Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Round Abouts

Driving here in the UAE can be quite interesting! They drive fast and aggressively.  Tailgating is an art form and passing (or overtaking as they call it) is very common...even when it is not safe or legal.
So, all in all, not much different than driving in Phoenix! There is one difference here though...round abouts (unless you are from Jersey)! Actually, once you get used to them they aren't too bad and most are quite beautiful! They put a lot of thought and care into them here. I was able to snap a couple photos the other day while hubby was driving. Each round about is unique.


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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Border Run Time

One of the joys of moving here as a dependent is getting to do border runs until everything is in place to get a resident visa. Now that we have housing we are getting ready to get our resident visas but it is time for our 2nd border run.

Our first border run was March 2. A tourist visa is good for 30 days (with a 10 day grace period) at which time you must leave the country and re-enter. This is fairly easy to do from Al Ain and a bit more difficult if you are placed in Abu Dhabi or the "Wild West",  in which case you need to drive a bit (or fly) to find a border.

The least busy border crossing in Al Ain is the one that is just past Bawadi Mall. There are others that aren't as far of a drive but the borders are busier. The best time to go is during work hours (between 8am and 1pm). Since this is the only border we have crossed the steps below will be specific to this border crossing. If you go through a different border you may have a slightly different experience (also, I am doing this from memory so I might have forgotten something but this is essentially how it works).

1. Be sure you (or your driver) own your car or have a letter from your rental company that you can enter Oman. Taxis are not an option...they are not allowed to cross the border.

2. Drive out past Bawadi Mall and the Outlet Mall (coming soon) until you reach the border. Be sure to read the signs and follow the speed limit and don't take pictures (they are not allowed at the border crossing).

3. Follow the signs and lights. Depending on the time of day and how busy they are you may or may not have to stop at the first guard shack. If you do, they will tell you what you need and direct you to the next area. If you don't, then just drive slowly to the next area.

4. This next area has 3 (or 4) lanes. Be sure to choose the one for cars that has a green light. Wait in line until you get to the window. Your driver will be asked for his/her Emirate ID and vehicle registration card. You will also be asked how many people are in the vehicle. They will then give you your items back and a piece of paper to be handed to the person at the next stop.

5. Drive to the next stop. They will ask for your paper and direct you to park and go into the departure building. Once inside the building, take a ticket (if they are busy) or just go to the counter (if they are not busy). They will enter your passport information into a computer, stamp your passports, and request 35 ADE per person (they prefer cash here). They will also give you a little slip of paper. Take your passports, and that piece of paper and get in your car and head to the next stop. (*Make sure that ALL in your party get an exit stamp, even your driver)!

6. At this stop you give the border guard the slip of paper and then head to the Oman side of the border.

7. In Oman, you will go through a small border checkpoint, tell the officer you are just heading back to the UAE. He will tell you to go to the big building, park, and go inside.

8. Once inside the building, head to the counter on your left. Tell them you need a form and an exit stamp. You need a form for everyone, EXCEPT your driver (the driver does not need a stamp and does not pay the fee). Fill out the forms and give them your passport(s). After they process the paperwork they will ask for 50 ADE per person (they prefer credit here). They will then tell you to go across to the other counter or to your car and around to the outside window for your exit stamp (we went outside).

9. Get your car and drive around to the window on the side of the building. Hand the guard the passport(s) that need exit stamps. He will process the passports and hand them back with a piece of paper to be given to the next guard.

10. The next guard will be at the end of the building. He will stamp the paper. Then drive to the next guard.

11. This guard will take the paper and verify the number of people in the vehicle.

12. Now you drive back to the UAE side.

13. Drive up to the first guard area, he will tell you to park and go inside the building.

14. Park, go inside building and take a ticket. When your number is called they will take your passport (s) (including your driver's passport) and process them. When they are finished they will give you your passport and a piece of paper. Go back out to your car and drive to the x-ray thing.

15. The x-ray thing may or may not be on and may or may not take a photo. Drive through and head to the last guard.

16. The last guard will take the little piece of paper and verify the number of people in the vehicle.

17. That is it! Head on back and watch for camels in little pick-up trucks!

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

To the Beach ~ Dubai

We needed some more items from IKEA and since, IKEA is in Dubai and Dubai is on the Arabian Gulf we decided to check out the beach as well! Monkey and Ladybug had a blast!
Camels along the road to Dubai
The Burj Khalifa (one day we will go there)
Daddy, Monkey and Ladybug in the Arabian Gulf



Finding seashells

Ladybug burying Monkey in the sand
Unicorn decided not to enjoy the water today.

