burj al arab

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In 2012, my family and I packed up our bags and moved overseas permanently. By permanently, I mean we obtained visas as Permanent Residents in a brand new country – the United Arab Emirates. My husband’s work meant that we were to reside in Dubai and in 2015, we still call this place our second home.

 

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You always miss home. You always get a pang when family back home are doing something fun and nostalgia runs wild when loneliness is rife (usually during holiday season and kids hitting a certain milestone. Photos also trigger tears).

 

There are also times that you will feel like a foreigner, especially when you asked for tomato sauce or when people snicker at your use of the term ‘thongs’. However, there are 5 main reasons to counter-argue any depressing feelings you might have when you move abroad.

 

1/ Making friends.

 

Especially in a transient place like Dubai, you will master the skill of making new friends and saying goodbye to friends. Ofcourse with meeting new friends comes learning new things and experiencing different cultures. My friends nationalities range and I have met people from every single continent in one birthday party event. Do you realise how large the world is? You won’t, until you leave Australia and move abroad.

 

 

 

2/ You will learn about the literal meaning of unpacking your bags.

 

This is a big statement, I know, but it’s valid. In my first year away, I waited for happiness to come and knock on my door. I was in a brand new place, with magical opportunities at my doorstep. You would think joy would rain on me, right? Wrong.

 

I realised that the moving part wasn’t the hard element. I needed to get outside of my box and start living. I needed to put my old life behind me and start this new chapter. Old habits die hard, but I kid you not, they do diminish. I order with an American accent (no one understands Aussies) and I love the monarchy here. Crazy, I know.

 

It took me nine months before I purchased my first pot plant and it was then I realised that I kept worrying about not staying here. I kept wondering about when we would pack up and move. I made the choice to embrace the new opportunities that lay in front of me and put my Australian life on the shelf.

 

 

3 years later......

To a new beginning

To a new beginning

 

<—- The plant today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3/ You will have a TON of time to spend with you spouse/partner and children.

 

This is especially the case if back home you had to divide your time amongst 497 extended family members. When we first arrived, we just stared at each other and thought “HOW MUCH TIME!!!” So, we did things we never would have managed too. We took the kids to the desert for a picnic, we travelled (see next point), we played board games every single night for a year, we hung up the phone every evening (due to time difference) and we were free.

 

Eid mornings were pretty special – the children were able to come with us to the mosque and were able to open their gifts quietly and play with them.

 

As for marriage/relationship, it is an incredible booster. It doesn’t get monotonous, don’t worry. You begin to appreciate your partner because they become the foundation to your life. It’s deep.

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4/ Travel.

Being in the middle of the world (and not the bottom) is INCREDIBLE for your travel desires. My 10 year old son’s passport is pretty impressive and I am proud to have ventured to places I could only have dreamed off.

 

In our second year of living in Dubai, we decided to Road Trip around the UAE. Before you scoff at the small size of the country, you cannot put into words how it feels to jump into a wadi surrounded by caves, camp on a beach or meet remote Bedouins.

 

In 2014, we trekked through 5 European countries and with 3 kids it was quite a feat. I will never forget riding our bikes past the Amsterdam Canals and picking up Danish scrolls in Copenhagen. There was the time we were stranded in Sweden, stuck in a massive rainstorm without shelter. Or the time we felt heaven on earth at Huvafen Fushi in the Maldives. Did I mention how cheap tickets are over here?

The lines that outline Dubai.21012015_image5_R2150 The beach

 

5/ The value of family.

 

Being far makes you softer, your edges become less jagged and it’s marvelous therapy for a frazzled mum-of-3 (me) and a corporate junkie (hubby). We stopped groaning when our mothers called, and realised the importance of hearing about small, bizarre stories of childhood our fathers retold us. We prayed for Skype calls like someone prays for the lottery and when we receive a photo of family, we dissect it like we are in a laboratory.

dubai camel

 

If the opportunity arises, go for it.

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My best friend came to Dubai and she was only here for 2 short days. She’s an adventure junkie and loves to travel outside her comfort zone, so I planned an unbelievable 48 hours.

Here I present to you:

THINGS TO DO IN DUBAI ON YOUR SHORT TRIP.

DAY 1.

I picked her up and bought her to my side of town, a place called Jumeirah Beach Residence otherwise known as JBR. This place has had a major renovation/rejuventaion (still going) and is spectacular to visit. With an endless choice of cuisine (there’s well over 100) let your tastebuds choose. In this particular case, bestie and I went to the new area of JBR called The Beach. (I know, creative right?) The Beach is a new complex which has an outdoor cinema, a large grass area, a playground, indoor cinemas, heaps of showers and bathrooms, prayer facilities and of course a zillion restaurants. All overlooking, yep you guessed it… The beach!

