A wise man once said....

A wise man once said
"When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen you may learn something new."
Dalai Lama

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Friday The Err.......well just another Friday.

Been a quiet week with little to write home about. Fridays really do seem to follow each other at an amazing rate. They go quicker than real holidays. Speaking of which I am on leave in 5 weeks. Hope the Fridays fly by...If only the real holidays would slow down...

Today was a lazy one. Late breakfast and another walk along the beach. Interesting how quickly the weather is changing and along with it the surrounding. 6 weeks ago when I arrived in Ruwais it was cold in evening through to mid morning. Not any more. Now its 16'ish at night rising to 31 Deg C in the midday sun. And its still January... A lot more heat to follow.

The walk was fine, clear blue skies. I took a few shots of some shrub land. Not much else as the beach vistas I did last walk. The sand is dry, all signs of the rains of the last few weeks have disappeared. So only the most hardy of plants can survive such an environment. Came across one particular plant. Resembles a red cactus. Strange thing growing in bunches. Not so many of them around. They might be something that got prompted to grow as a result of the earlier rains. You know, they flourish for a few days and die down again till the next seasons rains come round.

Clearly we were not the only visitors this morning. Someone had been along with a mountain bike and also there were foot prints where some birds had been walking along.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Strike Out - Shopping Abu Dhabi

Friday came round again. Very quickly. But it came along with lots of rain and wet roads. So a miserable day.

We left Ruwais for Abu Dhabi about 7.30am. The early warning signs for a crap day were already apparent for all to see but we did not read the signs. The rain and then watching the resulting traffic accidents along the way.

I had earlier during the week though it a good idea to get to the shops good and early, give myself a day out and a bit of a treat maybe buy a toy or new guitar. Silly of me! On Fridays they do not open till mid day and even then

most open between 2-4 pm. So having discovered this only on arrival I concluded a fairly wasted trip. I had planned to look at a couple of toy shops for model planes and helicopters, then a quick look at what Abu Dhabi had to offer in the way of musical instruments specifically guitars.

First off was ‘My Hobbies’. Located near La Meridian Hotel… Well how near, close, was it to Le Meridian? We eventually tacked it down, so not so close. And it was shut! Well not exactly shut, just empty, so either they had relocated or closed down. No relocation address on the window so strike one!

Second was the music shop. Closed. We were way too early. Looking through the window it all looked as if they had some good stuff. Strike 2.

Follow this by going to Toy ‘R’ Us.

And indeed as the name states, full of toys but all except some fabulous bar-b-q’s, the rest were toys for real kids. You know babies and youngsters, and not adult toys. And I don’t mean sex toys! Those are not allowed in Abu Dhabi. Again a wasted journey.

So one more time to another set of shops to see if we get lucky. Went to Marine Mall. Lovely for shopping.

However again to early. It has an Apple shop with some good software but closed. Strike 3.

What else... Saw a lovely Hummer pickup truck. Fancied one of those!!!Bet the Hummer shop is closed on Fridays!!! And driving round we looked up at some of the buildings. The towers in the picture really are curved and wonderful shapes. Not down to my photography, it’s how they are.However good old reliable Carrefour was open.

So my trip to Abu Dhabi in the rain,

on a Friday was almost a complete waste of time. I went to places which, except the last, were all closed. I came back with some deodorant from Carrefour!!!! Some trip…

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Liwa, There And Back.

Liwa is a small cluster of villages set in the oasis in the southern quarter of the United Arab Emirates. We were told there is not much there. Wrong!


View Ruwais to Liwa in a larger map

Getting there is easy. Early start about 7.00am. (I know you ask why early, when you know it is my one day off in the week….). It needs to be a worthwhile trip. Khamal my driver picked me up, so for me I know, an easy day ahead. I had high hopes it was going to be a good day.

Liwa's got history and some things to see. The history side is simple enough. (Formal details below). It has water and therefore was a place for human habitat to develop and thrive over the years. Thousands of years in fact. It is also the historical ancestral home of the ruling Abu Dhabi family. So as would be expected, there are now good roads and infrastructure. Not so many people around but enough to make the rich soils work. There are a couple of good hotels catering for tourists. The locals coming up for the camel racing and the visitors more for buggy riding over the dunes and sight seeing. We missed a major camel racing event. Happened a few weeks back. Isn't it always the way...? So for sure Liwa has plenty enough going for it to have a fun weekend. Just pick the right weekend.

