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A Trip Down Memory Lane – MissBassmaster Favs

One of the coolest parts about blogging, especially travel blogging, is being able to look back at your own writing & experiences.  Recently, I’ve been trying to clean up my old posts to make a more cohesive MissBassmaster.  In doing so I’ve stumbled upon some awesome posts.  Damnnnnnnnnnnnn Katie, round of applause!   I keep trying to remember where I was writing, what I was thinking & how I was really feeling.  I must have done a good job of conveying my emotion at the time because re reading particular posts brings me right back to the same feelings I had.

At the time I remember genuinely believing no one reads blogs so I was writing to the air – but I’m glad I did!

For anyone new to MissBassmaster, or looking for a good trip down memory lane, here are a few of my personal favs:

Olive Oil + Hair

Ha!  What you’ll do when you have no money & nowhere to be.  This particular post was still in the beginning stages of Dubai when I had major self esteem issues, hense the drama.  I remember it like it was yesterday… Feeling so proud to have a head full of grease and smelling like a frying pan. Aww.

I’m Here. Hi. / BOOM It’s My Birthday

I’m Here. Hi.  Is probably my shortest post but it’s the sweetest.  I can tell the hard times are finally behind me & I was myself again, reading this simple post put a huge smile on my face. I finally made it!  And BOOM It’s My Birthday?  Ummmm hello happiness, good to see you again!

My Dumb Idea to Try the Master Cleanse

Because this is freaking hilarious.  I will forever remember this cleanse & my conversations w/Wafiq during this time.  Since doing the cleanse & writing those posts I’ve heard a tooooooooon of negativity towards juice cleanses & restricting diets.  I would like to take this opportunity to make it clear – I was doing the cleanse as an experiment.  I didn’t know if it was good, bad, or ugly – I was bored & wanted to see if a cleanse like this was survivable, shoot me.

Myth Busting Dubai

Awwwww finally learning to defend Dubai.  This is one of my favorites because it’s so true to Dubai!!  I always say, I’m totally open to talking negatively about Dubai or really anywhere else in the world, as long as you know what you’re saying.  Facts & education, or I might as well be talking to a fucking wall.  If you want to answer some questions about life in Dubai, or the Middle East – read this.

My Fellow American’s in Dubai

I never write posts like this anymore!  Truly one of a kind – a story on MissBassmaster.  How hilarious are my fellow American’s in Dubai, and I remember working so hard at portraying each character in the pictures.  HA!

Finally Back in Austin, Texas!

I forgot how hard this was – culture shock in general was super heavy for me.  And it took almost a full year to get over it.  Only NOW am I comfortable talking and explaining Dubai to people.  That took forever! This post was written so perfectly to reflect my feelings.  Anyone struggled with culture shock?  I wasn’t ready…


EEEEEEEE!! That’s my trip down memory lane!  I haven’t gone through ALL my old posts, those are the ones that stuck out & I found to be a good read going back.  If you really pay attention you’ll see my ups and downs were a little roller coaster-y.    Any other bloggers notice that in their writing?   I’m going to try to maintain a more “up” feeling going forward, jeeeeez Katie.

I know I always say it, but I’m so so so super grateful for where I am now 🙂

Have a light day & remember to be thoughtful!!

Xx

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Travel

Why It’s OK To Be A Tourist

I’m in a few travel groups on Facebook & Instagram + I follow a couple blogs that travel often. They’re all veteran travelers, or it appears that way. Maybe the most outspoken members are?

Being-a-Tourist-

One common theme I’ve seen a lot of since joining travel groups or following travel blogs is this idea to avoid extremely tourist travel locations or activities, with the idea to experience the destination as a local would.

Although I completely understand where that mentality is coming from and have been known to preach the same way, the more I see posts & conversations like this the more I start feeling like I need to defend tourist hot spots.

Being-a-Tourist_Times-Square

Times Square, New York

First, traveling isn’t easy for everyone. For someone who hasn’t previously had the opportunity to travel OR for someone who has never been courageous enough to explore – traveling can be very intimidating. The money, language, navigation, and companionship can be scary. Even for me, after traveling with zero percent idea what the hell I was doing and somehow surviving, traveling still gives me anxiety. Tourist locations can offer a little relief. You’re in a group of people who also, don’t know what the hell they’re doing. People are confused, taking pictures, lost, excited, eating terrible food, and probably dressed 180 degrees opposite of the local style.

Second, is this a competition of the most adventurous? Where’s the smallest crack in the ass restaurant I can go to in order to show I’m “one” with the culture, or sky dive down an erupting volcano in an undiscovered mountain range in order to show how much of the planet earth I’ve been to? Sometimes a girl just wants to see the Statue of Liberty, buy a $40 foam crown visor, and eat corn out of a cup!

Being-a-Tourist-New-York

Statue of Liberty, New York

I sway back and forth with the tourist vs local way to see a destination.

While living in Dubai, my very favorite thing to do was the desert Safari – and there is literally nothing more touristy to do in Dubai than that damn desert Safari. But I loved it. And participated whenever I had the chance. At the same time, I avoided the tourist restaurants like the plague. You couldn’t pay me to eat that shit.

