Panoramic View (Post#1) : Howqua Valley Trail Rides
This is just one of the scenic photos I got while I was in my horse back riding adventure in Howqua, Victoria in Australia last August 2013. One of the country places that I had been while staying in Australia for more than one year and half.
Precious Moment In The Mountain (Post#1): Tarak Ridge
The photo above was captured while at the summit of Tarak Ridge. I joined my mountaineering group for Tarak Ridge climb last October 2010. Tarak Ridge is one of the peak of Mount Mariveles which located in Mariveles Bataan, Philippines. I will not forget this mountain because the climb experienced I had here made me feel like I was a spider while crawling the very steep trail on the way to Tarak Ridge. I never thought that I would make it to the top.
When I went to Dubai, I had a chance to visit the capital city of United Arab Emirates which is the Abu Dhabi. From Dubai, it is just 1.5 to 2 hours travel. I came to this city with my college friend through the bus we took from Al Ghubaiba Bus Terminal. We used NOL card in our travel but before that, we made sure that it has at least 100 AED to cover our return travel.
At the start of the trip, I fell asleep immediately but it didn’t last long because I suddenly woke-up due to the loud voice I heard coming from the driver. After that I was not able to sleep anymore until we reached Abu Dhabi. We arrived at Al Wahda bus terminal in Abu Dhabi, where there is a nearby mall with the same name – Al Wahda mall. At the mall we had our lunch first before we started our tour.
It’s a hot sunny Saturday that day, I myself does not really want to walk outside because in just a matter of few minutes, my whole body will be soak in sweat, which is an uncomfortable feeling while traveling around. We decided to visit first the famous mosque not only in UAE but even in the world, it is non other than Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. We took cab from Al Wahda mall to the grand mosque. Seeing the mosque from afar is already amazing, being there is another thing.
We arrived at the mosque and my first impression is, it is like an all white mosque. And the design of the mosque is magnificent. I saw a lot of mosque from other countries but for me, this one is like a palace mosque, not only because of its size but the impression struck on me when I saw on it are purity and tranquility. I learned that the mosque is the largest mosque in UAE and the eight largest mosque in the world. I am aware that before we were able to get inside the mosque, we need to change our clothes to Abhayas, we lent it (required with ID) from the visitor center located at the lower ground of the mosque (tourist will be informed by the security guards of its location). After changing to appropriate attire, we started our mini tour inside the mosque.
Snapshots outside of the mosque
At the front, left and right side of the mosque, you can find a pool which refreshing from the eye because of the ocean like color of the pool. While walking along the hallway, I admire the details of the design and to think its a hallway and not the main hall yet. When we came at the mosque, we are not allowed to walk just anywhere in the Courtyard (it is the huge open space at the front of the main prayer hall), we walked in the middle of the courtyard when we are on our way to the main hall of the mosque.
At the hallway
One of the ceilings that I saw while walking along the hallway
The open space called Courtyard and the main hall
On my way to the main entrance of the main prayer hall
shoe cabinet at the entrance of the main hall
Before we enter in the main prayer hall, we removed our shoes and put it in the cabinet allocated just outside the main hall. The cold breeze we felt at the entrance of the main hall was refreshing maybe because of the hot temperature outside the mosque. At the entrance, we saw a magnificent chandelier and the ceiling design that it has. I was really amazed how grandeur it is. At that moment, I can really say it deserve to be called grand mosque. And the glass door has great designs embedded with bright colors that for me, it’s like a magic door that if you open, there are great things to see.
Entrance of the main prayer hall
My expectations became higher and higher which I was not disappointed because at the time that I entered the main prayer hall the majestic hall design are far greater from the entrance, details to its architecture and interior design are noticeable that what you can say is it’s amazing. Looking at the interior design, you can tell that the time it was being build, it was thought carefully and the outcome is magnificent. We walked silently as to show respect to the mosque but my eyes keep on looking around the hall and I took pictures as much as I can to remember all the things that I saw inside the main prayer hall. I respected the people who put an effort to build the mosque because they show how high they regard their belief through the building of the said mosque.
