What? No fork?

Though the Middle East is definitely an adventure, I admit that I haven’t been out on the economy as much as I normally would be in other parts of the world. The area that I am living in lack a bit draw as it is very much westernized. That being said, It is NOT remotely first world. They have imported almost every second-tier chain restaurant out of the states, but that’s about it. If chain restaurant food and shiny shopping malls are a sign of civilization, then I guess the place qualifies on that front.

Normally when I travel like to spend time eating local foods, stopping at local shops, and partaking of the local museums. I haven’t found a good outlet for doing that yet. There doesn’t seem to be a big outlet for natural Arabian dishes or culture in the area. The rumor running around the internet is that there is a new museum about to open. I’m definitely looking forward to that. There are also some shopping options available. Locally, it is the knockoff touristy stuff that you would expect in such locals. It’s not really the Souqs that the Middle East countries are famous for, but more the local alley shops that sell things you didn’t think you needed until you see it. Yes, I have bought things that I didn’t think I needed until I saw them.

Okay, that is about shopping, but this little ditty is about food. I will admit that there isn’t a great deal of local Arabian food options to be had. There are a lot of Arabian options. Sadly, they are mostly new and crappy alternatives or modern interpretations of dishes, not actual local food. There isn’t a lot of actual authentic local food available in my area.

That being said, what there is, if you know where to find it, is a fantastic wealth of foods from the regions of the people that are drawn to work here. There are Indian restaurants, and Pakistani restaurants, or Lebanese restaurants to be found. I say, if you know where to find it, because most of these places are in sketchy back alleys and on unpaved side streets. The parts of town you normally just pass through quickly.

The other day, my friend Z took me to a Pakistani restaurant that was absolutely fantastic. The place was called the Wah Ji Wah Restaurant, and was located on the outskirts of the Fahaheel district. It was a local’s type of place, with multiple languages being spoken as we entered. Fortunately for everyone in the group, Z speaks Pakistani. The language barrier might have been a hurdle if he didn’t. Even so, the people at the restaurant were genuinely friendly and welcoming.

It was lunch time during our visit and the place was full. We found seating in the corner and were almost instantly sat upon with food and drinks. Where I am not normally a fan of curry, the food was spicy and delicious. The pita bread was fresh and warm, and we used the bread to soak up all the curried chicken. No forks were needed. Just at the time when you thought you were done, they brought out more food. It was fantastic. It was filling, and unlike most other parts of town, the prices were very reasonable. It was exactly the experience that I wanted from this place.

With such a large immigrant population moving into the Middle East to work in the oil fields and in the construction and general labor trades, I am readjusting my view of what type of experiences I should be looking for. There is this whole layer of good food out there that I hadn’t considered until my friend Z took me to lunch. I am going to look for more of this. It can only be a good thing.



Some street food from my recent side trip to Dubai. Street food is my preferred method of eating when travelling. It gives a nice overview of the local culture.


Keep getting after it. Get out there. Do stuff.



Last day in Dubai.

Woke up this morning and wasn’t completely sure what to do with my day. The only concrete fact, I needed to be at the airport for a 1725 flight.

So, I thought for a while. What to do. What to do. The Coffee Museum was closed on Friday, so that seemed like the place to start.

I packed up the bag. Checked the room three times to make sure I had every thing, and then sat off for the lobby. Check out successful, I was out the door.

I walked over to the Al Rigga Cemetery to take a quick look around. I wasn’t able to enter, as the cemetery had a high wall surrounding it. I like cemeteries. You can tell a lot about a people by the way they care for their dead people. Oh well, maybe next time.

Caught the Metro to the exit for the Souq and Museum again. This time, I went out and around the Souq. It was a nice walk through the everyday shops in everyday Dubai. I had to take a couple tries at finding the Coffee Museum again. Oh well, the internal navigation works some of the time.

The museum was quite nice for a free museum. It had lots of things on display, and a couple of sections with people getting tourists to act out ancient coffee making techniques. It also had to Coffee bars. All in all, quite worth the walk.

I headed south from the museum, toward the next Metro stop. Once more, more streets full of everyday Dubai.

From the Metto station, I headed north toward the airport. Stopping short, I found myself back at the Irish Village. Intentionally. Its all lunch and booze. Good lunch. Excellent booze. More pints of the black stuff.

Sadly, as all things tend to do, the clock ran out. I was down the street to a taxi stand, and a crazy high-stress ride to the airport.

They say get to the airport 3 hours before an international flight. If you’re flying Fly Dubai out of Terminal 2, don’t bother. I’m way early. Oh well, live and learn. The only major miscalculation … no bar in the Terminal 2 departure area. Ugh!!

Oh well, life goes on!

Yes. They have Astin Martins at the Duty Free in Dubai. Strange place.


Day Two in Dubai.

