Living in Dubai for almost a decade we have gotten used to a certain order of things in our everyday lives. We wake up-office/school drop off /pick up-home-chores-wind down-sleep and the cycle begins again the next day. So when family announces they’re coming over to visit we had something exciting to look forward to. But aside from the early warning and a year to prepare, I was still caught unprepared like a deer in headlights.
My husband’s whole family came over for a visit and “whole” as in all, well except for the parental units. I know it’s no big deal to host 4 adults and 5 kids but you have to understand, I’ve never even hosted a lunch or dinner in my house for more than 10 people (mind you it’s not by chance, it’s by choice) and here I am hosting a whole week to 9 people.
This is our second time to take a holiday with them outside the Philippines so I guess it’s safe to say we don’t do travelling in small groups, we prefer to do it in herds! My husband acting as the host this time, actually prefers it this way because it would mean we don’t have to do all the touristy things all over again if they did travel in 2 batches. But the OC, wanna be perfect hostess in me was in panic mode days before they arrived. I wanted each and every one of them to feel welcome and special. My inner Martha Stewart was being tested and challenged.
We were 6 adults and 7 kids living in a 2 bedroom apartment with only 2 toilets and baths for a week. But aside from the three-hour prep time before we could leave the house, there was no major issue with our living arrangements, at least that’s what I would like to think. Everybody apart from one brother-in-law slept in the kids’ room, there were some issues with snoring but I think even Martha can’t do anything about that…or can she??? I kept my ears to the ground and my eyes open for any sign of discomfort, I wanted to give them what they needed before they even ask.
The husband was ever so coolly relaxed, so much that it was like we didn’t have any guests in the house, which drove me crazy. I guess because these are his brother and sister and plus he’s the youngest so nurturing and taking care of them was never in his vocabulary. He has always been used to being the one taken cared of by them and taken cared of we were. My sister-in-law brought so much food it sustained us for almost a week. My brother-in-law was the over all general manager of the kitchen with his wife as his right hand (awwww so sweet!).
With their comfort and tummies taken cared of, my only assignment was to plan the days’ activities. Adrian had 3 days off school but was
requested required to go to school on the remaining 2 days to practice for graduation. So I had to plan activities around his schedule but only for the two days at that time it felt like a big challenge haha.
Our schedule were as follows:
SUNDAY: We started off with a drive around Dubai taking pictures of iconic places but it was sooooo HOT it didn’t last long until we decided to go to the Mall of the Emirates, which made my sisters very happy.
MONDAY: A visit to At the top of Burj Khalifa which meant more shopping because it was at the mall hehe.
TUESDAY: Desert Safari afternoon, it was ok but VERY HOT! I was the one native from Dubai and I was the one who broke down from heat exhaustion – so embarrassing!!
WEDNESDAY: Yas Water World and THURSDAY was Ferrari World. We stayed one night at the Park inn hotel Yas Island. With the comfy beds and buffet breakfast I know my guests were well taken cared for (at least for a night). We even got a room only for the big kids to give the parents a small break from the noise and chaos.
FRIDAY: Was IKEA day, not a good idea on a FRIDAY, BUT the boys were so overwhelmed by the crowd they opted to take the kids and go home instead, leaving us girls to go crazy in the household department.
SATURDAY: Ski Dubai day, I think the kids enjoyed it more than the adults.
SUNDAY: was reserved for some last-minute photo ops on some landmarks we missed and dinner at Dubai Mall and to see the fountain after.
MONDAY: Their last day was dedicated to buy some pasalubongs and some last-minute shopping at Outlet mall.
Viola! one week has come and gone once again. The long wait was over with a blink of an eye but I hope the experiences and the things they saw and learned will last them a lifetime! naks! may ganun?
As the excitement from my sister’s visit slowly winds down it’s giving me time to check how their trip went. Review at the same time share with you the week that was. I wanted to write real-time events as the day was happening but after the day of touring, taking care of the kids making sure my visitors were comfortable, I had no energy left to write.
In summary, here’s how their 7 days in Dubai went:
Day 1: Karama (Shopping), Dubai Creek, and my personal form of initiation to Dubai, the Camel Burger.