Being-a-Tourist-Dominican-Republic

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

When I lived in the Dominican Republic, I LOVED eating the food at my host house because damnnnnnnn could my host mom cook a meal! (I’ll work on repeating some of those recipes for you guys.) And why would I eat at any popular restaurant over her meals?! HOWEVER, I spent several weekends at the resorts where you couldn’t find a single local. I laid out on the beach, drank dranks, chatted with Europeans & danced with other tourists to Dominican music… w/no Dominicans.

50/50

Being-a-Tourist-Henna

Desert Safari, Dubai

But what I want get across – if you want to do the desert safari in a car full of tourists or you want to take a ferry to the statue of liberty or you want to dance to Dominican music with no Dominicans IN the Dominican Republic: go ahead!

I would challenge someone that is going on a very touristy vacation to spend one night looking a little further for a restaurant that isn’t advertised, but the hotel check-in person recommends as their personal fav.

Or spend one afternoon shopping where a local buys their clothes.

Explore the local grocery store the hotel bartender goes to.

Finding something very simple to dig a little into the local culture will only make any travel experience more heartwarming, that’s what I’ve learned. HOWEVER, by all means stick to the tourist activities if you want to. Take pictures, look silly, talk to other tourists, because why not?

Being-A-Tourist-Amsterdam

Amsterdam

One thing I most definitely do not discriminate against – being a tourist.

I use my own judgement to decide between what’s a tourist trap and what’s simply a (sometimes) fun touristy activity. There’s a fine line for sure, but exploring both locally and w/in the tourist boarders is A-okay!

I’ve been wanting to get that off my chest for a really long time… I never want to talk about visiting a country, traveling or moving abroad in a way that’s intimidating or sets the bar high, or to be cool – because it shouldn’t be.

Thoughts?!

 

 

Happy exploring!!

Xx

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Dubai Tips & Tricks – To Pull Off A Perfect Trip

Take notes ladies & gentlemen –

Last week I shared your MUST DO bucket list for Dubai & in order to keep that list as short as possible I left out a lot of tips, tricks, & notes to keep.

Here are your 10 Vacation Notes to get through a trip to Dubai in the best way possible!  Enjoy!

Your Perfect Dubai Vacation

Burj Al Arab

10 Dubai Vacation Notes:

1. Buy alcohol in Duty Free at the airport.  This is an absolute must.  Buy as much as you think you’ll drink… & then some. There’s a limit to the amount of alcohol you can buy in Duty Free and bring into the country. The person at the counter will know the amount, so ask them.

 

2. Have at least one person in your group get a SIM card so you have a phone.  It’s pretty affordable & worth it.  Google maps is your best friend while in Dubai, so having a phone is super helpful.  The two major carriers to look out for while you’re in the airport are Du & Etisalat.  I suggest Etisalat, Du had this weird Data or Voice option that really screwed me out of $$$$ while I was there.  And I suggest getting the SIM card at the airport before you do anything else.

 

3. DON’T go to Dubai for a party.  Dubai is not a place to go drinking, dancing & partying.  It just isn’t.  You cannnnn party if you want to, but it’s not going to be nearly as good of an experience as it would be somewhere else – you’ll spend WAY more money than it’s worth.  Remember, Dubai is a Muslim country, it wasn’t created for alcohol <– Go with that mindset.  You go to Dubai for shopping, the desert & jaw dropping buildings — not parties.

 

4. I HIGHLY recommend doing everything on this list, and for any spare time you have – stay in your hotel… LOL! I say that because the hotels in Dubai are G R A N D and G O R G E O U S.  Dubai puts a ton of pride in their hotels – by you simply staying in one, you’re already on a vacation.  Stick to the list, and stick to exploring your hotel.

 

5. Dubai has rules, but you don’t need to freak out about them.  Just don’t do cocaine, don’t rape anyone, don’t talk about their King, don’t have sex in The Dubai Mall and don’t walk around naked.  In America, when I see people talking about Dubai on TV, they’re always mentioning the “rules”.  There IS rules, and they are super strict IF you break them. But act conservatively and respect everyone – there’s absolutely nothing to be afraid of.  Like I’ve said over and over again, living in Dubai was the safest I’ve ever felt.  I absolutely love that they have major rules AND follow them.  Well done Dubai, well done. (America gets their panties in a bundle over spilled milk *eye roll*).

 

6. Don’t go in the summer.  It’s fucking hot.  I’d say May – August are probably off limits.  December – March are the best.

 

7. Check for Religious holidays!  If you make the mistake of going to Dubai in the summer, you’ll probably also be there during Ramadan.  I loved experiencing Ramadan, however – No eating, no drinking, no touching, no music, no restaurants.  Unless you want to become “one” with the Muslim community, avoid going during this time.  ALSO, they have holidays spread throughout the year that are “dry”.  Make sure you know those dates too. (I saw on the Real Housewives they went during a dry time and were trying to act like it’s all cool, but that would be a total bummer if it’s your vacation… or at least I think so).