Magnificent Chandelier in the middle of the Main Prayer Hall inside the mosque
Interior design inside the mosque
Open space – courtyard
After spending sometime inside the mosque, we decided to go to Marina Island. We went straight to Marina Mall and had our snacks at Marina Tower. Marina Tower is a good place to see most of the Abu Dhabi in a relaxing way where you will not suffer from hot sunny day. There are restaurants where you can have a great view from the top of Emirates Palace, Presidential Palace, the business district of the city and beaches along the coast line.
Marina Tower in Marina Island
Some scenery to be found inside Marina Mall
Elevator to the top of Marina Tower
Marina Village at the bottom, Emirates Palace at the top
Scenery from the top of Marina Tower
Sunset View near Marina Village Seawall
New Presidential Palace
Snapshots from the ground of Marina Island
Some photos outside Marina Mall near at Marina Mall Ring Road
Like Dubai, there are on going constructions in different parts of Abu Dhabi, not looking far away, the corner of the Marina Island, development still in progress. In such as desert place, I am still surprised how people able to live in a place where there is no natural resources such as food and other immediate needs of people. I heard from my friend that UAE are all importing most of the goods they need like food such as rice and vegetables, because there is no place in this country that will allow them for farming. By knowing that, I understand that this country has rich and great economy because they are able to surpass the challenges of the desert that they are living in.
I know there are still other places to see in Abu Dhabi, but unfortunately our day was over and we cannot stay longer in the city as we need to go back to Dubai. I enjoyed my day in the city and wished that someday I can still go back and see the other places that I missed to see. Until then.
Yes, Orchard Rd is famous, specially for shopaholic. This is one of the busiest street in Singapore even though most of the stores located here comes with big names in fashion world.
Aside from what I mentioned above, most Filipinos who lives, work and visits in Singapore knows this road because of one familiar place that close in our heart and made every Filipino to be at home for a moment is located here which is the “Lucky Plaza”.
What else can I say about Orchard Road? Now I remembered, the first hotel that I stayed-in outside the country is located here as well which is the Orchard Hotel Singapore.
It was Sunday, my last day in Dubai as holiday. In Dubai or let’s say UAE (not sure if all Arab countries are the same), they started their weekday on Sunday and will last on Thursday. Therefore, they treated Friday and Saturday as their weekends. Because I will be traveling alone, I booked a bus tour which is hop-in and hop-out bus tour type. Though there are places included in the tracks that I already visited, I still join the tour since it is the cheapest way to go around the city since I can’t rent a car because I don’t know how to drive.
Here are the routes of the BigBus Tour that I booked:
1. Red Route (City Route)
b. Creek Park
c. Creek Walk
d. Al Fahidi Port
e. Old Souk
f. Heritage Village
g. Gold Souk
h. Spice Souk
i. Abra Station
k. Deira City Centre
2. Blue Route (Marina Route)
b. Union House
c. Jumeirah Mosque
e. Jumeirah Beach Park
f. Jumeirah Public Beach
h. Souk Madinat Jumeirah
i. Atlantis On The Palm
j. Mall of Emirates
k. The Dubai Mall
3. Night Tour
a. Sheikh Zayed Road
b. Burj Al Arab
c. Palm Jumeirah
d. Skycraper City
e. Burj Khalifa
f. Downtown Dubai
g. WAFI Light and Sound Show
Self tour within the area: Deira City Centre, Dubai Mall, Souk Madinat Jumeirah, and Mall of Emirates
Since I have one day left, I did not go anymore to the places that I already seen and visited. And because it still summer in Dubai, the hardest part is walking outside in a hot sunny day. During the day tour, I went outside the bus when we arrived at the Public Beach of Jumeirah and Souk Madinat Jumeirah which both belong to Blue route or Marina route. I stayed inside the bus in other location because I am maximizing the time that I still have to see much as I can. The places I saw from the bus in this route are: the 2nd of December Street (from the formal date of nationalization of UAE from British), Union House (where the UAE was form and the huge flagpole of UAE located), Jumeirah Mosque, Mercato (an Italian themed mall), and Jumeirah Beach Park (which exclusive only for women).
