When I am researching information about Tokyo, there is a curiosity about the history of one of the popular or famous city in the world. Tokyo’s former name was Edo which was part of old Musashi Province (information from Wikipedia) wherein fortified by Edo clan. Edo was a small fishing village around 18th century, but seeing Tokyo right now, as I knew that it was a city until I understand that it’s not just a city but a metropolitan prefecture of Japan. It is the most populous metropolitan area of the country and where Japan’s government located.
After seeing some part of Tokyo, knowing what it was before is an amazing thing to discover. Realizing how far it progressed from where it was before is truly considered exponential growth and success of the small village.
A Metro To Remember
The inbound flight that I was able to book to Japan was through Narita Airport. The said airport is 1 hour train to Tokyo Downtown. At first, when I started planning my family’s itinerary, Narita area was first on my list to visit while in Japan with the reason that it is near from the airport and considering utilizing our time. Then I changed the list when I was finalizing the itinerary, I replaced Narita with Tokyo.
We left home from Dasmarinas Cavite around 1AM of September 11, allotting 4.5 hours before the scheduled flight. The past few days that week in my country had gloomy weather as almost every afternoon to evening, in Metro Manila and its outskirts had been raining. We left early as we were trying to anticipate road traffic challenges that may arise if the weather will be the same. I was really glad that Friday early morning, the road was quiet as we travel on the way to the airport. We had smooth travel from home to the airport and the good thing about that morning, it wasn’t raining at all. Around 2AM we’re already at NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) Terminal 3.
At the airport, we followed the norms of people traveling international such as paying travel taxes and flight checking-in. After checked-in, since it was still early and we had ample time to spare, we had our breakfast at local food chain in the airport. Next, we went to immigration gate. After passing immigration, we went straight to the airline’s gate. While waiting at the designated gate of our flight, I was thinking about Japan. In my mind, in just less than an hour or so, I will be on my way in a country called “Land of the Rising Sun”. A country which for me was only a dream. At that moment of my life, I felt excited because soon the dream in my mind will become a reality. And the momentous about it, I’m traveling with my family.
The flight was more than 4 hours. The plane took off around 5:30AM in Manila. We landed in Narita International Airport past 10:35AM. Japan was 1 hour ahead in Philippines. We disembarked the plane and walked towards immigration section. Standing in one of the airport in Japan was the realization of my thoughts that I was really in Japan. When we passed the immigration officers, that was the time I believed we will really see and experience Japan.
After the immigration, one of the first thing that’s unique with Japan at the airport is their toilet where you have a lot of options to do aside from the normal stuff that people does. What I’m referring to is that, their toilets has options to play some music or soothing sounds while doing your business. And most of the manual stuff like flushing before and after, it will be done automatically for you. Well, in my country that’s not the case, though some malls has toilets with automatic flush after doing your business.
We were adjusting in the airport and I was thinking what’s the next thing to do, we tried to figure out how we were going to Tokyo downtown. We found Skyliner desk, Skyliner is a train line that directly goes to Nippori and Ueno Station (another option is Narita Express train line that goes straight to Tokyo Station). I chose Skyliner because our Japan Railpass was not yet activated and it has only 7 days, we will be in Japan for 10 days so we were saving the other 3 days. I also knew that we still have chance to experience Narita Express train once we return to the Airport, for our scheduled flight back to Manila. Skyliner is just one of the great trains that we were able to ride while in Japan. I bought the tickets for four and then I looked for ATM to get some money. We went upstairs (where the departure floor is located) to pickup the pocket WiFi in Japan Post Office that I reserved for rent prior arriving in Japan, WiFi will enable us to connect to internet while roaming around the country which is a LTE connection, unlimited data and cheaper for 10 days compared if I will activate data roaming in my mobile from my country and the best of all, all in the family can connect internet seamlessly. After I picked-up the wifi, my father told me that he lost his jacket somewhere and it seems he left it after we passed the immigration officers. My father and my sister went to Information Desk at the airport and requested to looked for the jacket. It was a good thing that we had some photos of the jacket and we were able to show it to airport officers. In few minutes of waiting, my father’s jacket had been returned to him immediately. That kind of experience in a new place was really a great thing. I appreciated how people in that place were so efficient and trustworthy that they can easily find my father’s jacket. It may be a different situation if we were in another country.
