The World of Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi is more than an hour travel from Dubai. As our plan, we have to wake up early to lengthen our time but it looks like we ourselves didn’t followed our own rules.

We left Dubai at 9am and we first visited the Grand Mosque. It is the world’s 3rd biggest mosque after the two Holy Mosques of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. Non-Muslims are allowed to enter the Grand Mosque, unlike at Holy Mosques.

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Our driver who served as our guide led us to the entrance of the mosque. We entered a security tent for scanning of our belongings. He then led us to the underground car park to borrow a long black dress called “abaya”. The women clothes should be covered by abaya and men who are wearing short pants by “thoub”, a white dress for men. The attire was borrowed for free by showing to the staffs the hotel’s key where we were staying.

As a reminder from the mosque’s authorities, wearing open clothes is not allowed especially for women. Women’s hair must be covered. The shoes must be removed when entering the prayer room. No modeling posture when taking photos. And no  public display of affection for couples. There are so many staffs inside reminding the visitors every time the do’s and don’t s of the site.

Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque

The Grand Mosque was the biggest mosque I visited so far. The outer white painting reminded me of the Disney’s children television show Aladdin. The mosque’s doom was said to be furnished with real gold. The weather was hot but once inside the mosque, it was cool.

At noon, we left the mosque and headed to Ferrari World amusement park. The park for those fanatics of racing cars. It has so many rides but sad to say that we didn’t have enough time for all of them. We miscalculated our timings and schedule. We should give a one full day for Ferrari Park alone. However, we tried some of the rides and the highlight was the world fastest Roller Coaster. At the speed of 240km/hr, for less than a minute ride, our throat was out of liquid, hair stood up, and crippled our balance. It drained our energy but the experience was worth to remember.

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At 03:30pm, we left the Ferrari to travel back to Dubai. We’re back in our hotel at 5pm. We took a nap to recharge the energy lost in Ferrari Park.

At 7pm, our travel agent picked us for the two-hour Dhow Cruise which started after an hour. The foods were international cuisines but more on Indian dishes.  Majority of tourists on board were from India. We cruised the riverbank for dinner and short dancing show. A little disappointment for I expected to see more of beautiful attractions on night scene and entertainment like what I experienced before in Bangkok.

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City Tour in Puerto Princesa

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Visiting Palawan was before just in a dream. This island on the western part of the Philippines is far and there is no direct flight from Mindanao. So I saved first enough to secure an airline ticket before anything else.

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TRAVEL. Departed from Davao City at 8:45am by Cebu Pacific Air and landed in Mactan, Cebu after an hour. We took our luggage immediately and directly headed to check-in counter for Puerto Princesa. I was confused why the airline didn’t connect our onward flight considering that our flight booking was with the same airline company. We had then to rush after landing, took our baggage, transfer from arrival to departure hall, and again check-in. We made it anyhow and managed a few minutes rest in pre-departure area waiting for our flight to be called at 11am.

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Comfortable Bed of Audissie Pension Hotel

Location: Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Where I Stayed: Audissie Pension Hotel

Buddies: Partner

The plane landed at 12n in Puerto Princesa and Kiko was contacting us through my mobile. I booked Audissie Pension Hotel, owned and run by Kiko’s family. A budget but a comfortable hotel within the city for P800 per night. We did a miscommunication with Kiko. He requested a van to pick up us from the airport but we already hired a tricycle to bring us to the hotel. I personally met Kiko and I didn’t expect that I am talking to a young guy who managed a hotel business.

The people in the city are so warmth. The tricycle driver offered us for a city tour in the afternoon. We agreed for P600 for the half day tour. If the city tour was through travel agencies, it will cost P600 per head.

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PUERTO PRINCESA TOUR. The tricycle picked us from the hotel at 2pm and we headed directly to a travel agency to inquire if there was available slots for the Underground River tour by tomorrow. But it was sad to hear that it was fully book. I booked a Firefly Watching on the night for P1000 per head to cover up our disappointments. We’re on the way to Crocodile Farm when Kiko called me and informed that he found us a vacancy for an underground tour. We then asked him to book for us and we’ll pay him after our city tour.

