TravellingMarc

Friday, October 27, 2006

Camping

OK... We have finished the Holy month of Ramadan. With the shortened school day, you think it's easy living, but it's not. Since Muslims are suppose to fast from sun-up to sun-down, it's illegal to eat or drink I public (removing temptation.) Its hard on the older kids, and adults who are expected to fast. Virtually nothing gets done during Ramadan. The day is compressed, so it's high paced, and energy draining. Our school was ordered by the Ministry to re-segregate classes, and abandon the coed system we had just adopted. It was frustrating. Thank goodness it's over. And to help ease our suffering, Ramadan is followed by Eid, a nice little holiday (1 week for schools and many offices.)
Many people take advantage of Eid and go travelling. I planned to stay because a friend was suppose to visit me from Korea. Unfortunately, Eunji couldn't make it, and I was left with no plans, which was basically pretty good.
What did I do... well I relaxed. Went for a picnic in town. Went camping to 3 days. Even went skinny-dipping in Oman. (And updated my blog...lol)
Eleven of us, in three vehicles, ventured to Hatta, which is part of the UAE which borders and crosses into Oman. It's a mountainous area that has little rivers, watis (naturally vegetated areas, unlike Oases which grow up around springs) and pools.
We camped for one night near one of the Hatta Pools. We did a little exploring, a little drinking, and a lot of lounging in the water. It was relaxing.



At night, because Eid is a celebration, people were setting off fireworks, and shooting pistols (not to comforting.) The most spectacular fireworks were the shooting stars that we falling all night. There is no light pollution in Hatta, and the sky as crystal clear. The sight of the cosmos made the trip worth it on it's own.
Most of us were up fairly early in the morning. It was amazing how long the days lasted. It was nice and cool, so we decided to walk down to the pool. Well, lot's of people had the same idea, so we opted to go to our more secluded, small pool. We decided it was too hot to stay there and to really explore the area and thought how nice it would be to take a shower, so we'd moved on the the beach, which was a few hour drive away.

The beach we went to was on the East coast of the UAE, near Fugirah. With no facilities on the public beach, we opted to spend the remainder of the day at a hotel beach, use the facilities, and then camp on the public beach next door. The little hotel was about 50 Dhr. each to go to ($15) but to go to the Le Meridian on the other side, would have been 300 Dhr (about $75). So we didn't use a 5 star resort, we had it as our backdrop the whole night. We also had firework shows, stunt drivers (not really, just people getting their cars/SUVs stuck in the soft sand) and the ocean to sit and watch. The wind died just before bed time, so the sleep was again, not very comfortable. Still to early in the year for camping I was told... uhmm yup. We weren't that comfortable in Fugirah. We woke up to a car full of drunk teenagers getting stuck 5 meters where we were camping. Some of us decided to get going. We rode the highways back. It hadn't been a bad day, just not as good as the first. Happy to be home, I relaxed the rest of the day away.
I'm hoping to go back to Hatta on my bike when it's a little cooler, and explore the heritage village, a few more of the pools, a waterfall and a few other sights It's quite something.

My New Home

OK, I haven't really done any really good posts in the last, oh... uhm... yeaer or so. I was lazy and complacent so not much got done on the blog front. Thanks to you, my loyal reader(s)... I'm not really sure how many of you read this anymore.

So, y'all know that I know live in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. I'm about 140km from our larger, more famous, but poorer Emirate, Dubai. I'm much happier here, knowing that Dubai has some of the slowest traffic in the world due to a growth rathe that has exceeded Calgary's, and a infrastructure plan that has matched it. The roads just can't deal with the 1.2 million inhabitants.

I live in a building we call Pioneer. As a name, Pioneer is only known to the AISA staff, because it was the first building they used to house teachers. What the real street address is, not many people know. How do we get here. IF you're in a taxi, just tell them "Mermaid building, back-side." Even though the mermaid building was torn down several years ago, we still go to it's "back-side" (cabbies don't understand "behind.") Dirrections for drivers is even sketchier... "uhm... drive down to Electra... which is 7th, or Zayed the First street, then, turn right at the Sheraton Khalidiya... turn right again... then take a left past the Mermaid Pharmacy... drive down the street, and take the 2nd last left... If you see Ghwwar Coffee, that's the building..." Seriously, that's pretty much how we have to describe it to anyone who wants to come here. Did that with the exterminator... he accidentally went to the Fahwar building a block up.
For purists, the easiest most accurate way I can tell you is, I live at N24degrees, 28.250 minutes, E054 degrees, 20.800minutes ... plug those numbers into your GPS and see how far away I am.

