Saturday, October 25, 2008

Trip to Jabel Hafeet and Al-Ain Hot Springs

On the wee hours of Friday morning at 4.30am (what was I thinking?) I met up with Heisham, Beaver and May (and one of their colleagues) for a trip to Jebel Hafeet in the Abu Dhabi Emirate to catch the sunrise. Despite the early morning start, we still missed it.

Nevertheless it was quite pleasant up there with a very cold wind blowing. The huge block of mountain on the right hindered us from getting a full view of the sun rising over the landscape.

The summit itself was fenced off to prevent folks from falling over so that made it a bit inconvenient for landscape shots. However I got to test out my Mamiya 645 Pro at the base of the mountain.

The hot springs were at the base and there was lots of greenery kept fresh by a very active fresh water sprinkler system.

And yes...the water was hot...I think it would have been fabulous in winter.

By 10am, I was nodding away in Heisham's car on our way back to Dubai.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Life in Dubai - Cost of Photographic Gear

The cost of a Nikkor Micro AF-S 60mm f2.8 here is about 2600 Dirhams (approx) which is about SGD 1000. The cost of the same lens in Singapore, according to the Clubsnap forum is SGD 738. That's almost like a SGD 300 difference. I had contemplated getting this here then thought the better of it, deciding to wait until Singapore.
Its mind boggling how they price certain goods here. Mac products, Suunto dive computers...I think they follow European standards of pricing.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Life in Dubai

Well looks like my Libyan/Tunisian trip of this week has been postponed to the next. However it's Wednesday and our flights this Sunday are still waitlisted. The last thing I want to do is to arrange all our meetings only to have to cancel them again like I had to do last week. Its been a busy hectic week. But busy in the good sense. Busy with a sense of purpose and a feeling of self worth.
End of October its North Africa, 2nd week November its India, and Egypt with the boss early December. Then come 19th December its that flight home. Singapore Airlines this time thank God.

We got a vessel into charter for Libya yesterday and although it was largely due to the brokers efforts, I still feel pretty good about it.

I had a parking lesson today. What I find frustrating is the language barrier that ocassionally crops up. I think I'm doing what the instructor is telling me to do and when I get it wrong, he doesn't (or cannot) tell me what exactly I'm doing wrong. I think it is actually up to me to gauge where I have gone wrong and then deviate a little from his instructions to get it closer to getting it right.

Personal life all fixed, driving lessons ongoing and a more sense of purpose at work. At least I am beginning to get somewhere now.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Scuba Diving - UAE East Coast

Went for a dive yesterday with Heisham to the east coast. While Heisham carried out his training dives for his Advanced Diver certification, I went for a leisure dive. I was grateful to have been able to hitch a ride with Heisham in his car, otherwise I would have had to settle for the dive centre's mini bus.

Hawkfish on the Inchcape 1 wreck

The first dive was done on the Inchcape 1 wreck. This small crew boat was sunk on 12th December 2001 to form an artificial offshore reef. At 32m, it restricted our bottom time to 18 minutes and along with strong surface currents, poor visibility, a huge cluster f@#k of divers all exploring the small wreck and wanting to do a safety stop at 5m on the ascend line all made it a very undesirable dive experience.

Thankfully, the second dive on the Inchcape 2 wreck was much better. The Inchcape 2 is a another crew boat that was sunk on 24th April 2002 based on the success of the sinking of the Inchcape 1 and the marine life it attracted.

Lionfish on the Inchcape 2 wreck.

The wreck lay at 20-22m and visibility was good, current non existent and marine life prolific. The icing on the cake for me was finding two nudibranches that I had not photographed before.

Hypselodoris Kanga nudibranch on the Inchcape 2 wreck.

The schools of snapper that surrounded the Inchcape 2 were really something as well. I hope they will still be around when I can finally shoot wide angle using my D80 in a Nexus housing and a 10.5mm lens.
I am glad that after this weekend, Heisham would have his Advanced Diver certification and I can have a regular dive buddy that lives a scant 300m down the road from me. 

Then on the way back to Dubai we stopped over at the Friday Market where I bought two silk carpets, one for my study and the other for my hall. We also met up with Beaver and wifey in Deira to eat mandy with grill fish. Now my mandy experience is complete.  

Monday, October 13, 2008

Life in Dubai - The Things I look forward to.

In order of achievability..
1. Scuba Diving this Friday at Fujairah with Heisham.
2. Next week's work trip to Libya and Tunisia
3. Geraldine coming to Dubai for a few weeks (Nov hopefully)
4. Dec 19th's SQ flight home.
5. Housing my Nikon D80 with a Nexus aluminium housing.
5. Driving test (hopefully in Jan 09)
6. Finally driving the company's 4x4 Jeep

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Phuket 2007

Surin Beach, Phuket March 2007.

I am recollecting a wonderful memory of my short trip to Phuket last year with Geraldine.

The love of my life. I'm sorry I took so long to realise this.

Life in Dubai - Changing Seasons

You can tell we're entering Autumn. It now gets completely dark at 6.30pm. I guess in a way it's good as it'll remind me that I have to get to bed earlier if I want to get up at 5am.

