Chronicles Of A Three-Day Trip To Dubai: “Deirascapes”

The Dubai International Airport may be the busiest airport to date but its sterling interior adorned with swooping silver arches; promenades of lush artificial palms especially at the baggage claim area; and other customer-centric features such as the validated way-finding signage and passenger flow coupled with various food and retail outlets provide passengers with timely capacity comfort. This was exactly the kind of experience that we had upon queuing up at the immigration and airport security check from a five-hour flight with a leeway at Bahrain International Airport.

There was no better way to start our journey than riding the Metro that is linked to the airport. Getting to Ramada Hotel in Deira turned out simple and easy not to mention relaxing with the prevailing humid hot weather.

I am used to climbing mountains back in the Philippines; I love dripping with sweat. Nonetheless, an antiperspirant is a must have when traveling to this part of the globe during summer which peaks in July.

We reached the hotel at about 20 minutes. It was too early to check in though so we decided to stay for a while and have lunch at Reef Mall, which is just a few meters away. We were like happy kids while ordering the food we have back home—sisig, fried tilapia, chicken barbecue, laing, halo-halo, kakanin, etc. “Craving satisfied!” is what we all exclaimed after the boodle fight in spite of the fact that they’re a little more expensive here than in Saudi Arabia, which we understand. (Just consider that comment a disclaimer.)

We then checked in at exactly 2:00 PM, had our luggage stored, fixed some stuff, slept for three hours, and woke up at 5:00 PM. We actually had no clear itinerary for this trip other than Onel’s meetup with relatives and high school batchmate. By the way, that day was Onel’s birthday so he decided to give us a treat and her aunt whom we will be meeting at City Centre Deira at 6:00 PM. We took a taxi to the centre this time around.

Dubai taxis have a good reputation based on travel reviews and we affirm it at this point.

Wordless Friday Series (Episode 3) #mydubai #dubaibeauty #street #streetphotography #whenindubai #deira #dubai #uae

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As first timers in Dubai, the landscape of this concrete jungle registered really magnetizing in our optical organs. I couldn’t help myself taking snapshots especially when I saw this clock tower in the roundabout we passed by on our way to the centre.

This structure looked very ordinary at first glance but after asking the modern dossier about its background, it metamorphosed into something extraordinary with historical significance. The Telegraph newspaper listed Deira Clock Tower or more popularly known as Dubai Clock Tower among the 17 most beautiful clock towers in the world and one of UAE’s most prominent monuments.

Based on what I had seen from the train, hotel, and car window, there’s no doubt we’re in the City of Now.

It took us 15 minutes to get to City Centre Deira. This centre is also known for being the place for serious shoppers with over 370 stores from an array of mid-market popular fashion shops for young and adults; an extensive selection of electronics stores, fast food and restaurants, cosmetic brands, toy stores, jewelry and textile court; and a hypermarket, Carrefour.

The aunt had advised that she couldn’t make it to the agreed time and we should expect another hour of waiting. We were able to explore more about this shopping centre because of that. Most of the fashion shops such as Pull & Bear and Topman were on sale during that time. They were so tempting; each of us ended up buying a few items. We also tried biting the AED 350 for one movie at VOX Cinemas but held back after a contemplation. We were on the brink of reconsidering the decision when the aunt’s text came in: she’s at the meeting place. What a timing I must say as our sacs were already pleading for food. We landed at Chili’s after prowling the food court for best casual dining restaurant, according to the celebrator.

We spent roughly an hour and a half of casual conversation, including catching up of the kin, before we parted ways. It was fun meeting the aunt who was very chatty.

By 8:30 PM, we went to Carrefour to buy some grocery items. Our booking only entitled us to a free breakfast for two days. The groceries will help us get through the rainy days.

We opted for the train on our way back to the hotel for convenience and economical reason.

While in transit, I marveled at the flickering lights in every corner and amazed by the squeaking music coming from the train each time it stops. I was really enjoying what was taking place every minute of that twenty-minute train journey.

That night at the hotel, we found ourselves flipping channels to kill time. Prior to that, we came up with definite plans for the following day: to go for a City Bus Tour and visit the Dubai Mall. The ambiance was light and pleasant and cheerful. But when Onel and Ren dozed off, things changed.

