Monday, November 21, 2011

Five Hours in A Foreign Country

So the husband got quite a long weekend a couple of weeks ago because of a national holiday, so we decided we were going somewhere out of town.

We googled and found out that Oman is a neighboring country that can be reached with land transportation. And what a pleasant surprise it was when a friend invited to go with his family after called him to ask about visa to Oman.

So the somewhat winding journey began :)

The view when we were near the border

We left from Dubai to Oman border at 8 am, and reached Dubai-Oman border at 10 am. The process at the Dubai immigration was fast although somewhat confusing. There were no signs of which counter to go first.

Things got worse when we hit Oman immigration. There were NO building to queue to get our passports stamped. We were to queue under the dessert sun. Unbelievable.

See?

And the immigration officer worked quite slow. It took us three hours to clear the immigration, from 10 am until 1 pm! Luckily the gentlemen of our group sacrificed themselves to queue. Us, the ladies, waited in the shade. Not that it wasn't frustrating.

Funny thing, actually, that we did not have to show our faces to the immigration officer. The officer just stamped all the passports given to him.

Anyway, the location we headed in Oman was called Mussandam. It is famous for its sea tourism. Basically what we can do in Mussandam is taking a boat trip for the whole day where we can enjoy the scenery, do some fishing, snorkeling, and wild dolphin sight seeing.

We reached the place after one hour drive through this quite breath taking scenery:


Too bad we reached the tourism site at 2 pm, meaning that we could not take the whole-day tour (which started at 9.30 am haha). So we took a half-day tour.

The Dhow boat which we used for the tour.

The inside of the boat. That's me with the lovely couple who took us for the trip.

The scenery we enjoyed.

The only wild dolphin I managed to take a picture of.
There were only 8-10 dolphins that day, but they were friendly and they chased the Dhow boat.

The husband. Haha.

After three hours, the trip ended and we have to say goodbye to Mussandam. It took us 1 hour to drive back to the Oman border, and luckily there was no queue at the evening :)

Well, that's my five hours in a foreign country. The driving and the queuing were longer than the being in Oman itself. And although Mussandam is quite highly praised as a beautiful getaway for UAE people, I'll have to say that my home country, Indonesia, offers way much more beautiful places!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Money Talks

For some time I've been reading some blogs from (Indonesian) independent financial planners, and I realized that I couldn't have been less wiser in money matters.

I have posted in January about how I wanted to do debt diet. Fortunately, this one I managed. I have trimmed down my debt and I can proudly say that I am now free of debt. But I have almost no saving.

According to those financial planners' blogs I read (they are on the list of My Daily Reading on the right side of this blog, by the way), the next things I should prepare are:
  1. Protection (Insurance)
  2. Emergency Fund
  3. Education Fund (for my future children)
  4. Retirement Fund

Now, how much we should prepare for those funds, and what financial products we should buy, they all depend on each of our goals, so what works for me might not work for everybody else.

Note: Now, excuse my English terms in all this financial matters :D The blogs I read are in Indonesian, and I am not familiar with finance terms in English :D

Let's talk about number 1 first in this post: Protection/Insurance according to my family's goals. After quite a long research, we decided that we would have:

  1. Life insurance for the bread winner (20 year term life)
    We will have term life insurance instead of whole life insurance. It needs a lengthy explanation to differentiate them, so Google them if you want to know more. Or maybe someday I will post about them
  2. Health insurance for both of us, husband and wife
    According to our family's goals, we will have a very affordable health insurance when we go back to Indonesia. We will choose the cheapest hospital room available because we realize we don't need a fancy room and because it's what we can afford now.

The importance of having protection/insurance in a Financial Plan is because protection can ensure the implementation of the plan continues to run when undesirable things happen (such as illness, death or an accident).

Don't we all wish money is like in Monopoly game?
Image is from here

One option that a lot of insurance agents in Indonesia offer when we need to invest, to have life insurance, and to have health insurance is: Unit Link (a hybrid of investment and protection). However, after reading those financial planners' blogs and after realizing how my own Unit Link investment does not grow much after 5 years, I decided to separate between investment and protection.

On the subject of why Unit Link is not recommended by my goals, you can read (they are all in Indonesian):

Note: I never mean to give difficulty to any insurance agents selling Unit Link. Unit Link just does not suit my goals :)

In the next post I'll discuss about Emergency Fund.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Homesick

Homesick was one of the things I could not understand, simply because I never felt homesick. Maybe because I was never away from home for a long time.

However, moving to another country proves to be a whole new experience for me to learn to be homesick.

I moved from Indonesia to Dubai in August 2011. The first weeks were awesome. The husband took me to places for sightseeing; I learned to manage our little studio apartment. Basically, meeting the husband after month apart felt good.

After that, I started to look for jobs.

And my first interview.

We took a couple of buses and had to walk a couple of miles to the interview place. The sun was strikingly hot. We got lost and had to take a taxi there.

The interviewee was a big Western guy (after I googled I found out he was Australian), and he was intimidating.

And I was intimidated.

We got home, and I started to worry.

Can I survive in this place? This place is so foreign. Come to think of it, the people are not friendly. Moreover, Asian people are looked down on here.

And I started to miss my hometown, where everything is comfortable, where I know every nook and corner. I miss my comfort zone.

I got homesick.

Image is from here, but the blog says it is credited to Google. Oh, well.


It started to be difficult to eat, to sleep, and even to smile. And it started be easy to get irritated, to cry, and to be angry.

I thought the feeling gonna last forever. But everyone told me it's gonna past soon. It's called adaptation. And thank God they were right. After few weeks of torturing homesickness, I actually got over it. I started to adapt.

Some tips I get from friends to cure homesickness (and they work! Thank you guys!):
  • from @me_xtine at twitter: get busy!
  • from @omania at twitter: skype and talk with family at home!
Now I am still jobless. But I start to feel comfortable in this foreign land, which is starting to plunge into its windy and much cooler winter.

At the end of Dubai's 2011 summer, I learned how it felt to be homesick :)

The facade of my apartment building, by the way.