Monday, 25 May 2015

Expat life in South Africa and Dubai

I get asked all the time 'which do you prefer? South Africa or Dubai?'

I can't answer that question in the same way that visitors do, they say Dubai is much better. They mean safer, but then when we people come and stay with us they don't actually go off and do their own thing anyway, so it makes no difference where they are visiting us as I'm still the bloody unpaid tour guide.

I don't have a preference to either country in terms of the actual move, opening bank accounts, working out how things are done, dealing with different languages and cultures. It's unknown, therefore it's difficult, complicated and expensive.

There are 3 advantages that Dubai has over South Africa in regards to a relocation is that in Dubai:

1) It's consistent and the same rules apply to all, unlike South Africa which would depend on a) who you spoke to and b) what mood they were in, as that would depend on the information you were asked for on that particular visit.

2) I was able to go out on my own the first day and use public transport and walk around freely

3) I was able to get a SIM card, by myself, just by showing my entry visa stamp

The things that are the same are:

1) The company wouldn't deal with me
2) The relocation firm disappeared as soon as there were issues with the house, the container and my visa.
3) The medical aid is complicated, no one helps you find a doctor, dentist or even tells you what the emergency number is and where the nearest hospital is.
4) I'm lonely and it's taking a long time to build friendships and I have no emergency network
5) I'm depressed
6) I have no identity

In South Africa I had to deal with the children leaving home and for the first time in 22 years not being a mum, I am however grateful that with the move to Dubai I haven't had to deal with sorting schools out.

I spent the 1st year in South Africa settling the kids into their new lives, trying to find my niche, a job, a volunteer placement and numerous attempts to finish my studies.
I then spent 2 years enjoying life, made friends, had a network, had volunteer work, socialised, went on safaris, camping trips, got a cat and a dog, dealt with emergencies back in the UK and in South Africa camped in a township, raised funds, worked hard and partied harder and
The 4th and final year was spent waiting for a decision to be made by hubby's company as to whether or not we'd move to Dubai. We were told I could work there, something I was also told that on the move to South Africa, we were told things would be different this time, they haven't been. I knew I'd lose my identity again, that I'd have to make new friends and I thought it would be easier this time because a) I knew what to expect and b) I'd be working, but it's been harder than I expected, taken longer than I'd hoped.

I'm on my own for the next few weeks, hubby is back for 2 nights next week before he goes to the States and the 20 year old is stopping over for 3 nights on his way back from South Africa to the UK the following week, but for me I'm almost housebound due to the heat and a painful back and two doses of severe food poisoning so apart from physio, walks with the dog when the sun goes down, I'm lying on the bed watching you tube with the air con on, bored, lonely and depressed knowing how hard the rest of this year is going to be to reinvent my identity and find something to do with my time that's worthwhile and makes me feel valued, knowing this time, that at some point, it will all stop, we'll be packing up, saying our goodbyes and starting all over again somewhere else.




Sunday, 24 May 2015

An afternoon at Butterfly World and Miracle Gardens

Lets just say there's a reason not much is open the end of May in Dubai. On return to the car the temperature read 49c and that was in the shade.


Miracle Gardens and Butterfly World are found off Umm Sequiem, take the road past the Mall of Emirates and head straight on crossing over the Al Khail Road, till you see a last minute sign post on the right for Miracle Gardens, Don't turn before the sign on the slip road, turn immediately after it, or, like me, you'll end up going the wrong way on a one way access road and having to 'off road' it like a prop up a steep sandy embankment. 4x4 mode fully engaged and still a wheel spin, but I made it.

We first visited Miracle Gardens in February it was fantastic, for the full pictures you must click here to see it in all its glory. Entry to Miracle Gardens is AED 30 and Butterfly World is AED 50, tickets have to be bought separately and there is quite a walk between the two places, but golf carts were available to ride round on.

I was very disappointed with the gardens on this visit and I wasn't able to access them at all round by the domes, but it is Summer in Dubai, it is in the 40s everyday and very little shade available, even where there was, it provided no respite from the heat at all.








If anyone knows what these flowers are please let me know as they are doing very well in this heat and I'd like to look at growing some in my garden.




I didn't stop long in Miracle Gardens, just walked through to Butterfly World and upon entry had a coffee in the air conditioned cafe which also sold cakes and ice creams.



I'm not sure if I like these (dead) butterfly displays or not and there was no information that I could see about the types of butterflies, where they were from and how this particular lot had died.





After walking through the chains into the first of 3 domes, the noise of piped bird music and the smell from the rotten fruit was over bearing, despite requests on signage and staff members present, children were still running around, squealing as the butterflies flew near them and actually picking them up by their wings. I'm afraid to say the parents weren't doing anything to stop them so I asked one child not to pick the butterflies up as he'd kill it and he just ignored me, while the parent who had been speaking perfectly good english prior to this all of a sudden didn't understand a word I was saying.




