2009 in Retrospective

July 3, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

beautiful beach with rocks, sand, and clear water

We revisited Al Hamriyah Free Zone beach which is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, or at least it was in 2009. We haven’t been back in a while so can’t be sure it hasn’t been “developed.”

foot covered with broken shells

The sand isn’t sand. It is pulverized shells.

yellow caution sign that says temporary road layout ahead

This “temporary” sign was solidly set in concrete on the east side of the Dubai Mall construction site. It did eventually disappear. The parking lots of the mall are so horrible, that they are once again under construction. The spiral ramp to the fashion parking (one of the few easy ways to get in) has been completely ripped out, apparently, to make way for an opera house.

bird nest made from two palm fronds woven together

I discovered that house wrens are crafty little nest builders who weave palm branches together.

bus bench in the middle of a construction area

This is one of my favorite photos and is iconic of Dubai 2009. There was construction everywhere. This site is now the landing of a much needed and heavily used flyover. Why they left that bus bench sitting out there, I have no idea.

caution sign with only an exclamation point on it

Another Dubai icon, the exclamation mark caution sign.

flat bread, chicken, tomato, cucumber, rice


We discovered the joys of walking into back street eateries. Great food, very cheap.

plastic cowboy toy packaging

Our collection of crazy battery operated toys began. We are now redistributing these to lucky friends.

wooden boats used as taxis

We went for our first abra ride on Dubai Creek.

recreation of a village store

We went to the Dubai Museum (which is more of a time capsule than a museum).

modular building in a sand lot which houses a fish restaurant

We discovered Bu Qtair. The restaurant has received a fair amount of publicity over the years. Even Anthony Bourdain has eaten there. The notoriety has increased business and they built onto the modular building, but people still eat great fried fish while sitting on plastic chairs at plastic tables in the dark. Long may Bu Qtair survive! We will miss our tradition of eating here on New Year’s Eve and then watching the fireworks at Burj Al Arab.

We discovered other important restaurants this year – Bait Al Baghdadi on Al Muteena Street and Special Ostadi on Al Mussalla Road.

man at the Globe Theatre

During the summer, we went on a long, exhausting trip that included a week in London, several weeks in the States and ended with a week in Wales. In the process, we attended seven plays including a Shakespearean play at the Globe and Waiting for Godot starring Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. While in Wales, we also saw the Banksy exhibit in Bristol. A pretty amazing summer.

a white kitten and a tabby kitten eating

We rescued two kittens from the streets of Dubai. Oliver was first and he turned out to be so high maintenance, that we added Bert in hopes that they could entertain each other. Thankfully, Oliver has mellowed with age and Bert has proved to be amazingly patient.

men wrestling in a sand lot

We discovered the kushti wrestling that takes place near the fish market on Fridays.


For the first time, we had dinner with friends at Bu Qtair and watched the fireworks display on the beach.

man with a long beard

And DaddyBird’s beard got longer.




2008 in Retrospective

July 2, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

Before leaving the United Arab Emirates, I thought it might be appropriate to take a look back at our six years here, beginning with 2008.

This is what we looked like before getting on the plane to launch into our adventure. We felt as fuzzy as we look.

man and woman very unfocused picture

DaddyBird’s shirt says “the sun is trying to kill me.” This has been true for six years.

This is what the street outside our apartment looked like.

deep excavation in a city street for the metro train

We traveled to Germany in early December and reveled in the rain and cold weather.

brick paved street in Heidelberg

We took a day trip to Hatta.

stone hills behind a town of white houses

This is what Sheikh Zayed Road looked like.

highway between two rows of skyscrapers

Much has changed since then. Two lines of the metro are finished and heavily used. It is much easier to get around Dubai because of it. Sheikh Zayed Road is no longer just two rows of skyscrapers surrounded by sand.


Filipino Dining

June 28, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

lumpia rolls and beef caldereta

Having seen a picture of lumpia on a friends Facebook page, I developed a craving. We visited Salu Salo, one of our favorite Fujairah restaurants. We also had beef caldereta and bicol express. So yummy.

bowl of beef and coconut milk stew

And shrimp dumplings

plate of shrimp dumplings

Our other favorite Filipino restaurant recently was closed for remodeling and the sign said it would reopen under new management. We weren’t sure what the new restaurant would offer.

new restaurant sign

Happily, the menu is the same and apparently the chef is too. Very good.

plates of food

Steak, pinakbet, fresh lumpia, and orange chicken.


Busy Weekend

June 17, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

Friday morning plans included an early (8:30 am) morning breakfast get together with friends at a new restaurant in Dubai. The plans did not include not being able to get out of our parking garage because a trench had been dug across the entrance/exit. Only one way in and out and we were not getting out. This resulted in a switch to taking a taxi.

plate of eggs, sausage patties, potatoes, and a biscuit

The food was good, but the customer service was very bad, so I’ll leave out the name of the restaurant. The company of friends was wonderful as always.

