Where we stayed: Park Rotana Abu Dhabi

lobby 1

After living in Dubai for more than 8 years, we feel we’d like to explore the other Emirates more and spend some time there on some weekends. We previously explored Fujairah again and had a day trip to Ras Al Khaimah lately. We have found family friendly hotels during our stay. School’s out and it’s summer, Eid is also coming around soon. If you’re not going out of the country like most of the expat population, you might want to check out this hotel we stayed in Abu Dhabi: Park Rotana Abu Dhabi just off Maqta bridge, near Khalifa Park.

The drive took us about two hours from Dubai. The hotel is easily accessible from Dubai (with the help of Google maps) but it’s a bit far from Abu Dhabi city center. The hotel offers shuttle buses to the city center as well as there are plenty of taxis available right from the hotel entrance.

lobby 2

We were assigned at the 7th floor and excited to see the view outside. This is the chic hotel lobby.

hotel lobby

We had interconnecting rooms, perfect for families with children so there’s more space. Family rooms at Park Rotana features two rooms: one with king size bed and the other, with twin beds.

king size bed room

It is ideal for families or friends and could sleep up to 4 people. The rooms were clean, spacious and nicely decorated.

twin bed room

Look at this sweet welcome not just for me but for the kids too!

welcome sweets

It was the first day of Ramadan when we arrived at the hotel. We had our first Iftar at Ginger Restaurant, the hotel’s all day dining restaurant. I’m not only impressed by the variety of the dishes available (mostly Arabic, though) but also the taste. After indulging in so many iftar buffets in the past, I found that the more I dine ‘buffet style’, the harder it is to please my palates. Confession: I easily get bored or had become sensitive to bland food. But to be honest, the food we had here did not disappoint. Kebabs and Arabic mixed grill was really tasty.

iftar june 18

This was the view from our room. This is part of Khalifa Park, if it had not been too hot, we would have loved to go out and explore this very huge park with the kids.

khalifa park

After a good night’s sleep, (the bed was nice!), we look forward to breakfast. As I’ve said,  it has been difficult for me to appreciate buffet food because most of them are either too common or just don’t have anything special. These are just some of the food at the breakfast buffet. I think it could cater to anyone’s breakfast needs.

breakfast collage

DINING OPTIONS AT PARK ROTANA ABU DHABI

Coopers Bar is open from 9pm during Ramadan while the Italian fare Teatro is closed till Eid holidays. Ginger all day dining restaurant is open all throughout the holy month.

GREEN SPACES & POOL

The green space between Park Rotana and Park Arjaan by Rotana was wonderful with pool , lounges, a tennis court and mini playground for kids.

green spaces 2

green spaces 1

The best part of our staycation was definitely the pool! 

pool

pool 2

There is a small shallow children’s pool which had shade so it’s perfect for the little ones!

childrens pool

PARK ROTANA TIDBITS

  • Only 20 minutes drive to the airport so it’s convenient for travelers.
  • Very close to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque (a must see when you’re in Abu Dhabi!)
  • There is a shuttle to take you to the grand mosque
  • has Bodylines fitness and wellness club. The gym is very well equipped!
  • In-room WiFi is not free but according to their website and other reviews online, the hotel is regularly reviewing competitor’s services and assure that their rates for wireless internet is very competitive.
  • The bathroom has no tub. It wasn’t an issue for us as we really don’t have time to soak in the tub and spend most of our time in the outdoor pool
  • 20 minutes drive to Yas Island (Ferrari World, Marina Circuit, Yas Waterworld, Yas Mall, Yas Beach)

It was a very pleasant staycation and I would highly recommend this hotel for families who want something different, a drive out of Dubai. We had a very chill time and the children really enjoyed the pool. Staff were very polite and very attentive to guests. I think this hotel can be a great staycation hotel in Abu Dhabi for this coming summer!

To learn more about Park Rotana Abu Dhabi hotel and their special offers, check out their main website as well as connect with them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

We were guests at Park Rotana Abu Dhabi but all opinions are my own.

Pristine graduates from Primary School

Pristine grad pic

Just like that another school year ends for us. And our oldest child graduated from primary school.