Day 2: Burj Al Arab lunch, Madinat Jumeira, RTA boat ride tour of the Atlantis
Day 3: Lost Chambers at Atlantis The Palm
Day 4: Burj Khalifa At the top, Ferrari World Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, IKEA (Shopping)
Day 5: Maryah Island mall Abu Dhabi, Sheik Zayed Mosque
Day 6: Hard Rock Cafe, Dubai Festival City (Shopping)
Day 7: Outlet mall (last hurrah shopping)
To cap of their trip we had Easter dinner at Dubai Mall and watched the fountain. They were concentrating on keeping Miguel awake all afternoon that by the time we were at the fountain he was NOT in a good mood. I found this video online of the Dubai Fountain and this was the theme song that evening. Enjoy!
I like having my schedules but coming into this I knew I had to be really flexible with the small kids. Sometimes our schedules would change mid day because one child or all three were acting up. But considering all the places we managed to go to in a short amount of time, I’d say we were successful. In the end I think my sister’s main goal was to visit me and the kids so even without the tour part she would’ve been happy…HINDI RIN!!! hahahaha
Aside from our Tagalog movie marathon and non stop eating in Ajman last friday the women of Ajman brought us Dubai girls to a “secret” place in Ajman that sells used furniture. Bu Faisal is not really a secret, I’m sure the super super thrifty have heard of this place in Ajman to buy used furniture. I’ve heard of it because we have friends who live there, one even had her two bedroom flat fully furnished by Bu Faisal. I was happy to be able to go sans naughty boys special thanks to Kuya V, Ate C and Ate M for watching over my boys while mommy was away shopping hehe .
WARNING: not a place for kids, there were broken glass everywhere and the stairs were not so sturdy so BEWARE.
Imagine a warehouse full of a variety of used items for sale. It was like a candy store to DIY(ers). I wish I could start a project but space and resources are all not to my advantage. There is a couple of wing chairs I had my eye on that simply needed a upholstery and it would have been a fabulous (naks!) I do have to give kudos to the men who run the place because it was well sorted out. There was a place for electronics, furniture, appliances, clothes etc etc. Ikea furniture was all over the place (but don’t tell my husband or else he will never let me buy anything from the Sweden store ever again!!! – my life will be over – drama!!!).
I’m currently obsessing on dinnerware so that was my section of interest. I was overwhelmed with my choices and as always couldn’t decide and didn’t get much. I did see some nice wine glasses but I could just imagine my boys breaking them and me ending in tears so – never mind. a friend;y advice you do need to get your hands dirty and dig in there my friend got some Corelle plates as a set hiding somewhere under all the dishes – she was very lucky and very happy because they only priced her items at 20 aed. As for me, I just bought a CorningWare serving dish and a glass candy bowl from Poland, that I just thought was nice meh meh!
I am excited though to be invited again to Mr. and Mrs. M’s place because maybe the girls and I can sneak out again and visit my new best friend Bu. 😉
Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum Street, Jurf
Ajman, United Arab Emirates
Very few things shock me in Dubai anymore. I mean with The Palm and The Burj Khalifa can you really blame me?
But when they turned an open parking lot into a beach front mall (with an open air cinema) with restaurants on one side and the beach on the other, this left me dumbfounded. I was impressed with the architecture and the way it was planned. Added attractions are the jogging path, the open gym, and play grounds scattered around the area.
If you are familiar with “the old” JBR there used to be a big open car park that separates The Walk from the beach, then they closed the parking lot and started construction on a mall that they called “The Beach” at first my thought was they were building a normal mall with an air-conditioned building and shops and restaurants inside – pity because the view from that lot was amazing. But boy oh boy! was I wrong. They built an outdoor type of area with a minimalist vibe made of wood that curves and big screen billboards around with lots of outdoor space for kids and adults alike to walk around and play. I can’t really describe it, you have to see it to appreciate it. And my pictures don’t give it much justice. With the cool weather still upon us in Dubai, it felt like we were in another country. But nothing I’ve seen or read from before. (Can you tell that I was impressed?)
