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Moment of Impact

Being part of the first-ever Amputee Climb in November 2009, which was featured on GMA’s “Born to be Wild“, was my perfect moment of impact as a mountain climber and travel blogger. The experience, with the four amputees and all those who made it to the summit of Mt. Batulao that fateful day, has indeed changed me.

Looking back now, I could say that the ripple effects of this life-changing experience did reach far beyond what I had predicted.

Without a doubt, we all have the potential to inspire.

Related Articles

Photoessay: The First Annual Amputee Climb at pinoymountaineer.com

One foot at the summit, and the other foot up in the air: The First Annual Amputee Climb! at pinoymountaineer.com

First Taste of the Summit at Mount Batulao at yobynos.wordpress.com

IMG_2123

Sands On My Feet

I can no longer remember the last time I freed my wandering feet. I am talking about that time when I kicked off my suffocating shoes, peeled off my sweaty socks, and just started walking on the beach in bare feet.

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Oh summer…you are making me remember how those millions of loose tiny grain rocks massage my feet at once. They osculate, hug, and make love to my tired, sore soles. That feeling of scrunching sand on my feet when I walk on the beach is crazily disarming. It gives me such a sensation to revel in.

Related Posts

Life Lessons From My First Solo Travel to The Most Famous Cove In Luzon

Weekly Photo Challenge: Summer Lovin’

Weekly Photo Challenge: Adventure

Water Tower and Revolving Restaurant (2)

Al Kharj’s Most Prominent Functional Landmark

My last visit to Al Kharj (“Almarai’s Central Processing Plant in Al Kharj“) in July 2014 gave me one of the best architectural pictures in my memory card. I have been seeing and capturing this high riser but I never knew what it is called. I had asked fellow Filipinos about its name but all I got is the word “tower”, so I just kept it there for months. I finally learned about its name only last week through a colleague, a native of Saudi Arabia.

Water Tower and Revolving Restaurant (2)

Apparently, it is called the Water Tower & Revolving Restaurant and it is actually the most prominent functional landmark of Al Kharj City, which has developed into a modern center of agriculture and industry over the past two decades. It does not only serve as the backbone of the city’s fire and potable water system but it is also designed to function as a place for unique recreation and entertainment as well as social center for the inhabitants of Al Kharj that extends to Riyadh areas. From downtown Riyadh this landmark is only about 90 kilometers.

The Tower stands up to 105 meters high with 57 meters maximum diameter of the tower structure. The storage capacity of the water tank is 7800m³. The super structure has six main levels. The basement, located about seven meters below the ground level comprises the offices, electro-mechanical room, and storage space. The concourse level located about two meters below the ground serves as the main activity center on the ground. It contains an Exhibition Hall, an auditorium, a number of shops and a separate cafeteria for families and singles.

Above the observation level is  the 400 seat-revolving restaurant, which completes one full turn in one and half hours. Seats are located along with outer periphery of the restaurant whereas kitchen and other services are placed around the core. The architectural form of the water tank appears like a drop of water supported on a number of ribs. The shape and form of the reinforced concrete incites inspiration from Arabic Calligraphic forms. Tourists and travelers of this landmark can stroll around the water tank within the annular space between the tank and the ribs. This also allows them to appreciate the green fields of Al Kharj oasis from that height.

The podium, which is raised about two meters above the ground level, can be accessed by a series of stairs from all the four sides and corners. The water tower imposingly rises from the center of the podium. The observation level, which is about 45 meters above the ground level, affords a unique view of Al Kharj City surrounded by lush vegetation.

It is indeed difficult to picture farming in them middle of a desert. However, the booming dairy farms in the city challenge the imagination even more. There is more than 120,000 heads of cattle being raised therein and 80 percent of the dairy products produced in Saudi Arabia emanates from the area. Today, the locals have named the road that leads to many of the dairies as “Milk Road”. One of them, Almarai Dairy Farm, holds the distinction of being the largest integrated dairy operation in the world.

For centuries, Al-Kharj has stood out. In utter contrast to the behemothic desert land that surrounds it, the Ad Dahna with its reddish sand to the north (“Weekly Photo Challenge: Horizon“), and to the southeast, the Rub Al-Khali, the largest sand desert in the world, Al-Kharj’s small verdurous farms and groves of date palm trees have flourished in the fecund soil.

Al-Kharj’s secret and its promise lie in its abundant fresh water supply. For thousands of years, a lot of deep ponds and a network of natural aquifers have been continuously fed by three major wadis–Wadi Sahba, Wadi Hanifah (“In Search of A Rebound“) and Wadi Nisah–and several smaller ones, which drain rainwater from the Tuwaiq escarpment to the west.

It is a no brainer now why Al Kharj is considered the center of agriculture and industry and why the Water Tower & Revolving Restaurant has to be cobbled up at the very heart of the city.

Related Posts and References

Outside Riyadh at simba.com

Dairy Farms of Al Kharj at riyadh-ksa-me.blogspot.com

Old Dir’iyyah at riyadh-ksa-me.blogspot.com

Places to visit in The City of Al-Kharj ~ Life in Saudi Arabia at saudiarabia.blogspot.com

Places to Visit in Al Kharj, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – Tour Guide at naumankhan.blogspot.com

latin plurals

Anglicized Latin Plural Forms and Those That Survived Their Singular Forms Respectively

Our topic for this episode is a bit different from the ones we usually exscind; nevertheless, their evolving forms can potentially cause confusion to both non-native and native English speakers. It was a suggestion from one of my colleagues who has been hooked into the series.

The most important thing that we should know about Latin nouns is they are subject to vicissitude. It means they have the privilege to evolve from time to time. “The distinctions between Latin singulars and plurals is still observed for some English words in some contexts–scientific or academic–but for the most part, either the singular or the plural Latin form, depending upon which sounds less English, tends to be dropped” (dailywritingtips.com).

To date, here are the Latin plural forms that have been anglicized (i.e., accepted in standard usage) per the information I got from dailywritingtips.com as of last year:

1. data/datum

Although the singular form datum is correct, it has long been rejected by most English speakers as not sounding right. Hence, data is now used as either singular or plural. (When the study of Latin was standard in the curriculum of English- speaking children, no one thought twice about using datum as the singular form of data. Now that Latin is a rarity in American education, datum sounds foreign and has been abandoned in general usage.)

2. appendix/appendices

The Latin plural is still in use, but one also hears appendixes (√).

3.formula/formulae

The Latin plural persists in scientific contexts, but one often hears formulas (√).

4. encyclopedia/encyclopediae

The English plural encyclopedias (√) is more common than the Latin.

5. index/indices

The Latin plural is used in academic contexts, but one commonly hears indexes (√).

6. agendum/agenda

Here, the singular form has dropped out and people speak of both an agenda and agendas (√).

7. memorandum/memoranda

Both of these forms are still in use, but I’ve heard memorandums or memos (√).

8. cactus/cacti

Some people still use the Latin plural, but one hears cactuses (√).