I have so many friends the same age as I do who has either just given birth, still breastfeeding babies or has toddlers. I, however has a child who just graduated from primary school and about to enter Middle School. Cue feelings of being ancient. I will be 39 this year so it’s not like I married really early but still when Pristine’s school sent me information about the coming graduation ceremony, it got me thinking: how did we get here?

Related read: Primary school in Dubai (what’s it like)

She was only 3 when we moved to Dubai from Japan. I still remember when she could only converse in Nihongo and it was so funny because as a very bubbly toddler straight out from Japan’s daycare center, she thought Nihongo was the universal language and everyone could speak it. Her teacher would tell me, “Pristine seems to have so many interesting things to say (judging from her flailing arms and hands while she talks) but I can’t understand the language she’s using!”

Pristine in 2007

The above photo was Pristine and me in 2007 during her first few days at the new school in Dubai. After a few days and weeks, she began to pick up English (and Arabic and French) and as they say, the rest is history.

best in english

Here is Pristine holding her award, Excellence in English during this year’s awards ceremony. Since the school started giving out awards, we have been called every year to attend and be surprised since they don’t tell us what the award is. We’re proud of her achievements in school.

As much as I am excited about my oldest going to middle school soon, I am a little bit anxious. (Yep, because anxiety is truly my middle name) Pristine is entering into a new phase in her life. Well, not just her but all of us. Probably a new school (we are in the process of applying to other schools), new friends, more challenging lessons in school.

Teenage years.

Puberty. Crushes.

Boys.

I have a lot to say to my daughter on her graduation from primary school. But I was too lost for words (more like I found myself swimming in nostalgia of the years that’s gone by) and was only able to manage a few: I reminded her how proud we are of her, that there’s a bright future ahead with unlimited possibilities. As long as we live, she will always be safe, will always be protected, and will always be loved.

Now, we have at least of 8 weeks until the new school year starts. Pristine loves school so much that her dislike of summer vacation landed us on the national paper. We’re spending four week outside the UAE soon though so at least it’s half the misery.

Weekend with Benjamin

weekend with Benjamin

Hi, how was your weekend?

Mine had been very exhausting yet very rewarding at the same time. I had a date with my son. Benjamin is my 3 and a half years old toddler and I don’t get to spend much time with him as much as I would love to because I work full time 5 days a week. I only have the weekends with my children and I intend to make the most of it every time.

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Last weekend, my husband had an event at the Japanese circle where he is a volunteer teaching Japanese language for children (my other child also goes to attend the weekly classes every Saturday). I thought it would be fun to take Benjamin out, and spend the day in his pace, to do whatever he likes. And what he likes is pretty simple – roam around, maybe pass by a toy store, go to a park (not possible in Dubai’s current weather) and most of all, TRAINS!

I took him to ride the Metro and then the tram and we were lucky to be able to see the limited edition specially painted trains!

It was already lunch time when we were approaching Dubai Marina so I thought we’d get down and get on the tram…and then find a restaurant that’s out of our usual go to restaurants in Dubai. We went inside Dubai Marina mall and saw directions to “Pier 7 restaurants”. We’re late to checking out dining outlets at the Marina simply because we live on the other side of Dubai. The week prior, we attempted to go to Pier 7 on a Thursday night and found that most are pubby and not really suitable if with small children. But I want to give it another shot because I’ve read a few reviews…Benjamin and I chose to go to The Scene by Simon Rimmer, level 4 of Pier 7.

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When we entered the restaurant, I first saw a pram..so that meant, the dark, pub like joint we saw last Thursday night had more to offer. It was actually nice to see the restaurant during day time.

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The restaurant features British-style contemporary menu that has the classics lovers of British cuisine know and love, served in a casual open-plan dining area.

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The interiors have that retro feel to it, which I like.

The Scene, Pier 7

The Scene, Pier 7

The place was bustling with weekend diners. It was actually full and with so many families. I had the Entertainer digital voucher on my phone so we even got a great bargain because using that meant, we get one main dish free if we ordered one main dish. Benjamin liked the Chicken Kiev, crispy on the outside and very tender and juicy on the inside with garlic and tarragon butter served with warm coleslaw and roast onion mashed potatoes.