On the way home we got to enjoy a beautiful sunset...reminds me of our Arizona sunsets!


It is hard to see through the haze but in the distance is Jebel Hafeet (where we were yesterday)

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Jebel Hafeet

Road Trip. Okay, not really, as we live near the base of the 2nd highest mountain in the UAE but it is a long, curvy road that we traveled to the top! Jebel Hafeet is near the border of Oman. 

View from the car on the drive up
It is hard to see but the road was very curvy
The kids enjoyed the park at the top
Swinging at the top of the mountain
Monkey, Ladybug and Unicorn at the top
A view of the road from near the top
Monkey, Unicorn and Ladybug at a pullout near the top
A view of Al Ain
A playground at Green Mubazzarah at the base of Jebel Hafeet

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Adventures in Housing...part 2!

Last I left you we were preparing to have an apartment inspected by the company and hoping to get it approved so we could move out of the hotel. Well...it wasn't that easy!

We submitted the papers on Wednesday evening and the flat was inspected on Thursday morning. The company decided that they didn't agree with the Landlord on the value of the property and they were going to see if they could come to an agreement. They sent hubby home for the weekend and said they would be in contact on Sunday. We were quite depressed about this so we went out with friends for the evening.

Friday we went to church and Hubby, Unicorn and I all gave talks in Sacrament meeting. Ladybug gave a talk in Primary and Monkey gave a scripture and said a prayer in Primary. After church we had a potluck with the members. After church we went back to the hotel and relaxed.

Saturday we decided to take a drive to Dubai and go shopping at IKEA. It was a nice distraction and we got some stuff for our new place.
Driving to Dubai
The tallest building in the world. The Burj Khalifa.
Sunday we went and looked at another apartment and decided to rent it but just before we got our paperwork in someone else rented it. Then at 8 pm we went out and looked at one last apartment and decided to go for it. We were running out of options because if we couldn't find something that would work for us then we would have to go with what ever the company had available. We got the paperwork together to submit Monday morning.

Monday hubby submitted the paperwork and the company did the inspection that day. Thankfully, they approved it! The kids also had their ice skating lessons.

Tuesday we got keys and started moving some stuff in.

Wednesday we got the utilities turned on and moved in more stuff.

Thursday we checked out of the hotel (after 54 days) and our appliances were delivered.

Friday was church and Unicorn spent the night at a friend's house.

Saturday we got internet and had someone come clean the apartment.

Sunday the kids IKEA furniture was delivered and assembled. We also had some fun watching jets fly over our place!






Monday the kids had ice skating lessons and we had yummy chicken Parmesan for dinner.

Today we get our wi-fi and roku set up!

I am grateful Spring Break is 2 weeks so we can do some fun exploring next week!

Here are a couple videos of our new place. The first one was filmed before we had electricity or all our stuff in it but Ladybug wanted me to share it with you anyway...she is your tour guide! ;)


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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Adventures in Housing...

Last Thursday we were told we can find our own housing and to try to get it by the next Thursday!

Thursday night we scoured the internet searching for places and realtors (trying not to panic)

Friday we went to Church and then looked at 3 properties. The first was a villa that was TOO big, the second a villa that was TOO small, and the third was an apartment that was JUST right (yep...we felt a bit like Goldilocks)!

Saturday we looked at 1 more property and decided on the one from Friday. Saturday night we talk to our realtor and we was going to get us the info we need by Sunday.

Sunday we call and call him and no answer (really trying not to panic). Sunday night we meet with a financial planner and he says he will call is realtor friend and have him call us. The new realtor calls us Sunday night and we make an appt. to show him the property we want on Monday.

Monday we show him the property we want and he says "I rented that one out last week"! We then say we will take the other one that he showed us on Saturday (it was a lot smaller than we would like but we would make it work). He calls us back a few hours later and says that that property was rented out the night before (he also said we had "no luck")! LOL! He then promised that he will find something that will work for us. A few hours later he calls and says he has 2 for us to look at on Tuesday.