Because of the incident, we came back to the Skyliner train desk where we bought our tickets and we requested to replace our tickets as the ticket schedule has passed already. They issued us new tickets for next train which will be leaving soon. We hurriedly went down to the train platform but the train doors were already closed when we arrived and its departing, we missed it for the second time. I came back upstairs and let my family wait in the platform as it’s quite inconvenient if all of us going up with our luggage. I talked to the train officer and advised me to get new ticket. I returned to the Skyliner for the second time, the third schedule given to us was at least an hour waiting time, a very sufficient time for all of us not to miss the train. Missing the train is not really something that’s surprising for us to experience because its our first time to find the train platform and it’s also first time to ride a train in Japan.
From Narita Airport Station (because there is Narita Station which different station), we arrived at Ueno Station after an hour. Japan is a country where train is the most common and most efficient public mass transportation. After arriving in Ueno Station, we started to use our Passmo card I bought together with the Japan Railpass. Passmo card are usable to all trains and buses around Tokyo, but it cannot be used for long travel. Passmo card are accepted to many cities in Japan, maybe in the next coming years they have one card for all transportation which I will be looking forward to in the future. I did my research about public transportation in Japan and understood that there are specific tickets for some train lines. That’s why I made sure that we have the appropriate ticket for the train line we will be taking. From Ueno Station, we transferred to Tokyo Metro Subway and took Hibiya Line towards Naka-meguro and got-off at Kayabacho Station where our hotel for 4 consecutive days in Tokyo is very near and the hotel we will be staying is Sotetsu-Fresa Inn Nihombashi Kayabacho.
Honestly, based on my plan, after we arrived in Japan, we planned to see some places in the afternoon as part of our activity to end our first day. The original plan was to visit Ueno Park, but the plan did not happen because both of my parents were already tired as we haven’t slept due to early flight that day, I decided to cancel the planned activity.
The following places we visited in Tokyo are: Ginza for the first day, Ryogoku, Akihabara for the fourth day and Ueno, Azakusa, Tokyo SkyTree for the 9th day in Japan. Detailed stories of each places are posted or will be posted separately on the link given below.
Day 1 – Ginza
Day 4 – Ryogoku Kokugikan
Day 4 – Akihabara
Our second and last Saturday in Japan spent another day in Tokyo. Early in the morning, we took Shinkansen train from Kyoto to Tokyo. We left Kyoto Station around 6:23AM and we arrived in Tokyo Station around 9AM. Though these two cities far from each other, the Shinkansen train made us felt that both are just near each other. The estimated distance between Kyoto Station and Tokyo Station are around 500 km and it only needs more than 2.5 hours travel within the two stations. It was 3rd time we had Shinkansen Train, though it was not the fastest Shikansen, but it still comparable in terms of its speed, for what I’m aware of the Shinkansen train we took just late of 10 minutes compared with the fastest bullet train. Because it was long weekend (as September 21 is a public holiday in Japan), I anticipated that a lot of people were traveling and we reserved our ticket a day before and it’s almost fully booked when I reserved our tickets, the seats we got were not beside each other and one seat was in another car train. I let myself apart from my family as I can be on my own and let my youngest sister be with my parents in another car train.
When we were at Tokyo Station, we looked around for luggage locker because our hotel for the night is near in Narita International Airport. After checking-in our luggage, we roam around again for the last time in Tokyo.
Day 9 – Ueno Park and Ameyoko
Day 9 – Asakusa and Sensoji Temple
Day 9 – Tokyo SkyTree
After taking our time with photo shots in Tokyo SkyTree, we decided to go down as we need to catch-up train going Otsuka to attend an event. From Tokyo SkyTree Station in Tobu Line, we returned to Asakusa Station, then transferred to Ginza Line. We got off at Ueno Station. At Ueno Station I just realized that I have to cancel our travel in the place that my family need to be, due to my unintended mistake, we had to take train to Tokyo Station instead to Otsuka Station as we need to catch-up the last trip of Narita Express train from Tokyo Station to Narita Airport Station, as our hotel for our last night in Japan was near the airport.
At Tokyo Station we walked so fast as we need to find the luggage locker we used to checked-in our luggage and bags at the station. We arrived at the train platform for Narita Express train at least 5 minutes before its scheduled departure as we were catching our breath. For all of us it was really a nick of time because if we missed the train, we have to take a taxi which was really expensive coming from Tokyo to Narita.
We arrived past 9PM at Narita Airport Station. Then, we took the shuttle bus to the hotel we booked. We checked-in at the Narita Tobu Airport hotel before 10PM. Before we ended the night, we had a wonderful and delightful dinner at the hotel as both of my parents complimented the food we had that night and I felt relieved to what I heard.
