Archive for the ‘getting lost’ Category

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A trip to the beach. (Accidentally)

September 29, 2008

Kanga has this week off for the end-of-Ramadan holiday, “Eid al Fitr”, so yesterday we and a couple of her co-workers took a little trip to some of the smaller northern Emirates: Sharjah, Ajman and Umm al Quwain. We saw a few museums and other sites, many only from the outside since they were closed for the holiday. It was still a fun trip and very interesting; we will have many ideas about what we want to go back and see on future trips. One of the highlights of the day was a wrong turn we took on the way from Ajman to Umm al Quwain which took us into the area of Hamriya, an area mostly dominated by industry and shipping since it is a designated “Free Zone” of Sharjah. “Dominated” is not really a very descriptive word in this case. It is a very large area with only a few industrial compounds, but even fewer homes. However as we passed through the area of the houses we noticed that we could see the Arabian Gulf nearby, so we decided to take a look since we hadn’t seen it up close yet. (Yes, the ARABIAN Gulf, NOT the ‘Persian’ Gulf. Not on this side of it at least!)
When we rounded the block going towards the water we discovered there was a lovely public beach area, and even more lovely water bordering that. Both Kanga and I took several picture with our cameras, but they really do not do the place justice! It tremendously beautiful. That water was so blue and there were so many sea shells on the beach. I haven’t seen a beach that pretty in a very long time.
If you come visit us sometime a trip there is a big must. besides being lovely it was deserted except for us! It was a pretty out of the way place so it may be relatively unpopulated anytime of the year.
Kanga took pictures of it and of other stops on our day trip that she will share as well.
Here is the address for the web album and a few of the pictures:

http://picasaweb.google.com/pauliancastle/TheBeachAtHamriya#



(Posted by Daddybird)

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Saturday Misadventure

September 25, 2008

So, following our Friday adventure, we had an interesting Saturday. We had two missions we wanted to complete – find the quilting store to buy sewing supplies and go to Homes R Us (yes, that is what it is called) to order our bed frame. The quilting store is in Bur Dubai, the area of the city that is across the “creek” from us. Daddybird figured out what bus line would take us there and we got on the bus without too much trouble. This particular bus had display screens on the ceiling telling you what stop was next, HOWEVER, the display was off by several stops, so we exited the bus way too early. It was hot and we walked quite a ways trying to find the landmark we were seeking, then walked all the way back in case we had gone the wrong way. So, Daddybird studied the map in the bus stop shelter, which was air conditioned, thankfully. We got on another bus and were able to get within a couple blocks of our destination. We found the quilting store, which was interesting in itself. It is a small retail space. It wasn’t really designed for shoppers to come in and browse. It was clearly an Indian family business and they were set up to actually make quilts right in the shop for you, apparently. Anyway, I was successful in buying some thread, needles, seam ripper, etc.

Next we set off to figure out how to get to our next destination. After standing/sitting in the heat, watching the buses go by and being unsuccessful at flagging down a taxi, I was getting dehydrated. I suggested that we go to a shopping center I had seen as we got off the bus and get something to drink. Which we did, but since it is Ramadan and one cannot/should not drink or eat in public before sundown, we each took our drinks into the restrooms and drank them there, out of sight. Next, we ended up back at the same bus stop waiting for buses/taxis. We got on a bus that Daddybird said showed on the map as going right by our destination. It did indeed go right on by our destination at full speed. So, we ended up staying on the bus all the way to the end of the route which went out into the industrial area and the labor camps.

These pictures aren’t particularly good, but what can you do when you are in a moving bus? As you can see, it is somewhat bleak in the industrial area. Large areas of open space between industries.


The picture above was taken at the end of the bus line. There did seem to be some civilization out there, so it wasn’t like being completely stranded, but in the heat, those buildings were a very long walk away.



Here is Daddybird at the end of the bus route. There were three buses. The one we came in on. The one at the front of the line that had no driver and the hood over the engine was up, which is never a good sign. And the bus in the middle, which we were able to take back the way we came after a short wait. It took an hour to get out to the end of the line and about an hour to get back.

This is a picture of one of the labor camps. It is not a very good example, but the best I could get from a moving bus. They actually call them labor camps (for Westerners that is a loaded phrase). Employers here are required by law to provide housing for expatriate employees. There are an astronomical number of expatriate construction workers, housekeeping workers, etc. Many employers have these apartment buildings out in the boondocks and bus their workers into work. The livability of these accommodations varies greatly. Some are clearly well maintained, others are very slum-like and overcrowded. There were some where the air conditioner was missing and there was just a gaping hole where it should be. I cannot even imagine how hot it would get inside. There is clearly room for better regulation of worker accommodations. I’ve noticed a tendency here to declare that something be done without a clear delineation of what that means – like how many people to a room, building maintenance, air conditioning, etc.

I’ve heard people remark about how bad these labor camps are and I agree some are very bad. But, I also think what American employer would provide housing and transportation for manual laborers?

So, Daddybird and I seem to be bad tourists, or maybe just accidental tourists who get on the wrong bus and see things 99.99% of tourists don’t see. It’s not a bad way to go, I think. (By the way, our adventure cost us 2 bus fares each which is about $1.10 each. We’re not only accidental tourists, but cheap ones, too. Just try to find a 2 hour tour for $2.20.)

P.S. We did make it to the store eventually and ordered our bed frame which is now in place and beautiful.

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Directions and Corrections

September 5, 2008

Well it turns out that buildings in Dubai will be getting street addresses! The Roads and Transport Autority (RTA) announced that a pilot program is underway to assign addresses to all building and roadways That will- hopefully- make it easier to find your destination, get deliveries and, most importantly, tell your taxi driver where you want to go!
It will, however, take away the satisfaction feels when successfully having managed to get the taxi driver to understand where you want to go without an address!
We don’t know yet how well this will work and how quickly they can implement it, but they are pretty good at getting things done here and improving things when necessary so I expect it won’t take too long.

In related news in my previous post titled “Where are we??” I included a map with some notes on it. One of the note stated that I didn’t think that the numbers given to the side streets were official. It turns out they are official. And there are even street sign to prove it!
Still, I don’t know who uses these to refer to the streets or to give directions. My only guess about them, besides being a bureaucratic reference, is that they may be used by emergency personnel. Perhaps they will be used in the upcoming addressing system. With the streets named, or at least numbered, all that has to be done is to give the buildings their own numbers. One problem with that is that it’s not obvious that the street number assignments is unique, that is, there may be a “4th street” in more than one area of town, which will require that the district name still be used to distinguish which 4th street you’re referring to. But that’s not a big problem, and it’s still easier than verbally guided navigation by landmarks.

If a lot less satisfying.