Having a vacation in the United Arab Emirates was just a plan. It never came to reality until my close and very good sole sister Evelyn, who formerly resides in Muscat but now living in Abu Dhabi, invited us to spend the Eid holidays from the 3rd to the 9th of November. Right then, my family along with our Muladdah friends like Gerry, Catherine, and Melo designed the itinerary and prepared for our once in a lifetime getaway.
As team of travel-addict and adventure-driven people we decided on our preferred destinations in the Emirates. Catherine wanted to step into the tallest in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, while I eagerly take a plunge in Iceland Waterpark in Ras Al Khaimah. The Ferrari World, Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque, Grand Emirates Palace, and Al Ain Wildlife Park were among the exciting places included in the list. But along with that, we can’t resist our compulsive desire for shopping spree in Dubai wherein a variety of branded items found in malls at considerable costs.Then the day came and we started our journey to UAE. We departed from Musanna at 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon and riding into two cars: Bridgette and Kiano. Our cars were full-pack of things such as foams, pillows, beverages, finger foods, and clothes. Gerry, Catherine, and Melo were riding with Bridgette while my family and I were traveling with Kiano.
We took the Al Buraimi – Ail Ain Border via Sohar because the road is more reliable and the visa is cheaper compared to Hatta Border. When we arrived in the border at 6:00PM, there was already a long queue of people who wanted to cross to the UAE, and so we waited for two hours. The requirements for visa include an application form, eye scanning, and the amount of 105 AE Dirhams or about 11 Omani Rials for the Tourist Visa. Luckily, our passports were stamped and we headed to Al Ain to fetch the Mendoza family who will join with the trip.
Getting to the house of Titser Cesar was pretty confusing. Without our GPS we might be circling around Al Ain like crazy animals. At last, we were able to see the landmarks that led to us to a newly-built and cozy home of the Mendozas situated in a two-storey building. A small dinner was prepared by Momi Eliza (the wife of teacher Cesar) while Therese eagerly welcomed us with hugs and kisses.
An hour later, we went off to Abu Dhabi. After almost one hour and thirty minutes of driving we finally met the Timan family. I saw again my dearest girlfiend, Evelyn while Andrei was again reunited with his bestfriend Ken-ken. We have a sumptuous dinner altogether like a big happy family. Evelyn cooked delicious meals like crabs with oyster sauce and beef caldereta while I also brought the roasted chicken we call “lechon manok”.
Our favorite bedtime moment is sleeping together in one room like small children. Regardless of how limited and crampy the space still we love to lie down side by side with each other and cannot stop ourselves from ragging one another until late evening. We talked about hot issues and intrigues from lovelife to politics and earnestly laughed at well-worned jokes and funny stories.
Our first escapade was at the Ferrari World which is the world’s first Ferrari amusement park located in Yas Island. The cost of the ticket is 225 AED for a person’ height of 1.5 meters and above while 165 AED for below 1.5 meters. We stayed in the place from 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM.
The next day we went to Iceland Water Park in Ras Al Khaimah. It was a distant drive because RAK is about three hours away from Abu Dhabi. The ticket for person 1.20 meters and above is 150 AED and below 1.20 meters is 100 AED. We enjoyed an unlimited use of frenzy water park attractions.
Then we went to Dubai Mall and have our dinner. I was super excited to meet again my long lost high school best pal Elmar. I can’t stop myself from screaming as we hug each other after all I felt like nothing has changed between us except Elmar looks stunning on his stripe black and white long sleeves with skinny fit jeans and brown pointed shoes. I love his fashion and style and the way his hair was cut and trimmed. Oh boy, our memories came back to life as we talked for about an hour before we headed to Burj Khalifa at 11 o’clock. I love Elmar and gosh he surprised me of this wonderfully and intricately decorated cellphone covered with Swarovski and crystals. Elmar work in designing and decorating techno gadgets with stones and what is known as “Jewelry of Quality”. Likewise, I personally asked him to prepare something for my girlfriend Catherine as my birthday gift. An all-white cellphone cover, beautifully decorated white crystals, gems, and mini-ceramique flowers, was made for her.