Chicken Kiev

I had the 300g grass fed Angus sirloin steak served with proper chips (yes, they really looked and tasted ‘proper’!) and bernaise sauce. This was new to me as I am not used to having creamy sauce with my steak. Taste wise, it wasn’t bad but I could have wished for a more tender meat for the price.

steak

The Scene was quite a revelation actually. I think I may come back to order their Sunday roast (served on a Saturday as Sunday is a normal work day in the UAE). The people near our table seemed to be enjoying it so it made me curious.Will be back again for sure, so many items on the menu I want to work my way through!

With our tummies full, we once again got on the Metro and chose to stay at the first car. I was standing all the way from Dubai Marina to Deira just so Benjamin could pretend he was a train driver. My legs were dead but my heart was so alive at his ooh’s and aaah’s every time there is an approaching train.

What a lovely weekend we had, had a great exercise by walking, discovered a new restaurant and saw interesting trains. We were back home at 6 pm and asleep by 8!

Child safety at crowded, public places

We will be travelling in a few weeks. Just me and my kids aged 11 (girl) and 3 (boy). While I don’t have any issues travelling alone with the kids especially the older one is old enough to do things on her own, I am seriously considering one accessory for my toddler who has no concept of danger: a child safety harness (leash, if you may call it…shiver…).

You see them sometimes, in crowded places, airports or Disneyland: children on a leash.

Safety harnesses, wrist harnesses, backpack leashes…until I had a child that runs all over the place mindlessly, I thought these things were awful. I passed judgement when I saw a parent holding a leashed child in the busy district of Akihabara in Japan years before I got married. I was single, I didn’t know anything about these fearless children who transform into sprinters once they are taken outside the four walls of the house.

Back in 2013 when we were transiting during our travel to Japan, we nearly lost our son, then, about 26 months at Doha International Airport. I let go of his hand when I was taking out our passports from my bag. You know that sinking feeling that leave your throat dry when you look down and your child is GONE? It only took a few seconds and I saw him running, swallowed by the distant crowd.

We, along with airport security searched for him for *only* 5 minutes maybe but it sure felt like hours. Never mind the struggle to keep a sharp eye and mind while battling heavy breathing, palpitations and lumps on the throat.

There’s nothing like the terror of losing sight of your child, even for a moment.

(We found him safe in Doha airport and in a few times when he scooted off and disappeared in the mall here in Dubai but we’re going to a place where it’s not as safe for children, a mother’s got to do what she needs to do to protect her child.)

It will be my first time using the safety harness (have not bought yet or know where it is available in Dubai!) but if ever I’ll use one on my son, it will be when we are in a huge, crowded, public place and I am alone with him without any help and have my hands full on something: airports, malls, otherwise he is free, like always. If he runs, I’ll happily run with him, as always – nothing like extra exercise during vacation, yes.

To be honest, I am torn whether to mind the judgemental eye balls that would probably pierce through me, the murmurs and at the same time, shit scared of losing my son in the crowd at the airport or being run over by people with trolleys.

So that said, *breathes*

safety harness

Yes, I am going to buy that cute backpack leash for my son and use it on him on times really necessary. I know I’m going to be judged but I still would prefer to sleep at night, peacefully with my son in my arms.

Approval of others, in the end, do not matter if (knock on wood) your child gets lost, abducted or hit by a car.

EDITED:
In my opinion, a leash is like so many other parenting tools and techniques. It’s not inherently good or bad. What matters is how it’s presented to the child and most importantly, why it’s used by the parent. (I’d be furious if I see a parent enjoying phone time and tugging a child on a leash like a pet!)

Though it’s easy to pass on judgement on parents who use leashes on their child, how about thinking that there are certain situations where a parent may have tried everything and eventually decided that a leash is the best way to protect her child until the child has a little more capacity for thinking and controlling impulses? Do not judge something you have never been through.

I found this at Babycenter:

Picture this: You’re out in public and see one toddler strapped into a stroller, one in a carrier, and one on a leash. Only the leash parent is being judged, but ironically the kid on the leash is the one who is getting to learn the most, explore and interact with his environment, and getting some exercise to boot.

Nuwara Eliya in July

hot water

..in July – because you might still be wondering where to go for summer vacation in July and I highly recommend flying to Sri Lanka from the UAE. It’s near, it’s cheap and it’s wonderful.