I work out at Abu Dhabi Health and Fitness... I've been a member for a week. Its nice , but still under construction. Apparently it was originally built to be a Royal Palace, but it was then decided that it would be better as a fitness club. It's pretty nice. Hopefully it'll help me get back in shape. I like working out there, and it's on the way home from school, so hopefully I'll use it a lot. I have goals in regard to my weight, so I'm expecting the facility to help me out.

Bike's here... not registered yet, so that's why you haven't seen any bike trip pictures. It was Ramadan, and is now Eid... I'll explain more about that later.
Cheers,

Monday, October 02, 2006

Weekend getaway...

So..this weekend a bunch of us went on a little getaway to Jebel
Dhanna resort. It's a 5 star beach resort, and we got a group rate.
Normally I wouldn't have arranged something like this for myself, but
as it was being done, and most of my new friends were going, it seemed
like a good time to go.
The resort was beautiful. There was a pool, beach, sheesha tents,
volleyball court, a gym and so on... oh ya, also stunning staff....
;-)
As it is the holy month of Ramadan, the pool-side bar was closed. It's
actually illegal to eat and drink in public this month. Resorts like
this are an exception.
We arrived later in the evening on Thursday after school let out.
Farhang (my flatmate), Kevin and I caught a ride with our director
Walter, so we left after most people. As navigator I have to take
credit for a lack of a turn that set us back about 20 minutes. I take
credit even though the instructions weren't great.
We arrived, and had a nice mellow evening.
The next day was pool/beach day. The pool is a little cooler than the
ocean, so a little more relaxing to lounge in. Several of us rented
snorkeling gear and swam out to a reef. It's great seeing fish in real
life that you would normally only see in a fish tank. It was quite the
swim, and a few people gave up when we couldn't find the reef. We were
later directed to the reef by some staff who were towing water skiers.
This time I was not navigating, so completely innocent of directional
disfunction.
After seeing the fish, we played a little volleyball, and full contact
keep-away in the pool. It's a little more complicated than keep away,
and somehow I ended up with a twisted ankle, elbow in the throat, and
really sore quads (lots of jumping, and the soreness only appeared 2
days later.) It was great.
The next day we went deep sea fishing in search of Hamour, King Fish,
and Queen fish. We caught several Queen fish, one Hamour and several
bate fish which I wound up keeping and cooking at home.
The fishing was fun, but it was 5star fishing, where we were allowed
to real in the fish, not hook it ourselves. I did manage to hook one
myself, the smallest fish of the day (smaller than my palm), and
5starred the largest catch of the day, a big queen fish. It was still
fun.
All in all, I got way too much sun over the weekend, but it was a
great time any which way.
Hope all are well. ]
Cheers,
Marc

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Update 17/09/06

Hello everyone,
I hope everything is going well with everyone. Things are good here.
Like I've said before, it's hot here. Hot enough that I don't use hot
water for showers anymore. THe water tanks for the buildings are on
the roof, so the water is the same temperature as the air outside,
just perforect for a warm shower. If I were a keener, I'd get a water
chiller to have some good cool water. The pool at Abu Dhabi health and
Fitness is cholled as well, otherwise there would be no reason to go
swimming. I can tell you that in the shallows at the beach, the ocean
is too warm to swim in.
At school, we've had some devastating news. Although we started the
school-year off as a coed school, and have been scrambling to
accomideate the new policy (granted to us in July) we have now been
ordered to resegragate out classes. To make things worse, and to show
how clueless politicians are of what we do in schools, they thought we
would be able to do in a day... we've convinced them to give us until
Ramadan. I'm guessign that I will lose at least one of the classes I'm
curently teaching, and a bunch oif students will suffer, as my grade 8
coed class is doing poetry while other classes are doing short
stories. That sucks. Oh well... we will carry on.
I get my visa today, so I can finally apply to get my licence... which
means that I will get to go and rescue my motorcycle... yeah, I can
almost taste the freedom.
Hope all are well...
Cheers

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Hot

OK, If I were you, I'd have expected me to post some pictures from Abu
Dhabi. Well, I haven't taken any. It's too hot to go for a walk, and
when I'm out and about, the last think on my mind is pausing in the
heat to take a shot. That said, it will cool down in a month or so,
and I'll start to take pictures then.
So far, I'm really liking Abu Dhabi. Yes it's hot, but I don't think
I'd mind so much if it wasn't for being in Aircon'd buildings all day.
I now understand the need for a sweater in Abu Dhabi.
Haven't started teaching yet, the kids come next week. I'll be a while
before I get use to the Sunday to Thursday work week.
Hope y'all are well. Cheers.

