Saturday, May 18, 2013

Dubai Desert Safari

Firstly, apologies for the lack of posts lately. I've had this one sitting in the scheduler for awhile now, but just wasn't feeling the motivation to get it done. I really need to start regularly scheduling some time on my 'to-do' list to post about some of the cool things I've done over the last few months. This post is actually way overdue, since these pictures were taken in June last year! My sisters came to visit me for a few days in Dubai, the first time any of my family had come to visit since I moved to Dubai in 2010. Better late then never I guess!

We had limited time, since they had both taken tie out of busy work schedules, but the main motivating factor was that Madonna was performing in Abu Dhabi. My eldest sister is the biggest fan, and I said to them, why not come for a quick visit AND catch the concert? Lucky for them, since Madonna then cancelled the Aussie legs of her tour. So at the age of "more than 35", eldest sis finally realised her dream of seeing Madonna perform live, something she'd wanted to do since she was a teenager.

Anyway, on to the photos. In the short time we had, we decided to do the typical Dubai Desert Safari. I'd originally wanted to go with the company affiliated with my employer, but a friend told me try another one that she'd been happy with. She must have got them on a good day, because while we had a fun time, there were a few aspects that we really weren't that happy with, but I think it was due more to the individual guys taking our tour than to all of them being that way (I hope)

Old area of Dubai
Earlier in their visit we did the whole Gold Souk/Abra ride thing, which was fun but very hot in the middle of summer. Cheap though, at 2dhs or so a ride. Whee!

Dubai Creek

After calling it quits since it was too hot, we took a ride to check out the Atlantis Hotel. Unfortunately, since my prior visit they had blocked off access to all except hotel guests, so you couldn't see any of the awesome rooms that I had seen. Shame, but understandable, since hordes of tourists had been turning up with tour guides too lazy to actually guide, and had just dumped them to wander for an hour or two.
The famous gold vending machine. You can buy small (really small) bars, coins and pendants, some with touristic stamps of Dubai landmarks on them. Still worth $$, though.

After Atlantis we went to our hotel for the pickup. The 4WD showed up, along with a khandoura-and-dishdasha wearing driver who turned out to be Omani. Two couples were in with us, making for a bit of a squishy ride. After driving about 30mins, we took the usual stop at that random petrol/snack shop on the Al Ain road then headed into the desert for the start.
Real dunes!
It was a liiiiitle disappointing that instead f getting to sandboard, they parked up with some other cards and we ended up waiting about 30mins for a bunch of other cars to join us, while the drivers sat around talking and smoking. I'm not sure if there was never any sand boarding on the agenda, or if we just lucked out and got the lazy ones. :/ So, took the chance for some happy snaps.

I got sand... in my shoes....

I love the colours in the sand, so pretty
Once the other cars arrived, it was time for some dune bashing. While it was fun, our driver seemed to get particular kicks when people were asking to tone it down, lol... Stopped just in tie before we all got car sick. So, if you get easily motion sick, skip this bit, haha!

After the dune bashing, we got a bit of time to sit outside, by this time it hard started to cool down so we could take some pics together. If you didn't know any better, we could have been the only people there :)

My fave photo from this outing

After the desert, we headed back to a camp, on the way stopping for photo ops with camels. We had all seen them before, so no big deal, but the other tourists went nuts, it was kind of funny.

An A380 on its way somewhere fun...

I really like this photo, camels are actually very interesting to photograph and
are capable of so many expressions.

Then it was to the camp for traditional henna painting, dinner and a show. We did the henna, me completely forgetting that I would still have the marks at work. oops!

Luckily I had 2 weeks off, so the henna marks were mostly gone by the
time I had to fly again. Good thing because my trousers no longer fit at
that stage- too much eating!
The show consisted of a belly dancer, and then a tanoura show and a whirling dervish. He was good, went for at least 7 minutes non-stop. Don't know how they do it!
Yummy dinner.
All in all it was a fun outing with my sisters, I'd like to do it again for the full experience, so I think next time I'd try a different company. Want to see the falcons again and also try the sand boarding :) If you visit Dubai, do try the desert safari, especially if you only have a short time. Combine it with a visit to the Gold Souk and an abra ride and you have the traditional UAE experience....

