Friday, December 26, 2014

So You're Coming To The UAE....

   On Christmas Day Ethihad had the wickedest deal ever. Some people got flights out of the USA for as low as 200$ round trip, mistake or not there will be a lot of visitors to the UAE in the next year. My blog alone tripled on hits yesterday (thank you!).  Here is a mini list of what you should see and do while you are here .

Abu Dhabi:

- Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque-- if you can only see one thing in Abu Dhabi go to the  grand mosque. It is the third largest mosque in the world and leaves me in awe each time I see it. Entry is free and ladies, you will be given an abaya (robe with hood) to wear as you walk around. The mosque is closed to the public on Fridays.

-Emirates Palace-- located near the cornice this is also a hotel, you can come hear and have high tea. Reservations need to be made Restaurants@emiratespalace.ae and you can have high tea daily from 2-6 pm. You must enjoy the cappuccino with the gold flakes which is their signature drink. The cost is about 75$ for two people.

-Saddyat Beach--in my opinion the best beach in the UAE. Clean with beautiful sand and water. 70 AED (about 20$) for an umbrella and a chair on the weekends (Friday and Saturday), less during the week. 

--A walk on the corniche. Take in the sunset. 

--Yas Island--I have only been to a club and a concert on the island but a visit is a must. 

This is just a mini list of my must dos in Abu Dhabi.

Dubai

-Dubai Mall-- the largest mall in the world, check out the skating rink, largest indoor aquarium, fountain show (every night from 6 or 8 pm, every half an hour). Movie theatre with bed like seats. 

-Burj Khalifa-- the tallest building in the world. Book your tickets online, they are cheaper. Sunset fills up fast. You get a glimpse of the world from the 124th floor.  It is a bit expensive but worth the trip up. About 45$. If heights are not your thing, you can take a picture from the ground with the Burj in the background from various spots (hit: get an outdoor seat at IHOP near the Dubai waterfall for a great view)

-Desert Safari-- book on either a groupon.ae or cobone.com both are reliable and cheap (about 30$ per person) and you get to go dune bashing, ride a camel (depending which safari you get), a buffet dinner and belly dancing.

-Mall of the Emirates-- you can snap a pic In front of Ski Dubai. Or experience this indoor ski hill for yourself.

-check out the only 7 star hotel in the worldBurj Al Arab aka the sail boat hotel. If you are Puff Daddy, stay here a night for 1500$ a night.

-Friday brunch--if you love to have a good time and want an absolutely memorable experience and don't mind dropping 150$ for an AMAZING all you eat and drink brunch, check out Saffron at Atlantis. If not just go check the hotel anyway, located in the man made palm islands.

-If clubbing is your thing, check out Barastri, a club on the beach. In the Dubai Marina area.

There is tons more, but this is my MUST DO list and anyone that visits, I try to do as many of these things are possible. You can take a bus from Abu Dhabi to Dubai and vise versa for 20$ US and they are clean and safe. The drive takes about 2 hours. You can also take a taxi for about 100$ if you are 4 people the price isn't too bad and it will take you a little less time. I hope that helps. If you have any questions, drop them below.

Happy travels! 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas in the UAE

   Welp, I survived my first semester ofgrad  school and I am just waiting on my final marks. I am very pleased with how things have gone and I am impressed with myself and that I was able to balance work and grad school successfully. 
   The holidays can be an extremely hard time to be away from family and friends. Luckily, my UAE family is here to celebrate the holidays with and we had an Ugly Christmas Sweater party. I couldn't find an ugly sweater so I decided to make one; I got a glue gun and some Christmas decorations and voila! 


We also got a partner and took cheesy 'family photos'. 


Bahahahaha.

We plays name that Christmas movie ( I got 13/15) and unscramble the Christmas word (I won that too), can you tell I love party games? 

I had a wonderful time and we are surely going to do it again. 

I am heading to India tomorrow for two weeks. I will be doing the Golden Triangle (Delhi, Agra and Jaipur) for the first week and Goa the second week. Super excited to see the Taj Mahal. 

Have a Merry Christmas and all the best for 2015. Thank you so much for reading! 




Sunday, December 14, 2014

Drinking Gold Flakes

     My visit with my parents continues. I took them to the Emirates Palace for high tea in Abu Dhabi. If ever you come to Abu Dhabi you have to go the Emirates Palace and enjoy high tea. You get a lovely assortment of sandwiches and desserts.



