Saturday, 17 November 2007

Princess Pea and the Minxy Mobile

After bemoaning the fact that "I'll never drive in Dubai because of all the wankers on the road", I went and did the unthinkable.

That's right - I bought a car!!!

Her name is Princess Pea and I bought her from Renee (a fellow Aussie) who's heading home for good next month. Keen to offload and find a new home for her car, I decided that if I'm staying another year and am already fed up with the non-existent taxi situation, it's worth my long-term sanity to make such a purchase.

Princess Pea is a 1999 VW Polo and for a bargain price she's now all mine! I'm pleased to say that this is the start of many a grand adventure and I just can't wait to hoon around like a local.

I've discovered where the horn is and I'm not afraid to use it! I've worked out that if you act just as unpredictably as the rest of Dubai's insane traffic, no one will bother you and they also won't come near you! So, here's to changing lanes abruptly, honking the horn constantly and turning on my hazards during the rain. Nah, just kidding! I'll be honking, but I won't forget my well learnt road rules from home.

On the second day I had the car, Jena dubbed her the Minxy Mobile and we embarked on a mission to Ikea. It was....interesting. The trip from my place to Ikea should take 20 mins. It took an hour and on our journey we were treated to a drive by of the airport, featuring the airshow (very exciting and made me think of HOT fighter pilots in sexy uniforms!), a few of Dubai's bridges and finally a few signs that pointed us in the right direction. If we hadn't been chattering non-stop and a big fat truck hadn't been in the way, I wouldn't have missed the exit sign and we'd have been there in the expected time. Never mind, we hooted around Ikea, buying plants and then delightedly packed them into the car and drove home. Jena nursed the massive tree I bought for my bedroom and with our eyes firmly open and searching for signs, we made it home in 20 minutes and only drove on the wrong side of the road once!!!

Yesterday featured a trip to the Mall of the Emirates (MOE to us locals) and it was navigationally successful. While I'm vaguely aware of the direction of things in Dubai, my lack of attention while travelling in taxis attributes to my poor navigational skills. After a few false starts, it was an enjoyable trip and I was thrilled to be able to wheel my trolley into the undercover parking lot and put it all in MY CAR and drive home. No more waiting 3 hours for a taxi that smells like the arse end of an unwashed camel and having to provide my own directions.

Next stop - day trip to Jumeirah Beach Park - let the adventures begin!!!

My Birthday WEEK

Very excited to be heading back to the mother land for my 25th birthday, I eagerly got out of bed when the alarm went off and showered, finished packing and painted on my hooker-red lips. Ash and I excitedly boarded the school bus, our suitcases laden with birthday celebration outfits and burst into the briefing room. My friend Dean was there, as well as Stefan who I recently did a Brissie trip with and we all had a good chat and then got down to business. The pilots came in, and with the general declaration in his hand, the captain looked around and said "Lauren, where's the party?" The gen dec has all our birthdays on there and as mine was the next day, he figured there'd be a bit of a bash. He was most definitely on the right track!

On board, we chatter excitedly about our plans for the trip and what we'd be doing for my birthday. I usually HATE direct Australia flights with a passion that only rivals my hatred of celery, people who can't pronounce 'hospital', 'spaghetti' and 'bag' correctly and people who don't say thanks when you hold a door open for them. I jumped at the chance to do this flight because Ash was on it and I couldn't get a Brisbane trip, so figured that being in Sydney was the next best thing.

We finally landed and it was my birthday! Woooooooo hoooooooo! 25 at last, I ripped into my presents when I got to the hotel, read a lovely card from Jono, talked to him until the jet-lag prevented me from talking coherently and then passed out. Ash and I wandered into the mall later that day for some shopping and lunch and where did we end up for lunch on such a special day? HUNGRY JACKS. Ha ha ha. I had visions of a a late brekky/lunch at a classy little cafe somewhere, but after some shopping and Ash's eyebrow appointment we were starving and needed to eat. With whopper meals in tow, we sat at some glittery red stools and scoffed down our purchases. Refreshed, full and super greasy, we scooted off for some more shopping before an afternoon nap and dinner.

Dinner at the hotel was gorgeous - we ate at GLASS the restaurant on the second floor and marvelled at the beauty of it. A very classy joint indeed. It made up for hungry jacks at lunch ten-fold! Due to our no-alcohol-withing-12-hours-of-a-flight rule, we managed to squeeze in one cocktail before our curfew and enjoyed a delicious dinner and desert. Soft, delicious lamb, mashed potatoes, veges and then a passion fruit souffle with lavender ice cream was the loveliest way to celebrate my birthday. We were joined by Dean and also Lauren and had a lovely night.

Up early the next day for our trip to Christchurch, we chattered away, planning dinner for that night. Once we landed, we bought a bottle of wine that went straight into the freezer for chilling once we got to the hotel and had drinks in the ever-so-hard-to-find crew lounge on the very top floor hiding behind many a closed and locked door and even up a flight of circular stairs!!