We visited Sri Lanka last summer and I’ve not quite gotten to writing more about it. My bad. We stayed in Colombo with a dear friend but I’ve always wanted to go to Nuwara Eliya, that mountain region famous for its scenic tea plantations and cool weather. Cool weather, in Sri Lanka? I know, that’s why I have to go and experience it myself!

The train ride from Colombo to Nuwara Eliya lasted for seven whole hours. We have lived to tell the tale!

train to Nuwara Eliya

When you hear the word Sri Lanka, you’d think of warm weather all year long, every where. But the truth is, Sri Lanka’s weather and climate is rather complicated for such a small country. Sri Lanka’s position close to the Equator means that temperatures remain fairly constant year-round.

But temperatures decrease with altitude – a pleasantly mild 14–17°C in Nuwara Eliya where nights in the hills can be quite chilly, with temperatures sometimes falling close to freezing.

jackets for sale

It was almost the end of July when we were there, yet these jackets were on display for sale at the market. Obviously, there was still a need for it. I was tempted to buy one.

St Andrews grounds

While in Nuwara Eliya, we stayed at Jetwing St. Andrews, a nice historical building that offers modern comfort. It’s more than a hundred years old! We left the hotel after breakfast to explore the small town. Jetwing St. Andrews is centrally located and the town is a walking distance.

daisy

The fish market at Nuwara Eliya – just because there’s no shore nearby doesn’t mean the locals would be deprived of fish, a staple food in Sri Lanka. Nuwara Eliya is easily accessible by land through Ramboda Pass towards Nuwara Eliya along Gampola – Nuwara Eliya road.

fish market

rambutan

In earlier times, Nuwara Eliya (meaning ‘City of Light’) was the favoured cool-climate escape for the hard-working and hard-drinking English and Scottish pioneers of Sri Lanka’s tea industry. This classic Victorian style brick building (this is a post office) is evidence of this town’s English influence.

post office

Look at the mountains blanketed in fog – in July!

nuwara eliya post

QUEEN VICTORIA PARK

In Sri Lanka, the town of Nuwara Eliya is known as “Little England”. Apparently much of it was built by the British to remind them of home whilst they managed their tea estates. The Queen Victoria Park is a sprawling 27 acres of beautifully manicured gardens. The kids loved strolling around these lush, verdant gardens.

victoria park

p and b at victoria park 1

Queen Victoria park is a great place to relax and enjoy the natural sights and clean mountain air. Something we don’t have in Dubai!

p and b at victoria park 2

p and b at victoria park 4

p and b at victoria park 3

Unfortunately, the children’s playground is not well maintained with play things rusting, it’s almost dangerous for kids. I hope they repair those soon.

nuwara eliya lodges

Surrounded by hills and tea plantations, the town of Nuwara Eliya enjoys spring-like weather throughout the year. A favourite retreat of the British during colonial times, the town is dotted with English country style houses and half-timbered bungalows, with names like Sunhill Cottage or Windsor Hotel. No surprise it’s earned the name “Little England”.

victoria park 2

Tip when visiting Nuwara Eliya at anytime of the year: bring warm clothing.

We were there in July yet it was chilly. I am sure during other times of the year, it’s safe to bring jackets, etc. We were in Maldives first before going to Sri Lanka and I didn’t bring any closed shoes nor woolly things to wear. My feet was freezing.

We have a (temporary) dog!

batsee and dog

I am not a dog person (so maybe that is not my son over there – but it is my son). Come to think about it, maybe I have not held a dog in my arms. EVER. Don’t get me wrong, I do not hate dogs and in fact, I do have a dream dog to have as a pet – the Labrador. Dogs are awesome and I believe that sometimes, they are better than human beings. They’re not called “man’s best friend” for nothing.

But I am scared of dogs. When you grow up in a place with lots of stray dogs in the street, some just chase you out of nowhere and it’s either fight or flight, trauma builds up. When you hear horror stories of people dying after being bitten by stray dogs, you get paranoid. That stuff is scary.

Fast forward, I left that place and lived in places where dogs are not stray – they are actually PETS who live inside the house, *only* eat dog food (and not morsels of garbage they can find), go to for vaccines like human babies or visit an animal doctor regularly! But still – I can prove to you that childhood trauma can linger way well into adulthood. Once we visited a house with a small dog who ran around, barking and had a habit of licking visitor’s heels…I had to put up my feet in the sofa all the time. (I hate hyperactive dogs!)

dog

My children on the other hand are not afraid of dogs. This and so many other characters/behaviors that make me question if they are indeed my children.