At WAFI (day time)
Raffles Dubai in WAFI (at day time)
Around WAFI (at daytime)
Khan Murjan Entrance (at daytime)
Etisalat Tower 2 (along Sheikh Zayed Road)
Jumeirah Beach Hotel
I got off from the bus when we arrived at Public Beach of Jumeirah because I thought I can take pictures there, but unfortunately, it is not allowed to take pictures in the beach that was why I was not able to take pictures of Burj Al Arab from that place. My disappointment in the beach was gone when I went to Souk Madinat which can be found inside Madinat Jumeirah Hotel. I was really fascinated with the place because of unique style of the market and the structure design of the hotel that you will really feel you are in an arab desert place. I went outside the souk and found a great place to capture Burj Al Arab hotel from Souk Madinat or from Madinat Jumeirah Hotel. I realized that I was standing in some part of the luxurious resort hotel in Dubai. Though not all part are free to all tourist, it was just part where there are restaurants outside the hotel. I enjoyed the place and if I will be given a chance to come back, I hope I can stay in Madinat Jumeirah Hotel resort.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah Entrance
Inside Souk Madinat Jumeirah
Burj Al Arab from Madinat Jumeirah Hotel Resort
Around Madinat Jumeirah Hotel Resort
Another area that I enjoyed without getting off the bus is the Palm Jumeirah. A famous man-made palm shape structure island, where you can find luxurious hotels and residential homes of rich people. I never realized how big Palm Jumeirah until our bus entered the island. There are lots of residential and buildings already exist and other structures are still being built. For me the place is already beautiful and I was excited when we saw Altantis The Palm hotel from a far. I can’t believe my eyes that I am seeing the hotel which I only saw in the movie of “Sex and the City”. It is a huge hotel that I was not able to capture the whole building with my phone when we were at the front of the hotel. Atlantis is another luxurious hotel that exist in Dubai, I can’t imagine how much it will cost when you stay even for one night.
View while entering Palm Jumeirah (Burj Al Arab from a far)
Atlantis The Palm (at Palm Jumeirah)
View of Dubai Marina from Palm Jumeirah
Next places I saw in daylight are Mall of Emirates, Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall, I took photos of these building again while inside the rooftop of the bus.
Novotel (at Sheikh Zayed Road) where I stayed in my first 5 nights in Dubai
JW Marriott Marquis Hotel
Mall of Emirates
Souk Al Bahar (near in Burj Khalifa)
After completing the blue route, I transferred in Red route or City route bus and in this tour, I saw more of Deira area and its old downtown. I saw the Creek River, Creek Park, wooden Arabian Dhow, Al Fahidi Port, Old Souk, Heritage Village, Gold Souk, Spice Souk, Abra Station, Baniyas and Deira City Centre.
Creek Park Main Gate (at Al Riyadh St)
wooden arabian dhow in Creek River (at Al Seef Road)
Creek River (at Al Seef Road)
Wooden Arabian Dhow
Old Dubai Souk Marine Transport
Old Dubai Souk Marine Transport
Around Al Ghubaiba MRT station
Around Al Ghubaiba MRT station
Around Al Ghubaiba MRT station
Around Al Ghubaiba MRT station
Creek River at Baniyas Road
Creek River at Baniyas Road
Deira Old Souk
RTA Marine Transport at Baniyas Road
Deira City Center
While waiting for my night tour, I did some souvenir and gift shopping, these gifts serve as a token to give to my relatives and coworkers when I returned in my country.
The last part of the tour is the night tour where I witness and discovered how grandiose the city of Dubai at night-time. We drove again at the same route of Blue route. Here I saw Dubai differently and witness how beautiful Dubai City is during night hours.
The night tour concluded. And I returned straight from Deira City Centre to my hotel almost 11PM. This was how I ended my last day in Dubai. I hoped that I can go back again in this beautiful city someday because I know there are more places to discover and my few days are not enough to see them all, if I will be given a chance, at least I wanted to live here for almost a year to learn more about Arab culture and its country.
