Monday, April 28, 2014

Happy 6th Birthday ~ Monkey

Can't believe my "baby" is 6 years old! Monkey just finished kindergarten and loves school so much that he is already booking through 1st grade. He is also getting to be a pretty good little reader.

For his birthday he had a friend over and they watched the movie "Planes", opened presents, and had some ice cream cake.

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Zakher Lake and Jebel Hafeet at Night

We got a tip from a friend about a neat little place to check out. We packed up the kids and set out to find this little hidden gem on the outskirts of Al Ain. Zakher Lake is a man made lake that was made by accident. We also decided to take another drive of Jebel Hafeet, this time at night so we could see the city lights.

Zakher Lake

Jebel Hafeet

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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, Mezyad Border Post. 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 Mezyad Border Post. Be sure to read the signs, follow the speed limit (they LOVE speed bumps) 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 next guard.

16. This guard will check the drivers passport and will give you another piece of paper.

17. The last guard will take the 2 pieces of paper and verify the number of people in the vehicle.

18. 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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