Day two and the word of the day is beer. Guinness to be specific. If there was a better beer being made, I’d certainly be drinking it. After, anything and everything is available in this town.

Today started out as a series of misadventures. First was find the money changer. Interestingly, the best place to find a money changer is at the Metro station. The exchange rate was a little better than the airport, so I was still getting took. But, considering all the Euros I was changing were left over from a trip several years ago, I didn’t feel so bad about it.

Took the metro south into the glitzy high-rise section of Dubai. Massive construction going on everywhere you look as the train zips by. Glad I’m not driving in it.

I get off at the exit for the Dubai Mall. A elevated walkway takes you directly from the Metro to the mall. I went looking for the Harley shop. Sadly, it closed a couple months ago. Apparently, someone forgot to tell google maps about that. Oh well, the Apple Store was there! I love Apples Stores. And this one has an outside terrace with a direct view of both the Dubai Fountain and the Burj Khalifa! Ya, its prominently placed. The North Face store and the Ferrari store were over-priced. Billabong and Quicksilver didn’t have anything I couldn’t live without, so I was off. Off, in search of beers!

A long Metro ride north and a couple block walk led me to the Irish Village. Its basically the outer rim of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium. Its famous with both the ex-pat crowd and Time Out Dubai. The later of the two led me here. Its Irish enough for me. It has beer. The beer is black, and it is cold. I’m good. Probably gonna sit here a while.

Your’s truly. Dubai. Guinness. Right now.

Have a great time everybody!


Dubai. Day One.

I need to start by saying that Fly Dubai is definitely worth the money. If you get a chance to utilize their services, I say do it. The planes are new and clean. They are reasonably priced and on-time, and their staff is very nice. I think that the Stewardesses are outfitted by The Gap. Its that kind out uniform.

The Dubai airport is super easy to navigate. Getting through customs (on a US passport) is really easy.

I caught a taxi from the airport to the hotel. The Taxis, like a lot of things in Dubai, aren’t necessarily cheap. But at midnight it seemed the right thing to do. There is an easy to find queue right outside the arrivals door.

My hotel is nice enough. Its in Old Dubai because that seemed to be where the majority of thing I wanted to do were located. Its a bit in the non-touristy area, but the people are nice enough and the price was right! Price is what is seem to work on most. I admit it.

Slept good. Woke up happy. Looked into doing stufff and realized that most of what I wanted to do was closed on Friday or opened late. This is important to remember. In the eastern lands they do not use a western work week. Friday is the start of the weekend and a lot of stuff is closed.

Nevertheless, we drive on, stopped and talked to the front desk person. Got my directions to the metro. Dubai has a fancy new metro system that definitely worth looking into if you’re trying to get around without spent a bunch of dirhams. I picked up a Nol card for 25 AED. It comes preloaded with 19 AED. My first trip across the creek and to the museum area cost me 3AED. At this rate, it should go the weekend without recharging.

As is always the way, I came out of the metro and went in the wrong direction. I suck so bad at navigation. I am constantly going the wrong way. I managed to figure out which way was right (thanks to google maps) and headed on toward the Souq. The Old Dubai Souq is a warren of tight alleys stuffed full of all the standard tourist junk. Anyway, you still have to go. Its kind of a must. The shop keepers are relentless. You need to be able to say no and keep walking, or you’re gonna be broke when you come out the other side. Also,NEVER pay face value. Start your bartering at half what they offer and refuse to go up much. Screwing people is how they make their living, the prices are always super inflated. Don’t believe the sincere expressions or the you’re my good friend speeches. They’re all designed to separate you from your cash. Or DO believe them. Its your money.

I made it out of the Souq with only one purchase. I’m calling that success. I stopped at the museum. It still doesn’t open for another 2.5 hours. Sat and chilled on a bunch for a while. Its not super hot in Dubai, but its still desert. DRINK MORE WATER. Yes, you may have drank some, drink more. There’s usually always some place to find it. In my case, there was a souvenir shop across the street from my bench with bottles of water. Mission solved.

With time to kill, I headed for the other Souq area east of the Museum. Its not really shop alleys. More a recreation of what the place was like in the 1900s. Its cool, and there are a lot of small shops. I was headed for the Coffee Museum. I found it. Its closed on Fridays. Hahahahahaha Such is my day. Now, I’m chilling on a bench writing this. Its a good day, even with the threat of rain in the air.

So far, I like this Dubai place.

Into the Souq!



The first flight out.

Its been a little while since I touched down in the Middle East. So far, it’s been work, work, work. I have been focusing on doing the job and presenting myself in a good light. But, all work is just that, all work. I decided it was time to taken a run to the airport.

This little weekend get away is a couple of firsts. First time taking a cab anywhere. First time working my way through the airports on my own, and just generally getting around the Middle East on my own.

