i won't worry my life away

confronting thoughts and embarking on different adventures, one moment at a time

Free Meal? Even Better: My Burj Al Arab Experience

Lately I’ve been thinking of going back to the Burj Al Arab to accompany a good friend… And so I remember this great experience on my first time there.

It was more than a year ago (November 2010) Β when I had first set foot inside this very luxurious, one of the 7-star hotels in the world: the Burj Al Arab, in Dubai, UAE. When I arrived here more than 2 years ago (that was 2009), I told myself that I’d go inside, probably to eat or something. Little did I know that I was in for a better treat!

The Burj Al Arab by day... It's an image of beauty, like a standing ship. Amazing architecture that could withstand great earthquakes (well, atleast that's what they said!!)

Backstory: 2 of my friends had a “bet” because of me. No, I wasn’t in the bet you silly!!! I was just there, and if it weren’t for their confusion because of the person that I brought up, then there won’t be any bet at all. Hehehe

Okay, so… here it goes.

One day, after lunch, my friend Duane (whom we shall call Duanerdude), went to my desk for some after lunch pep talk. Duane, who is also friends with RJ who was my boss (with whom I am also friends with), talked to him too. We’re all friends you see… Anyway, RJ’s cubicle is just beside mine, so, we all just chilled there for a few minutes. Sometime in between, I suddenly mentioned Janet Meneses (she is also an officemate of ours with whom we order lunch from but we haven’t really met personally!). Β I think her name popped out because I still haven’t paid for lunch order or something (?). Anyway, here’s how the rest of the story went:

RJ: But Janet Meneses is just there (referring to Janet from our floor).

Me: Really? I know her name is Janet, but I’m just not sure if she’s Janet Meneses.

Duanerdude: No, she’s not Janet Meneses. She’s from a different floor.

*Both guys being confident*

Duanerdude: Okay, do you wanna bet? Dinner at Burj Al Arab.

RJ: Sure (currently busy typing something or checking his laptop).

Me: I’ll go and ask Janet who she is…

Me (talking to RJ): Hey, if you win, then can I be included (referring to getting the price).

RJ: Sure.

Me (talking to Duanerdude): Hey, if you win, then can I be included (referring to getting the price).

Duanerdude: Sure.

Me: O.O (no matter what, things are looking good for me!)

I walked towards Janet’s desk.

Me: Hi Ma’am… I’d like to ask, coz I wasn’t sure… Are you Janet Meneses?

Janet: Oh, my name is also Janet, but I’m not Janet Meneses. I’m Janet Bandoug. πŸ™‚

Me: Oh, I’m sorry. Thanks πŸ™‚

I walked back towards the guys with a blank face… Like this… 😐

Me: Her name is also Janet but she’s not Janet Meneses!

RJ scratches his head.

πŸ™‚

After a few months, RJ and his lovely wife Trina had decided to move back to the Philippines. Just a few weeks before they left Dubai, the “Bet” was honored! Nothing could ever go wrong with a free meal… Much more that it’s in a restaurant of the Burj Al Arab!

I went to the Burj Al Arab in my little black dress. Duanerdude wore something other than his favorite Birks. RJ, Trina, Myself, Duanerdude, and Len all went there. YAY!!!

The Burj Al Arab is one of Dubai’s biggest and most luxurious landmarks. It’s building is just like a ship, standing up. It is situated in a man-made island along Jumeirah. The design both inside and out is very intricate. The hotel itself is sooo luxurious, so much that some of its interior designs are specially made for the hotel, and much more, is made of gold. The cost of the whole building and construction is really very expensive, so expensive, that even if the hotel earns for a hundred years, won’t even break even (this, according to the research of my friend–I have yet to find some reading *yawns*too lazy, so hearsay would do *yawns*).

