Archive for April, 2008

Cars of a feather flock together

April 30, 2008

A while ago I was parking my car at one of the car parks in a nearby Mall – probably Mall of the Emirates from memory. 

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I was intrigued that my car, Yuri the Yaris, was parked amongst the smaller less fuel-guzzling cars and in a nearby aisle was this row of square tanks.  Now bear in mind that the size of each car park space is the same.  A mathematical possibility for sure that this could occur but I think there is something more psychological going on.  Certainly as a small car driver I would prefer to park amongst my own kind than with these behemoths as I am less likely to see my car get scratched, scraped or squashed.   Particularly by those Yellow Hummers you can see in that photo!

Next time you go to a car park, see if this is random or if there is some flocking behaviour occurring!

Traffic Cameras in the UAE

April 29, 2008

My father, the observant one, noticed a traffic camera in a recent photo that I displayed from my trip to Abu Dhabi.  Shame that no-one from the Department of Justice noticed it first!!  Can you spot the red light camera?  Click on the photo to make it bigger.

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There are many speed cameras around the place and just the odd red light camera.  Speed cameras are on many of the freeways but it is a bit hard to hide them when there is not much vegetation around.  They tend to be located on the far left (fastest) lane to catch the cars that speed along (and do they speed!!).  Maximum is 120 km/hr which is just fine for Yuri the Yaris.  Cars here are fitted with a beeper and warning light that warns you when you start to go over this speed (although it stops after a few seconds which sort of defeats the purpose).  Many cars miss the speed cameras by speeding in the far right lanes and weave in and out of the slower moving cars and trucks.  It seems at times that the country has been brought up on people playing PS2 games but if you learn to drift like everyone else and keep a heightened state of awareness and keep out of the fast lane, it’s generally easy driving around the place. 

Being a pedestrian and crossing the road is another matter entirely – look left, right, left, right, straight ahead, backwards, up, down then left and right to be sure – go quick and cross fingers that you did not miss anything. 

A quick catch-up on news

April 27, 2008

Just a few news stories from the last couple of days:

Yesterday morning I headed off to Al Safa Park to have a look around while there were no people.  Very pleasant walking around but not too many birds although I did get to spend a good 3/4 an hour trying to identify some Pipits.  Tree Pipits – and there are about 6 different species which look very similar.

Drove off to Ras Al Khor wetland sanctuary where the flamingos were in their usual corner miles away from the hides, but there were two lovely majestic introduced Grey-crowned Cranes that had flown in from a nearby palace for a second breakfast.

Went back via Mall of the Emirates for some shopping and to buy some little things to take home for the kids.  Not much as I want them to spend some time here shopping for themselves.

Home for some work, catching up with people on Skype (love that software), and some swims (in ocean and also the pool which is now a delightful cool temperature).

This morning I went for a run along the beach – really pleasant but felt a bit warm by the time I got back even though it was only 7.15 in the morning.  Took a couple of hours to really cool down but at least it got my metabolism up for a while.  And it was quite glary out on the balcony looking into the sun – I was actually coming off my jogger’s high …

And disaster struck today.  My beloved sunglasses of the past 5 years (I think I spent 10 dollars on them) decided to snap today.  I did not even sit on them – just putting them on my head at lunch time and they gave up the ghost.  R.I P.

And the movie that has come on the TV is Deja Vu – it looks familiar for some strange reason…

First Trip to Abu Dhabi

April 25, 2008

Last night was a work social function at the Radisson which ended up being a fairly late night with Peter and Shaheen talking about risk.  Dinner was the beer nuts (and the beer of course).  So today I woke a little later (no Anzac Day dawn service for me) and decided to head off on my now traditional Friday drive to explore the UAE.  Today I went the one direction that I had not yet taken – west towards Abu Dhabi.

First stop was the Jebel Ali resort and golf course but unfortunately access was denied unless I had a tee off time or going to a function.  So I walked around outside in the neighbouring dunes to see what was around and flushed a nice group of 10 Chestnut-bellied Sand-Grouse – a really unusual type of bird that I had not come across before.  Getting pretty warm by 10 am so headed down to the Jebel Ali public beach which was full of people playing with their jet skis (enough said).

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Headed west a bit further and came through to Ghantoot and the Al Jazira Resort (there are so many things Al Jazira here including three cable TV channels).  A nice Whinchat at Ghantoot and Isabelline Shrike at the resort.  The resort was stuck out in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by water but not my idea of a place for a holiday.

25042008-from-al-jazira-resort  25042008-at-120kmhThat’s me driving at 120km/h

It was about midday so decided to head off to Abu Dhabi.  Abu Dhabi is about 120 km from Dubai and is on an island – bit like Manhattan.  Spotted some waders down the east coast mangroves (a beautiful Grey Plover in full breeding plumage) before heading to one of the malls for a loo stop and some lunch.  Headed over to the far side on the breakwater to check out the heritage village which displays in a series of shops and markets, what people did in the olden days (bit like Sovereign Hill on a smaller scale).  Managed to control myself and buy nothing at the market!!  Some nice views looking back towards Abu Dhabi. 

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Last loo stop at the Marina Mall (yet another grandiose mall) before ducking into the Mashrif Palace gardens (nothing new here tonight) before driving home up the “road of death”…

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Camels on beauty parade

April 23, 2008

I’ve had a post that I was going to write about the recent purchase by Dubai’s crown prince of a camel for a record $A2.9 million during a desert festival in the emirate of Abu Dhabi – just down the road from here.  But yesterday, Kim Sbarcea got in first and wrote a long and entertaining post about this event and she seemed perplexed that someone could pay so much for an animal at a camel beauty pageant.

Well as the adage goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  The camels that I have seen here are indeed beautiful – long legs, wonderful skin, gorgeous long eyelashes, shapely lips – but the wild ones are quite wary and of course, as with most things of base animal attraction (especially of the female variety), they can spit and bite if you get too close!

This beauty parade featured 10,000 (or maybe 17,000 depending on which article you read) of these ships of the desert with prizemoney totalling 35 million dirhams (about 10 million Aussie dollars) and they throw in 100 cars as well. 

It’s all part of preserving the cultural heritage of the UAE.  Only a couple of generations ago, where I sit now in the middle of a busy metropolis was a sandy desert with just a few goat and camel herders. 

The price that they are paying for these animals clearly shows why I don’t see camel on the menu anywhere in any of the restaurants around here!  On the back country roads, you have to be very careful not to hit a camel, not the least of the damage that it could do to your car but also the amount that you would have to pay to the owner of the camel in recompense.

what beauty!