 

8. Plan ahead.  There’s nothing wrong with making all your plans ahead of time, and when vacationing in Dubai –> that’s a fantastic idea.  Listen, Dubai is confused.  There are a ton of people that don’t know what the hell their doing – so if you casually “wing it” for a day and don’t know what you’re doing.. You’ll end up EXTREMELY frustrated. (Trust me.)  Even after living there for a year, I would rarely leave the house without an exact plan.  Know your locations so you can specifically tell a cab driver, even better: know large landmarks NEAR your destination, or the exact hotel the restaurant you’re going to is in.  Also, know your timing, have your tickets, book your excursions… Basically – know your shit inside & out.  Don’t assume you can ask someone something and they’ll tell you accurate information, that just doesn’t happen.

 

9. If you rent a car (which you should for Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque day),  prepare to get lost.  Their roads are easy to drive & I feel pretty safe, BUT there are no U-Turns.  If you miss a turn – you’ll have a long detour.  Use Google Maps. And take your time.  Watch out for those expensive speeding cameras too!  (FYI – the Mosque is actually pretty easy to get to…)

 

10. Expect to pay more than you budget.  Sometimes, you can breathe air and spend $500.  If you stick to my list of things to do, you should be safe… But wander off, and may the money God’s watch over you!

 

Dubai Marina

@ Dubai Marina

Have fun! Dubai is built for tourism, stick to the tourist things and you’ll have an awesome time.  Next time I go, I’ll follow my own advice & act like I’ve never been before – I think that would bring out an entirely different perspective.

So0o0o adventurous people,  I’m seeing holidays are in full throttle this summer… Lot’s of travel happening on the Instagram pages. Where’s everyone headed?

I’m always brainstorming the next destination on my travel agenda…

As always, let me know if you have any questions for traveling in the Middle East, I’d be happy to answer!

Talk soon!

 

>> PS. I knooooow I said I would write about women clothing options for Dubai, coming next week!  I promise.

Xx

 

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Your PERFECT Dubai Vacation Itinerary!

Dubai! Dubai! Dubai!

 The Perfect Dubai Vacation Itinerary Must Do List

One of the questions I get asked these days is recommendations of what to do while visiting Dubai.

Shortly after – I realized I never made a useful list of what to do when you decide to vacation in Dubai, which is really stupid considering I lived there for a year and a half.  The very LEAST I can do is help recommend what to do!

Just a heads up – Dubai is kind of spread out.  Dubai Marina is on one end, Downtown Dubai is on the other, and The Grand Mosque is in the nearby capital – Abu Dhabi

It’s VERY useful to plan your days accordingly.

1. Desert Safari –

The Perfect Dubai Vacation Itinerary Must Do List

This is A MUST DO.  One of the more obvious MUST – DO’s, but I wanted to confirm it’s worth it & you won’t be disappointed. There are tons of companies that offer the Safari trip & both the ones I went on worked out well –  plenty of other tourists, affordable, they serve alcohol & you get the entire desert experience.  The whole trip usually takes half of your day, so plan an entire afternoon here. { This company is pretty popular.}

+ Extras:  Rent Quad Bike /  Upgrade your ride / Stay overnight

2. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque –

The Perfect Dubai Vacation Itinerary Must Do List

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is about 40 minutes away from Dubai Marina, but I consider it totally worth the drive. Rent a car for the day and take it out to the Mosque.  I can’t imagine traveling all the way to the Middle East, landing in Dubai for a couple days, and not taking the time to see this masterpiece. It’s indescribably grand & gorgeous. Absolutely something I would recommend.

This grand Mosque is one of many architectural reasons you ABSOLUTELY MUST have a GoPro before you go to Dubai. No excuses.

+ Extras:  Visit nearby Ferrari WorldYas Waterworld

3. Dubai Souk –

http://www.jumeirah.com/en/hotels-resorts/dubai/madinat-jumeirah/facilities/madinat-jumeirah-beach/

I’m recommending the Souk because it’s in the old part of Dubai & is more traditional looking than the rest of the city.  Having that perspective is always important. If you’re good at bartering you can get some great deals on Dubai souvenirs, scarves, spices, decorations, ect.

They really have it all, just be ready to barter.

+ Extra: Dubai Creek Cruise

4. Renting A Yacht –

The Perfect Dubai Vacation Itinerary Must Do List

Alright. This is my number 1 recommendation, hands down.   Worth every penny spent and an absolute must if you visit Dubai.

If you’re visiting with a group, this is perfect & shockingly affordable.  If you’re visiting alone or in a small group, at the very least go check out the options at a place that rents boats and see if there’s an option you can afford. (Check GroupOn! That’s how we ended up reserving ours).  You’d be surprised how affordable taking a Yacht out is in comparison to many other Dubai activities.

You can usually spend most of your day out on the boat and it offers the most spectacular views! An overall great time.  Pack food, drinks, music, swim suits, and you’ll have a fantastic time, I promise this is a MUST!

