We set of for the airport in Dubai early morning after dropping off the last bits and pieces to the new house. As always DBX was smooth travelling. A lot of here you go’s , please mam and thank you’s while being escorted to cut in everywhere and anywhere because you are travelling with a child. Even the people waiting to board open up the row on their own account (like when Moses split the red sea) to let you go first.
The only obstacle we came across is Milla losing her dummy. You know this dummy that she needs for sleeping, the one they don’t make anymore and on top they don’t make the blanky anymore that holds the dummy and of course its the only one she wants. As always I brought spare but just the idea of one day not having that spare anymore freaks me out completely.
After settling in on the plane we started our 7 to 8 hour travel. The plane was only half full so if we wanted we could slap anywhere. We were traveling during daylight hours so that wouldn’t really be necessary.
In front of us were to young arab boys. I think they were Egyptian from the sound of their dialect but I wasn’t entirely sure. About half an hour into the travel they caused a bit of a commotion as they had a bottle of whiskey and their intention was to down it in one. From living in Egypt there were thousands of stories going though my head. However after the crew took the bottle from them without a fight they fell asleep and slept all journey.
Another painless journey had passed. Emirates always manage to spoil our little princess which only helps with the travel. We landed in Jakarta around 22.30 local time, got our luggage and went to emigration only to realise that we forgot about the visa application on arrival. After they did the custom visa office trick (trying to let you pay four times as much because we didn’t have local currency) we went to the ATM machine and waited inline again to pay only what we needed to pay this time with Indonesian rupiah. The next thing we needed to do is to pass passport control and then we would be able to sleep. A few people in front of us needed to do the same and they took a really long time bribing the officer as we waited and waited and waited, while money was taken and put back and taken again and finally they went through.
I believe this is where Milla stopped showing patience with anything. She was really tired and after walking into a chair leaving the plane she now got stuck with her bum and legs up in between the desk and the foot railing. Time to get the slingshot baby carrier out!! Even that didn’t really help. After the ‘Taksi’ took us to the IBIS airport hotel and we dropped ourselves on the bed I was a happy mum again. Happy to have a sleeping exhausted child and happy to have felt the tropical heat and to smell that typical smell of Asia.
More Travel – Arriving on Lombok
After a good nights rest on a comfortable bed and jet lag not spoiling to much we had breakfast and took the shuttle bus to the airport. Ready for our last stint from Jakarta to Lombok we tried to check in at the normal Garuda desk. The girl behind the counter giggled and someone came to translate that giggle for us. ‘WE HAD BOOKED BUSINESS CLASS’.. What????
We went to the business class check in that was in a different building and tried to figure out what happened and how much it has set us back. Turns out that when we checked the total price while booking it was the one person price. The fact that we booked in Rupiah a currency we don’t understands but that has a lot of zeros at the end didn’t really help. Anyway damage was done so we should better enjoy what was coming. And we did..Only little Milla didn’t really realise how special the big chair was that she was sitting on.
A short flight later, were we got to see what was coming from the air, we landed in Lombok. My luggage came straight away, but Marks didn’t. So we waited and waited until there was nothing to wait for anymore. When we didn’t have another choice anymore we accepted the thought that it was gone and Mark went to baggage claim. Few minutes later he came back with his bag. Apparently they load first class on a cart for you and they forgot mine. Nice gesture but not really failsafe as we noticed. We walked out of the airport and there were about 10 Taksi desks right in front of us shouting and another 30 people to the left of us shouting. My first thought was: why didn’t I read up on Taksi prices on the plane and what was the name of that good Taksi company again. That of course didn’t stop them from shouting so whatever they said I said 200.000 less and we went with whoever still stuck around in the end. The one still had to pay off another one and since having a child I’ve become to soft. Instantly I regretted haggling on the price and maybe I even regretted not going with the official Taksi. Anyway those things are the love/hate things about travelling. There is no decent travelling without taxi haggling I guess.
Driving about 10 minutes the sky broke open and rain started to pour down in ways that it can only do in tropical countries. It however didn’t really make our driver go slower, maybe it even did the opposite, but thank god the rain stopped after a good 10 minutes. During our drive we overtook every other car, bike and truck that was on the road in Lombok that day. I saw my own funeral several times as on numerous occasions we avoided a head on crash only by millimeters. I managed to keep my screams from coming out in noise and put a polite (I’m not scared smile) on my face. While I was putting on my show, Milla was sleeping for the whole drive.
