Sunday, May 2, 2010

Abu Dhabi Update

Because one of my colleague is still on a vacation break, I have been working the past two Saturdays. Also, three Saturdays ago, I had to stay in my apartment to watch contractors install mylar or fragment retention film on all the windows and framed glass balcony railings at my place. Although bomb blasts are unheard of here and my apartment does not face the street but an inner courtyard, the US Embassy is still requiring that the anti-shatter film is installed on all exterior glazing. Anyway, my days off have only been on Friday for the past three weeks.

I have been getting up early these past Fridays to fully take advantage of the day off. Because it is a holy day here, there is minimal traffic on the roads in the morning. I have been going to the Corniche, the nice pedestrian area by the beach area for morning walks. By eight o'clock in the morning, I proceed to a nearby mall to go to Starbucks for coffee and croissant. At this time, the mall parking lot is still fairly empty. Afterward, I go shopping at a large, western style grocery store in the mall. About 10AM, the other stores and shops in the mall start to open. This schedule works well for me. By Friday noon or any other time beside Friday morning, the roads, the beach, the mall, the grocery stores, etc. get busy and hectic. Another option would be to do the grocery shopping late at night around 10PM. By that time, the most of the crowd is gone and obviously, the temperature has gone down considerably. Most of the grocery stores and malls do not close until late.

It is already starting to get hot by 10AM in the morning. Temperatures have been consistently reaching 100 to 105 by mid-day. The best places to hang out when it gets hot are in the malls. I am lucky that my apartment complex has a great coffee shop to hang around to catch up on my reading and a nice shady area near the pool to lounge around when it gets hot.

There are several malls that I have found which have American style grocery stores and open early on Fridays. Some of these malls also have Filipino restaurants. I have found two more Filipino food places: Goto King and Chow King. Goto King is a keeper. It is a nice restaurant with a good selection of traditional Filipino dishes. Chow King is a fast-food franchise. I was not as impressed with their choices.

I am ready to explore places outside of Abu Dhabi. This Friday I plan to drive to Al Ain, a smaller city located more inland, about one hour and half drive from Abu Dhabi. Al Ain is also called the Garden City due to its greenery. It is literally a big oasis in the middle of the desert. I will probably check out Dubai two weekends from now.

The following are a few pictures from Abu Dhabi:

Sheikh Zayed Mosque is located near my apartment. This photo was taken while driving to work in the morning. I have not had a chance to tour this place because it is closed on Fridays. I will have to make time during one of my Saturday day offs.

Downtown Abu Dhabi has many tall buildings. A lot of them are still in under construction.

Inside Khalidiyah Mall.

Inside the Marina Mall.

Coopers Pale Ale, an Australian beer, costs about $7 a bottle at the hotel bar. It is not too bad, but a bit heavy on the wallet.

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