+ Extras: Drinks & Food at Pier 7 / Dubai Marina Mall

5. Dubai Mall –

 The Perfect Dubai Vacation Itinerary Must Do List

Shopping in Dubai is insane. Period.  And The Dubai Mall is where it’s at.  For obvious reasons, this is one of my recommendations.  You can really spend a lot of time and a lot of money in The Dubai Mall.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

PS. As far as eating in Dubai Mall.. Go to Texas Roadhouse. LOL! Unfortunately, I didn’t like many restaurants in Dubai Mall.  If possible, go outside and eat at the Souk Al Bahar next door. There’s some yummy options over there, shout out to Bakers & Spice!

Extras: Aquarium in Dubai Mall / Ice Skating Rink in Dubai Mall

6. Emirates Mall / Ski Dubai –

I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of Ski Dubai.. BUT, I know a lot of people can’t wrap their heads around the idea of a ski slope in the middle of the desert.  If that’s you, then here you go!  Emirates Mall will give you what you’re looking for.

I would recommend scheduling this a day or two early as the different packages fill up.  If you don’t want to go skiing, there’s always excellent shopping throughout the Emirates Mall. Either way, great spot to stop.

 

Extras: Gold & Diamond Souk

7. Burj Khalifa + Fountain –

The Perfect Dubai Vacation Itinerary Must Do List

Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world and it’s such a wonder to gaze at.  Like I’ve said in previous posts, there was not a day I would see this mountain of a building and not be in awe.  You can take pictures from the bottom of the building, gaze from Dubai Mall, or walk around outside near the Fountain.

The fountain is gorgeous.  You can go every single night and not get bored.  If you’ve seen the fountain in Vegas –> this one will blow it away.  Breathtaking.

Extras: At The Top

8. Dubai Marina Beach –

The Perfect Dubai Vacation Itinerary Must Do List

I decided to pick one beach for this list, and I’m going for Dubai Marina Beach.  There’s a new outdoor shopping mall, The Beach, that’s worthy of some time..

Plus the view from the beach of the sky rise buildings is pretty breathtaking. Also, there’s a lot of tourists, so you can feel pretty comfortable in your bathing suit 😉

Extras: Bike around the Marina

9. Burj Al Arab – 

The Perfect Dubai Vacation Itinerary Must Do List

I discovered this location late in my Dubai days and I remember regretting not taking visitors here.  The walk out to this restaurant offers PERFECT views of Burj Al Arab, which is an important landmark to see. As you walk out to the venue you can take your time gazing at the beautiful Burj Al Arab & luxurious Yachts that pull in.

Extras: Souk Madinat Jumeirah for souvenirs / Wild Wadi Water Park / Jumeirah Beach Hotel Day Pass

10. Dubai Atlantis –

The Perfect Dubai Vacation Itinerary Must Do List

Atlantis is a fun day activity. I recommend going to their waterpark – Aquaventure.  I really loved the architecture of the rides, the variety, and the beach it offered. {LOL the architecture, I hate rides! So I focus on other aspects of the waterpark.}  I had a great time and so did my ride loving friends. You can definitely spend a day, or even longer if you choose!

Extras: Spend a night at Atlantis /  Eat at one of the many restaurants

The Perfect Dubai Vacation Itinerary Must Do List

***Bonus: Sky Diving – I get scared even typing this as I have a very terrible fear of heights, BUT if there was ever a location I would love to jump out of a plane it would be over the Palm Jumeirah.

Guys, the photos and views are insane! First time in my life I was jealous of people acting so dumb.  PLAN AHEAD too! I think there’s a couple months waiting list to reserve, but if you do it right, this would be an incredible thing to mark off your bucket list.

 The Perfect Dubai Vacation Itinerary Must Do List

Ok guys, that’s what I would recommend to do while you’re in Dubai. I spent a lot of time there and can say with full confidence these are the things I would spend my time + money on if I brought someone to visit.

Next week I’ll share some outfit options for the ladies. That’s the second question I always get asked, what should I wear, and what am I allowed to wear. Don’t worry, I’ll cover that next week!

Anyone planning a trip to the Middle East? If so, I hope it’s not in the summer! LOL!

Let me know if you want any other Dubai posts covered… Sometimes I overlook obvious questions about the Middle East and forget to talk about things people want to know, so don’t be afraid to ask!

Talk soon!

Xx

 

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The Best Sweet Treat in the World! Promise.

Dates!!!! AHHHH Dates! I love them so much (and you will too. Promise).

Dates_The Best Snack in the World_ Healthy

I didn’t think it would be possible to find yummy dates in America but I’m here to confirm it is!  You may have to do a little hunting, but the hunt is worth the catch.

 Dates_The Best Snack in the World_ Healthy

Basics:  Dates come from Date Palms.  Date Palms look like a stubby version of the palm trees we’re used to seeing near beaches.

