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Where to stay in Thailand: The Great Residence Hotel, Bangkok



Most of you may have already known that I'm no longer based in Abu Dhabi. Yes, I just recently transferred to Dubai and as mandated by the UAE government, a change of visa entails an exit from the country. And so there, just a couple of weeks ago, I just came back from an unexpected week-long trip to Thailand, and that's what I'll try to share with you. Please don't get bored.

I was notified that I had to exit the country just a day before my visa expiration, so I had to book my flight and hotel in no time. Since it's an unexpected trip which is definitely not part of our budget, I rummaged the internet for the lowest fares and a number of low-cost carriers like Fly Dubai, Air Arabia, and EasyJet, or a travel through American Airlines, to name a few, came into the picture.

Also, since I was pressed for time, and it was my first time to visit Thailand, Kriska suggested that staying in a hotel close to Bangkok airport, with airport transfer service if possible, is the most convenient option. Keeping that in mind was what made us decide to book a room at The Great Residence Hotel.

Visit Cornwall This October Half Term


If you are planning a UK break with your family for half-term this October, there are many great reasons to choose Cornwall. Although Cornwall is a UK seaside destination which is usually associated with the summer holidays, there are plenty of great reasons why you should wrap up a little bit warmer and visit Cornwall during the colder winter months. For those planning to visit Cornwall during the October half-term, you’ll definitely be met with a great range of things to see, do and experience during your holiday. We’ve listed some of the best things for families to do in Cornwall this half-term.

Heartlands
Kids will love Heartlands, the biggest free adventure playground in Cornwall which offers a range of state-of- the-art exhibitions, a giant adventure play area for kids, climb-on sculptures and epically diverse gardens. Along with this, families can also take part in the range of art and craft studios available, and have lunch in the funky café located in an old carpenter’s workshop. If you’re looking for family-friendly accommodation in Cornwall that’s close by to Heartlands, visit Away with the Kids.

Halloween Events
Visiting Cornwall during the month of October means that you and your family will be able to attend some of the many National Trust events held for Halloween. This half-term, Godolphin is hosting ‘Halloween Happenings’, where kids can join the wicked witches and creepy crawlies in a whole range of different activities throughout the garden. Or, there’s a spooky Halloween trail to be joined at Lanhydrock. If you have older kids, a visit to the haunted house and paranormal activity is in order at Cothele.

Go to the Beach
Who says that you can only visit the beach during the summer time? Cornwall is home to a large number of great beaches, many of which are open to the public all year round. During your October half-term stay in Cornwall, you might want to visit one of the beaches which are great for playing with kites, footballs and other games even if it’s too cold to sunbathe. Many beaches in Cornwall are the perfect destinations for family walking adventures, games and picnics.

Eden Project
Visiting the Eden Project in Cornwall is a great idea for families who are staying over the half-term. This October, Halloween is definitely the theme of the Eden Project, and kids can participate in a whole range of different spooky activities such as making protection charms and potions, learning about creatures of the night and pumpkin carving. The Eden Project is also hosting a Halloween themed event for kids, the Little Monsters’ Ball, the day before Halloween, which will have a disco and ice rink.

If you’re planning to go on a family holiday during this October half-term but travelling abroad simply isn’t in your budget, there are many reasons to choose a UK destination. Cornwall is traditionally a UK destination visited by families during the warmer summer months, but there are many great reasons to visit during the autumn as well.

Dos and Don'ts for Booking Hotels Online


There are plenty of advantages to booking your hotel online. Whether you’re looking for a long holiday abroad, a fun weekend away in the city, or need to find accommodation for a business trip, booking hotels online means that you can do so from the comfort of your own home or even on the go with your smartphone. Booking your hotel online also makes it easy to compare different hotels and deals, read customer reviews and view hotel photographs before you finally make up your mind as to where you want to stay. If you’re planning a trip, here’s what and what not to do when you’re booking a hotel online.

Do Use Comparison Sites
When you’re looking for a good deal on a hotel room, comparison sites are a really good place to start. You can view hotels in the area that you’re looking to stay, and enter a number of criteria which you want from your room, for example breakfast included, double bed, free parking and even the hotel’s star rating. Comparison sites make it easy for you to see all of the hotels which fit your criteria in the area easily so you can find which one has the best price and is the most suitable for you.

