Exploring Dubai

Dubai is the most famous city in the Middle East. It’s known for its unique landmarks and attractive building structures. Booked via Flydubai which has daily flight from Saudi Arabia, we visited Dubai of United Arab Emirates for the first time.

DSC_0154I contacted a Dubai based travel agent to work for our guided tour and visa. The agent replied to us and offered us a family tour package. Included in this package are accommodations for three nights, Dubai dhow cruise, entry in Burj Khalifa and Ski Dubai with free transfers. I agreed to a 50% deposit for the visa processing and the hotel as per him was requiring a down payment. The balance will be paid upon arrival in Dubai. In just three days, the electronic tourist visa was granted and was emailed to me.

DSC_0001.JPGWe departed from Dammam airport at 8:55am and landed in Dubai after an hour. Our travel agent was already outside of Terminal 2 and waiting for us. After immigration and baggage collection, we stepped out of the airport and met him. He headed us to the Royal Ascot Hotel in Bur Dubai for our accommodation. We waited for half an hour since the checked-in time of the hotel started at 2pm.

Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Where I Stayed: Royal Ascot Hotel

Buddies: Group (4+)

Royal Ascot Hotel is a 4 star rating hotel according to our travel agent. Its location is excellent in term of its distance to the airport. The metro station and shopping malls are just a few minutes by walk. It also a few minutes drive to the most visited places in Dubai. The superior deluxe room which is situated on the 6th floor is so spacious. The biggest room was given to us. We’re so very thankful to our travel agent. It looks like he has a good business relation to the marketing manager of the hotel.

At 4pm, we started discovering the best creations of Dubai. We visited the famous Miracle Garden with an entrance fee of 30 dirhams per head. The place was so amazing with colorful and bunches of flowers in a beautifully landscaped garden. Some of them are so familiar with me and named them specifically. The place was so great for picture taking but be watchful for touching those displays all the time. My wife received two whistle blows from the garden’s staff. One time when she was holding the bicycle with full of flowers and another when she seated on one of the fence. We’re all laughing! For the sake of photo for remembrance, we were behaving badly.

DSC_0100There were so many talents displayed inside the Miracle Garden. The animals and human structures, the houses, the giant clock, and more. Obviously, all of those are with floral touch. The garden lay-out was so wonderful.

At 7pm, we left the garden and took our buffet dinner at Lamesa restaurant in Aseana Hotel. We have seats reserved for it was always full. At 100 dirhams per head, our craving for pork “lechon belly” had been satisfied.


At noon,  we visited the Ski Dubai which was inside the Emirates Mall. They provided us winter clothes to be used inside the frozen world. We didn’t stayed so long inside the artificial snow world but we enjoyed walking and tube slide on the ice.

DSC_0148At 3pm, we left Emirates Mall going to Dubai Mall, the entrance to the famous and world’s tallest building. We took our late lunch at the mall’s food court to feed our protesting parasites. At around 5pm, we joined those bulk of tourists entering Burj Khalifa. The security was so strict because foods and big bags were not allowed. However, they provided a bag counter to where guests can leave their bags safely.

I was amazed on how the building was constructed. This is how technology works. The city can be seen at all angles. Our visit was considered a peak hours so we added 50 dirhams per head from the normal entrance fee to our travel agent. But we were satisfied because we witnessed the sunset and water fountain show from the bird’s eye of view.

DSC_0171After the sunset, we went down and nailed our time in a water dancing fountain which approximately starts in every 30 minutes. We left the mall at 8pm and took our dinner at Ryu Korean Restaurant in Bur Dubai before going back to our hotel.

Last Day

We took our breakfast at the hotel and prepared our baggage. At 9:30am, we left the hotel and have a quick side tour on the remaining famous tourist spots in Dubai like Burj Al Arab and Atlantis, the Palm. At 12n, we enjoyed the outdoor water park Wild Wadi. We left the park at 3pm and back to the hotel for the final arrangement. Our flight back to Saudi Arabia was at 6:25pm.


