Macau

After five memorable days in Hong Kong, we decided to visit and explore Macau for three days.

Macau is more than an hour ferry ride from Hong Kong. Ferry transportation is cheaper and convenient than riding a plane. There are several ferry terminal in Hong Kong which includes: Macau-Hong Kong Island, Macau-Kowloon and Macau-Hong Kong International Airport (there is ferry terminal beside the Hong Kong international airport). The most popular ferry operators are the Turbojet and Cotaijet. Tickets are available in the terminal and through online. However, price of the ticket may vary based on the timing of the day especially during weekend (more expensive than weekdays).

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Hong Kong (Kowloon) Ferry Terminal

For entry requirement, tourist permit is available upon arrival. But keep in mind that not all nationalities are entitled for free visa or visa exemption. There are countries which are required to apply for visa prior to travel (kindly check the Macau immigration office website). Don’t forget to secure a copy of your hotel bookings and sample itinerary for immigration check.

The climate in Macau is almost the same in Hong Kong. Majority of the local residents speaks Cantonese and some Portuguese. However, English language is widely used by most of the hotel crews and other service or tourist establishment staff.

For the transportation, majority of casinos and hotels in Macau offers a complimentary shuttle service throughout the regions.

Though, Macau is popularly known as casino capital of Asia,  I fell in love with the lay back and Portuguese atmosphere of Macau. In addition, foods, accommodation, transportation and shopping items in Macau is cheaper than Hong Kong.

More than the grandiose casino visits, there are other beautiful places to visit in Macau. You can explore Macau by walking or through bus and visit variety of museums, nature parks and national heritage and religious site.

The drawback, not all places in Macau (majority are bars and casinos) are ideal for children unlike Hong Kong and Singapore (there is no huge theme park or zoo in Macau).

You can bring your little ones to various malls such as Venetian for Gondola ride or play to the kids area/station at City of Dreams.

Before leaving Macau, make sure to convert your Macanese Pataca to other currencies as there is a possibility that the Pataca may no longer have a value or lesser value when exchange outside Macau.

All in all, Macau is a nice place to relax and unwind..

Hong Kong Adventure for Kids and Kids @ heart :)

Hong Kong is one of the Asia’s top tourist destination for shopping and great adventure for family with kids and kids at heart. :0

Hong Kong has a subtropical climate which is composed of four seasons:

Spring (March to May): less humid than summer with pleasant temperature at night;

Summer (June to August): hot and humid with occasional rain showers;

Autumn (September to November): cool breeze with comfortable temperature and regarded as best time to visit Hong Kong; and

Winter (December to February): cool, dry and cloudy with occasional cold front

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Nin Hao, HK!! @ Hong Kong International Airport

No need to apply for visa when planning for a Hong Kong trip as tourist permit will be given at the immigration. To avoid inconvenience, make sure to bring a print out copy of your hotel booking and sample itinerary.

Our sample 5-day Hong Kong Itinerary:

Day#1: Time square, IFC mall, exploring central island
Day#2: Kowloon island day-museum day:history, cultural, science, space, art, avenue of the stars, ladies’ market and temple market
Day#3: Lantau island-Disneyland day
Day#4: Victoria day-the peak tram, madam Tussaud, sky terrace 360 and Trick museum
Day#5: Rest day (utilize the hotel amenities) and preparation to Macau Adventure (cross-country through ferry)

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Hong Kong houses great line of brands for wardrobes, perfumes, make-up and shoes. Though, it’s on discounted prices, I find most of the items much expensive than Dubai or Oman which made me realize not to buy at all to save money and space for my baggage allowance. In addition, majority of their shopping malls cater expensive restaurants and don’t have food court or fast food restaurants at all.

If you’re not conscious about the brands, you can check out the Ladies market for various items and souvenirs. Don’t forget to haggle as the sellers tend to increase the initial price of the item. And don’t forget to bring your own shopping bag (even though you bought items from the shop, the shopping bag in HK is still not for free).