Don’t Buy From a Comparison Site
Even though it’s a great idea to use a comparison site to find your perfect hotel, you could end up being charged more if you pay for your booking through them. This is because comparison sites will take a commission for each booking, so many hotels which advertise on them will charge extra in order to cover this expense. Instead, to make sure that you’re not paying any more than you need to, go directly to the hotel’s website and see if you can get a better price there.

Do Read Reviews
When looking for a hotel to stay in during your trip, it’s essential to read reviews and see what other visitors have thought of the hotel. Even though the pictures might look amazing, it’s good to note that hotels will always show their best side in photographs and advertisements, and you’re going to get a much more realistic, honest description of the place by reading about the experience of other guests. Sites such as TripAdvisor are great for reading reviews of hotels and you’ll also be able to see photographs of the hotel and rooms taken by previous guests, rather than a professional photographer.

Don’t Be Misled
Although it’s essential to read customer reviews before booking your hotel room, keep in mind that there are fake reviews out there which you could fall foul to. The online review system may be honest a lot of the time, but recognize that it is open to abuse and that not all of the reviews you read may be strictly true. If a review seems a bit off or too good (or bad!) to be true, it probably is!

Booking online can be an easy and convenient way of getting the best hotel room. Use these tips to make sure you choose the perfect place to stay!


The World's Best Islands for a Relaxing Escape


If someone asked me to name my top 5 most memorable holiday destinations, the entire list would consist of islands. There's something about island hopping that makes you feel like you're really on an adventure. Maybe it’s the enveloping coastline that wraps around a mini-eco system, the ocean breeze that sweeps in, the combination of beaches and forests, or maybe it's the secluded atmosphere that does the trick. But not all islands are the same (some aren't that great, actually), so here's my top 5 for the world's best islands for a relaxing escape:

1. Bali
If you're talking scenic beauty and the diversity of the landscape, there are few islands that can compete with Bali. Fantasy world beaches, volcanic mountains covered in lush greenery, Sumatran elephants, and amazingly majestic pagodas give this heavenly Indonesian island a unique look that is hard to forget. The best time to visit is between the months of April and October, if you intend to stay dry, as the rest of the year is considered the wet season. However, the climate varies between 80 and 95 degrees year-round, so if you don't mind the precipitation you can find cheaper flights during the wet season. I packed my Salsa Rimowa suitcase full of rainwear and had a great 3-week holiday in Bali during the off season for a fraction of what I would've paid had I gone in mid-April.

2. Bora Bora
Contrary to the phonics of the name, Bora Bora, is anything but boring. When you're approaching the island, either via plane or boat, it literally looks like you're traveling back in time to the land of the dinosaurs. This exotic island in the Southern Pacific is home to some of the world's most relaxing beaches lined with thatched-roof huts that sit suspended over the turquoise clear waters below. White sand beaches combine with jungles and mountains to make this place a must see.

3. Santorini
Of all the islands in the Mediterranean, I'd have to say that Santorini is my favourite by far. The people here have done an amazing job of preserving their culture and architecture for thousands of years, and the local Greek cuisine is on par with the best food ever. Red sand beaches, stunning views of the Aegean Sea, and the ancient remains of Akrotiri and Thira make this place a popular honeymoon destination.

4. Maui
If you're thinking of taking a trip to Hawaii, the island of Maui would be your best bet for relaxation without complete isolation. Unlike Lanai, there are enough accommodations scattered about to keep you comfortable, yet it's not as busy as Oahu. Snorkelling, nature tours, and walks on the beach in Maui are some of the most relaxing and enjoyable things you can do on this planet.

5. St. Kitts
The twin islands of Nevis and St. Kitts in the Caribbean are some of the most luxurious tourist destinations on Earth. Nevis is the more relaxed of the two, while St. Kitts is home to more hospitality and entertainment venues like hotels and restaurants. It's nice to have quick access to the hustle and bustle of St. Kitts while still being secluded enough to relax on Nevis.


See America - Top 7 Travel Destinations in the USA

Everyone is getting ready for summer vacation and while many will choose to stay at home getting some of those odds and ends seen to that kept getting pushed aside throughout the year, many are looking for some place new and interesting to explore. While national parks and camping grounds are big on the list, most vacationers like to go somewhere with a bit more action and certainly more services to enjoy. Here are the top 7 travel destinations in the USA for those looking to visit bigger cities with an active nightlife.

