Baby, It’s Cold Inside!

The luxury of a long weekend allowed time to explore a few attractions I’d heard about but hadn’t yet visited. Besides, who doesn’t like an excuse for a road trip? I decided that one day would be dedicated to “chillin’ in Dubai,” and by that I mean hitting up sights that offer a temporary respite from the 100+ degree temps.

Watching enthusiastic desert-dwellers enjoy freezing temp activities is almost as exciting as watching their reaction to rain, something I witnessed only twice last year. In the land of everything, what isn’t here naturally can be created in the blink of an eye.
Stop #1: Ski Dubai, Mall of the Emirates
Real snow!! And lots of it- three football fields’ worth, they claim. Pretty cool for a desert. This 25-story tall ski hill has a chairlift and five ski runs that range from beginner to black diamond.

Throw in tube slides, a freestyle area for snowboarders, and a children’s interactive snow park.


Those who are so inclined can also roll down a long, brain-scrambling run inside a giant clear inflatable ball. Should you decide to partake in these activities for the afternoon, skis, poles, hats, boots, socks, gloves, etc. are available for obvious reasons.
Stop #2: Dubai Ice Rink, Dubai Mall
This is just one of the many attractions at Dubai Mall, “the world’s largest shopping and entertainment destination.” The Olympic-size rink hosts shows on ice and big-screen telecasts of popular sporting events. It’s also the venue for Dubai tournaments of the Emirates Hockey League Cup. Every night they host a disco dance party with a DJ and light display. Groovy.

Stop #3: Chillout Ice Lounge, Times Square Center, Dubai
Dubai would have to hang its head in shame if it wasn’t the home of the Middle East’s first ice lounge. Luckily, someone had the bright idea to create a hot drink café (where else?) in the middle of a mall. The entrance fee is quite pricey (75dhs/ $20US) so I’d recommend waiting for a Groupon or using the Dubai Entertainer. A BYOJ (bring your own jeans) kinda thing, the fee includes use of socks, boots, gloves, a hat, and a winter coat. A hot beverage of your choice is also included and can be sipped while sitting on a faux-fur covered ice block chair at an ice table.

Visitors admire the changing colored lights while kicking up “snow” off the ground.

You can stay as long as you’d like, taking pictures on or next to the ice sculptures, but 20-30 minutes is enough because it’s a tiny place. And it really is cold.

It gets HOT in the UAE, even for someone who prefers warm weather. But I admit it was actually enjoyable to beat the heat in Dubai, if only for a day.

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Positive Vibration

OK, OK… I received numerous comments on my most recent post- verbally, through email, texts, blog comments, Facebook comments- that I made people cry with my depressing rant. By far, the most difficult aspect of living here is missing everyone back home. However, at this moment I’m fortunate to be creating awesome memories with great people from around the world. Some I met on the plane ride over; others I’ve met along the first quarter of this journey.

Teaching in the UAE is no walk in the park. Though the majority of my friends are teachers, I’ve met a number of people who are working here in various other capacities. Admittedly, it’s nice to commiserate, laugh, share/compare/try to top other teachers’ stories, but it’s also a breath of fresh air to meet up with those who have little idea of what goes on in my life from Sunday-Thursday each week. No matter the reason for being here, all expats experience culture shock, stress, exhaustion, and frustration. Part of the problem lies in that we’ve been here for quite some time; the shine has worn off the apple and the daily grind can take its toll. We occasionally remind each other that although their “normal” is a far cry from ours, we’re guests in this country; we conduct ourselves with a modicum of respect and we realize that obstacles and red tape are not specifically aimed to complicate our lives. As remedies, we orchestrate road trips to experience life in and around the UAE, we laugh at the driving (usually), we embrace Middle Eastern cuisine, and we come to love the eerily soothing sound of the call to prayer, even at 5am.

This past weekend I actually felt like I was on vacation. Thursday night, I met Ashley in Dubai for the Ed Sheeran concert. The venue was awesome (I’m still complaining of sand-overload though, because it was blowing fiercely- sand in our eyes, sand in our mouths, sand in our beer).

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We ran into our friend Gemma; I’ve been here long enough that it’s unusual if I go out and don’t bump into someone I know, which is nice.

Yesterday, I accompanied two lovely ladies, Dani and Fatima, to the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr Hotel to make use of their complimentary beach/pool access passes. Because Fatima works for Etihad Airlines, she scored us a 50% discount on food and drinks. I opted not to use sunscreen because it was slightly overcast (sort of, not really) and therefore bearable to lie in the sun and fry myself. Mission accomplished even though I know I’m too old to treat my skin that way.

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I had some good conversation with a new friend last night. We talked about home and the importance of staying connected to our families. We call our parents quite often just to let them know we’re ok. We talk and text our kids throughout the day. It’s not ideal but it works for now. There are things we do and reasons why we do them; for me and many others, being able to better support our families is the payoff; inexpensive travel is an added bonus.

As I surveyed the pool area from my balcony this morning, I noticed that every lounge chair was occupied. I’m burnt and therefore grounded from the sun until further notice, but while watching so many people enjoy their relaxation time I realized that I’m lucky to be where I am right now. I need to stay positive! A few hours later, I was driving and an Emirati guy came out of nowhere, rode my ass, flashed his lights, flew past me going 160 km/hr and cut over three lanes to make his exit. Though I’m sure he didn’t catch it, I flashed him back with a peace sign, turned up my music, and car-danced the rest of the way home. I will survive.

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