Posts Tagged ‘pinoy abroad

15
Apr
14

DESERT SAFARI : DEFINITELY DUBAI!

A visit to Dubai is never complete without experiencing desert adventures. Dune bashing, sand skiing, dune buggy, barbecue dinners, camel rides, and for the more financially equipped, hot air ballooning during sunrise. These activities may be so touristy but heck, they’re almost synonymous with this future-forward city. Desert Safari’s one of the must-do when you’re in this part of UAE!

It was a blessing that my former students and I met for a dinner where I was treated to a Korean-Japanese gastronomic feast, and a spontaneous and no-brainer decision on my part to join them in Desert Safari was done in a blink. They arranged the tour and next thing I knew, I was with Karen and Joel seated comfortably inside Toyota Land Cruiser one Friday afternoon; what a perfect way to spend my day off at work! The same badass vehicle brought us to the sand dunes of Dubai within a couple of hour-trip.

After a quick mandatory stop over at a souvenir shop where necessary bladder breaks, removal of air from the wheels to make it more sand-appropriate, and ghutra-panic-buying on my part, we found ourselves ready and thrilled for the dune bashing!

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Mr. Azeem Rafaqat, our careful yet daredevil driver who picked us up in front of a hotel in Al Ghurair in Deira, Dubai, did very well on his job! It was an incredible and one-of-a-kind experience! There’s nothing like a sensation of  falling down from a steep mound of sand, followed by zigzag driving that made me feel we’re about to roll, scream and breathe my last! It was intense yet so fun!

About forty minutes after, we arrived at the camp. I was told by Karen who experienced Desert Safari 4 times already, that there are various camp sites where different tours operate. Upon the sight of ours, my Sympathetic Nervous System automatically slowed down as I savored an almost sunset-all-desert-view! Ahhhh, this is Dubai! :D

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I took photos of the friendly Emiratis at the camp site.
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Meet my Dubai Desert Safari travel-adventure buddies, lovebirds -Joel and Karen (both wearing sunnies).
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Did I give justice to that ghutra?  Say,YES! Hahahaha!
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And because dune buggy driving costs 100 dirhams for 15 minutes only, we were content with just photo-ops!
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Although I skipped the 30-dirham-camel riding, I felt like the happiest kid on the planet with a falcon on my head!  Here, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, is my most recent brag-worthy portrait to date! *kidding*
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Barbecue dinner buffet, unlimited distilled water and soda, belly dancing watching, henna tattooing, wearing of  traditional Arabic attires, were all inclusive of the 100-dirham-package per pax we availed.
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Open-VIP rooms that are surprisingly installed with air-conditioning units and come with priority food service (you don’t need to queue on the buffet spread as food is served to your table), alcoholic beverages are all available on extra charges.

Moving on, do I look like an Arab here?
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Joel had his arm tattooed with a scorpion henna. The beautiful henna artist drew it in few strokes in less than 20 sec! Amazing!
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As the sun over Emirati desert finally sets to make way to the moon, the fun continued within the camp.

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Appetizer was nothing less than Chicken Shawarma, that has been my favorite!
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One of the highlights of Dubai Desert Safari is watching belly dancing! My eyes and camera were glued to two dancers who did fantastic shows!

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A faux sword on her belly. Belly Dancing, literally!

Audience participation made it more engaging!
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Then buffet dinner spread was served! Despite the queues were long as there were approximately more than a hundred guests that weekend, everything was kept systematic and in order. I got my food quickly on my plate and made sure I had everything I want to sample. Arabic food’s delicious!

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Grilled Chicken was well-marinated! It was simple yet so tasteful! Kebab was OK too, the same with Biryani, Potato and Veggie Salads. The Spaghetti was infused with real stewed tomatoes that appealed to my palates as somewhat authentic (as I’ve been to Italy! Hehehe!) as compared to my Filipino-Spaghetti-preference (that’s often sweet and rich). Over all, I liked everything on my plate! There’s no reason to complain.

While everyone was still feasting, a man in a traditional attire (of unknown Arabic origin) came out and went on stage. Karen was telling us, that this is the man she calls, the human BEYBLADE!