Friday, March 22, 2013

Quick Fix- Broken Powder Compact

One of the downsides to my job is having to take a lot of makeup with me when I travel. Usually, I don't wear much makeup (aside from maybe mascara & lipstick) unless I'm either at work or going on a night out.
I've been pretty fortunate so far, in that I haven't lost or broken too many of my cosmetic items on my travels. The most frequent 'breakage' I tend to suffer is the dreaded powder compact drop-and-shatter. Sadly for me, the latest occurrence was while opening a new compact. In my tired state, I dropped it, and the powder cake broke. Oops. What to do? Well, if you are like me you hate waste, the good news is it's not the end for your powder foundation.
On a previous trip to Hong Kong, I had picked up some beauty storage containers, including this cute powder jar and puff from Sasa for a couple of dollars.

So, if you have dropped your powder like me, but want to keep using, here's what you do.
1. Get a powder jar & sifter set (Most Asian beauty stores have these cheaply)
2. Scrape the broken powder from the compact into a small container or bowl.
3. Using a suitable tool, crush the powder cake evenly until it becomes loose powder.
4. Transfer into the container, tapping the sides to settle the powder evenly.
Voila, your annoying broken powder cake is now a portable loose powder that you can carry around for touch ups :)
Environmentally AND purse friendly!
Oh and step 5? Try not to drop your next powder compact... ;)

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Video Games Live- Dubai

It's no secret that I'm a big nerd, especially when it comes to the 80's and video games. So I was very happy to see advertised online that the cool Video Games Live concert was coming to Dubai. It started in the US and has since appeared in dozens of countries to rave reviews.

The basic concept is that it's a montage of videos and images from popular and famous video games set to music which is provided by a live orchestra. The sow is accompanied by various effects including lighting, sounds, smoke and lasers (The effects and content very from show to show and between cities, dependant on the venue) Details at Video Games Live

Even though December was my reserve month, I bought tickets and hoped that I would get the day off. As luck would have it, I did. Yay! Time to get my geek on...

Premium tickets were the middle tier, with the others being Regular and VIP. I went for Premium as the rep at Virgin M.E. told me that Regular was standing only and Premium had seats. Unfortunately I found out on the day that this was not the case, which was annoying as the Premium ticket was almost double the price of Regular. Oh well.

The doors opened in the afternoon, as there were some meet n greet events with various visitors and also some gamin displays. I went a bit too early as I got a little bored after awhile, the concert only started at 7.30 and it felt like standing around a long time as there was a bit of a delay. The gaming stations they had were: Skylanders Giants on Playstation, Mortal Kombat on Playstation, as well as a FIFA game, a FPS game (didn't pay much attention) and another adventure game (possibly Uncharted 3 but I'm not sure). I was a bit disappointed not to see any Nintendo, especially with the Wii U having been recently released, but I think that is more a reflection of the distributors in Dubai than the organisers.

I kicked some teen's ass my first time playing MK3, he got really mad when
I pointed out that using Scorpion's spear throw every turn is kinda lame.... lol
Finally after lining up for about 40 minutes, it was time to go in. It was free seating but I managed to end up in the front row of the premium section by lining up early. I ended up sitting next to two Emirati girls who commented on my Nintendo t-shirt and asked where I got it :)
"Roses are red, violets are blue, All your Base,
Are belong to us" A geek joke to start the event

I also did some nail art for the occasion. Pika pika!

Yes I wore my Tanooki hat! ^_^
Time to begin!!

The emcee also played guitar in some of the sections, and he was really good!

Most of the segments included music accompanying scenes from games, but with added content like having the actual composer of the musical score there to conduct the orchestra (example, God of War game)
Everyone knew this one...

An intermission allowed guests to get refreshments and for the
orchestra to take a break (it was quite warm inside)

My fave, the Legend of Zelda montage. It got lots of applause.
As a big fan, it was cool but I think they could have had 'more'..