Silence began enveloping the room and the long empty hall on thick carpet outside. It was saddening for a short time. So I thought of something better to do other than waiting for my eyes to close in the midst of two warring, snoring beds. That’s no big deal to me of course. I’m nocturnal. I opened the window, brought my camera out, and watched the lights as they effortlessly give life to the fleeting immobile streets of Deira.

I took the nighttime scenery dancing in front of me to heart. I was so moved by the scene. I was able to weave words I couldn’t normally do when I’m inspired. I felt like my mojo was punched in a good way.

In big cities such as Dubai, what you can so look forward to seeing after the sun slipped from view is watching the electric dance of nightfall. The view captured in the photo speaks a lot about the special wonders that city lights create. It will make you realize that there is much more than the city's commanding skyscrapers, humid weather, shopping malls, luxurious cars, and free beaches. There is that kind of wonder above any of those. The one that lies hidden beyond the fancy curtains or window panes to a view only a few have seen. #storiesofthewanderingfeetandmind #storiesofthewanderingfeet #travel #reflections #hugot #whenindubai #cityscape #citylights #downtown #lookingbeyond #mundane #simple #traveltodaytv #dubai #uae #mydubai

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The caption of this IG photo is one of my favorite travel quotes, partly because I wrote it.

Truly, Dubai is full of inspiring views and scenes meant to stir travel bloggers into writing beautiful pieces.

I spent a few more minutes enjoying Deira’s vesper urban scenery then called it a night.

Related Articles

Cooking for Kishore: Deira, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (cookingforkishore.blogspot.com)

Not Your Usual Friday Brunch at Jigsaw Restaurant, Avani Hotel (themometkeepers.com)

Wandering the Gold and Spice Souks of Deira, Dubai (aroundtheworldl.com)

Visiting Dubai fish market felt like being a celebrity (nina-travels.com)

5 most impressive landmarks in Dubai (milleniumhotels.com)

10 Things To Do In Deira, Dubai (theculturetrip.com)

Deira Gold Souq (egypexpresstvl.com)

#Deira #Dubai #UAE #ReefMall #RamadaDeira #DeiraCityCentre #Chilis #DeiraClockTower #DubaiClockTower #DubaiMetro #Cityscapes #iPhoneography

Chronicles Of A Three-Day Trip to Dubai: The Airport!

On the 15th of July in 2016, I, Onel, and Ren left the quiet morning of Al Izdihar  for a trip to one of the most modernized cities in the world known for its avant-garde architecture, colorful nightlife scene, and ultimate shopping experience: Dubai.

Since this is my as well as Onel’s first international travel, the excitement was silently uncontainable. Ren, on the other hand, has already been traveling across Asia and Europe. It felt comforting to have someone like him on board. This explains our being extra early birds that made me realize how the airport has become an absolute part of my life and how important its glass walls, vast arena, and ceiling until that day. I also noticed how much time we could actually spend on observing things that take place around us for the moment if we veer away from checking Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, or Twitter feed. Glad I did, primarily because I really wanted to make the most of the opportunity. 

Airports do evoke two basic emotions for those who live in two countries like us, OFWs. It’s inevitable to feel sad each time we set foot on the entrance, to wish that each step inside means going home for vacation other than the usual fetching or dropping off someone. We were fortunate that happiness was our prevailing emotion at that moment obviously because this trip was for leisure. The three of us believe that in this day and age, traveling is a necessity.

Every cloud has a silver lining so does the three-hour airport purgatory we had to endure before entering the passenger boarding bridge.

Have you ever paid attention to that massive glass wall that overlooks the boundless runways and aircraft parades, the noisy agora, or the high ceiling at the airport?

If you haven’t, take time to do so. I have caught the unexpected festival of geometry, scenery, space, and the engineering wizardry behind them because I did. This amusing incident gave me one of my priceless travel moments and realizations.

I recently learned about the science behind the massive glass window. The panes that are wrenched into a compound curve, convex in the vertical plane and concave in the horizontal is a design intended for making it look more like a portal to a space warp than a mere window. The ceiling on the other hand is built with an imposingly scaled geometry fluttering overhead while the exposed steel grating ceiling shows off what it is made of. These are only some of the major engineering wizardry behind the airport’s structure. All for the purpose of providing passengers with that much needed distraction and entertainment to cope with the unavoidable airport purgatory.

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Our gratitude to the people behind that science. Airports could have been real purgatories each time we travel if not because of them.

Did you have a particular experience that helped you cope with the hustle and bustle of the airport?