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If you like to know more about the rich culture of Hong Kong. Try to visit the Hong Kong Heritage museum. The museum is very informative and entertaining for kids. Other museums that must visit are: space, science and art museum which are child-friendly and highly educational.

If you want to save money visit all museums in Hong Kong every Wednesday for free entrance fee. Majority of the museums are located in Kowloon Island with minimal distance in between (you can transfer from one museum to another just by walking).

After museum tour, you can enjoy the beauty of the scenery of Hong Kong in Kowloon Island.

Disneyland is the main reason for our Hong Kong visit as my daughter loves all Disney character. It is located at Lantau island. Allot one whole day for the Disneyland tour as the theme park offers various activities which you will truly enjoy (I felt like a child again..lol). Though, Disneyland opens its gate at 10 am. Be sure to arrive early to avoid long queues as majority of goers are there ahead of time. Get a copy of the map and time/activity schedule to plan your day (Disneyland is too spacious/big which requires planning so you can spend your time wisely). You can purchase, extra passes to avoid long queue. In addition, don’t be distracted to the cartoon characters (take photo souvenirs at the end of the day instead). Bottled water and small snacks are allowed (the food items inside Disneyland are all expensive) and don’t forget to bring your own stroller to save money and from carrying your kids after a long day. 🙂

Victoria or City of Victoria is the first urban city in Hong Kong after British colony. It is regarded as one of the must visit place in Hong Kong. We spent one-whole day in Victoria through riding the tram, picture taking with the celebrities in Madam Tussaud’s wax museum, goofing around the trick museum and savor the breath taking view of Hong Kong at Sky Terrace 360.

I planned a 5-day trip in Hong Kong which I feel a little bit long. But, it seems our stay is not enough at all (there are lot of tourist places we’re not able to visit a1.jpgdue to limited time) especially when you are traveling with a 3-year old child which requires more time to rest. 🙂

Additional Tips:

  • Don’t forget to bring bottled water every time you are traveling in Hong Kong as bottled water here are far more expensive than Middle East Countries.
  • Not all locals can speak and understand English. Bring small dictionaries or download any Chinese language apps.

 

 

Subic, Philippines

Annual vacation leave!!! —The most awaited event of an overseas migrant worker like me. 🙂

For almost a year of continuous hard work, it is the best time to recharge yourself and treat your family with something special.

Subic is one of the best place to visit in the Philippines if you have a preschool child who likes to have a close encounter with animals.

If you’re in Clark international airport, you just need to ride any public utility vehicles (Jeepney, Van, Bus or private taxi)  to explore the city. Whereas, if in Manila, you just need to go to the public bus terminal such as Victory Liner Bus (http://www.phbus.com/victory-liner-bus/) which is the recommended and practical means of transportation.

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Victory Bus Liner Caloocan Terminal

For hotel accommodation, you will not encounter any problem at all as there are various hotels to choose from. You can book through Agoda.com or Booking.com which ranges from cheapest to expensive hotels (one to five-star hotel facilities).

Activities depend on your adventure appetite and also depends to the age/like of your travel buddies. If you are a family with small kids, you may like to visit the following:

1.Beach

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Enjoy the Sun, Sand, Beach and Etc..(http://camayanbeachresort.com/)

2. Nature Trip

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Be with nature (horseback riding and trailing)

3. Zoobic Safari

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4. Ocean Adventure (aquariums, play area and educational shows starring different type of animals from land, air and water :))

There are promotional offers available in Metrodeal.com for discounted entrance fee for Zoobic Safari and Ocean Adventure.

Aside from family activities, you can explore the beauty of Subic at night and enjoy food and drinks in various bars in the city.

I really had a great relaxing time in Subic with my family.:)

 

 

Cravings

There are moments in your life when you open your fridge full of food stuff..

but…still there’s something missing…

Cravings…

Though, this word is commonly associated to pregnant mothers…When you are living in other country, you will experience frequent food cravings as you misses foods from homeland.

Chinese delicacies have always been part of the Filipino culture.