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Back to the Crocodile Farm, we made it to the entrance which costs P20 per head and saw crocodiles before the rain falls. We visited the small nursery and the adult pond. We also toured other cages but we found those animals and birds hidden because of heavy rain.

Less than an hour, we left the farm and proceed to Mitra’s Ranch on where the provincial governor mansion situated and sighted islands of Honda bay. There were so many local tourists on that site having fun with series of zip line.

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A few minutes away from the ranch is the Baker’s Hill. We stayed there for few minutes. We toured the bakery and its park. It was my first time to see real and alive peacock! Before leaving, we bought freshly baked breads from the bakery and all tastes delicious especially the ube hopia. We need to come back in the hotel because we will have butterfly watching activity which will start at 5pm.

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NIGHT WATCHING. They picked us from the hotel and brought us to the city’s Baywalk which I noticed was just at the back of our hotel. We met Edison, our firefly watching tour guide. At 6pm, together with other groups, we boarded to a big boat and sailed to the mangrove site. The group divided into two, comprises of 10 people each group. Us, the first group will continue sailing further using the small motorized boat on the river entering the mangrove site. The other half will remain and take their dinner in the big boat.

We transferred to the small boat and sailed toward the river, deeper on the mangrove site. Edison asked us to put our hands in the water to notice that the water was luminous and glowing because of the abundance of the organism called plankton. Farther on the site, we saw mangrove trees decorated with hundreds of fireflies.  The cruise was very educational for Edison explained briefly details about fireflies and mangroves. He also answered why not all trees has fireflies.

After 30 minutes, we went back to the big boat to give way to the next group and for dinner. They put wood on the top of the seats which serve us our dining table. Everyone are tired and enjoyed the seafood meals mostly crabs and shrimps.

We’re back in the city at 9pm. We arrived in the hotel at 10pm because the driver forgot that we’re just staying at Audissie Pension House, a few minutes away from the Baywalk.

 

Temples, Palace, Cruise, and a Lotus

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At first look – a typical water lily

We woke up early for our Thai breakfast at 7am. The dish was like a porridge with so many spices. The taste was very flavorful.

We then prepared to Taling Chan Floating Market which was just 20 minutes from the hotel according to the google map. Unfortunately, the taxi only brought us at Taling Chan town and not in the floating market. They advised us for a motorcycle ride for 60 baht to reach the floating market in time.

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The floating market was not so big but we saw bulk of tourist visitors. Like us, we’re here with a common reason. To experience the market venue in a floating platform. The good thing was its free and has no entrance fee.

We saw those women paddling the boat and selling their products. The water was not clear, chocolate in color but those big fishes (catfish?) were smartly living there. One Thai student fed the fishes with bread and offered some bait with us. We enjoyed the life in the floating market and the restaurants as well. The first menu was the delicious and fresh vegetable salad. We also tried  the tasty bowl of noodle soup while seated in a shortened chair with matching table. Our stomach were full when we left the market. There were so many Thai foods and agricultural products on sale.

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We decided to walk up to the temples that we had seen along the way. We didn’t usually know the names of them. After the temples, we hired a taxi going back to the hotel to prepare for our next tourist site. I checked through internet that entering the Grand Palace requires descent clothing. Wearing short skirts and pants were discouraged.

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We arrived at the Grand Palace at 3pm. We were late but we still secured an entrance gate pass for 400 baht each. We were amazed on the preservation of the place and the temples of Emerald Buddha. The stones and the architecture were very impressive and unique. We even entered the temples removing our shoes. Touring and visiting Grand Palace needed more time to explore. And we failed! We didn’t gave such ample time. We lastly visited the Emerald Buddha museum before it closes at 4:30pm.