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2016: A Remarkable Year for The Wandering Feet’s Shutterbug

During the year 2006-2011 in my home country, digital cameras are ubiquitous. Nowadays in various parts of the world, digital single-lens reflex cameras dominate the scene. If you have either one of those and use it for fun or passion, you could call yourself an amateur photographer.

It was in 2012 when I became a full-time amateur photographer—when the blog officially turned into a travel blog. When I fell in love with sharing the experiences and photos from climbing mountains and, soon, travels. And after a few years of being a shutterbug, I only acquired one of the many essential photography skills (but still, a work in progress): composition skill. Truth be told, I still rely on the available automatic settings of my shooting equipment. This equates to doing trial and error technique—taking innumerable photographs and come up with just a thing or two for sharing.

After all those years, I have learned that there is a slow progression of technical knowledge in photography without the formal education requisites. This holds true for my case obviously. I still have good reasons to be proud of the little achievements from just being an enthusiastic photographer nonetheless. 

Thank heavens social networking sites and hashtags exist on the web. It was them that paved the way for my photos to be noticed.

I am referring to the 15 photos on my Facebook and Instagram that made it to It’s More Fun in Bicol, Bicol Bloggers, and Philippine Images’ FB pages and IG accounts respectively this year. These photos showcase some of the best tourists destinations in the Philippines.

Calaguas Island Tour’s Day 2: The Time of Our Lives” (Vinzons, Camarines Norte)

Catching the Rustic Sunset in Calaguas Island” (Vinzons, Camarines Norte)

Calaguas Island: A Perfect Microcosm of Paradise in the Bicol Region” (Vinzons, Camarines Norte)

CamSur Watersports Complex is Still Bicol’s Most Modern Destination” (Cadlan, Camarines Sur)

Lago del Rey: CamSur Watersports Complex’s Better Half” (Cadlan, Camarines Sur)

Why Bagolatao’s White Pebbles Beach Is The Perfect Summer Destination In The Philippines” (Minalabac, Camarines Sur)

Bagolatao Trilogy’s Part 1: Basking In The Natural Scenery (Minalabac, Camarines Sur)

The Joy Of Summer” (Black Sand Beach, Bacacay, Albay)

A Sneak Peek At The Astounding Landscape Of Camarines Norte In Vinzons’ Port Logpond

(I never really knew how much of a standout Bicol Region is until I was compiling the photos earlier. I am proud to be an adopted Bicolano since the 30th of May 2008.)

The Abundant Mount Cristobal Of Quezon Province(Laguna/Quezon Province)

The Pristine Water Around Capones Island” (San Antonio, Zambales)

The Most Beautiful Cove In The World” (Pundaquit, Zambales)

A Magical Site Trip To Lobo Beach Club & Spa” (Lobo, Batangas)

Outreach To Mount Timbak” (Atok, Benguet)

In May 2016, I also got an opportunity to be interviewed by the Sr. Copywriter, Soffian Manaf, of Photobook Worldwide as as part of its endeavor to partner with different personalities around the world to take a peek at how their passion translates into a work of art. I was fortunate to be their 13th artist for this collaborative work: “Photobook Interviews: Sony Fugaban“. 

Photobook Interviews: Sony Fugaban (blog.photobookworldwide.com)

Photobook Worldwide is the leading maker of premium handmade photo books that let you cherish your best memories into gorgeous coffee-table books. They currently serve more than 100 countries worldwide, and has 4 global offices located in Australia, Canada, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

And, the blog post titled “A Tour to the World Sights Park in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia” that was featured on “Life in Saudi Arabia” and its social networking sites. This was actually a story of non-credited post which I discovered by chance. I called the attention of the blog’s administrator right away. I got the credit for the post and photos eventually. 

In all fairness, the administrator was very apologetic and submissive when we were exchanging emails and comments. I would have been a lot happier though if I was given due credit the proper way (i.e., citing my complete name and the blog’s as opposed to “Souce: Yobynos”).

“A Tour to “The World Sights Park” in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (life-in-saudiarabia.blogspot.com)

“Life in Saudi Arabia” is dedicated to giving readers the complete guide (Climate, Living, Birth, Procedures and much more) to living in KSA. It now has over a million followers, collectively.