So after I left my NCC camp, first stop was to pick up my colleague Mr Kim. We proceeded straight inland. Dual carriage roads the whole way. First town we reached was Ghaythai. It’s a small ‘one horse’ town type place. Actually, to be fair to it, there is a school, decent houses, shops etc. No idea how many people live here but I would guess at over 5-10,000. It as a brand new petrol stations complete with a shop and small restaurant. Bit like UK with Little Chefs etc. So we stopped there for our morning coffee and biscuits. All staff are from India or Pakistan. No Emiraties to be seen, unless you include those pulling in to fill up their cars with fuel!

After coffee it was back in the car and we headed south. All this was made much easier by having our driver Khamal with us. He had been before and also spoke the local language. I say local, but most of the people we come across are imported labour from Indian or Pakistan, so language is either Urdu or Hindi. Mr Kim has English and Korean, and with me backing up with English and err…. well enough said.

Continuing south the landscape changes. It was like leaving everything behind. Fantastic to see the rolling sand dunes. They seems to open up to us and at the same time give us a sense of vastness and of being never ending. What made it so special was the timing. Early morning with the sun rising, made for stunning shadows appearing on the dunes. As we travelled along and the sun rose the shadows changed. Seemed to bring the dunes alive. Interestingly the dunes stay off the road. I think the winds take the sand completely across the road and do not allow for any built up. The fencing which goes all along the road side, we assumed is to stop camels and antelope crossing the roads. We did see 3 antelope, but they had gone by the time I got the camera out. So just believe me when I tell you we did see some!

Liwa, well we think we got to Liwa but there were signs for Mezairria. We followed this. In fact having carried on and on southwards we came to a roundabout. Three point roundabout. The road we were on and two more exits. Simple choice: left or right? Right looked to be going nowhere and was a smaller road. So turn left it was. I mentioned earlier that Khamal spoke the language. He did at this time call a friend to check we were on the right road, I mean left road.....

Within 2-3 kilometers of turning left, the area transformed in an all lush green with date palms everywhere. Unfortunately they were not in season. Still well worth driving along and seeing all the agriculture.

We continued along the road and came across a camel racing track. Loads of camels being trained and exercised. Seemed strange, a fully fledged track in the middle of an area surrounded only by sand. Good photo opportunity.

We had by now travelled about 350 kilometers. Time for lunch. Only place we could find open was the Liwa Hotel. Imagine you travel all this was in the sand to come across a 5 star hotel complete with swimming pool. I mentioned earlier about dune buggys. Well it seems this was one of the places people stayed while enjoying driving up and down sand dunes.

Lunch as you can imagine for a 5 star hotel, was excellent, with an amazing array of mouthwatering Arabic and European dishes.

video

Then, back to the NCC camp, but another route via Madinet Zayed. Its another small town with a slightly better range of shops and more quality housing. Again we tried for fresh date. Again told out of season!

Then home, but not before buying some packaged dates from the local supermarket… Home ‘James’. I mean home Khamal ! Great day.

All in all, we covered about 700 kilometers. All on first class dual carriageway roads. Probably take weeks on a camel, and give you sore feet. Food for thought.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Ruwais again

Before coming to Ruwais I bought an Apple MacBook Pro thinking it was time I tried out an Apple computer. I did have an Apple 2 about 30 years ago but time has moved on since then. This one comes complete with some basic software a bit like Windows but you still need to buy the decent programmes. Why am I mentioning this here? Well... I've been spending some time, a lot of time struggling and learning the basic stuff and believe you me it does take a bit of learning. They do things differently at Apple and its hard work to 'mind' swap over from my old Dell. What it means to me is the additional time and effort to edit photos and actually manage to do a video. Hard stuff indeed.

Today another working working week has passed. And passed very quickly. It is amazing how fast. Friday having arrived I had no plans. We, David and I went for a walk on the beach in the morning. I plan to spend the afternoon doing one of my Lego Robot toys. Some sort of colour sorter. You'll know about it soon enough! (If it works...).

The walk was enjoyable. David started by collecting lots of 'floats' which had been washed up from old fishing nets. There were lots. Every few meters as we went along the shore we kept coming across more and more. Very quickly he had himself a sizable collection. We even ended up searching for some string with which to tie them together as he could only carry so many in his hands!!!!!

I asked him his plans for this seemingly strange and rapidly growing collection of floats. “I'll taken them back to Thailand on my next leave.” David lives about 300 kilometers from the nearest shore line?....

“err... OK” I responded.

We continued walking. He did not say much for a few minutes, must have been reflecting on his last answer for he suddenly announced “You know... I think I'll just leave these on the beach” At which point he promptly dropped the floats on the beach where he was standing and proceed to march on. One less thing for Thai Customs to worry about!!!!

