Unbelievable wait at the valet parking in Atlantis

If you’re following me on Twitter (if not, why not? he he) you’d know how my Thursday night went. I rarely go out on Thursday nights, when the whole of Dubai comes alive, anticipating the weekend. Traffic on the roads, chaos at the malls. I’d rather be home and watch an episode of Dr. Who.

But last Thursday, I got an invitation to attend the opening and try out Aquaventure’s latest adrenaline pumping water slide – The Tower of Poseidon. We love water parks so I said yes! We brought our daughter who was more excited than us.

What a fun night and I found out how NOT to die from fear of extreme water slides: by closing my eyes. I had an aha moment right there. Horror movie? Close your eyes. Tube going through the dangerous curves in a water slides? Close your eyes.

That actually saved me from losing my voice from screaming too much. In the past, I learned the hard way. Yep, survival skills for you for reading my blog.

So yeah – do check out Aquaventure. Their latest slides will thrill you and make you scream, if you’re into that kind of thing.

We left early, about 10 pm we handed our valet parking slip to the staff at the entrance. And waited.

And waited. 20 minutes has passed and no sign of our car. What is the normal waiting time for valet parking anyway? Five, ten minutes? I am quite sure 20 minutes is long enough.

THIRTY. More and more people who came after us have got on their cars. We looked at each other. For the first time after living in Dubai for almost seven years, we actually thought someone has stolen our car.

But who would want our small and lowly Honda Jazz? The one with cookie crumbs at the back.

FORTY MINUTES. How long was your longest wait for valet parking?

We know their valet parking is located only 5 minutes away and it was a packed night but SERIOUSLY, FORTY FREAKING MINUTES?!

We became really agitated and asked the staff where the hell is our car. They only repeatedly told us: “it’s on our way” but no sight of it.

Photo credit

FIFTY MINUTES. My husband demanded to be taken to the parking area so he can find the car himself. We were hungry and tired from standing outside, necks stretched on the lookout of our car. The staff refused to take him anywhere and asked for more patience from us.

SIXTY MINUTES. Still no sign of the car. I already wanted to cry. We left Benjamin at home with his nanny and I know he is not comfortable sleeping without me (still breastfeeding). I felt so helpless. This is why I don’t go out on Thursday nights!!

They finally agreed to take my husband to the parking area. Five minutes after he was gone, the car appeared. Everyone was ready to jump on the driver – “Where were you all this time??” I asked him, finding it difficult to hide my anger. He said the valet parking was far. Simply, with a grin.

I found it pointless to argue and I need to move the car out as there are others behind me so I left it like that. However, the mystery still looms – what took him so long? EIGHTY MINUTES to be exact!!

I can only think either of the following reasons:

  • the staff didn’t know what a Honda Jazz look like
  • the staff couldn’t find our car in the array of luxury cars – ridiculous, it should be easy as it will stand out against the expensive cars! “Oh look, that small car sandwiched between the Jaguar and the Mercedes!”
  • the staff lost half of the slip and scoured the Palm Jumeirah to find it as it was quite windy that night
  • the staff went for a toilet break and got a call from his mother. They chatted for an hour. Or his girlfriend.
  • the staff met one of the Men in Black and he was flashed and completely forgot he needed to take our car back
  • the valet parking area has been moved to Deira (the other side of Dubai or Abu Dhabi)

I waited for the weekend to pass thinking I can brush this off from my mind but no, I am still pissed. Atlantis is promoting the water park big time and they should be aware they need to improve their service once they open the gates for paying customers.

Atlantis, I know you are great and we really enjoyed our night. However, it is very difficult to be asked to wait for more than an hour and expect to still be cool about it. The word ‘upset’ is not enough to describe how we feel about you until now.

Top photo credit

uae driving test

Stricter UAE driving tests, frustrated new learners

uae driving test

A work colleague is very frustrated he failed his final driving road test. Again. This is the fourth time.

He already paid AED4,000 for his 20 classes + road test and then AED820 extra for the classes and the road test every time he failed the tests. Sigh. Frustrating isn’t it?

Reference: Fees to take a driving license at Emirates Driving Institute.

Another work colleague said,

“What to do? It’s always like that – no one really passes on the first try. I got my license after 6 road tests!”

“Gone are the days when people pass on the first try! It’s become a profit making scheme here!”

Obviously, that did not comfort the guy who failed his 4th road test. He’s now confused whether to go through his 5th test again or give up.

I asked around: How many times did you have to take the final road test before getting that much coveted, UAE driving license?

Some were happy to say they were lucky to pass on the first try, others had to undergo the test three times, some five times. Getting a driving license in Dubai is made tougher to improve driving standards in the Emirate. I get it and am all for safety driving but at the same time feeling the frustration of people failing the test again and again, wasting away precious time and money.