Without the help of these Facebook pages, Instagram accounts, and websites, I would have not noticed the improvement in my composition skill. They have significantly boosted not only my photos’ likes and blog’s traffic but my confidence as well. According to business.com, there are 1.8 billion photos being uploaded on Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Snapchat, and WhatsApp every day since 2014. So if famous pages, accounts, or websites—be it local or international—feature your work, it is definitely an achievement.

The least I could do then is to return the favor by expressing my overflowing gratitude through this year-end blog post. Having said that, it will not end here. I am to enhance my composition skills; learn about correct exposure and using filters; and post process works via Adobe Photoshop are some of the many things that excite the philomath in me as we speak. 

A million thanks to It’s More Fun in Bicol, Bicol Bloggers, Philippine Images, (for the special mentions); Photobook Worldwide & Life in Saudi Arabia (for the features respectively); Almarai Company, Ace Galleta, & Sai Achanta (my travel sponsors this year); Renante Crisostomo & thechinitowanderer (my first international travel buddies; our Dubai Chronicles series are now in queue for publishing); Mabel Kwong (my virtual writing mentor), Ms. Wonderwall (my number 1 supporter) and all those who contributed to this yet another prolific year for “Stories of the Wandering Feet & Mind“.

Cheers to more photos, blog posts, and travels in 2017!

This post is my entry to Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival hosted by Mervz of “Pinoy Adventurista”.

Related Blog Posts

The Sweetest Escapes of 2016 (ladyandhersweetescapes.com)

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MY 2016 TRAVEL MEMORIES FROM 38 CITIES IN 14 COUNTRIES (docgelo.com)

Looking Back to a Heartwarming and Adventure-Filled 2016 (adrenalineromance.com)

Travel and Beyond: On Losing Magic and Struggling to Find It Again (iamtravelinglight.com)

How To Personally Obtain A Dubai Visa Online Within An Hour From Riyadh

After seeing the TV commercial about Dubai being dubbed as the “City of Now” in May 2012, I immediately added it to my bucket list. Setting foot on what both contemporary & futuristic city looks like and to stand face to face with the tallest skyscraper in the universe are intangible achievements especially for travel bloggers.

However, it was only this year, 2016, that the trip to the city got crossed off. Leisure travels for a white-collar worker slash parent slash breadwinner is a challenge I must say. Nevertheless, it was worth the wait. My gratitude to Leonel Mark Tusacano and Renante Crisostomo Jr. for facilitating the trip five months ago; it would have not been that easy for me.

Since the trip is my first ever, if you may, international travel, this post has to be shared particularly with first time travelers to Dubai. In this case, first time applicants for Dubai tourist visa.

I know a lot of people in our workplace who experienced difficulties applying for Dubai visa. In fact, majority of them resorted to having it processed by a third party via websites. The thing is, the very website being used by those who are engaged in this kind of activity use the same medium that applicants themselves should or could have directly used. The problem with Google and other search engines is they display too many websites (e.g., uaevisa-online.org, instadubaivisa.com, dubaivisa.net, dubaivisaservice.com, etc.) that lure first timers in this endeavor. In addition, those websites are the ones displayed as default for any Dubai visa related queries or searches. Though they are legitimate websites, they charge big time, of course, and that is where it becomes impractical. The same goes for travel agencies, airlines, and hotels in Dubai that also require huge sum of refundable security deposit as a prerequisite of this transaction. So I highly encouraged you to do it personally.

Had we let our host smooth the way for our visas, we should have been ripped off with AED 500 (comprising AED 263 for their processing fees and actual fees of AED 237 [in the event that the application is rejected]) plus the dreading albeit refundable security deposit of AED 5,000 — each. The application period is no consolation to this as well.

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If you are planning to apply for a Dubai visa through hotels, you should really read this!

Thank God we came across the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ministry of Interior website before accomplishing the application. An applicant for Dubai visa should go straight to gdrfa.ae to avoid those extra charges from travel agencies, airlines, and hotels; to avail of the guaranteed faster service (1-4 hour processing); and pay only the exact, appropriate charges (AED 237). In my case, as well as to my travel buddies’, I received the visa within an hour after submitting and paying for the application last 13 July 2016.

But before heading to the UAE Ministry of Interior website, please ensure you have with you the travel documents below.

1. A copy of confirmed round-trip ticket and hotel reservation.

2. Color scanned copies of ID picture preferably 4.3 * 5.5 cm in white background, passport’s first page (first-entry visa page‘s and iqama or equivalent if you are an expat) & last page, and another valid ID, respectively.