Another cool segment included an onstage Guitar Hero play-off, where the competitor played on the big screen, and an interactive Space Invaders where the player was the 'ship', he moved across the stage and the ship moved on the screen, aided by motion capture. That was really neat!

Earlier while we had been waiting, I saw and chatted with some cosplayers from various genres, they were called up on stage to participate in a Cosplay Contest. We had a range from Mystique from X-Men to Final Fantasy groups, Ezio from Assassin's Creed and a 'soldier' from Call of Duty. (the guy from Call of Duty won since he was so 'into' his cosplay and acted the part as well, he had the audience laughing. Winner was determined by the loudest applause from the audience, which seemed fair.)

Sadly my camera battery died in the middle of the Zelda theme (of course!!! /sarcasm) so  don't have any more pictures from it, but I do have some on my phone so hopefully can upload a pic and video or two from there.

All in all, I enjoyed the event. There were a few minor issues that I think could be improved upon, but as a new concept to the Middle East and the first VGL concert in Dubai, it was pretty good. I'd give it a 7.5 out of 10 and will definitely be going to VGL M.E. 2013 :)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Greyscale Snake (Outfit Post)

Recent outfit for lunch with friends.

Snake print wrap skirt & black tank- Emerson at Big W
Denim jacket - Possibly Valleygirl or Dotti
Gold necklace - Forever 21
Sandals (not seen) - Candy label at Kmart

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Starting Out As You Mean to Go On...

There's that famous saying that what you do on New Year's Day will predict how the next year will go. Well, if mine is anything to go by, I'll be sleeping in and getting ready for work in 2013! Not sure how I feel about that...

I had standby just before New Year's- tried to be good and sleep beforehand but it just wasn't happening for me. I got to the standby lounge and semi-unpacked to make myself comfortable for the duration. With about an hour to go, I finally allowed myself to think that I might just be getting New Year's 2012 off since I had to work at Christmas. Mistake! No sooner than I had the thought, I heard "Staff number XXXXXX, you are pulled for Flight XX to (US destination)". Groan!!

U.S. flights are hard work at the best of times; on top of this add hardly any sleep and no good food that morning (had been waiting on the delivery guy to arrive to the standby lounge, so no breakfast!) As the flight went on though, I could manage to think of the positives- we had a good range of crew, the passengers were okay and the destination had some interesting things to see. I'd get through it.

That trip brought me back to Dubai on January 2nd. Since it had displaced me from the following trip (boo hoo- Kuala Lumpur, haven't been for ages!) I ended up with three extra days of reserve. Luckily, I didn't get called but could use those days to recover from jet lag.

Yesterday was a bit of a waste; I slept in, took down the Christmas decorations and spent half the day trying to book some last minute staff tickets for my sister. Of course New York this time of year on standby is out of the question so had to convince her to try somewhere else instead. Then stayed up all night as my body clock was stuffed up and watched movies. Popcorn at 3am, yeah that 'healthier diet' resolution can start next week... ;)

And now, after sitting in a bit of a funk today, to try and get out of my bad mood I have decided to clear out my closet of all the stuff I never use or "will get round to" wearing some day. Unfortunately, I tend toward a personality that likes to have 'stuff', and lots of it. I'm kind of ADD in that I go from one hobby to another with regularity, love it to death then quickly move on to something else. Thus, I have 'stuff' from scrapbook paraphernalia to baking equipment to my fish tanks, proper paper books, comic collection, , beauty products, video games etc etc... which is fine if you live in your own place, not so fine when you share. (At least I have the big bedroom!)

Which brings me to my problem. I'm quite good at making piles of stuff to 'mend' 'throw' or 'give away', but when it comes to getting rid of them, well.... "what if I neeeeeed it?". Last few times I've done this I've ended up regretting getting rid of something as I'd actually wanted it not long after. I don't know if I only thought of it because I had seen the item lately, or if I would have actually wanted it anyway.

So. I need you guys to tell me of any tip, trick or system that you use to get clutter down. I really need to spend less time online as well, but one problem at a time!!! Leave a comment and let me know how YOU do it!!

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