Tuesday, May 31, 2011

[ hangover 2 in dubai ]

WE WENT TO our first movie in Dubai and decided on Hangover 2 since we thought the first one was pretty funny. Little did I know how uncomfortable we would feel watching it.

Sitting in a movie theatre surrounded by local Emirati watching this movie, in a country where you don't swear and you keep your shoulders, knees and cleavage covered, was a very awkward experience. Any exposed body parts were blacked out throughout the movie, and yet the language was so sexually explicit, it left us squirming in our seats. We both actually felt embarrassed! I'm not a prude and I've been known to drop the F bomb but the crude language was so over-the-top that I felt like an adolescent watching this with my mother, in a household where "fart" is a swear word.

I'm sure the first Hangover contained some of the same (though I don't remember it being as bad), but perhaps it was the fact that I was watching it here that made it seem so OTT. I would love to know what the locals thought of it, although I did notice that they weren't outwardly laughing their way through it. Have you seen Hangover 2?


Sunday, May 29, 2011

[ battle of the bulge ]

I'VE BEEN A bit MIA lately all due to a problem I've been having with my laptop. I've got a MacBook Pro and love it and up until now haven't had problems at all - no viruses or software issues - nothing. It's a real workhorse and I can't imagine life without it (sad, I know).

Last week it all started with a slight tingling feeling all across my keyboard and trackpad. Kind of like it was slightly charged in some way. Then gradually my trackpad stopped working and I could no longer control my cursor on the screen - it started behaving erratically and I could no longer click on anything at all. Then a few days later I noticed that my laptop was rocking a bit on the table - I thought maybe it was sitting on something making it unbalanced. Until I flipped it over.

The battery was bulging in its slot, causing the uneven surface underneath. Hmmm.... strange. So I removed the battery and upon closer examination, it was exploding inside! The metal cover could no longer contain what's inside. It was expanding like The Incredible Hulk!

Have you ever seen such a thing?! I have no idea what has made it explode like that. With the battery removed, I plugged the laptop in and the tingling was gone and my trackpad was back! I guess the pressure of the battery expanding underneath had been pushing on the trackpad, causing it to stop behaving properly.

And so now I have to try to source out a new battery somewhere here in Dubai. Although I have the Apple Care warranty, it does say that it doesn't cover batteries so I may be out of luck there. And being across the world doesn't help. But at least I can still use my laptop as long as it stays plugged in. Whew! The panic of thinking I may lose everything was putting me in a frenzy!
I'm back baby!!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

[ random observations ]

SO WE'VE been in Dubai for a couple of weeks now and I thought I'd just post some random things I've encountered while here so far.

1. Deliveries Everyone, I mean EVERYONE delivers here and there are motorbike delivery guys everywhere. I also came across this cute delivery bike outside our building for very local deliveries from this cafe.

2. Greetings When local Emirati men greet each other, if they are very close friends or relatives, they often touch noses while they shake hands.

3. Taxis The taxis are all beige but have different coloured roofs. When you look down from our apartment tower window, they look like fun toy cars.

4. Milk Fresh milk only lasts a maximum of 3 days in the fridge so don't be buying a gallon if you can't use it up in 3 days!

5. Incense Various shops in the malls sell incense and often will have an incense burner in the middle of the corridor. Me, not a huge fan - I find it migraine-inducing and strong enough to make your eyes water, therefore, unfortunately I don't visit any of the other shops in that general area either.

6. Bus stops The bus stops are pretty swanky and are air-conditioned!

7. Signage I thought these signs to the loos were the cutest!

8. Sprayers And speaking of loos, the toilet stalls all have hand sprayers in them (including in our apartment). Apparently locals are very fussy about their... ahem....cleanliness and rinse after using the facilities. I have also found out that it is customary for Muslims to wash their feet before they pray so many use these same sprayers for just that. Luckily most washrooms have an attendant and hopefully they are quick to mop up after each stall is vacated so you don't have to slosh through a puddle or soak your pant hems.

9. Foggy! Much like the way my glasses fog up going inside from the cold winter temperatures in Canada, my glasses fog up whenever I step outside in Dubai.

There you have it - a few interesting observations while getting settled into this foreign part of the world. I'm sure this is only the start of many more to come!


Saturday, May 21, 2011

[ sofa shopping ]

ONE OF the most important (and exciting) items we'll need to buy when we finally move into our place is a sofa and so we've been looking around to see what might be available around Dubai. We've had a few ideas of what style we'd like - the tricky part is finding it! Dubai is filled with all kinds of stores from all over the world but everywhere we turn, it's either Italian modern or Arab traditional (neither of which we had in mind).

I've always loved William Birch style sofas and have hoped to one day own one. And so the hunt began.

[style at home]

[ann mashburn]

After looking and looking, we ended up stopping in the new Laura Ashley store that just opened in Dubai Mall and while there was nothing like it on the floor, we flipped through their catalogue. And what did I find? MY SOFA! And it was love at first sight. :)

We chose it exactly as shown - in a beautiful natural linen with sexy dark legs. Sure, it's going to take up to 16 WEEKS (!) to arrive, and we'll have to sit on the floor or on fold up lawn chairs in the meantime, but heck, she's a beauty! 

My plan is to sew up a slipcover for it so that we'll have 2 looks in one. And after seeing this slipcovered one, I can't wait to work on it. It will feel so cool and fresh in this hot climate. I'm so excited!


