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Going back home to Aotearoa

“The thrill of coming home has never change” … by Guy Pearce

Perhaps some of you who is new to my blog are wondering where is this destination?  Is it a Country, a City or a Town?  AOTEAROA is a Maori name for NEW ZEALAND.  Nope NZ is not in Europe!! Some people asked me before where in Europe haha!  It is actually closer to Asia than in Europe hence a part of Oceania. It is a part of Australiasia where Australia is included.  But never ever say we belong to Australia or inside Australia.  There you go!

I have done my research as I heard that being a repats anywhere in the World will never be the same as coming back home after a long absence, rather it is the same feeling as being an expat in your own Country.  Anyway… my experience is so far it’s good the only complain I can say is all my friends are too busy since they are mostly working mom’s (as I used to before).  I miss the rush and being busy as it’s a different life here in NZ compared to the lavish mom’s of leisure that we can afford to in Abu Dhabi.

Here the reality now in Auckland you may be interested to know just in case you are wanting to relocate here or also like me as a repats.  It’s a mix of good and bad.

  1. The housing prices have gone up so high!! More demand less supply, unfortunately from an average $500K before 4-5yrs ago it is now $650- to a million $$$ based on average but good location and yes a brand new car is expensive too because of the taxes.
  2. Strictly zoning for schools as the population is getting bigger thanks to BREXIT and TRUMP.  I am sure you can figure it out.
  3. Schools are very RELAXED here for Primaries compared to other Countries.
  4. You don’t know your neighbors anymore as some are gone or sold their houses and those who stays have a boarder to afford the mortgage payments overcrowding the street now with cars parked off street that cannot fit in their garage or driveway.
  5. Road works everywhere.  When I left it in June 2015 they started to do the road widening and some sort of beautifying if you can call it that.  Then the Waterview TUNNEL to airport came into fruition last July 2017.
  6. The City looked less of a beauty with so much road works and reconstruction of some buildings.  Main train station was already beautiful before but now half closed for reconstruction.  I even got lost 2x walking around because I am looking for the Westfield Mall with a nice bench area outside for people on the go having a quick lunch or a chat with their mates.  It’s all closed for public and looked like a big mess!  Same with my own town, though more improvements and new establishments around.
  7. Speed cameras and from 50kmph for the main roads they are thinking to implement 30kmph in the City Centres and around which is ridiculous! (Motorway 100kmph). You don’t want to be caught up speeding in there haha! It can cost you your day salary.  Coming from the “fast and the furious City of Abu Dhabi”  which is a normal 80kmph for the main roads and from 120-140kmph for the motorway, it is harder to get adjusted to but necessary to learn how to be SLOW around NZ. (BTW… we drive on the left side of the road here, pls take note!).
  8. Some grocery food items gone up and some remain the same or even surprisingly cheaper because of competition.  If you are in the foodcourt BK can cost from $5 and that’s already a combo (didn’t change) to some food stores with rice meals with a drink costing from $16 combo which was $14 before.  BTW… some tourists says that our beef here is so much better and you can taste the difference in BK or McDo.  But you will be happy to find that SUSHI and other Japanese foods are cheaper compared to the UAE.  Thanks to some Japanese immigrants who established their restaurants and food stalls in the mall.
  9. Unfortunately, finding a job won’t be as easy as before.
  10. Some law changes and rubbish collections which we now have to buy a ticket per bin which is cheaper if you don’t have enough rubbish (you can wait to 2 weeks to fill up) and to those with large families, the bin may never be enough.

There you are…  so far this is what I realized coming back home. But hey, anywhere you go you will encounter bad politics, problems and inconveniences… at least here in NZ for sure this is the reality… RELAXED LIFESTYLES!!!

Queenstown, NZ; vinnevefoto

But if you can live simply and try to be content with what you have… NZ is a great place to live especially raising your children.  If you love sports there are some for you and your whole family to join.  Nature is at it’s best here so you will not be dissapointed how beautiful it is here better than a poster card.  Parks are everywhere in every town and Cities and yes it is free.  Hiking or trekking is of minimal fees just be sensible when doing it for the first time as some trails is not that easy especially if it’s damp.