    

Scones, rose jam and the piece de resistance their signature drink a latte with real gold flakes.



No trip to Abu Dhabi is complete without a trip to the Grand Mosque.


This is the third largest mosque in the world and it is absolutely stunning.


   
       My parents and I went to the fountain show at Dubai mall and took a pic with the Burj Khalifa.

   Here in Al Ain the only thing to really see is Jabel hafeet one of the tallest mountains in the UAE. I took mom and dad to the top and his was the view at sunset.









Sunday, December 7, 2014

Hello Stranger!

     Hello blog fam! Glad that you are still reading, I am still here! To all of you that have approached me in person, thanks again for reading my blog. I apologize for the hiatus, but between grad school and work I have so bad with blogging. But I am here now and that is all that matters, right!? So much to tell you, where to begin? 
    Back at the end of October I went to a Halloween party here in Al Ain, there is a new promotion group that is trying to put Al Ain in the map. They had a wicked party and I was great fun. As you can see I went as a pilot, don't worry I left the rolley at home.

   American Thanksgiving was at the end of November and although I am Canadian many of my friends are American. My neighbors ordered a turkey from a guy that makes food and made the sides and we had a little get together, it was really, really nice. 

     Last week was National Day in the UAE on December 2 and 3 the country comes out and this year was the 43rd year of independence. Our school had a celebration and I got all decked out. The kids went crazy because I was wearing make up (which I never do at school). 

'Miss, too much beautiful! Do like this every day!'
     


    My parents are in the UAE for the next two weeks. Of course, I have to show them around. We spent a few days in Dubai.
     Mom and dad in front of the waterfall in Dubai Mall.


   
     My mother loved the Dubai Mall aquarium, the largest indoor aquarium in the world.



We checked out Ski Dubai

And of course went on a desert safari.  I got to ride a camel which was the highlight of the day.

    Posed with a falcon.
 More to come...









Thursday, October 30, 2014

When The Proverbial Shit Hits The Fan

   I lost it on Tuesday. I.lost.it. I got so made at that disrespectful class that I ended class early. When someone came to tell me that class wasn't finished, I said, 'No, no, I AM FINISHED'. The good kids in the class tried to apologize to me,( isn't that how it always is? The 'good' kids are saying sorry for the bad ones in the class, when in all reality the not so good ones should be saying sorry?') I told them that I didn't want to see them or speak to them. 
   The next day they tried to apologize again, I didn't want to talk to them. I guess they figured I was serious, so they went to their Arabic teacher and asked her to talk to me. She said they were really sorry and promised to be good.  So far they have been as good as they can be. I guess you have to lose (it) to win! 

Monday, October 27, 2014

The.worst.day.ever

   These little ----- are trying my nerves, so disrespectful. 

Just think about the bigger picture.  Just think about the bigger picture.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Watered Down

    Those of you that know me personally and/or have come over to work in the UAE after reading my blog know that the life I portray on the blog is watered down.  There is no question about that. Some people ask me why don't I talk more about 'the real UAE'. Here are a few reasons behind it:

1. You never know who reads these posts. I am sure someone from ADEC is in my newsfeed and I would like to keep my job.

2.   I would never want MY experience here in the UAE to detour or effect someone's decision to come here

   I apologize that the blog seems 'glammed up', but I just want to show all of you the positives that living and teaching in the UAE can bring.  There are a few posts that give you a glimpse of the 'real life', but once again I am a glass half full type of girl and spewing constant negativity would not help anyone.  I always appreciate when someone tells me that my blog has helped them.

Thank you for reading! 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Eid Holiday Part 2

     When we last left off I told you about the stunning beaches of Zanzibar.  My travel buddy and I decided to visit Stonetown, the capital of Zanzibar. Stonetown was located about an hour away from where we were staying. Before we explored Stonetown we went to Prison Island. Prison Island is a 25 minute boat ride from Stonetown.


    The funny thing is Prison Island was never actually used as a prison. It was built to be a prison, but ended up being used as a quarantine area for the Spanish Flu and yellow fever. Later, four endangered tortoises from Seychelles were brought there are a sanctuary. There are now 125 tortoises living on Prison Island.


