Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Q's got wheels! (and his driving license...)

I've got wheels!!

Ok, it's a rental, but still! This means I have a more flexible way of moving around the city, and not having to rely on cabs.
It took me 'this long', because I was not allowed to drive anything on my Dutch or international license, a weird thing really. When you have a visitors visa, you can rent/drive cars. When you have a working permit and are waiting for your residence visa, you are not allowed to drive anything! You first have to wait until your residence permit gets through, then you have to apply (ie convert) for a UAE license! And now I have mine! Here it is:

Next step is to get a car... I want to buy one, really, but I want to scout out what I want exactly... so in the mean time I've decided to rent one. And this makes it so much easier to get around town. You don't have to fear for your life while in cabs (now I fear for my life in my own car!).
It's a white (local color!) Nissan Tiida, ain't it sweet? :)

Monday, May 28, 2007


欢迎大家有机会来看看. Q和我非常欢迎大家. 谢谢关注我们! 感谢刘华涛和赵鸿靖翻译的大力支持!

N.B. That's a shout-out to my friends in China (and it applies to all our friends). It loosely translates to "Everyone's welcomed to visit. Q and I would be happy to have you here. Thank you for following our update. And special thanks to LHT & ZHJ for helping me with the Chinese translation. :)".

Homesick already?

Today I purchased a return ticket to Amsterdam! I'll be there from Friday, July 27 until Monday, July 30!

Homesick already, I hear you ask. No, not that :) but the opportunity was there and on that particular weekend that I'm going I am invited to a wedding and a group of friends will go sailing. Shu will most likely join me as well, but we still have to purchase her ticket. And she's contemplating on traveling for a while thereafter through Europe, so her ticket will be different to mine anyways.

List of things to do if enough time:
* eat herring
* have beer and sate at the Stoof

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Wanted Ad

While browsing for used furniture online on Golf News classified, I noticed the following - it is seriously funny.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Primer on Shu and Q's Relationship

Looks like I've done a much worse job with keeping my friends updated, so to avoid further confusion, here's a little primer on our relationship so far.

Nov 2004 - Q and I met in Cuba while backpacking. I was born and raised in China, but lived in Toronto. Q was half-Dutch and half-Filipino from The Netherlands. Besides each other, we also met Sara, a Spanish girl living in London. We all became very good friends and stayed in touch since then.

Jul 2005 - I visited the Netherlands and couch-surfed at Q's apartment thanks to his generous offer.

Dec 2005 - Q and I travelled to southwest US together, and that's when we started dating.

Mar 2007 - After a year and half's long distance dating, we want to be a bit closer to each other, and that's when we decided to move to Abu Dhabi together. Why AD? I'll let Q answer that - he has to do *some* posting, right? ;)

May 2007 - Q arrived in Abu Dhabi and started his new job with GCAA (General Civil Aviation Authority) continuing to be an air traffic controller.

Jul 2007 - I'll be joining Q in AD, inshallah (if God's willing). :) At this point, I'd likely to have quit my job in Toronto, and will likely take this opportunity to do some travelling before looking for a job in AD, once again inshallah!

Okay, I do feel a little silly now that I've typed up all this, but heck, if it helps even one of my friends to go "ahh", then my goal is achieved.

First Guest Already?!?

Yep, that's right - it looks like we may have our first visiting guest very soon - in fact, it's likely the person will arrive in Abu Dhabi on the same day as I do! That's right. "Time and tide waits for no man!" Well, sure someone is quick in catching on the wave. ;)

Q and I talked about asking visitors to guest-blog when they are in town, so maybe that's when you'll find out the identity of the mystery person. :)

Oh, pssst, did I mention that we don't have an apartment yet? :D

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Clarification About My Situation

So I forwarded this blog link to some of my friends and now everyone is confused as to where I am. Just to clarify, Q moved to UAE in early May. I am still in Toronto, and will likely take my one-way flight in early July. My apology for the poor communication!