9. fungus/fungi

Both forms are in use, but one also hears funguses (√).

10. hippopotamus/hippopotami

Since most people now call them hippos (√), the Latin plural is not much in use. The plural hippopotamuses is a mouthful and when used tends to sound humorous.

11. dogma/dogmata

The original plural was dogmata, but dogmas (√) has prevailed. The older plural, however, gives us the adjective dogmatic.

However it may be, put in mind that there were also those that survived their singular and plural forms respectively in standard usage such as axis/axes, crisis/crises, and criterion/criteria. The latter is what we are going to weave into a side dish.

latin plurals

The usage of criteria as singular is painfully common; however, Standard English prohibits such for it is considered grammatically nonstandard. The standard singular form is criterion and the standard plural form is criteria.

Allow me to substantiate the foregoing statements.

First of all, Grammar Nazis at grammarist.com and chronicle.com concur with the inaccurateness of criteria being singular.

Secondly, leading publications in the United States still use criterion for the singular noun meaning a standard by which something can be judged.  Take a look at the following examples taken from well-known publishing companies in the United States:

criterion functions as singular noun

1. Williamson implies that is so, rendering this a meaningless criterion. [Washington Post]

2. Perhaps one such criterion was for mortgages to have a loan-to-value ratio of 100%. [The Atlantic]

3. If comfort were the top criterion for selling womenswear, Jimmy Choo would be out of business. [New York Magazine]

criteria functions as a plural noun

1. We’ll look for help today with today’s screen from Morningstar CPMS, which has set up a conservative screen using seven criteria. [The Globe and Mail]

2. The new criteria have been attacked by many in the industry as being too onerous. [Financial Times]

Lastly, dictionary.com and thefreedictionary.com both say that although criteria is sometimes used as singular, most often in speech and rather infrequently in edited prose, it continues strongly in use as a plural in standard English, with criterion  as the singular.

In the future, if the universe will conspire to make you a host for a competition where you will have to enumerate the judging criteria, I hope you will say “The first criterion for judging is …

Related Posts

Confusing Words: Criteria and Criterion at gingersoftware.com

Criteria vs. Criterion at englishstackexchange.com

Criteria vs. Criterion at forum.wordreference.com

Photo From Budget Travel Website

The Highlight of My Summer in 2007

When I was working in the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) seven years ago, I had set foot on one of the country’s pride when it comes to pulchritudinous beaches.

It was a fine Saturday morning when our team arrived at the gates of the Philippines’ biggest coal-fired power station, the Sual Power Station, which generates more than 1,000 megawatts and was built in 1996 to supply electricity to the whole of Luzon. One of the many good things about being with the OSG is its established ties with Team Energy. For every company outing sponsored by them, we were privileged to get free board and lodging.

Team Energy has two power plants: The Pagbilao Power Station in Quezon and our featured point of entry for our featured place, Sual Power Station in Pangasinan. We actually had our first company outing sponsored by them only a few months before this one and you can view it via this post: “First Taste of a Virgin Beach at Lukang Island in Pagbilao, Quezon”.

The day started with a sumptuous early meal at the plant’s exclusive first-class cafeteria where an array of mouthwatering seafood swamps the dining tables. After that we spent several hours of sightseeing though the moorings a few meters away from the cafeteria.

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Seeing the vastness of the ocean and hearing the swooshing of its waters against the bulkhead and the yatchs’ bows and sterns gave me such a summer indulgence to the sense of sight. We then checked in our respective rooms after and did the same thing during lunchtime. The night was full of fun, music, cards, and some soft and hard drinks. Did I include massage there?

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The following day, 25 May 2007, at around 8:00 o’clock in the morning, the plant let us used one of their gorgeous yachts to get to Alaminos City for our major destination: The Hundred Islands National Park. Funny how I cannot forget the rough sailing we experienced on our way until we were getting closer to the park. Nevertheless, everybody got excited to get off from the yacht as soon as we were seeing some of the islands. We navigated along the area enjoying the fine scenery.  We were able to count a few small and big islands. Like us, each island has a unique characteristic of its own and each deserves appreciation.
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Soon, we had to dock, and this is how we got to the Governor’s Island for our lunch. The Governor’s Island is one of the three most developed islands in the national park and it is the most popular among the islands. After filling our sacs with another batch of esculent seafood, we explored the island and in doing so we discovered more than the craggy terrain, there are coves in it that has fine white sand beaches ideal for swimming. We did not swim though. Our guide led us to a hiking trail atop a hill-like rock formation to feast on a 360 degree panoramic view of the whole Hundred Islands National Park. I took mental pictures of the exquisite views, and I am sure my colleagues and friends around did the same. It was just unfortunate that I do not have a super camera during that time. I had to borrow a couple of images from Asian Journal and The Pinay Travel Junkie to make a point. The views atop will surely leave you breathless!
From Asian Journal Website

Photo Credit: Asian Journal

The sky was blue, the birds were singing, and the sun that accentuated the solid blue contours of the sea was eye-squintingly bright. I felt so insanely peaceful.

Photo From Budget Travel Website

Photo Credit: The Pinay Travel Junkie

Our visit to Governor’s Island did not only cover sightseeing atop but peregrinating the cave at the back of the island. The cave is big enough for people to enter but has a very narrow body. There is nothing extra special inside it but I got fascinated by the petrology of its rock formations. This point marked the end our our island adventure to the Hundred Islands. We all returned to Sual by 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon and washed up as soon as we got to our rooms.

Processed with Moldiv

Seeing about a hundred of the Philippines’ 7, 107 islands is an accomplishment for me. The beautiful views and fun memories from this team building highlighted my summer in 2007. They will be forever etched in my memory.

Related Posts/References

Bolinao Hundred Islands Tour Package (Updated as of January 2015) at 8wonderstravel.com

Pangasinan: Hundred Islands National Park, Entrance Fee, Boat Ride Rates, HOW TO GET THERE at  backpackingphilippines.com

Hundred Islands National Park: Rates and Rental Fees at asensopangasinan.com

100 Islands at travel.pangasinan.com

Hundred Islands Tour Package for a minimum of 4 pax at lovekoanawangin.wordpress.com

trainings

Care for Trainings…or Courses?

Last February 24 of the current year, one of my articles, “Stop Saying ‘Thanks God’ When…“, about common grammar pet peeves in 2014 gained almost 2,000 Facebook shares and 4,310 page views in a matter of two days. It drastically outpaced my old masterpiece “Masteral and Other Filipino Concoctions” that, although frequently viewed still, has only 633 Facebook shares after three years. Times like this make me feel really proud. For a struggling blogger, it feels good to know that people read his posts. The best feeling though comes from knowing they spend time to share those posts on social platforms especially Facebook or Twitter. This is the trend.

To those people who made me me reach that milestone, my biggest thanks! Your support has always been the lifeblood of my inspiration.

Suffice to say the milestone instantly fueled my muse. It’s been six months since I published a blog post pertinent to grammar pet peeves. We’ll be wrestling with the word “trainings” and “two common nonstandard phrases found in out-of-office replies” for this episode.