Maybe because they have not seen vicious stray dogs and the only dogs they know are tame and cute ones as pets? They would readily stroke a dog whenever they see one – I always have mini heart attacks when I see them doing that.

dog fostering

Now, we have a dog in our house. He is our friend’s dog we could be fostering for about 3 months. They are going back to Japan soon but their dog is with us now “on trial” because of dog travel related stuff, Chataro (the Shiba dog) is not allowed to enter Japan yet.

Why did I agree to this arrangement, being dog-phobic that I am?

The dog is unbelievably tame. He never even barks and do not have that fetish to lick human feet. It’s because he is already 13 years old, almost 14 so if he is human, he is between 68 to 72 years old! He moves slow but still engage in short play sessions of throw-and-fetch which the children loves.

It’s been 4 days since Chataro came to live with us and it looks like he can stay with us longer. Our children are very hands on with the dog (one almost don’t know how to keep his hands off!)…Pristine wakes up earlier than usual in the morning to take Chataro out for a walk before she goes to school and Benjamin is always keen to go with us when we take the dog out in the evening.

As for me, I am still very cautious with the dog around…there’s still that fear that he might lick my heels and I might scream…and the old dog will die of heart attack! *knock on wood*

Radisson Blu Fujairah

Where we stayed: Radisson Blu Resort, Fujairah

Radisson Blu Fujairah

The modest entrance at the end of the long, narrow driveway of Radisson Blu Resort Fujairah would not wow guests upon arrival. It actually looks mysterious and will get you asking, “What lies beyond that simple entrance?”

Well friends, after spending two nights here, we found out you shouldn’t judge a hotel by its outside appearance.

We were in Fujairah some days back for some rest and relaxation – left Dubai on a Thursday night after work and spent the weekend at this only Emirate facing the Gulf of Oman. We’ve explored the city of Fujairah before so we decided to stay at a beach property this time. Think 500 meters of beautiful private beach and all rooms facing the shore. Inviting, yes.

It’s hard not to fall in love with the idea of waking up to this.

rad blu room

*Photo taken from their Radisson Blu Resort Fujairah’s official website

HOW TO GET THERE

Radisson Blu Fujairah is located in Dibba, Fujairah, about 90 minutes from Dubai if you take the Sharjah-Dibba Road. However, we didn’t take that road because we left at night and there’s a patch of that road where there is no center barrier and many trucks passing through. We took the new Dubai-Fujairah highway, the one that gets you to the rolling mountains of Fujairah in forty minutes, then went north to Dibba.

It was already late when we left Dubai, around 8 pm so we expected we’ll arrive at 10pm max. However, we encountered bumps along the way with the youngest passenger throwing up inside the car! Being a mother, I shouldn’t freak out with this scenario but I still freaked out. My clothes were soiled with sour smelling stuff so we had to stop at the nearest gas stand to clean up before proceeding to our journey.

The new road to Fujairah is relatively straight but after that, there were too many roundabouts, humps on the road (to slow down traffic) and congestion. It must have triggered Benjamin’s motion sickness.

We arrived at nearly midnight after that ordeal.

CHECKIN

Check in was fast and smooth. We were really already very tired and it was late and the two staff at the reception did their best so we can go to our room as soon as possible. We were also asked to choose from a warm dinner menu. How kind! The warm dinner menu is offered to all package guests

THE ROOMS

We had two interconnecting rooms – one with king size bed and another with two semi-double beds. This is great for families staying with children. Spacious enough for the children to run around!

king bed room

DOUBLE BED ROOM

We have a bed and pillows quality checker with us and she said, “nice!”

pristine in bed

Our warm in-room dinner arrived shortly. This is actually very timely because the kids got hungry after that long ride (and one kid got especially hungry after he emptied his stomach from that throwing up session in the car!).

dinner collage

We slept very comfortably and though we went to bed past midnight already, I woke up very early…because my body clock is cursed/blessed like that. I wake up at almost the same time, almost everyday, no matter where I am!