Arrowtown, NZ; vinnevefoto

I live in the WEST so as what they say… West is BEST.  We are just  less than an hour away from the beach or the open sea as well as the Mountains.  We both have it all here.

WesternSpringPark, vinnevefoto

Nevertheless… I won’t discredit my life in Abu Dhabi as it was the most convenient and luxurious life I ever have in my life!  Though it’s a desert and it can get to 50 degree heat plus some limitations, still anywhere you go there is no perfect place.  There’s always something not to your liking.  I say I am happy to have experienced both Worlds.

AucklandZoo, vinnevefoto

I leave you now with Thanks for reading and let me know some thoughts that would be great to read your comments RE your experiences as a repats or as an expats.  Soon (I hope) I will post our brief holiday in QUEENSTOWN.  Please hang on.  Cheers!!

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Destination: Louvre Abu Dhabi, beautiful architectural Museum

 

img_4978.jpgMy son and I went to Louvre in Paris when he was just 5 years old. He’s my travel buddy ever since and we both love the same things except shopping of course haha!  You may wonder what is the meaning of Louvre anyway?  Here as per Google meaning “overlapping strips in a window (to let in air but keep out rain)” first recorded 1550s. The form has been influenced by apparently unrelated FrenchLouvre , the name of the palace in Paris, which is said to be so named because its builder, Philip Augustus, intended it as a wolf kennel”.

Our love for Museum keep us together in every Country we have visited through the years. He is now 10 years old and this time it’s a must to go and see another LOUVRE but here in Abu Dhabi where we currently live as an expatriate and before we go home to NZ.  According to Google, Louvre Abu Dhabi is a beautiful architectural “Museum for arts and civilization”.  See below some beautiful arts and paintings.img_5064

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And some bizarre ones below… 

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Beautiful scenery outside restaurant and coffee shop. There’s a lot to see actually in and out of the building. We thought we have seen it all but was surprised to enter another side of the building and saw another collections. If you have a kid with you there’s also a Children’s Museum and some extra activities for them to do. If you are an AD residents it’s better to buy an annual pass. They usually change some arts and crafts as well as featuring special arts or paintings from another Country every 3 months or so.  For Museum enthusiasts you can easily spend the whole day here.  Lovely calming scenery outside, to sit down at the stairs /benches with someone or just be by yourself facing the sea or even touching the water below.  Children must be supervised.

Cheers!

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Destination: RAK Glamping by the beach

 

RAK stands for Ras Al Khaimah. It’s one of the 7 Emirates of the UAE 🇦🇪. DUBAI is the most known Emirates but actually the capital is Abu Dhabi. RAK is one of a kind destination that perhaps not many of you know what or where it is.  Here is the LINK for you to browse about this part of the Emirates.

I had an older post on this LINK at our first time to this place, so please check this out to know more. For now… it’s about our last escapades outside Abu Dhabi before we go back home to New Zealand 🇳🇿 after living here for more than 3 long years without going on holiday back to our home Country.

We bought a family “glamping” package thru a Groupon website as mentioned by our family friend and seeing they cater to your needs complete with mattresses and other necessities inside of your chosen type of tent, we didn’t hesitate though hubby worry a bit about his back (he got some extra pillows though).  This is our first time being in a tent considering we live in Nz famous for hiking, beach and yes camping.  It’s a long story why. Anyway, the staffs we’re all attentive and glad that it surprised us that we didn’t have any problem or complaint at all throughout the 2 days we we’re there. We just enjoyed our family bonding with friends and used their facilities and free activities for kids.

 

Dining tables as per guest number, vinneve foto

 

Dinner (cooked meats & grilled seafoods) and breakfast with unlimited drinks were included and yes free alcoholic drinks from 7-10pm. Some people are so happy about it. We are a casual drinker so we don’t have to binged. We appreciated that we don’t have to worry about our kid asking for sweets or even popcorn as it’s also provided at the open air cinema as well as marshmallows for the many bonfires provided whether for everyone to use or for relaxing sitting beside with your friends or family chatting what to do in the morning.  My boy went crab hunting and swimming at the beach. He can do kayaking or paddle boarding but in a lake or around mangroves not in an open sea though there’s some lifeguard there… still I’m a bit protective alright. Adults were the ones eager to use it including jet skiing and so much more.