Three months ago, I did apply for a different position in the company where I am working for. Before sending my résumé to recruitment division, I did a thorough proofreading. (e.g., includes removing every period at the end of each of my bullet point statements, ensuring that a period appears after an abbreviation unless the item is an academic degree or certificate, eliminating the career objective section, and so forth). The thing is, there is this section (i.e., TRAININGS) of the résumé that I always find specious even though I know several corporate trainers who use “trainings” as a plural. The last time I checked Google did not show hints of grammar bugbear that points to our subject in dispute: trainings. I then revisited some of the reliable grammar sites (dictionary.com, dailywritingtips.com, pongororesume.com, & josecarilloforum.com) on my list that time. Thank God I did.

Apparently, trainings is not the plural form (was never in fact) of training. It just doesn’t fit right on the tongue as a countable noun. I couldn’t help shrinking as I was thinking of the times I forwarded the résumé for job application or reference purposes.

Those grammar sites affirm that when training is used as a noun, it is uncountable or mass noun. Therefore, there’s no need to attach “s” to it. Training is training in its plural form. That isn’t how I used the word in that section of my résumé. See, I also slip. I need some more training in English.

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The nuts and bolts of this entrée is, trainings is nonstandard. It’s a grammar pet peeve. Grammar Nazis and reliable grammar sites say that if you want to pluralize it, you might as well use coursesshort courses, training course, or  training sessions most especially in the context of résumé components.

The two common phrases “out of office” and “back to the office” have been quite visible in our workplace so that I also thought they are grammatically correct. If not because of their respective off sounds–brought about by the absence of article “the” in the first phrase and the preposition “to” in the second one–I would have not bothered to probe.

English Language Learners Stack Exchange’s website says that, “out of office” has a completely different meaning of office, which is an appointed government position. For example, “After a series of unpopular decisions, the entire board of education was voted out of office.” Without the article “the” in the phrase in red, it will not make sense by itself since it refers to a specific office that is countable. However, if used with uncountable nouns it will work as in these examples: “I am out of coins.” and “This product is out of stock.” The phrase in red will also work if used as a compound adjective/modifier as in, “Google can give you a multitude of examples of out-of-office replies“.

Remember to include the article “the” in the phrase “out of office” as in “out of the office” when you are implying that you are on vacation or  in training and will be back soon (e.g., “I am out of the office from April 12 to May 16.”)

back to the office

On the other hand, the phrase “back to the office emphasizes one’s physical presence back to the office; it indicates motion (e.g., “After the meeting I will not come to the pub, I will go back to the office.”)

If you are to write an out-of-office reply where you will indicate your return in it, you should not use “back to the office“. The correct phrase in that sense is back in the office as in the example below.

Thank you for your email.

I am out of the office from April 12 to May 16, and I have intermittent internet access during said period.

I will be back in the office on May 17.

Please contact Jason Statham at thetransporter@office.com for exigent matters.

So remember, training is a mass noun, out of the office is the correct phrase to use when you imply being on vacation or in training, and back in the office means resuming to work in the office after a leave or holiday.

Major References: englishforums.com, senseira.de & dailywritingtips.com

Little Wonder in Washington Syccip Park

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds

Like the host of this week’s photo challenge, I love achieving the bokeh effect when I shoot small subjects like flowers.

Little Wonder in Washington Syccip Park

I am not a fan of putting a subject at the center of the image. I usually apply the rule of thirds.

Related Blog Posts

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds at dailypost.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rules of Thirds at kardzbykris.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rules of Thirds at (kilatalkingstory.wordpress.com)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rules of Thirds at suyashchopra.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Rules of Thirds at thepetalpusher.wordpress.com

Applebee's Interior Light 5

I Am a Moth and So Are You!

There are many different ways that lights can be used. They can set a relaxing mood on your porches and decks, illuminate your gardens, or brighten driveways, walkways, steps and the other areas of your home or establishments.

Holiday Inn Izdihar Hall Back

They can also provide safety. Lighted driveways and walk ways give a safe passage to those entering and exiting your property at night. This can prevent some small accidents from happening like tripping over things.

Holiday Inn Izdihar Hall Facade

Lights at home also give the impression that someone is always inside as there are very limited dark places for trespassers to feel like they can be unseen. So they increase the security of our houses. The same is true for other property types.

Chapel Chandelier

Above all these architectural lighting design benefits, lights have always mesmerize me because of their very special and unique appeal. They never fail to fascinated my optical organs whenever I catch them boast that visual quality like no other.

Cabalen Aesthetics

No wonder, the aesthetic appeal of lights is the first focus among the three fundamental aspects of architectural lighting design based on what I read.

BK's Blade Lights

I have always marveled at lights when I have the chance to even when I was younger. It is only now though that I was able to comprehend where that exquisite pull comes from. There is, of course, science behind it. And behind the science is a lighting designer who does most of the technical works—from measuring whether or not a particular light should be subtly blended into the background or whether or not it should stand out and assess what kind of emotions the lighting should evoke. If I were to give an answer to the latter, I would say relaxation. I feel that form of mild ecstasy each time I am in a place seeing lights illuminating a place or when I see them flickering  in the night.

Applebee's Illuminated Wall

The most attractive ambiance, as an example with how visually captivating lights are, I could think if is that of the restaurants’ interior. Their visual quality has always intrigued me. For years, I have noticed one enchanting physical characteristic of these places: the dimness, which provides drama and appeal. There is this study that was done in 2012 by Cornell University pertinent to the relaxed mood we get from such kind of ambiance. The results postulate that restaurants’ lighting indeed affects our moods…The catch is definitely good news for those who love eating out at casual dining restaurants and the like.

Applebee's Interior Light's The Four

The meat of the study says that dim lights cause us to eat less because a relaxed atmosphere, brought about by dim lights, affects the appetite.

Applebee's Interior Light 3 Applebee's Interior Light 4
Applebee's Interior Light2

Applebee's PatioA softened lighting leads people to eat less, to rate the food as more enjoyable, and to spend just as much. This postulates that a more relaxed environment increases satisfaction and decreases consumption.

But I digress. Let us go back to the main point—which is trying to understand the engaging visual appeal of lights.

The lighting designers in the University of Minnesota have answers. Their research titled “Lighting: Its Effect on People and Spaces” concluded that (1) basically people are like moths—attracted to brightness—and (2) they prefer spaces where walls are illuminated. We are bound to follow the brightest path when navigating. When it comes to restaurants or hotspots environment though, we do not like to sit in brightness but love to see brightness. So we tend to face walls that are illuminated.

Applebee's Interior Light 1

I now understand why I am pulled by the lights. I am a moth in that sense.

Applebee's Interior Light 5

With all the readings and observation I did regarding the magnetism lights possess, I gained a whole new level of appreciation for lights. I no longer see them as just a piece of valuable architecture that provides light to be able to walk safely through the office corridors at night, to allow the whole property to be on show during night time, or simply to provide for safe circulation within available spaces or so I could recognize a flake on my black shirt. I now see them as something that adds a touch of magic and something that pushes my “visual interest button”. Lights have never been these much of an exciting subject for me. I would not mind being a moth as long as what I go after are similar to the photographs. I am a moth and so are you!