We woke-up early and did last-minute packing of our luggage and checked-out the hotel. We took the shuttle bus back to the airport. We arrived at the airport, had enough time before our flight. I went back to the Post Office booth and returned the WiFi device I rented. We checked-in in our flight and passed the immigration. We went to the designated gate of our flight and waited for our departure. At that time I felt that days passed so fast. I remembered 9 days ago, we just came in to Japan and yet that moment we’re about to leave the country. I sensed that in few hours I and my family has to go back in reality of our lives again.
I had a great time in Tokyo and oveall in Japan, though there are lots of places that I haven’t seen but we had wonderful time and we had fun as Japan offered us a lot of places to see to enjoy our trip in this country called “Land of the Rising Sun”.
Until I return again.
Featuring Our World (Post#1): Bedok Reservoir
One of the things that I admired in Singapore while living there for almost a year was about their Reservoir. This kind of place made me felt that I was really near with nature. Singapore in overall impression it is a country city. Yes, right now it thrives to be more nature friendly country but if you never goes to green places such as parks, most likely what you will see are vertical buildings of residences, offices and even factories because of the country’s limited land space. Bedok Reservoir was one of the places that I like immediately after I saw the place. A nearby walking and jogging trails can be found in the place and that was the reason I got to know the place. My friends and I were scheduled to exercise near the reservoir and I was not aware that its really a scenic and serene place. One of the good things to know while reading something about the said reservoir was how it was developed. It was a sand quarry before which used to reclaim some areas in Singapore and this became the place to collect water storm during storm weather season. And now, the reservoir is a great place for outdoor activities. Photo collections captured last April 2010.
Twilight (Post#2) : City of Digital Lights
City of Digital Lights was the first place that I visited where everything it prides are artistic and colourful lights. Based on the city’s information, it proud to have more than a million LED displayed. The place is within the vicinity of I-City in Shah Alam, Selangor in Malaysia. During our visit, we enjoyed different kinds of lights display and we both admired the unique, bright, colourful and artistic lights that made the place wonderful and alive specially at night. The photo above was lights display at the side immediately seen from the road. Snapshot captured last December 2012.
Edible (Post#2) : Cambodia – Exotic Food
Experiencing backpacking usually comes with the exotic food tasting, if not really eating or dining at least trying to taste it is already important as experiencing it. We found the exotic food displayed in the photo (which composed of spiders, cockroaches, frogs and worms, I was only able to tried small frogs tasted like chicken) was captured during backpacking adventure last March 2011 while walking around in Phnom Penh Cambodia.
Colors (Post#2) : At Jogyesa Area – Baby Buddha
Jogyesa is a temple few meters away from Insadong (famous traditional market in Seoul). At the time we visited the place, the lantern festival in the temple was few weeks over but the colourful lanterns were still hanged and displayed in surrounding area. Around this area the temple of the Jogye Order (one of the sect of Korean Buddhism) stands. One thing to see around the temple is the Baby Buddha which shown in the photo at center. Snapshot captured last June 2014.
Structure (Post#3) : Royal Exhibition Building
Royal Exhibition Building is one of the building on my list that I wanted to visit while I was in Melbourne. But it was only happened when Motorclassica (showcasing classic cars) event happened last October 2013.. Visiting the building requires reservation and most of the time, it is fully booked for events and exhibitions. This building based on history was the first in Australia to be awarded as UNESCO World Heritage status, being one of the last remaining 19th-century exhibition building. The building also hosted the opening of the first Parliament of Australia in 1901.
Panoramic View (Post#19) : Istana Negara
“Istana Negara” means National Palace and when we visited this magnificent structure we learned that there are two existing Istana Negara, the photo above is the new and current Istana Negara located at Jalan Duta in Kuala Lumpur, the other one is now called as Old Istana Negara and named as Royal Museum. This building is the official residence of the head of state of Malaysia. At the time we visited, we can only see the building from the outside of the gate as the inside of the palace is not open for public. Snapshot captured last December 2012.