[canadian house & home]

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

[ cottage chic ]

WANDERING AROUND my neighbourhood, I stumbled upon the cutest little shop along The Walk near the beach (you'd never know I was in Dubai!). Cottage Chic is one of those shops that's just oozing girly prettiness. If you love anything floral, linen, detailed and pastel, this is the shop for you! I was instantly smitten with the gorgeous settee when I walked in and instantly knew I would be in there for a while, just taking in all the gorgeous furniture, accessories and gift items.

Such a lovely place to spend some leisurely time on a hot afternoon. I love some of the pretty furniture pieces and I know I'll be back once we've found our apartment and I need want a few things.


Monday, May 16, 2011

[ scoping out neighbourhoods ]

WHILE OUR temporary Dubai apartment is ok, I'm anxious to find our more permanent residence and get settled in. And so we took to the streets on the weekend to drive around a bit and get our bearings. Working within our budget, the biggest decision is whether to opt for a semi-detached villa or an apartment. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages which we quickly figured out.

For most expats, the gated communities seem to be the most popular. Villa neighbourhoods such as Emirates Hills, Arabian Ranches, and the Green Community are a perfect place to raise a family so they are great if you have kids (we don't). Most of these communities are relatively expensive but include onsite facilities such as community swimming pools, tennis court, supermarket, and a few take-out restaurants. Some may face out onto golf courses, while others onto man-made lakes.
Pros: Fairly spacious with 2-car parking at your door and a small backyard.
Cons: The areas surrounding these neighbourhoods are a maze of construction, both with new residences and roads. Getting anywhere definitely requires a car, which is a huge consideration since they are definitely in the suburbs and quite a distance from shopping centres, etc. Not on the metro line. Not much privacy from neighbours.

[emirates hills]
[arabian ranches]
[arabian ranches]
[green community]

The other option is to go for an apartment. There are tons of them to choose from and more and more still under construction. Location is key as well as the reputation of the builder and maintenance companies as some have already acquired a bad reputation for cheap fit and finish and cutting corners on on-going maintenance. 

For most expats, the Burj Dubai, the Palm Jumeirah or Dubai Marina seem to be the most popular areas. These areas are also relatively expensive so we are limited to a 2 bedroom for our budget. So obviously, the bigger the better as the 2nd bedroom must also accommodate the drying rack for laundry (there are no dryers) and any other storage we might need.
Pros: Restaurants, shops & services are right outside your door, including the metro line. Gyms, spas, and swimming pools included in each building. Great views.
Cons: Compact in size, limited storage, underground parking for one car, no backyard - just a balcony.

[burj dubai]
[palm jumeirah]
[palm jumeirah]
[dubai marina]

So as you can see, we have a bit of decision making to do. A villa does provide more of a "home" feeling like we're used to, but an apartment provides a lot of convenience. I still haven't made up my mind. What would you choose?


Sunday, May 15, 2011

[ blogger blip ]

I'M NOT SURE what's up with Blogger but it's been giving me a lot of strange messages over the past few days. And they're all coming through in Arabic!


Friday, May 13, 2011

[ baby needs new shoes ]

SINCE I'M now in the land of hot hot hot, I definitely need to revamp my wardrobe! First stop - some new footwear! I picked up these super comfy, versatile wedges that will look great with a skirt, dress, linen pants or capris - the options are endless! I love the fact that they're not too high so they'll be great even when I'm doing a lot of walking. And these cute silver sandals can go from day to night, adding just a little hint of sparkle. What do you think?


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

[ our temporary pad ]

TODAY I'LL give you a little tour of our temporary 'hood. We decided to choose an apartment in the Dubai Marina area for the time being until we get a feel for the place and decide on where to move in more permanently.

Our building is part of the Jumeirah Beach Residences, a cluster of sand-coloured buildings that hug the beach and look out to the Persian Gulf and the Palm (the man-made palm tree-shaped island). They're all identical so finding the right one was a bit of a challenge! There is a lovely Walk area lined with palm trees with various shops, restaurants and patios which makes it a popular spot for tourists and residents alike. I love being able to pop down to pick up a smoothie or sit out for a late-night dinner alfresco. It's currently a balmy 38C (100F) during the day so it's about 9pm before you can really sit out and enjoy a dinner outdoors. Many of the patios will be empty for the summer as temperatures continue to climb.

Our apartment comes furnished and it's not really too bad (apart from a VERY firm bed and not the most cozy sofas). It makes me all the more anxious to find our own place and have our own comfy furniture.

So my first jaunt out was to track down a grocery store so we could at least have a few basics. I decided to head over to the marina area behind our building to the Dubai Marina Mall to find the Waitrose (a big British grocery store).

The Dubai Marina is a man-made marina where a central waterway was excavated from the desert and the waters of the Persian Gulf were brought in. Now residential towers line both sides, with many still being constructed. Not a far walk but definitely better to do in the morning than in the heat of the afternoon. It was a nice walk along the Promenade.

I was happy to find many of the brands we are used to. I always find the grocery shopping to be the most difficult in a foreign country but with all the expats here in Dubai, finding normal stuff is pretty easy (including Kraft mac & cheese which always brings back happy childhood memories and made me smile!)

So far so good! If grocery shopping is any indication, I think it will be easier to settle in here than I initially thought!



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