Housing Madness

To use the word "madness" to describe the rental housing situation in Abu Dhabi is a bit of understatement. Q has been diligently searching for an apartment for almost three weeks now and so far he's only seen 6 or 7 apartments. Given the size of a big city like Abu Dhabi it is pretty pathetic that it's all there is available, thanks to a way-too-hot-in-demand rental market. Rumour has it, and I quote Q's email note, "17 apts (N.B. apartments) in another building close to our hotel went within one day, 8 apts in the TCA building (2 bdrm) went between 2pm and 7pm"!

So to cope with the madness, we've decided to go mad ourselves. Q just informed a real estate agent that we'd like to be put on the list for a 2-bedroom unit that will be finished "in 15 days" even though we have not even seen the apartment or a model! And the rent is in the range of AED 100k/year (~US$ 2300/month)! And that's not the end of it, as Q put it, "Until I step into an apartment, I will keep on looking." *Fingers crossed!*

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

First Morning Shift!

After two night shifts and four days of resting, Q is ready to start his first morning shift, and also his first real cycle of rotation. Good luck!

Friday, May 18, 2007

First day in the new country

May 5, 2007
After sleeping in big time (gosh, I hadn't done that in a _loooong_ while), I wanted to scout out the area. For one, I did not know where exactly, or even roughly, I was in the city. Outskirts? Near the city centre? No clue. I was 'fearing' that we would live close to our work, which is on the the eastern side of the island, and a great deal way from the city centre. Time to find out.

Getting to the reception I saw two guys standing in front of me. I had heard at some point that I would be training with two guys, two South Africans. So I took a guess and asked them if they were SA's, and they were. Sheer luck would have it that we ran in to each other right from the get-go! Johan and Gerhard, or Master G :)

We decided to scout the city out together. We took a cab to Marina Mall, which is the posh, very big mall on the tip of the island. I started looking around and trying to get my bearings, to my great surprise, we were just outside the heart of downtown! And going to Marina Mall was actually going out of our way since there is a mall just a few blocks away from the hotel. But we went to Marina anyway. Long story short, we had a very good time and we got to know each other slightly better. And we get along! Big bonus!

Listening talking in Afrikaans is weird, never met (and spent time with) South Africans before, so it's interesting to listen to them. I really have to pay attention to get what they say, but it is cool and strange at the same time to understand as much as I do. Johan is from Cape Town and Gerhard is from Joburg, or Johannesburg (just love the abbreviation they use for it).

Anyways, we also got to do our shopping at Carrefour, a huge one right in the mall. Gosh, the ordeal of having to buy everything new again, pepper, salt, sugar, olive oil, soap, flour, everything! I think I'll make quite a few trips before I'm well and truly satisfied with the contents of my kitchen. Hey, who would've thought otherwise :)

After having rested in the hotel for a little bit, we decided to venture out some more and discover the area around our hotel. Johan was craving Burger King, which he had seen along the way coming back from Marina Mall. We obliged and started looking for it. I, on the other hand, discovered that the BK Johan was looking for was actually one block away from an Indian restaurant Shu and I had visited on our trip in February. So I made up my mind and decided not to go for fast food but for for Indian instead, Gerhard happily obliged. Johan brought his BK with him and we sat down at the Indian restaurant. Both G and I ordered some currys with some garlic naan. Fin-ger-li-cking-good :) yumyum. Johan regretted having taken BK and promised himself he would visit this restaurant again soon!

It was getting late, so we started walking back. On my way I found an internet cafe, which I stopped at so I could chat to Shu, the parents and a few other ppl. Very annoying, my hotel does not have internet, so that's why I had to look for it elsewhere. Shu put it best when she said: "It's almost like you're alive again by being online :)"

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Trying as best as we can, we set up 'dates', where we spend one-on-one time with each other. Of course we have to consider the time difference of 8 hours! So either I'm sleepy, or Shu is, or we both are ;)

The internet connection in the internetcafe is not the best quality, unfortunately. So after a good deal of 'denial-and-error' we found the ideal situation that actually works!