3. Credit Card.

Also, prior to initiating your visa application, make a note of or see to it that you do the following:

1. Create an account on the UAE Ministry of Interior website, gdrfa.ae.

2. Apply for a visa a week before arrival date.

3. Passport must be valid for a minimum of six months at the time of travel.

4. If you are to stay at your immediate family member or friend’s apartment, ensure to bring with you a copy of his/her invitation letter, passport, and valid residence ID. These may not be required for uploading but would be needed at the airport.

5. There is no guaranty that every application will be approved as each is still subject to UAE Immigration Rules and Regulations. An applicant could be denied on various grounds. One thing is for sure: Chances here are a lot higher than when applying for a US visa.

6. If you you want first-hand information about these concerns, telephone the UAE Embassy in your area. Here in Riyadh, the number to call is 00966-11-4881227.

7. For a step-by-step process on how to fill out the online application form, click here.

8. Arabic translation of an applicant’s complete name, mother’s, and birthplace’s are compulsory fields respectively. But worry not. There is an Arabic translation icon for each of them. You just have to click on it to reveal the accurate Arabic translation.

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Last November 2016, one of my colleagues, who was not aware of this, had to use Google Translate for said fields. He came to me when he lost hope of getting each of those Arabic translations correctly done. Google Translate works only for transliteration, which means it is not accurate in cases like this because it only changes the letters from one alphabet or language into the corresponding, similar-sounding characters of another alphabet.

After seeing the TV commercial about Dubai being dubbed as the “City of Now” in May 2012, I immediately added it to my bucket list. Setting foot on what both contemporary & futuristic city looks like and to stand face to face with the tallest skyscraper in the universe are intangible achievements especially for travel bloggers. Check the following URL for full text of how I personally obtained a Dubai visa online within an hour: https://yobynos.wordpress.com/2016/12/17/how-to-personally-get-a-dubai-visa-online-within-an-hour/ #storiesofthewanderingfeet #storiesofthewanderingfeetandmind #travelstoriesworld #dubaivisa #dubaivisacharges #dubaivisafees #dubaivisarequirements #howtoapplyfordubaivisaonline #dubaivisatips #travelersnotebook #dubai #uae #burjalarab

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I never dreamt of traveling to another country nor getting to where I am currently based in because of work. All I know now is that when the travel bug bit me, the possibilities of where these wandering feet could take me became almost endless.

#DubaiVisaRequirement #DubaiVisaTips #HowtoApplyforDubaiVisa #WheretoApplyOnlineforDubaiVisa #HowtoApplyforUAEVisa

References/Related Articles

Dubai Visa Easy Tips To Get Your Visa (uaexp.com)

How to Get a Visit Visa to Dubai for Filipinos (pinoyhow.com)

Dubai Travel Tips: How To Obtain A Visit Visa (sallybernstein.com)

How to apply for Dubai Visa (for Filipinos) (jayandsabaroundtheworld)

Visa Requirements for Philippine Passport Holders (touringbuddy.com)

Procedure to Apply for E-Visa UAE (Dubai) for GCC Residents (life-in-saudi-arabia.blogspot.com)

Lago del Rey: CamSur Watersports Complex’s Better Half

Getting Intimate with Cows at Almarai Company’s Al Danah Farm in the “Milk Road”

Almarai Company (Almarai) never stop committing to its catchline: “Quality You Can Trust”. This is the reason why it embarked on providing the general public with free visits to its cow farms and processing plants in Al Kharj in the year 2013 as part of its whole new level of bringing intimate connection with the customers.

Our last visit (“Almarai’s Central Processing Plant In Al Kharj“) did not include any of the seven dairy farms: Al Hamra, Al Fanar, Al Nakheel, Al Rabiah, Al Badiah, Al Danah, and Todhia. Almarai is so gracious that we were given another chance to book a visit last 14 August 2016. Our gratitude to our colleague, Warren Rivera, for including me and my friends in the invite sent to Almarai’s Communications & PR Department two months prior to said date. (Booking is a bit of challenge due to the rising public demand especially during this time of the year and early summer.)

We had to check the bakery plant once again because the arranged visit included it as the first stop. The final one would be the Al Danah Farm, which is just a few kilometers away from Almarai’s Central Processing Plant (CPP) area.

