Hello Hatta

After only 25+ years in the UAE, we finally managed to make the road trip down to the elusive Hatta. I’m not sure why it took so long to get there, seeing as how it’s only an hour and a half away from home (way closer than Abu Dhabi), but somehow it always managed to evade us. The weather seemed to be turning for the better and with a long weekend at our disposal, we decided it was finally the right time to go.

Okay, so we did end up going round in circles for a bit thanks to Google Maps which seemed to be hell-bent on making us do rounds of Burj Khalifa, but we did eventually succeed in resetting our mental compasses and taking the right exit to be on our way. We left bright and early in the  morning, catching the sunrise and watched as the landscape changed from a cityscape to a desert and then to the rocky mountains that rose up before us.

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Happy National Day!

We took the Sharjah-Kalba road, which is parallel to the road that heads down to Fujairah, which would explain why the barren rocky landscape felt so familiar. We did our traditional spot a camel game, but it looked like even the camels were taking the day off to enjoy the National Day weekend away from all the traffic. Oh well, no ice-cream for anyone this time ^^

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Rocky Landscapes

Being early-birds paid off and we reached Hatta in good time, managing not only to avoid any traffic on the way, but also to secure a comfortable parking spot right next to Hatta Dam, which was where we were headed for some kayaking! Looking out at the dam was like looking at a sort of mountain oasis, a beautiful splash of glittering teal green surrounded by scraggly brown peaks, basking under a bright blue sky.

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First view of Hatta Dam

It was a stunning sight and a welcome relief of colour and we stopped for pictures before heading down to Hatta Kayak. Having never kayaked before, I was a bit uncertain as to whether we should be renting out kayaks, or if we should be stick to the familiar pedal boats, or better yet, taking a donut boat or a bicycle pontoon boat which I’d never seen before. We decided to be adventurous and take kayaks, and just prayed we wouldn’t topple over.

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Heading out in our kayaks

We left our mobile phones in the lockers, no one being willing to test just how waterproof they really are, and were pushed off into the lake in our colouful kayaks with assurances that any lack of swimming ability would not be a problem since we had our life jackets on. We managed to get a hang of the oars pretty quickly and soon decided it was time to turn around, head back and get our mobile phones out of the lockers so we could take some pictures out on the lake.

It was an amazing experience, not just kayaking for the first time, navigating around oncoming donut boats and dodging fellow kayakers while laughing at the struggling cyclists, but the place in itself was so peaceful, that after a while we just put down our oars and let the currents take us where they would, past leafless underwater trees and grey birds with long beaks. The weather had been great in the morning, but as we reached midday, the weather decided it wasn’t ready to turn into winter just yet and the temperature swung back to a sweltering 32°C.

After two hours of rowing, we were ready to head back in and head for lunch, but we were just half an hour shy of opening hours at the restaurant of choice, so we made a pit-stop at the fruit and vegetable market before going to Hatta Heritage Village to kill some time instead of going hiking as we had originally planned. It was an interesting experience, walking through the winding paths of the old village,  the remnants of lookout towers guarding us from either side.

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Lookout Tower

Being the National Day weekend, it was quite fitting that we had come to the Heritage Village so we could get a first hand view of how drastically the country has evolved over the last 46 years. We walked through homes and majlis and store rooms and outdoor kitchens, past the plain traditional kitchenware and beds to the more exotic tools and weapons like rifles called Umm Khams (a rifle that could load 5 bullets). Having been here for over 25 years, we are first hand witnesses of the evolution of the country, but this was another reminder of just how far a vision can carry you.

We were ready for lunch after having scaled up the rocky hill to the lookout point and the restaurant was ready for us at last. We ordered a chicken tanoor with some fatoosh, but being confused as usual about portion sizes, we opted for a 3 person tanoor to serve four. When the food came out, we realized even a 3 person serving was too big for us, none of us being heavy eaters. Nevertheless, we wolfed down as  much as we could, which was more than usual, thanks to all the kayaking and by the time we were done, it was time for some tea to keep us awake on the long drive back.

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Chicken tanoor!

Now, it’s common practice in the UAE, to head down to a cafeteria for tea… and Oman chips paratha… and now Lotus dessert. Exactly what this dessert is, I can’t exactly describe except that it has Lotus biscuits and tastes divine, like a soft cross between a caramel and a cheesecake. And if that doesn’t sound delicious enough.. did you hear me say “Lotus”? Enough said! So if you haven’t been to a cafeteria in the UAE before, it’s time to ditch that brunch and enjoy some of the finer things in life.

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Time for dessert

If you’ve never been to Hatta, I would definitely recommend going at least once. And if you’re into hiking, then it’s definitely worth more than one visit. And don’t forget the cafeteria! 🙂

Flag Island

November 2 marks Flag Day in the UAE so what better way to celebrate the occasion than heading down to Sharjah’s very own Flag Island, home of the 7th tallest flag pole in the world. I left work early so I could catch up with my family there for a late lunch and some gorgeous views of the flag in what is finally great weather.