Siomai is the Filipino term for steamed Chinese dumplings that are usually filled with ground pork or beef. Other ingredient includes: minced carrots, minced onions, egg and spices. But, the most important ingredients of all is the wanton wrappers.

Though, you can find some Chinese products (like wanton wrappers) in the market. When you see the price, you will end up converting the price tag to other currency which will force your economical subconscious thought to suppress your cravings.

Thanks to internet, I was able to do my research and come up with my own wanton wrapper recipe. 🙂

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

a pinch of salt

1 egg

1/3 cup of water of as needed (just enough to make a dough:not too dry or too wet/liquid consistency)

cornstarch (used when kneading)

Methods:

  1. Combine flour, salt and beaten egg. Mix thoroughly and add the water.
  2. Put a pinch of starch in a clean, flat surface (I prefer covering the surface with plastic wrap for convenience in cleaning the area after kneading).
  3. Knead the dough for at least 10-20 minutes or until the dough becomes elastic.
  4. Put the dough in a bowl with cover and let it rest for at least 30 minutes (I have read that resting process allows the dough to relax and to easily reform to its intended shape/end product).
  5.  After resting the dough, divide the dough into two then roll (roll the dough as thin as possible for great texture and less cooking/steaming time) to desired shape (square or round).
  6. Don’t forget to put a pinch of cornstarch in between the finished wanton sheet (as it will stick together).

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For Siomai Recipe:

Ingredients:

1 cup of ground beef

1 minced carrot (optional)

1 minced onion

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp spices (optional)

1 egg

2-3 tsp of oil (I prefer olive oil)

Methods:

  1. In a big bowl, combine ground beef, carrot, onion, salt, black pepper together.
  2. Once thoroughly mixed, add the beaten egg and oil.
  3. After mixing all the ingredients, get one wanton wrapper and put 1 tbsp of the mixed ingredients and fold the end or edges of the wanton together to secure the filling.
  4. Grease the steamer or put a baking sheet on the steamer (I prefer greasing the steamer to avoid siomai from sticking to the steamer).
  5. Put each siomai to the steamer (Put space in between each siomai, as it will expand during the steaming process).
  6. Steam the siomai for at least 20 minutes (put a cloth cover in between the cover of the steamer to promote equal steaming).
  7. Once cooked, prepare soy sauce with lemon juice and chili.

#Craving-satisfied 🙂

Big bus or private city tour?

When I planned our trip in Dubai. I tried my best to read a lot of reviews, blog post and articles to maximize my resources (time, money and physical effort from walking/traveling with a child).

The tourist attractions in Dubai are scattered sporadically across the city which requires strategic planning in order to visit almost all the known tourist spots.  Hence, city tour services is the best option.

Now,  what would be the best choice? Big bus or private city tour? I have read the brochure of big bus and compare it to the small private shuttle tour van (service offer is available in  Groupon.com).

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The Big Bus tour (photo taken at http://www.seatholidays.com)

For me, I decided to buy tickets for private van tour from Groupon.com. The tour was almost the same with the Big bus tour minus the open deck view. However, I was able to save more than 20 OMR 🙂 (Yehey!! Happy mommy).

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In addition, the Groupon.ae have other promotional offer such as Desert Safari and Dinner at Dhow cruise (Marina Bay). Children less than 3 years old are free of charge. 🙂

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City tour, Desert  Safari and Dhow Cruise at Marina Bay are the most memorable activities that you shouldn’t miss in Dubai.

Enjoy!!

Dubai trip with kids

United Arab Emirates (U.A.E) is located at the northwest region of the Sultanate which gives me and my family an opportunity to visit Dubai .:)

Dubai is one of the seven emirates (political Islamic territory headed by emir) and considered as the center for tourism and trading industry of U.A.E.The monetary currency in Dubai is UAE Dir hams (1 AED equates to 0.27 USD).