We were all filled with so much anticipation and excitement as we were nearing the dairy farm’s gate. Finally, we were setting foot on one of Almarai’s seven dairy farms. How interesting it would be to see herd of cows in the desert. I had always thought cows are only a thing in the tropics where grass ideally thrives. It was difficult to picture farming them in a Saudi Arabian desert. Thank God for the booming dairy farms in the capital city that challenged the imagination of the concerned locals. According to what I read, there are more than 120,000 heads of cattle being raised in Al Kharj and 80 percent of the dairy products produced in Saudi Arabia comes from the area. Hence, the name “Milk Road”.

Almarai, of course, holds the highest number of the figures; it is the largest integrated dairy foods company in the world.

Before we entered the facility proper, we had to undergo disinfection at the gate. The bus that carried us had to be disinfected too through another form of disinfecting equipment a few meters away from the gate.

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At about ten minutes, we were already seeing the cows peacefully resting in the sheds which the caretakers call “‘parlor”. The smell of sheds was what took my attention for a minute. It brought me back to my hometown in the Philippines where a number of cows graze in front of our house.

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The smell is something not so, for lack of a better word to describe it, inviting because of huge milk vats mixed with cow dung on the grounds. Nevertheless, it was something that made me feel closer to home in a special way.

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I am not a technical person when it comes to this kind of facility but one thing I observed, based on the the way the geezers run the operations of the farm, is that everything is closely monitored―from the cows’ identification system to how much milk they produce respectively, even the narration of how silage are being meticulously made…among other processes.
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These thousands of cattle are all of Holstein breed. Logic and research tells me that is so because of their outstanding milk production.
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The entire herds produce an average of 13,000 liters a year.
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A total of one hour and a half was spent at watching and photographing the cows, the parlors, and the milking house. We all went back onto the bus for a drive through the restaurant in CPP for our lunch. Then, after gorging our sacs and taking a bag of freebies, we were again back inside the bus to, this time, head home.
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The trip was a great way to break the monotony of my travel trips. Funny how dairy farms in the desert emerged this big. Keeping cows in the middle of the kingdom’s barren lands is no easy task. Almarai never fails to impress the world with its innovative demonstration of relentless pursuit of providing quality dairy and food products everyone can trust.
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For booking requests, please visit the Almarai website or click here to get straight to the page in the above screenshot.
(Location Map/DirectionExact Address: Almarai Al Fanar Dairy Farm, 10, Harrad Road, Al Kharj 11942; Telephone No. +966-11-470-0005)

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Joyride to Nofa Farm and Resorts’ Safari Park & 1MW Solar Power Plant

It was already gloaming when Ace came to fetch us from the lawn (Nofa Farm and Resorts: A Private Oasis of Tranquility and Restful Retreat). Yahoo! Off to Safari Park at last.

When we were at the court’s parking lot, we were given the privilege to choose between a van and a 4×4 pickup. The adventurous spirit in us picked the one that suited the character. The next thing we knew was we were “cargo-loading” as opposed to top-loading on the pickup’s. We were also joined by some of Ace’s fellow tennis players who were not able to visit the park in the morning. It was so much fun―really! We had to shoot a live video. Check it out!

We were only able to catch a few animals like the lone gazelle at the entrance and ostriches near the paved road.

There were those that were visible and roaming around the park but were either elusive or too far away that could not be nicely captured by our cameras.

The growing vibrancy of the gloaming was actually the thing that made this joyride worth having, I believe. Staring into the distance as darkness slowly fell was breathtaking.

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The kind of views that could be framed were so unique that I could not help myself bask in the glory of the moment. I felt so blessed that I was on that vehicles open cargo.

The experience was soon epitomized by the rolling hills capped by sunset colors in the distance; the glittering sand dunes; the center pivot irrigation equipment and the grass below them; and the astonishing structure of the one megawatt solar power plant comprising 28 units of CS500 Concentrator Photovoltaics (CPV) Dish System.

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This solar power facility is the very supplier of clean energy into Nofa Resorts’ whole internal grid.

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It is worth mentioning that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a key emerging market for Solar Systems, which paves the way for a cleaner and greener energy source and, soon, replacement of domestic oil consumption. I must say I love this place now more than ever.

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This area of Nofa Resorts has fleeting desert riches that make for quaint golden hour pictures. With all the beautiful adjectives that came out from each of our mouths while witnessing the spectacular scenery nature was painting during that time, we were all enthralled beyond question. The opportunity to view the entirety of another Saudi Arabian destination in Riyadh Province during the gloaming is such a cherished experience. 