So here it is… The Burj Al Arab:

*sorry for the pictures, most of them are mine and I wasn’t really into getting all the interior… You see, I am more of wording it out yo! LOL. The decent pictures are probably my friends’ (either Len’s, Trina/RJ’s or Duane’s!). *Pictures here aren’t watermark (not that I am a real photographer), but if you wanna get some, just hit me up :)*

The different lighting of Burj Al Arab at night.

Just before dinner, of course, we’ll get a few snaps!

View of the interior of the Burj Al Arab

A closer look at that (phot by Len)

This is where we had dinner, at the Al Iwan restaurant. The main cuisine is Arabic, but they also have some Japanese (sushi!!!), Indian (Biryani), etc. Price hasn’t changed since November 2010– it’s still 395 AED for dinner. However, each bottle of water is 50AED, which is around 13USD (for a liter of a french water or something). We had 2, and after all the Burj Al Arab experience, we were so damn thirsty!!! (Btw, a bottle of water in the grocery is 1.5AED per 1.5L, and noooo, we were not in it to splurge on a water which is more than 10x the price!!)

At the Al Iwan restaurant of Burj Al Arab (yes, it's a buffet!!!) YAY!

The food was great and as usual, we ate a LOT. And when I say a lot, I really mean it. πŸ˜› My favorite was the Japanese cuisine and the shrimps too! Oh and yes, the desserts. You couldn’t go wrong with the food because of the wide selection.

I did not bother getting photos of the main dishes that I got etc… Only the dessert. Why? Coz it’s the most presentable one!

my dessert plate ROUND 1

my dessert plate ROUND 2

i got this from the cake πŸ™‚

Yes, this is their most expensive wine here. No big deal! 😐 65000 AED is NOTHING at all!!!

Okay, so after dinner, we decided to roam around the hotel and check the interior of the rest of the building. Well, it’s not everyday that you get to go inside the Burj Al Arab, so we thought that by atleast having dinner there, then we have a “free pass” to roam inside. πŸ™‚ We asked some of the hotel workers (of the same nationality as ours, Filipino), if they could let us check a room out. Unfortunately, due to a “convention” or something, we can’t–they’re fully booked!!! (I think a hotel room probably costs like 5000USD or something–not sure though).

the typical lady camwhores! πŸ˜›

The typical after dinner photoop. We're already full, of course we have all the energy to spare!

while roaming inside Burj Al Arab -- the receiving area to another restaurant

*we have hundreds of CAMWHORE pictures, but I guess we’re the only ones interested in that. πŸ˜›

We also wanted to check out the Skyview bar. The hotel has a waiting area just outside the elevator to this bar.

the wall/ceiling at the waiting are just outside the elevator to the Skyview Bar

Apparently, you need to have a bar reservation too to go inside. On our way, we did a few stuff… Like:

1. Wacky shots in front of a mirror just outside the really fast elevator to the skyview bar. (We actually did a lot… like around 10. But here’s just two for your eyes. Okay, so imagine us trying to get a decent photo whenever there’s no one around or alteast looking, which means, we had to make sure that no one is in the area to go in and out of that damn elevator!

Look at Charlie's Angels at the background of this couple who has a crazy wifey!

Funny group camwhores at the lobby outside the elevator to the Skyview Bar (L-R Len, myself/Kat, Trina, RJ and Duane)

2. Take a picture (actually, pictures, but I’ll just post 1) inside the elevator — my ears hurt! AWW

Me and my friends as elevator camwhores!!! Oh wow, this is really a fast elevator--trust me!

3. And of course, a souvenir photo at the Skyview Bar (we weren’t allowed to go inside)

sorry if I included myself, I couldn't find one without "me".

Now, back to roaming around!

without our normal selves

myself, standing at the mosaic floor, with the hall behind me

while roaming inside Burj Al Arab, this other receiving area could also be found

The elevators to the suites

flooring (photo by Len)

carpet (photo by Len)

A Camel

Kids--NOT!, Duanerdude and Len

I'd like to think I somehow look nice-- or just OK. One of the many fresh flowers scattered around. OK!

Just before taking off, a last glimpse of the Burj Al Arab.