Related Blog Posts

Paris, The City of Lights, Really Lights Up at Christmas at seattletimes.com

 Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrasts at yobynos.wordpress.com

IMG_4870

Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself

Appreciating the warmth of summer, exalting the rigors of natural movements and exercise, keeping personal life under one’s hat, and blogging are some of the things that primarily identify the author behind Stories of the Wandering Feet & Mind. These explain why he claims to be a summer person, a health buff, a parent, and a traveler who will forever crave outdoor adventures, workout, quality time, and traveling. IMG_4870

He will never use limited space, equipment, money, nor time as an excuse for not succumbing to what primarily defines him.

Related Blog Posts

Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself at dailypost.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself at acoffeebreakwithmike.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself at colorfulbunt.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself at travelwithintent.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Express Yourself at inigobautista.wordpress.com

IMG_5394

Boys’ Night Out Redefined & Reworded

Coffee breaks have become an important part of our routine in the office and we (colleagues and friends) usually do it before settling to our workstations in the morning and a few minutes after lunchtime. The picture of the blathers that come from this break make it more fun; it adds social value to the group’s bond.

IMG_5402After quite some time, one of us suggested the idea of having a boys’ night out at a café. Since that was a payday, every one simply gave in. The truth is sipping a cup of coffee at a café is a fancy thing for us—commoners. However it may be, there was a huge excitement radiating from all of us before we left the office later that day. The thing that made it extra special is the pack was in full force.

We first took part in doing our monetary obligation for our families back home. Java Time is the only decent café near Enjaz (a money remittance arm of Bank  Abilad) in Exit 5 so we unanimously picked it.

Upon stepping on Java Time’s door, the aromas of the dark, shiny, minuscule coffee beans drifting around made us feel that much needed time to unwind and escape the busy corporate world. The smell of that crushed black beans is just heavenly. It was so calming. And welcoming the sweet smell of pastries for our sweet sooth will just yield more magic. The unique lighting at the second floor is a bonus.

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It is true, we will always be fascinated by beer and college days can sure attest to that. But here in Saudi Arabia, the yeast-fermented malt drink cannot be the option for the kind of night out we wish to feast on in pursuit of bromance. We are generally content with our respective relationships of course. Nonetheless, it is primal for us to find some time to crack open a beer with the pack. Make that drink a cup of cappuccino, latte, or macchiato in the current setting.

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You see, a boys’ night out is not just about prowling the streets, beer indulgence, or disastrous debauchery. It is about camaraderie to a considerable degree.

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One thing I learned is that we can still dutifully ridicule each others’ social blunders if not marital bliss and have frank, unedited discussions on matters large or small just by a cup of coffee or any beverage with the black bean’s touch.

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The beer and peanut–which primarily drives a boys’ night out back home–has now evolved into coffee and pastries. As for the boys’ night out, I guess we should now change it into “coffee with the boys” to mean a laid-back time to gather the pack to bask in our new favorite beverage and make for a good conversation.

Related Blog Posts

Life Expectancy Increased By Hanging Out at longevity.about.com

Hang Out with Friends and Family at addressthestress.co.nz

Top Ten Blogs About Coffee at coffeecupnews.org

22 Things You Do When Hanging Out with Younger Friends at buzzfeed.com

Hang out with friends… at livestrong.blogspot.com

IMG_5388

A Gustatory New Year at Tokyo Restaurant

Christmas or New Year is something I never celebrated since I got to Saudi Arabia in April 2012—until I broke the monotony last 31 December 2014. Out of the blue, I felt the need to go outside the cubbyhole. The first thing that came to mind when I thought of how to celebrate it is to have dinner with whoever is available in my circle, to any of the economic restaurants in the city. I just really felt it is a must to put a lid on the wistfulness enveloping me (and, I believe, the Christian OFWs around the globe) this time of the year. I was so determined that I dragged some buds with me that night. Two (Onel and Ronnie) emerged and Tokyo Restaurant became the option after an hour of deliberation.

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Tokyo Restaurant, which is only a twenty-minute drive from our place (Exit 7), is located along Al Orouba Street in Exit 11. It offers only the finest of Japanese cuisine in the city at reasonable prices. The catch is, the foods’ tastes are not sacrificed.

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The restaurant is the first Japanese restaurant in the concrete jungle of Riyadh and probably the most successful, gleaning from how people flock in. This was actually my and Onel’s second time to be here, and the nth time for Ronnie who also asseverated that reputation. The service crew is predominantly Filipinos so it does not only make us, Filipino guests, feel like we are in the streets of Tokyo but in Manila as well.

The Tokyo Restaurant underwent a major renovation last year. This explains why the place’s simple, hygienic, and modish ambiance is easily noticed. The reception area boasts a glass floor and a display of antique samurai armor paired with an old, framed Japanese letter on the wall. The latter is what balances the hip atmosphere. Once inside, we felt all the more Japan-ish with the paper walls, kanji, paper lanterns, wooden tables and chairs, teppanyaki grills, and, of course, chopsticks.

This Japanese restaurant combines tradition and exceptional presentation to excite guests. The menu has a variety of choices with just the right prices. Makanouchi Bento became an instant favorite because it offers just so much of the major dishes. The reasonable price is a plus factor. Before diving into the main course, each of us had a couple of the palatable, free miso soup.

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Makanouchi Bento comprise the basics of bento (fish and chicken teriyaki; shrimp, fish, and vegetable tempura; sashimi; potato balls; omelette; tofu; rice; sauces; and pickles). I adore salmon sashimi. The fish is fresh and it consistently melts in the mouth like a cotton candy. I also became a fan of raw salmon and chicken teriyaki—which is perfection at least for me–because of this bento. The shiny appearance just made me salivate and ask for three extra cups of rice. I could say the tidbits of the dishes are all stellar to a degree.

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It is assumed that a New Year celebration with loved ones, in this case, with friends is always special and fun. But I never knew that it can turn out more fun and memorable because of Tokyo Restaurant’s commendable foods, service crew, and the establishment as a whole. They exude that hospitality and affability we all adore back home. Truth be told, I am not fond of eating out in Japanese restaurants because I usually leave with a headache from their sauces loaded with mono sodium glutamate. Tokyo Restaurant seems to be the exception. I did not have a headache the first time. The only thing that is loaded now is my sac. These are what I really liked most from the experience.

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In sum, this is by far my most memorable gastronomic adventure in the Middle East and a New Year celebration to cherish. A Cyclopean thanks to Ronnie and Onel for sharing their time and for bearing with me.