How about you? How many times did you take the final road test before you got your driving license?


As for me, my foreign license belongs to the list of countries where it only takes a few minutes to transfer that foreign license to a UAE driving license (valid for 10 years). No training or road test required.

The countries from which citizens can transfer their driving licenses are given below:

Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States.


200kph speeders to be penalized

Two years imprisonment. DHS10,000 fine or both for 200kph speeders.

That’s what you will get if you drive endangering your own life and most of all, the lives of others. The new policy is being implemented in Dubai but nationwide enforcement will be discussed later.

With so many highways without curves, reckless drivers abound thinking they’re characters of a video game. Only, there are no three time chances or tokens in exchange of lives lost. One mistake and it’s game over.

This step is in the right direction to curb drivers with no respect for life. Never mind their own most definitely they have a death wish at this kind of speed but more often than not, speeding claims other innocent lives too.

My father was nearly killed in an accident in 2011 when a motorist hit him at a service road. Obviously, the driver who hit him was driving at a speed faster than what is required in service roads. The culprit was caught (there were witnesses) but because we didn’t file a case (my father was no longer here as his visa expired and it was difficult for him to come to Dubai again, physically and mentally) the police closed the case and the driver only fined 2,000 dirhams (US$540) . It’s unacceptable that danger driving only costed someone 2,000 dirhams. What is that amount for rich brats here? I hope they tackle these cases of hit and run next – even if the victim survives, hit and run is deliberate and leaving the victim to die is nothing short of  equivalent to murder.

Driving on Sheikh Zayed Road {A question of when}

This past weekend, I made taxi drivers rich.

I am not even a fan of taking the taxi because some (read: most) drivers speed, swerve, or declare “it’s my first day of work, Madam” and make you their personal GPS. Some drivers are just plain crazy, thinking the taxi is a karaoke box. But seriously because they’re not cheap than say, taking the Metro or driving your own car.

But at the back of my mind, I hear whispers: “You better shell out a few $$ than die.” or “Money – you can find it again but you’ve got only one life”. Whoever whispers me these things win. Always.

CONFESSION: I am a weakling (when it comes to driving highways and unfamiliar roads + bad at direction so there you go).

Almost six years in Dubai and I have not driven in Sheikh Zayed Road – ok, once when I attempted to be brave (but failed) and missed an exit more than once. That was the end of it! So yeah, I’ve been on Sheikh Zayed Road but only until Dubai Mall, not all the way to say, Jumeirah or Mall of the Emirates. No way – maybe when I ‘grow’ up.

FOLLOW UP CONFESSION: I am so jealous of moms who shoots through the mighty highway even with kids at the back. Super moms like my friend @busymommydxb.

For now, I’ve decided I’d be cool being called coward, sissy, faint hearted and money waster {I hear myself talking to myself with these words!}. At least I know, I will be alive at the end of the day. But I still cringe at the taxi bills I paid!

Avoid the roads before Iftar time!

I wish I took a video of our taxi ride a few days back but I didn’t. Or I couldn’t. I was busy clutching the securely fastened seat belt and praying silently I’d get to my destination in one piece. The taxi driver, after enduring a 14 hour fast (no drinks or food) was driving like mad in a 7 lane highway overtaking cars with little allowance for safety, swerving and speeding like it was a race track.

A few minutes more and it will be Iftar – the evening meal when Muslims break their fast during the Islamic month of Ramadan. The driver said, he’ll finally have food after he drops us on our destination.

IF we all survive the trip, that is!!

The local newspaper reveals: Iftar rush leads to more than 400 crashes in Dubai

Hunger, tiredness and disorientation makes drivers who fast during Ramadan make an unrealistic dash on the roads. It certainly felt like they all had a death wish! After a heart racing (pun intended) journey, we arrived safe and sound but I swear, I will never go out again on the roads either in a taxi or driving during the last few minutes before people break their fast!

Photo credit: emirates247.com

Another Saudi woman defies driving ban, arrested

Last Sunday Manal al-Sherif,  Saudi woman was arrested for launching a campaign to challenge the ban on women driving in the country and posting a video of herself driving on YouTube. She obtained her driving license in the US.

According to the news article in Gulf News,

Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive and must have written approval from a designated guardian – a father, husband, brother or son – to leave the country, work or travel abroad.

This is not the first time that a woman in Saudi Arabia got behind the wheels and filmed herself driving. There was Wajeha Al Huwaider in 2009 hoping that this act of “civil disobedience” will create a wave of change and reform towards fair treatment to women, including allowing them to drive on the kingdom’s public roads. But alas, nothing has come out of it even if there is no official law in Saudi Arabia stating that women cannot drive. It is simply a social taboo that has been taken to the extreme like many other things in Saudi – and sadly, continues until this very day.

