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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!

That guy who stares at you on the Metro

Dubai metro

It’s very easy to know if I am on the Metro – I tweet. A lot. I think in any city, getting into the Metro always presents a chance to tell a story. There is always a story to tell, and being in the metro in Dubai is no exception.

On Sundays to Thursdays, a couple of hours in the morning and again in the afternoon (during rush hours), the Dubai Metro has two “women and children only” carriages however, there are so many complaints from commuters of men who seem to miss the signs. Now, the signs are bigger and bolder and it’s not just the yellow line inside, they changed it to this eye catching pink color, both the line and an added a full window poster.

A few days ago, I was on the Red Line on a rush hour in the evening. I was lucky to be able to get a seat in the women only carriage but saw that so many men are coming in. There used to be a Metro staff inside these exclusive carriages who call out these men to go out and transfer or else be slapped with a AED200  fine but lately,  there’s no one.

My journey will take me about 20 minutes so while others are Candy Crushin, I closed my eyes. No tweeting today, I thought. After a few minutes, I hear the lady beside me speak in a very loud voice. (Did I mention, there’s always something to tweet??)

“What is your problem? Why are you staring at me like that?”

She directed it to one of the two men seated across us. There were many other men standing inside that women only carriage, especially there’s a big event at World Trade Center but she was only referring to that man across us.

“Do you want me to push this button?! I only need to push this button! (referring to the emergency button)

Now, the woman got everyone’s attention.

“Get up! You are sitting this is the ladies section!

The other man, a friend of that guy who was suspected with “staring” smiled. And the lady went for him too.

“Do you think this is funny, huh? What is funny?”

It was so awkward. The lady was really going at it and asked the two men to leave the carriage…the train was still moving.

As much as I wanted to know how that rife ended, I had to get down to my station. But REALLY? What would you do if you caught someone staring at you in a crowded, public space? Would you make a scene like that? I think I would be the one to leave. I need opinions. Discuss.

For anyone curious, the lady was not a local. She spoke Hindi over the phone earlier into our journey. She did not wear any scarf over her head or an abaya. The two men weren’t locals as well but I would guess Arab expats.

Phone a friend or sleep in the metro station!

Yesterday started out as a mess – I forgot my wallet and only realized when I was halfway from home to the Metro station.

(I’ve been taking the train because of unusual heavy traffic in my area, in whole of Dubai actually that makes me clock in late at work)

I could not afford to go back to retrieve my wallet peacefully resting inside the diaper bag because I was already running late! Ah, I should have a work bag that functions as a diaper bag as well so I won’t have to transport my wallet here and there from weekend to weekdays!

A friend I go with to the Metro every morning went ahead to I called her and she bought me a one way ticket to my destination. I had 10 dhs in my office drawer so I planned to use that for my return.

At the end of the day at the Metro station, there were so many people queuing to buy tickets from the lady at the ticket booth but no one at the ticket machine. I wanted to go home as early as I can so I went to the ticket machine, put my 10 dhs bill and pressed the “SHORT TRIP” in the screen. It was 4 dhs and I got a change of 6 dhs along with my ticket.

Then I zoomed my way in.

Right after I passed the ticket gate I thought: “Did I get the right ticket?” I know it was too late to think about this. This morning, the ticket I bought was 4.50 and now I bought 4.00 – whatever, I’ll just be adding 0.50 dirhams in case I can’t go through the station gates at my destination, right?

So. Little. Did. I. Know.

Surely, the station gate sounded when I swiped my ticket. A security guard and station personnel closed in on me with inquisitive eyes. Oh Dubai, you really have this thing of making people feel like a fugitive at the slightest mistake.

Me: I think I bought the wrong ticket. This is a 4dhs short trip ticket but I suppose I should’ve bought another category?

Station staff: You can’t use this ticket from your origin to here.

Me: So do I just add 0.50?

Station staff: NO. You need an exit ticket and it costs 8.50 dhs.

{A small wave of panic}

Me: But I don’t have any cash even as small as 8.50. I only have 6 dhs. Why do I need to pay 8.50 anyway instead of the 0.50 difference??

Station staff: That’s the way it works here, madame. You buy the wrong card, you get penalized and have to buy an exit ticket.

Now I realize why no one queues at the ticket machines and would prefer to buy tickets from the ticketing booth, with a real person selling the correct tickets.

Me: But I don’t have cash. I left my wallet at home so what do I do now, sleep here?

Station staff: I have to call the station manager, madame.

The station manager came and I explained my predicament. She shakes her head and looked at me as if I am making up the i-forgot-my-wallet-at-home part.

Me: Hey, I come here every morning. Can you just lend me some coins to buy that exit ticket? I only need a couple of dirhams and I will come back here and pay you!

Station manager: No, we are not allowed to lend money.

*cue horror music*

I could totally imagine someone looking at me like this:

Me: So, what should I have bought? The 1 zone, 2 zone ticket from origin to here? What?

*3 station staff looked at each other and then silence…”

Me: SEE? You don’t even know what is the correct ticket category to press in that machine!! How much more for us passengers? How many people make this small mistake everyday? What will I do now?

