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)  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!).  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. 🙂

Me: Oh, I’m sorry. Thanks 🙂

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.

🙂

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. 😛 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 🙂

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. 🙂 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! 😛

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. 😛

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! 🙂

I pose, when i feel it's right! 😛

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

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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. 🙂 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 🙂

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.  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 of https://www.facebook.com/DowntownDubai 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. 🙂

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  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.  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. 🙂

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. 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! 🙂

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2011, A Reflection of the Year that was… of Depression and of Contentment

As I try to recall the year that was–that is, 2011, it seems like a lot of things had happened, both small and big. Thinking about it now, I couldn’t be more grateful enough. I am so blessed and now, I am in a place of contentment.

The start of my 2011 was a bit slow. I somehow agree to what I’ve read in my horoscope, that things would start its pace by the latter part of the year and I just had to be patient. True enough, it did.

For the 1st half of my year, I became really busy and my focus was more on my responsibilities outside my current world. To expound further, I was very much distracted from work with my “day-dream job”. Oh, it’s still not specific, isn’t it? To put it out straight, being an expat here in Dubai, I am physically present at work and outside work, but my focus was more in fulfilling the responsibilities of our non-profit/fan group in the Philippines (Incubus Street Team Philippines). I work here in Dubai as an engineer, but during those times, I just resent my job! I mean, not a day has passed by without me saying “I hate this job, if it weren’t only for the money.” Now, as for the “day-dream job”, though I wasn’t in the Philippines, I could say that I was the point person of the street team–like a project manager (?). My very-much-hidden obsessive-compulsive character just went out. Always sending emails, making calls, searching for sponsors/contacts, and arranging for different things. It may be easy to read: Tree Planting Activity (much credits to Onang), Shirt Projects (much credits to Anna), getting the team in place, and the big one: Pre-Concert/Post Album Launch Fund Raising GIG Party, plus a lot more! But it was a lot of work. And yes, it was “work” for us–only we weren’t earning anything (not that any of us mind). Labor of love. What started as me/us being a fan of Incubus led us to do activities that isn’t about us being “just us” anymore. It was really very rewarding.

Time flew by without us realizing it. It was fun and sweet and tiring all at the same time. Somewhere in between months during this period, I flew in and out of the country back home, wherein my focus was more of our group’s activities. In a total of being home for 4 weeks (i flew back to Manila twice in a span of 2 months!!), I was mostly with the street team. I’ve met with my HS friends once, my extended family a few times, and mostly hung out with my family at home. Daytime, if I wasn’t on the PC, I was with the team’s meeting. It felt like an events job for me, but it was very rewarding. I felt really happy the moment we successfully did it. Just happy. Blissful. And yes, we got to meet the band Incubus in person. Cherry on top of the cake. YES.

But after all these, when I went back to Dubai, leaving everything and everyone behind… I felt depressed. I felt bad. I felt really lost. I hated my job even more–knowing that with the right team, we can successfully throw a successful event. That’s the career that I felt was really right for me. I hated it even more because I know that my current job pays well compared to the risk that I am still not willing to take. My everyday job felt even more boring, because I had to deal with the daily tasks. No more “street team” job to do. I was still pushing through, but no one was in pace anymore.

Next, I felt like everyday was the typical day and there’s really nothing to look forward to. “What’s the reason behind all these? Fine, I work to earn… Then what’s next? We’re all going to die anyway.” No, I never thought of killing myself. But I just wished to die really early… that if I die at that time, it’s okay since nothing was relevant anyway.

Much more, my family in the Philippines (excluding one of my sisters) was going to migrate to the US. I thought to myself, it would be a long shot for us to be altogether again… Like, when will we celebrate my birthday with all of us in one place? What about their birthdays? And the Christmas holidays? I felt really guilty for not being able to spend time with them when I was on vacation… for prioritizing the “fan” in me, the street team member rather than allotting time to spend with my family. I remember, before I left home, I hugged my mom and cried, telling her: “I don’t wanna leave anymore. I don’t wanna go back there.” But still I left. I had to. That’s life.

Days went by and I was living it like as if I was already dead. I was waiting for time to really fly by really fast… For it to fast forward. I was doing things at a routine just for the sake of being occupied… The whole time that I was depressed, I preferred to just stay home, watch movies, clean up and do basic chores once in a while. I resent everyday and declined each invitation. I knew that I was lucky and should be grateful, but at that time, I just didn’t know the purpose of it all. I find it meaningless. I sort of closed my heart subconsciously, not knowing that it would make me empty. Until one day: I went out with friends.

I can’t remember how it all happened, but the depression sort of just went away. I was content of just living life, one day at a time. I enjoyed the food that I eat, couldn’t care less about spending, and was just okay. I enjoyed my friends’ company very much and I looked forward to spending more time with them. I sort of changed. I became more oriented with my tasks and responsibilities. I became more inspired of what life could offer, whether it be big or small.

I ate out on weekends with friends. Became excited of the Friday brunch, the afternoon walks, and the late night house drinking party. I just gave in to the feeling of being content.

Work, I didn’t mind at all. I worked and get annoyed from time to time, but I just let it go. I did not let it bother me the way it used to. I just say “fffff what the heck!” then move on in a snap.

When I discovered a soothing music, the one which made me light, floating, and happy (a huge shoutout to Jason Mraz’s music), I tuned in to it. It made me think and reflect even more… It made me realize to just live and not worry about tomorrow.