The butterflies were all around me, landing on my camera and my arm and I had to be very careful with where I was stepping.


There were some beautifully scented flowers in the domes and such a variety of colours and there were a couple of areas with benches where you could sit down and enjoy the butterflies. The domes were also air conditioned and apart from the bird noise, smells and screaming kids it was actually quite pleasant.











 Unfortunately my camera overheated and I wasn't aware until I looked at the photos.


I am going to visit again, but not until December when the weather has cooled, the flowers aren't fighting so hard with the heat. 


So how is everything going this week with Animal Tales, Time Traveller and HDYGG?

Animal Tales
Both hubby and I need to be in the UK at the same time for child 4 of 5 passing out parade in September. That mean we need to kennel the cat and dog. I've visited a couple of places this week within walking distance and I'm not impressed. The cat will spend her entire stay in a crate and the dog will be let out of his crate 3 times a day for a walk and that is that. Having joined a few face book groups I've had loads of responses with personal recommendations which I'll be checking out next week. i've also joined another group who meet every friday in the desert between 7am and 9am where the dogs run freely and socialise and of course I get to meet new people.
The cat is still struggling to find 'her spot' which I'll write about over the coming weeks, but in the meantime she has decided the hall is the best place to sleep after we finally persuaded her that the marble between the hall and the kitchen was not the best place to be.

Bob has been rather helpful this week and the poor thing is really craving a walk, so I've let him sleep on the bed with me while hubby is away, he keeps me company and is a great excuse to keep my legs elevated when I can't reach the pillow.



Time Traveller
With hubby away on Saturday for 2 weeks in the States and with my bad back I'll not be going far. Son 4 of 5 arrives here for 3 nights on a stop over from South Africa back to the UK. Again through face book I discovered couponer.ae and I've booked half price for a Dhow Cruise with dinner and a desert safari. With it being so hot and with Ramadan approaching there are some very good deals around in Dubai at the moment, I'm looking to book a brunch when hubby comes back for Father's day and my birthday as for both occasions I'll be in Canada.
I have started to sort things out for my trip despite having 3 weeks to go, I've packed my walking boots, a rain coat and 2 jumpers, I've a bag full of British, Emirate and South African goodies and gifts and my hand luggage toiletries and change of clothes after a 13 hour flight are ready.



HDYGG?
Well not very well at the moment and it's coming to an end for the time being. People have almost mocked my attempts and I feel many are just waiting for me to fail, but like I tell them, one doesn't expect flowers all year round in the UK when it's winter time, when it's too cold, so why would one expect the same here when it's too hot. I'm struggling with the watering and had to increase it to 3 times a day and be very careful not to water the leaves. I'm not sure I'm doing the plants much good with water at 42c out the ground, it's too hot to shower in or to drink, so it can't be doing the plants any good. The poor seedlings I'm afraid are doomed, with my back I can't bend to plant them out and almost 2 weeks after injuring my back, I slipped on the wet tiles and I'm afraid I'm in as much pain than I was before physio started.



Week 21 - My Sunday Photo


Yes you are seeing this correctly, there appears to be no photo here, but there is, it was uploaded from my camera this afternoon. It is one of 12 failed pictures taken outdoors at Dubai Miracle Gardens and Butterfly World.

My camera didn't want to work in the heat, it was in the mid 40's, I do have some other pictures over on this blog post about my afternoon visit. But this was my chosen My Sunday Photo of the domes.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Week 21 - Project 365

After last weeks food poisoning, I start this week with so much pain in my right hip that I'm crying in agony when I try to move.
I've had a niggling ache prior to my trip to the UK in April, but over the past 36 hours it's just hit me full force.
Doctor has given me pain meds and diagnosed Sacroiliitis (inflammation of the joint between the pelvis and the spine) and has referred me to a physio. The additional stress of sorting out the medical aid hasn't helped, the physio has helped but the pain meds just aren't doing their job. I've been told to walk and to swim and to avoid sitting down, so if I'm not on my feet or at the physio or walking round in this heat, I'm lying in bed filling in a tax return. It's not been much fun this week.

Unfortunately last weeks food poisoning wasn't due to pasta I ate, it appears it was from a tub of ice cream and having eaten some more of it last night, it has returned with a vengeance.

Day 137 #onedailypositive #home #fmsphotoaday #HandMade #snaphappybritmums #project365

This is the dog's spot, the cat prefers the wardrobe. I've made several dog beds scattered around the house. I also made these curtains for our previous house in South Africa there are 6 pairs which used to be all in one room, now in 5 different rooms.