But it pays to wake up early at this side of town. I was rewarded with this view from our room balcony.

sunrise

sunrise 2

I tiptoed into the balcony making no noise as much as I can so as not to wake Benjamin up. But of course that did not work. A few snaps of the beautiful sunrise later, he was awake and looking for me.

glass sunrise

ben gm

What a lovely morning we woke up to – there had been days of sandstorm/dust storm lately and the staff had told us they hoped the sun would shine the next day and the weather clear. Well, the staff’s prayers were answered!

BREAKFAST BUFFET

breakfast view

Breakfast is served at Breeze all-day dining restaurant. The servers had a ready smile and were quick enough to serve coffee or tea and ask us of our needs. The breakfast buffet was not bad although some may expect more variety. One thing we also noticed is the lack of rice option in the buffet spread whether it’s breakfast or lunch. I guess that can be attributed to the main patrons of the hotel which are Russians and Germans (at least during our stay there)?

After breakfast, we walked to the beach to test the waters.

radisson blu fujairah

Many people had the same thing in mind. We love the feel of fine, white sand in our feet and the water was calm and very clean. The private beach stretch of the hotel makes this property really charming.

beach

How was the water? “Can we swim mama?”, asked my toddler. Even if the sun was already warm (actually hot at midday), the sea water was still cold. Not many people went for a swim so we headed to the pool.

We’ve been eyeing the pool from our room balcony. The staff said it’s temperature controlled, so grateful for that!

Radisson Blu Fujairah Pool

Radisson Blu Fujairah Pool

p in pool

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What’s with kids and water? They never ever wanted to leave!

SPRUNCH = Spa + Lunch

brunch
Friday brunch at Breeze restaurant was a lavish affair with international dishes and a huge array of desserts. But because this is the first photo I took of the Friday brunch spread does not mean this is the only thing I love (heh).

I love brunches that has special dedicated sections for kids. Because, you know, with a toddler around, it is difficult to even hold a one minute conversation with your spouse.

kids area brunch

Radisson Blu Fujairah brunch

We were introduced to the concept of “sprunch” or spa + lunch package at Raddison Blu Fujairah. That’s free 15 minutes of neck or shoulder massage at the O2 spa. Also, the sprunch deal entitles you to 15% off any spa service. Sounds like your thing? I know, I love massages too!

The husband and I booked our short spa session after our filling lunch so guess what happened next? We were all knocked out and had a 3 hour nap!!

FRIDAY IS BARBECUE NIGHTS BY THE POOL SIDE

We had two options for dinner: one at the beach side (romantic dinner under the stars, sand on your feet) and another was the barbecue buffet dinner at the pool side. There were plenty of this:

SEAFOOD 1

We are not really fan of seafood because the two kids and I are allergic to it, except for fish but they really looked fresh and tasted good according to the husband. You can choose whatever you like from the array of fresh shrimps, fish, mussels, crabs and lobsters and the chef will grill it for you. Beef, mutton and chicken are also available along with salads and dessert.

Then there’s a live band that plays all sorts of songs. You can even request a song. Any song, no judging!

BAND

seafood collage

The kids loved the dinner setting and the weather was just perfect for eating outside at night.

lamp

After dinner, we went up to our room thinking how to cope up with the fact that we will be leaving this wonderful place the next day.

Radisson Blu Resort Fujairah’s entrance may be modest but the experience is stellar. Prices are reasonable, all the staff from towel boys to cleaners to restaurant and reception are very helpful and courteous make staying in this hotel very worth your time.

sun loungers 1

sun loungers 2

To learn more about Radisson Blu Resort Fujairah and their special offers, check out their main website as well as connect with them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

We were guests at Radisson Blu Resort Fujairah but all opinions are my own, as always.

All about orange and turquoise

orange and turquoise

My siblings and I are building a house for our parents – we tore down the house where we all grew up in, in the Philippines to build a new one; the one our parents really dreamed about. The house is almost finished now and we are just deciding on things to put in because we are replacing everything to new from big stuff like sofas, beds, cabinets etc., to small things like curtains, mats, towels, beddings and cushion covers (<- I totally made up this one, because…why not).

Top photo source: Pinterest

I am excited as if it is my house because finally I can put up things I like (with the approval of my FIVE other siblings though…but they are pretty easy to negotiate hee hee). As a forever renter, things like this excite me. I have projects lined up like making a photo gallery wall, making a DIY Roman blind…for a non-crafty person like me, this is too good to be true.