Dates_The Best Snack in the World_ Healthy

I’ll admit – Dates look baaaad.  They do NOT look like the tasty treat that they absolutely are. They look more like a shriveled up, overly large raisin.  I don’t like raisins. So don’t be turned off by their appearance. (<–Life lessons today on MissBassmaster)

Ok ok ok, the key with dates is finding the perfect one for your taste buds.  There are A TON of varieties, so do not, I repeat: DO NOT taste one date and conclude you don’t like them…

 Dates_The Best Snack in the World_ Healthy

I tried ’em all.  I even tried them straight off the tree. (<–bragging?) OMGOMGOMG so good. Trying them off the tree, so super fresh, is what makes me want to explore all parts of the world and taste their straight up, from the earth – foods. I mean, yes mother earth, YASSS!

Types of Dates: Medjool, Thoory, Nour, Barhi, and the list goes on and on..

Differences you’ll notice is the softness, stickiness, and sweetness of the dates.   My FAVORITE are Medjool Dates. Soft, perfectly sweet, and big & yummy.

Dates_The Best Snack in the World_ Healthy

I only assumed after seeing dates picked off the tree that there were health benefits to these tasty treats {mother earth has our back like that}, and after getting lost in the world wide web for far too long I learned these baby’s are packed with minerals and nutrients.

 Benefits include: (via | via | via)

+ Energy Booster: natural sugars help get you up and moving

+ Bone Health: significant amount of minerals to help strengthen bones

+ Brain Function:  Potassium + other minerals help boost your nervous system

+ Allergy Reducer

+ Weight Loss:  Junk food replacement + fiber

+ Healthy Digestion: All the fiber helps things stay movin and cruizin

+ Healthy Heart:  Can decrease cholesterol & reduce build up in artery walls – which lowers risks of heart attack, heart disease, and stroke.

 Dates_The Best Snack in the World_ Healthy

My way to eat them is plain with a side of walnuts.  That’s my go-to snack and I have a feeling it will be… forever.

Wafiq’s mom used to eat them chopped up, already pitted, drizzled with Tahini (sesame seed oil) –  also super delicious.

Dates are a go-to dessert or mid-day treat in the middle east. They’re always around the house, served with coffee or tea.    I was one lucky lady to have them at my disposal, but I’m glad to see I still can!

Dates_The best snack in the world_Healthy

If you don’t already have Dates in your refrigerator,  you have no idea what you’re missing!  Get out there and try a few until you find your favorite! Spice up your diet, make the effort, and thank me later…

When/if you find your favorite dates, SHARE! I know they’re hard to find unless you have a date palm outside your front door, so sharing the secret spots is an important duty bestowed on to you  🙂

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The First Thing I Look For When I’m Overseas

Well this is fun.

I was in the process of creating my Must Have Trader Joe’s Grocery List and experienced a little flashback –>  I was getting off the plane in Bahrain and immediately asked to go to the grocery store.  A friend overheard my request and the look on his face will forever be imprinted in my memory. (… no.)

 

In my naïve brain I thought the grocery store was going to be some cute little corner shop filled with pounds and pounds of spices, piled high with fresh fruits, and I wanted to check it out!

Reality: Grocery stores in Bahrain and Dubai, are located inside the shopping malls. They look like a huge HEB, Cub Foods or your typical large chain grocer. With a Top Shop across the isle…  Not too much glory in that.

However, I stand by my suggestion:  Stop in the local grocery store of the country you’re visiting or living in.

From there, you can learn what locals use to cook. What they grow up eating. If there’s any no-no’s. Or any must-eats.  You can find real, local, fresh foods.  Or you can find items you’re used to seeing fresh.. now imported and barely surviving.

 Dates

In Dubai – there were huge spice barrels, a nut and olive counter, and aisles packed with fresh dates.  There was also as scary dark dungeon in the back of the store where you could try to score some pork.

In Portugal – I was ecstatic to see mounds of salami and wine, and a butcher who would very excitedly try to communicate the best option for me, giving me taste tests along the way.  (I spent a lot of time at the salami counter, 6 months into living in a pork-free country had me like heeeyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy)

In the Dominican Republic – there were mostly smaller markets. Some larger… All of which lacked peanut butter, and I craved it like a fish craves water. (I think I eventually found PB near a resort and ended up paying $30 for a small jar. Priorities people.)  Also, the DR had tons x tons x tons of beer and rum + yucca and tostones + loud salsa music inside the markets… at 6am.  All for approx. 10 cents <– You can tell those people are happy.

In Amsterdam – my dreams came true. Tiny, cutie, corner markets with breads, cheeses, flowers, coffee and food that looked so precious – staring at it all day was enough!  They also had larger, more typical style grocery stores. Extra heavy in the floral department. (Needless to say, I’m anxious to go back)

 Flowers

What my flashback has pushed me to say is, when you’re abroad, take a good look at those local grocery stores.

Appreciate the fresh items you find, that you won’t be able to at home.  Eat them like cray.  And don’t forget to figure out what groceries to appreciate from home, that may not be offered abroad.