Station manager: You phone a friend, ask for help, borrow from passers-by. Otherwise we CANNOT let you out.

This was the part where I wanted to shout WTF#$&@!*$ but that could land me in jail here. So I grabbed my phone – thank GOD I have battery and call time and phoned my lifeline.

What if a tourist shows up with a wrong ticket and has no friend or cash (wallet robbed, etc)?

My friend was laughing her way to ‘rescue’ me. I know it is my fault I forgot my wallet/train card but really? You risk of being detained at the train station for a mere half a dirham!?


  1. Never forget your wallet or train card at home.
  2. Buy correct train tickets. Do not trust your instinct – buy from a real person at the ticketing booth.
  3. Do not expect people to be kind and forgiving.
  4. Keep money for emergency in purse – wonderful suggestion by Twitter friend @Arminliya.
  5. Always have a friend to call.

By the way, today is PUBLIC TRANSPORT DAY – you are all free to forget your wallet at home and take the Metro/buses. Just have your NOL cards with you as you still need it to open the station gates.

Top Photo credit

Discrimination, racism, whatever it is

I’ve written about how I love the new public transport system in Dubai that is, the newly opened Dubai Metro Green Line. Now, it’s time to talk about what I hate about it – the people manning the trains. ‘Manning’ means supervising, checking on the passengers making sure no one eats, drinks or puts his/her feet on the seats. Well done, thank you very much.

My main complaint is the one assigned in the Gold Class cabin. You see, the train have this one compartment called the ‘Gold Class’ cabin where fares are charged double in exchange for wider, leather seats and front train view. The double fare would put off most people which makes the Gold Class cabin appealing during rush hour – there’s a sure seat waiting for you, 90% of the time. And if you’re heavily pregnant and leg cramps come your way even after 5 minutes of standing, you’d grab that 90% sure seating chance.

So I boarded the new Green Line, camera in hand, ready to take photos and a video. It was the first day and I was excited! I swiped my Gold Card (bought a limited edition commemorative one) and got on the train. There was only me, one other passenger and a Filipino lady train attendant. I positioned in the front, camera at the ready as the train pulled away.

Train attendant: “Excuse me, but not allowed.”

Me: (distracted) “Huh? I’m only taking a video.”

I thought she meant no video taking allowed but it’s allowed in the Red Line so why not here? I turned my back away on her.

Train attendant: “But you’re not allowed here.”

Me: “What? I am only taking a video and will sit down in a bit!”

At this point, I thought she meant I am not allowed to stand because I am pregnant and the train is approaching a bend in the tracks. She finally said it.

Train attendant: “Madame, you NEED a Gold Card to be in the Gold Class!”

All hell broke loose. I stopped the video, and almost screamed “But I have a Gold Class card!!”, to which she replied, “Show me.”

I showed her my card and she said sorry. I swear I could have slapped her! Way to ruin my morning! Rude customer service stories just go on and on and on in Dubai.

Seriously now, the fare was 4.60 dhs (USD1.25). Did she really think I am NOT capable of paying that amount and that I have no place in the Gold Class!? The most annoying of this is that, she did not even inspect the cards of the people who got in after me.

She singled me out!

I gave her dagger looks and she seemed to get the message. She asked one Arab man in local dress to see his card and she got a good scolding!

“Don’t you think I would be stupid enough to get on the Gold Class cabin if I didn’t have a Gold Card!!??”

The lady attendant turned red. Good for her! The Arab man did what I should have done!

I mean, I know it must be your job to ‘check’, to make sure passengers are seated in appropriate seats – Gold Class for Gold card holders and other cabins for the normal Silver card holders but lady, don’t single people out just because of how they look (brown, non-Arab like me!). The fare isn’t really worth diamonds that we brown, common working, non-Arab people can’t afford!!

RTA people, I don’t care if you have to check, BUT CHECK EVERYONE!

Conclusion/Piece of advice: If you’re brown and non-Arab, stick your Gold Card in your forehead!!

Living in the big construction site – Dubai Metro

In the hope of solving traffic in the growing city of Dubai, the government spends 74 billion dirhams to construct the first railway system in the country. An estimated 9,000 men (mostly laborers from India) are helping to construct the Dubai Metro Project at various locations throughout the city. 



Image of the cars to be used in Dubai Metro. The trains are imported from Japan.

The Dubai Metro will be a driverless, fully automated metro network under construction in the United Arab Emirates city of Dubai. It is aimed to be one of the most advanced urban rail systems in the world and will be the catalyst for tourism, financial and economic growth.


Computer generated image of one of the train stations


Image of the elevated train


Image of Dubai Metro in Sheikh Zayed Road

The Metro is scheduled to partially open by September 2009 and be fully completed by 2012. But knowing Dubai’s famed reputation in construction completion (endless delays!), I’d say that the deadline to partially open on September 2009 is too optimistic.

So far, here’s what’s stemming out of the desert right now:

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As the very popular saying goes, “it will be beautiful when it’s all finished“. Meanwhile, residents are getting wrinkly and older by the minute with traffic stress, diversion road confusion and  relentless construction noise.