August 30, 2011

Hatta Pools at mid-summer



Hatta is a popular destination among UAE residents who crave for the sight of mountains and natural water pools. The community, along with the dam is located in Dubai's territory, however the pools are found within Oman.

At the height of summer, it's a welcome sight to see water flowing through. Also, it was not humid (even when Dubai was) making it fine exploring the place further. Its the rock formations that were most amazing and one can just imagine it would have taken millions of years before it evolved to what it is now.

It was a hazy morning when we reached there and photos are not as good as when having blue skies.

For our Dubai- Hatta-Ash Shuwayhah itinerary,  please do check here.



The most prominent pools nearest to the falaj 



Big boulders

Interesting irregular rock crevices with water flowing at its base. 

Another interesting long rock formation

You know you went to the right place (Hatta Pools) if you park your car along the falaj (water management system)

It's a long gravel road drive to reach Hatta Pools after the tarmac.  

An abandoned huge house in Dubai Hatta before the border.

The UAE-Oman border demarcation fence heading to Hatta Pools

Along the road to Ray after Wadi Khamis



August 27, 2011

Road Trip Route: Kalba - Hatta - Ash Shuwayya - red dunes


Dubai has mountains too! And it's in its exclave, Hatta. It's a community complete with Emirates NBD, a fire station, a clinic, library, schools, a hyper market.

Hatta has an interesting location in reference to sharing the borders with Oman. The more known road to head there is the Dubai-Hatta Road (E44) which passes both the UAE and Omani border post and back to UAE territories again.

The route we took: Dubai --> Sharjah-Kalba Road --> Hatta --> UAE Border post --> Hatta Pools --> Ash Shuwayya Wadi and Pools --> Oman wadi drive and mountain countryside drive --> Oman Border post --> UAE Madam Road --> Dubai

To avoid the border post (my husband had an existing Oman entry visa he didn't want to risk) we took the Sharjah- Kalba road which takes almost twice as long (time, considering speed and terrain) as E44. At Munay, it's signposted to take right to Hatta. The road turns into a single-carriage way on a winding drive through the mountains.

It was already almost 5pm when we sprung out of Hatta's roundabout on E44 so we decided to stay at Hatta Fort Hotel for the night.







In a nutshell, the route we took was one great road trip:

1) Enjoyed a winding drive on Munay Road after Sharjah-Kalba Road
2) Stayed at Hatta Fort Hotel which is a visitors' have in itself (check my post here).
3) The Gremlins played the waters of Hatta Pools (check my post here.),
4) Trekked Hatta Pools a little further
5) Ascended the steep road to Hatta Dam's view deck (check my photos here).
6) Drove past UAE borders further to Al Shuwayhah Pools. It's the best wadi in the region we visited so far (check my post here)
7) Drove through open wadis and back to the countryside tarmac leaving Oman towards UAE borders
8) Drove by E44, or the Dubai- Hatta highway, first time.
9) Stopped by the big red dune along

We brought our passports with us, and the only time it got checked was once at the border to Hatta Pools (we returned there twice).  We crossed the borders six times and on the other five, we just held up our passports and the local guards just made us pass. No stamping made.

It will be Eid next weekend and Hatta and around it is one fantastic retreat place.

August 26, 2011

Hatta Fort Hotel

It was almost 5pm when we reached Hatta last weekend. We left Deira mid afternoon for fear of driving under the scorching midday sun. But by 5pm I declined to drive further, the thought of leaving the mountains under the moon light scared me. The sky was hazy and that would obscure the bright night light, I thought).

The Hatta round-about along the Dubai-Hatta highway. Taken from Hatta Fort Hotel's view deck.


August 24, 2011

Benihana in Dubai - How do you toss a knife?

The Benihana issue in Kuwait turned now into an isolated  incident, and if I was not a blogger, I think I would not have known as much. In Dubai, the crowd I saw last night in Benihana, Al Bustan Rotana came for the  different dining experience. It's not a prominent location in the hotel but patrons poured in.

I have taken a video of Chef Oliver showing his knife-tossing skills behind the teppanyaki grill. He spoke   most of the time while cooking and if you listen, he was giving different names to his ingredients, like referring to the prawns as mosquitos. He attended to our table for about an hour.