The weather was pretty fantastic for Flag Day too, with a beautiful breeze wafting the flag up in the beautiful blue sky, and gently rippling the waters of the Khalid Lagoon. One of my favourite things about going to the island is the view of Souq Al Jubail which, for the uninitiated, is actually a fruit, vegetable, meat and fish market all in one. If you think it looks pretty fancy during the day, you haven’t seen it at night, when it’s lit up in all its splendour. It’s on my must visit list for next year’s Sharjah Light Festival.

After a yummy late lunch at Jones the Grocer, we headed to the open air amphitheater where the Emirati-Japanese band Kharsha were performing.  We’d gone to see Kharsha perform in Al Ain a few months ago and it was nice to see how fast their team of drummers is growing.

I can’t say exactly why one of the team is wearing a teddy bear mask, but I do love their Flag Day themed outfits. Very chic! Unfortunately we were rather late, and it was time for prayers after just one performance, so we decided to head home…not before stopping at KSHTA, the food truck area.

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Time for karak!

Unfortunately for us, we’d already had our late lunch and it was too early for dinner so we didn’t get a chance to sample much, except for a nice hot cup of karak, but we did have enough time to narrow down where we wanted to eat the next time we stopped by.

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The fanciest place for a burger – Graffiti Burger

From burgers to shawarma, from greasy fries to zafrani karak, dynamite shrimp to the classical falafel, they have it all. Looks like I’m going to have to go back on an empty stomach . ^^

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Fancy a place to sit?

If I’m not wrong KSHTA is here till the 5th of January, so that gives us plenty of time to sample a little bit of everything and of course, with the running track at Flag Island, there’s also enough time to run it all off.

 

문문-결혼 | Moon Moon- Marriage

Came across this song entirely by accident when  I was searching for a nice drama to watch now that my exam is over. What can I say… it’s the story of my life.

Lyrics (with my best efforts at translating)

결혼에 대하여
예쁜 단어를 골라
예쁜 칭찬을 하고
예쁜 밤을 만들 것
Marriage is about
Picking the right words to say
Paying each other pretty compliments
And spending beautiful nights together
결혼에 대하여
좋은 사람을 만나
좋은 사랑을 하고
좋은 집을 갖는 것
Marriage is about
Meeting the right person
Falling in love
And building a home
나 그게 어려워 That’s what I find hard
혼자 TV를 트나봐
편한 옷을 입고 나가
독한 소주를 사나봐
I watch TV alone
Go out wearing comfy clothes
Drink strong liquor
혼자 남산에 가나봐
혼자 한강을 걷나봐
혼자 저녁을 먹나봐
Go to Namsan alone
Walk the Hangang river alone
And eat dinner by myself
 뭔가 다 어려우니까 Because it’s all so hard
쓰다 남은 위로라면 그냥 지나가도 돼
사랑없이 사는 것도 들먹이진 말아줘
나를 보면 지금보다 울먹이지 말도록
혼자 먹는 저녁말고
If you’re looking to comfort me with your hollow sympathy, just walk on by
Don’t even bring up the fact that I’m living without love
And stop giving me that sympathetic look
Except when I eat alone
사랑 그 너머에 관하여
가끔 나쁜 얼굴에 각진 단어를 골라
아프게 말하고
남이 되잖아요
Life after love is about
Sometimes picking harsh words
Saying painful things
And becoming strangers along the way
내 마음은 그래
나 그게 두려워
나 그게 어려워

TV나 보는 중
TV나 보는 중
TV나 보는 중

That’s how I feel
That’s what I’m afraid of
That’s what I find hard

So I’ll just watch TV
So I’ll just watch TV
So I’ll just watch TV

IBS Episode 8

I did NOT expect to be writing again so soon. 

I am currently in my room curled up in bed with my hot water bottle watching my cat sulk about being in here with me because she’s been a naughty girl. I know why she’s here but I can’t fathom why I am. On a weekday afternoon when I’m supposed to be at work, I found myself instead being rushed home because my tummy pulled a scene at work. Thank God for good friends, though. If it wasn’t for my friend I probably wouldn’t have gotten to my meds on time and that would have been a fiasco all in itself.

I ended up with pins and needles in both legs from top to toe but only one clenched fist, always welcome when you need to grab a glass of water, and enough sweat to make it look like I’d taken a long walk in the sweltering heat. I suppose I should be grateful for the webinar which was the reason I decided not to eat out and had food delivered to the office instead. Who knows how bad it could have gotten if I’d been caught without an escape toilet route? I shudder to think…

It’s been over an hour since the episode but my nails are still blue, bluish purple rather, and the tummy is still rumbling something fierce.  But at least I’m home, don’t have to worry about toilet queues, embarassing myself in public (if I havent already done that and I may well have… sigh ) and fluttery fingers which makes it easier to type out this post. 

As documentary evidence I did not experiment with my food today. Breakfast was the usual courtesy my friend who always looks after me like that and lunch was a plain chicken leg, part of a thigh piece (which was tricky to navigate in the middle of the webinar so I just gave up), with fries from Popeyes. Which part of this day sounds like I did something terrible to my tummy?Answer: NONE. My tummy was just being mean to me for no good reason. The chicken corn soup with egg white… that was a good reason. Today… Nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. -_____- 

Anxiety Attacks

knots tighten and strain
against an unbending cage.
breath trapped by bent bones