Good walk and now time for lunch. The days half gone already. Work tomorrow...

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Wednesday

It's Wednesday. Nearly the weekend. I have yet to get used to the idea of Friday being 'La Weekend'. It has advantages. Working Saturday and Sunday is not such a big deal and before you know it Friday has arrived. And time is flying by here. I have not had a chance to do much exploring since I posted on Saturday, but hope this weekend (Friday) to do someting and look round. Next weekend I think it will be a trip to the interior. There is a place called Liwa and another called Al Ain. They are both about 200 kilometers inland. Big beach!!! I went to Al Ain in 1978. Suspect it has changed beyond recognition, not that I remember all that much anyway... So first inland trip this time is Liwa.
Memories of it, Al Ain, all are vague at best. I do recall lots of sand, sand and more sand. But not entirely the full picture. Al Ain itself was quite beautiful. A small oasis town set in the foot hills of the mountains seperating UAE from Oman. My memories do include some fabulous scenery, sun burnt mountains and golden and 'red' sand. For some reason the red sand I recall as we walked through it for a few hundrew meters. Sure it was there..? Hope I can capture some of the 'feeling' of it all on my little camera. Will do my best. For now I am still near the shore. So I'm attaching a nautical photo, I came across, scan actually but that does not really matter. It shows a local dhow plying the waves. They have annual competitions and I'll be attending for sure. Another event to look forward to.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

2011 New Years Day

We, that's David, Ronald and Roderick, and me of course. We had a walk down to the shore this morning. Hardly to clear out any cobwebs as everyone had an early night !!! That's a side bennifit of being in Ruwais to celebrate New Years Eve.


video


The Bay. Its a lovely little bay with a few fishing boats tied up above the water line. A working ferry that goes back and forth to a neighbouring island called Sir Bani Yas. Not sure whats on the island. Looking at google earth it seems oil tank farms anf also some nature reserves. Will get over there on day.

Here this little harbour/jetty area sort of place seems very quiet, just a few people doing some fishing from the shore. Have not seen anything being caught.

But the quietness, I put it down to being a public holiday. I somehow suspect however that it is quiet most days, except for some activilty when the fishermen are putting out to sea in the mornings and bringing in their catch at night. I did visit the Ruwais Housing Complex last week, where there were plenty of shops, one selling fresh fish so maybe, just maybe, they come from here.

We walked from our camp up a small road and along the length of the jetty then up the adjacent hill. Looking down at the sea, it was very calm, beautiful clear blue water. The bay had obviously sometime ago been dredged and small landing stages erected. I would guess the dredging was carried out several years ago, maybe 5 -10 years past. The small landing platforms are all rusted and in rapid decline. Sad to see but you will know as well as me that the salt water will corrode anything. Add in the effects of warm sunshine and things just rot away almost before your eyes.


Some improvements are underway. It does however bring back memories and remind me of my first times in Qatar when things were not so developed. That was 1978! Back then in similar places there were lots of small jetties and shore structures dotted along the shorelines. They disappeared during my time there to be replaced by 'bigger and better' and more modern structures. Sure the same thing will happen here and it will change here, possibly even in the period of my short stay.

Anyway enough writing about the decline and gloom of an old jetty area. It's Jan 1st 2011 and a new year. Sun shining etc etc. Happy times ahead for sure.

New Years Eve And All That

Firstly HAPPY NEW YEAR.

The thing that appears to be sticking out of my head is not from me. It is the top of my guitar resting on the settee behind me. Bad self photo.

2011 has arrived and with it lots of new ideas and plans for the future. Last night was a quiet one. Chatted on the phone with friends and family and then had an evening in. Since I stopped drinking, yes still going strong in that department, the idea of going out to celebrate new year seems less important.

Wanna was at home in Ban Muang, and she with some of the family had a dinner and drinks together. I managed to chat and video away with her on Skype for a while. Really amazing when you think of it. Sitting in Abu Dhabi and using a simple laptop talk to the rest of the world. really.

But back to New Years Eve, I had dinner in our 'camp' usual stuff of meat and 2 veg, at least thats whats I think it was... then back to my room. I have my Lego Mindstormer robotics kit out here with me so decided to get back into some building and programming. I really enjoy it and need to move way from following the simple assembly instructions and be more creative. It will come.

Today will be a walk down the beach complete with a backup set of photos. Our camp is situated only a kilometer from the sea so plenty of boats and shore line. We'll have a few hours wallking along and see what we see!!! Will let you know how it goes.