( If someone objects to my posting this, please flag me =) )

UAE Philippine Consulate - Affidavit of Support

Admittedly, most of fellow Filipinos who came to Dubai entered through visit visas. 

Seven years back, I was offloaded on my first scheduled flight coming here because I did not have a notarized Affidavit of Support. This was a new requirement implemented a day prior to my flight that resulted from the Angelo dela Cruz  (remember the celebrated Iraq truck driver?) issue. It was costly to resend my visa back and forth for the affidavit but that's how things were.

This requirement was reinstated for more than a year now after having been done away for some years.

August 23, 2011

Ash Shuwayhah Pools - Oman - A must drive

If you loved Hatta Pools and you are driving a 4X4, you're sure to love the challenge of Ash Shuwayya Pools even more! It's all about clear natural pools and driving on wet wadi bed even at the height of summer.

Ash Shuwayya is a drive  past Dubai's Hatta and towards Oman territory.

We routed through Hatta Pools --  Al Shuwayya -- E44 highway but the reverse route starting from E44 is also an option.

That's the most the car can access at the rougher path to Ash Shuwayhah



The Gremlins wishing I agree they dip in the clear waters. With the rough route, this is less visited. The Big Gremlin said he can clearly see the bottom as compared to Hatta's pools. 

The big rocks forming gorges and trapping water. It now looks like naturally mazed pool.  


Mr Ali, also from Dubai on the other side. He and his dog Cindy frequent the place for swimming and he knows the easy access route.

Give your tyres a break :)

Yup, this is in the desert region and at the middle of summer

No, it isn't the camera that's tilted :)

Just for a show in a region you seldom have the chance. The Big Gremlin asked me not to stop him abruptly, applying the brakes in these wet gravel path can sink the tyres in.

A tranquil track, not a single car other than us that time.  With the low mountains around us, we felt like driving on the moon :)
On the way out to the tarmac road heading to the UAE-OMan border. It was an 8.5 kilometers drive on the open wide wadi with light tracks to follow.


I think summer is a great time to drive to these wet wadis (provided the car runs well and one's well equipped and well supplied) as the chance of rain is less. These wadis could be dangerous during overcast, rainy or cloudy skies because of the threat of flash floods. Somewhere I repeatedly read how amazingly a flood of water would suddenly gush from nowhere flowing through wadi beds.

UPDATE:

DIRECTION MAP ON GOOGLE:

Husband had pinned a driving direction map on Google Maps, please CLICK ON THIS LINK for the directions, zoom in and out to follow.

August 22, 2011

And when I thought I was airport smart

I sent off the Big Gremlin to the airport this morning for his flight to a neighboring country. Yes, we're on a new adventure again. This time, to live apart some 30 minutes flying time, or five hours drive away. This will be our first time to work apart and we're still to know how we'll get adjusted to it. We're blessed to be in this generation though that communication is not really very costly. Even when Facebook video chat did not work today on my side (am not so sure if it has something to do with UAE's blocking of the VOIPs in the country as yet) we have our Etisalat landline subscription package that charges AED 0.50 for international calls, which is still pretty ok.

Back on my blog title, I remain curious why in the world are taxi fees so expensive when engaged from airports.

And here in Dubai's terminal 1, I thought I was smart enough. After exchanging hugs with my husband, I headed out to the bus stop along airport road. I thought a little walk and I'll save AED 17 (AED 20 airport flag down rate less AED 3 normal flag down rate) or  USD 4.63 if I avoid the cabs lined outside the arrival lounge.

At the bus stop it took awhile before an un-engaged cab pulled by (I was under the scorching heat all the time waiting). But heck! The radar-monitored meter still started at AED 20 flagdown. The cab driver pointed I was still at the airport perimeter.  Not so smart after all.

Oh well next time I could still be smarter, maybe I'll take the metro train instead from the airport. 

August 21, 2011

Karl Christian Golucan -- another Igorot in PGT 3

Manny Pacquaio is said to like training in Baguio for one because Baguio residents (a majority being Igorots) are known not to run, flock and scream at the sight of local/ national celebrities. Celebrities could at least walk the streets with less nosy crowd.

