Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Quest for Sunday Roast and a Beer

Pork is bad...m'kay:
So the UAE is a strictly Islamic country right? But everything is available for a price if one is to ask the right people... Take Pork for instance. Strictly banned (Haram) under Muslim law but walk into any Spinneys or Waitrose (UK supermarkets) in Dubai, ask for the "Pork Room" and you can go into a separate room stocking all pork products.
Now this Pork Room often has some strange items in it (Pop Tarts and Marshmallows spring to mind..) but the argument is that some pork bypass products are used in their production. Marshmallows? Really? Think I preferred not knowing that kind of info.

**** Disclaimer****
In the event that you are the police or Immigration, the below story is a work of fiction. Okay... carry on.

The Barracuda Run:
So just like Pork can be obtained in this land of contradictions, so can alcohol. I think I have mentioned here before how one must get a license, involving getting a No Objection letter from the employer, permission from husband etc etc...

Well let's just say (hypothetically of course) you haven't gotten around to getting your license yet. There exists a little place in the middle of the freaking desert(!!!) called The Barracuda. One drives for an hour and a half out of Dubai through the desert on a road called E311. "When you see a big rusted looking warehouse and a Russian IL76aircraft smashed into the side of the road you have found it." (These were the exact directions I was given!)

The outside looks like the aforementioned shed. Then pass the stacked shopping trolleys at the entrance and one could be mistaken for thinking they were at a Liquor Barn anywhere in Australia.

It was massive!!

And the prices?? Oh.My.God!

I bought (with cash of course... you don't want to use a UAE credit card here trust me) for under $90 AUD:
1. 1 litre of Absolut Vodka Mango
2. 700ml Johnny Walker Red Scotch
3. Oyster Bay Sauv Blanc
4. some other French red
5. carton of Heineken
6. carton of Budweiser

So far so good... now to get it back into Dubai without getting arrested. This involved us wrapping the alcohol in towels and hiding in the wheel hold (empty) of my.. I mean this fictitious person's SUV.

A few photos:

The road to the Barra:

The inside of the 'warehouse' taken sneakily with iPhone:

A few choice items for sale:

In addition the famous Barracuda Run (which is what expat commonly call their trip out there), there is also the Barracuda Bandit. This is scary if you believe everything you read on the internet ;)

In order to get from Umm al-Quwain (several Emirates over) back to Dubai, one must pass through Sharjah. Sharjah is like the Saudi of the UAE: they are still living in the past (actually it's still 1434 there.  Yes, I'm serious) and they tolerate very little. ie no alcohol. The E311 passes through Sharjah for about 4km or so. Many people returning from a Barracuda Run have fallen victim to a scammer nicknamed the Barracuda Bandit. Basically these are two local men driving a very expensive and high powered 7 Series BMW (white in colour) that gets tipped off from staff at the Barra as to how is carrying what. They tailgate the car down the E311 once it enters Sharjah and clips them causing a minor accident. Once they pull over, the local man will offer to not call the police but ask that the driver escort him to the ATM and give him 10,000AED (about $3000). Most will do this as the punishment for carrying alcohol in Sharjah is prison and deportation.

The way around this is to call the Bandits bluff (especially if there is no alcohol visible) or avoid Sharjah completely by exiting E311 and going via another road. Another theory is to tip the guy that carries your alcohol to the car well (as it is suspected that he is the one on cahoots with the Bandit)

This of course could well be Dubai Urban Legend as everyone knows 'someones friend' that was scammed, but no one knows someone directly themselves. So who knows!

But for us on this particular adventure, all is well that ends well!

We made it home, breathed a sigh of relief and toasted each other as official Dubai Expats and possible criminals. We enjoyed a fabulous pork roast the other night complete with crackling and gravy.

It was delicious!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Night in Doha, Qatar

Last week Alex and I decided to go out for lunch- destination unknown. As we drove roughly north heading towards Ras al Khaimah, we drove past Dubai Terminal 2- the budget airline terminal of the Middle East. Wouldn't it be fun, we joked, to go into the airport and get a ticket on whatever is showing first on the departure board?

As Kabul, Afghanistan was the next flight out, we decided we could fudge the rules of the game a bit and take the second on the list- Doha, Qatar. Quick line up at the FlyDubai counter, phone call home to the nanny to say we won't be home for dinner and another call to work to book us a hotel and we were off!!

Here are a few photos of the 12 hours we spent away:

The downtown area

The old town

Loads of things for sale ranging from the bizare to the even more bizare:

Then there are little men to help carry your purchases on their wheelbarrows

and finally... sorry, but couldn't resist taking this photo to further the Wests view and ignorance of the East :lol: :lol:

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My Pet Peeve at the Hairdressers..

No- it isn't the outrageous cost (although the price for a cut and colour and blow dry is on par with the GDP of a small African nation) but with the hair washer.

The young girl (for they are almost always young and female) assigned to do the wash and condition of your hair has clearly been trained poorly in ESP or.. quite frankly, common sense.