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And why not Beyblade? That man did nothing but turned and rotated and twisted non-stop!  I repeat, non-stop turning for more than 4 minutes! Not to forget he had props on his hands while dancing, err, turning, and his multi-layered skirt lit up like, uhm…beyblade!

I was worried he’d have nystagmus (oh, you know, the involuntary movement of the eyes after spinning like a ballerina, or worse, loss of equilibrium or ataxia) but No. He maintained his great stance and stood like he didn’t dance like a beyblade! Bravo!!!

 

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From 3PM-9PM that Friday (11/04/2014), I forgot all my worries, stress and problems.  Amazing what a few hours in Dubai Desert Safari could do to my being! I went home to our flat with satisfied wanderlust!

*This is NOT a sponsored post.

Azeem Rafaqat of Arabian Eagle Tourism | 055 2711018 | azeemrafaqat63@yahoo.com

>><<

04
Nov
12

MY WIFE’S CULINARY PROWESS PART 2

For five years of this blog’s existence, few loyal readers have witnessed how the love for food binds my family and I together. Tina, Gabby and I certainly love to eat! And our tastebuds have the same preferences either dining out or just eating within the comforts of our home.  Although I know how to perk up some tasteful dishes too, the credit goes to my loving wife who devotes so much of her TIME and EFFORTS not only at work but at the kitchen department to fill up our tummies with not just mediocre cooking but feasts that we usually crave for!

Here are some of her masterpieces, at least for Gabby and me!

This dish has shrimps, green bell pepper in light and sweet soy sauce, if not oyster sauce. It’s too delicious, I forgot to ask her what it’s called! :D

shrimps in oyster sauce

Vanhouten, sometimes Cadbury Chocolate Chamorado at Tuyo is one of our comfort foods! Even Gabby became biased with Champorado at Tuyo!  Yes, our 8-year-old kiddo loves tuyo, he eats it also sans champorado but with rice and dips its shredded bits on vinegar!  Regardless of the weather -rainy days or even when the sun is out; for breakfast or as late afternoon snack, this combo remains a personal favorite!

champorado at tuyo

Ebi Tempura and Chicken Cordon Bleu. All.From.Scratch!

prawn tempura and chicken cordon bleu
ebi tempura
prawn tempura

This one needs no introduction. Pass the vinegar, please! And let’s eat with bare hands, c’mmon! ;)

crabs

Bistek Tagalog with Blanched Veggies. I’m salivating now.

beef steak and blanched veggies

Some photographed pasta dishes the past months include this Crispy Noodle…

crispy noodles

and the classic Creamy Carbonara with homemade Garlic Bread that she made for our birthdays (Gabby’s last October, and mine’s September). While Gabby dislikes bacon and only wants the pasta and the creamy cheesy buttery sauce, I love it up to its last bacon bits. LOL! :P

creamy carbonara with home made garlic bread

For dessert, Maja Blanca con Maiz

maja blanca maiz

For someone like Tina who doesn’t have formal background in culinary arts, and for Gabby and me, those dishes are already superb despite its few imperfections. As mentioned, hours are usually spent in preparing them. Time and efforts for the family are always priceless!

With those few compiled food photos, one of my suntok-sa-buwan-wishes of putting up our very own food place someday lives on. Let’s see if it will materialize someday. Who knows what destiny brings? I am only sure of the fact that we love food and we like to eat – a lot!!!

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Part 1 of this blog’s series here : My Wife’s Culinary Prowess

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22
Jun
12

CARPE DIEM

As I wanted to seize the day with my family after we had lunch buffet at Flamingo Hotel  last weekend, we gave in to my son’s request to finally conquer Toys R Us at Gurney Plaza Mall…

Exhibit  A :  Ben 10 Ultimate Echo Echo

If you must know, Gabby has monthly earnings. Since we don’t have a car and our 11th-floor-seaview-appartment here in Penang comes with a car port, we’re having it leased by our neighbor for RM50 or almost PhP700 (USD 15.66) per month and the rental fee goes directly to Gabby’s toy fund personal savings. Whenever needed, I borrow money from Gabby too, so it becomes an emergency fund, hahaha!  (yes, the world revolves clockwise sometimes!) :)  But last weekend, opportunity presented itself when we found our feet inside Toys R Us and Gabby got hold of that Ben 10 Ultimate Echo Echo action figure for 70 ringgit (Too expensive if you ask me, but it has been a while since Gabby had a new toy so Tina and I allowed the boy to be happy, he saved the money anyway). He walked away from Toys R Us with Ultimate Echo Echo despite Tina and I were eyeing on those Avengers plushies at the backdrop, hahaha!