I will classify the experience as, so far so good. The taxi ride through the beginnings of rush hour traffic was anticlimactic. My boss gave me the phone number of her personal taxi guy. (Every western woman living/working over here has a vetted taxi driver that is trustworthy.) he was a good guy, and ran the meter, which can be a problem with some taxi drivers.

The airport hustle was also pretty smooth. Hit the departure terminal at about 5:55pm and the line was only about 10 or15 people deep. I chose FlyDubai for my flight, based on two ideas. One, they fly out of the Sheik Saad terminal II of the Kuwait City airport, and the terminal is only used by that one airline. Second (and a major factor for everybody these days) the has extremely reasonable direct flights to Dubai. Yes, the name does imply as much.

Its my understanding form everyone I talk with that the main airport terminal can be quite the disaster, between ticketing and outgoing customs. Terminal II is small and essay to navigate.

So, I’m off to Dubai for the weekend. After five months in a dry country I wouldn’t go completely out on a limb and say it’s a drinking weekend, but it certainly won’t be dry. Now, Dubai, much like Kuwait, is not a cheap country to visit. You will pay for what you get. So there will be a stop at the duty free when I get off the plane. That is, after the stop at the money changers. For a US lad, the only currency in my pockets is Dinars and Euros. Hahahahahaha Its crazy, but its the way of the world.

I’ll keep you updated along the way!



I just want to watch the luge.

Growing up a mere hour and one half from Lake Placid, it shouldn’t seem unusual to anyone that I am a great fan of the Olympics. I love the olympics! All of it. All the sports (okay, figure skating not so much). I love the stories, the different places on the globe, the designs of the different venues, all of it. And its not just the winter games. I love the summer games too.

That being said … it probably shouldn’t seem unusual to anyone that the Middle East is NOT a great place to view all things winter sports-like. Television coverage of the winter games is, for all intents and purposes, non-existent. I don’t mean it’s limited, I mean it just isn’t televised. Well, not through regular outlets anyway.

When I realized that I was not going to see any of the winter games, I was depressed. I can’t remember the last time I missed the games, winter or summer. I can remember the school I was in stopping class during the 1980 Olympics, so we could all watch the hockey live. Needless to say, it left a mark in my memory.

I decided there was some way I could watch at least part of the games. First, there was the internet. That turned out to be a bust. Next, a solid search of Arabic Television. That too was for not. Then, I decided to just suck it up and watch it on YouTube sometime during the summer, when it was not longer registry blocked. It would have to wait.

But then, on the way out of the apartment building on the way to work, what’s playing in the lobby? What is that? Its luge! Needless to say, I was late catching my ride. Then I realized that there were two places I could see the games. Both the lobby and the gym have AFN TV. AFN is carrying the games. So, I now sit in the lobby each night and watch the games. People come and go, the security guys look at my strangely, delivery people stop for 30 seconds and then go on about their business. Its cool, I don’t really notice. I watch whatever going on. Its excellent.

I kind of got ran out of the lobby this morning so they could clean the floors. It was my day off, so I took my coffee to the lobby with me. Deciding not to be put-out, I actually spent an hour and twenty minutes on a treadmill this afternoon so I could watch the Skeleton coverage. (The exercise probably didn’t hurt me either)

I guess this post can be summed up as; if there’s a will, there’s a way. So far, I’ve managed some luge, skeleton, biathlon, cross country skiing, slalom skiing, snowboarding, and hockey. Okay, some skating too. And, I’m gonna keep watching whenever its on. Until its not on anymore. Why? Because its the olympics! Winter sports in the desert. Good times!



Sick … sucks.

I’m actually at the point where I’m just starting to feel better. Made it to the gym for the first time in a week. For the last week I’ve been sick. Nothing traumatic, just your standard head/chest cold. But, let me assure you that, when in the desert, being sick sucks.

Like any good red blooded American, when sick I turn to the drug isle for remedy. Its the quickest and best way to kill off what’s killing you. Well, in most setting it is. In the desert, I’m not so sure.

Next time you’re in an arid climate consider this, pretty much everything you can grab at your local shop, in some fashion, seems to be a diuretic. What the fancy language means when it says it dries out your sinus’ means it dehydrated you doing it. If you don’t believe me, try it. When you wake up so dry that your lips crack, you’ll rethink it.

In the desert, dehydration is bad. So, you drink lots of water to compensate. Then, you take cold medications. Then, you drink lots of water to rehydrate. But, you never really seem to compensate. It is kinda sucky.

It makes me consider if it wasn’t the desert people that started the idea of alternate medicines or natural remedies? Maybe they came up with a plan after too much dehydration? I don’t know, but it sounds legit to me.

For my next round of sickness, I think I’m trying something a little more natural. Maybe. Maybe, I’ll just drink more water?

This is not a life lesson, just a general observation. You never know what new thing you’re going to learn. That is why you travel.

So get out there. Learn new things. Just, try to do it healthy. Hahahaha

The desert. Last week. Yup, dry as a bone!