Talk about multitasking: we use GTalk to talk, MSN to look at Shu's webcam and Yahoo to look at mine! For some reason neither program lets us do everything at the same time!

Gold Star for Q!

Just by reading the post, you'd have no idea how miserable I've been feeling for the past couple days. Thanks Q for helping me recognize it. For that, here's a gold star! :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

All Hands on Board

After about a week and half's theory training, Q will be going into his first shift tonight! WOOHOO! FYI, there are three type of shifts: morning (07:30-14:30), afternoon (14:30-22:30) and night (22:30-07:30), and the night shifts are usually the busiest, so all hands on board! Good luck sweetie!

Also Q and the other two fellow new hires have moved to another hotel nearby, and they are sharing one hotel suite to cut down accomodation cost. Q lost out to the coin flippings, but he ended up getting the master bedroom since the other two preferred the living room and study, so everyone's happy with what they got!

In the mean time, the house hunting continues. The good news is that we have some options, the bad news is the options we have are not quite what we had in mind - either too expensive or too awkward. Oh, the joy of decision making. :)

p.s. I feel like Q's spokeswoman, but what the heck, that's the least I can do to help, right? :)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Q arrives in Abu Dhabi

May 5th, 2007
Arrived in Abu Dhabi after an uneventful flight. My friend Desirée told me she once flew to Abu Dhabi and she really loved the airport for its design, and I have to say: I was very impressed by the looks of it. Basically it's a round 2-storey building with no support columns within the structure, apart from the centre one. The centre column had the shape of a whirlpool, so small below and growing bigger on top (donut-shaped). And then almost the whole ceiling is covered in different shapes and sizes of colorful tiles. Should you fly thru the airport, have a look! I promise, you won't be able to miss it! (picture not taken by Q, linked from WikiPedia)

My new employer had arranged for a cab to bring me to my hotel. And boy, was the cab ride interesting. When Shu and I visited Abu Dhabi 3 months ago, we learned quickly that the regular cabs are suicide machines. They drive like sheer maniacs. But there are also the more expensive cabs, they have luxury items as air conditioning, seat belts in the back seats (!) and all in all decent cars. The drivers speak English, something which could not always be said for the drivers in the 'regular' cabs. My ride to the hotel was with the more expensive taxi company. He drove for several stretches at speeds of 200 km/hr!! Ok, traffic was not too busy, and I did not fear for my life as I did with the other cabbies earlier this year, but still....

Right now I'm staying in a hotel until I find an apartment. The hotel I'm staying at is more of an appartment/suites kinda hotel. So I have a living room, bed room, kitchen and bathroom. Very decent! In the kitchen are a washing machine, gas (!) stove and fridge. Very handy should I desire to do some cooking (which I'm sure I will desire if I am going to stay here for at least a month!). Ok, you pay the price for it... so hopefully will find something else soon!

But I'm almost forgetting the bigger picture here:
After having played with the idea of moving to another country for 2 1/2 years, and finally making the decision to actually _do_ it last December, to the point in March where I got the job offer and I basically had 8 weeks to wrap up my life in NL: Yesssssssss! I'm finally here!

Let the fun begin! :)

Fish Outta Water

One of the challenges with a new environment is to establish ways of communicate with the outside world. So what has Q tried so far?

- Internet. The wonderfully equipped hotel does not have internet, not even you are willing to pay for it. Just outside the hotel wall there is wireless signal, but it's very weak and unstable. So we have the ever-popular internet cafes. Personally I've been to a few of them around the world, and I have to give it to the ones in UAE - they are definitely unique in their own way: clean cubicles, slow computers, and loud "neighbours". (N.B. by comparision, the Chinese ones are dirty, slow and quiet.) Q and I tried to have our date one night, and it took him 4 tries to find a decent computer - "decent" as it only crashed every half an hour instead of five minutes. The chat setup was the kicker - MSN didn't work, so we used Gtalk for voice and Yahoo msnger for video. The end result? See Q above. Woohoo! :)

- Cell phone. Q got a local cell phone number on the 3rd day, and he's still trying to figure out why we couldn't txtmsg each other. At least phone calls work though, at the cost of 2 Dhr (~C$ .60) per minute, so quite expensive.