Exhibit  B : Gabby in long pants

Yes, our soon-to-be-8-year-old-kiddo bid temporary goodbye to his cropped pants (puruntongs) for denim long pants and corduroys.  He’s no longer a baby! *cue in crocodile tears*

Exhibit C :  Mangoes and Strawberries

We had afternoon coolers from Chatime; took some photos of course….And I believe my family can pass as Chatime’s ambassadors, don’t you think? hahaha! :D

Exhibit D :  Eating Japanese favorites for FREE!

We had our early dinner at Sakae Sushi in Gurney Mall and used our 50 ringgit (PhP 700) vouchers which I got when Tina and I attended the invitational Bloggers’ Event at Sakae Sushi First Avenue Mall (view blog post HERE).

Since Tina and I had already tasted Sakae Sushi’s 2012 newest menu during the Bloggers’ Event weeks ago, our choices for this early dinner were our personal favorites. My wife had Chicken Teriyaki which according to her was tender enough and tasteful however could have been better if they added more sauce on the rice toppings. Our wonder boy, Gabby had his default order of Ebi Tempura and had him smiled ear to ear. My mom savored grilled salmon with mentaiko mayo; the dish is called Salmon Mentaiyaki. And I opted for my favorite Japanese noodle dish, Sukiyaki. I liked it but sadly not as close as the authentic ones I’ve tasted in Tokyo back in 2010 (view blog post HERE get ready to drool, hehehe!)

Happiness from Tokyo 2010

Apparently, our family life isn’t perfect and challenges come and go. But come hell or high water, Tina and Gabby remain my life till I breathe my last.

*When did you last experienced moments you wanted to freeze?

Carpe Diem, everyone! ;)

15
May
12

SOMETHING ABOUT BARONG TAGALOG

It took me few days to bring my Barong Tagalog for its much needed dry cleaning to the laundry shop located just in front of the building of our appartment. I wore it proudly when I and my family graced the 2012 Malaysia International Tourism Blog Awards in Saloma Theater, Kuala Lumpur last May 8th. You all know by now what happened in the awards night; now here’s what happened inside the laundry shop :

  • Me : Hello! Good afternoon! Do you do dry clean here, Sir?
  • Old Malaysian man about age of 60s, perhaps : “Yes! What do you call that? ….Philippine!”
  • Me : It’s called Barong. Our national costume in The Philippines.”
  • Old Malaysian man : “Ahhhhh…. Barong!”
  • Me : “How much do you charge for dry cleaning a Barong, Sir? And when can I collect it?”
  • Old Malaysian man : “Today is Saturday, so tomorrow Sunday -store is closed. You can collect it on Tuesday. You pay 6 ringgit.”
  • Me : “OK, Sir, I’ll pay now and I shall collect it around 6:30PM, Tuesday.”
  • Old Malaysian man putting my Barong closer to his chest : “Can you wear Barong without a shirt inside?”
  • Me : “Oh no, Sir. We wear it with plain white undershirt underneath. Barong is worn in formal occasions.”
  • Old Malaysian man : “Ohhhhhh… Can you wear it with jogging pants, like this?” –pointing to what he was wearing.”
  • Me : “No, Sir. We wear it with slacks or formal dark pants.”
  • Old Malaysian man : “So if I want Barong, I go Philippine and buy. Where can I buy and how much?”
  • Me : “You can buy Barong Tagalog from Department stores or even in huge public markets.”
  • Old Malaysian man : “Ohhhhh… I see. How much?”
  • Me : “The price usually varies with the material or the cloth that was used. This Barong, I only got cheap for around hundred ringgit (FYI, I bought that particular Barong in Tutuban Mall in Divisoria, where else?) But as I have said, prices go up depending on the material. It can go as high as one thousand ringgit (Php 14,000) or even more expensive specially if it’s a designer’s label and/or the cloth is made of pineapple fiber.”
  • Old Malaysian man : “Ohhhh….the one worn by Marcos.
19
Apr
12

LET’S DO THIS!

