Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Muscat, Oman

Our two day trip to Muscat (capital of Oman, refer to map at left) was exhausting to say the least. Thursday morning we woke up at 4 AM to catch our plane. After loading on the plane and arriving in Muscat we checked into our hotel. Amazing thing about Muscat is that it is so much more green than Qatar! Qatar is super desert. All of it is sand, sand, sand. Muscat however had trees and plants, along with sand and mountains. It was really amazing to that in a mere 1 hour flight the scenery could change so drastically. Anyways, we checked into the hotel and tried to find somewhere to eat. We finally settled on the hotel restaurant where we ate something boring, so boring, I don't even remember what it was. We then proceeded to take a dip in the pool until the souq opened. The pool was so nice and the weather was beautiful. The air in Muscat is more humid than Doha, but the air isn't as hot. However, the sun was unbearable. After chilling in the pool for a bit we went off to the souq! And wherever you go, I'm pretty sure the souq will be the same. It was a bit open building you walk into and there are shops everywhere. And the Arabian Sea was right outside, and a blowfish that was puffed up had drifted ashore. It was a bit odd. Anyways, inside the souq there are people everywhere! (and we saw a feral cat...) The stores are ususally scarf stores where you can buy the giant scarves to wrap around your shoulders, or little ones to wrap around, say, your neck. I'm pretty sure we bought about seven scarves that day. My mom gets sucked into buying everything when the people are like, "Come feel the scarf!". We stopped in a few silver/jewelry stores because mom was on a hunt for something. We were just walking along and all of a sudden there was a store full of necklaces and shiny silver things everywhere. So we walked on it. There were so many things to look at, but Daniel and I were content with rummaging through a huge bin of rings to find some we liked. I ended up with a hand decorated silver ring with colorful designs on the top. After that we kept on walking and went to the shoe store! After trying on billions of pairs of shoes my mom & I decided on matching (ahh! the terror!) black sparkly slip ons and she she got another red pair. I wanted the silver pair, but they didn't fit. Daniel then went to get his haircut. I'll let him share that with you. On our way out we saw some silver shoes at a store! So pausing to try on many a pair, I finally decided on an Aladdin-looking silver pair. :] That night we went back to the hotel and crashed since we were super tired.

The very next morning we woke up for our 7 AM tour. We met the tour guy out front after checking out of the hotel and grabbing breakfast. The tour van was a 4WD made for rolling through uncharted territory. Which, we did, oh we did. We started off by driving out of the city.


Back to Qatar

So we are back in Qatar. I have a camel tooth i bought in Oman. I also got my haircut and learned a very important lesson: NEVER get your hair cut in a souq. OUCH! He actually managed to cut my neck. OK things we did in Qatar. I went ice skating twice. With a family my mom knows (she actually found someone she knows from work in Oman!). I found these cool shoes called Kangoo Jumps. You can check out their website, kangoojumps.com. I definitely ( i just found out that if you say slow and pronounce every letter it sounds like "deaf in Italy" lol) recommend them, i tried them on on the store and they are so awesome. We also went to a mosque. At first I was bored because we were learning sorta boring stuff but then it got really cool. I learned how to wash your hands before you pray and how you pray at certain times and we went inside a mosque! It was awesome. It was so cool seeing everyone do the same steps and doing them at their own pace but they followed the rhythm. I would totally go again if i could. Plus, i met some really cool people.



So, for our visa we went to Muscat, Oman (this mean we had to stand in a long line after we got off the plane). We went to a souq the first night we were there. We also went swimming. The second day we took a giant tour. You can look at the pictures and videos on photobucket.com. If we had a goat count, we would have about 150 easy. We went smimming in the wadi ben khalid. It is a natural smimming pool, again, check the pictures. We stayed in a 5 star hotel which was pretty nice. THE ELEVATORS HAVE ELEVATOR MUSIC HAHA. It was so cool. We only stayed two days so we made the most of them.

Smalls (Daniel)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Long Time No See! (Day Twenty Two!)

Yes, it's been quite a while. Many, many moons ago in fact. Today is day twenty two in fact. But I'm not going to go indepth, because we've been lazing around for a while, since mom has been working (too much). Mmm I'm trying to focus on any interesting things that have happened. Well, I've been lonely since there is NO ONE my age here. Not an inkling of one. No where. So it's getting a bit boring just me and my iPod. Anywhoodles...

NOTE: Old pictures are going to stay on Flickr, but since they don't offer enough memory to host all the photos, I'm switching to Photobucket, to host our videos AND pictures. 