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It was another perfect time for sunset picture when we got back to our accommodations and the court.

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It felt incredibly satisfying to bear witness to this another equally rare moment―when the sun is that low and creates a nice, warm light that makes the skies come alive at the ending of the day. Seems like everything around lights up as the day gradually transitions to night. Yes, we have not fully seen the animals at the Safari Park but the kind of attraction that fed our senses during the entire ride was more than enough.

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That golden light makes the world look insanely beautiful! We were so happy and content to have been part of this once in a lifetime joyride.

Nofa Farm and Resorts or Nofa Equestrian Resort (Location Map

P.O. Box 66223
Riyadh  11576 Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966-11-6542981
Phone: +966-11-6542900
Email: support@nofaresort.com

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Elegant Resorts sets new KSA destinations for winter holidays (eyeofriyadh.com)

 

Nofa Farm and Resorts: A Private Oasis of Tranquility and Restful Retreat

I am a nature lover. I would instantaneously trade malling or watching TV series with nature trips. This was exactly what happened last Wednesday, November 09, 2016. After dinner, thechinitowanderer, who is a flatmate, were discussing plans for the weekend. I really wanted to window shop or splurge on food. I also felt the need to undergo another session for green therapy because the workplace had been an energy and time draining ground in the past few weeks. My heart actually preferred the former but when my phone beeped, there was an instant change of plans. The beep was a message from our good friend Ace Galleta, who is  also a certified  traveler, inviting us to join him in his second “sponsored” visit to Nofa Farm & Resort.

The Nofa Farm and Resorts (Nofa Resorts for short), at present, is a destination that almost every expat in the  kingdom as well as the entire Arab world would want to set foot on. It is privately owned by His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Mohd bin Saud Al Kabeer up to this time, but rumor has it that Radisson Blu – Riyadh will soon take complete possession of the place. Prince Al Kabeer is also the founder and owner of the largest dairy foods company in the Middle East: Almarai Company.

Then Friday morning came. Ace fetched us at exactly 5:30 AM in Al Izdihar―just in time for the sun to peek in my bedroom window. The sun’s rays sent a glossy silver sheen all around the room, blending with the dull cream paint and hanged t-shirts and long sleeves slightly wavering in the Arabian winter breeze. I wore my backpack and ran to my flatmate’s room who was also all ready to zoom off .

A few minutes later we headed straight to Hyper Panda along King Fahad Road in Takhassusi to meet with the rest of Ace’s friends and co-members of Pinoy Netters Club – Riyadh Chapter. At 7:20 AM, we were already  on the long and winding Makkah Highway bound for Nofa Farm & Resort in the town of Al Nemar, Riyadh Province. We completed approximately two hours (84 km) for this journey.

The sunshine was all over the map by the time we alighted from the vehicles.

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The Nofa Resorts is like a town of mini gardens, out of which interminable supply of fresh air, based on the views we were able to see from the threshold and on our way to its golf course, equestrian centre, tennis courts, residential estates, and stables―our penultimate stops. The ultimate would be the Safari Park.

Since we were in a group of tennis players and the idea of the visit was actually a one-day tournament, we settled at the tennis court, which is nestled in a large expanse of grasslands and partially divided by either date palms or woody perennial trees.

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Side trips for guests of the guests, us, are just byproducts.

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Adjacent to it are the equestrian centre and golf resort whose joint forces make for a stunning Western countryside landscape during spring.

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As for us, “guests of the original guests of a private member”, who are not really in love with tennis, we resorted to feasting on its breathtaking surroundings after gorging our sacs with some food and, subsequently, watching three matches. Any player in a tournament needs support.

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The heavy food in our stomachs was what compelled us to go for a stroll a little bit later. That was supposed to be just me and Onel, the chinitowanderer, but Ace is naturally a hospitable “guest-host” that he had to leave the tournament for a tour guide’s role―our tour guide.

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With the weather getting colder and colder here in the Middle East, a lot of people opt to stay indoors. But for born wanderers like us, the first we think about is going for stroll at a place that is as awesome as this.

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How could you say no to the crunchy green leaves gracing the trees, the equally crispy grassland, the gleaming blue skies, the birds heralding  winter, and the stables discharging an exquisite Western countryside vibe. Together, they define some of the most spectacular views of nature at its finest.

