Ouch!

I slipped and fell down on a wet floor, twisting my leg sideways from the knee down. The pain keeps increasing and spreading from my knee to the rest of my leg, so I finally decide to go to the hospital. I’m at the hospital, and the nurse is taking my vitals. I step on the scales and groan out loud.

” Does it hurt?” she asked anxiously.

” No, I’ve gained two kilos!”

And she laughed.

Hmph!

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Rocky Road

road ahead

The road ahead

 

This picture was taking on my cellphone when I was hiking up Preikestolen. It is a very good representation of what my life is like at the moment –  the road ahead is rocky and dangerous, I’m struggling to climb it, and I’m exhausted (that part’s not in the picture, but it’s implied).

 

Hope you’re all having a better time than I am.

The Grand Mosque

I made a promise to myself to publish a post every single weekday until the end of the month, and I’ve already defaulted on it cos I didn’t post anything yesterday!

It’s a tough week at work, loads of organizational changes, loads of all-day meetings that finish with team-dinners that run into the night… so I’ve not exactly been able to take the time out to blog. (Look at me, giving myself excuses for not posting. Pathetic!). Without further ado… let me get started on today’s post. We are exploring places in the UAE again today.

I’d been meaning to go to the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi ever since I first caught sight of it on one of my numerous drives to Abu Dhabi for work. It is a beautiful structure and the intricate work on the building is reminiscent of the kind of work done on the Taj Mahal.

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If you have the chance to, I’d definitely recommend a visit. It’s open to tourists and they give women abayas to wear at the entrance. The abayas come with a hood (to avoid having to give them burkhas separately I suppose) and I felt like a total ninja in it! Just hand me a nunchuck  already! :D

I’m not very religious, and rarely go to places of worship for religious reasons. I do meditate though, and prefer places of worship to be quiet and peaceful and hate crowded places where you’re being poked  in the ribs by rude people and pushed along in a crowd. This mosque is not only beautiful, but also very peaceful and so big that the crowds don’t seem to affect it’s serenity.

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Preikestolen

I’m not a hiker!

I do yoga, well.. some yoga… and can jog for a half hour on level ground, but that’s about it as far as exercise is concerned. But when I saw pictures of Preikestolen (also known as Pulpit Rock), I knew I had to go there, no matter what! Of course, the forums tell you it is a beginner level hike, so I was kinda under the impression it would be like a long stroll in the park, maybe just a little bit more difficult. Boy was I mistaken!

climbing

It all started out badly. We were staying in Stavanger and had decided to rent a car to drive to Forsand, Preikestolen. Too late in the night on Saturday, we realized that the rental agencies would be closed on Sunday (unlike Dubai, where everything is open on the weekends as well). We checked out of our hotel in the morning and headed to the airport to try our luck there. Unfortunately, the car rentals there too would only open at noon.

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So we waited. When they finally opened, only one of them had an automatic car available for rent. Apparently, the only automatic available was a merc, which obviously cost a lot more than we’d anticipated. Also, they didn’t give GPS units for cars being returned in a different city, which is a ridiculous rule, but we had to live with it. So when we finally headed out, we were grumpy and frustrated. In spite of the lack of GPS, we somehow managed to reach the the base around 2:30 pm and started our hike.

About two minutes in, I almost gave up!

Yeah. :/

It started at a fucking incline. Was I supposed to walk on a 60 deg incline with a backpack on my shoulders for 2 hours?! Who the hell called this a beginner level hike??!! My thighs were in agony, I was out of breath and I felt frustrated with myself, with that horrible voice in the back of my head suggesting that I quit already instead of attempting this foolish exercise.

Ignoring the voice, I muttered curses under my breath and renewed my efforts. The ground leveled a bit after a point, only a bit… but that helped. Once I got into the flow of things, it got easier. It still wasn’t easy mind you! I mean… sure, there were people with 3 yr olds & grandmothers and pet dogs  in tow ( I’m not even joking! Norwegians are super outdoorsy, clearly!), but it is not a walk in the park.

