Sunday, January 30, 2011

More Observations - day 16

Well, we've surpassed the two week mark and it's starting to sink in that this isn't a vacation, we actually live here now. Still kind of hard to think that way since 1) we currently live in a hotel with housekeeping services, and 2) I don't yet have a job. Here are a few more observations. I will say that I'm definitely getting used to things and had to wrack my brain a bit harder to come up with these - I take that as a good sign! :)

Bottled Water: The water here is actually potable, but it all comes from a desalination plant so tastes funny. As a result everyone drinks bottled water and it seems cheaper than it was in the states. Luckily for now, we get 4 small bottles everyday from housekeeping, so we haven't had to buy much. The gallon we bought our first week was about $1, which seemed pretty reasonable. At least it's just the taste keeping us from drinking from the tap and not like Mexico where you need to be careful when you brush your teeth. 

No Recycling program: The biggest challenge I have with the bottled water is all the plastic bottles we're dumping in the trash. There is no recycling program in the UAE, which just makes me cringe. There was an article about the amount of waste going to landfills in the UAE just last week, so maybe that's a ray of hope that a recycling program is at least being considered?

TV is behind and movie channels are ahead: It's been kind of funny to realize this, but the TV shows are either about a month or an entire season behind what you're watching in the states, but we have 3 movie channels and 2 of them show much more current movies than you could find on the free TV channels in the states. On Saturday, we watched Avatar, which I know isn't that recent, but still isn't available on the free movie channels back home. We also got a VPN to the states set up, so when we're in a pinch, we can access hulu and watch additional shows or the current season of something.

Taxis are cheap:  For such a large city, the taxis are really cheap. There is only one taxi company, they all drive the same vehicle and most of them are fairly new and clean, all the drivers speak English (although not always as well as you'd like), and tipping is as easy as rounding to the next dhiram. The biggest challenge is you really need to have some idea of where you're going because there is no GPS and addresses aren't really used here. Instead, you need to have some kind of landmark reference point like a mall, a hotel, a large building of some kind, then as you get closer either help the driver look or point out where you're headed. For the recruitment fair, the trip was about 20 minutes and maybe 9-10 miles and cost me about $5.50.

No decaf at Starbucks:  Starbucks is essentially the same except for a few minor things. They don't brew a pot of decaf like in the states. You can get a decaf latte or any other drink with a shot of espresso, but they don't have plain brewed decaf coffee. They also don't have a Starbuck's card system and the cards from back home don't work here. Finally, they don't all offer free wi-fi - some do, but not all. Oh and the pastry is much better!

Construction everywhere:  Almost everything in Abu Dhabi is either brand new or under construction. I really don't think you can find many areas in the city itself where there isn't either road construction or some new building going up or some repairs in progress. I sometimes feel like Abu Dhabi will be a really cool city, just as soon as everything is finished. :)

The Hot Corn stand:  The first time I walked into Lulu's hypermarket (grocery store) there was this wonderful smell. I thought at first it was the popcorn stand at the entrance, but no, it was the hot corn stand a little further in. Yes, hot buttered corn you can buy in a couple of different sizes. It's the funniest thing! It's not corn on the cob, but kernel corn smothered in hot butter. I haven't yet tried it (but I assure you I will!) and can't tell if people just take it home to eat or eat it in their car on the way home ... very curious.

What are your questions? Leave me a comment or send me an email and I'd be happy to respond to questions you have!

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