Last November, I traveled again and realized even more how lucky I am to be at a place where I am at right now. Not all people could have the opportunities that came along my way. I became more open and receptive of others. I allowed myself to let them come inside my heart… and for that, I allowed myself subconsciously to move out of that depression and to just live.

I’ve learned when to let things strike me, and what or who are allowed to hit me hard (figuratively). Simple term: I learned when to be affected and when to not care at all. It’s simple yet hard to explain, but I learned how to be more grateful and appreciative of what is in front of me right now, and how to brush off everything else.

Care? I still do, I think I care even more. Emotional? Yes, still a lot. Depressed? Not anymore, and I don’t intend to be.

I remember talking to Adrian, a guy I crossed paths with on my trip to Amsterdam, about him wanting to study Philosophy. He’s of the same age as mine, 27. He used to do the same job as I and he understands how my work somehow makes me grumpy (I told him that my job has attributed a LOT to my grumpy character at work). He told me that it’s why he decided to study again, coz that wasn’t for him… And he just finished his 2nd degree and now he’s traveling for a few months now… And he intends to study again: Philosophy. We talked about those things and a lot of other stuff to, then he said somewhere along that “if you think about it, we’re still lucky. Not all people could do what we’re doing right now.” And indeed, he is correct.

He somehow inspired me too, to move forward. Meeting him and meeting a lot of people along the way in my previous travels have inspired me in a lot of different aspects.

Reflecting on the year that was, 2011, is just very inspiring for me. It might sound simple and probably my depression sounds a bit lame for some, but experiencing that made me appreciate what I have right now in my life. I’m seeing things differently with a whole new perspective.

I wanna study again, and I am still unsure of what it is. I wanna travel freely knowing when to worry, and when not to. I wanna change careers and not worry about the stability of the wage that enters my pocket. I wanna live life and smile when I hear good music, even though it doesn’t relate to any of my previous experiences at all. I look forward to the day that I could spend with those I’ve left behind back home, my friends and of course, my family. I look forward to seeing myself in their pictures and just being there with them. I am excited to the things that are in store for me by the year of 2012.

I am looking forward to 2012, but I am not rushing to the time that I can get to do those things again. I have a not-so-vague idea when those things would happen, but for now, I’ll take one day at a time. Until I figure out what I am going to do tomorrow and accomplish it by end of day, then that’s the time I’ll think of what’s in store the day after.

As I leave 2011 and move forward to 2012 in 3 days, I’d like to share with you some of the lines that make my heart jump, my mind tingle, and my eyes and lips smile… These lines are such a mood setter and I believe has definitely helped me feel better with life.

“Live High, Live Mighty, Live Righteously, Taking it Easy…” — Jason Mraz with Live High

“I won’t worry my life away” — Jason Mraz with the Remedy

“I don’t wanna wake before the dream is over, I’m gonna make it mine… Yes I, I know it” — Jason Mraz with Make it Mine

May everyone have a prosperous, inspiring, and a Happy New Year! Appreciate yourself and be grateful, then you’ll be content.  Be content, and happiness will follow. Live, Be Content, and Love… Everything will fall into the right place the moment we allow ourselves to let them in our hearts.

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Eating in Dubai on a Holiday

Today is the 2nd to the last day of the 5-day long weekend in celebration for the Eid Al Adha here in Dubai. Since my passport is still with the Consulate of the Netherlands (for my upcoming Euro 2011 travelshiz), I’ve no choice but to just be here–literally here in my current base, Dubai.

My roommate left me for a short holiday to Vietnam. Oh trust me when I say I’m soooo excited for her trip. I’m not envious (believe me when I say this time that I’m not that envious) of her going… To be honest, I was actually a bit sad for myself because I’d be spending this longgggg holiday alone here in this empty studio of ours. No friend to chat with about random ridiculous stuff. No “boy” talks. No narcissistic convos. No “tipid” (thrifty) food galore. No nothing. Just me, myself, and my laptop (and yes, dirty laundry).

Good thing, there’s what we all call as “friendly neighbors” to the rescue… My friend-friends. 🙂 [Barsha people +more!!].

So, what did we do for the past few days? Duh!!! What we’ve always done in each weekend–only this time, LONGER!

—–Ye s! FOOD TRIPPING!

What I like (and have somehow discovered) here in Dubai is the extensive fooooooddddd choices.

Thursday (day 1): dinner at Channels Buffet at Rotana

Friday (day 2): Global Village food fest

Saturday (day 3):  Tim Horton’s at Sheikh Zayed, then dinner at Thyme Buffet at JBR. After which, after dinner drinks at a friend’s (didi’s) house.

Sunday (day 4): dinner at Bricklane, Al Barsha, then Yougurt at Red Mango, MOE (the chocolate flavor is LOVEEEE), thennnnn another after dinner drinks at a friend’s (marian’s) house.

Monday (today!!!): food fest by the pool in our building, then a follow up dinner at Apple Bees… and after this blog, after dinner drinks at a friend’s (alma’s) house. 😀

SO there… my “being stuck” at the base isn’t too bad after all. I got to appreciate Dubai as a 2nd place of residency for me (sorry kids, but the term home is a bit strong, soooo it might take a while for me to call it that :P)… Thanks to the easy food access and the amazing people I get to share it with.

Ok, if you are having a boring time from where you’re at, just allow yourself to indulge on something and you’d feel like you’re on a Holiday and would definitely get to appreciate and enjoy it even more 🙂

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