Related Blog Posts

An All Time Favorite: Tokyo Restaurant, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia at thefoodtechie.com

Tokyo in Riyadh at thepinktarha.com

Restaurants in Riyadh at expatarrivals.com

Precisely Yokari at thepinktarha.com

Tokyo Restaurant Riyadh at foodspotting.com

Tokyo at riyadheats.com

Longhorn Steakhouse at riyadheats.com

Top Ten Restaurants in Riyadh at blueabaya.com

Eating Out in Riyadh at nzpounamu.com

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2014: A Year of Life Lessons

2013 was a milestone year for Stories of the Wandering Feet & Mind. The blog gained several blurbs from other blogs and the blogger had an article published in national print. The experience was very humbling.

Now that 2015 has already unfolded, it is but fitting for me to join the bandwagon once again even though it is already a bit late.

Let me start by sharing the blog’s most notable achievement: Reaching its “3,000+” subscribers. Gaining more than a thousand subscribers for the entire 2014 is truly remarkable especially because I was only able to write approximately 40 posts.

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2. I am using this very space to recognize two loyal readers–Ben Gonzales (a painter/OFW) and Karen Cantiga (a journalism student)–who both asked permission to use my photos for their respective endeavors. The former used the photo, which I framed at the placid Lake Buhi in Camarines Sur five years ago, as a model for his painting. He said he was held spellbound by the peculiar appeal of the photo.

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The latter, on the other hand, used the photo, which I snapped along the sodden trails of Mount Marami in Maragondon four years ago, as a representation of the “little advocacy” she supports. She also said that the photo best describes the project titled “Preserve the Mountain of Maragondon”, which she is currently working on for her Environmental Journalism course. She will be presenting it to her class in February 2015.

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These are a few of those things that make a difference to me no matter how countable. Words cannot express how grateful I am for your appreciation. That, of course, goes for the 3,033 (and counting) subscribers, regular and irregular visitors, patient readers, and every one who make this blog thrives one way or the other.

3. The previous year paved the way for me to welcome, for the first time, a guest post. Inspiring stories are ought to be shared. I am well aware that there will always be better bloggers or writers out there who, at times, are the ones who can articulate the very exact stories I want to share. Kevin Jason Manuel did it for me. I have always admired him for his impeccable diction and his ability to transcend words, and I was not mistaken at using his story when he suggested me to promote it. Aside from fulfilling a promise, the blog benefited from a multitude of views it got on the day “To The Mountains” was published on this site.

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Verily, I could not have narrated the story any better myself. It goes without saying this thing is highly encouraged.

4. I should not forget to thank Mabel Kwong of “Asian Australian. Multiculturalism” for giving me the inspiration to keep doing what I do here. Being constantly responded to by bloggers you look up to is something to be proud of. Mabel also taught me one important lesson in order to better cope with working in a multicultural environment: It takes an open mind to facilitate conversations with people of different ethnicities.

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Photo Credit: Mabel Kwong

5. Getting a dose of worst travel moments here in the barren lands of Saudi Arabia was an experience of a lifetime. It made me more optimistic. It reminded me that there is indeed light at the end of a tunnel. In spite of our failure see the Edge of the World and the “Series of Unfortunate Events“, which are only some of the worst parts of traveling, Saudi Arabia is still a really great place to travel to and explore because of its unique topography. Moreover, the failed expectations and harsh realities of traveling are but just boosters for my hunger to travel more.

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6. The blog highlighted the importance of disporting every once in a while (i.e., before another working week or month ramps up). Almost all of the travel stories I wrote in 2014 were inspired by this kind of theme. No solo travel.

Traveling with friends is still a lot more fun, cheaper, and safer.

Weekend Swim: A Perfect Disport for White-Collar Workers

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In Search of A Rebound

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The Alpha Dogs’ Typical Day Out at Kamsa-Ashra Park

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Eid Break in the Kingdom’s Eastern Region and Bahrain’s Threshold

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Almarai’s Central Processing Plant in Al Kharj

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7. It is worth noting that a blog post about grammar pet peeves–“Filipino Concoctions, Philippine English, and Standard American English“–hit the nerve of one random reader in our workplace. As a result, I was indirectly badmouthed and directly mocked. On the brink of unethically responding, I kept my cool for I knew that there is nothing substantial in stooping down to such. In the end, it is not silence but knowing the reason behind what you wrote that is the best defense.

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Filipino pride is fragile. We just have to deal with it.

8. 2014 marked the advent of food blogging for Stories of the Wandering Feet & Mind. This is actually another form of adherence to a reader’s (Bobby Padua) relentless suggestion. Thank God I gave in because, truly, foods are magic. They provide vibrant colors and saporific element to the blog.

A Perfect Estival Treat

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Heaven On A Plate

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture

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Memoir of Manoosha

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9. 2014 made me learn that the only thing that separates success from failure is one last try. Talking about career, I had my series of failures and I almost, almost gave up. Good thing the universe has its own way of yelling at us. And thank heavens, my ears were clean in perfect time. So remember to try one more time when you feel like it is time for giving up, whatever the toil is.

10. 2014 has another hard way of making me learn that the best team you could ever have is your family. We all need affection–a sense of belonging, appreciation, and so forth. I will always remember from that year on out, my family will give the love I need without having to grab it out of them because their love is simply unconditional.

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11. 2014 taught me to welcome new people into my life. Sometimes, I feel being left out or ignored. It happens to everyone–I know. Friends go out without you and you can feel pretty down about it. Other times, you can be with people and feel incredibly ignored for one reason or another. I learned that the worst response to this type of situation is to feel sorry for myself and to sit tight waiting for someone else to solve my sorrow. When this happened to me for quite some time, I face up to the reality. Purposeful, continued disregard and condescending comments are a sign.  This was also the time I learned to value myself.

Finally, let me finish the post by sharing this: 2014 made it also possible for me to learn that there are friends who, just like family, will and can stand by you at your worst. It is not a myth. I was able learn from my triumphs as well as my defeats and wrongdoings. To be able to turn to them for the truth and for honesty is one of the most comforting feelings.

All of these things are surefire reasons why Stories of the Wandering Feet & Mind breathes. Once again, thank you very much for giving me and the blog another prolific year!

Related Blog Post

2013: A Milestone Year for Stories of the Wandering Feet & Mind

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Almarai’s Central Processing Plant in Al Kharj

AGFA POCKET CAMCORDERLast 20 July 2014, I, some friends, and colleagues were given a chance to visit Almarai Company’s (Almarai) biggest plant—Central Processing Plant (CPP).

Almarai, which means pasture in English, operates dairy farms and processes food, in addition to marketing dairy products and fruit juices. In 2013, Almarai brought their massive efforts to bring connection with its customers to a whole new level when it started its visit program by offering the general public the privilege to visit their processing plants–most notably the plants and farms in Al Kharj. Almarai welcomed 500 visits including a total of more than 24,00 visitors during said year. It has been a popular destination for plant visit in the kingdom’s capital city ever since.

The Central Processing Plant is considered the heart of Almarai’s operations. It has about a hundred kilometer distance from the capital city and a walking distance from Western Bakeries’ swimming pool where we spent the first part of this weekend getaway. Here is the blog post’s link in case you want to know what happened during our visit there: “A Perfect Weekend Disport for White Collar Workers”.