I woke-up early, my stuff are all back in my luggage for my early checkout. It was the same day of my first day of having holiday in Dubai since the training was over. I checked-out early because I need to attend personal activity and I left my luggage at the hotel for the mean time. I was on my way to the place where I need to be, I thought the location was near from my hotel that was why I decided to walk instead of taking a cab, it was around 10AM in the morning wherein it was one of the time as the hottest hours during day time. I regretted that I walked because it was really hot and I was soaked in sweat. After such experience, I learned my lesson not to do that craziness again. When my morning activity concluded, I went straight to Mall of the Emirates, I walked to the mall from where I came from since it’s just nearby.
Some of the interiors that can be found inside Mall of the Emirates (above photos)
I wandered in Mall of the Emirates, from parking area, I went up to second level of the mall. I felt relieved and comfortable as I entered the mall because of the cold condition that I felt inside, then I went straight to food court for my lunch, I ate fries and hot dog sandwich. After lunch, I continue my stroll in the mall and while walking, I took photos as well. One of the features of Mall of the Emirates is the Ski Dubai slope, but unfortunately, I didn’t tried to find it.
Another hour of walking past, I decided to go back to my hotel to pick-up my luggage. Then, I moved to another hotel, its Landmark Grand Hotel which I arranged earlier, even before I departed Manila to Dubai. The hotel is located in Deira and it is near in Union metro interchange station. I arrived in the hotel past 4PM in the afternoon and rested for a while before the evening plan with my friend. I met my friend at the lobby of the hotel and we talked for another hour until we decided to visit traditional Gold Souk (Gold Market) which located at Al Khor street. We left the hotel and we went to my friend’s house unit and stayed there for half an hour. Next, we went to Gold Souk via public bus. While on our way to the market, I saw the other side of Dubai. My friend told me that Deira is the old Dubai. And by looking around Deira, I can feel the sense of history for most of the places we passed by. Most of traditional Souk are located in Deira. I enjoyed watching the place while inside the bus. And in Deira I discovered places quite differently from the impression that left on me while I visited places outside Deira such as places along Sheikh Zayed Road from Burjuman going to Jabal Ali where it is being called right now as the new Dubai. I realized that Dubai is far from where it was before, by looking from where it start, which is in Deira, Dubai is now a progressive and very modern city based from what it has and what it achieves.
We stopped at public bus terminal where the Gold Souk is just around the corner. After reaching the place, we quickly look around the place and most of the stores in each corner are showing off their gold products. We never tried to enter even in one store, because we never really intend to buy gold and we know nothing about gold for real.
One of the entrance to Gold Souk
One of the Gold Store in Gold Souk
Next place we decided to see was the Dubai Festival City Mall or DFCM, I think this was the third mall that I visited in Dubai. My friend told me that most of the concert events are happening around this mall. We tried to see the Festival Marina but we are not able to go around the area due to renovation .going on
This was the last day of the training, we started the training a little bit earlier and we ended it a bit earlier as well. I went out together with my Pakistan mates in a unique Arab adventure which is called desert safari tour. Though I was invited early on, I did not confirm ahead of time if I am going since I am not sure if I have other commitments. It was a little bit late that I confirmed that I am going to join them. Because of this, I made the group a little bit uncomfortable in terms of seating arrangement in the safari vehicle. But even that was the case, the group still able to managed the seats and the adventure has begun.