The Historical Sites and the Pride of Dapitan

Dapitan is known as the place where the Philippine National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, was on exile during Spanish colonization. We arrived in this city to connect on how the books precisely narrated the Philippine history and his heroic deeds which changes my personal views on revolutionary movement.

Location: Dapitan City, Zamboange del Norte

Where I Stayed: Dakak Beach Resort

Buddies: Family (4+)

There were three sites we visited which was significantly related to each other based on preservation and the era they were built.

St. James Church
Splendid Interior

We reflected at St. James Church which was originally constructed in 1871 in honor of St. James the Great as its saint patron. The church stands as the living monument of the local’s faithful dedication to the Catholic Church which was renovated several times. I was amazed on the ceiling interior as it drawn my attention while I sneaked from the door. In front of the church is the park which has a huge relief map of Mindanao island. Studying the geography of the island might be familiarized pretty well on the site. Jose Rizal was found attending mass in this church every Sunday during his exile according to historians.


Not far from the church is a village with several old houses. The most familiar is the Aniano Adasa Ancestral House which is now housing the local tourism office of Dapitan. On the wall was seen an old framed portrait of Rizal symbolizing that it has attachment to the national hero. It is a heritage house built in 1901 which is the symbol of combined American-Spanish-Japanese structure. We met the family whose taking care of the heritage house. They have a 22-year old son named Junrey,  the world’s shortest living man recognized by the World’s Guinness of Book Records in 2011. Knowing and meeting Junrey and his family was a great honor and a bonus to our visit.

Our last stop was the main historical landmark of Dapitan, the Rizal Shrine. It is a beautiful landscape where Dr. Jose Rizal spent his years from 1893 to 1896. His small house, school, clinics and kitchen are well preserved by the locals and became a tourist site. Rizal’s life and works was summarized in simplicity and his talents in medicine, farming, teaching, arts and literature was witnessed by the community. His contributions and thoughts was well preserved and always remembered by Filipinos proving that “pen is mightier than the sword”.

Dakak – The Pride of Dapitan

It was almost sunset when we left the shrine. We headed to Dakak Beach Park and Resort for our overnight accommodation. We availed their promotion package which requiring us to pay P1,000 per head for an overnight stay. Included in the promo was a complimentary plated breakfast and a free entrance ticket to Gloria Fantasyland. The most affordable promo deal especially when traveling in a big group.

Dakak Resort
Comfortable Bed of Dakak Beach Park and  Resort

Amusement Park. At 6:30pm, we returned back to the city and took our dinner at one of the restaurants inside the complex of the fantasy land. The Gloria’s Fantasyland is an amusement and themed park with packs of rides such as Ferris wheels, galleon ship, roller coasters, and a lot more. The 5-D cinema is also among its famous attractions. There were few guests as waiting time for each ride was fast. In fact, we were only three guys riding on the bumpy roller coaster.

The most awaited part on the park’s program was its closing show which I was entertained by numbers of jaw dropping performances titled “Joie de Vivre”, fiery movements of fire dancers, funny mascots, colorful parade of lights, and stunning fireworks.

The Gloria’s Fantasyland is comparatively small and rides are limited and less intense than Enchanted Kingdom and Star City.  However, its existence in a small city like Dapitan is something big to be proud of.


We left the amusement park at 11pm and the night had comfortably ended relaxing at Dakak Resort’s bungalow with native designs and decors.  The room was big and the terrace was the best spot to unload the negative vibes from exhausted body. It was the good time to be with the nature as the resort has no wifi.


Beach. When the sun scattered its morning rays, the resort revealed its natural hidden beauty. The clean white sand and clear water at the beach reflected the resort’s continues drive on maintaining its facilities. I personally enjoyed the water at the beach and at the pool.

We only had limited time in the resort so we didn’t try other activities they were offering such as aqua sports, zip line, horse back riding, and others.

We left the resort at noon and started our long journey back to Central Mindanao.


Dakak Beach