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The plant not only boasts a number of state-of-the-art facilities but a wide area of green foliage. We were able to check two of the former attraction: the juice and dairy processing factory and bakery facility.

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The factory above shows how dairy liquid products, such as flavored milk, are being packed into cartons on one side and how the 18 different fresh fruit flavors are being made on the other. Unfortunately we were not able to check in because of time constraints. Nevertheless, we were blessed to get a feel of the bakery facility below.

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Photo Credit: Leonel Mark Tuscano

Within the facility’s vestibules, there is a children gallery that is actually more of a children entertainment center. This part not only brandishes an array of play elements including playhouses and traditional playground equipment designed most especially for photo opp but impressive trivia about Almarai products (e.g., Almarai produces more than 380,000 pieces of waffles in a day), which are all written on the walls.

We managed to get a few photos.

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The trivia will acquaint readers with how truly remarkable Almarai is. It had undoubtedly stood the test of time since 1977. To date, it holds the world’s largest dairy foods company in the world by market value, with an unquestionable reputation in bringing out quality products that anyone could trust.

It should also be noted that Almarai became the first company in the Middle East to be featured at the “Megafactories” documentary episode of National Geographic Abu Dhabi–the Middle East’s leading factual entertainment television channel. You can check the video of the documentary by clicking on the photo below.

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After enjoying the gallery/amusement center, we got back in the car and prepared to head back to Riyadh.

This tour gave us the opportunity to get a glimpse of how a super company demonstrates that relentless pursuit of providing quality and nutritious food and beverages—firsthand. There is no stopping Almarai into expanding its business territory when it entered into a joint venture with drinks giant PepsiCo—known as International Dairy and Juice—investing in dairy and juice processors in the Middle East, South East Asia, and Africa. Subsequent to that is its $173m investment to building a baby-formula food plant. The company has already started selling baby-food products last year (Almarai Company – Saudi Arabia). A super company indeed.

Funny how a dairy farm in the desert emerged this big. Keeping cows in the middle of the kingdom’s barren lands is no easy task.

For more information regarding the location of the place and booking for a visit, please hop on to the Almarai website: www.almarai.comBooking

Related Articles

Almarai premieres at “Megafactories” (saudigazette.com)

A Dairy Farm in the Desert (nzpounamu.com)

The Almarai Dairy Farm Factory (get2knowsaudiarabia.com)

Almarai Company – Saudi Arabia (arabianbusiness.com)

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Eid Break in the Kingdom’s Eastern Region and Bahrain’s Threshold

Three weeks ago, my friends and I were invited to spend Eid break in the Eastern part of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the threshold of Bahrain. The off the cuff ride down east—back and forth—is seriously irresistible. Everyone then had gathered in the early morning of Friday, October 3. Actually, the original plan was to go there by train but tickets already ran out by the time we were booking for ours.

When we left the chief city, the morning light was heralding another cool day and the images of the touristy Dammam and Al Khobar, with their inviting corniche, made us feel great happiness and optimism. We drove in convoy because we believe it is more fun and safer.

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There was a multitude of holidaymakers packed in private cars on both sides of the road. In my book, the holidaymakers—both Saudis and expatriates—in those cars were off to Al Khobar and Dammam just like us.

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Driving to the Eastern Region was a real adventure. The highway’s three lanes in each direction are heavily used by trucks. We had to watch not only the traffic in front of us but that behind us as well because cars would come up suddenly and pass us—when we were in the fast lane—on the left shoulder. Each time that happens, it feels as if we will faint.

Along the way, we enjoyed watching the changing desert colors and snapping photos of the scenery. The electric lines from pylons bring modernity across the far-flung regions of the Kingdom. What was most surprising is seeing a ferries wheel in the desert. Fun rides like this instantly bring about absolute mirth not only in children but adults like us.

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After about five hours, we finally reached our friend’s house in Al Khobar City. Our arrival was in time for lunch so we had our sacs filled up by partaking in the sumptuous foods on the table right away. What ensued was we talked about eating halo-halo at Al Ramaniya Mall, going to Corniche for a breath of fresh air, setting foot on the Bahrain Border, and taking photos of Saudi and Bahrain’s tower.

When the clock formed 3:00 PM, we drove to Al Ramaniya Mall for a refreshment—a treat  courtesy of Chito. What was really flabbergasting during this, I may say, detour is seeing Filipinos in full force. It made us all feel so literally close to home. I had never seen a mall here that is so packed with Filipinos until that day.

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After the table chitchats, we went back to the house to do a different kind of refreshment. This time, we will have ourselves lulled by the ocean waves’ sounds and sea’s fresh air at the rooftop. But before that, we ambled over to watch the vastness of the ocean in the distance and, at the same time, breathe the floating clean air. We also espied the grandeur of the cyclopean mosque in front and the palm trees oscillating in the intermittent wind all from the same vantage point. We were such gadabouts during that time.

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Research shows that the sound of waves alters wave patterns in the brain lulling us into a deeply relaxed state. Relaxing in this way can help rejuvenate the mind and body. Sea air, on the other hand, is charged with healthy negative ions that accelerate our ability to absorb oxygen. “Negative ions also balance levels of seratonin, a body chemical linked with mood and stress” (The Health Benefits of the Sea).

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This explains why after spending long hours at the beach, we feel more alert, relaxed, and energized. So never forget to spend some time with the beach when there is a chance.

At 5:00 PM, we cruised our way down to the famous Bahrain border to realize the highlight of this weekend getaway. At long last, we glided over the long bridge connecting Saudi and Bahrain, called Dammam Bahrain Causeway (also known as King Fahd Causeway). We only caught a glimpse of the bridge the last time we visited the Eastern Region (“Urban Spelunking: Nigh and Day“). But at that moment, we were already feeling Saudi’s most historic and historical bridge.

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King Fahd Causeway

Photo Credit: venturesonsite.com

I have read that the building of the causeway began in 1968 and the bridge was completed and opened to the public in 1986. This causeway not only connects Saudi and Bahrain to business links but it also allows travelers based in Dammam and Al Khobar to explore the area. It should be noted that the causeway is just 20 minutes away from visitors in Al Khobar so let us just say we had to take advantage of the convenient access to Bahrain.

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The next afternoon, we had to head back home, but not before taking a little scenic drive of the area of course.

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Once again, we felt so blessed to have been osculated by the gentle sea breeze, hugged by the swaying palm trees, regaled by the sparkling ocean views, and mesmerized by the massive pieces of architecture in the Eastern part of the Kingdom and Bahrain’s much-publicized threshold.  From here on out, we would be able to effortlessly define pleasure and relaxation with this kind of break.