The view of the interior of the Burj Al Arab from the lobby (photo by Len)

view of the lobby of Burj Al Arab

While waiting for the ride to arrive, at the lobby (photo by Len)

and that is the front desk (photo by Len)

This is me, just before going to our ride. Hope you all enjoyed the Burj Al Arab too! πŸ™‚

I pose, when i feel it's right! πŸ˜›

Main Entrance of the Burj (and Exit too--obviously!)

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Those days that the word “Relax” became synonymous to “Fun”

Remembering where I went more than two years ago, I’d like to share our trip to Villa Escudero, Quezon, Philippines.

Villa Escudero is a privately owned coconut plantation that has eventually been opened to the public to enjoy the amenities that the Villa has to offer. [Check out their website here]. We were told by one of the workers there that the owner has given/awarded its workers their own houses/homes inside the Villa–those who were loyal and have been working there for some time… They have been the one who has maintained the Villa and it is just proper since it’s also their home. Isn’t it amazing?

Villa Escudero felt really cozy for me. True, it’s quite big, in which you have to walk more than a few hundred meters (it’s a plantation after all!) to get to the suites, but a bit of a walking ain’t that bad. With nature surrounding us, it’s actually very refreshing. Apart from hundreds of trees and open spaces, there’s also a lake where you could paddle on a bamboo raft. There’s also a buffet just below the man-made waterfalls and of course, the fresh water on it (coming from the lake) has tiny fishes swimming around!!! There’s also some local performances (singing/dancing showcasing our Filipino culture) on some days. And of course, the typical pool that a normal human being could swim to–you wanna know how relaxing it is (though it’s very typical)? Just look at one of my photos below–where the MEN in our family just fell asleep in a few seconds! LOL

If you intend to make an escape at the crazy city of Manila, then this is one of the places I’d recommend. It isn’t that far from the city but it’s like you’re in a totally different world because of the sudden change in scenery. This Β place could actually serve its purpose: Relaxation. But then again, if you’re with a huge family who is just as FUN as you are, then forget about relaxing and just go crazy!

Looking back at these pictures, what I’ve noticed is that when I travel with a group–family or friends, all the pictures need to have a “face” in it. I think it’s a “normal” Filipino characteristic: to be a CAMWHORE! hehehe See for yourself!!

This is our ride from the main entrance (reception at the gate) towards the Villa proper: a Carabao! And that’s my aunt over there πŸ™‚

the carabao ride to the suites of Villa Escudero

A glimpse of the beauty of nature that awaits us…

My family, just settling in at the lobby upon arrival.

My sister, Angel, and my cousin, Renz at the receiving area

My immediate and extended family, upon arrival (minus me--the one taking the photo)

Finally reached our suite… now, time to chill and relax for a bit… *Bliss*

the view of the lake and the woods just outside our suite's balcony

my family OWNING the world "relax" on an lazy noon

this is how I do it... Ommmm

Of course, with my family’s nature, we won’t just sit around for the rest of the day! After a much deserved moment of relaxation, we’re now ready to conquer the WORLD! Nah–I meant, explore the place has to offer. πŸ™‚

this was supposed to be a "cousins only" photo... but it's all good, my uncle made it in so it's all good! hehe

the man-made waterfall! and yes, this is where we'll be eating πŸ™‚

here's the buffet table. see those tables, yes, water flowing on our feet!

before getting cozy and chowing down some foodie, we all decided to explore and walk further down… and here’s where we were able to go to… just some more woods and water flowing on our toes πŸ˜€

my cousins and my siblings (and yours truly is on the back of the cam!)

and so, we all decided to go back and get ourselves some food… but wait, CAMWHORES attack!!!

(i miss my SLR :()... siblings and cousins being CAMWHORES! hehehe

siblings and cousins being camwhores, now being joined by my aunt! πŸ˜›

After lunch photoop πŸ˜›

Villa Escudero, having offered a variety of amenities, allowed us to ride bamboo rafts in the peaceful lake Labasin. such a beauty…

Lake Labasin

my extended and immediate family just waiting for us to go and ride our rafts

first to go! myself and my sister... riding the peaceful lake (and "working it")

kids playing around. YAY!