Beyond Toxicity  X  Malaysia International Tourism Bloggers Conference & Awards 2012

Here we go!  This personal blog that gives reverence to life’s simple pleasures – family, food and fun,  is one of the official entries to 2012 Malaysia International Tourism Bloggers Awards 2012 under the Expat Malaysia My Second Home Category. You know how I love my country, the Philippines but living and working in Penang for almost 2 years has made Malaysia my second home now. 

There will be a 2-day conference set on May 8th and May 9th, 2012 at Seri Pacific Hotel, Kuala Lumpur that will highlight and feature talks, workshops and panel discussions on tourism and social media to be conducted by a list of esteemed speakers. Registration is FREE! To know more of the details and schedules of the event, visit MITBCA website at http://mitbca.com/conference.php

I’d like to thank MITBCA 2012 and Malaysia Ministry of Tourism for having this event to honor the people behind social media and their humble contributions to the tourism industry in Malaysia. I take pride in being one of the MITBCA 2012 nominees under EXPAT Malaysia My Second Home Category!

“Judging criteria is based on 80% public voting and 20% on judges’ decision (10% site or blog content, 5% design and layout, 5% on ethics and effectiveness)” sourced via MITBCA 2012

The awards shall be given on 8th May 2012 in Saloma, Kuala Lumpur (the date incidentally coincides with this site’s 5th birthday! Yes, Beyond Toxicity will be celebrating its 5th anniversary soon!). As mentioned, voting accounts for 80%  so if you think this blog deserves to win, show some love, support and care -tons of them by CLICKING THE VOTE BUTTON on this LINK :

VOTE FOR BEYOND TOXICITY http://docgelo.wordpress.com!

Maraming Salamat po!  Terima Kasih!  Thank you so much!

*to browse or review my blog posts about our Malaysian adventures, click the links on my sidebar under Another Day In Malaysia category. :)

*EDITED : Voting ended before midnight of May 1, 2012. Thank you so much to those generous people who expressed support! :)

21
Mar
12

JOY IN SIMPLE THINGS

Don’t be deceived by the photos above, they may look as scenes taken at wee hours of the morning but  it was almost seven o’clock when I captured them in a blink, en route to the first scheduled Catholic Mass one weekend (read : Tanghali na kung sumikat ang araw sa Malaysia at gabi na ang paglubog nito). I hopped on the bus at 15 minutes before 7 in the morning with my family in tow.  After the short bus ride, we strolled our way to the church. Gabby, Tina, my mom and I heard the 30-minute Mass in English in this parish called Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Hello, Mr. Sun! :)

Gereja Katolik = Catholic Church. The NBVM Church is located at the back of this old chapel.

That old chapel (or was it the parish office now? who knew?) in front of the church compound was always kept locked, or perhaps it was still early to open it. Nonetheless, I found a visual stimulus in its rustic metal padlocks over  textured wooden doors. :)

Because it was only half hour past seven in the morning and the mall and the grocery are still closed, we decided to take our first meal of the day in one of the local food stalls across the street.  The eatery or carinderia for us Pinoys, or as Penangites call it, hawkers is situated in front of a small Buddhist temple which apparently caught my attention.

The caridenderia’s big enough to sit 100 people; well ventilated and offers a variety of drinks and tummy fillers.

No, we are definitely NOT ALOCHOLICS but we have this LOVE AFFAIR with a variety of COFFEE available in Penang. Just in case you want to check out the common beverages offered in food stalls here.... one ringgit = more or less fourteen Ph pesos.

PRICELESS morning smiles…

Children, say, KEOY TEOW SOUP

LOVE at 8 o’clock in the morning…

With warmed stomachs, we took another bus ride to one of the malls in Penang mainland.

Lunch was done in McDonald’s, in favor of Gabby’s collection of Happy Meal toys currently featuring his favorite, Spongebob. Then we decided to see a movie at around 12:30PM.  It has been a while since we last munched caramel popcorn inside a cinema.