That said, I have been spending too much time on Etsy lately.

I would like our new house to have lively colors that pop. I’m thinking Orange! Turquoise! Teal! (you just need to look around the design on my blog to see the obvious…I love these colors!) My first family had been living long enough in a very dull, messy house (we have four boys in the family!) so it’s time we enjoy a more decent living space that’s pretty.

I found these beautiful, colorful living rooms.

living roomSource: Pinterest

living room

Source: Pinterest

living room

Source: Pinterest

Don’t you think the whole house seems to jump out of life with this color, particularly orange? If you are an orange lover, that is. But whatever. I like these colors. My brother has bought a dark brown couch and I am in a hunt for colorful cushion covers. I found these.

orange 1

Source: Etsy

turq 1

Source: Etsy

Very difficult to choose from so many designs! But orange and turquoise aside, I found this uber cute Totoro pillow covers, too! I would like to buy these and put these small cushions in the bedroom. My son’s reaction would be precious!

TOTORO PILLOW COVERS

Source: Etsy

totoro 2

Source: Etsy

If you’re a Studio Ghibli fan (Totoro, Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, ring a bell?), I know you’d go crazy with this Totoro pillow cover too!

Back to putting some splash of color in the living room, I am in love with these accent chairs.

accent chair 1

Source: Pinterest

orange accent chair

Source: Pinterest

Nothing like cute funky colored chairs to break up the cream walls, hey.

So, what do you think? I know we all have our color preferences and yep because this is my blog, you are not allowed to bash my orange and turquoise thingie because that’s my ‘in thing’ for now, maybe it will change when I am older, I don’t know. But heck, life is too short to live on all beige!

How to transfer UAE visa sponsorship for children

benjamin-visa 2

Like hundreds of thousands of expatriates in Dubai, we all require a visa to work and live here. Mine and my husband’s employment visas are sponsored by our respective employers. Either of us but usually the husband (“head of the family”) can then sponsor our children and our house help.

When we first came to Dubai in 2007 because of my work, I sponsored my husband and our daughter because my husband did not have any work that time. Sponsoring husband and children in the UAE is allowed but can sometimes become a tedious job that requires extra paper work. Not all women are allowed to become family sponsors due to the fact that this is a Muslim country and the immigration department insists that the child’s sponsor be the father in all circumstances. However, in case the husband (Father) has lost job and got his visa cancelled, it will be necessary for wife (mother) to sponsor the visa, if the mother works in UAE. 

Our son, Benjamin is under his father’s sponsorship but due to changes in his employment situation, we needed to transfer the visa under my sponsorship. Pristine had been under my sponsorship since 2007.

I receive a lot of inquiries via my private email regarding this so this blog post. Hope this helps.

REQUIREMENTS
* Please note that when the wife becomes the sponsor, the immigration officers deal with this in a case to case basis so additional documents may be needed other than the ones listed below.

1. Original passport of child/children to be sponsored

2. Original passport of sponsor

3. No objection letter (should be typewritten as handwritten is not accepted). It should state that the current sponsor (in our case, my husband) has no objection/accepts that the visa sponsorship is transferred to the new sponsor (in our case, mine). In some cases, the immigration officer might ask for this letter in Arabic so better prepare both in English and Arabic. We were lucky they accepted ours in English.

4. Labor contract of new sponsor – The sponsor’s monthly salary shall be Dhs3,000 + accommodation or a total of Dhs4,000 as per the employment contract approved by the Ministry of Labour. The Contract to be attested from Immigration Department on payment of Dhs120.

5. Proof that husband cannot sponsor – we presented the end of contract letter from his company.

6. Birth certificate of child

7. Marriage certificate

8. Tenancy contract (accommodation rental agreement). It has to be attested through Ejari online system of Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA).  The Tenancy contract should be under the sponsor’s name. Our tenancy contract is under my husband’s name so we attached his passport copy and explained that we are living together.

9. Electricity bill (I think this is used as proof of address)

10. 1 photograph of the child in white background

PROCEDURE
1. Go to the immigration office (the main is in Jaffliya but you can also apply at the municipality office, we went to the one in Al Twar near where we live).