Monday, August 21, 2006

In Abu Dhabi

So, a new chapter begins...

I arrived in Abu Dhabi sans luggage, but I am well. I now have one
bag, and the other should be delivered to me tomorrow. There was no
explaination, but I'm assuming that the $420 tip I gave them in Seoul
to get my luggage here didn't help. Tip you ask??? Actually, when I
checked my baggage in at Incheon airport in Korea, I was told that I
would have to pay 1,400,000 won for the excess baggage (yes I was 35
kg over. ) In terms of Canadian dollars, that about $1600. The stains
in my shorts will wash out. Fortuately, the guy typed in the wrong
code as it was only suppose to be $650 (he said only.) Eventually by
creating a second carry-on, I dropped the price to $420. You ever
wonder who those dumb-asses are who get those big knives confiscated
at the security check in are? Yup, I didn't realize that tucked away
in a bag I put in the carry-on was my bvread knife, meat-fork and
chef's knife. Yup, all confiscated. There wasn't time to put them in
my luggage.
I did make it onto the plane to Manilla. where once I arrived I had a
shower in one of the lounges (best $10 I spent.)
Next, I had the bumpiest 9.5 hour flight I experienced. The first 3
hours of the flight from Manilla to Bahrain were so bumpy they
couldn't come arround with food or water. It was not a good flight at
all. Also, Gulf Air hasn't figured out the "You need
more than 30 inches of legroom for people over 6'3". I was horribly
cramped the whole time too. I won't fly Gulf Air again.
The transfer in Bahrain was quick and painless, for me, but my bags
didn't make it.
I'll got one the next day and I've been told thet the other will be
here tomorrow.
Been hanging out with my new housemate Farhang, an Iranian/American
who just graduated from Harvard. Also, we had a nice dinner last
night, and a tour of Abu Dhabi today with all the new staff. I'm
happy, as it seems like a fun group.
The weather is HOT here. I thought TnT was hot, but it has nothing on
the UAE. And those of you who said the desert cools off at night were
WRONG. 36-38 at night. I'm not complaining too much though, I will
survive.
I'm well, I hope you all are too.
Marc

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Endings...

So, today ends the Marc EFL Chapter in the book that is my life. Who
knows, there may be EFL in future chapters, but I haven't read that
far.
It was a strange good-bye at the school. I never really felt part of
the school, because I couldn't really communicate with most of the
students and teachers. That thought made me sad, because the
experience would have been much different had I been able to
communicate better. I think it's this empty kind of feeling that has
me studying Arabic right now, even though I know I probably won't need
or use it often in the UAE. If I can learn more Arabic than I know
Korean I'll be proud of myself. Maybe I'll try and learn French or
relearn German too.
Anyway, teaching here at Chung Deok Middle School has been a good
experience for me. It was a necessary step to getting an international
job. It was there at the right time. I met good people. And even
though I complain a lot, it was good for me and I'll miss it. But,
it's time to move on.
Anyway, the time has come for me to finish this log, turn off my
computer and leave this office for the final time.
we'll see you in Abu Dhabi.Take care.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Update July 2006

Sorry that I haven't updated in ages. Just haven't had a whole lot to write about. It'll be less than a month and I'll be visiting Calgary for a 2 week vacation to see firends, family and finalize cisa stuff for the UAE. It's getting really close to crunch time. I'm hoping to get the Twin fixed soon, it'll be soon that it goes to Busan to be shipped to the UAE. Having a few electrical problems, which I had hoped to fix with a new wiring harness. Problem is that several components were remopved, so I have to reinstall them. Ah... the blessings of Korean mechanics... yes there is the odd good one, just not in Yoeus, and not whereever this bike had been worked on before.
Anyway, that's my update...
Hey, I'm interested in this Al Gore movie... I think you should be too, even if you live in the Canadian land of Oil... and I'll live in the middle east... wow...