Sunday, December 18, 2011

Doha: It's not an if but a when

So there is a list of things, none of which are good, that you are told when you first arrive in Doha are "Ifs and not Whens".  Well I had my first when last night.

I have never been the best at checking the air pressure in my car tires and moving to Doha did not change my habits.  I get in the car I look at the tires and think "Hmmmm, they don't look to bad, if has been a while though, I will get them looked at soon."  This can go on for a while with me.  

Earlier this week, I bought a really nice water color from a "local" artist.  She is an expat and the watercolor is of flowers and fun a whimsical, just my style.  I have learned from buying art in the past that if you do not frame it right away it will get tucked away for what can be years, so these days I go very quickly and get my art framed.  So on Friday afternoon I headed out to Studio Qatar on Salwa at Decoration Roundabout (RA).

Lets talk for a minute about Salwa at Decoration RA.  This is an intersection that I avoid LIKE THE PLAGUE.  It is under construction and also happens to be a very busy RA.  It is a mess.  On top of the construction at the RA they are also ripping up the road itself for a couple miles on both sides.  This makes accessing the stores on the road, including Studio Qatar a mess.  After some attempts and failures to find access to the store, I finally make it, having to basically take the X-Terra through a combat zone to find a spot to park, thinking along the way, boy am I glad that I have a 4-wheel drive car.

I spend some time at Studio Qatar and figure out great mats and frames and then headed to Mega Mart to pick up some items for dinner as some friends were coming over.  Mega Mart is like Whole Foods in the States only because it could take your Whole Paycheck to buy groceries.  Mega Mart caters to the ExPat communities and you can find US, UK and other brands at a totally jacked up price.  As an example a small bottle of Amy's Lite Gingerly Salad dressing that I just bought cost about $6 where in the States it would be about $3.  I tend to go there as I have found that they have the best apples and meat (yummy Aussie Beef!).

So I was on my way home and the universal light for flat tire started lighting up.  I thought that was funny as I just had air put in my tires and the guy who did it mentioned that my pressure was super low, which I had expected.  I thought that maybe the sensor was off and I would need to get that looked at by the Nissan Dealer.

Well I made it home and started prepping for dinner with John and Heather who just moved to Doha from Houston.  John and Heather are runners, with John doing more distance and he runs my pace.  Hooray!  I had told them to come on over at 6:30 for dinner and due to the way that our compound is set up it is easier to come through the underground garage to get from their place to mine.  So when I opened the garage door, John and Heather were there to say hello and was I aware that my tire was flat.  This tire was not just flat, but FLAT!!!!  What a bummer.  As it was the evening and there was nothing that could be done we went in and have a lovely dinner and evening, with John and I planning to run in the morning.

Sunday morning rolled around (Hooray for three day weekends and Happy Qatar National DAY) and John and I went out for a run.  On the way back I asked if he would help get the spare on the car.  He was very kind to oblige.  

So we went down to the garage to get to work.  So we found the spare, which is under the car in the back and found where we had to crank to get the wheel down, what we did not find was the jack and the equipment to actually do that process.  We finally got the manual out to see if it listed the location, thank goodness it did, otherwise I would have never found it as it was under the seats in the back.  Yes, under the seats.

So we finally get the spare tire down and start jacking up the car.  Here is a picture with the car already lifted a bit and you can see how flat the tire is without the full weight of the car: 
Well, we finally got the car high enough to get the tire off, unfortunately it was not high enough to put the spare on.  We tried to get it to fit by letting some of the air out of the tire, but alas that did not work either.  We stewed for a bit and then decided it was worth the risk of driving the car on the flat tire to get to a flatter surface as my parking spot has a small incline. 

So it was back on with the flat, flat tire and a very slow roll back to a flatter spot.  We then jacked up the car again to get the spare on and guess what!  You guessed it the stupid tire still did not fit.  ARGH.  We let out some more air and we were finally able to get the spare on.  At that point we had let quite a bit of air out of the tire and we thought that it would be a pretty good idea to get at least some pressure in the tire before removing the jack, so what did we do, we got out the handy dandy bike pump.