The shops are still not 100% open but there are some restaurants that are up and running so you can opt to wait to visit it when it is in full swing or if you are like us who just want to make uzi then by all means GO! NOW na!
Be ready to pay for parking as it may be a little steep at 20 dirham per hour. But there is an open car park beside Hilton Hotel that charges 10 dirham per hour on Friday – Saturday and 5 dirham on Sunday – Wednesday. If you are patient enough you can standby and wait on one of JBR’s side streets and park for free but based on experience unless you come by 7AM, parking on the side streets may be next to impossible to find.
It was a nice friday morning stroll with the kids especially after a big breakfast it’s good to walk around (and explore new places). I can’t say The Beach will be our weekend ritual but I see ourselves coming back again and again and again.
Happy Weekend Folks!
The boys have been crazy about bowling lately. But sad to say it’s not with 4 kilo balls and hardwood floors but more with app games on the iPad haha. I know we should discourage the iPad and promote physical activities but I’m so scared that they might drop the ball on their foot that I’ve delayed taking them to the bowling alley…until now. Last friday, we were invited to a bowling party at Magic Planet by one of Adrian’s classmates and as expected my boy loved it!
As we were playing our game, I’ve noticed that Adrian would do his turn and wait for others to finish, he also would congratulate other players if they knocked down a lot of pins and even gets more excited for them when they chance upon a strike. This was about the same time I realised that playing this sport could potentially teach my son some patience and a little bit of humility. We will surely be back to play more but maybe wait a little bit until the little one can carry his own ball.
The party continued on to the party room after everybody played a round of bowling and the usual party games were enjoyed. Food was served after the games which was chicken from KFC and pizza from Pizza Hut. For the adults they’ve set up a small buffet of coffee, fruits and cheese sandwiches. The birthday cake was a chocolate ice cream cake from Marble slab which even made me a little excited – fortunately we were all given a slice.
After the food they gave out party favours which take note DID NOT contain any candy, something that I greatly appreciated and with it came a magic planet card that the kids could use on the rides.
The party place may get fully booked especially on a friday so back to back parties are expected. But with the free card for rides your guests will surely can’t wait to get out of the room after the food. Something which was nice because as a guest I didn’t feel like we were rushed to go out of the room because they had to clean for the next party. But the staff was really efficient and a party started about 40 mins. after we left.
With these kinds of parties I’m always conscious that Adrian is the only invited one and Aden should not participate (very different dynamic with the Filipino crowd) but because this was more of a big boy party the activities were not suitable for him, so him and Arnie left us for about 2 hours that enabled Adrian and myself to enjoy ourselves with the other kids and parents.
Introducing the Ikea family card.
I’m a sucker for privilege cards and I’m a bigger sucker for Ikea. Combine the two and I am over the moon. I think I was actually smiling from ear to ear when they offered me to sign up last week (CCTV footage will back me up on this).
Their family card don’t work like your normal loyalty card found in your wallet. It doesn’t accumulate points per purchases made but you do get free coffee from the cafeteria from Sundays – Thursdays. So what does it do? Well, you get special prices on certain items on offer (ike a secret club) and they get to track your buying habits which enables them to get to know you and serve you better (that’s what it says on the info website). They did say any information shared with them will remain private – just for your piece of mind.
It’s very easy to get your own card just head on to your nearest Ikea and look for the Ikea family card machine found at the store.
Disclaimer: I write this because I am a loyal customer not because I work there although I would love to live there if I could! Imagine having meatballs and salmon everyday!!!!! Hahahaha
I actually don’t know how long this fish market has been here but when we were driving along Jumeirah Beach Road yesterday I saw balloons advertising “new fish market now open” (no picture because I was driving). Of course I had to check it out. This is located behind the Hardee’s/KFC along Jumeirah Beach Road.
The place looks clean and organized very different from the “fish market” we had years ago in al thanya when we would buy fish and other seafood from under a fishing boat covered with tarpaulin. It felt like we were doing something illegal. But this looks promising I will definitely come back for more fresh seafood. The fisherman’s told me that they are open by 6am so if you want to get the freshest catch of the day set your alarms early.