We followed the flow of visitors exiting the palace. It was directed to the nearest market along Chao Praya river. A cold refreshing smoothies after a tiring walk inside the palace was the best reward.  The foods in Thailand were very cheap and healthy.
We didn’t eat much for we’re preparing for our cruise dinner. For it still early, we walked from the market up to the pier allocated for boats going to Temples of the Dawn. We just glimpsed the temples because we didn’t have time to transfer on the other side of the river.

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The Wan Fah Dinner Cruise was booked through site Bangkok Cruise for 1,300 baht. The starting point was at the River City. Thinking that we’re just along the river, I’m expecting that we’re near the River City pier. I asked a “tuk-tuk” but the driver charged us 300 baht. We didn’t agreed because for me it was overpriced. We dealt with 200 baht. But on the way, I realized that it was really far and the traffic jammed us. The cleverness of the driver escaped us from the crowded traffic. When we arrived at River City Mall after Sheraton Hotel, we handed him 300 baht as silent apology.

At the pier, back of the River City Mall, we couldn’t see the staffs of Wan Fah Cruise. We went inside the mall and saw their booth. We approached the staffs and confirmed our arrival. They pinned us corsages with a number and led us to the waiting old wooden boat at the pier.

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Our dinner cruise along Chao Praya River started at 7pm. Prior for our boarding, a lady wearing a thai traditional costume held us for a picture taking. She then led us to our table number corresponding the number on our corsages. The boat started to move and the dinner was prepared starting with a spicy soup and vegetable spring rolls. After a few minutes, the Thai and Seafood set baskets were served. While the people were busy popping their heavy meals, the tour guide was explaining the tourist sites we had passed like the Temples of the Dawn, Grand Palace, famous hospital, and the beautiful Rama VIII bridge of Bangkok. When the guide is off air, thai traditional music was on the playlist.

On the way back, Thai traditional dances were performed. They also asked some tourist to dance together with them. Unfortunately, my camera was down because the battery degraded. I have no souvenir from those cute dancers. Three different dances were performed but with same dance steps. For me, only costumes and the music were changed but the steps were not. The bill was then given to each table. The drinks were not free except for water. Each delicious drink costs 150 baht. Then the photo shopped picture which was taken before boarding was in frame and costs 200 baht.
The river cruising took two hours and the experience was great. Touring Bangkok will never complete without experiencing river dinner cruise.

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For the River City is very far, we chartered a taxi in going back to our hotel. Our hotel was not that famous because the first driver didn’t know it. So, we rode a taxi to the famous Phayathai train station and from there another taxi to Resort Bangphlat.

Bohol Country

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Two days tour in a magnificent island of Bohol. We visited historical landmarks, marvelous chocolate hills, dolphin watching, island hopping, lunch in a floating restaurant and snorkeling in a marine sanctuary.

Location: Bohol, Philippines

Where I Stayed: Alona Tropical Beach and Resort

Buddies: Group (10+)

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DAY ONE

10am, arrived in Tagbilaran port, Bohol via Supercat Ferry boat from Cebu.
Joined the stoned heroes at Blood Compact Site and prayed at the island’s oldest coral stone church, the Baclayon Church.
12n, buffet lunch in River Watch Floating Resto while cruising the Loboc river and witnessed the singing and dancing locals at the river side.


Encountered the island’s oldest captured anaconda and been in the biggest non-edible Heshey’s kisses like chocolate, the famous Chocolate Hills.
Stopped-over at great man-made forest, sought butterfly at the sanctuary, tickled the cutest and smallest mammals, the tarsiers, and sip a fresh coconut after the bamboo hanging bridge.
6pm, we arrived at Bee Farm. Unfortunately, All bees was already resting at their beehives!

Checked-in at Alona Tropical Beach and Resort and dinner along seaside restaurant.

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DAY TWO

5:30am, woke up earlier for the dolphin watching in Panglao Bay.
7am, met the schools of fishes while snorkeling in the Marine Sanctuary and took our locally prepared breakfast in Balicasag Island.
9am, island hopping, docked at the Virgin Island, and back to the hotel to enjoy the warm water of Panglao beach.

1pm, checked out from Alona and visited the miraculous Dauis Church before going back to Tagbilaran Port.