Saturday, April 16, 2011

New experiences

Our trip to Abu Dhabi provided lots of new experiences and visiting the mosque was one of the first.
I was required to wear the womens arabic dress called an abaya, which was surprisingly cool and very comfortable to be allowed to explore the mosque.  It was funny as Pete could not find me in the full garb as there were about 50 tourists all looking the same.  The architecture and design was amazing and the mere size of the mosque certainly made your realise your own place in the universe.
Pete was frantically taking photos of mosaics, gold platting, and the ceiling panels and inscriptions were very unique.

We also visited Ferrari World (Pete's choice of course) and pretended we were kids were the day, Pete went on the fastest rollercoaster and I just watched in horror and disbelief as it poured smoke and steam out the back as it raced away.  He came back totally overcome with adrenalin and thought I might like to join him for another ride - certainly not - it goes as fast as a formula one racing car.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Did I say high?

Pete was particularly excited about the Burj Kalefa which is the tallest building in the world, standing over 200 stories in a landscape of giants.  For me there was not quite as much excitement as apprehension, but as I tell children every day to face their challenges and grow their learning, how could I possibly refuse this challenge.  A magnificient structure standing tall and strong on the horizon so I stood and contemplated my next adventure, it helped knowing that Sue Allen had been up the tower and had told me a little about it.
Thanks Sue I really enjoyed the whole experience and a little bit of pre knowing helped me conquer my fear and do it anyway.  Pete was having a ball as we sped from the ground to 120th level in 1 minute and of course was keen to lean right out to get the best view.  My approach was more a looking out into the distance view, but still gave an amazing sense of height and the world below us.  Very cool, loved it and was pretty pleased with my endeavour to do it anyway.

So what was my problem with heights, these are the window cleaners on the Burj Kalefa, it is a fulltime job almost and you would have to wonder what they get paid in danger money.

Proof I got there.
My view looking outward.

Pete's view over the edge of the viewing platform.

The Burj Kalefa is beside the Dubai Mall which is massive and has the largest indoor aquarium with some very large fish.  Pete contemplated a dive in the tank but after the beautiful waters of Durville Island he decided not too.
There were some quite convincing fish in the tank and many of the varieties that we see in NZ.

We also had an opportunity to visit the indoor zoo in the mall and check out the jungle environment and some interesting creatures.

Looks a bit like me lazing by the pool, but I did get a chance to check out the jungle.

Dubai Mall was about 6 levels with a theme running through the layers with children's stuff on 1 layer and then clothing on another layer and so it goes.

There was also a massive ski field in the middle of the mall, which was large in size and we could see it from within the mall, with children and adults enjoying the ski slopes and ski challenges.  Only Dubai can do it this big.  If you think you have seen anything amazing Dubai do it tenfold.

Not to mention the gold souk - where gold and diamonds are very impressive.

Dubai here we come.....

Just a little different in size and the houses are pretty similar.... what was I thinking!
Dubai was truly an eye opener for me that there is life outside NZ and that futuristic cities do exist, it was exciting to see technology, architecture and a man made world developing before our eyes.
Our trip started off with a bit of entertainment, as we took a taxi from Al Ain to Dubai which is like Nelson to golden bay - 1 1/2 hrs and it cost us 300 dirham - not bad we thought.  Our taxi ride was not uneventful as the taxi driver annoyed another driver by pulling into the fast traffic lane with little warning and he was rather angry about it all. He chased us down the 5 lane highway for 10 minutes, trying to ram us off the road and hurling abuse, then finally he forced us to pull over, there were several loud discussions between the two drivers and the police were called.  In my innocence I thought we could possibly all be thrown in jail, but luckily the police told them to sort it out as there was no accident.  So we finally got on our way again.  High adventure for me as my imagination had run amuck for sure.
I was very impressed with our hotel and our room on the 17th floor, which welcomes us in as opened the door, the view was pretty impressive too.  Check it out.
Puts life in perspective really, and our minute existence as you are surrounded by massive skyscrapers and 5 lane highways which are multi layered but also beautifully constructed with unique pillars supporting each structure.

