Friday, January 30, 2009

Q's Motorcycle... Spray Painted!

A couple days ago Q's beloved motorcycle was found spray-painted while parked next to our building! Needless to say, we were quite shocked and displeased! I mean you hear about vandalism on walls and maybe even cars, but motorcycles?!? Geesh!

On a side note, Q's currently on a week-long motorcycle trip around Cape Town in South Africa *by himself* - good for you, sweetie! I only found out the day before he left that Cape Town was listed as #5 on BBC's "Top 50 Places to Go Before You Die" list! *Droooool!*

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Year of Ox Celebration!

In response to several friends' requests, Q and I organized a Chinese New Year's Eve dinner in a local restaurant for 21 people!

Once again it felt like a bit of UN gathering, among the attendees you can find English, Walsh, Czech, Iranian, French, Malaysian, American, Dutch, Filipino, Jordanian, Canadian, and Chinese! :) Together we welcomed the new year with over 25 delicious dishes! Yum yum! :) Here is a video that I took with my phone, and our friend Ryan wrote a nice blog posting about it. Thank you all for joining us.

Happy Year of Ox, everyone! 祝亲朋好友牛年吉祥顺利!

Photo courtesy of

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Top 3 Reasons for Leaving... or Staying

Here's a clip from an article in The National newspaper today:

"...On Sunday, the (UAE) Ministry of Health said it believed that 24 per cent of Emiratis have diabetes as it proposed a 10-year plan to combat the epidemic. ...the ministry’s estimate might be conservative since only 15 per cent of the population were believed to be aware they had the condition. ...“on top of that there is another 14 per cent of people who do not know that they have diabetes. And on top of that you have another 24 per cent with impaired glucose intolerance – we call it prediabetic.”

That's over 50 per cent of UAE population with diabetes or at serious risk of it, y'all!

Beginning of 2009 marked 1.5 years of my living in UAE (1.667 for Q). The article above just triggered me to put together the following two lists.

Top 3 Reasons for Leaving UAE

1. Stress. In addition to work, navigating through daily routine tasks is no less exciting than a Wii game. Just the other day, I realized my conversation with the building maintenance staffs felt like a little UN summit. :)

Image from

2. Diet and exercise. The combination of meat-heavy diet and lack-of-exercise has significant effect on my (our?) waist line, and further on mental health. I try fighting back by becoming semi-vegetarian and exercise more, but it's not easy when Q and our friend GG spent the whole night cooking up a feast - not that I'm complaining, sweetie!

Image from

3. Reckless driving. I'm listing this as a separate item because the situation is quite serious. We can be as careful as growing eyes on the back of our heads, but it doesn't help when 20-something Emiratis driving (read: flying) their fancy Porsche cars and knocking down pedestrians in batches. 21 traffic-related deaths in 72 hours, what the heck is that?!?

Image from

Top Reasons for Staying in UAE

1. Jobs. They started off as good-paying jobs for additional savings, now we are in more for a shelter from the global financial storm. For those of you who are curious about the job situation here, rumour has it that Dubai suffered from heavy job cuts in the past two months, but Abu Dhabi has been relatively quiet. *Fingers crossed!*

2. Cultural influences. Besides living in an Arab country, we plan to continue travelling to more (nearby) areas taking advantage of our geographic location. Jordan, Egypt, Syria and South Africa (or another African country) are on our list.

3. Friends. Like we said in the past, the quality of friends we make here is truly humbling. In addition to friends back home (i.e. you!), they are the ones that help keep our feet in the sand - as opposed to "on the ground", get it? :)

All in all, given our experiences so far, Q and I will likely stick to our original plan of living here for 3 to 5 years, but maybe now more towards the lower end... Well, hopefully we will leave before my hair turns completely grey, inshallah! :D

Monday, January 12, 2009

"One Amazing Thing I've Seen or Done"

We received a CS (read as CouchSurfing, but you should know this by now if you are following our blogs) request from a 25-year-old guy who listed the following on his CS profile as the answer to "One Amazing Thing I've Seen or Done":

Climbing sea rocks off Malaysia's tropical Islands. Riding motorbike through hilly Northern Thailand. Bamboo boating on the Li river. Climing the East Tibetan Himalayas, running out of oxygen, food, and water at 4500m, and following locals on the mountain back to their village for dinner. Teaching English in Beijing for 4 weeks straight, 3 hours with one school, 2 hours at another, etc... By the end of it, I'd made almost 2000USD, working only 100 hours. I kept so busy I didn't even see the Great Wall. In Mexico, I traveled the entire distance north to south (From Tijuana, to Guatamala during winter), and by the Pacific ocean too (fantastic sunsets, and sandy beaches). Yucatacan Mexico is inferior to Pacific Mexico in many ways, except the colour of water there. After, I traveled Miami to Maine (in the USA, covering 14 states) in 6 months. Again, along the coast and up the Appalachain chain. New York was a low point, but New England seafood, the Everglades, Okefonekee swamp, Savannah, and my American hosts were worth the trip through America. Then came Maritime Canada, Montreal, and Toronto (where I grew up). Newfoundland is beautiful, and quirky. Prince Edward Island is pretty, and friendly. Montreal's probably the best Canadian city (outside winter), and Toronto is one big refugee camp. Then came along Europe, Madrid is way better than Barcelona, and you can skip Costa del Sol. Morocco is fantastic is you have friendly hosts. Beware strangers, they are "clever" (in a bad way). London is like a European New York, rude, aggresive, sarcastic, unfriendly, noisy, smelly, dirty, etc... Norway is the best country I've ever visited. Stockholm, and Oslo are great cities, along with Hong Kong - they are my all time favourites. Norwegian nature is ranked #1 in my book of photographs. The Balkans are broken, but hard, yet hospitable people keep the region alive. Macedonia is my favourite country there.

It didn't stop here. I forwarded the above to a dear friend Ryan Rowe to "beat this!", to which he responded with the following:

Sky-dived in Brazil. Bungee-jumping in Greece. Swimming at night with sharks on the Great Barrier Reef. Dancing in a park with locals in Beijing. Modeling high fashion on a catwalk alongside Colombian supermodels. Tending bar in the Turks and Caicos islands in the Caribbean. Floating in the Dead Sea. Sleeping overnight in a quinchee snow hut in Eastern Quebec. Surfing off the coast of California. Hitchhiking in Belize. Partying with bikini-clad models in Moscow. Staying with a refugee family in Palestine. Tracking the mountain gorillas in Rwanda. Throwing a message in a bottle overboard in Newfoundland and getting it back years later. Sailing for five days from Guatemala to Honduras. Dancing with the Spice Girls on Canadian music television. [Update: Hitching a ride on a lobster-fishing boat into the Mosquito Coast - Central America's largest jungle. Giving the valedictory address to 2000 fellow students at Concordia University. Celebrating New Year's Eve with over a million other people on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro. Eating grasshoppers in southern Mexico. Skinny-dipping in the Arabian Gulf on the coast of Dubai. Skipping a return flight from Brazil to Canada to spend three nights with a beautiful woman.] (N.B. Ryan's a true charmer who is ver proud of it. Good for you, rr!)

How's this for a quick crack? Need to go to sleep....

Well, how is that! Enough for me want to quit my job and go travel, considering my list only had one item, which was watching men shoulder-carry heavy loads up to top of Mount Tai in China! Good start, I guess... I think... I hope! :)

Here is a question for all of you. Long or short, I'd love to hear what you have on your list!