The accidental Dubai tourist

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He was  in Paris and he sends me a picture of his shoes! NICE!

My cousin was stranded at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. He’s been on standby to what seemed like forever and our duty as his adorable angels was to keep him company via viber or what’s app while he waits for the opportunity to take his flight. His “adorable angels” consists of all of his girl cousins who were born after him. There are only 3 boys in our brood and in between him and the next boy are 6 girls, all of which treats him like a substitute older brother while he treats us all like his personal slaves😘.

In one of our conversations I said (as a joke!) that he should just pass by Dubai first to visit me! Instead of sitting there being miserable.

At 12 midnight (Dubai time) I got the call..

Joke’s on you! My sister said.
Anton is on his way to Dubai get ready! Oh and pick him up at 6am! Ktnxbye!

That was the shortest but most shocking conversation I’ve ever had with my sister in my whole life. As the shock of my sisters words settled down, I started tidying up the house and thinking of things for my cousin to do. One day and a half is not much so I wanted him to at least see what Dubai was all about. Less than 5 hours of sleep and running high on adrenaline we went to the airport to pick up my cousin.

When he walked out of the terminal, he was like a walking zombie, the poor thing. Waiting at Charles de Gaulle (I love saying this) for all those hours and depending only on McDonald’s free wi-fi to keep him awake can break anyone’s sanity. He was here now and it was all good.

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My cousin always the photo bomber.

Since it was Ramadan I explained to him that all shops and stores are open but restaurants and food stores are close so what was the point right? He was too spaced out to care anyway and all he wanted was to sleep. After a few hours of much-needed rest we drove him around to iconic places one would normally see people visiting Dubai go to. The boys were on constant protest because of the heat or hunger or something else that it was really a challenge to be a decent host and a patient mother at the same time. But we I managed and soon it was dinner time! After some food and some ice cream on everyone’s system we were all happy campers.

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We did still go home early (I still have two children ya know!) and the mayhem continued at home (I blame the gelato ice cream). After a few rounds of dancing and jumping on the bed, we finally settled and everyone was soon sleeping like a rock, present company included.

The next day, Arnie suggested we go to the other part of Dubai, the “old part” but I think Anton was much more interested in sleep. So after a morning playtime with the boys and a quick trip to the grocery we were in nap time mode once again. Present company still included.

Woke up to have lunch and it was time to take him back to the airport. It was a very short visit but sweet and much appreciated nonetheless. My cousin loves to travel and explore but on this trip we stayed home most of the time. But I think he still enjoyed his trip because he got to see me in mom mode. He has always been sceptical of my child rearing skills. I think it’s because he still thinks of me as the teenager he left in Manila 17 years ago who can’t even cook her own breakfast. I hope he was pleased to see that I am capable of taking care of my boys (husband included).

Anton’s day and a half in Dubai was a surprise to me and I think even to him but definitely a pleasant one at that. This is definitely one accident I wouldn’t mind having again and again.

Thank you again Anton for the visit and it was all our pleasure to have you here! You are always welcome to Dubai and in our home. ‘Till next time!10580043_10203295285036091_4474714612697260123_n

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Jamie’s Italian

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I’ve meant to try this restaurant ever since it opened but because it’s a more pricey place (and I didn’t have a coupon for it, which means we would be paying full price) we were saving it for a special occasion. For this year our wedding anniversary fell during Ramadan so all restaurants open late and because we have kids, dinner is usually at 5:30PM. I was ready to throw in the towel and just make dinner for us (probably some sinigang to make my boys happy) But Arnie suggested we eat at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant. Eager to go and will do anything to do so, I suggested that I will cook an early dinner for the boys and feed them before leaving the house  so that they don’t have to wait for Iftar and risk being cranky and moody and ruin the evening.

Luckily Jamie’s Italian at Jumeirah Beach Hotel is open from 12:00 noon to 11:00PM so as soon as I found out I made reservations for 5:30PM (yey! no need to cook!). Aside from us there was another family eating at 5:30 (also with two kids below 5 years old). Other than that the place was empty which was nice because my boys can roam around and I wouldn’t have to worry about them bothering other guests.