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You have to scramble over rocks and roots of trees, the path is mostly uphill ( it’s a 308m climb), and if you don’t follow the trail, you can get lost. But the blazing red T marks are easy to follow and a friendly reminder that you’re on the right path and that people before you have done this, so maybe you can too.

There are about what feels like a gazillion ‘steps’, roughly hewn into the mountain, to help you climb up the steeper paths. We didn’t talk too much, just kept walking ahead and muttering curses under our breath. Ashi was especially pissed off, cos after all, this was my idea, not hers, she hadn’t asked to risk her life on these treacherous rocks!

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Once we got to the top though, it was all worth it! The feeling of accomplishment, the magnificent views, the adrenalin rush of sitting at the edge of the cliff with my legs dangling, and knowing  that not too many people do this regularly kinda gives you bragging rights for life! *grin*

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We took a lot of pictures, ate a couple of bananas and a bar of snickers, all the while marveling at the view and talking excitedly about the climb. But there were storm clouds brewing and it would get dark soon, so finally, we set off again, back the way we came. The climb down was a lot easier, though it was not all downhill and there were a lot of tricky places where you could slip and twist your ankles or go tumbling down the rocks. But I got into this zone where you’re in a a kind of rhythm and just keep jumping from one rock to the next, like a dance. Hikers, I’m sure, would be aware of this phenomenon.

If you’re attempting this climb and you’re a hiker, it’s one of the best things you’ll do in Norway. If you’re not a hiker… go for it anyway.

It’s worth it!

View from the top

A Tourist at Home

It’s been a ridiculously long time since I last blogged. I could give a lot of excuses, sure… but the real reason is that I’m just plain lazy. I need to just get down to it and start writing again.

SO…. okay… I have decided that I will blog every single weekday, until the end of this month!

I’m not sure how I’m going to go about it… what will I blog about every single day? But it’s out there now and I’ll just have to do it.

I’ll start with Dubai, cos I blog very little about the city I was brought up and continue to live in. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and to ease the burden of thinking up stuff to write…  I’ll put up a picture or two as well (all cellphone pics, so excuse the poor quality).

a rare cloudy day in Dxb

This was taken a couple of weeks ago. It hardly ever rains in Dubai. So when it does, we’re all thrilled to bits about it! Except, this particular weekend, my friend was visiting from the U.S. and I didn’t want it to be ruined cos of the rain. Though it did rain quite heavily, it was scattered, and we managed to stay out of the rain for the most part.

I showed them around, took them to the usual places… souq madinat jumeirah, Dubai Mall, Barasti etc.

Looking up at the skyline from Barasti

View from Barasti

They were happy tourists, raring to go and pleased with everything they saw.  A lot of it reminded them of the U.S. apparently, but more Arabic of course. So while the outdoor lebanese restaurant I took them to was very similar to the one they frequented in San Francisco, the hummous was wildly different (and better) than the one they had there. It was all, at once familiar yet exotic, which is quite a heady mix! 

The Burj Al Arab

The Burj Al Arab

I took them to the Burj al Arab for afternoon tea. They didn’t realize the meal involved as many courses as it did.

Afternoon "tea"

Afternoon “tea”

It started with champagne, which is a bit different from your usual afternoon tea menu, but then this is Dubai of course! Then came tarts and sandwiches, sorbets, scones with clotted cream, macaroons and profiteroles,  and finally, the choices for tea (or coffee) were brought forward, followed by more cakes and pastries.

a day of excesses!

a day of excesses!

Of course, it is impossible for a normal human being to eat all of this in one sitting and we left with our tummies bursting and heads reeling from the excesses of the day.

Scones! My favourite part of tea!

Scones! My favourite part of tea!

I took them to Deira afterwards, to show them the other side of Dubai. We drove around Satwa and walked around the gold souk for a bit before I dropped them off to the airport.

I must say, I saw more of Dubai in those three days than I have all year! I love showing tourists around, cos if you’re not traveling, the next best thing is to be around people who are!

Everything seems a lot more interesting from a tourist’s curious eyes, doesn’t it?