Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Soft Launch of Summer Villa

Summer Villa is officially open for business[1].

Overlooking the Dubai Marina skyline[2], Summer Villa is an oasis in the desert for all parched travelers looking for an adventure in the Middle East. With its floor-to-ceiling windows, airy high ceilings, the residence aims to delight friends and family on short or long-term stay.

The interior d├ęcor remains true to the residence name. Verdant bamboos and bougainvilleas[3] soften the modern angular lines of the building and bring a touch of summer breeziness for vacationers. Mingled with the salty tang of the Gulf sea breeze, are the rich aromas of fresh java available round the clock[4] and gentle strains of jazz ranging from Ella Fitzgerald to Lisa Ekdahl.

For the business traveler, Summer Villa also includes free wireless connection[5] and shuttle service to popular destinations. For the health conscious, the residence also boasts a fully-equipped gym, sauna, steam room and rooftop Jacuzzi[6] with stupendous views of the Arabian Gulf and Dubai Marina.

If these still does not warrant a visit, then perhaps the warm, gracious host of Summer Villa will be a good reason for you to book a vacation in Dubai. Known for his friendly demeanour, Sum can also plan your holiday itinerary with no additional cost. And if you are lucky, he may even whip up a mean Soy Sauce braised Chicken with Mushroom and other Chinese cuisine.

For reservation details, please email sheusum@gmail.com. All bookings must be made 2 weeks in advance. Please read the fine print before booking confirmation. Summer Villa and its owner shall not be responsible for disappointing guests’ mismanaged expectations.

[1] Well, kinda open for business. At print time, I only have one bed, a table and 3 chairs. The sofa bed is arriving tomorrow and the fridge is arriving the day after.

[2] Still under construction. There are some pretty lights at night but some of them are from the crane next door.

[3] If I can find them and assuming they survive in this heat.

[4] The Siemens percolator and coffee beans are there round the clock. And so is the electricity. And so will you.

[5] Wireless connection is free for guests. However, the building has technically not TOPed and the telecom switch isn’t ready. My friend working at the internet provider said it will be another 6 weeks before the building is internet-ready.

[6] Shared facilities with other villas.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

I love Dubai Fitness First

10 Reasons why I love Fitness First in Dubai

1. Free Wireless.

2. Free DVD Rental for 48 hours
3. Free Big Screen TV to Watch Rugby World Series
4. Free Hot & Cold Drinks

5. 25 m pool with a good view of the skyline.

6. Treadmill with Polar HRM so I can run within Training Zone
7. Spinning class to build up my biking skills
8. Locker so I can dump my barang-barang and then roam the city central
9. Huge stretching area so no one can gawk at you when stretch
10. Finally, a straight guy’s gym club!

Little wonder I was in the gym for 6 hours last Friday and Saturday

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Singapore Deli at Karama

It's a farce. Singapore Deli is actually more Malaysian and Malay rather than Singaporean! Where is my Hokkien Mee? Where is the Laksa and Chicken Rice? Where is my Economical rice? Don't believe it actually got a fair review on Time Out Dubai as well.

Still I guess when one has no choice, this will have to do. Wait till I get my apartment and kitchen, then I'll be offering private dining options...

Anyways, the kway teow goreng was fairly bland with the sambal the saving grace (and then, it's not even very good sambal). Was starving after swimming, running and biking at the gym, so ordered another kambing soup which was passable, but probably because of the MSG.

Allan, we definitely can have a business opportunity here.:)

Friday, October 5, 2007

Chinese Food in Dubai

I've got numerous requests to put some pix on the blog. But if I waited to craft the stories behind the stories behind the pix, it would take forever. So here's an amalgamation of the pix; I'll write the back stories later.

My First Chinese Dinner was crummmy. Sweet and Sour Fish in over-sweet and over-red sauce plus stir-fried vegetables. I definitely have a second career as a Chinese cook here if my job doesn't pan out. But I found out that the cook is paid only about 2K Dirhams tops (about S$800) so I don't think my friends would be pleased since that would mean I would have to stay in a dump and won't have space for them to bunk in.

My 2nd Chinese dinner was evidently better. I was so pleased with it that I forgot to take pictures and could only show you the left overs. Had beef noodles and wonton soup. Cook was from China so it was La-mien style. Made friends with the counter staff and will got directions to Chinatown. Will be there tomorrow!
Found the Singapore restaurant finally. Will be there later for dinner!

God's Work in Dubai

As Muslims in Dubai gathered at their homes and mosques this Friday to worship Allah and His Glory, the same God of the Old and New Testament was working His miracles in a quiet corner in Jebel Ali Village.