1. New York City, New York
What can be said about New York? From Broadway to the site of the Twin Towers to the Statue of Liberty and Times Square, there is so much to do and see that you would need a lifetime of vacations to take it all in.

2. Denver, Colorado
Since they have legalized marijuana in Colorado, a growing number of young people come here from non-legal states. Those reading marijuana industry news will know just how many ways in which visitors can buy pot for recreational purposes and until more states go legal, what was once a vacation spot for winter sports is enjoying visitors every month of the year.

3. Las Vegas, Nevada
There are only 24 states in which some form of gambling is legal which leaves 26 states, the District of Columbia and the territories with no access to gambling. Las Vegas is still the king in this country and only one city in China is said to host more visiting gamblers yearly.

4. San Francisco, California
Since the 1960s San Francisco has led the world in counter culture activities and those wanting to relive the days of Flower Power when Haight-Ashbury was at its prime will surely want to spend a vacation here riding the trolleys and getting a look at the world famous Golden Gate Bridge.

5. Miami, Florida
South Beach is the new Hollywood (California that is!) and not a day goes by when you can’t see literally dozens of big name celebs making the rounds of shops and clubs. Those traveling to Miami are probably looking to rub elbows with some of the leading musicians and actors from around the world.

6. Orlando, Florida
Home to Disney World on the East Coast, there are a number of other attractions in or near Orlando. Epcot Center, SeaWorld Orlando, Universal Orlando, Discovery Cove, Islands of Adventure and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park are just some of the major attractions that draw literally millions of visitors a year.

7. Washington, D.C.
Although Washington, D.C. also draws millions of visitors every year, being the nation’s capital and home of the Senate and Congress, during a presidential election year the traffic more than doubles. If you are looking to visit the nation’s capital this year, make your reservations early because there is no telling how heated the presidential campaigning will get as we draw closer to that first Tuesday in November.

Visit one or go on a road trip and visit a few, but be assured you will enjoy your stay in any one of these top 7 travel destinations in the USA. Have fun, learn a bit of history and get refreshed for the year ahead. Just keep these locations in mind because next year you can hit the ones you missed in 2016.


Dubai Food Festival: Gastronomic Tour at Global Village


Mark and I went on a special food tour around the world in celebration of the Dubai Food Festival at the all-new and revamped Global Village. Will do a separate post about the new Global Village, watch out for that. :)


Together with other foodies, we sampled unique and delicious offerings from participating food kiosks. We started off our gastronomic tour with fresh fruits at Thai Fruits. Having been born and raised in another South East Asian country, the Philippines, I grew up having almost all the fruits that Thai Fruits offer.

Staycation at Arjaan by Rotana

While everyone else was busy starting the work week, I spent the first two days of it last week just as how I like it, with pure rest and relaxation. Special thanks to Arjaan by Rotana in Dubai Media City! :D


It was also very timely that my girl friend, Cat, and I haven't seen each other for almost half a year, so I tagged her along for our  much needed catching  up. And we all did this at the comfort of a luxury suite!

Romantic Escape at Nour Arjaan by Rotana in Fujairah

When I first got to the UAE a little over a year ago, it has been my goal since then to explore all its seven emirates. And although I've already been to Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah, apart from Dubai, I know that I'm not even a quarter of a halfway there since there are still a lot for me to explore. It is also still a work in progress considering Mark and I have more important things to prioritize. So when an invitation to try out the Romantic Escape at Nour Arjaan by Rotana in Fujairah came my way, I'm sure you know what happened next. :)

The romantic bed arrangement in our Premium One-Bedroom Suite

After an almost two-hour ride from Dubai, we finally saw the rock mountains adorning the roads to Fujairah. Located at the heart of the city, amidst Fujairah's exclusive areas, Nour Arjaan by Rotana is one of Rotana's luxurious properties in Fujairah. It is ideally located close to several tourist attractions such as Fujairah City Center and Fujairah open beach.


We were greeted courteously by the staff when we arrived at the hotel. Check-in was a breeze and we were already on our way to our suite in no time.

