranged – the logistics are a feat in themselves – and the icing on the cake was internet connection literally less than 36 hours after going into the store!

I’m pretty pleased with the results, so far. I still have to get a chest of drawers for the bedroom (as the room is vast and can take it, despite the bed) and maybe a chair to throw clothes onto! And the living room needs a rug – I’m thinking persian, in orange or blue and will visit a carpet souk I have found to look at some another day.

Home sweet home 😀

Day 10 – Pinch and a punch …

Happy August! 

The Al Ain adventure continues.

Today we have a housing meeting at midday, so hopefully we will be taken to our apartments, pay deposits and get keys …

Then the mad dash to get them furnished and sorted so that we can move out of the hotel by the 5 day deadline!

Don’t get me wrong … I LOVE the hotels! They have been different but equally stunning in their different ways. Buffet breakfasts to die for and some of the best service I have ever experienced … anywhere! 


I have a plan for the apartment – just need to see the size of it – but a potential sofa bed is chosen (see above, but in white) and a few other pieces of furniture, so it will be simple but homely, and sorted by the end of the day .. Inshallah!

Let’s wait and see what happens though … First, breakfast ☕️🙂

Al Ain adventures

Day 9 in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and we have woken up to gorgeous blue sky (again .. how tough is that!) … but Al Ain is quite different to Abu Dhabi.

The humidity of Abu Dhabi doesn’t really exist here … it’s a drier heat. We are off to explore a couple of malls and to start to acclimatise to this new setting.

More later …

 

One week anniversary

Wow. A full week here in Abu Dhabi … And it’s flown by!

We’ve been kept pretty busy with orientation days, a medical and application for the Emirates ID card. All of us received our furniture allowance which meant lots of window shopping, then the reality kicked in for those in the group who will be living in Abu Dhabi  city as they got their apartment allocations yesterday – and are getting serious with the furniture buying as they only have 5 days in the hotel from the moment they sign the lease!

I am being transferred to Al Ain tomorrow (Saturday) and will be put up in the Hilton there until our apartments are ready – hopefully Sunday – then our 5 day countdown can begin too!

Super excited about going to the Hilton in Al Ain … check out the pool!

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I’ve ordered and paid for a custom super king bed 200 x 210- no more feet hanging off the end for me! – and have a plan for getting the appliances and the rest of the furniture once I see the apartment and figure out what I can actually fit in it. We are allowed to paint and decorate any way we like so the next couple of weeks until school starts on the 21st August will be mostly taken up with that.

For now though, it’s Friday (my new Saturday) and I’m going to finish this coffee and go for a swim. A little more window shopping can happen later.

Things I’ve learned:

  • The people here – all of them, regardless of where they are from – are fantastic
  • Turkey Bacon is an adequate substitute, but it will never replace the real thing for me
  • Chicken sausages, however, are lovely and I may never eat pork ones again
  • Driving on the right will take getting used to once I get behind the wheel but will be fine so long as I never have to turn left or right
  • The roads are long, and dead straight (see above)
  • Roundabouts will take concentration
  • Having a swimming pool is bliss
  • There is hot, then there is hot .. Dis kak varm!
  • Afrikaans is a brilliant way for expressing how hot it is
  • Humidity makes even my hair curly
  • There is breathtaking beauty here, that has brought me to tears .. More than once
  • The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque … stunning (see above)
  • Customer service is phenomenal – I phoned a store yesterday to enquire about a mirror I’d seen. Within 5 mins the assistant had whatsapp’d pictures of every mirror in the place, with separate pics of the price tags and details about their current sale
  • Stores will send a driver if you ask – free of charge – and return you back to your accommodation if you require … Bed shops, furniture shops, even IKEA sent a bus for us

Abu Dhabi, you have surprised and amazed, and I can’t wait to discover more.

Day 3 … And so it begins

Today, as I explained in my post yesterday, is Sunday and the first day of the working week here in Abu Dhabi.

I went to breakfast early (and had a quick catch up with some of the lovely people I have met out here who, like me, have decided to teach on the other side of the globe!) and came back to the room to get into ‘professional clothes’ which out here means shirt, tie and jacket.

We assembled in the Ballroom here in the Park Rotana for a prompt 10am start and were introduced to the program and the days activities – form filling! A bank account needed to be opened, a mobile number for here in the UAE secured, as everything you need to do or set up is done with a mobile number, and a number of stalls needed to be visited to get various special offers and ‘best prices’ for the 2016/2017 teacher cohort – basically for things like furniture (IKEA and HomeCentre) for the housing they are going to give us, lease or rental cars, internet providers, etc.


Suffice to say that it was a well oiled process that just needed a bit of patience as there are around 180 of us here in Group 1. We were all allocated our locations today also – I will be teaching in Al Ain, on the eastern side of the emirate of Abu Dhabi, about 1.5 hours by car from both Abu Dhabi city and Dubai.

united_arab_emirates_map

I’m kind of happy about that as I will get to experience a greater variety of life here in the emirates living in a different city, and Al Ain has some really great facilities too.

After the session, and a bit of a sit down in the lobby cafe to take all the day’s information onboard, I took a minibus to Al Wahda Mall with a group of South African teachers I have been spending time with. Four of us will be relocating to Al Ain, so it will be nice to know a few friendly faces there. We mooched about the shops and had a bite of dinner in the food court there. The malls are HUGE and 3 hours wasn’t even half of what you might need to get around the place. Al Wahda Mall is on the ‘Return visit required’ list as I found a fantastic furniture shop there – IDdesign – which had some fab sofas and sideboards, quirky chairs and unusual kitsch lamps, mirrors and objects.


Tomorrow we will spend a day over at another local hotel for a 6 hour session on the education system here and complete still more paperwork. Later in the week we will be taken out to Al Ain by bus and shown our accommodation, relocated to a hotel there while they prepare for us to move into said accommodation, given keys and a AED 20000 furniture allowance to help us to furnish our new homes.

I feel very privileged to be on this journey and am grateful to the friendly souls I have already met. I cannot wait to get started in my new school and begin to make a new home here in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.