After an hour of racing against chickens, dogs and people we arrived in the Chandi boutique resort near Senggigi. It sounds fancy and it is fancy. Every time we make it to a place like this, my inner 25-year-old bag packing self, is looking at me disapprovingly. For years I believed that you can only call it travelling if the place you are staying has no AC, no pool and is built out of bamboo. And then I became a mum and things changed. Even though we still don’t use the AC it’s just nice to know when it’s there for when Milla is too hot during nap time in the day. A pool is safer to let her swim on her own and well yes those kinds of places are sadly enough built from concrete. Now this place was even a step higher than when we usually just try to get the previous things for the least amount of money possible. This place is only possible cause my husband saves up free hotel nights through hotel.com. For every 10 nights he gets one free. Because its business hotels he stays in during the year we can afford descent places here and there. This was definitely one of those descent places. It had an open bathroom that I love so much, it had lots of glass and was sett on a grass patch full of coconut palm trees with a beautiful naturally looking pool all facing the sea. The resort was on the main road but still in the middle of nowhere. Locals living on each side, and around sunset there would be a never-ending line of them Knee deep in the sea trying to catch whatever they would eat that evening.
Just as Milla and er dad came back from exploring I saw a bird on its back on the floor in front of Milla. It wasn’t moving much but it was alive, I screamed (I’ve got a thing for half dead animals it upsets me more than any other person). Mark picked it up and Milla was loudly impressed, but not really understanding that the bird was in pain. We found a basket and put the bird in a basket and secured it on top of an orchid that was growing on one of the palms. This way it would be safe from whatever was crawling around and also from Milla. It just laid there, hardly moving and hardly breathing. Every half hour Mark would pick up Milla and let her have a look. I didn’t have high hopes for the bird and thought we would have to make a bird funeral, but by midnight it was gone. Leaving only a little bit of birdshot behind in the basket. We looked around to see if it was somewhere on the ground but noting. All of us couldn’t be happier that the little bird was flying again, and every bird that comes near is now the bird that we rescued coming to say hi and thank you. At least in Milla’s world that is the only truth.
At night before closing my eyes I couldn’t help but think about bay lan bay back in Thailand. How that place had no AC, no pool, no lock on the door, no glass in the windows, no luxury, but it was so perfect. If only I could find a place like that again someday.
I should be doing something useful I feel. But the daughter is asleep and we are in a hotel so I can’t move or do anything without her waking up. So instead I think, reminisce and write. I know for a fact that I am very good at the first two, now lets see how that comes out in writing.
I counted the places I’ve lived.. And if I don’t add hotel rooms or short stays then this is the 20th home. Not bad for a 30 something. (I keep losing count ) Those 20 homes are without adding the place I called home most of all and that was little Frazer. Frazer was the love of my life other than my child and husband. To some people Frazer was just a boat but to me Frazer holds the memories to one of the greatest times of my life. Such a shame she took those memories with her to the bottom of the Red Sea. I think I cried more when we lost the boat then when I’ve lost certain people. Anyway Im drifting off. So I didn’t add Frazer cause well technically she is not a home.
What I did count is the houses I grew up in, the ones in Belgium and the one in England. The time I lived in Mallorca and so on.
In Egypt I had several I started off with the cheapest place at the end of Mashrabeya Street in Hurghada.. Back then It used to be 500le for a two bedroom without AC. Years later I moved up the scale and lived in Mastaba for a while.. Yes the one with the awesome view and a swimming pool. in-between I also had several “normal” apartments in Hadaba. But the place I remember the most was a hut in Awlad Baraka Camp about 30 km south of Marsa Alam. Back then there was no telephone connection unless you walked up the hill and held your phone up really high and if you were lucky the connection could be strong enough to send of receive a message. There was no AC there wouldn’t be a point really to have AC in a hut as the hut had no window and no doors. There was only a carpet to keep the heat out and give you some kind of privacy. Electricity we didn’t have during the day as the generator wasn’t running then. No TV – No Internet.. But Oh my god how much did I love it there. It was a simple life. A bit of diving, a lot of sweating, a bit of reading and not much else. Some of my funniest memories were getting a baby scorpion for my Bday as a pet. They gave it to me in a matchbox and told me to feed it fly wing. If Baby Jane wouldn’t make it then I should never have kids.. Baby Jane died after two days and I cried my eyes out. The other animal involving memory is waking up thinking they put a plastic snake in our hut. You know one of these zigzag rolled up things. It was at the back of the bed on a pillow. So I walked over and bent over while I talked and waved some air to the snake. It didn’t move only to confirm what I thought. The boys just planted this plastic thing to scare me. Without the slightest worry I went for breakfast and told the story to one of the Nubian staff. Suddenly everyone jumped up and asked if there was still someone in the room. Before I could properly answer 10 of them were already up the hill with sticks and shouting how silly we Europeans were. In our hut they found my then boyfriend doing exactly the same as I did a few minutes before that. Talking to the snake, as any other normal person would do. We soon found out it was a sand viper and those are are pretty venomous. We kept shouting not to kill the poor thing but the snake had no luck. It’s bedouin believe that if they see a snake and don’t kill it it’s bad luck for all their family. From then on we would always be and probably still are the silly Europeans to them.