Please enjoy the hilarity:

Let me tell you this is actually quite the workout.  It made me think of a rowing machine.  After I would guess was a few minutes, we thought that it would be decent and let the car down.  While the tire was still flat (there was no way I was going to fill with a bike pump), it was not horrible and it could make it around the corner to the gas station (which I was not sure was open due to National Day).  Luckily it did not have to as I got a text from a friend and she let me know that the compound had an air compressor, which she had learned the hard way herself, BOOOO.  The compressor was not great, but it got the tire to a decent point, so that was good for me.

So I now have a mostly full tire which I will get looked at tomorrow.  I am fortunate as my neighbor is in the US for the holiday and Hip Replacement, so I have his car keys so that I can start it every once and a while, well I am going to more then start the car tomorrow.  Thank you so much David!!!!  Tomorrow after work I will take the car in to have the tires looked at and see if the old one can be salvaged.  I am very lucky that the car did not go flat until I got home and that there are amazing people that live at ARV and are willing to help in a time of need.

So that is my first major "If and not When".  When the next one happens you will get the joy of reading about it here.

Have a good one! 

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Ok so I have been delinquent in my posting, so it is time to get posting.

I went to Dubai last weekend to participate in the Dubai Creek Strider's Half Marathon and to see Dubai for the first time.  I have to say that this was one very well run event that had tons and tons of perks.  First, you got two goody bags, one a backpack and one a pull top bag.  The back pack was full of cookies, crackers, Listerine, sports drinks and other various items.  You also got a tech shirt. More stuff then I have received in a LONG time.

The course itself was very scenic and started and ended at the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club.  From there the course when along the creek, across a couple bridges, through a tunnel, also through the old souq.  Just a lovely course.

After the race there was a breakfast buffet.  This was not a banana and bagel, this was eggs, sausage, fruit, croissants, potatoes, a full on Breakfast Buffet.  Good food and beautiful view.

Now I do not very many pictures of this part of my trip as I was an idiot and dropped my camera either on the plane or at the Terminal.  I talked to the airline, the airport Lost and Found and police, but no dice the camera was gone.  Thank goodness I had downloaded all my pictures.  So one of my shopping goals in Dubai quickly became getting a new camera.  LOL.

After the race, Gaybrielle, Rick and I headed back to the hotel to clean up and then head to the Dubai mall.  The Dubai mall is something else.  

It is everything that you have heard and more.  When we arrived, we had scoffed that you could spend all day at the mall, but we started about 2PM, after a lovely lunch and shopped until 6:30 when we had tickets to go to the Burj Khalifa.  I was excited to find a store that had Triathlon gear and a Salad Spinner at a reasonable price.  I am odd I know.  

At 6:30 we had tickets to go to the observation deck of the Burj Khalifa.  You only go about half way up the building, granted that is about 430m high.  It is a really really big building that can be seen from just about everywhere in Dubai.

Viewing the city from the observation deck makes some tall buildings in Dubai look quite small.  I have to say that I would like to up back up to the deck again during the day just to get a different perspective.

After returning from the observation deck we headed over to the Address Hotel to have a beverage and watch the fountains.  They have fountains that are basically the same as the ones at the Bellagio in Vegas.  They go off for about 5-10 minutes every 30 minutes.  Very cool!

After this it was back to the hotel for the night.  Yes we had spent the entire day at the mall.  Go figure.

The next day we took the Metro.  I will say that the Dubai Metro is super nice and can get you to all the big spots about town.  You would think that I would have been shopped out, but no I split of from Gaybrielle and Rick and headed to the Mall of the Emirates where kid you not they have an indoor ski slope.  CRAZY.  They also have a Crate & Barrel, NIRVANA!!!  I had to restrain myself as i did not have much luggage space, but i did get new kitchen stuff.  Next time I go I am taking more luggage!!!  After this mall I actually went back to the Dubai mall to see some things that I missed, sit outside and enjoy the day.  I went back to the hotel about 4PM to grab my stuff and head to the airport.  

I learned something important on my trip to the Airport.  Terminal 2 (where Fly Dubai lands) is no where near Terminals 1&3.  The metro takes you to terminals 1&3.  Guess who had to take a cab from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2.  That would be me.  I am thinking that in the future it would be better to pay a bit more, get free check in luggage and be able to take the metro to and from the hotel.  We shall see.

All I can say is that i totally want to go back to Dubai.  It was the Vegas of the dessert.  Very fun, kinda fake and good for a weekend.  Next time, maybe a slightly longer weekend.

Talk soon and Hook'em.