Off to dinner we went, wrapped up in our huge coats. We were a group of about 11 crew, rather impressive, given the crew track record when the words "sure I'll be down for dinner" are uttered. No one ever turns up. We settled down at a huge table and proceeded to order delicious steaks, more mashed potato and wine. Lots of wine. We had a great meal, with lots of laughter and then it was time to head to a local club. By this time, the group had dwindled down to about 7. Straight to the bar, Mike the captain ordered shots called Aftershock. Woah. POTENT. I thought I was breathing cinnamon scented fire for about half an hour!

We did some dancing, drank many more drinks and played some pool. I officially won the title of the world's worst pool player. I suck.

Munching on meat pies on the way back to the hotel, we happily made plans for the next night in Sydney. The flight back was uneventful and we all got ready as soon as we hit the hotel. It was a late landing, probably about 8pm, so we didn't have time for dinner. For any of you staying in the Sydney Hilton, MAKE SURE you go downstairs to the Marble Bar and have a Rasberry Beret - they are super dooper delicious and I estimate I drank about 8! At 50% off for crew, they're a very tasty $7 drink!

After some good, but way too loud live music at the Marble Bar, we set off in search of The Slip Inn, the place "Our Princess Mary" met her prince Frederik. I must admit, there were certainly NOT any princes there that night, or even anyone slightly resembling someone princely. I thought it was a bit of a dive, but it made for a good night. On the way home, we got completely drenched after running around in an unexpected downpour - Aussies just love a bit of puddle jumping!

We had the pleasure of flying a my friend Katja into Sydney on the first day, as she'd recently resigned and was returning to Sydney. It was lovely to be part of her final flight, and got her a bit loaded on Moet during the flight and she was farewelled by a very happy crew on landing. She came out with us on the second night in Sydney and it was lovely to see her so happy to be home.

After a rather late night, I dragged myself out of bed for some lunch in the mall with Dean and then it was time to get ready for the flight. about 20 hours later, we landed back into Dubai and I was a little sad to see everyone leave. It was a fantastic trip and a fantastic birthday. I've decided that 25 is going to be one hell of a year!

Maj flies to Sydney

I was lucky enough to manage a super swap this month, thus ensuring me a STELLAR roster! I gave away a Bangalore (totally crappy turnaround) and a 3-day Jakarta (the source of my last belly bug) for an 8 day Bangkok/Sydney trip and the best part of all? My beautiful Mum (known to the family as Maj, as her middle name is Majella) flew down to see me for three days!

The last time I had this trip was February and we did the same thing, so it was lovely to get Mum all to myself for a few days and have some good mother/daughter time.

We flew into Sydney at about 7am and Mum met me at the airport and caught the bus with us to the hotel. She was met with a chorus of "hi Mum!" when she got on and everyone was very interested in our a-typical passenger! We had a different hotel from last time, due to a moth infestation at the Wentworth (and most of Sydney). When we pulled up at the Radisson and filed into a room to collect our room keys and allowances, many of the crew came over and introduced themselves to Mum and asked her how she was and what her plans were. It was lovely to have a good crew for once, capable of talking to people and forming coherent sentences!

So often we fly with people who are so plane-brain that they can't think of anything besides "would you like tea or coffee?" and "I need to replenish my lipstick". Very refreshing indeed.

We went shopping, had a lovely buffet brekky at the hotel (omelettes are AWESOME at this buffet!!), wandered around the Rocks and enjoyed a bit of people watching down at Circular Quay.

On my trip home to Brissie with Jon, Mum packed me up with all my birthday presents, making me promise I wouldn't open them early. A few days before my trip to Sydney, she instructed me to pack them, saying she'd let me open them a week early since she'd be there to supervise! Woo hoo! In they went, carefully packed and ready to be opened. We were into them within half an hour of getting into our room!

A highlight and surprise present that came out of Mum's bag were some paintings from beautiful Stella and Sienna on hard backed canvases. The girls are such little treasures, they're always doing paintings and drawings for me. My walls in Dubai are covered with them, anyone would think I've got children of my own.

We had a lovely dinner with Lauren (like we did in February). This time we ate at a beautiful Moroccan styled restaurant called The Victoria Room. The food was delicious, even though the portions were slightly skimpy! It was dimly lit, making for a very cosy, intimate dinner. We chatted for hours and were almost the last ones to leave.

The three days were over before we knew it and it was time to head to the airport. We posted our postcards across from the hotel and climbed into the school bus and off we went. At the airport, Mum was sent off with a chorus of "bye Mum, have a safe flight!!".

Next stop - Bangkok for a super cheap, super relaxing aromatherapy massage and a good sleep.

I flew back into Dubai and had a few days off to prepare for my next Sydney trip: aka MY BIRTHDAY WEEK!!!

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

It's been a anyone still out there?

Hi everyone, my apologies for how long it's been since my last post. I've had many adventures and have many of them written and waiting to be posted, but I'm having serious trouble adding any pictures because of the super slowwwwwww internet connection happening here in the bloody desert!

I've put together a little slide show of some of my more recent adventures to tide you over...