And tantararantaran… We found a swimming pool!

the true women in the family... aunt B, mi mama, and aunt lot!

children who will always feel young and would never grow old--especially when they're with their moms πŸ˜€

Remember what I said earlier about how relaxing this place is? Just look at the picture below. This is how the MEN were able to relax. EASY, BREEZY!!!

TRUE MEN AIN'T ASHAMED TO BE CAUGHT ASLEEP: ANYWHERE, ANYTIME!

Walking in the woods… exploring some other parts of Villa Escudero

Coconut trees

gorgeous ladies walking away

my lovely sister posing on the V tree

And of course, the picture with the Philippine Jeep!

Mi familia in le jeep!

The pictures here are a compilation of my photos and my sister’s and cousin’s shots. I hope you also enjoyed looking at the pictures, same as I did upon looking and reliving the memory of it. πŸ™‚

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Almost just like any other weekend, only, it’s 2012: New Year’s Eve

It’s a bummer when you type a 5-paragraph-almost-done blog. But I guess it’s all good. What I initially said was probably not that important. πŸ™‚ Right now, I feel like I’m blogging just for the sake of writing something. Do you do this also? Oh well… I know, I don’t really have to, but since my New Year wasn’t as eventful as my previous ones, the least I could do is write something about it and hopefully, inspire me by the end of my own post… or atleast make me think some more πŸ™‚

To recap my unsaved-thus-loved post, here’s a picture of myself last January 1, 2012 upon arrival at my house, just before cleaning up to sleep. Just a reminder of my new year.

What we did on New Year’s eve is just a bit typical of a typical weekend, with only the change of “year” as an exception. Me and my couple-friends went to church and had dinner at the restaurant across our building (Zainah). Here’s a very BIG meal that I wasn’t able to finish. This is a meat mandi (lamb). Thanks to Duanerdude for paying for this meal. YAY.

Duane order a chicken Mandi (not shown in the picture) and a Camel Kebab (shown below). It tasted a bit similar to lamb but it’s all good. Knowing that it’s healthier, I loved it!

Since all I wanted was to atleast see some fireworks, me and my couple-friends went to Meydan and watched the fireworks display at the tallest building in the world–Burj Khalifa. Β Here’s the tallest building just before it turned 2012!

My fireworks photo (I forgot to bring a camera, and I wasn’t really familiar with the one I borrowed).

And here’s the TRUE good photo captured courtesy ofΒ https://www.facebook.com/DowntownDubaiΒ of the fireworks worth more than 1M aed (which is like 300k USD).

After watching the 8-minute more than a million worth of fireworks, we headed back home. None of us bothered to prepare a “Media Noche” so all we did was drink my Holiday Sangria (yes, I think I am in love with the drink preparation) once we got home, talk ’til 3am about different things and sleep all day. πŸ™‚

This New Year wasn’t as eventful as my past New Year’s eve celebration… It was just normal. You could say it was like another weekend. But what’s the difference of this weekend compared to other weekends apart from slashing 2011 and making it 2012? I guess for most of us, it’s like a signal to start anew, or a push to better things.

Though we are allowed to change, start anew, or move forward in anytime of the year–whenever we want to, the New Year somehow serves as a cue to those who needs that “sign” of moving forward. Another year has come and it’s very inspiring and rewarding to know that we are all still here, given another chance for a New Year, a new life, or change. Yes, we don’t have to wait til a new year comes–but what about for those who needs an extra push?

The welcoming of this new year for me might sound a bit boring or sad, but trust me, it isn’t. With all the experiences and Β thoughts of 2011, with most of the good things being carried over to 2012, I’ve never been more inspired than now. I am smiling just thinking about the latter of my 2011 and of bringing it over for 2012. Β May not be as eventful as other nights, but who knows what’s gonna happen today or tomorrow? It has given me a more welcoming thought of the days to come. πŸ™‚

Now, here’s a video of the fireworks display in Burj Khalifa, courtesy of my good friend Didi.