  They write their age on their back.
   The island also holds a hotel and a restaurant. Towards the rear of the island there is a spectacular view.


Breathtaking.

We proceded back to Stonetown and received a guided tour. Stonetown is composed of a maze of alleys, littered with mosques and numerous shops in which you can bug anything from jewelry to art to clothing.


 I purchased this lovely painting to add to my world art collection:

 
   I tend to buy black and white art because I am not sure what I will have in the future and what I will have in terms of decor.  Nevertheless, when I got home and hung this piece I wish it had a little more color.
   Stonetown was the home of the last known slave market. Slaves were bought and traded to the Middle East. Where the slave market once resided there is now an Anglican Church. 



     We also explored the markets. The meat and fish markets were the most interesting. I just have to say that since I have been back I have not touched meat. The meat market traumatised me.  Cow heads, hearts, livers and cow skins, strewn all over the place disgusted me. Men had their feet proped up next to the merchandise and the flies were turning up.  

   The fish market wasn't as bad.


     All in all I loved Zanzibar and I am so happy that I had a chance to go. 

    Once again thank you for reading and please feel free to leave a comment, I would love to know who actually reads this mess. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Trip of A Lifetime! Part 1

     Last week we had a few days off because of the Islamic holiday of Eid. I decided to take myself to somewhere I have never been, but have always wanted to go: Africa! I took myself to Zanzibar, Tamzania, an island on the west of Africa with some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. 
     We left Dubai at 6 am and headed to Nairobi, Kenya where we had a 8 1/2 hour layover. We paid 20$ US for a transient visa and asked the tourist desk what we could do with our time. We settled on a trip through the Nairobi National Park. My friend and I had a nice driver and an open roof 4x4 in which we explored the vast park. We saw zebras, a lion, monkeys and giraffes.


    We headed back to the airport and then we were on our way to Zanzibar. 

   We were staying at a small resort located on Jambiani beach. The resort only had 8 bungalows. Our bungalow was stunning and had 2 bathrooms and showers! 
  Now you may need to sit down for this, but the best part of this whole thing? THE BEACH! 




No filters needed, this is what the beach looked like. Heaven on Earth.

    We spent most of the trip relaxing. One day on the beach we ran into these cuties who just wanted me to pick them up and play with them.


  So precious. 

   We also ran into some boys playing football (soccer) and they asked us of we could get them a soccer ball. So we did.

    
     This trip was so wonderful. What would any trip be without tasting the local food. Since Zanzibar is an island they are known for their fresh seafood. 

 


    Seafood pizza: fish, octopus and shrimp. Yes, it is as delicious as it looks. 

More to come tomorrow! 




Saturday, September 20, 2014

My First Emirati Wedding: A Night To Remember

    There have been a few experiences since I have been living in the UAE that have blown my mind. You may remember when I went to a student's house last year, that was one of them. Last night was the other. I went to my first Emirati wedding and met me tell you my socks were blown off.


    I was invited by a coworker to her neice's wedding. The wedding took place last Wednesday night. I know that it seems strange to have a wedding on a Wednesday night since we still had work the next day, but hey when in Rome...

    I bought this dress at the mall and it was only 100$ Canadian. I love the color, it also had beads and crystals and I thought it looked super festive and very Emirati-esque.   The wedding took place at a wedding hall and when I walked it I had to pick my jaw up of the floor.  Picture a huge hall, decorated lavishly in white and silver. There were chandeliers and long tables elaborately decorated with beautiful china and romantic center pieces with beautiful pink and white roses. On the tables there were abundant fruit platters, tabouleh, hummus and pita bread. Woman walked around with huge trays of chocolates and dates. We were offered freshly squeezed juices made from mangoes and strawberries. Tea and coffee were also available, as well as water and soft drinks. 
   Before I continue, let me say a few things. You may notice the lack of pictures, that is because none are allowed. There are also no men. Many of the women in attendance were still fully covered, but many of them were dressed very beautifully in long gowns that hugged their curvaceous coca-cola shaped bodies. Now I see what they are wearing under those abayas, woooo too sexy.   The plunging necklines were laced with exquisite gold necklaces encrusted with precious jewels of all colors. I felt like I was at the Oscars. There was a stage with a catwalk in the middle of the room. A beautiful white grand piano on the stage. 