The people working at the grocery store are locals.  Learn about the them. Personality, language, accents, style…

 1Portugal

I love finding fun activities that aren’t so touristy. Granted, sometimes laying on an all inclusive beach resort with no scary pork dungeons is a treat of it’s own… But that get’s a little boring, no?

What fun do you look for when you travel internationally? Surely, it can’t simply be grocery shopping…

PS. Must-Have Trader Joe’s Grocery List IS coming up tomorrow… Distractions on lock down.

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What I Miss About Living In Dubai

Never did I ever, expect to be writing this list.  What I Miss About Living In Dubai. 

What an adventure that was! I’m in the U.S. now, have been for awhile, and am FINALLY able to look back on the experience of living in Dubai and come to terms with the fact that I DO miss particular parts.  Whether I want to admit it or not, I sit down some days and think about my life as an expat with a little grin. Other days I sit down and praise Jesus I’m back in the U.S.  I appreciate both.

What I Miss About Living In Dubai:

–  The beautiful Burj Khalifa (that gorgeous beast)

–  Driving.  (PSA: American’s, SLOW THE FUCK DOWN)

–  The Palm Jumeirah (nothing like vacation out the front door)

–  Work. (Independence, Confidence, Flexibility, Variety, Equality)

–  Shopping. (Waaaaaaaahhhh!! <Literally, eyes watering>)

–  Bahraini’s (and Bahrain being so close, little doo doo island life)

–  Feeling safe. (All. Of. The. Time.)

–  Mosque’s (+ the call to prayer)

–  Camels (Cutest wild animals ever!)

–  Dubai Fountain (Magic)

–  Open desert (much like the ocean – open, peaceful space that brings calmness)

–  Lebanese Food (Hellooooo beet salads and tabbouleh)

–  Orange sunsets (with a huge ass glowing orange sun)

–  Dubai Marina (…because WOW. Not a bad place to spend happy hour every day)

–  Australians (Wafiq and I can not forget our gym instructor. SO. HOT.)

–  Real rules (..and people actually following them)

–  Fresh dates (My sweet baby loves, come to me)

–  Cleanliness (from the houses to the cars to the shopping malls to the streets)

–  The Shopping Malls (Yes, this needs to be added twice)

–  Religion (proud believers. No if’s / and’s / or but’s)

–  Diversity (travel, culture, conversation)

–  Biryani (Specifically from Wafiq’s house)

–  Friends (the couple of people I had to leave behind that truly impacted my life)

Calling all expats! Anything else I’m missing? What do you miss? 🙂

 

Xx MissBassmaster

WIMAD(1)

Burj Khalifa

Open desert

Desert

WIMAD(2)

Dubai Marina

WIMAD(3)

Palm Jumeirah

WIMAD(4)

Sand Storms

WIMAD(5)

Burj Al Arab

 

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Who wears short shorts?

FullSizeRender_2Last Monday, I nearly had to drag Wafiq to the airport. Let’s just say Austin knows how to party really hard and Katie + Wafiq haven’t been on that level in a long time.  Because I was sick throughout the weekend I had the blessing in disguise of being able to avoid most “welcome back” shots and sugar filled free drinks.

Wafiq, however, wasn’t so lucky.

By Monday, we did manage to make it to the airport on time. I was wearing these fluffy black shorts and a stripped, sleeveless, sort of crop top shirt, with my big hoodie hanging around my shoulders.FullSizeRender_3

I’m not telling you this because I was overly impressed with my outfit choice, quite the opposite. I had to put on whatever clean clothes I had left, which left some unimpressive options.  I’m telling you what I wore because there’s a little story associated with my clothing choice that I wanted to get written down.

The family we happened to be sitting by at the airport terminal was an Arabic family. This excites me because it reminds me of the last year I spent abroad. I feel like we have a bond. They have no idea. And probably think I’m just some drunk American smiling oddly at them and their family. Maybe even a little scared.

Anyways, the family consisted of an older woman wearing her headscarf and a younger man around our age with a toddler running across the chairs.

Remember, Wafiq was feeling like death and thought he was seeing the light to guide him into afterlife so I took initiative and went to find food. As much food as possible. Because food is the answer to everything.

When I came back he moaned and groaned for a little while and later told me: “I have to tell you something”.  Real serious. It’s been on his mind since we sat down so he had to get it off his chest.

While I was walking around to the 3 different restaurants in front of our terminal the little boy asked his mom [in arabic] if I was “haram”. I think his exact question was: “Is that girl more haram because she is wearing shorts or more haram because her tummy is showing?”

For people who don’t know, haram is the word Arabs or Muslim’s use for naughty.

{More technically – I found the definition on the all so trusted website Wikipedia: In Islamic jurisprudence, haram is used to refer to any act that is forbidden by Allah, and is one of five Islamic commandments (الأحكام الخمسة‎ (al-ahkam al-khamsah)) that define the morality of human action.}

Basically, it’s like Christian’s shouldn’t have sex before marriage or swear or be mean to thy neighbor.. You get the gist: Naughty.

When Wafiq told me this I laughed out loud. Literally. He was surprised at my reaction but then he kind of chuckled too.