Burjuman Arjaan by Rotana: Our Home for a Weekend

Living in Dubai for over a year now, I've noticed how almost everything seems to be fast-paced here. People also seem to be too preoccupied with work. New structures, new attractions, and innovations seem to sprout day by day, all in an instant. Even weekends seem to just go by in a snap and I would always have that where-did-the-weekend-go-conversations with myself in my head.


I must admit that I miss having weekends at home, my HOME. I miss having laid back weekends with my family, if not having weekend getaways with Mark. Weekends where I could just sit back, be lazy, relax, eat and enjoy life's beauty. But of course, I know that I cannot always have that here anymore, because we have our priorities now. And just planning about a getaway is already a struggle mainly because of the lack of time. Going beyond the city is also not really an option for us. So when an invitation for a weekend escape at Burjuman Arjaan came my way, I gladly accepted it with open arms.


Exciting Rides at Wild Wadi Waterpark™

After having some food and refreshments at the media preview of the Halloween at Wild Wadi, we went to the changing rooms and left our things at the lockers. And then our Wild Wadi adventure began! :D


Wild Wadi offers 30 rides and attractions for all the family. It is themed around the tale of Juha, a known character from the Arabian folklore, and his adventure in an island with rivers and rapids.

JUMEIRAH SCEIRAH

This was what Mark chose to ride first. But before we got to the two tandem slides, we first had to climb the 32-meter tower!

Mark with Jumeirah Sceirah at the far end :D

Climbing up the tower already made my knees wobbly, so I wasn't really up to try the ride. But my fear of heights were somehow eased when I saw this spectacular view of the entire waterpark...

...and got a closer view of the majestic Burj Al Arab.

Burj Al Arab

Spooky Halloween at Wild Wadi Waterpark™


Mark and I, together with Cherry, were privileged to be part of an exclusive media preview of Halloween in Wild Wadi Waterpark last weekend. We got our watches and wrist bands at the ticketing booth at the entrance the moment we arrived at Wild Wadi.


Al Mansour Dhow: The New Old Lady

They say that first love never dies. They also say that love is lovelier the second time around. Wait, what? Where did that come from? Oh sorry! Kindly pardon the hopeless romantic in me. :p

It's just that I can't help but feel all giddy when I got another invite for a dinner cruise on board Radisson Blu, Dubai Deira Creek's Old Lady, the Al Mansour Dhow. I had fun during our first time, so Mark and I felt privileged trying it out the second time and gracing the launch of the newly-renovated Al Mansour Dhow a couple of weekends back.


Just like before, we immediately experience the Arabic hospitality and warmth as we mounted the vessel. We were served with welcome drinks and canapés as we were ushered to our seats.

365 Blessed Days in Dubai

Today marks my 365th day in Dubai. Wait, what?! It's been a year already? Oh how time flies!

People may see me as someone who can do almost anything, most of the time even without someone having to teach me--cook, bake, sing, dance, blog, paint, draw, name it, and for sure I'll excel in all of it. But only the closest to me knows how big of a coward I am when it comes to being all on my own.

Dubai Miracle Garden - February 2015

Experience New York in Dubai at TR!BECA Kitchen + Lounge


Mark and I found ourselves in the streets of The Walk, in Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) last Friday, as we were invited for a night of hearty and healthy organic food and drinks at TR!BECA Kitchen + Lounge. It's name was coined from New York City's trendy neighborhood, Triangle Below Canal, and takes a great deal of its inspiration from Manhattan.

Located in Ocean View Hotel in Dubai's JBR, it's as if we were not in Dubai the moment we set foot in Tribeca. The funky interior was what we first noticed as the staff welcomed us and ushered us to our table. We were immediately attended to by one of the staff who gladly took our orders.


Choosing what to have was bit of a struggle, the happy kind of it, as the dishes were all inviting. Tribeca's menu, which is a product of chef Giovanni De Ambrosis' passion, offers a variety of organic dishes directly sourced from regional farmers and fair-trade cooperatives. It is a fusion of contemporary American and traditional Mediterranean cuisine with a bit of Italian inspiration.

Filipino Food Fix at Buongiorno Café


Mark only comes to Dubai on weekends since he works in Abu Dhabi. And because he eats at their camp's restaurant every single day, I make sure that he gets to enjoy his favorite dishes even just on weekends.