    The food was the served, rice with goat, kabobs made of lamb and beef. Curries, pasta and more warm bread. I was so stuffed and the food just kept coming.   
    The dj turned up the music and ladies began to dance on the catwalk. My coworker pulled me by the arm and said, 'you must dance!'. I am not one to decline a chance to show my moves, so I got up on the catwalk and just copied what everyone else was doing, they loved it! 
   I was told that they loved my dancing so much, that I will be invited to another wedding in the future. 
   Finally, the bride arrived. She was dressed like a North American bride with a beautiful, full white gown. The dress was right on the top with a full ball gown skirt. The sleeves were long and sheer.  Her veil was sheer and extremely long. Her make-up was flawless and she had a young lady fix her dress and her veil as she walked and took pictures.
    She carried a bouquet of roses as someone threw fresh rose petals as she walked toward the stage. Ululations (long, wavering,high pitched vocal sound resembling a howl with trilling qualities) could be heard from all the women in the room. This is very common at weddings in Arab countries.  The bride walked along the catwalk and was adored by all. By this time it was around 11 pm and time to go home. We had one more dance and then we were off.
    I had such an amazing time and I really hope I get invited to another one. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I'm Still Here!

     First I must apologise that I have been in abstencia for so long. Life has been so busy that I haven't had a chance to write.  My friend was here from home, so between showing her around, starting school and starting grad school. There has only been time to sleep. 
     My good friend A came to visit from Montreal for eight days. We had the time of our lives.
    First went went to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world. The observer story deck is in the 124th floor. Here is the stunning view. 


Selfies from the top are always a must.

     We then went on a desert safari. Many of you may be familiar with Groupons, well they have them for Abu Dhabi and Dubai. There is also a similar site called Cobone. I bought my friend and I tickets to the desert safari throught this website. The safari was about 55$ for the both of us and we got picked up at a nearby metro station in Dubai. We drive about an hour into the desert and then we went dune bashing. This is when you take a 4x4 all terrain vehicle and drive all crazy on the sand dunes. Picture a car driving all crazy up and down the sand dunes in the desert. So much fun! 
   We then got to take a few pictures with a camel as we sat in him. 
   There was also a belly dance show and a buffet dinner. 

       They next day was my big UAE birthday brunch. I celebrated at the Saffron resaurant at the Atlantis hotel in Dubai.


Saturday we went to the Mall Of The Emirates. We did some shopping and then headed back to Al Ain.
  
     Sunday, was my first day at school. I now teacher the same girls I did last year but they are now in grade 7. The funny thing is I thought that they would change up the classes. Mix up the girls a bit. No, no, all the students  are in the EXACT SAME CLASSES as last year. So that means the behaviour problems I had with certain individuals or certain combinations of individuals are still there. One thing that has improved is my relationship with my co workers. Last year, no one talked to me in my department. I swear if I was lying dead on the ground they would have walked over my body. I guess there is a one year initiation because everyone is much nicer to me this year. They actually talk to me and ask me questions. Huge improvement from last year, huge.
   The first day was pandemonium. We had no schedules and most Arabic teachers did not know what they were teaching. 
    
     I have to give a shout out to Heidi, who just moved to Al Ain. I met her last night at a welcome event and she recognised me right away. She told me how much she loved the blog and she actually made me feel so bad that I haven't written in awhile so this post is thanks to her! Thank you for reading and good luck ok your adventure! 
     

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Interesting. Very Interesting.

     Ever since I arrived in the UAE I wondered how people recognized the women that were completely covered.  Abaya from head to toe and faces completely covered except for their eyes.   How did kids recognize their mom when all they could see were her eyes?  I in visioned a little kid running up to the wrong person after school and feeling super embarrassed.