The place was not to pretentious (as I thought it would be) it was actually kind of casual, but casual with a hefty price tag hehe.

Upon sitting down at our booth, they provided us with 2 View-Master toy, one for the boys, I thought it was for their entertainment it turns out you can view the kids menu on them. What a cool idea! Especially at this age of iPads and others it was nice to see some toys from my day.

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After ordering, free Bread was brought to our table which to be honest, I’ve had better. (sorry!) Aden did like the bread sticks but that was about it.

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I had the Wild mushroom and smoked mozzarella Risotto, which I was told was an appetizer portion but it looked fine to me, besides I couldn’t hardly finish my plate any more of it and I would’ve just asked them to put it in a doggy bag.

20140720-213318-77598657.jpgArnie had the Fish of the day, which was a lot of yadda yadda for fried fish with crispy skin on a bed of lentils topped with some sauce. He did comment that it was good but nothing that we will come back for.

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Adrian ordered the spaghetti Bolognese from the kids menu. Yes you heard me right HE ordered himself and even engaged the waitress to some friendly banter. It still amazes me to see how much he has grown into a sociable kid when both his parents are not.

He was promised a surprise at the end of the meal if he finished his greens. Of course being Adrian he was bargaining with me that he will only finish his spaghetti and he will still get his price. Honestly, I wasn’t in the mood to argue so I just said YES.

20140721-204746-74866090.jpgThis was his promised surprise at the end of our meal and as the receptionist was pinning it on his shirt he asked her if his brother Aden can have one too.  (so nice to see that he’s always looking out for his little brother) 20140721-205448-75288657.jpg

At the front part of the restaurant you can buy some Jamie Oliver cookbooks and other italian supplies one might need to make this food at home.
20140720-213319-77599448.jpgAfter dinner I was craving for some dessert to remove the after taste from the wild mushrooms and mozzarella. They did have some tempting sweets on the menu but the boys were already feeling too comfortable at the restaurant that they were making such a ruckus that I thought it was time to go. We decided to just pass by Marble Slab on the way home.

20140721-205324-75204030.jpgSeven year anniversary gifts are traditionally said to be wool or copper but a decent meal where I can sit down through the whole time without me having to run after one of my boys is good enough for me.

Cheers to us for seven years and more blissful years to come. 💏


weekend with Bu

I had a very eventful weekend and I’m very excited to share it to anyone who will give me the time 😜. Well before you get too excited I must tell you it’s a very “domestic” type of adventure. Being a mother of two that’s about all the type of adventure you can expect from me (not complaining 😉).

We were invited at our friend’s house in Ajman for the weekend for some get together and to go second hand store shopping at Bu Faisal. I wrote about Bu Faisal before – click on link if you need to be reminded haha. Ramadan tends to be a good time to go to second hand shops because it’s this time of the year that some of our wealthy muslim brothers change most or all of their furniture which means second hand stores like Bu Faisal gets all the goods they sell, throw or give away. Which makes Bu Faisal the destination for thrifty bargain hunters like me us.

The store opens at 5PM and closes at 11PM so our host thought it was best if we all slept over to maximise our shopping expedition. Of course the boys were not informed that they were going to be daddy nannies the whole night which led to a very vocal protest as soon as we got home but it fell on deaf ears for we were all on a shopping high.

Prior to the event, I thought our house was good the way it is now so I was under the impression that I was just joining them to look around and not buy anything, with that being said, our car (with a very large boot mind you) was full of stuff I got from Bu Faisal on the way home to Dubai from Ajman. I told you I didn’t need anything! haha

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Busy weekend,Fixing the boys’ room with my new drill and mixing my Bu finds with my old furniture. I think the TV is almost vintage! haha

Without further adieu I share with you my precious cheap finds.

  1. Shelves organiser from ikea at only 10aed each (I got 3)20140718-214912-78552980.jpg
  2. Shoe rack also from ikea @ 35aed20140718-214913-78553840.jpg
  3. Fortune Plant @ 40aed20140718-214916-78556626.jpg
  4. Kids chairs @10aed each20140718-214915-78555797.jpg
  5. Frames @ 20aed each20140718-214919-78559458.jpg
  6. Brand new Coffee maker @40aed20140718-214914-78554928.jpg
  7. Ikea poster with frame @40aed20140718-214917-78557439.jpg
  8. Vanity Mirror @ 8aed20140718-214919-78559175.jpg
  9. glasses @ 3aed each20140718-214918-78558218.jpg
  10. Butter dish @ 8aed 20140719-115304-42784700.jpg

Phew! I think that was the most shopping I did ever in my life and I only spent less than 300aed now that’s a whole lotta savings!