May all of us have a Prosperous and Happy New Year! It’s 2012 AD!!!

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After (not that) Much Consideration, I Have No Clue What’s in Store for New Year’s Eve :/

Okay, so in less than 22 hours, the year would be New. Yes, it’s gonna be 2012! And no, I still (or must I say, we?) haven’t figured out how to celebrate the “welcoming” of the New Year.

Jeeezzz… why is it a bit harder this year? Well, it actually isn’t hard at all, am not stressing about it. Yesterday, I was even thinking of just staying home and just sleep or something. Not that I am a buzzkill, it’s just that for the past few days, no… weeks, I’ve just be pretty tired… Tired to the point that once I get home, I just clean myself up and think for a bit then sleep. So this long weekend, just staying in is one of my options.

Another easy solution to actually have an option would’ve been to just go to my relatives and celebrate it with them, the same thing I did for the past two years. Easy choice but I sort of brushed it off. Why? Because since I’d spent my Christmas Eve with my good friends (which we sort of planned atleast a week ahead), I kind of counted on celebrating it with them. But until now–no plans too!

My good friend, Jill, was actually planning to watch her favorite band Coldplay to play on New Year’s eve. Earlier, I found it a bit ridiculous and somehow sad to watch a concert on NYE… But now that I think about it, having that plan than no plan is atleast a plan! And just a few minutes ago, I decided to check if there were still tickets. Apparently, NONE. It’s not meant to be. So my first option seems to be the winner. Bummer.

Now the thing is, compared to the Philippines, it seems like the way UAE celebrates the new year is a bit tame. No pun intended. I meant, in the Philippines, the people are very ummm enthusiastic, thus, this kind of celebration is really very very festive. You’d see a lot of household having their own fireworks and firecrackers, the noisier and brighter it is, the better! Much more that there’s a Chinese influence in us (not just Chinese in the Philippines, but the influence in beliefs/feng shui too). Apart from that, different TV stations set up street party celebrations in different areas of the city, closing all traffic in that area for the people to celebrate. Street Party: free of charge, with a lot of local artists and celebrities performing for all to see–like a free concert! And yes, it is televised nationwide.Β Hotels too have their own party and you get to celebrate it with other tourists hanging out.

I suppose here, it’s almost the same with the exception of the abundance of fireworks in the sky (imagine almost every household setting up their own New Year firecrackers!) and street parties (oh wait, there was one last year at the Burj Khalifa, but I think it was just an extravagant fountain and fireworks display). And the parties here aren’t free (I’m referring to Sandance coz it’s the only party I know of, with the exception of Hotel parties and Bar/Resto parties which duh! you actually have to pay for too!).

2 years ago, I moved here in the UAE. Most of my relatives are in Sharjah–another emirate in the UAE (which is by far a lot more conservative compared to Dubai). Ever since I moved here, I celebrated this holiday with them and yes, it was a big party (including all my extended family and their friends’ families too), and yes again, the only New Year tradition props missing is the fireworks. Also, I felt like their house was the only one partying in the area.

It has been 3 years since I’ve seen an amazing New Year fireworks… or that very festive New Year vibe! 3 friggin years (the last time was actually in 2008!). Since I don’t intend to go to Sharjah to celebrate the New Year, then atleast I want to see some fireworks and really feel the vibe. I think I could do that. But, I just don’t wanna see it in the sky… I actually wanna feel the festivity, the noise, the eeky smell of the smoke the fireworks/crackers produce, even the noise of the trumpet!

Now that I think about it, staying home would make me feel miserable and I don’t wanna do that anymore. So, how do I maximize my resources then?

What about you, how are you going to celebrate your New Year’s eve?

Happy New Year everyone! πŸ™‚

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