     Well yesterday I had an epiphany and I got my answer. I was in Carrefour (which is like Walmart) and I saw a woman pushing a stroller. She was covered from head to toe.  All you could see were her eyes.  Although she was dressed like 70% of the women in the store something about her seemed surprisingly familiar.  We caught eyes and I smiled and she waved.  They I knew how I knew her, she was a teacher at my school.  Since we are an all girl school she does not cover her face while she is in the building, yet when she drives and is outside, she does.  I guess I now know how kids know who their mom is when they are out, they just do.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Year Two: Bring It On

      Last Tuesday I arrived back in the UAE.  I have mixed feelings about being back, but all in all I am happy.  I am thankful to no longer be living out of a suitcase and I love having my own space again. Nevertheless, the jetlag is killing me.  I am worried that I will never have normal sleep pattern again.  For example, yesterday I went to sleep from 3:30 pm-9:30 pm and then I was up until midnight and went back to sleep until 2 am and I have been up ever since (it is now 8 am).  Many of the other teachers are in the same boat. I hope it gets better soon because I am starting to feel sick from the lack of sleep.
     I have been keeping things low key since I have been back. I did go out and do some kareoke last Friday in Al Ain and I got to meet some if the new teachers. My low key status has also been due to the fact that I have no car. I should be getting one later today and that will give me more freedom to get around. I rent my car because I know that the rental company will take care of me if I get in an accident and the way people drive around here I am more comfortable with that.

    I am excited that I have a friend from home coming this week for 8 days.   I am slowly packing away my luggage and cleaning my place in preparation for her arrival.  I have booked us a visit to the Burj Khalifah (the tallest building in the world) as well as a desert safari.

   We started school yesterday and we are here for the week with no students.  Everyone was happy to see everyone and all the teachers were really nice and welcoming, maybe this year will be a better year than last in terms of my relationships with my coworkers, I guess that only time will tell. I will be moving up to Grade 7 with my students from last year.  I am happy about this because I will be teaching students that I already know. The down side to this is that it is a completely new Science curriculum for Grade 7, so I will be creating all the work from scratch. We re supposed to get a textbook but that may only come in December.  We got a new Math teacher and she is really nice, we are just waiting for the new English and Science teachers.


     Hope all the new and returning teachers have a wonderful year! 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Meeting Celebs At The Airport and Surprised in the Plane

     I was at the airport waiting for my plane to head back to the UAE when a dreadlocked man walked by playing some reggae. I looked closely at him and knew that he looked familiar. It was Luciano! I was 95% sure it was him because he was in Montreal for the Montreal Reggae Festival this past weekend. 
     I walked up to him and asked if he was Luciano. He said yes and I asked for a picture. He told me he was going to Europe to meet his band for the European leg of their tour.  I told him I was on my way to Dubai. He gave me his contact info  and I told him that I would ask around and see if I could get him to perform their.  He was super sweet.



    On the plane I got another surprise. In the Movie category there was a Canadian Movie section. One of my ex-students is an amazing actress and her movie was on the list so I watched it. "Rhymes for Young Ghouls" is a movie about how one Aboriginal teenager uses the ghosts of her mother and brother to help her fight the Indian Agent on the reservation.  I taught Kawannahere Jacobs in grade 9. She is extremely talented and I was so happy to have watched her in this movie. I know that she has been nominated for a few awards for this role. She is definitely a star on the rise. 


Back in the UAE! Cannot wait to see what this year bring. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Summer Vacation Part Deux


     I leave to head back to the UAE tomorrow. Bitter sweet.  I cannot believe a whole month has passed already. I am happy to say that I have seen most of the people I wanted to see. I must admit, I realized how many people I actually know because I was out to eat almost every day. Straight up detox when I go back.   But I will talk more about this after. First I would love to tell you more about my summer vacay. 
    I went to Toronto to visit my good friend from University, as well as see some of my other friends who live there.   We decided to go to the Taste of Toronto food festival.


   There were so many yummy things. My favorite was the lobster poutine.

My friend's sister had a baby while I was in the UAE. I got to meet him for the first time. He is sooooo cute!


   A few weeks ago I went to NYC with my mother. We had a great time. 


We took a hop-on-hop-off bus through Brooklyn and went to the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. It was beautiful, they had a Japanese garden with a pond. 

    We then went to see If/Then on Broadway. Idina Menzel was the star and it was fantastic.



All in all I had a wonderful vacation. 

I am happy to head back to the UAE because I miss having my own space, but I will miss all my friends and family. 

In less than two weeks one of my friends will be coming to visit and I cannot wait to show her around. 

I am also starting grad school so that is extremely exciting. 

Thank you to all the new readers! 

If you have any questions, feel free to ask. 

Have a great week!