If I sound like a walking advert, it’s because I am! (an unpaid one at that hehe) I’m just really happy and excited about my finds and savings. Now as I look at my home, I feel like it needs a million things, which means a trip back to Bu is inevitable!

 

P.S. Special thanks to Tita S for bargaining for me and to Tita LM for opening their home to us city folks! Until our next shopping expedition ladies!  

 


Exploring the East

rizal-map

Being an adopted child of the province of Rizal I feel like I’ve never really made the effort to explore around. We always stay there half of  the time we go home but we only limit ourselves to Tropical Hut (a DH fave) along Ortigas extension and of course SM.

After watching an episode of Travel Time with Susan Calo-Medina exploring the province of Rizal. I told DH that I would like to see some of these places. I took notes from the episode and saved it on my memory bank.

I was particularly intrigued about the PINTO Art Museum. I see lots of my Instagram and FB friends visiting this place in Antipolo and from their pictures it seemed like a very nice and relaxing place to come and visit not to mention educational too. So on one of our free days we planned an exploration tour with my MIL, BIL, and SIL.

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The Pinto Art Museum houses a vast collection of contemporary Philippine Art and boasts beautiful gardens which you can sit on and spend the afternoon on all over the property. Every corner was photo worthy I can imagine why people are enchanted with the place. Do be ready for some walking up and down the stairs if you want to see the property. It was a bit warm when we went to visit so not exactly perfect conditions for my AC loving boys.

The museum is open from Tuesday – Sunday from 9:00 – 17:00, with an entrance fee of P150 for adults, P75 for students and children and P120 for seniors. There are 2 hour tours offered scheduled throughout the day. I would’ve loved to have attended the 2 hour tour of the place but because of the heat, all the walking and the restrictions of no touching the art, my boys can only handle 30 minutes of the place. I managed to stretch it to 45mins with the bribe of buying them juice if they behaved a bit longer. In hindsight maybe it was good that we weren’t able to see the property in one visit because now we have a reason to come back. The woman at the reception did say that they have Cafe only open on the weekends but on weekdays guests are allowed to bring in food. The place is so huge with lots of places to sit that maybe having a picnic there won’t be so bad (just pray it doesn’t rain).

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Got so inspired by all the art I had to contribute my own, I call this … “Man by the window

Next on our list was the Angono Petroglyphs in Binangonan, the two towns were probably in disputes as to whom the petroglyphs belonged to that they just decided to share the title (gotta love Philippine politics or humour)

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The Agono Petroglyphs (in Binangonan) is found on the side of a mountain and you would have to walk through a tunnel to get to the other side to see it but it was raining when we got there, so the guard made us drive through the cave which was part of the thrill going there (at least for me). It had a P20 entrance fee but it was indescribable in life. Imagine people from long long long time ago inscribed those drawings on the wall to tell you a story of how they used to live. GOOSE bumps!!

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This concluded our exploration of the east, at least for now. I’m sure there’s more to see and explore but we’ll save those for next time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Subic Break

While in Manila for the holidays, we wanted to go on a vacation from our vacation and decided to go to Subic. We originally wanted to go way  up north but with the five-hour drive to get there and the boys thinking my BIL’s car was a jungle gym, probably from enjoying their new-found freedom from the car seat. We decided it wasn’t a smart decision to drive up north, not to mention unsafe. Our next best option was to go to Subic, hey, at least it was still northbound! 😉

FACT: I’ve never been to Subic before. Were you surprised? Me too! All these years I thought I’ve been to Subic (at least once) before, it turns out I’ve only been to Clark! hahaha

20140714-104005-38405637.jpgAnyway, upon my cousin’s recommendation, we stayed at the Lighthouse Marina Resort. Upon driving at the hotel, I was expecting a big tall lighthouse that you can see from far far away, this one was a mini one with only 5 floors high and can be barely seen from afar. But the novelty of staying close to a lighthouse was a nice touch.