I looked at this cute little boy trying to learn his ropes and be a good, nice, respectful young man. At 5 years old. He wanted to know. He wanted to follow the rules. For all we know, it could be one of the first times he’s seen legs in public.

If this family recently came from the Middle East, I’m sure seeing my legs (along with the rest of the girls at the airport) was a bit of a shock. So I understood. And it made me giggle. Also, if I’m being honest, it made me SO happy I can wear shorts again! I mean 100+ degrees, black pants?! Come on!

Wafiq said if he didn’t feel like he was slowly passing into his death he would have politely told the woman that I am not haram because I am not muslim. I can wear shorts. I thought this was a very mature and responsible response to the comment.

I knew it kind of bothered him, more than me. I’m used to it, I lived there a year and a half. But even while we were in Dubai he was very protective of the locals comments and actions. So I understood his reaction.

But for me, I thought it was cute.  When I was little I remember asking my mom if she says swear words in front of her mom. Because they’re “old”. Can she say swear words now?  Of course my mom said, no. Never. Swear words are always bad. You won’t ever want to say them, only naughty people do.

In reality, swear words are necessary forms of communication. But you aren’t going to tell your 4 year old child that. Or maybe you will, that’s up to you.

I will say, if the roles were reversed, and another person came up to me.. A child or an adult, and made a comment about this woman wearing an abaya I would explain to them that the woman chooses to wear it. This is how she is comfortable and confident. And that’s all the matters.  Even if it’s not the same as us. There’s nothing wrong with that.

But, what I love about America (because there’s SO much and I thank God everyday) is that you can be whoever you want. This is what I missed!! The arab woman wearing her abaya, me wearing shorts, and the couple making out before saying goodbye are all A-Ok in the States. I LOVE it. I love that you can be any way you want and it’s ok. Maybe not for that specific lady, but she’s in America. That’s what we represent. Freedom baby. That’s why she can wear an abaya at the airport and I’ll still smile to her, because I’m so happy she can wear what she feels comfortable in. And I can walk next to her wearing what I feel comfortable in. Short shorts.

I think as American’s, because we have so many choices and there are many varieties of us, we need to love all the different forms we come in. All the different ways we dress, look, and act. Because it’s all ok. As long as no one is hurting anyone, we’re on the right track <3

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FullSizeRender_1  FullSizeRender

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Myth Busting Dubai

Myth Number 1: Dubai is not safe

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I’m not really sure where the idea that Dubai is not safe comes from. Probably the generalization of the entire Middle East. Which makes sense – I’m sure countries in war zones are a bit on the unsafe side. But Dubai is not a war zone.  For me, Dubai feels safer than anywhere else I’ve lived.

For example, I can go for a walk around the Marina at night without worrying about a shadow creeping up behind me. Or, I can leave my purse in the car seat (by accident of course) where people walking by can see it and don’t have to worry it’ll be stolen by the time I get back. Or, I walk to my car all alone in the parking garage and don’t have to worry James, the killer physco path, is hiding underneath it ready to rape and murder me.

Do these things happen all the time in the United States? No. But you’d be lying if you say it’s not a pretty consistent concern. (Probably depending on where you live too… fine.)

Can I say these horrific crimes don’t happen in Dubai? No. But I can say the fear is SIGNIFICANTLY less in Dubai than in the United States.

As a matter of fact, I met a pretty young lady one of my first weekends in Dubai that was from Lebanon, if I’m remembering correctly, and she was studying in Dubai. She asked me all about the United States and how diverse and adventurous it sounded – being the proud American that I am I had to ask her: “Why didn’t you decided to study there instead?”

Because I was so new to Dubai her response was a bit shocking. She told me with a  < helllll no> face that her parents would never allow her to go to the United States to live, it’s so DANGEROUS!…. What? Did I hear her right?

Now it makes sense. Those physco path, murderer, mental crazed, phedophiles, don’t appear to be lurking around the streets as much in Dubai. And let me admit, this is a huge relief – I didn’t know I ever felt unsafe in the United States until living here.

Now, is there a chance that the Middle East war zone could spread over to Dubai? Maybe.. And that would be unfortunate wouldn’t it? But those crazy people could also attack the United States tomorrow too, who knows. The world in general aint that safe is it?

Myth Number 2: Women

women.jpg

This is a big one. I’m not even sure what angle to attack it. “How is it being a woman in Dubai?  You know, cuz of how women are treated over there” << I actually get asked this question <<

But what exactly do you mean?  Are women getting abused? Yelled at? Ordered around? I’m not sure what treated badly is referring to. I’m assuming hearing that women in Saudi Arabia aren’t allowed to drive + they’re required to cover their hair in public places sets the tone for the whole of the Middle East.  They’re “treated badly”.

Here’s what I’ll say – Dubai is not the rest of the Middle East. I’ll say it again and again and again. Mexico is not the United States. Ukraine is not Holland. UAE is not Iraq. So when you hear about women in Iraq or Saudi Arabai or wherever they are talking about women, take into consideration their location. Women in war zones probably have a hard time {so do the men I’m assuming}.