2. With all the required documents, approach an authorized typing center (there is a typing center in all immigration branches). Tell them whether the child is in the country or outside the country. You pay the visa fees at the typing center.

3. Once  the typing is done for the new Entry permit, approach the immigration department and present your application.

4. This is where you will be asked to see the supervisor who will assess this as a “humanitarian case”, check all your documents and HOPEFULLY sign the entry permit form. You may be asked questions as to why there is a need to transfer the visa (where is the father? What is his visa status?)

5. Once you receive the Entry Permit, if the child is inside UAE, you need to get the status changed by again approaching typing center and typing the form.

6. When that is done, approach the immigration desk again to stamp the visa.

*Medical is not required for children below the age of 18 years.

COST
We paid Dhs 830 at the typing center. This includes Residence visa fee, transfer fee and Emirates ID.

IMMIGRATION BRANCH LOCATIONS

Main Branch
Bur Dubai, Karama, Opposite Jafiliya Metro Station
Working Time: 7:30am – 8pm (Sun-Thu)
Immigration Call Centre 800 5111

Dubai International Airport (Terminal 3)
Gate No.2, Departures area
Phone: 04-707 5388
Timing: Around the clock, seven days a week (including holidays)
Services: All visa related services (including e-gate card)
NOTE: Urgent service only for new visa stamping and renewal (Courier service not available)

DNATA Emirates Building
Near Clock Tower, Deira
Phone: 04-707 5946
(Dh25 extra service charge for each transaction)
Timing: 7:30 to 2:30pm

A’amal Center – Hyatt Regency
Hyatt Regency Hotel-Deira
Business Centre, First Floor
Phone: 04-707 5922
(Dh30 extra service charge for each transaction)
Timing: 8am to 2:30pm

Municipality Service Centre
Al Towar, Qusais, Opposite Al Towar Mall
Phone: 04-707 5162
Timing: 7:30 to 8pm

Bin Souqat Centre
Al Rashidiya
Phone: 04-707 5939
Timing: 7:30 to 8pm

Arabian Centre
Mirdif / Al Mizhar
Phone: 04-707 5181
Timing: 7:30am – 8pm

Khor Fakkan roadside beach, Fujairah

We saw the coast of Khor Fakkan at the top of the hill at Al Bidyah Mosque and the children have spoken: beach next!! Our very kind driver from Novotel Hotel Fujairah, where we stayed during our trip to Fujairah happily obliged.

“Are you married?”, I asked him.

“Do you have kids?”

“No, madame I don’t have kids but I know kids. Let’s go to the beach before we go back to the hotel.”

Awww. So sweet.

So we made a quick turn and stopped at a roadside beach. Our driver parked the car and immediately the kids got down and ran.

I chased them, the husband chased me and took a photo of me chasing the kids. I finally caught up with them.

kids at Khor Fakkan beach

You can see the Port of Khor Fakkan ahead. Khor Fakkan is a town located along the Gulf of Oman on the east coast of the United Arab Emirates. The town, the second largest on the east coast after Fujairah, is set on the picturesque bay of Khor Fakkan, which means “Creek of Two Jaws”. Khor Fakkan belongs to the emirate of Sharjah but is geographically surrounded by the emirate of Fujairah. Source.

Once near the water, they immediately took their slippers off and attempted dip their little feet in the water. During the month of February when the desert sun just starts to pierce through our skin on mid-day, the waters off the beaches are still cold to the touch. I couldn’t imagine swimming in it.

We did not bring any swimming costumes as I already assumed the water would still be cold. Benjamin started with the rolled pants style but eventually, we went back to the hotel with only his underwear!

We were approached by some men who offered boat rides to nearby islands. It was difficult to say no but we had to go back to the hotel for lunch. I hear a collected sigh. Getting on a boat had been an adventure the day before when we went out to explore the coast of Fujairah on a small motorboat from the Fujairah International Marine Club.

beach fujairah khor fakkan

“Island trip and back. 150 dirhams madame, for all, including the little people.” Definitely next time!

beach fujairah khor fakkan

It was a lovely side trip and wish we could have stayed longer, lay down a mat, open the picnic basket and have lunch under one of those trees looking up at the cloudless blue skies above and the blue sea ahead, feeling the cool sea air on our face, you know, just forget about the passing of time even just for a while.