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!



Driving? Is it really necessary?

I’ve been driving in the Middle East for about a week now, and I can testify that it is not what I remember the driving in Europe to be like in the late 80s. In a word, its awful.

I would say that it’s been almost 30 years since I have driven in a country other than the USA. I have driven in Canada several times, but growing up in a border town, I don’t view that to be a different experience from American driving. Sorry Canada.

I do remember it taking a while to find a comfort level with driving when I started driving around Germany. Getting used to the traffic on the Autobahn as a teenager took a few days. Everything in Germany either moved fast or slow. But, as all things do, soon enough it was old hat. I was driving everyday just said it was home. 

That being said, I’m pretty sure the same thing will come of the hellish traffic over here in the Middle East. They say, if you can drive in NYC or L.A. you can drive anywhere. I’d say that’s about half right. Having driven in both cities, I would put the difficulty factor at about 2x NYC. Its either okay or its REALLY not okay. 

Which I guess, brings me to my question of the day. Do you feel that you need to drive when you’re traveling or do you use local means of transport? How do you get around?

Personally, I normally use local transport to get from A to B. I have found that it is usually not difficult to get where you’re going without driving. 

In Europe its particularly easy to get around without a car. Trains and taxis will get you almost anywhere you want. Those to are supported by the occasional bus trip to get to the very few places the trains don’t go. Its really super easy. 

In Central American I have used a car service to get off the beaten track. Trust me, there’s not much beaten track in Central America. In South American, planes, trains, and taxi cabs got me anywhere I wanted to go. That included all the way up to Macchu Picchu. Getting to the mountain city was as simple as a train ride and a short bus ride. It was a harrowing bus ride on a switchback dirt road straight up the side of a mountain, but it was short. 

I did resort to renting a bicycle in Ireland so I could get around the site on the southern side of Galway Bay, but that’s probably as extreme as my travel needs have been. The train and the bus got my across Ireland in fine fashion, and the bike ride through the countryside was actually very nice. 

My current need to drive is promoted by my work. Having a vehicle is necessary. That being said, there does seem to be a reasonable bus system in place, and countless taxis cruising the streets. Movement options are available in the area. The closer I get to a city, the more numerous the transport options become. There doesn’t seem to be a commuter train system in the Middle East, or at least not in the area that I am in. Still, if one wanted to venture out into the dunes, I’m sure local guide services are available for day trip options. I haven’t been in the area long enough to seek those out, but I may later on. I spent enough time in traffic now.

So do you feel the need to drive when you’re traveling? Most American naturally answer yes. Its just part of our culture. But, when abroad to you search out easier or alternate means to get around? I definitely do. Local transport options can be useful, and can save you money. European rental prices are a lot if you don’t use the vehicle every day. And many cities require that you pay to park as well. 

Whichever way you choose to get around, it should be enjoyable and as easy as possible. I’m hoping that I get used to the awful traffic soon, and things become a little more enjoyable. And wherever you travel, be safe when doing so. It can be a mad, mad world at times.

Enjoy, and get out there!

Sunrise over the Persian Gulf. Taken today. 


Off on the road again. 

Since the theme of this blog was supposed to be about travel. And, travel by adults. I decided, once again, to try and take my own advice. I always think this is a good idea, until it actually happens. Then, I think twice about it.

This time, I decided to embrace the expat lifestyle and go abroad for work. Its been something that I’ve been considering for some time. I wanted to challenge myself. I wanted to go do something that I knew most other people wouldn’t consider doing. I guess I also wanted an adventure of a sort. 

So, I boxed it all up and headed for the Middle East. Now, I work as an Environmental Specialist, in a non-disclosed country in the Middle East. It is an absolute change from Texas, USA. 

I was thinking when I left to come here that this was the travel destination. What I learned when I go here was that I had it all wrong. Everyone uses this location as a place to travel from. 

I hadn’t considered it before, but the Middle East is in the middle of a whole new section of the globe. Semi-cheap flights to Thailand and Africa, or Europe and India are now possible. Exotic places are no longer on the opposite side of the globe. They are, quite literally, just over there. Even the illusive Madagascar is a possibility. 

Work has a lot of long hours, but I will continue to post on any exciting new travel as it comes along. The interesting information I stumble upon will also be put out there, just as it has been. This is just the start of a whole new adventure! 

Now go on. Get out there!

Me. On the plane headed east. Approximately 2 weeks ago.