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Above water obstacle course should be on the water but because it’s a bit windy so it’s safer that the kids play on this on the land.

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They have petting zoo as well as per schedule only. Swimming pool is fun for kiddos especially the small ones.  They have another pool for all to enjoy.

RAK Longbeach campground is really a good place for family who want to experience catered camping.  We leave with good memories.  Cheers!!

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W.O.T.D. – Expectation & Worth

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Here I go again… 

It’s been hard for me to write this post as I seemed lost for words and it takes time to tell you dear readers… I will finally coming back HOME.  I sure hope it is still “my home” though as I am a bit afraid after about being an expat for more than 3 years without even visiting the place unlike many other expats.  I have been to anywhere except holidaying in my home Country isn’t it weird?  It’s because of the tedious flying time of 18 hours straight or cut it in two to Australia 14 hours + Auckland 4 hours = 18 hours. Which is better?  Even going back to my birth Country for a holiday is more or less 9 hours away from where we are at the moment (Abu Dhabi) which is really in the middle of  Europe and Asia.  So going to Australasia down under so to say… feels like so far far away!!

WOTD Expectation

What to expect?  I am freaking out actually.  I heard so many stories about expats coming back home realizing it’s NOT the same as before or perhaps WE ARE NOT THE SAME AS BEFORE?.  Even the roads will not be the same as when we left New Zealand in 2015 there are a lot of road works going on and adding some lanes and a tunnel etc.  I’ve read that the almost rural place we go to for Farmers Market are now in demand and becoming a posh suburbs that we cannot even afford to buy a small land. Auckland is now one of the most expensive Cities in the World.  Though our place is farther away from the City it is still ridiculously expensive!  Good thing we have a house to come home to.  There’s a scarcity in the housing market.  A big problem indeed.

I think it’s better NO EXPECTATION.  It can save me from whatever fear facing the future.

WOTD Worth

One thing for sure we will try to make this worth it.  My son is growing and need more stability as for the past 3 years or more he has been to 3 different schools.  Yes, it’s hard to say goodbye again.  I cannot say No to being an expat again if this is the only way our family can stay together.  Depends on the next contract of hubby.  Just hoping he will also come home to us for good, that would be great! though not financially.

Now that I finally adjusted to the life here, I will miss a lot of brunches, friends parties, events and celebrations around here.  I surrounded my life with many groups of mom’s like me in school, in our place, my closes friends and even acquaintances. FYI, I am one of those they call “trailing spouse” so yes I choose not to work (after working almost my whole life in 3 different Countries) so I am the nanny of my own child but unlike with nannies, I have a much better social network. It took me two long years to finally adjusted and accepted the life here and now we have to go for personal reason that cannot wait.

Life is easy here and less stress (except when driving haha!!) and I get used to this somehow that having to begin a new life in NZ seems a bit scary though exciting too to be honest.  So many things to do and see places perhaps seeing it as an expat.  We have to be re-acquainted to the Country.  I am hoping we can adjust quickly… hopefully!

Anyway… I often read some advice and hopefully I can be able to apply on it.  Here’s the LINK1 and LINK2 if you are curious and have time to read.

Are you an expats who came back home after years of life overseas?  Please tell me your stories and perhaps I can learn from those.  Feel free to give me an advice.  Thanks!

Any expats coming home to New Zealand like me?  Let me know or you can PM me.

Thanks for reading and cheers to the next journey!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hotel review: Sheraton Creekside Dubai

 

 

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It’s been awhile since I did a hotel review because we usually go to the same hotel and did a review before so it’s a redundant to do again.

Sheraton is under SPG but it happens that Marriott group merge with this group as well as the Ritz Carlton so yes 3 in 1 big group program are better than one. More diversity and our membership can go a long way.

This hotel has a nice view considering it’s along the Creekside and it’s actually a tourist spot and nice to walk along the promenade and enjoy the multicolored lights around from the walkway to the ferries plying the waters. You can easily spot some touristy places to go just nearby hotel by looking at the view from hotel windows. They have a very small opening for smokers but I guess it’s part of balcony in the old days but now renovated to make the room bigger.

