Moving to a new country feels more like a new book than a new chapter. We’re bound to have several chapters within the book. I’m past page one now but still in the preface.
It feels like I’ve been here longer than 11 days. A midnight landing a week last Sunday. The arrival at base camp 1 (Ibis Hotel Deira City) and the otherworldly warm blast of night air when I went for my first solo stroll under a Dubai night sky. A cart blanche, a pallet of pre conceptions. 60 minutes prior: first contact. Border control security through the airport:- They.were.nice.people. I’ve flown all over the world and passport and security personnel are often intimidating and surly. But the Dubai border control guys did a real good job of coming across as nice. They were polite, and greeted me with a big warm smile which made me feel welcomed. This felt like a good omen. Pretty much ‘the norm’ out here seems to be that people are nice. I like.
The time has flown by. I’m settling into my new job. A lot of admin and induction, I’m starting to dip my toe into things, questioning things, I’ve started working on actual stuff which is good. Hopefully starting to make myself useful with a view to ‘invaluable’ in due course. Cool offices in a great location, sparky positive people, nice workload: there’s a mountain to climb and I’ve got my best digital boots polished, and ready to go.
I’ve been house hunting for perma-camp 1. I’ve hopefully found a place (well, I’ve handled a wad of paperwork and handed a cheque over anyway). A 5 bedroom villa that’s on a site that feels like a holiday resort.
I’ve been exploring and adventuring. The two exploring for exploring sake adventures have been a trip to the desert and a trip to Abu Dhabi. I’ve been doing a fair bit of functional exploring as well. The metro system is pretty good here (albeit quite limited) but the city is really geared up for driving. I’ve been hirings cars and, well the first few drives were a bit on the scary side but I soon got into the flow. Now it feels mostly OK. I’ve driven over a fair spread of the city: viewing places to live (I think I saw over 15 places, but then came back and grabbed one a few doors down from the very first one I saw.).
The desert adventure was cool. I went ‘dune bashing’ in a massive 4×4 (driven by a pro) then I had a go on a quad bike. Much fun. Yesterday, I went on a day trip with some new friends from work to Abu Dhabi. The Louvre: terribly designed car park, well curated artifacts, spectacular structure. The Great Mosque: Stunning peaceful and beautiful. The attention to detail really struck me. What I first though were painted columns are actually inlaid with different coloured marbles and stones depicting an intricate flower scene. There are hundreds of these columns, each with this intricate level of detail. I’m going to blast a load of photos up to my flickr at some point.
Here’s a snapshot of my perceptions on common Dubai themes:
Weather, yep, spectacular. 29-31 deg C every day at this time of year and no rain or cloud.
The people; everyone is super nice apart from one guy who got a bit shirty on the rush hour metro when people were pushing him.
The food, amazing. Portion sizes are often huge and there’s SO MUCH to choose from. It’s not ridiculously expensive – well, it can be if you want but my fave food is probably Indian street food and I’ve been finding spectacular choice and quality in this department – way cheaper than the UK.
Nightlife: I’ve not been much in the way of drinking and partying so I can’t comment on that world yet.
The shopping; it seems that shopping is the national pass-time here. The paradox of choice. Even on my own work’s door step there’s a huge shopping mall.