- Hotel phone. This works - thanks God. But I have yet to understand what the hotel receptionists are saying when they pick up the calls. (N.B. Apparently I have great difficulties with understanding Indo/Pakistanian accents.) I am almost certain that they say "hello" at one point. ;)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Thoughts on Farewell Parties

I want to share with you my few thoughts on Q's farewell parties (Apr 27th and 28th). From the party at Pallas pub, I must say both Q and I were pleasantly surprised with the great turn-out and overwhelmed by the amount of TLC that night. Thank you everyone for your well wishes. I particuarly appreciate your effort of getting to know me better. For those of you who couldn't make to the event, I want to share the video clip with you - it's called "Q is Good for You!" and it contains a series of photos from Q's "terrible past". I hope you will enjoy it! :) And for some actions from the party, here are some photos taken by Jeroen.

Another great party was hosted by Wads and Bart (N.B. Q's parents) in their house. Oh, you should've seen their wonderful spring garden, so many bright colors, different layers and scents - such a feast of senses! It was very warm to meet with the close family friends who watched Q grow up. My apologies to the guests for being so tired that night, I felt bad that I couldn't talk with you more and get to know you better. Oh, and please do share some stories of Q's "terrible past" with me next time. :)

Final thought. It was interesting to realize that even though Wads, Bart, Q and I were together for the farewell party in Den Haag, yet a week later when Q was flying to Abu Dhabi, Bart was on his way home from Paris, I was already back in Toronto, and Wads was in Den Haag still. So from one location to four within a week - such an exciting and dynamic time in our lives!

Friday, May 11, 2007

The big day!

May 4, 2007, the *big* day... I slept very little, basically because I wasn't done packing, what else is new :)

Woke up at 6 and started finishing the last few things, we left for the airport at 10.30. We rode 2 cars, my mom with Mark and me with Cindy. But that was not all. What can I say... touched by so many people who came to see me off, or was it just to make sure I'd leave the country? ;) thank you, my mom, Isabelle, Sandra, Hassan, Cindy, Maarten, Donny, Lizzy, Kathy and Mark, for making it so special. I later learned that the whole group went for lunch at Maarten's place. Gosh, making me jealous already :)

I was a little (understatement) worried about my luggage. I had 'quite a lot' of stuff to bring, although I had tried to pack as much stuff in the container that was going to be shipped to me by sea. All in all I checked in 36 kg (I was allowed 30 kg) without a glitch. Glad they didn't weigh my handcarry. I had two, one was around 13 kg and my other (with all my camera equipment and laptop) was around the same.... hehe... I managed to get away with it, luckily.

After going through customs the next thing was duty free shopping. Going to a muslim country it is always tricky how much, if any, alcohol to bring. And since alcohol is difficult to get, and if you can get it: expensive! I decided to see what I could bring and stock up! 4 litres in total! You betcha I brought the full monty. Mark can be proud of me, I also got a nice single malt Macallan whiskey sample pack and a nice bottle of Jameson 18 yrs. I've tried 2 out of 4 so far, and yum! Mark: you know what to bring when you come over...

I flew the national airline, KLM and had a good seat with plenty of legroom. It was almost direct, it made a quick stopover at Bahrain, very close to UAE. After that to Abu Dhabi.

Welcome All!

Welcome everybody!

This is the blog that Shu and I will use to keep you posted on what's happening in the sandpit! For those who don't know us: we are Shu and Q, two 'Chinos' (as the Cubans called us when we met there in 2004) moving to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates!

If you wish to be e-mailed when this blog is updated, please leave a comment or mail either one of us!