One tip though, try to avoid congested area around Deira if you could as though Sheraton location is good for tourists, unfortunately for drivers it’s a nightmare as you can get stuck in heavy traffic so better to have a GPS with you to navigate you out of the situation otherwise you may end up stress before you even begin enjoying your day or night out.  If you are not familiar with Dubai roads & motorways you may end up getting lost without a map.

When it comes to accommodations the hotel may be established in the 70’s but it has been refurbished as it looks modern now and clean with good polite staffs everywhere. The foods for breakfast varies and cater from Western, Asian and Arabs. I am very satisfied so to say except for the swimming pool which is a bit ordinary and small but it’s ok since we don’t stay just for that.

Fortunately hubby’s platinum membership get us some perks by having free upgrades so our room is located on the Club lounge on 11th floor, along with free fruit basket and can enjoy free access to the Lounge at level L with free drinks & nibbles but happy hour evening to 8:30pm children are not allowed because of alcoholic drinks.

I recommend this hotel for people who want to discover the past and for people who loves to walk around day or night. Experiencing Dhow cruises and Arabic foods. It’s one of the safest Cities compared to other famous Countries. Of course, having a wit with you is a must anywhere in the World you go!

There’s a lot to discover so try and come to UAE and visit all 7 Emirates you will return home with full of insights about this desert Country.  I bid you goodbye and till next post! Happy Holidays!!  A like and a comment will be appreciated. Thanks 💗

 

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Warmer Christmas 🎄 & a Chilly New Year!

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from readers digest

Yes that’s what we have around here in the land of the desert 🌵 the land of opportunity and multicultural society!

My first time to stay home in Abu Dhabi for Christmas and New Year my current City for the past 3 years but minus some months as I live in and out of the Country for personal reason. Some of you can only guess but maybe my loyal followers can understand. If you’re curious why don’t you read my recent post it’s a hint. I’m sure some can relate in every situation.

Christmas is the time of family celebration and here in my City it’s full of events! Most hotels have free events like X’mas lighting and if you’re lucky your kid can get free gift and parents can enjoy some nibbles & drinks. I’m sure some will agree going there before eating dinner. Consider it having an appetizers for free with shows etc. The malls have their free fun events for kids to enjoy like joining to make a gingerbread cookie and photo session with the famous man Santa 🎅 Yes, Abu Dhabi is a generous City! Even in the Parks lot’s of free fun things to do, including picnic at night with friends and family. Fireworks to gaze up in the sky and jugglers, magicians and even Alice in Wonderland grace the City.

free musical and dancing shows & other activities for kids.vinneve

Galleria mall outside.vinneve

X’mas Lighting @WestinAD.vinneve

You may be wondering how come a Muslim Country allows all these? It’s because UAE is a tolerant blessed Country. Where all religions can be practiced without any issues. In fact Pope Francis is coming next year in February to conduct a public mass! Imagine a Mosque side by side by a Catholic Church! One time I was inside a church having a mass and in time for singing you can also hear a song coming from the nearby Mosque. That is what called HARMONY!! isn’t it pun?!

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Corniche road, AD. vinneve

I wish you all a blessed Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!!   Peace on Earth. 

 

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Wondering & keep wandering!

It’s been a very long time since I post about what’s going on in my brain haha!  Every one of us are wondering what the future brings and what to do in life that will make us a better person or be successful and get what we want in life.

Being an expat is not that easy.  I keep on missing the old life and my home Country but come to think of it, I may not have this chances if we stay in our comfort zone.  Sure, it’s not an easy road but hey, I came back to where I belong I guess.  I will keep on wondering and wandering as both keeps my brain going.

So much for my riddles.  Allow me this time to show you some but not all, of the places that I have seen and experienced in my life and how beautiful our World can be.  I can never experience this if I don’t come and follow my heart.  Life for sure will be more different. More important is, I am with people who matters most and that is my FAMILY.

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Fronalpstock, Switzerland

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Venice, Italy

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Paris, France

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Frankfurt, Germany

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Miracle Garden, DUBAI, UAE

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Dead Sea, JORDAN

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Rotorua, New Zealand

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Bali, Indonesia

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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St.Mary’s Church, Sydney, Australia

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Piha, West Auckland, New Zealand

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Milan, Italy

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Stilts in Calatagan, Batangas Philippines

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Las Casas @Bataan, Philippines