Related Blog Posts

Saudi to Bahrain: Causeway Bridge to Bahrain at paolobiyahero.wordpress.com

My First Water From Arab Country at paolobiyahero.wordpress.com

Glimpse Over Dammam City at paolobiyahero.wordpress.com

King Fahd Causeway’s Border Station at pixelsforfour.blogspot.com

King Fahd Causeway at venturesonsite.com

 

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“A Series of Unfortunate Events”

Most travel bloggers do not talk much about the pits of traveling. The thought that such stories could discourage the readers to try the life-changing experience that is traveling is impertinent. They, therefore, opt to hide the worst parts of traveling and bring the stories out by using the costumes of entertainment instead. Until they realized how equally important it is to brave that road “less talked about”. The rationale is that there is always a lesson or nugget of knowledge from experiencing the terrible sides of travelling.

The Edge of the World is the first on the list of the best places for trekking here in Saudi Arabia. The spectacular sight of vertical escarpments rising hundreds of feet from the ground and the seemingly unending panoramic view of rocky plains make the place a memorably eerie spot for travelers, tourists, and hikers.

Several months ago, my chum and I had an opportunity to seize our long time dream to visit the Edge of the World when we were invited by our colleagues, Sai and Rico, who were planning to set foot on the place for the second time.

Thereafter, on 02 May 2014, we began our journey at 6:00 AM from Exit 07 by heading to the wrong route, causing us to speed up along the highway going to Al Kharj in order to get to the correct road. It took us a couple of hours to get back to Olaya District then pressed on to Uruba Road that will lead us to Salbouk village in the west. Gaining about 25 kilometers from there we took the spiral right turn and exited to the road going Jubaylah. We went straight for about eight kilometers until we turned left to an off-road where we landed in a long stretched of a bleached-out desert called Acacia Valley. This marks the beginning of a long and winding rough path to the Edge of the World.

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The said valley is a well-known wadi that serves as a splay threshold to the Edge of the World. It is an equivalent of a mountain’s jump-off point and it blusters a decent view of desert plains. The presence of a thick green line of trees makes it a perfect picnic spot in the winter. This area is carpeted in different varieties of flowers and grasses a few days after a long rain. The ephemeral desert plants grow new leaves and the flower bearing ones blossom. You can see how the place looks like during the cold days on Kiwi in Saudi’s blog. After several weeks, the greens will disappear and the desert returns barren until the next rainfall.

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We drove the rough road westward until we reached a fenced area where the iron gate, which has a sort of tent office on it, showed up. Unfortunately, it was close and there seemed to be no one in the tent. We were supposed to enter that gate and take a right turn to go over a loose track along the border of the fencing that will finally lead us to the destination. Rather than waiting for someone to show up, we took the other open gate just beside said gate hoping it will bring us to the same route.

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A little bit later, we passed by a small dam and continued until a guy from a transient house came out waving and talking in a verbally undecipherable Arabic. Nonetheless, we all knew he wants us to stop so we did. Immediately, there were two soldiers, all covered with camouflaged uniform, approached us. The only clear words that came out from their mouths were “military facility”.

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Sai, the driver, immediately got off the car to explain. He tried to convince the men in uniform that we got lost and we were to see the Edge of the World, but all just seemed futile. Subsequently, we were requested to surrender our iqamas. After a few minutes of probing, we got them back; simultaneously we were commanded to leave the premises right then and there.

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We headed back to the gate as commanded and by the time we got there, a sentry came out from the tent office. We thought that was a good sign until he kept on shouting these words: “Etlaa barra! Yalla!” That means he wanted us to go away so Sai attempted to sell what we came there for but to no avail.

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Somewhere in the middle of the Acacia Valley on our way out, we were suddenly shaking. Since we already experienced it we thought such was just an effect of the stony plains of limestone presaging the vast. The trembling became terrible soon that Sai needed to halt and check the tires. What happened next was we were roused from our seats not by a kaboom sound but a pealing curse expression, which obviously connoted trouble. After a moment, we realized what the expression indicated: Flat Tire! As much as we did not want to find out, we unloaded ourselves, got off the road a bit, set up some shade, and set out to change the tire.

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At that very moment, we felt stuck in the midst of a hot, dry, and heartless desert. Aside from Onel, Rico, and our already tattered driver there was not another person in sight. The distressing situation aggravated when Sai said he never tried changing a flat tire before. The same is true with the rest of us. Be that as it may, we were called upon to do it. So rather than waiting for help, we did try what we could.

I was tasked to take out the spare tire tucked under the bunk. Onel took the liberty of finding the tire iron (for removing lug nuts), and Rico scavenged for two big rocks. Sai’s tasks were to bring out the emergency portable jack and wedge the rocks under the tires on the opposite side of the flat. In a matter of five minutes, the vehicle was set to be raised off the ground. This was supposed to be simple if we were knowledgeable about changing flat tires. I am talking about the placement of the jack and it goes without saying all of us failed to figure out where.

That is the part where we badly needed help. We tried stopping passersby, who are quite rare, to give us a hand. I lost hope at one point; nevertheless, I chose to be optimistic about the situation. In the meantime, I looked around at the sparse trees, the sun shining through the whistling thorns, the mounds of a lithic desert in all directions, and the sepia tweiqs in the distance. Reveling in the beauty of these sights made me smile. On the other side of the coin, I had to accept that the plans (e.g., to pose on top of Edge of the World’s highest escarpment) for the day were already derailed.

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Thanks to Enrico Abad for this photo.

The next scene in which I found myself in was a car pulled over near us and there came our savior whose face will forever be etched in my memory. The rest is history. Thank God, stories about a Good Samaritan are true.

On our way back to the city, I retrospected to what happened earlier. It dawned on me that the predicament is a blessing in disguise. Had we pushed on to challenge the 20 kilometer distance of the Edge of the World from Acacia Valley, we would have been stuck there for good. It will not take 10 kilometers for our tires to explode gleaning from their looks. On the other hand, we were able to cope well with the situation by being optimistic. Nobody from the group fretted about the plight. And, seeing us enjoying the companionship of each other amid the misadventures gave me such a comforting feeling.

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In spite of our failure see the Edge of the World and the series of unfortunate events, which are only some of the worst parts of traveling, Saudi Arabia is still a really great place to travel to and explore because of its unique topography. In large part, the presence of Good Samaritans like Mr. Waqar on the road and, of course, the inestimable lessons (e.g., learning how to change a flat tire and using a 4×4 the next time around). Moreover, the failed expectations and harsh realities of this trip are but just boosters for our hunger to see the place when the chance presents itself again.

Blog Carnival Badge

This post is my entry to Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival for October 2014 titled “The Worst Travel Moments” hosted by Jona “The Wordsmith” of Backpacking With A Book .

P.S. So Jona, it’s not only you who thinks that the worst travel moments are the best stories to tell (Word Traveling: On Emotions and Eula Biss’ “No Man’s Land”).

Related Articles

Beautiful Places in Riyadh: A Trip to the Edge of the World by Lost in Riyadh

Acacia Valley and the Edge of the World by ArRiyadh City Website

Guide to the Edge of the World by Blue Abaya

Intimidating Edge Tuwaiq by The Peninsula Times

Edge of the World by Splendid Arabia

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Signs

Last December, I had the chance to step outside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s capital city for an urban spelunking adventure. One of the most unforgettable subjects that I was able to frame is this one of a kind mosque at the Half Moon Bay Beach in Al Khobar. I had already seen countless mosques here and there but not at the beach.