Traveling to U.A.E from Oman is hassle free and economical even to expatriate like me, provided that your status in Oman is resident (either employment or family dependent visa). However, you are required to apply for U.A.E visa online before traveling (the price of the visa depends on the length of stay). For more information, see http://www.mofa.gov.ae/EN/ConsularServices/Pages/ServicesList.aspx.

10906391_10202008559013791_5410377041670798728_n.jpgIn Oman, you can choose either to travel by plane with 1 hour to 5 minutes flight duration or by land through public bus or private car with 2 to 3 hours duration depending on your location (bus transit is available in Ruwi, Sohar and Al Buraimi and the ticket price ranges from 5 to 10 OMR) and your point of entry (there are at least five borders across Oman, try to find the nearest border based on your location).

If traveling by land, every passenger is required to present their passport and resident ID card along with the approved UAE visa. It will take longer waiting time at the border if you are riding in the bus (as all the passengers must undergo strict verification of identity and document screening and checking of belongings). I would suggest hiring a public taxi instead (the cost depends on your location ranging from 30 to 50 OMR). If traveling using your own private car, UAE car insurance is required.

 

For hotel and accommodation, there are various hotels across the metro. However, I prefer to stay near the metro station for easy access and less walking especially ideal for a kid who always feels tired to walk. 🙂

 

The transportation system in Dubai is efficient yet inexpensive. But,  I would recommend riding the subways instead of taxi as there are stations connected to shopping malls (Dubai Malls and Mall of Emirates) and the distance between tourist destinations are far from each other which is time-consuming.

Aside from great tourist spots, Dubai is considered as “open city” meaning there are no restrictions in clothing (as long as it is decent) except on Islamic area such as mosque, foods (especially non-Halal food like pork is offered in groceries, restaurants and hotels) and entertainment (casino and bars).

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Best time to travel Dubai is during the cold season (November to April) to enjoy the scenery and outdoor activities without feeling sweaty.:)

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Otherwise, there are  numerous shopping malls (more than 70) to visit which offers various fun-filled activities for kids.  🙂

I feel like the 5-day stay in Dubai is not enough to fully explore all the tourist attractions especially if you’re traveling with kids (there are more playtime activities and tantrum sessions of course hahahaha :)).

Hence, we are planning to schedule another trip.

 

 

 

 

Royal Opera House

My husband and I have a huge interest in musical/theatrical shows ever since. That is why when we found out that there is an opera house in Muscat, we decided to visit and explore the place.

Royal Opera House is located at  Al Kharjiyah St., Muscat, Oman. When we visited the place last 2014 we found out that it is not open for public tour at night. However, you can still explore the outside architectural design of the opera and visit the Opera Galleria for dining, shops and other services such as spa and banking services.

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Night time visit is the best time to capture the beauty of the Royal Opera House 🙂

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The big wooden chandelier in front of the main door

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The outside ceiling decoration of the opera

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The corridor going to the Opera Galleria

After two years, we decide to visit the Royal Opera House again for an open house tour (to check the interior beauty) and to inquire for shows suitable for children. The open house tour is open everyday except Friday from 7:30 am to 2:30 pm. The payment for the open tour are based from the following:

a. Adult – 2 OMR (1 OMR is equals to 2.597 USD)

b. Child – 1 OMR

c. Groups (school field trip/travel tour) – 3 OMR

With regards to security policy, every visitors are required to pass through a body scanner and to placed all the belongings in a baggage x-ray machine. No dress code policy for open house tour.However, if you are planning to watch a show, it is advisable to wear a formal attire.

The tour is usually done per group (composed of 10-20 persons) which will start at the lobby of the opera house. Every visitors are given a chance to explore the place and to have a souvenir photos.

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The tour guide is an Omani man who gives a well-informative explanation of the origin of the Royal Opera House, the materials used for the construction, the architectural designs, history of musical artifacts from other countries, the sitting capacity, number of shows per year and the highly advanced technical features of the stage.

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The price of the ticket depends on the show which ranges from 10 to 70 OMR.

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She is excited to watch the ballerina show on our next visit 🙂

The duration of the entire open house tour is a bit short yet very informative and memorable. 🙂

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