The 8th floor had a very impressive roof top swimming pool and we a couple of early morning swims, followed by breakfast on that floor.

Our adventures were just about to begin, have to say that Nelson to Dubai was quite a mind shift and it took me a few hours to ground myself and not feel overwhelmed but wowed!  I think I might be conquering my fear of heights after this trip.

Some more interesting photos of the bird show at the Al Ain zoo.

Birds swooped over our heads as they flew from one handler to another. 

The eagle picked up a rock to smash the egg before devouring the contents.  

The vulcar looked rather comical as he followed the handler waiting for his food reward.

The silent owl flew over our head without a sound, and then flew back as silently as he had arrived.

 The falcon looked majestic as it stood on the handlers arm, looking around for food every minute of the day.

These are all birds that we would not see flying free in NZ.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Animals of different kinds.

I was interested to see what sort of animals were in the Al Ain zoo and we had heard that they had a bird show on at night with wild birds that we may not otherwise see, as there is not alot of bird life in the very dry hot desert land of the UAE.  So off to the Al Ain zoo we went and we discovered a very well though out zoo that provided high standard enclosures and up close views for visitors.
There were a number of different species of hyenas, and they were very protective of their families inside their enclosures which mimiced their natural environment.  (Related to dogs but with much larger teeth and not friendly at all).

The flamingos were having a great time gaggling at each other, dancing and prancing all in time, they were like a group of kindergarten children all with alot to say.  A pink bird yeah!

We stayed until the night time so that we could watch the bird show.
The bird show was very impressive with a close up and personal experience as the falcons, owls, and hawks swooped across the tops of our heads, just clipping Pete's glasses on one occasion.  The wing span of the falcon was very impressive and they could fly within inches of the ground to catch their prey.

The vulcars were funny as they lopped across the ground towards their food and their faces and beaks were very real up close and personal.  It is understandable that they have a number of trainers on hand.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A child's world

It has been fascinating to the shopping malls and see what is available for children here and the range of clothes and accessories.  I could never have imagined malls so big, so glitsy or so busy.  The first mall in Al Ain we visited was a child's paradise, I could imagine us bringing our kindergarten children to an experience they would never forget.  A very different one from probably what I believe children should have but if we were to ask the children I am sure this would be their choice.  So check it out.

It took a while I know!

My great intentions to get my blog adventures have taken some time as life in the UAE is quite different and it has taken me a while to settle in and of course I have not computer so that makes it tricky too.
After 27 hours travel we finally arrived in Dubai, and we fumbled our way through the International Airport, I was hoping to stretch my legs after the long trip and the walk from the plane and through customs was like a mini marathon.  This was probably our first experience of another culture, not understanding the language and not being able to find any signs that pointed us in the right direction, but we got there in the end.  Dan was there to great us and we set off for Al Ain, highly excited that we were soon to see our reward, Sara and Milan at home.  The ride on the 5 lane highway distracted my thoughts for a while as we speed along at 120-140 with cars crossing lanes, no indication and cars passing us as if we were standing still.  Pete was somewhat distracted by the Mercedes, Lexus and BMW's, can't really say I noticed them.
We arrived at Sara's new house, which is huge and is surrounded by large fences and bars on the windows, it is rather beautiful inside with huge rooms and entrances, hallways and bathrooms attached to each bedroom.
Sara and Milan were waiting at the house, so after 29 hours travelling we finally got our reward and a wide eyed little button checked us out with quiet intent.  Sara looks fabulous and is a gorgeous mum, which I knew she would be.
Milan was born at 35 weeks but was a healthy 2.380kgs and now at her due date she is 3.4kg, so all is well.  It has been very interesting watching her grow and noticing how she has changed now she has reached her due date.
I am loving being Nana and Mum.