Desert where we had our desert safari adventure (photos above)
I thought that desert location was near in the city, but it took us sometime to reach the location. Based on the photos that I captured using my iPhone, we started the desert safari adventure near in Al Badayar near in Dubai-Hatta Road which is part of Sharja (Sharja – one of the seven emirates in UAE). At first I did not know what to expect in this adventure. We parked our vehicle near the road and there we waited for sometime. While waiting, we took some photos of ourselves, the whole group and of course the desert. I asked what is the name of the desert and someone answered me, but I forgot the name of it. After waiting for few more minutes, still unknown what we are going to do, I saw some groups of vehicles from a far in the middle of the desert, they are aligned to each other like they are in queue and they are driving together within the desert dunes. From the distance, it seems it’s just nothing until I realized what we are up to when we got back inside the vehicle and we started rolling. To my surprise, since there is another vehicle in front of us, we are like a convoy following the tracks of the vehicle in front of us. I understand that we are driving at the tip of the sand dunes in the desert. I saw the front vehicle that it seems its falling but it’s not then its drives on sideways, that makes your heart flutter if you will be surprised. The desert safari rides is like a roller coaster, we enjoyed the whole ride, until we reach the other end of the desert near where the Lahbab Desert Safari Camp is located which is already part of Dubai. The safari camp is where we will witnessed the famous belly dancing show as part of Arabian nights experience.
Lahbab Desert Safari Camp (above photos)
At the safari camp, all of the tourist were gathered, majority were seated in the middle and each group of tourist (based from tour company) has their own designated seats. Each has long tables and has pillows that serves as a seats, the setting itself feels the ambiance of Arabian nights. Few more minutes passed, the show started when the first woman entered at the middle stage. The woman started dancing, it was belly dancing. Another dance number followed and it also performed by another woman. Though its belly dancing, the style is different from the first one. It was the first time to experience watching belly dancing in a desert safari camp. The last number seems the biggest performance, the big man went to the middle stage and started turning around without moving its position from where it stand, a lot of people amazed because the man doesn’t show if he’s dizzy even though he’s doing it for quite sometime. The big man is wearing a costume with lights with vibrant colors. Because of this, the effect of the lights while he is turning around are like illusions and the view was fantastic. Before the show ended, he asked volunteers from the audience to do the same thing, there are few volunteers tried doing the same thing that the big man did and we had a good laugh when volunteers immediately felt dizziness. That’s how our Arabian nights experience ended. I had a great time. The whole group had a great time. After the show, we went back to the hotel, which means the night was over. That was the same night I saw my mates from Pakistan for the last time because they are going to back in their country, the next day morning, while I myself will still stay for few more days in Dubai to continue holiday.
It was Tuesday, second day of training, I focus my mind in the training knowing that I am going to enjoy another night in Dubai. I met my friend in Burjuman metro interchange station. Then, we transferred to green line going to Etisalat and got off at Dubai Healthcare City station. From the station, we walked for few minutes until we reached the WAFI city mall.
According to my friend the owner of WAFI city are inspired in Egyptian culture, that is why WAFI city mall were designed with the touch of Egyptian architectural design. Comparing the number of people visiting WAFI and Dubai mall, there are big differences. When we visited WAFI city mall, there are few people inside, you can count people whom you can pass by. I am not sure if WAFI mall targeted few people as their customer. There are luxurious store you can find in that mall, one reason why it’s not popular to the general masses or maybe the problem is the location. I can’t really give it as serious thoughts. Even though there are few people visiting the mall, I enjoyed walking around WAFI, because same with the owner of WAFI City, I like the pyramid because of mystery surrounded by it, I felt that I traveled in Egypt.
Some external view of WAFI (above photos)
Some interior design you can find at WAFI (above photos)
Raffles Dubai (at night-time)
There is one interesting place inside WAFI city that I really like, it is “Khan Murjan” (based from the mall directory brochure that I got, Khan Murjan is the legendary 14th century souk in Baghdad which is a hub for travelers and artisans). You can see how unique the place is. And even the restaurant inside it, it’s definitely has Arabian culture spirit.
After taking more minutes in strolling in the mall, we had our dinner and we waited for the light and sound show. The show entitled “Returns of the Pharaohs” which shown across the Pyramids and the other Egyptian themed buildings in the Central Courtyard in WAFI city mall.
Khan Murjan (one of the authentic arabian experience market and restaurants)
Inside of Khan Murjan (above photos)
That night ended again with feel of accomplishment by seeing another part of Dubai.