United Christian Church of Dubai is housed under Dubai Evangelical Church building which rents out the space to various church groups including separate Chinese, Arabic and African ministries plus other groups which I have yet to identify.What is so amazing today is that when I walked into the service hall, I just felt I was coming home. It felt so much like ARPC worship hall. What I wasn't prepared was that even the songs were the same! And the sermon was thoroughly Biblically centred (John chapter 3) with clarity of analysis and interesting perspectives and message. If I dare say, it was as good if not better than the sermons at ARPC, delivered within an hour :) I was intensely moved during the worship session and was too choked up to sing for the most part.

At the new-comer's session, I was warmly greeted by so many people and bumped into CY & S cell-group mate! After arranging for small group session for Monday. I hitched a ride from another random couple, who subsequently invited me for lunch at their home. Talk about God providing the daily bread! If not for M&L, I would have starved again since all the eating joints were still closed for lunch during Ramadan. While waiting for the delivery, M&L then proceeded to share with me their experiences and trials over the past year. I was so amazed at how open and warm to this Singaporean whom they only met for half hour. Again, I thank God for arranging me to meet with so many kind strangers for this past week so that I can transition better into Dubai.

As the congregation bowed their heads for the quiet time at the end of the service, I sneaked a shot on my Nokia 6300 (I so love my phone!). And finally I realised what it means that all nations will bow down to our Lord why Israel was appointed as the Kingdom of Priests.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Day 1 Culture Shock

Made a beeline to "The Largest Mall in the UAE" – Mall of the Emirates after I checked into the hotel. Needed to get myself online again with a local handphone. When I reached the mall around 10 am, most of the shops were still closed. But whatheheck, as long as the mobile phone shops were open, I wasn’t complaining.

By lunch time, my stomach was growling. But strangely the food courts and cafes still showed no signs of coming to life. I was hoping that I could get a bite while go through the various price plans. But no such luck.

Wondered around for another hour and finally spotted a few sandwich shoppes lighted up. Ordered a double cheese grilled chicken meal. When the food arrived, she proceeded to pack them into a paperbag without asking me.

“Err.. excuse me, I think I’ll be eating here,” I said, “There’s plenty of seats around.”

“Oh! Err, you are not suppose to eat here, because it is Ramadan,” the petite Filipno staff replied.

“But I’m not Muslim!”

“Well, you can’t eat here.”

“Then where can I eat then? Is there a designated place where we can eat?”

“Eat secretly in your car or go back to your room?”

No wonder people were looking at me strangely when I too a whisk of out my bottled water bottle while shopping.

So dang, where the heck am I suppose to eat then? I’m starving. I don’t care! I need to eat!

Finally I found a spot on the top deck of the open-car carpark. Hiding within a 50 sq cm of shadow formed by a corner of a pillar, surrounded by 37 degrees of sweltering hear, I swallowed my sandwich furtively, afraid that I would be denounced on my first day in Dubai.

And yes, I remembered to check there were no security cameras trained on me.


This blog has been waiting to happen.

I’ve been contemplating to start a blog since my stint at Republic Poly where many of my students blogged their emotional rollercoaster rides that characterized those heady, hormone-charged years between 18-22. And as a facilitator, nearly 15 years older than some of my students, it was interesting reading these entries although teenage angst doesn’t change very much over the decades. Their blogs became a platform for me to discover their cognitive and emotional processes and barriers which further helped me facilitate their learning.

But I never could really understand why my students blog. Yah, yah – it’s to share their lives with their friends, to express their inner thoughts and feelings. Some enterprising ones even turn it into a business! But I’m old school. I belonged to the era where diaries were tucked away under a lock and key, where all hell breaks loose should the privacy of our inner sanctity is violated. Besides, my life with my mates are so tightly integrated -– what is there that they do not know about my life which I don’t gripe about?

Which then begets the question, why am I blogging now?

Because, a-hem, I want to share my inner thoughts and feelings. I want to share my life and adventures in Dubai with my friends and family who are 5000 miles away right now.

Since I am physically separated from ever-loving-but-extremely-naggy parents, my Frisbee-triathlon-prata-karaoke buddies, my innate human desire to create, communicate and bond needs another outlet. And personal blogs and space like Facebook, MySpace and Blogspot fills this gap.

So much for the rationalization (so me, hor!). Actually the original intention of this entry was to explain why it is called Summer Villa.

(Okay, guys – my apartment is NOT going to be a villa, so dash those hopes of beachfront bbq at Jumeira Beach. But hey, what’s internet if not for a bit of hyperbole?)

Anyways, since all my friends are smarter than me, they will have no problems realizing it is a triple entendre on my name, the balmy weather in Dubai and my virtual home for all that is happening for the XX months to come. So here’s to more exciting adventures in the forthcoming Sum-mer Days and Arabian Nights!