Day 138 #onedailypositive #musical #fmsphotoaday #vintage #snaphappybritmums #project365
Hubbies electric guitar and Marshall amps, bought in the 70's. All still in working order and original parts and the guitar and amp aren't in bad condition either :-)

Day 139 #onedailypositive #MyMoodToday #fmsphotoaday #landscape #snaphappybritmums #project365

My mood today is generally good but is being hampered by chronic pain in my lower back so I'm a bit up and down today like these buildings in Business Bay #dubai #mydubai #myview

Day 140 #onedailypositive #equal #fmsphotoaday #midday #snaphappybritmums #project365
Equal amounts of sun over the chicken at midday in Dubai.

Day 141 #onedailypositive #InADrawer #fmsphotoaday #ILove #snaphappybritmums #project365

In a drawer, by my bedside. My Grans hanky, a love letter from hubby, a key ring from my dad's old company and an unexpected find of extra strong mints.

Day 142 #onedailypositive #weather #fmsphotoaday #Black&White #snaphappybritmums #project365

This photo was taken back in March this year, despite the rumours of constant none stop sunshine it's not always the case, there are storms, it does rain and the fog can be very dense. It's not often, it doesn't last long and the rest of the time there is just sun and blue skies. So today I'm sharing my no filter/lenses/editing to give you a natural Black and White picture of the different weather than expected in Dubai.


Day 143 #onedailypositive #GoodTimes #fmsphotoaday #ISpy #snaphappybritmums #project365

From time to time I get homesick and not for the UK, but for South Africa where we lived for 4 years prior to relocating to Dubai in December 2014. I miss my friends, my routine, my lifestyle, the opportunities, the experiences and it makes me sad to know SA will never again be my home. I heard a rumour that there was a Mugg and Bean cafe near by and 'I spy' the Waitrose from my travels on the bus, so I took a little detour on Wednesday and I wasn't disappointed. I actually cried after I'd ordered my coffee, updated my dear friend Laura to tell her where as I was as I was so excited to be experiencing a little bit of home and reliving the good times.







Week 20 - Project 365 - Trying to avoid the heat

Wow it's hot, very hot, the temperature is peaking at around 40c and it can only get hotter as summer gets into full swing very soon.

Both hubby and I have trips away in May, June and July which will provide some respite, he's off to the States with work and I'm off to Canada on holiday. I think the children will find it uncomfortable with one over for a few days in June on his return from South Africa where it's winter and the other over in July, August and September for his school holidays before his A levels start.

The aircon is on all day, cutting in and out as the temperatures climb, we're maintaining the house around 27c and once the sun starts to set it does drop a few degrees giving us a welcome break.

In 2007 we took the 4 boys to the States and spent a couple of days in Death Valley where we experienced temperatures of 51c and I've been informed it reaches that here and more although our thermometer stops at 50c as does all work if the temperature goes over that.

We spent Friday at Water World on the Atlantis Palm, although physically we managed to keep cool on all the rides and on loungers on the beach under palm trees it was not a good day out in regards to how the place was run logistically.

I nearly melted today going out to @safapark to take this photo. But it was worth the trip even if my phone and I overheated.

Day 131 #onedailypositive #UpsideDown #fmsphotoaday #MyStreet #snaphappybritmums #project365 
My street it's actually a rather dull and boring street, just a quiet suburb, you can tell by the fact I'm stood in the middle of the road, so taking a photo upside down made it all the more interesting to look at.

Day 132 #onedailypositive #eyes #fmsphotoaday #LookingUp #snaphappybritmums #project365

How can I resist these eyes looking up at me to take him to the shops with me for a coffee? While I'm afraid dogs aren't very welcome in public places in #Dubai and the coffee shop is inside, plus at 40c outside the ground is too hot for him to walk on, so he's restricted to walks once the sun has gone down.

Day 133 #onedailypositive #hands #fmsphotoaday #snailsview#snaphappybritmums #project365 
My view today, hardly been able to lift my head off the pillow after a very nasty bout of food poisoning. Hubby phoned mid morning and left work to give me a hand and look after me. I'm very weak with a headache and a fever.

Day 134 #onedailypositive #heart #fmsphotoaday #luxury#snaphappybritmums #project365
Living in #dubai having a garden is a luxury and I love how well it is doing. You can read more about 'Creating a garden in the desert' on my blog #mydubai

Day 135 #onedailypositive #IFoundThis #fmsphotoaday #Symmetry #snaphappybritmums #project365

Spending the day at Aquaventure, Waterpark at The Atlantis the Palm. Spent a few minutes looking for something symmetrical before deciding on this.

Day 136 #onedailypositive #clean #fmsphotoaday #fashion #snaphappybritmums #project365

I've blogged this year about fashion and how uncomfortable I feel away from my comfort zone of jeans and a t shirt. I've had a good clean out of my wardrobe and this is what I'm left with, apart from a suitcase with some winter clothing, a box of pyjamas (why do I need that many?) and my undies drawer.


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