I will set the scene for you: after two (child free) hours at the salon being painted and cut and prodded and quite possibly waxed, you get sent over to the basin for the final wash and condition. Wash goes well- then the part of the whole ordeal you have been anticipating most- the conditioning treatment with the scalp massage. Ahhhh bliss!! Well Bliss for about two nanoseconds before the apprentice hair dresser opens her mouth:

Her: SO... anything planned for the weekend

Me: hmmph (thinking: shut up!)

Her: going clubbing or anything like that?

Me: hmmmph (thinking: last time I went 'clubbing' was circa 1991 and even then I didn't call it that. Please for the love of god shut up!)

Her: I am using a new conditioner today especially formulated for dry scalp

Me: please, please be quiet

Her: Pardon? I couldn't hear you over the music? I just LOVE this song! Last night, my girlfriends and I were singing to it REALLY loudly, and it was SO funny and then.....
Me: ARGH!!!
Seriously- any wannabe hairdressers out there take note. Be quiet during the head massage.
It may prevent me from clubbing you over the head with the nearest GHD

That is all......

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My latest Love is hard, red and metal...

and cooks.

Sounds perfect right? Well if it cleaned, then I swear I would marry it too. I am of course talking about my new shiny Empire Red Kitchen Aid.

Since going on maternity leave (and watching way too many episodes of Master Chef, Iron Chef and Ready, Steady, Cook) I have decided to give this cooking lark a red hot go. And what better appliance to attempt this with than my Kitchen Aid. To my husband and oldest sons delight, I have been whipping up such delights at the Salmon Terrine, Scones, Muesli Bars, Cakes and other treats. In fact, I find myself searching for recipes that will let me utilise the dough hook and whisking thingo.

Whilst I think I am still a good Apple and Rhubarb pie away from competing in Master Chef (by the way- what was with Lucas' Apple pie effort? seriously dude... ) I am well on my way to providing some lovely home cooked meals for my brood.

And they love what I am producing so that is all that matters!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

15 Things

Inspired by Blogthis here are 15 (somewhat boring) facts about me:

1. I have two middle names
2. I went to university in the US and it was fabulous
3. I was part of a sorority whilst at college and it is *just* like the movies
4. I can never sit with my back to a doorway. Clearly I was a mafia boss in a past life
(just on that- why is everyone someone famous in a past life? No boring line managers at Telstra or deli staff at the Woolworth's- always Civil War heroes or Mafia godfathers)
5. I would love to be a great singer or be super creative. Sadly I am neither
6. I have a secret love of trashy reality TV
7. I cannot put a paddle pop stick in my mouth. I actually throw out the last part of the ice cream rather than have that wood touch my tongue.
8. I have a benign brain tumor- have had it for 14 years
9. I own more than 120 pairs of shoes (but have only two feet)
10. I have never been to Stradbroke Island but have been all over the world.
11. I sometimes forget which side of the road to drive on late at night or if I am tired. I revert back to where I learnt to drive (ie the US)
12. An essential in my bag when I go out is a pair of flip flops. I am the envy of every other girl standing in that cab line, drunk, late at night with my high heels in one hand and comfy shoes on
13. It has been a while since I have stood in said cab line
14. I have a million business ideas thrashing about in my head but I have no motivation to bring them to fruition
15. I have the most wonderful group of girlfriends in the world

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Long time no write

I pormise more is coming! I am off to Port Macquarie tomorrow so should have some time on my hands then :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Day One of Swim Squad- and I live to tell the tale...

Today I decided to venture back into the pool for a swim squad. At Yeronga Pool in Brisbane, Red Dog Triathlon do adult swim squads pretty much every day for an hour. There is even child care on site- perfect!

So manned with my new fins, hand paddles, kickboard and goggles I arrived at the pool with much trepidation. I made a beeline for Lane 1 (otherwise refered to as the 'gumby lane') and pretended that I knew what was going on.

'800 with fins' yelled Trent Patten and off we went. Sadly I didn't hear the 'with fins' part of the instructions and couldn't work out why everyone looked like they were swimming the 800m so effortlessly! Fortunately after the first 100m, another swimmer pointed at my error (after being stuck swimming behind me for 2 laps) and this was rectified quickly!

Well, I was exhausted after the first 800m! And the worst bit? Apparently this was the warm up! WTF! I was already tasting breakfast for the second time that day!! Trent being a pretty good swim coach (apparently he was Libby Lentons coach amongst others) recognised it was my first day and when he sent the squad off for another 800m quietly told me that 600m for me would be fine- well thank god!

But it wasn't over yet- another 400m with kickboard and leg buoys and hand paddles, 400m at 'full pace' and then 200m for at 'moderate' pace. Oh. My. God.

Finally it was over bar the 100m cool down swim.

I am very pleased to say that I lived through it and didn't drown. And the best bit? I am keen to go again on Thursday.