The experience with Burj Khalifa was really amazing especially when we hopped into with world’s fastest elevator. The elevator is like a disco booth with full of neon lights, mirrors, LCD screens, and surrounding music. It can accommodate twelve people at most and run at a speed of 1 floor per one second. As we were elevated, we can’t felt anything with our stomach only that our ears popped with the increasing air pressure. The elevator stopped at 124th floor. At the view deck, we witnessed the Dubai skyline. Different colors from streets lights and malls illuminate the dark surroundings and highlighted the mega city of Dubai. I felt like was I riding in an airplane and saw the beautiful scenery below.
Because of the super-exhausting and fun-pack whole day event, we spent the night at Dubai Youth Hostel in Al Karamah near Dubai International Airport. The accommodation costs us 10rials per person a night.
But before we went back to Abu Dhabi, we made a little shopping at Dubai Factory Outlet Mall where prices of notable brands are at valuable costs. My heart lit up and I felt panic when I saw many cutie dresses and fantastic accessories for infants and kids. I grab a pair of skirt and top for Anyah and a shirt for Andrei. I also bought footwears for my parents and siblings. Jesse bought shoes of his fave design and color and I also purchased some ladies good items such as bag and blouse.
At night we attend the Holy Mass in Abu Dhabi. I felt like I was in Philippines because of so many Filipinos around the area. There were sidewalk ventures selling Filipino native food and delicacies. We tasted a hot pan de coco that was really satisfying and luscious no wonder it was the favorite of the church worshippers.
It was already Monday morning and I invited the group to visit Grand Emirates Palace where my former college dormmates, Joan worked as a human resources director. The hotel was so strict at first we were not allowed to get inside until Joan called up the head of the security. The seven star hotel reveals the beauty of Arabian culture particularly with the traditional décor that are mostly in silver, gold, marble and glass mosaics. Even the toilet is extremely prestigious with gold –plated faucets and super large mirrors. We felt like we are royals and celebrities as we tour around the place. At one end, there was a museum that features the future vision of Abu Dhabi.
At lunch time, I met my friend Joan at Marina Mall. This is our second meeting after I visited Abu Dhabi in 2009. I really like chatting with Joan and the way she laughed at my jokes and funny stories. She admired my family so much and I convinced her to have her own to so soon. Joan is bubbly and very kind, she even offered to us her condo-type accommodation the next time we will visit Abu Dhabi.
We shuttled to Al Ain in the afternoon and stayed at Titser Cesar’s home. As we strolled around, I was impressed with the city. For me, Al Ain is such a wonderful haven full of trees and beautiful schemed landscapes, concealing therein magnificence and elegance. It is an ideal residence for a growing family. The traffic flow is manageable and many Filipinos are dwelling in the place. We visited the Al Ain Wild Park where Andrei saw the wild animals in the desert like tigers, lions, oryx, and gazelle. Above all, he enjoyed looking at the African-wild animal like the giraffes and gorillas.
After visiting the Al Ain zoo, we meet with the Gomez family. Jackie baked a yummy chocolate cake as our snack while we were resting at their huge house.
We were back to Abu Dhabi and spend our last night before going home to Oman. The next day, we dropped at Al Qasr Hotel in Jumeirah and visit my gorgeous cousin Caryl. Even when she was on duty, we still have good chat about our families and life updates. I planned to come back again and have great bonding moments along with my other cousins too in Dubai.
It was a hilarious incident on our way home because we were lost with our friends in Hatta. We took the wrong exit and we keep on looking for the right track. Until we found the Hatta Police station and help us the way towards the UAE-Oman border in Hatta.
Our one week eid holiday in UAE was initially a dream that came to an ultimate and unforgettable vacation. I know this was just a start for more adventures and escapade to come as we will explore and visit ideal places in Oman and anywhere else in the world.