 We ate at Operation falafel and devoured every last bite. Their food is amazing.

After breakfast, we took a short drive to one of the best malls in the world. The Mall of the Emirates is famous for it’s shopping, but my friend and I were there for one reason only – to escape the heat and SKI.

SKI DUBAI:  This place is visible from the moon, I reckon. The mall is weirdly shaped because of the ski slope necessary to make Ski Dubai as believable as possible. And trust me when I say, it’s just like going to the snow. The service is impeccable, you get every single item from the one place (nearly all of it inclusive in price) and then you choose the package you desire. We knew we had a long while (both hubby’s were watching the kids) so we purchased the Super Pass and booked ourselves in to… MEET THE PENGUINS!!!! So this is what we did for well over 4 hours:

We, went on all the rides dozens of times ( The bullet was my fave). We hugged and got a kiss from the beautiful penguins. We had a hot chocolate at the bar in the middle of the snow. And we yearned for warmth. So off with the ski clothes and back into the mall.

TIME TO SHOP: We were starving but couldn’t resist to have dessert first. So we demolished heaps of cinnabons. They look like this:

Then we went to shops like – H&M, Bershka, Pull and Bear, Debenhams, we got our makeup done (for free) at Harvey Nicholls, we went into Chanel, Burberry, Prada and LV (it’s cool getting doors opened for you by serious looking security guards) and then gawked at the massiveness of Carrefour. With our hands full, it was time for Dinner.

(LATE) DINNER: You can’t book a table at The Cheesecake Factory but the wait is well worth it. We were given a cute booth and the menu was colossal. 10/10 for taste. And the cheesecake… we went for White Chocolate and Raspberry Truffle cheesecake. YUMMY!

the-cheesecake-factory

DAY 2:

Time for some Waterpark action.

aquaventure_Aquaventure at Atlantis hotel is perfect. It is large enough that you will need 500 hours to take everything in, but we were there for 2 reasons.

This and this.

The ride was perfect for our adrenaline seeking selves and swimming with the dolphins was magical. There is a 30 minute chat with the dolphin handlers (did you know they hire people from all over the world?! what a job!) and then into the water we went. The dolphins are super smart, friendly and very fast. I couldn’t keep my eyes open while going on a ride on their back!

Because we were time restricted, we left Aquaventure and headed downtown. Normally, this is not advisable ( we were buggered!!!!), but in this case there was no choice.

Downtown Dubai is lit up like no other city in the world.

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It is the home to Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall and of course 10,000 other people enjoy downtown too, so make sure you do NOT drive there between 5-8pm. You will be advising the road, due to traffic.

Arriving at Dubai Mall, we went ice skating. There are a variety of skills on the Ice Rink so don’t worry and don’t feel self conscious. They have lively music, and help is available to little kiddies too.

After ice skating, we went to the Dancing Fountains. At 6pm, lines open for the Abra cruise, which (for a small fee) takes you on a little tour of the fountains and parks in a unique position to watch the show. The Show consists of a fountains dancing to the melody of a song. It is truly genius.

Afterwards, we ate at the following places for the following reasons:

The Social House : the Wagyu + mushroom Bolognaise is superb

Laudree : Because you can’t get enough macaroons in life

Pierre Herme : As above

– Cookies from Ben’s Cookies: Because the line isn’t long for no reason.

– A red velvet cupcake from The Magnolia Bakery : Because appearing on Sex and the City is enough to make you go there

– A rainbow slice, bubblegum cake from The Hummingbird Bakery: enough said.

We then went to the top of the world at Burj Khalifa. What. A . View.

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We said goodbyes and of course i reminisced about much there is to do in Dubai. I’ve complied some below.




MADINAT JUMEIRAH

Bec Judd recently visited this place. Check out her blog here. This place is my ultimate fave hangout – cafes, cars, lounges, shisha, having dinner on the beach and much much more is all available. Don’t forget to have afternoon tea at Fayrooz.

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     BURJ AL ARAB

OK, so it is the world’s only 7 star hotel and it’s clear why. We stayed here once. I know. ONCE IN A LIFETIME EXPERIENCE!!!!! And go to here to read my experience.

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   SKYDIVE DUBAI

Ronaldo, Rita Ora, Paul Van Dyk, Don Diamont, Usher, Felix Baumgartner, Shah Rukh Khan, Swedish House Mafia, Cristine Reynes, Akon, Michelle Rodriguez are some names that have taken the lunge. These are some images of the view – can you even handle?

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  DESERT SAFARI

A must do! There are many options – dune bashing is a fave of ours and kid friendly (above 10).

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Here are some links to some of my faves:

http://www.platinum-heritage.com

http://www.desertsafaridubai.com

https://www.arabian-adventures.com/en/tours-and-safaris/index.aspx

 

Till next time,

be happy.