Although I love to cook, there are also times when I seem to be infected with the lazy bug. And at such times, Mark's invitations on having dinner outs are a music to my ears!

Ravi Restaurant would be our usual dinner  destination when we dine out, but since Mark was craving for Filipino food, we opted for Buongiorno Café, which is just one restaurant away from Ravi. :D I was already delighted when Mark told me not to cook for dinner one weekend night, more so when he craved for Filipino food! Yay!


Al Ghurair Centre's StreetCon 2015 #AGCStreetCon



Although it was cut short, Mark and I enjoyed our #AGCDubFest experience.
So when I got an invite for another event in Al Ghurair Centre, I was more than excited to experience another showcase of talents.

STREETCON (Street Art Connection) is an Urban Art Festival organized by Al Ghurair Centre which kicked off last 23rd of April and spans to the 2nd of May 2015. Just like the Dub Fest, #AGCStreetCon is one of Al Ghurair Centre's signature events that happens annually and celebrates art, music and culture.


The bloggers meet was once again held at Paul, Al Ghurair Centre, where we were served with a delectable array of canapés, juices, and coffee. And just like before, it again was a great way to jump-start a fun day.

StreetCon 2015 - Urban Art Fest 'Be One with Art'



PRESS RELEASE

Bring the whole family down to the event of this ART SEASON - StreetCon 2015!


Date: April 23 to May 2, 2015
Location: Al Ghurair Centre, Deira

Al Ghurair Centre's Dub Fest 2015 #AGCDubFest


Outshone by the bigger malls in Dubai, Al Ghurair Centre was never known to me until one instance when Mark badly needed to pee and the restroom in the mall was the closest remedy. We got into the part of the mall where it's a bit dark and uninviting, so the mall didn't really appeal to me.

Apparently, Al Ghurair Centre has taken on a new persona with its tagline ‘Soul of the City' and has undergone renovations to become at par with the fast-developing Dubai. They've expanded physically and added new fashion brands and conducted events to cater to families in Dubai--locals, tourists, and expats alike.

One of which is Al Ghurair Centre's Dub Fest 2015, which I got invited to last Friday to mark the start of the fest.


The bloggers meet was held at Paul, Al Ghurair Centre, where we were served with a delectable array of cocktail food, juices, and coffee. I tagged Mark along and we both had great day. :)

Dinner Cruise at the Al Mansour Dhow in Radisson Blu



Mark and I do not really go out on "romantic" dates. You know, all the dressing up, dinner  by candle light, slow soothing background music, and a romantic setting, it's just not our thing. Although I, I mean the hopeless romantic in me, must admit that from time to time I'd picture ourselves in that setting too. Ehem! Ehem!

It was also only once that I decided to arrange a "romantic" dinner for us via a dinner cruise along Manila Bay when Mark and I were still back home, but it was postponed once until it was finally put to a halt and never materialized because of the bad weather. You can read the story about it here and here. :) And since then, I decided to just let go of the idea and just stick with our usual dates. But I'm still not closing my doors. Hi Mark! Hahaha! :p

So imagine my delight when I got an invite from Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek, for a dinner cruise on board their Al Mansour Dhow. And of course, the hopeless romantic in me suddenly awakened and got more excited too!


So there, last Friday, Mark and I finally experienced a dinner cruise that we never got to have back then. Seeing the Al Mansour Dhow as we were nearing the Dubai Creek already got  me all giddy, more so when we mounted the vessel.

Saturday “Pik-Nik” at The Westin Dubai



Just like in every fast-growing nations, life in Dubai also seems to be fast-paced. Living here for more than half a year now, I observed that most of the people, locals and expats alike, tend to be too preoccupied with work that they almost forget to unwind, spend quality time with their families, and "live life".

And I think it's a great idea for The Westin Dubai to try to get people back to "living life" with its Saturday "Pik-Nik".

IMG_2661
The Westin Dubai, Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina, announced its new Saturday "Pik-Nik", which launched last Saturday, March 7, 2015. Mark and I were lucky to be part of the launch along with other families. Seeing the place immediately made me feel as if we were transported to a different site, far from the hustle and bustle of the city life.

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