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That crescent never fails to stir my curiosity. I had always thought it must be something that big of a symbol or sign in the Islam religion because every mosque I see, small or big, has a crescent over its dome.

Today, the modern dossier helped me dig what is under and over that crescent (pun intended). The crescent as a symbol is something common but rare as a sign. According to fatherzakaria.net, the moon was the god worshiped by people during the time of Muhammad, so he considered the crescent, the symbol of the worshipped moon god his symbol. On the other hand, in the cow chapter of Surat Al-Baqarah (189), crescents are signs to mark fixed periods of time for mankind and for the pilgrimage.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Signs at dailypost.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Signs at justapieceofafrika.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Signs at sfchapman.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Signs at moondustwriter.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Signs at vosperdruiter.wordpress.com

Urban Spelunking: Water & Fire at yobynos.wordpress.com

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Adventure!

In my almost five years of wandering, I learned that travel is always an adventure. I have encountered countless adventures that made me shout for joy (“The Playground of Demigods and Nephilims“), gape at the visceral blow of a revelation (“The Doors and Mud-Built Houses of Ushaiger Heritage Village“), cry in silence from disappointment (“A Series of Unfortunate Events“), marvel at the exquisite beauty of nature (“A Magical Site Trip to Lobo Beach Club & Spa“), yell at the universe (“Embraced by the Labyrinth’s Trail of Mount Marami“) and so forth. But, there is nothing quite like an adventure from traveling on your own as it brings you on a whole different dimension (“Romanticizing the Ruins of Cagsaua Church“). A dimension that will fill your senses with both dread and excitement of encountering the endless possibilities of the world out there.

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Traveling on your own is a beneficial experience. Everyone is encouraged to have at least one solo travel in his lifetime (“Life Lessons From My First Solo Travel to The Most Famous Cove In Luzon“). Give yourself that freedom to undertake the journey of traveling on your own while you keep in touch with loved ones and make an effort to develop new connections on the road (“Urban Spelunking (Second Episode: Earth & Air” and “Revisiting the Most Famous Cave in Cagayan Valley On A Whim“). You will be surprised at how you can create lasting bonds and memories that will shape your character in deep and lasting ways (“2013: A Milestone Year for Stories of the Wandering Feet & Mind“).

Related Blog Posts

Weekly Photo Challenge: Adventure! at dailypost.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Adventure! at elibatz.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Adventure! at insellos.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Adventure! at agent909.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Adventure! at swordfishradio.wordpress.com

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Dialogue

Indeed, there’s no better way to reveal people than what they say, and the manner in which they say it. We’re all interested in dialogue–the engaging conversation exchange as defined in The Daily Post.

In photography though, that is not often the case. Frédéric Biver, the host of this week’s photo challenge, brought the sense of dialogue to a higher, different level. According to him, dialogue can be perceived as a consensual interaction between two images in photography. Placed next to each other, each photograph opens up to meanings that weren’t there when viewed alone. Each composition reveals the photographer’s specific sensitivity to certain content or visual elements.

So here’s what I came up with:

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Related Blog Posts

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dialogue at dailypost.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dialogue at soloner.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dialogue at derwentvalleyphotography.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dialogue at oliteahouse.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Dialogue/Smiling Animals at treasuraa.wordpress.com

The Alpha Dogs’ Typical Day Out at Kamsa Ashra Park at yobynos.wordpress.com

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Heaven On A Plate

Back in the summer of 2009, I chomped on grilled belly strips of pink salmon during an island hopping adventure in Zambales. Never forgot that delectable taste of the meat since. I came to a point of craving it every week for a few months. When I say craving I meant cooking. Then time came when I had to tighten my belt. The weekly treat became monthly and then quarterly.

photo 1The craving was immured when I had to work overseas in April 2012 until I attended an ecumenical gathering in February this year somewhere in the City. After quite a long time, I came mouth to mouth with a simple pink salmon dish. I felt like I tasted it again for the first time; the craving instantly came back to life. I vowed to satisfy this hunger quarterly from then on. So last May, I went to that restaurant, whose name rhymes with maple trees, to have a plate of pan seared pink salmon. It was my first time to splurge on something esculent. A sort of luxury for a middle-class like me. Nevertheless, I felt no regret. I’m not an epicure but I know how to appreciate something beautiful and scrumptious. What I am about to unfold is beautiful and scrumptious, at least for me.

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When the food was delivered, it feels as if I got a surprise gift from a loved one, I can’t help but marvel at the artistry of the plate when it was placed in front of me. The elements just seem to come together to create a unique experience. I can’t ignore the creative presentations. The big green plate with the colors of the food coalescing into a beautiful painting simply took my breath away.

When I began slicing the soft pink meat and put it into my mouth, the best part of the story was revealed. The taste of the combination of flavors from sweet to spicy and slowly feeling the textures of the food in my mouth was awesome. Add to that the chewy taste of Chile lime rub and mushroom sauce that’s married to a bed of glutinous rice primavera, it felt like I was tasting heaven on a plate. I would have said it felt like it brought happiness on a plate but that would be an understatement. This explains why I had to take a few pictures to remember that great, great day.

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The next visit to the place was supposed to be this month, August, but considering that my birthday is due next month, I decided to have the big green plate by then. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for that day.

Related Blog Posts

 A Taste of Primavera at foodiediaries.com

Chipotley Lime Salmon at barefeetinthekitchen-recipes.blogspot.com

Kopi Es Tak Kie, Jakarta at sharontravelogue.wordpress.com

Bandung Legendary Eatery: Toko You at sharontravelogue.wordpress.com

Royal Stag Bistro at sharontravelogue.wordpress.com

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Fray

When I visited the Manila Ocean Park almost four years ago, I met so many sea creatures of different forms and sizes. Some look adorable and gargantuan while others look just really exotic. The strikingly unusual water animals are the ones in the fray to give visitors a bizarre yet enticing and memorable experience.

At first glance, the subject in the photo looks like twigs buried in the sand. When you get up close, you will realize that they are living creatures called spotted garden eels. They are also mistaken as sticks in the water at times because they are poking out of sand. Most of the time though, they resemble to plants in a grassplot. Hence, the name garden eel.  They live individually in burrows from which they protrude and will only withdraw when disturbed. This form of strange behavior of burrowing half of their bodies in the sand to make their heads project is actually a defense mechanism against predators. This is what makes them stand out from the rest.

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If you want to see more of these water animals, visit these posts: “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” and “Manila Ocean Park: A Window to the Living Ocean“.

Related Blog Posts

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fray at dailypost.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fray at wrightouttanowhere.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fray at maniparna5002.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fray at davidoakesimages.wordpress.com

Weekly Photo Challenge: Fray at insellos.wordpress.com