Having traveled by taxi and having doctor appointments at 4 pm, we had a whole day to kill. So we spent most of it at Dubai Mall.

dinosaur exhibit

We checked out the new dinosaur exhibit in the grand atrium. There was a contest to name it and the winner was “Dubai Dino.” Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it required a contest to come up with that. It has a ridiculously small head.

dinosaur exhibit

Then we traveled by the metro to Health Care City.

view out the train window

Dinner (or a really late lunch) at Circle Cafe followed.

plate of chicken, sweet potato fries

Then we had a bit of an adventure getting onto the Dubai-Fujairah bus. We missed one departure, but managed to catch the next one. It was a long day.

Saturday was a bit simpler since we could drive our own car. We met friends for dinner at our favorite restaurant, Aroos Damascus. We stuffed ourselves with marvelous food.

bowl of fresh vegetables

Aside from the fantastic fresh baked bread and delicious meats, my favorite thing is the complimentary bowl of fresh veggies.

The conversation turned to fish – salmon, tuna, etc., – so it didn’t seem out of place when our friend Rami said “What’s the best tuna?” After a brief pause, Daddybird and I simultaneously said “Chicken of the Sea.” This was met with laughter. Apparently, that was the answer Rami was looking for. He has asked it in many situations, but we were the first to answer correctly. He had been watching an “Apprentice” show where the task was to update the Chicken of the Sea ad campaign and he had never heard of it before. He found the idea of chicken of the sea funny. (http://youtu.be/NKnxQC79Cww)

Over the years we have collected (on purpose) ridiculous toys. Now that we have to move and are trying to reduce what we take with us as much as possible, we have solved this by giving the toys away at our farewell parties. It’s been fun, even for the recipients.

two boxed toys, lion and funny cock

Birds of a Feather

Interest Chicken and Lion


Weekend in Muscat

June 9, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

stone fort on top of a hill

For the last six years, whenever we discussed vacation destinations Oman came up, but was always sidelined for other destinations. We are leaving the Middle East in less than two months, so we arranged to take a quick weekend trip before it is too late.

ornate gate

We had a bit of rough start when we missed our Thursday evening flight and had to opt for Friday morning instead. Once we got there, we took a walk through the souk (market). Since we were on a tight schedule, we took the Big Red Bus tour.

lamb in paper thin flat bread with fries

In the evening we had a mini food tour, beginning with shuwa sandwiches at Shuwa Express followed by a traditional meal at Bin Ateeq. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived, they were out of shuwa, so we couldn’t compare.

On Saturday, we went to the Bayt Al Baranda museum. After finishing at the museum we opted to walk to the souk by way of the back alleys.

narrow paved alley

Before heading to the airport, we had a late lunch at Ubhar Restaurant. The food was quite lovely. My steak was delicious as was the frankincense ice cream.

The Omani people were very friendly and helpful. Even walking through and shopping in the souk was a pleasant experience.

Taxis are not metered, so one has to negotiate the price before getting in. One fellow didn’t think our offer was enough, but he accepted it anyway.

All in all, it was a pleasant experience which we should have done earlier and for more than just two days. To see all the pictures, click here.


Fujairah Food and History Tour

May 31, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

First a word of explanation, at the end of July our residency in the United Arab Emirates will come to an end. We are moving to Shanghai, China. A new job and a new cultural adventure await us. This is why the blog posts have been few and far between lately. First I was spending a lot of time job hunting and now we are spending a lot of time with the paperwork and errands involved in extracting ourselves from one country and moving into another. It is time consuming.

We are also having as many farewell get togethers as we can. Today was  number three, a Fujairah food and history tour.

cone shaped crisp flat bread

We began with breakfast at Saffron, a vegetarian Indian restaurant at the Perfume Roundabout. This is ghee roast dosa. We also had idly, vada, poori baji, and tea. Well, some of us had tea. Those who arrived late were shocked to hear the waiter say that they were out of tea. What Indian restaurant runs out of tea?

a restored 300 year old fort

Next was a quick stop at Fujairah Fort. The high temperature today was 99F/38C, so it was a bit unpleasant to be getting out of the car.

mountains in the distance, flat desert area in the foreground, two people walking

We drove up Wadi Mahdab to see a couple of archeological sites – copper smelting area and old irrigation trough. Again, it was blazing hot, so we didn’t dilly dally.

goats nibbling on a tree

We then drove to Gizemri and Wadi Sahm to take brief looks at various archeological sites and goats.

table filled with dishes of food

Lunch at Oriental Restaurant, in which we stuffed ourselves with wonderful food.

empty plate

Easy come, easy go.

two bulls butting heads

We finished with the bull butting competition.

A lovely day with good food and good friends.

To see all the pictures, click here.


Marine Fossils in the Desert

May 23, 2014

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

fossilized shell cross section that looks like a target

Back in March, we went on a field trip organized by the local Emirates Natural History Group. The destination was referred to a Gastropod Gulch and has also been called Donkey Fox Wadi. I don’t think either of these appellations are official or will help anyone find it on a map. It is not too far from Hatta and requires passing through an Omani border.

hand holding a large shell fossil

The ground is littered with marine fossils. If you climb up the hill a bit and go around a corner, you will be rewarded with an amazing sight. There is a thick layer (about a meter thick) of fossilized sea shells from the Cretaceous age.

layer of fossilized shells approximately a meter thick

Next to my foot is a mussel shell, approximately women’s size 10.

human foot next to a muscle shell fossil the same size

I’m including this picture just because I really like it.

weathered rock formation

To see all the photos, click here.


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