Monday, November 28, 2011

Back in Dubai

We arrived back in Dubai after two weeks in Brunei at about 1.30 this morning on an overnight flight with Royal Brunei and I've been struggling a bit all day.

I have trouble sleeping on aircraft anyway but the bumpy ride made it even harder. Just about every time I dozed off we hit some potholes which made it bumpy enough to wake me. The announcements about getting back to your seats, fastening seatbelts, lights coming back on, seatbelt sign bleeping made sure I was awake anyway.

Something like ten aircraft all arrived at Dubai within about half an hour and that's a lotta people to process. Since we cancelled our residency we don't have the E-Gate card - an electronic way to pass Immigration in about 30 seconds - so we had to join the queues.

Twenty desks but only five operating. Immigration staff like they are all over the world, not wanting to be there, doing very little to keep things moving quickly, being grumpy at best, even surly.

Fifty minutes it took to get through. Just what you need after an eight hour overnight sleepless bumpy flight.

At least it meant not having to wait for the luggage to come up. In fact the next flight's load was going round and round and the previous flight's, ours, had been offloaded to the side of the belt. Ours bags were amongst the pile, so that was the easy part for once. With the speed of the E-Gate card it usually meant a thirty minute wait for our bags to appear.

The roads were't too busy so the taxi ride from airport to apartment at Dubai Marina was an easy one.

We got some shuteye, made it to coffee at Dome (an Aussie franchise) at Dubai Marina by about ten. Then we had lunch at one of our favourite Arabic restaurants, Al Halab at Mall of the Emirates. Fresh lemon & mint juice, hommos, tabouli, shish tawook, freshly baked Arabic bread.

I felt better after that.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

G'day from Brunei

Been here a week, flying back to Dubai on Saturday evening, then back to Terrigal mid-December.

The week here so far has been sunny, hot and humid. Tropical downpours but they've been during the night. The one exception was Saturday when we had a trip planned into the capital, Bandar Seri Begawan.

The driver picked us up after lunch for the 1.5 hour drive and it rained all the way. That limited our sightseeing, but there's very little to see anyway.

We had a look around the two major tourist attractions, the Royal Regalia Exhibition and the Brunei Museum.

I was completely underwhelmed.

Then a visit to one of the two major mosques. Beautiful, but I've seen so many beautiful mosques that it was a bit ho-hum I'm afraid.

So it was a drive back in the rain for another hour and a half plus. Very little to make nearly four hours in the car worthwhile.

Sunday was planned to be a full day sightseeing, but having established there are virtually no sights to see we cancelled it.

A tourist destination it ain't. It's a business destination, which is the reason we're here of course.

I have plenty of photographs but I forgot to pack some cables and I can't upload them to my computer. I'll do that when we're back in Dubai and post them then.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Away for a month

I saw my visitors off on Wednesday and now I'm off tomorrow for a month.

Mrs Seabee has a business trip to Brunei and I'm tagging along for the ride, then we're going on to Dubai.

I've never been to Brunei so that'll be interesting - I'll probably post the occasional observation here and some photos when I'm back in Terrigal mid-December.

I'll leave you with a photo of some of my feathered friends who came earlier to see me off:

Monday, November 07, 2011

Holiday snaps

I took my UK visitors down to Brooklyn today, a place I haven't visited since we moved up to the Central Coast about fourteen years ago. We used to drive up there for the day from Sydney before that and I'd almost forgotten what a pleasant place it is.

I only took a couple of photos but I thought I'd share them:

Brooklyn's just off the F3 not far north from the Wahroonga interchange, has a marina, a fisherman's co-operative, a pub and a few shops, a handful of restaurants including a couple of seafood restaurants that look good (and I'll try one day soon for lunch I think).

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Time for a whinge

I'm really never at my best in the mornings, especially before I've had my coffee.

And the standard of service - total lack of service is more accurate - in our coffee shops here in Terrigal makes it even harder for me to plunge into the day.

My regular place, Vanilla on Church, is closed on Tuesdays so I have to go elsewhere.

The choice is limited for me because all but two of the many cafes insist on serving trendy boutique designer coffee. And most of it is awful stuff. (If I drank cappuccino or latte it might be OK but I don't, I drink long black without sugar so there's nothing to disguise the taste).

I tried the first one this morning, sat for ten minutes while the waitresses waitpersons gathered around the till and ignored the customers. I gave up waving my arms about and left after five minutes.

Tried the other one and the waitpersons weren't gathered in a flock but they still ignored the customers.

I'm convinced there's a waitperson college where they're taught the art of looking around the cafe/restaurant without ever making eye contact with customers or looking at the tables.

Where they're taught that after delivering something to a table they must return to the counter empty handed, walking past cluttered tables but not picking up a cup or a plate.

I sat for nearly ten minutes, waving my arms about, until a customer service executive wandered over to ask whether I'd been served yet.

If I hadn't been suffering caffeine deprivation I'd have left after five minutes.

It makes me wonder whether it's the service they expect and accept themselves when they go out for a coffee or a meal.