The current driving ban applies to all women in Saudi Arabia, regardless of their nationality, and it’s been a topic of heated public debate in recent years.

In a world not too far away from Saudi Arabia, women can drive in Dubai (and the whole of UAE) without any restrictions. We all hope the same kind of basic right is granted to all the women in Saudi Arabia, someday soon.

Someone wanted to kiss my car

As if parallel parking isn’t enough of a challenge, I saw another nightmare come to life:

parallel parking

My car is the small white one in the middle. Normally I don’t (won’t) park this way as much as possible as there is another diagonal parking nearby. But this location is so right in front of the office building entrance and with the weather being so hot lately, I wanted to minimize walking.

When I came and parked in the morning, the black big car in front of me wasn’t there. Park anywhere you can people, but this kind of parking?

parallel parking

So I stood there, horrified on how I might be able to get my car out. I wanted to go home early but had to wait because there is NO way I could ever get my car out unless any of the two cars go away. Both of them only gave very little space to wiggle out!

From the back (there are metal posts on the right side, adding to the very limited wiggle room):

parallel parking rear

And the bad ass car in front of mine:

parallel parking front

Even the world’s most skillful driver would scratch his head. I ended up waiting for almost 30 minutes until the driver behind my car came and drove away.

Just another day in sand land.

Parallel parking for idiots

It’s been a week since M left for Japan for a business trip. You’d think I’m celebrating the extra space in our bed but no, our bed is not even that big (you’ll be shocked at the size if I tell you) and on the contrary, I find it difficult to sleep without him. Yes, we do argue from time to time (what married couples don’t?) but everytime he’s not here, I truly appreciate the things he does daily.

Really simple things like driving me to work, taking out batteries, fixing the PC (if there’s trouble), dealing with the octopussy wiring stuff, home accounting, paying the bills, cooking authentic Japanese food at times. He does all that.

I went to the video shop yesterday to return DVD’s we borrowed [wait, before anything else, you should really, really watch Hairspray (the Shake & Shimmy Edition), if you still hadn’t!] and I needed to park.


And not just tinge of sweat staining my clothes but sweat, the flooding type. Ick. The people around are watching. Hello? Is there anything special with a chick (sweaty one) trying to park a small car?

They ignored my dagger looks.

I’ve been driving for 8 years now but still suck at parallel parking, you bet, especially if there are people looking at me. What do they expect anyway? That I would fender-bender the two cars in front and behind me? Hah, I may be sweaty and slow but that ain’t gonna happen! (I hope!)

I’ve been driving to and from work everyday since he left (and until I leave for vacation to join him on the first week of October). I dread driving here ever since that episode but what can I do? It’s too hot outside. I’ve been using the bus since the start of Ramadan because of the shortened hours and M can’t go home early. It’s no fun to wait for the bus with the afternoon sun glaring and the temperature is 110F (or more) and you can’t even DRINK water in public because yeah, baby, it’s the month of fasting.

Thou shall not insult the hungry and thirsty people around you.

Since M left, I’ve been doing the things he does and not minding it at all. Except the driving part. That’s really my husband’s thing, not mine. I really don’t like chest pains in the morning.

So anyway, I’m really just trying to write that it’s safe to say that I miss my husband and I need him. For the meantime, I’ll be practicing the driving equivalent of brain surgery <- great resource!

Gasp! I’ve forgotten that I forgot

I had to drive today after like, more than a month of shying away from the steering wheel after the minor accident I had. I’ve asked Pristine not to distract me, I’ve turned the radio off, said my prayers and opened my eyes wider. I sharpened my senses. Nothing will go wrong today. It’s just a 10 minute drive to Pristine’s school. How hard can it get?

Minutes and some very fast heartbeats later, I was able to survive the 6 lane traffic. Changed lanes safely, turned at the right signal and arrived in her school. I bade her goodbye, kissed and hugged her extra tight. I got back on the car, entered the big road again and stopped at the first red light, just a few meters from the school. I am the first car, I looked at my back mirror. Cars are piling up behind me.

I’ve passed the road I was so afraid of.

A police man came from my right, carrying a small notebook. He looked long and hard at me and made a cut-throat gesture . And took note of my car plate number.


I looked around. Everything was in place, peaceful. There is no car in front of me that I could’ve bumped or something. I looked at the fellow driver on my left and when he saw me with hundreds of question marks all over my face, he was amused. Annoyingly amused and pointed to something.

Nothing was wrong, everything was in place, except one. My seatbelt.

I almost choked writing that one. Can you believe it? Whatever happened to me? Seven years of driving and I have never, EVER been without a seatbelt. Please don’t tell me this is first stage of dementia.