In between living abroad I also lived in normal cities like Antwerp, 3 of the 20 homes were there. One of them took a lot of blood sweat and tears as we rebuilt it from scratch with our own hands. Building stuff turns out to be very rewarding and it really adds to the homely feeling. No wonder that my daughter was born in that apartment only to figure out it wasn’t big enough with her in it. Because we weren’t quite dead yet after building the apartment and because it turns out to be an unhealthy addiction of some sort. Well.. we decided to rebuilt a complete house. Ooooh the memories I’m still feeling physical pain just thinking about it.
Anyway there was also Thailand before all that building and I simply can’t leave Thailand out because even if I only had two homes there and even though some people might state a hut isn’t really a home. It really did feel like home to me. especially the last place I lived in on Koh Chang called Bai Lan Bay. We had the highest Treehouse on the hill. It was a pain climbing up those stairs every day in the tropical heat, but the view over the ocean was so worth it. As soon as the sun went down and you were still gasping your breath from yet another gobsmacking sunset. The bugs started to come out. There would be territorial wars happening on the outside of the mosquito net and that sort of replaced the television. At night while sleeping geckos would sneak up right next to your ear and do their “GECKOOOOO” call and if that didn’t wake you up then the thunderstorms or the monkeys throwing coconuts on your roof would. Maybe I never slept very solid during that time but I sure didn’t mind waking up to the sound of nature. Ok before I get to floaty for most people to handle we better get to now.
So here we are in Dubai. After living in Belgium for almost 6 years I did it again. Although this time it’s a bit different. This time I followed my husband and I brought my daughter and I’m not diving to make a living. This time was the best planned moving abroad thing I ever did. We planned the big move for a year with is like 20 billion times longer then my other moving abroad stunts. My husband came here over 3 months ago. And still for some reason we managed to move only today. Maybe move is even a big word as the house. That house that we didn’t find first, that house that was supposed to be finished a few weeks ago isn’t actually finished yet and is and will be for a while pretty empty. We were supposed to move into the house a few weeks ago when I first got here. That way we would have had a few weeks to settle in before going on our family vacation. But this morning they were still painting, taking out carpet, the cooker still needs to be fitted, the electric is not working, neither is the heater and I can go on for a little while. Will it kill us? No it won’t.. We just have to juggle a little bit harder. We are staying in a hotel a bit longer while we move most of our belongings in the evenings after my husband finishes work. Our belongings luckily isn’t that much yet. Except for clothes, office stuff, some toys and kitchen stuff we didn’t have a lot to move. We will however need some things when we get back from holiday so we bought an airbed, a cooker, a fridge, a washing machine and cleaning stuff. So on this big move that we carefully planned we will have to camp in a house that hopefully by the time we come back from will be finished. What are we taking with us from this moving to Dubai adventure? Mainly that planning is over rated, that like in Egypt Inshallah Bokra is a well used phrase and that we will enjoy our holiday even more. So maybe next time I’ll plan to make things go just as rough just to enjoy a holiday 🙂
I’ve not been in Dubai for very long and I didn’t even move in properly but here are my thoughts so far.
When I just arrived here I wasn’t overwhelmed. Maybe it is because expectations are high with all the documentaries out there, but for some reason the buildings looked less tall on TV but of course they are not.
Once I got used to the idea that really everything is inside and that Malls are everywhere Dubai kind of grew on me.
Dubai is really the melting pot that it claims to be. Almost everyone you meet is from somewhere. And it’s very difficult to find someone to practice your arabic on. However in some weird way it works. And the best thing of all you get the best food from all over the world. For example I had the best Thai food outside of Thailand and the best Egyptian food out of Egypt. Whatever you crave to eat its only a Food App away. Be prepared to gain a few pounds is my first conclusion when living in Dubai