Tuesday we go look at an apartment that is too small and a villa that is being renovated and will be ready in 2 weeks. We decide to have the realtor meet us at "housing" and explain the situation and see if they will let us take the villa in 2 weeks. I then head to a mall that is near "housing" and just as we are about to pull into the parking lot the realtor calls and asks if we want to look at one more. He says it is brand new and he thinks we will like it. Since he is just on the other side of the mall we go meet up with him again and head over to the last place. Once we get there the doors are locked and we can't get in. He calls the landlord and he heads over. He ends up not having the right keys (the apartments are very new and the keys are at the bank and the bank is closed). Our realtor goes hunting around and finds an unlocked window and climbs in. There is a chair nearby that we use to help the kids and myself climb in as well. The apartment is a nice 3 bedroom with a decent sized maid/storage room that we can use for a 4th bedroom. We put down a deposit and are working on getting all the documents needed to take to housing to get everything taken care of. Hopefully we will be out of the hotel next week...just in time to start SPRING BREAK!

Read part 2 HERE!
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Monday, March 3, 2014

Abayas, Skype, Birthday, Border Run, and Camels

We have been in the UAE for 30 days now (and yes, we are still in a hotel)!

On Thursday, Feb. 20, we had our first guests! A family in our branch came by to visit and brought us homemade chocolate chip cookies! YUM!

Friday, Feb. 21, we went to church (still getting used to this whole church on Friday thing) and had a wonderful potluck meal with our branch afterwards!
Church at the Villa
Saturday, Feb. 22, we went shopping to find supplies that Unicorn needs for Youth Conference. She will be going on a Trek in the desert and needed a sleeping bag, mat, backpack, flashlight and 2 abayas (traditional dress for the women in the Middle East). We found everything she needed except the 2 abayas. Unicorn was also able to Skype with her father and her (half) brother back in the States.

Sunday, Feb. 23, we FaceTimed with my sister and her hubby and their puppies. We are especially grateful for technology here as it is nice to be able to talk with family in real time! A friend came and took Unicorn and me to a store that has abayas and we were able to find 2 that fit her (the only 2 in her size actually). She also took us to the supermarket so we could get some dinner and snacks. Then Unicorn went to Seminary.

Monday, Feb. 24, was the second day of ice skating for the kids. They are really loving this activity and are doing very well. I love that they all have their lesson on the same day at the same time!

Tuesday, Feb. 25, Unicorn had Mutual (youth group) and they went to the Rugby Club and played Frisbee Golf.

Wednesday, Feb. 26, we FaceTimed with my mom and step-dad and my mom's mom!

Thursday, Feb. 27, hubby went to Abu Dhabi to pick up his Emirate's ID card. This is big because now we can work on getting ID's for the kids and me and we can buy a car (after he get paid)!

Friday, Feb. 28, Unicorn's birthday! Can't believe she is 14 already! We also Skyped with my dad, step-mom, Gram (dad's mom), and Aunt & Uncle (dad's sister). Then it was time for Stake Conference. Hubby and the girls went and I stayed back with Monkey as he was showing signs of a cold.
Happy 14th Birthday Unicorn!
Saturday, Mar. 1, Unicorn and I went and got mani/pedi's for her birthday. Then we all went to Bawadi Mall and had Unicorn's birthday lunch at TGI Friday's, did some shopping, then had Cold Stone ice cream for dessert.
Unicorn getting pampered
Me getting pampered
Unicorn's pedicure
Unicorn's manicure
My cuties
Being silly
The birthday girl!
Singing to Unicorn for her birthday!
Cold Stone ice cream!
Sunday, Mar. 2, we got up early and did a border run. A border run is where you leave the UAE and come back under another temporary tourist visa. We should only have to do this once as hubby already has is resident visa. We will submit the necessary documents to get resident visa's for the kids and me as soon as Unicorn gets back from Youth Conference this coming weekend. On the way back from Oman we saw a pick-up truck with at least 5 camels in it! It was also Seminary night for Unicorn.
How many camels can you fit in a pick-up truck?
Monday, Mar. 3, today we were able to watch the Gilbert Temple Cultural Celebration. This was neat as it is the area we just moved from. It also made us a bit homesick. Then it was time for ice skating lessons. I really can't believe how well they are doing. The girls are skating forwards, backwards, and in circles. Monkey is getting pretty good at walking on his skates. He is still quite nervous about it though. Today was Ladybug's first day at Activity Days. This is when the girls at church ages 8-11 get together and learn and have fun together. She had a great time, especially since she isn't technically old enough to go. She was invited to join them as she will be 8 in May and there are only 3 other girls in their little group. Other good news today, hubby got paid, got his bank card and got his medical card! Next up, housing and resident visa's for the kids and me!
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