There’s always a place for Holiday Celebration

cofI’ve been here in Jubail, Saudi Arabia for quite long years. The month of December is a tight fist fight among expatriates. Everyone wishes to be in their own country to celebrate either Christmas or New Year holiday, whatever religion he is believing. Perhaps not all wishes are to be granted by the bosses. Someone should be left to work as normal day to keep other guys enjoying the celebration back to their countries.

Jubail Industrial City, Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is purely an Islamic country. Christmas has no place in the calendar. I saw those flashing lights decorating some of the shops. It looks like holiday lights but they even don’t know that it was. It serves normally as lively decors to attract those choosy customers waving for them to visit.

There is no public displays symbolizing Christmas and New Year but we celebrated it in our own way hidden from the sensitive eyes of the authorities. Everyone knows that such celebration is never allowed. In there, stood a Christmas tree decorated with lights and colorful ornaments. There was a party according to our culture and tradition. Children happily received gifts wrapped in unfamiliar store packaging. Their innocent smiles didn’t even recognize holiday wrappers.  We don’t want to skip those happiness from their childhood memory. It was not such grand or even not to be called as party but we know that the spirit of the celebration touches our every souls.

25588148_1928921227136764_7600891687515545501_oWe visited some malls which have huge sale posters. What a joke! I was so surprised that they have this year end sale so low on the same day of the occasion. A shop galore to enjoy and silently ramp pretending that there was a rush hour holiday shopping.

We visited the seaside a few days back and realized that the place is so wonderful and romantic. A beautiful scenery where everyone has no time to appreciate. Beside the sea was a park for a picnic site and rows of restaurants from fast food burger chains to expensive grilled and steak houses. The place is so perfect for a big family because of unlimited feast options. Though not all of expatriates are allowed to bring a family in Saudi Arabia, but there are still ways to celebrate the holidays.


cofThis is a place where a Christmas song sounds unfamiliar but I strongly sense its presence. It is…….. deep in our hearts!

Happy Holidays!


Bathing at Hinatuan’s Enchanted River

DSC_0310Nowadays, the Hinatuan Enchanted River is one of the most visited site in Southern Philippines as most of the educational field trips of both government and private companies, including small group outings in Mindano are always pointing there. The place was highlighted and recommended several times by tourists who had been there and experienced its charming scenery.

Location: Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, Philippines

Where I Stayed: Terraza Viktoria, Borobo, Surigao del Sur

Buddies: Family (8+)

Sole standing tall tree greeted us while on the way to Hinatuan.

We stayed overnight at a friendly paid accommodation in Trento, Agusan del Sur. The accommodation was supposedly not accepting outsiders but because we have a family friend whose working there, we availed its guest room and bed at a super cheap rent. The group left at 6:30am to have a longer time in the Enchanted River.

Moderate rain showered so early and the weather was acting accordingly to the local weather forecast. We reached the small village of Hinatuan and the parking area to the river at 9am. We brought our valuable things as there was a need to hike from the parking area to the entrance gate. At the entrance, we registered and paid the entrance fee. Also, at the right side of the gate is a row of stalls offering fresh fish and sea foods. They can cook it according to the costumer’s liking and deliver it to the cottage at a given time for a small fee.


DSC_0306After the entrance gate, we hiked entering the secluded vicinity.  The surrounding trees and undisturbed forest are hiding the serenity of the site. Only the resort’s private vehicles have access on the entrance road while the rest of the visitors should have to walk. We reached the checked-in building where a staff guided us to our reserved bamboo-made cottage. The place is like a resort with cottages, benches, tables, and full of people. There are also stairs down to the water. We also rented life jackets which are required and very important while swimming on this river.


DSC00542This river is believably enchanted and that is where the locals acquired its name. There are mythical stories known to the locals about its legend. Its depth is never measure even by professional divers as it is like a continuous underground tunnel filled with water. The appearance of the fishes from below during feeding time at 12nn is still a mystery. However, you can still see the people (including me) bathing and diving on this dangerous mysterious water source.

There is a shallow part at the side of the river for kids but it was too dangerous for them without the guarding adults. Mosquito repellent lotion is also necessary to bring because the thick forest is covering the vicinity. These insects normally attack the victim once rise up from the water.

DSC_0357The river is temporarily cease for swimming few weeks after our visit but there is certain area where the tourist can enjoy its cool water. It is now only for photography which is for me is good enough to preserve its mysterious beauty. I had no chance of peeking the real dark bluish color of the water as signage of its deepest part during my visit. The water appears so blue and majestic on a regular sunny day but since the entire week was raining, the water was not as clear as what I expected.

Side Trip to Stingrays

At the dock, downstream of the river, there were rental motorized boats for P150 per hour. They brought us to the resort stationed in the middle of the sea with a small entrance fee. They offered us feeding of stingrays and swimming with other fishes. They also have rooms for an overnight stay especially in Sibadan Resort which has a restaurant too.



DSC_0425At 4pm, we left Hinatuan and before we headed to our accommodation in Borobo, we visited the Wakat Cave and freshened us in the pool of cold spring water supplied inside the dark cave. The cave is normally public bathing area of the locals which is hidden from the knowledge of the tourists.