This post has been updated to add the link of and to participate in the following:
Monday Mellow Yellows – Jun 6, 2016
Through My Lens – Jun 6, 2016
Our World Tuesday – Jun 7, 2016
Travel Tuesday – Jun 7, 2016
Outdoor Wednesday – Jun 8, 2016
Wednesday Around The World – Jun 8, 2016
Skywatch Friday – Jun 10, 2016
Scenic Weekends – Jun 10, 2016
In Heaven – Jun 11, 2016
View At My Window (Post#16) : Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo
While wandering at Dubai Mall, we found a huge aquarium where people can go and explore it quite up close and personal without getting wet, I am referring to non other than Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo. Photo captured last August 2014. People actually enjoy the aquarium for free from the outside though entering the tunnel has a fee.
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.
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.
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).
Around WAFI (at daytime)
Khan Murjan Entrance (at daytime)
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.
Atlantis The Palm (at 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
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.
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
Dubai Festival City Mall (DFCM)
Ferrari Store at DFCM
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.
Inside Lahbab Desert Safari Camp (above photos)
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.
It was Monday, first day of my training. Here I met my colleagues from Pakistan. Out of 18 people in the training, including our instructor, I am only the woman in the training. At first, it was surprising to me, and I just realized that all the other 16 attending the training, I am the only one from Manila and the rest of them are from Pakistan. After the training, I planned to meet my long time college friend at the hotel lobby and because of this I was not able to join my Pakistan mates that night. From the hotel, my friend and I walked to the nearest metro station (Sharaf DG station). I bought my NOL card (transportation card accepted in train, bus, and marine public transport) and then took the train going to Rashidiya. That was the first time I took train in Dubai, while on the train, I discovered and realized that it is true that there are lots of Filipinos in Dubai. Hearing people speaking my own language and looking at them, yes they are all Filipinos by words and by looks. I thought that I was riding MRT train in EDSA back home, but I am not, I am in Dubai, riding Dubai Metro train. After half an hour travel, we got off at Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall station. We walked for a while until we reached Dubai Mall.
Dubai Mall Entrance from train station
We saw a lot in Dubai Mall. Dubai Mall is said to be the largest mall in the world in terms of total area. There are lots of signature and branded store you can find in this mall. After walking a while with my friend, I honestly told myself that I will easily get lost in this mall, too many stores, too many things to see and too many places to go. I definitely advised that people who will visit Dubai Mall required to get a map, but if you are adventurer, just enjoy being lost in the mall. Significant part of the mall that I found are: Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo and Dubai Waterfall.
Before seeing Dubai Aquarium, I am wondering how big it is and after I saw it, the aquarium is bigger than 3 or 4 shopping stores inside the mall. You can walk inside the tunnel where the top of it is part of the aquarium. Next, we saw is the Dubai Waterfall, wherein it seems that the water fall starts from the top of the mall down to the ground level. One thing that this waterfall is interesting are human divers sculptures found in the entirety of the waterfall. At first, I thought those sculptures are like people flying in the air but to think about it, since it’s a waterfall, I realized that the structure are people who are diving from the top of the waterfall.
My friend and I continue our walk while talking, then we found the food court and had our dinner. After dinner, we went outside the mall to witness the famous dancing fountain at Dancing Fountain lake where Burj Khalifa is nearly located. Before the show, I enjoy observing Burj Khalifa tower, took a lot of photos and amazed how high the tower is. I am fascinated on the lightnings shining across the whole tower. Aside from the tower, another interesting building that I saw is the Souk Al Bahar just beside the Dubai mall. The show started and I watched it intently, though it’s a few minutes show, I still enjoyed it.
Burj Khalifa (top)
Burj Khalifa (ground)
Dancing Fountain Lake
Souk Al Bahar
Second night in Dubai was over with satisfaction of seeing part of Dubai even in just few hours.
My tour on the second day in Gold Coast was finished earlier and I knew that I still have time that’s why I decided to walk on the beach. After I was dropped-off at my hotel, I prepared and left my room immediately so I can still see the beach in daylight before it gets dark.
Around Broadbeach Area
I started my walk from Broadbeach where my hotel is just around the corner. From Broadbeach I stroll the shore and I took my time to appreciate the beauty that surrounds me. It’s a quiet walk that allowed me to listens to the sounds of the sea through its waves coming to the coast. The white beach sands still shines the area.
And the salty smells of the sea that made me feel the nature of the sea. During the walk, I tried to approach the water waves and then walk away so fast to avoid to get wet. And the wind that struck my body feels so relaxing. While walking along the beach I felt that the world is so perfect and there is no problem at the moment. I took a lot of photos along the way, never felt get tired. The walk showed me that life seems so simple and so beautiful. I wish that life in reality is just like the way I walked along the coast. Until then.