These days I am just so pissed off at work. I used to be depressed, but right now I am just so damn pissed. I think if I could, I'd go home right now and to heck with this stint.

Life in Dubai

It is 6.15am and I am sitting in my office. The last week or so has been a real shocker for me. My days of leaving the apartment at 7 am and getting a taxi within 5 mins are over, probably until next year when summer comes and the school vacation starts.
The last week or so has seen me taking almost 2 hours to get to the office which is only about 5 or 6 km away. With the amount of people waiting for taxis at 7 am, it was impossible to get one. And it was a 15 minute walk to the bus stop. A 1 hour wait for the bus, a mad scramble to get on the bus and a short 15 minute bus ride to the office. If this place was more pedestrian friendly I think I could have WALKED to work.
So therefore from this morning on, its waking up at 5am just so I can leave at 6am and get a cab to work. I guess I better try to turn in early. A 2 hour commute to work can be a real b*tch.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Scuba Diving - Musandam, Oman 4th Oct 08

I finally go to put in a dive here. I signed up with Al Boom Diving down the road to go up to Musandam in Oman last Saturday. It was a 2 hour mini bus ride to Dibba in Oman and an hour's speedboat journey to the dive sites.
The water was unfortunately quite choppy but Musandam's rugged scenery was something to behold.

I was actually quite surprised with the dives. They exceeded my expectations and I was thoroughly pleased. They reminded me of Pulau Aur but with a lot more marine life.

Fishes generally did not seem too bothered by divers which is great for an underwater photographer. Unfortunately this chromodoris nudibranch below was the only nudibranch I saw that really excited me.

What I also love about Musandam is that there is no sign of human habitation. The desolate rugged landscape above water is in direct contrast to what lies beneath the waves. A place so abundant with marine life! And at one look you know no one is going to go build a 10 star hotel here at such an "inhospitable" place.

However on the downside, a 3 hour commute one way just for 2 dives is just too tiring, which leads me to believe that diving Musandam is best done on a liveaboard over a few days. All the other numerous dive sites are way up north anyway.

Nevertheless I am excited at the prospect of diving Musandam more in the future.

Photo info: All shots taken with Canon Powershot A620 in Ikelite housing with Inon underwater close up macro lens and Inon D2000 strobe.

Photographer: Me lah.

Life in Dubai - Dinner at an Iraqi Reztaurant

On the 3rd day of Eid, Heisham, Mr and Mrs Beaver and I went out for Iraqi food (We bloody couldn't have Mandi two nights in a row now could we?). So off we went to Samad, Iraqi Restaurant!
The food was really really good.
What was interesting was how they grilled their fish. Apparently you have to order this 2 hours in advance. 
The interior decor was really quaint and lovely. Now I know what you're thinking, No there were no portraits of Saddam. It looked just like any other Arabic restaurant. And service was really good as well.
There are only two branches of Samad Restaurant. Baghdad and Dubai! 

Friday, October 3, 2008

Life in Dubai - Eid's all Good Day 3

This evening Heisham, Mr & Mrs Beaver and I went to the Mall of the Emirates to a walk around and have Thai food at the foodcourt where a young girl accidentally punches me in the groin.  

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Life in Dubai - Mandi

Beaver has been raving on and on about this local Arabic dish called Mandi. Seeing him all excited just at the thought of Mandi, how could I not give it a go? So last night, we all went for Mandi.
The concept of the restaurant is pretty traditional, everyone sits on carpeted floors and tucks away using their right hand. The dish is simple, yet extremely delicious and is enjoyed communally. Comes with the option of Chicken, Mutton or Fish but they were out of fish last night.
Since we had Mrs Beaver with us, we got to use the "family rooms" which in essence is just a covered eating area at the back. It basically looks like the inside of a tent which only adds to the Arabic experience of Mandi. They only thing they need to do now is to simulate a camel sticking it's head into the tent opening to complete the entire Arab experience.
To complete my Mandi experience, it is only right that we go back again to try the fish.

I am eating waaaaaaay too much here.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


After a lot of soul searching the last few weeks, I decided to get back with Geraldine and agree to her "Terms and Conditions" (for lack of a better word) for any future postings my company may have in store for me. I didn't want to be in a situation a few years down the road where I realise I turned away my only real chance of settling down for an expectation that did not materialise. After all, my company is not going to send me someone to grow old with so why should I give my full loyalty to them?
I used to think that my only real chance of getting anywhere and having any chance of competing with the bright young British Uni grads we employ was to not say no to anywhere my company may want to post me and to a great extent, this is true. However I also realise that I am not getting any younger. The above argument can stand if I was in my twenties. But in 5 years time I will be 40, and I don't want to look back then and feel regret.

So therefore, Geraldine and I are back together. I will be asking her to marry me and she's expecting this. However we're still a long way of getting anything settled or finalised but still, it's a start. The last few weeks have made me realise that she is the one for me. She will be coming with me to Malacca end of December so she'll get to meet the entire Sequerah clan! (a great way to start eh?). After all she is going to be a Sequerah soon. 

I am whole again...