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According to the website ”globetrotting.com”, this luxury private members’ club has an estimated value of $80,000,213.45 (SAR 300,000,000). It is a combination of Equestrian Centre (Nofa Farm) and African Theme Resort (Nofa Resort). It shelters  one of the largest equestrian facilities in the world and is only a few  years old.

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The nourishing cool feel and vista of  the greenery of sprawling grasslands are the standouts for me. But we got to that part of the resort where  we saw a nipa hut solely protruding on top of a hill, things slightly changed. We all got totally enamored of the Philippine vibe it projected.

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It was an opportune time for our tired feet. We only became aware of the time when we decided to  take a rest in the inviting hut. We did not know we had been leisurely roaming around for 45 minutes.

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We were all the more disarmed by the pulchritude of the place when we took a rest inside the nipa hut. The views atop are exhilarating.

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We now completely understand why Nofa Resorts is aesthetically described as a private oasis of tranquility and restful retreat.

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We all suddenly felt home while we were all comfortably settled in our respective spots inside the hut, simultaneous with savoring―and later photographing―the irresistible nature views from that vantage point.

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Being able to feel you are one with nature has no exact words to describe it. We, again, forgot to check our watches that it took us almost an hour before we remembered  the wildlife safari schedule. Nature has a mysterious way of making us forget time. We then rushed back to the court hoping we could still make it to the wildlife safari but to no avail. Apparently, we were already an hour late and we are no VIPs; the truck left on time.

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But Ace is Ace. He did not give up. He went straight to Sir Ogie, a senior member of Pinoy Netters Club and the major sponsor of this visit. First, he requested to organize a repeat of the safari experience; the request was not granted. He pleaded and was denied. He gave up. No. The sponsor had to eventually bend to his will by offering a proposition: that we will visit the safari but on the condition that we will only be able to view the animals through the gates via a 4×4. And, that would be four hours after lunchtime (5:00 PM). 

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The first thing that we had to worry about upon learning that was where to spend the next four hours other than the court. It was a bit of a puzzle until the winter zehpyr slapped our bodies and all our heads turned to a viriscent boscage that was then right in front of us obscuring the view on the other side of the court. Things became less complicated when we all realized that relishing the simple nature wonders around is the best thing to do. As white collar workers, this is the perfect time to really slow down.

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At this very moment, I must say that ultimate bonding with nature made us all feel restored. It is always a pleasure promoting the benefits of undergoing a green therapy every now and then as well as sharing the beauty of nature here on the blog. People around the world gravitate to images of nature regardless of culture. We have an inborn affiliation for nature; therefore, we cannot resist views of the natural world, even the ordinary ones.

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The long hours of conversation soon made our backs demand for crunches; we had to give in. After a few crunches and stretches, we took a lot of usies. Nature made our bonds stronger. The ground where we spent the long hours at somehow became our green gym. The engaging long talks, relishing of the natural views around, and feeling the gentle afternoon breeze complemented our green exercises. It feels extra special to be with people who appreciate and value nature the way I do.

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For me, what happened during that four hours was, by far, became one of the best winter afternoons. The Nofa Resorts (location map here) is indeed a private oasis of tranquility and restful retreat.

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The sky at 4:45 PM. It was almost time for the next adventure…

Thank you very much, Ace and to your sponsors from Pinoy Netters Club, for sharing with us the privilege to set foot on this wonderland!

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Nofa Farm and Resorts or Nofa Equestrian Resort

P.O. Box 66223
Riyadh  11576 Saudi Arabia
Fax: +966-11-6542981
Phone: +966-11-6542900
Email: support@nofaresort.com

A Minor Excursion to One of Saudi Arabia’s Historical Treasures: Al Masmak Fort and Museum

Top 5 Spots for Nature Lovers in Riyadh

We, humans, have an intrinsic emotional need to connect with nature (also known as biophilia) and this has been repeatedly proven through researches or reviews such as “Health benefits of urban vegetation and green space: Research roundup”; “Environmental Benefits of Green Space – Project Evergreen”; “Health benefits of green spaces in the living environment: A systematic review of epidemiological studies”; and so forth. Such that urban planning, which is a relatively new profession by the way, has emerged from concerns for health and well-being through preventing illnesses and diseases that have something to do with substandard sanitation, exposure to different kinds of environmental pollution, and even overcrowding.