Women in Dubai is another story, they get treated like gold! Ok, maybe not gold — That may only apply to the gold digging women, whom bounce around here with their big ol boobies out and pumped up lips like this is Las Vegas or something. More power to them. Can’t hate on a girl workin her hustle 😉 😉

But the average working women, they appear to push through to wherever they want to go. I’m sure in some business settings men dominate the force, but from what I can compare to what I’ve seen in the States… America has some work to do. Women being “treated unfair” in the workforce may apply more to the workforce in America than in Dubai, just saying.

And, if we’re talking about the rules in Dubai regarding the covering of women’s hair, legs, shoulders, not being able to drive, or any other extreme regulation everyone believes women are ordered to follow. Let’s just say it’s exactly that – extreme. The women in Dubai that chose to cover their hair, chose to cover their hair. They would feel uncomfortable any other way. No one has told me to cover my hair. And driving? I mean no one cares if women drive in Dubai (unless they’re just that bad, then I care). I wish they did put some emphasis on this because I wouldn’t mind having a driver escort me to work every morning??

As for covering shoulders, legs, arms, eyeballs, ect. This only really applies if you’re going to a state office – Dubai Land Department, Dubai Municipality Court, ect. Even then, they might not tell you anything if you walk in there skin barring, but out of respect for their culture it’s probably a good idea to cover those legs. Also, if you’re walking in the mall and you don’t want the creepiest human stares in the world looking at you, then I would cover your legs. They’re hot legs after all, very irresistible. << Most importantly, the choice is yours.

To be crystal clear, in no way has anyone been mean to me, treated me badly or unfair because I’m a woman. If anything, it’s the opposite. I can say this about Dubai and Bahrain. Which I definitely can’t say about the States. ^^Poof! this myth up in the air to evaporate into the clouds and rain back down on us another day.^^

Myth Number 3: Arab Money

arabmoney.jpg

Ok, yeah some arabs have lions as pets. Or a garage full of cars that have doors open towards the sky. A maid to cook their food, a maid to do their laundry, and a maid to put their socks on. Fine. That’s true. But that’s some arabs. Not all.

After living in Dubai I can’t even say I think most arabs live this lifestyle. Of course some do, but so do some Americans in the United States or some Mexicans in Mexico. Right? In my opinion, Arabs going about with this lifestyle tend to show it off a bit excessively? (Dare I say that) Which means, it gets around like wild fire and now there’s rap songs about Arab Money and children with dreams of some day owning a pet lion. It’s an awesome theory and I guess something we can all booty dance along to and strive to be, but it’s a little strange. Now, thinking of them as show-offs… that’s another story 🙂

To defend Arab’s in the best way I can possibly think of, I will say this – the culture puts A LOT of pressure on the amount of money your family has. And when I say family, I mean family. You’re not making money for yourself, you’re making money to represent your family name.  You have to make the MOST money – to keep the family proud. (“My oldest son is a surgeon, my other CEO of Bank-Central, and my daughter is marrying the Prince”)

I was even thinking, of all the myths I could try to bust, this is the one that will irritate the most people in this culture. It’s the most sensitive subject you can touch on and the one that they’ll most want to argue against and be offended by.

Doing what you love, donating to a foundation you believe in, working for a non profit, adopting a child in foster care, are all things that don’t carry as much significance or success in this culture as simply making the highest dollar. Which could be why Arab Money is what you see so much of. Showing it off is what’s important. It gives you status and significance. You’re not worth anything if you don’t show that you have something. 

In realty, I don’t know if Arab Money is as lucrative as the myth we all hear about. Because a lot of people here live with their parents until they get married, and even then might not move into their own home, maybe they save their first couple years of paychecks to buy that pet lion or fancy Ferrari. And Lord knows it’ll be up on all social media outlets as soon as they do << Must be that “Arab Money”.

Sorry to burst your bubble on this one.

Xx

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Life, Personal Updates

I’m Here. Hi.

I’m writing this post with the sole purpose to show you that I am indeed alive.

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No ebola virus or war criminals have gotten to me.. yet. I’m simply the worst blogger that has ever tried to blog. I came to look at my site & realized I haven’t posted the entire month of November?! What’s wrong with me? Where have I been? But wait, it’s the end of November ALREADY?!

Is anyone else feeling this with me?

Time is flying. I think the reason is because I’m beginning to like Dubai more now… The weather is nice, I have a job I enjoy, and I’m learning the in’s and out’s of everyday to-do’s. So I guess the saying “time flies when you’re having fun” is true!

I have a Thanksgiving dinner at an American BBQ restaurant planned, I’ll be camping in Oman for the first time soon, Netflix binge sessions penciled in, Bahrain tickets booked, and caroling in the desert all upcoming so there’s no excuse not to throw in a blog post here & there as well, I will do my best 🙂

Living in Dubai

Have a pretty, bright & light day – I’ll talk soon!

Be thoughtful 🙂

 

Xx

 

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