Archive for October, 2008

Masafi Wadi for a “Bush”walk

October 26, 2008

Last Friday morning, I decided to get out of Dubai and go for a hike. The weather is a little cooler now and Peter joined me. Got up early just on dawn after quite a late night.

We went up into the hills – the Hajar Mountains – that lie between Dubai and the East Coast.  There are not too many places that you can go without a 4WD that offer reasonably decent walking, views and scenery.  After about 90 minutes of driving, we arrived at Masafi Wadi, identified earlier through a birdwatcher’s website.

We started walking about 8 am.  The sun was warm and clear and not much breeze.  As we climbed up the valley, we walked either along the plains or in the wadi itself.  The wadi is the creekbed except there is no water unless it rains and then the water can scream down these creekbeds and gouge out the rocks from the floodplain.  Walking along the creekbed was lovely in the morning shielded from the sun by the high sides.  There was not much bush to speak of, a few plants in the floodplain itself and the odd shrubs in the valley.  We arrived back at the car after about 3 and a half hours and headed into Fujairah to the Hilton for lunch beside the ocean and the rolling waves.

Highights of the walk included a large gecko, someone’s farm at the top of the valley with palm trees and an irrigated garden, a few ruins of old hut foundations at the top, and a few birds, particularly lots of Long-billed Pipits on the sides of the valley.

High cliffs in Masafi Wadi

High cliffs in Masafi Wadi

A blurry gecko

A blurry gecko

Grasses in the creek bed near the top

Grasses in the creek bed near the top

Foundations of an old hut at the top of the wadi

Foundations of an old hut at the top of the wadi

Farmed creek valley in a sheltered spot - palm trees and irrigated crops

Farmed creek valley in a sheltered spot - palm trees and irrigated crops

It’s a Sign!

October 23, 2008

One of the things I believe in is looking out for signs.  Not those things on the side of the road (well I do look out for them as well to help me where I am going) but those signals which may help you in pointing to a particular direction in life.  It comes down to synchronicity – those meaningful coincidences that pop up unexpectedly. 

When I was first looking to come out to Dubai and in contract discussions, I was hungry at work and while walking back from a meeting popped in to Dimmeys as they often had cheap foodstuffs.  I spied a packet of biscuits and thought, yep, that will do nicely for an afternoon snack.  Later at work, I looked on the back of the packet of Date Biscuits and discovered they were made in the United Arab Emirates.  The first time I had ever seen imported food from the UAE (there is not much made locally here either!).  I took that as an important sign that I was meant to come over to Dubai.

Other people I have spoken to over here have made similar comments.  They looked out the window and saw an Emirates Airlines sign that they had not noticed before.  Things similar to that.

And so, I laughed when I saw this article in The Age today.  What was Colonial Stadium and then Telstra Dome will now be Etihad Stadium.  Etihad is the airline for Abu Dhabi and this may be a sign pointing in that direction. They will soon be offering direct flights to Melbourne – a bit late for me.  Or it may be a sign that I needed to tell someone else about (you know who it is!).

The Sun Still Does Not Hit the Water!

October 22, 2008

One of the things that I like is watching the sun set to signify the end of the day.  Here in Dubai it is quite noticeable that the days are getting shorter and the weather is now much cooler.  There have been many occasions over the past few months when I have gone down to the beach near here at the Marina and watch the sunset. 

With the clearer skies of late and less humidity, I thought that maybe the sun might actually get to touch the water as it sets over the Gulf of Arabia.  But alas, it still fades from view rather than dissolve into the water like back in Australia.  Here as the sun gets close to the horizon, it slowly loses shine and then fades completely into the dust layer.  What you are left with is this glow above the horizon where the sun used to be as the daytime ends.

And you can see how busy this open beach (not owned by a hotel) becomes on the weekend with so may people enjoying the balmy weather.

Barnesy – An Australian Experience in Dubai

October 20, 2008

Along with hundreds of fellow Aussies, I ventured out on Saturday night to the Intercontinental Hotel at Dubai Festival City to see Jimmy Barnes and his band. Or should I say to see Jimmy sweat, scream, sing, sweat, scream more, more sweat and even more singing/screaming.

I was a fan of Cold Chisel in the early 80’s, particularly following the release of their East album. But I had never seen them live and of course, due to their self-imposed boycott, did not get to see them on Countdown either while growing up.

The audience was typically Australian – raucous, loud (especially in singing the old Cold Chisel ballads like Khe Sanh, Choir Girl, Whent the War is Over or screaming along with the rock songs like Star Hotel and You Got Nothing I Want), beer-swilling, and fun-loving. Highlights included the guys with the mullet wigs and the blow up kangaroos (one of which ended up on stage with a stage pass around its neck), the 75 year old bald guy dancing away (or was he staggering), the Aussie humour of embellished stories (no, the bass player is not the guy who sang Spaghetti Bolognese to kids in the 1980s – Peter Combe), irreverent and fun-loving.

I am amazed that my eardrums felt OK when I left the building with no ringing – perhaps that is a sign of increased deafness and reduced sensitivity as I age! And also I am pleasantly surprised that my voice is not too husky after a bit of yelling and singing (or was that screaming like Barnesy) last night.   A wonderful night for the princely sum of only 150 Dh a ticket (about A$50).

Barnesy is in the middle with the black shirt with the guitar - bit hard with all that backlighting!

Barnesy is in the middle with the black shirt with the guitar - bit hard with all that backlighting

Of course, some Aussies brought the ubiquitous blow up kangaroo!

Of course, some Aussies brought the ubiquitous blow up kangaroo!

Friday Brunch at Al Qasr Hotel

October 17, 2008

Last Friday, I headed out with a few others to what is acknowledged as probably the best Friday brunch here in Dubai – at the Al Qasr Hotel at Madinat Jumeirah.  Dubai is renowned for its opulent shopping malls and in my opinion, Al Qasr is the pinnacle of the hotels for opulence.

The food was superb, the champagne was well-chilled and there were even a few cocktails for after dinner.  Oysters, prawns and lobster were taken, with a little roast pork and very delicious vegetables. 

The outlook from the hotel is fantastic – looking out to the Burj Al Arab.  It’s an expensive lunch (450 dirhams) but well worth it.  The collapse in the financial markets the day before had not affected the turn-out at all.  It was booked out.  Perhaps this is a bit like partying while Rome burns, or sipping cognac as the Titanic sinks?

Looking north to the Burj Al Arab from Al Qasr

Looking north to the Burj Al Arab from Al Qasr

Inside set up for Friday Brunch at Al Qasr

Inside set up for Friday Brunch at Al Qasr

No - that is not my hat!!

No - that is not my hat!!

I do not know what the pirate means either

I do not know what the pirate means either