Arabic lessons are coming along I suppose. We're learning more basic phrases, but as of now I can't remember many, which COULD be bad since we have a lesson in 45 minutes. But, hey. So the only things that have happened in this... week or so have been: going to Bukhara (yum) with our friends, going iceskating in the mall, getting some shoes, and going to Muscat, Oman (but that's for another post). Howeeeever, yesterday was a fun day. We actually did something! We went to the Islamic Center. Which, perhaps, if any of you end up in Doha, I advise you visit. It was big room sort of thing where we learned the basics of the Islamic religion: such as the pillars of faith, the prophets, the Qur'an, the miracles of the Qur'an and such. Then we went to enter the Mosque. Which involved taking off our shoes and putting on abayas & shalya. And let me tell you, I was an utter disgrace. First I couldn't figure out how to put on the shayla (the head scarf thing) and then when i finally got it on, it fell off. Great. Then I could not figure how to put on the abaya, which should have been fairly easy. It's like a great big Hogwarts' robe with big arm holes and snaps from neck to stomach, but we wore our clothes underneath. I looked so silly. Then we had to take our shoes off, and let me tell you, my shoes were NOT fit for quick on and off-ing. They have these ribbons that tie around your ankles and I couldn't get the knot off! Then as I was bending over my shayla blocked my vision. It was horrific. And everyone was just chilling there waiting for me, and I was like AGHHH. And then we finally entered the mosque once deficient Catharine got her shoes off. Inside was sort of a blase big room with red carpet and a pulpit sort of thing in the direction of Mecca. There were prayer thingys and a red rug. And overhead there was a balcony with a big grate in front of it where the women prayed since women and men pray separately. Then we left the mosque and went into the "library" where you could just take books for free, and keep them. Then we separated and the women went one way and the men went the other. However, I have no idea where my brother went, so refer to his post. First we went to the top of the mosque to the women's section during prayer time. It was a new experience to watch prayer. Then we went to this room with cushions on the ground, and food! And the food was really good. There were lots of vegetables and rice and the rice had really interesting spices. Then we got henna on our hands. It's so sweet, it's a design of flowers and vines and its still on my hand three days later. (pictures on Photobucket). So, then we all shuffled out of the center and met up with the guys and went home. And that was all for that day, really. Next post is about Oman. 

Feral Cat Count: 7

Catharine ♥

Saturday, June 7, 2008

a little update

So nothing much really happened, but what we did was play squash, i played around the neighborhood, we watched all the Harry Potter movies, my sister and mom had tae-bo and I found a cool game on the internet.  I practice squash but the top of the squash racket got unravelled a little bit so I tucked it in a little bit so that it works better.  I finally got to see the kids again.  It was fun playing again.  the Harry Potter movies were fun too watch too.  Tae-bo went as usual.  The game on the internet is named fishy, and it is on addictinggames.com and it is when you are this little fish and you have to eat the ones that are smaller than you and then you grow.   

I'll try to post another blog soon, 

Day Thirteen: to the Villagio

Today. Finally, up to date. We started our day by heading to Bukhara at noon to eat some Korma! FINALLY. We've been waiting to get our hands on that. And, and, and! There were feral cats outside of the window in the bushes hiding from the sprinklers! There were three kittens, on the skinny side. One orange striped, one Calico (or black with polka dots as Daniel so says), and light orange and white one, presumed around two months old (by wise old mom, not old though). So, now we're up to seven! Anyways, then we got terribly lost going to Villagio. Because they put roundabouts on the map where there are none, and take out random roundabouts and put in bridges! So we ended up in the Industrial part of town, and by some stroke of luck got to the mall. We were intending on going skating, but we didn't have much time before we had to leave for Arabic, so we just shopped around. We stopped at H&M, and some odd little stores, along with....CARREFOUR! Duh. We got dresses, hats, and shoes, along with the food necessities; chocolate, pizza, and cereal. :] And then it was Arabic time. Lessons progressing well, I suppose. We learned more greeting/name phrases today, and basic classroom things, like pen (qalam). Then we headed home after our hour and a half lesson and sat around and talked to daddy. Oh, and I used Skype! Skype is good fun, even if I do have pointless conversations. That's all for today.

However, I left a point out about one of the past days. We sat in on mom's lesson! It was actually pretty interesting, we learned about French & American body positions and things of the sort. We watched a clip of Saturday Night Fever too. And a clip of a French movie. We got to meet her students too. There are three girls and two boys in her class. The girls wear the abaya and shaylas, which are their black dress things and head scarves. And one of the boys was wearing a thope (the white robe things) and the other was wearing street clothes, but mom said he usually wear a thope too. They were pretty similar to American students though, besides the way they look. They joked around and whispered and giggled like normal students, and were slightly afraid of my mom. As are most people. :] And what I think is pretty interesting, is that the girls, although they wear the abayas; they have really sweet shoes, and bags, and their eye makeup is the coolest. And if you see them in the mall they always have loads of shopping bags from regular stores too. So, I mean, they're just like us, but they were abayas and shaylas. They drink Starbucks too. Anyone who drinks Starbucks can't be too different from me. :] Well, I suppose that's long enough for today. 

Feral Cat Count: 7

Catharine ♥ 

Days Nine through Twelve

Day Nine:
Squash & exercising. Not terribly interesting.

Day Ten:
Tae bo & Arabic lessons! Arabic is easier now that we're not actually using the characters. We're just learning the pronunciation of words and then "english spelling". Like "assalamu alaykum"; which means "hi", or technically, "peace to you". And, other than that, we're just using conversational words.

Day Eleven:
Off to City Center to pick up our tickets for Oman! Oh, did I mention we're going to Oman? Specifically Muscat, the capital. We're staying in a fancy shmancy five star hotel near the beach side. :D Hooray! But City Center is a nightmare for parking! We drove around for hours and hours, or maybe minutes, and finally found a spot only to enter into the world's most crowded mall. It is super huge and I can't find my way around. We got the tickets and then went to the bookstore and got books. Hooray!! I finished the book in one night however. Oh, and, I got a Hello Kitty watch. It's totally bomb. And we got Starbucks. Then we came home, and...sat around.

Day Twelve: 
Sat around. Mommy worked. Oh, the life.

Catharine ♥