Disregarding the fact that Taylor Kitsch's "airport hassle" issue that happened in Indonesia and NOT in the Philippines, JOHN CARTER wasn't that bad movie. We were entertained, actually! But we read via online news this Disney movie plummeted at the box office; who's to blame? *just asking*

After the movies, must buy groceries…

No-Plastic-Policy in groceries and shopping malls in Penang. Let's Reuse, Reduce, Recycle!

After the groceries, must satisfy growling tummies again! ;)  We had purple yam balls which we didn’t like (nothing’s special),  taho or what they call here, tofoo far with brown sugar syrup, 3 bowls of dried scallop congee that we topped with fried bread called yoo tiao from the restaurant called, I love Yoo. The congee bowls were made even more tasteful with a dash of soysauce and sesame oil.  A tall glass of cold soya for Gabby, and a cup of white coffee for me completed the light meal. Solb!

Merienda over a very affordable restaurant called, I LOVE YOO (not yoU! mind you!).

We could not be unhappy when there are more reasons to be grateful! ;)

10
Nov
11

GABBY’S CHRISTMAS TREE

With no imposed obligations from them, I’m trying my best to give back to my parents by doing things to Gabby what they did to me and my brothers. It’s one of the simple ways I know to show gratitude to the people who raised us well.

Before I got married and raised a family of my own, I used to put up a Christmas tree with my mom, siblings and cousins on either the last day of October or after Undas (All Saints and All Souls’ Day).  Like ordinary Filipino family, it has been a tradition for us to welcome and usher the yuletide season in our home by gathering around our living room to assemble one of the most famous holiday symbols, the Christmas tree! :)

From malls to shops in Divisoria, we usually update our decors almost every 2 to 3 years back then. Once, our mom even brought us to a specific distributor of Christmas decors and novelty items somewhere in San Francisco Del Monte, Quezon City (a company called ‘Unique’ that supplies National Bookstores and some department stores in Pinas). We used to have 6 feet Christmas tree with decors that are older than my nephew and nieces.

While on Tina’s end, my in-laws are also fond of sprucing up the house with holiday cheers. Last year, Tina, Gabby and I unboxed my in-laws’ collection of Christmas village that they have purchased over the years from US. (View them HERE!)

Now that I have Tina and Gabby, it’s more apparent that a simple activity as raising a Christmas tree can foster family bonding. :)

With only 150-cm- Christmas tree and its decors, he did not contain his happiness! The moment was priceless!

Except for the Christmas lights, Gabby decorated the tree himself, piece by piece…

S & J, a novelty shop in Queensbay Mall, Penang issued their free quarterly “Bento magazine” to promote their items on sale. For the 3 of us, the most interesting items on the pages are the Christmas tree packages with mostly European themes.

There were a lot to choose from; themes were inspired by the key cities in Europe and few from other parts of the globe. There’s Barcelona, New York, Paris, Moscow, Helsinki, Rome, Edinburgh, and the one we brought that the three of us selected in its medium size (4 feet+) -Black forest (in Germany).  The ‘Black forest’ tree was described in the Bento magazine with phrase, “Mesmerize with fairytale toys of wonderland Germany.”

Not only with their themes, but sizes of these Christmas trees vary from small (120 cm), medium (the one we got at 150 cm) and large (180 cm).

Here are detail shots of our tiny Christmas tree….

We love Christmas balls in any color, in any size!

The Black forest Christmas tree package from S & J was lacking of stocks of two types of Christmas balls so the sales ladies asked us to choose from their shelves. Tina singled out little mirror-balls for our tree.

From Mr. Snowman to Santa Clause and reindeers, the decors are a delight to our eyes! Gabby enjoyed putting them on the tree that’s only a bit taller than him.

Got to believe in.... Santa Clause! :)

Putting the star on top of the tree is somewhat symbolic. We also wanted Gabby to do it however he told me that he’s already tired so I did the job for him. The boy’s energy was exhausted in our first Christmas activity, hehe! :)

Et voila….Gabby’s masterpiece! :)

With no explanations needed, Christmas goes beyond those glittery and sparkling decors. We anticipate more our celebrations of the reason for the season as we do this earthly preparations.

Our Christmas tree heightens our excitement to come home to the Philippines on the 3rd week of December.  We cannot wait to see how Manila and our relatives’ places have been decorated for this season!




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