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Complimentary sweets and a hot drink for a night-cap. I know they do this for everybody but it felt personal and that was a nice touch.

Prior to checking in we read on the net that the beach at Subic is not recommended for swimming but there were lots of establishments that rent out water sport vehicles, not exactly fit for our little family of 4. So a hotel pool was one of my requirements to keep my water-loving boys happy.20140714-104000-38400878.jpg

Since Subic used to be a US Naval base (biggest one outside of the US) the roads are well-kept and at first we couldn’t understand the rule of the first come first serve rule on an intersection, but once you get the hang of it, it’s actually a good system. By the way everyone was willing to abide by this rule so why can’t they drive the same way in Manila? Anyway, that’s for another post!

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This one was staring at me like he was gonna eat me for dinner.

For the kids’ entertainment, we went to the Zoobic Safari where their main attraction is to put you inside a cage with angry tigers and make you pray for dear life! Ok it wasn’t that bad but when we were there the tigers were probably tired or hungry that they started growling at each other just when we were passing through their cage in a very narrow corridor (my brain was replaying episodes from Animals gone wild and this time the tigers were mauling ME!!!) I squeezed Adrian’s hand soooo hard he asked me to let go! The boys loved it so much amidst me shouting OMG OMG the whole time. I think Adrian even told me to relax and not to be scared… (he’s so funny sometimes).

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Adrian showing off his tiger paws

20140714-195756-71876562.jpg20140714-195759-71879369.jpg20140714-195755-71875489.jpg20140714-195758-71878963.jpgThat about sums up our overnight in Subic, it would’ve been nice to stay longer but our holiday was short enough as it is so staying the extra day would make our holiday even shorter. But next time I hope we can stay longer so I can have some time to do a little shopping 😉.

With this short trip I’m starting to appreciate exploring more of the Philippines especially places I’ve never been to. I hope that as the boys grow older we can explore more of it with them.

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The Singapore Stop-over

We usually prefer to fly direct from Dubai-Manila (with the kids we feel it’s better for our sanity) but this year our usual airlines bumped up their prices so high ⬆️ up that the husband calculated that if we take Singapore Airlines with a two night stop over in Singapore the price still comes out cheaper and we still had extra mulla to pay for the hotel accommodation (Genius? Right?).

So thus begins our 55 hour Singapore Stop-over.

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With a 4-year-old and 2-year-old in tow we simply cannot plan a trip like we were normal tourists. But I secretly did, with plans of going to China Town, the east coast, and even walking up and down Orchard road like I used to. Of course none of these were done for on this trip the kids ruled all day long.

Upon arrival and after a quick nap at the hotel we headed out to Singapore Zoo. Because we were only staying for two days the Singapore Tourist Pass was perfect for us. (I’ve linked their sites for your convenience or maybe I will write a separate post). Still quite tired from the 7 hour trip and the looong way to the zoo we headed home to our hotel and decided to end our first day in Singapore early.

Day 2 was spent at Universal Studios but we also did not stay for long because all the walking to and on the park itself made my 4-year-old whinny and cranky. Plus my wrong choice of footwear made me very HAngry as well. Don’t ask me what’s the connection between my feet and my stomach – all I know was I was cranky the whole trip!

We got so stressed juggling the two kids and finding our way around Singapore that the husband swore to never again take them anywhere until they get older! I had mixed feelings about this because on one hand it was really hard to manage the boys, but on the other hand I really do want my boys to get exposed to different places at an early age with the hopes of them appreciating the privilege of travelling that we can give for them. I’m feeling optimistic that the more my boys travel the more used to it they will get thus gets easier (wishful thinking).

Then I saw this great blog that help me realise and open my eyes to other perspectives. Here’s what she had to say about travelling with young kids.

http://sandierpastures.com/travel/traveling-with-young-kids-is-not-a-waste.html#comment-863124

Our Singapore trip was short but sweet. It will always be one of the places I will not get tired of coming back over and over. And as the boys grow up, I hope they have a special place in their hearts for Singapore as it has one in mine.