 This practice stems I guess on the Igorot culture of equality among humans, and the highest form of respect or admiration is given to the elders and to those who practice good wisdom. Also, when I was younger English movies were more patronized than local ones, hence less interest on Filipino celebrities. One runs the risk of being laughed at when he/ she shows excitement at a celebrity.

But I guess the scene is now changing as even Igorots are now taking interest in being seen on national television. Consequently, it's heartwarming, and I think the most important in the experience to witness the Igorot community come as one to support whoever gets the courage to go onstage. After all, it's a chance to uplift the wrong and negative notion on Igorots.

Who is Karl Christian Osong Golucan?

 A Facebook account on his name says he graduated from Easter College in 2007 and currently a  Faculty member at Saint Louis University's School of Nursing.  (Hey, it's Igorot nurses on the singing break isnt it, starting off with Ingrid Payaket?)

And he is the vocalist of 13th Issue, a band based in La Trinidad, Benguet who are into the rock musical genre.

KC got chinky-eyes which imposes as his prominent Igorot physical feature.

Here's KC's audition piece at Pilipinas Got Talent Season 3. Notice Kris' and Ai-ai's faces:

 

Way to go KC! All the best!

August 20, 2011

Hatta Dam

 Back at Hatta Fort Hotel's toilet is this 'unusual' note:


So much so that where water flows out of the land, it becomes a welcome scenic sight. For one, we checked the Hatta Dam's reservoir.

Hatta dam reservoir as seen from the view deck

From Hatta Heritage village, a drive to the left of the mosque and turning right at the intersection, would lead to one of Hatta's Dam. Reaching the end of the road, we thought the sign meant end of the road if to drive further right, it was however a T-junction. What's nice here is the car gets to drive up a short steep road to the view deck.

The road climb up Hatta Dam's view deck.

At the view deck of Hatta Dam

The Hatta Dam spillway

And last but not the least of my Hatta Dam's photos comes (drum roll please) the Gremlin's doodle:

From his Ambuklao Dam concept, his dam doodles always include the depth level markers.

August 19, 2011

Must do at Hatta and Ash Shuwayhah Pools: Jump, Splash, and Play

At long last we made it to Hatta with further exploring of Oman. I have a whole lot of photos to post and I start with these:

First up: the Big Gremlin performing the signature Hatta pools plunge for himself. (He objected posting his photos. Reason? Tummy :))

Surveying the depth

August 15, 2011

Pilipinas Tara Na!

Well, what can I say?

Enchanting! Very enchanting!


The message and music left me drifting how beautiful Philippines is even when it carries the image of poverty and dirty politics.

I love you Philippines, we are away for now but will be settling back and travel your beautiful islands.

Oh, I should not forget, the artists were awesome!

:-)

New Dubai POLO OWWA Contact Details

Here's a notification shared at PICPA Dubai and Northern Emirates' facebook page:

______________________

NOTICE TO ALL : NEW POLO DUBAI CONTACT NUMBERS

May we inform you of the new working contact telephone and fax numbers of POLO Dubai as follows:

          1) POLO Dubai (Labatt Office) Fax +9714-2207277
          2) OWWA (Welfare Officer) Fax +9714-2207400
          3) Pag-IBIG Representative Officer Fax +9714-2207221
          4) POLO-DUBAI (Main Trunk line with 3 lines) +9714-2207011, +9714-2207011

Likewise, our Internet connection has also been restored, POLO Dubai official email: dubaipolo@ymail.com and P.O. Box No. 4960 Dubai.

Thank you.

AMILBAHAR B. AMILASAN
Labor Attache

August 13, 2011

Iceland Waterpark and Acacia Hotel

(P.S. This page had recently been landing in searches, if you're looking to better compare Iceland with the other waterparks, please do also check my posts here: WILD WADI and AQUAVENTURE. Again I think, the value in money of going to Iceland is when it comes free with a hotel stay).

Summer in the sandpit could sure drive people away, but it also means that there more hotel promotions that equates low rates + pools + water parks + breakfasts. We were in Atlantis last week, and now we just came home from Acacia Hotel and Iceland Waterpark in Ras Al Khaimah.

At AED 330 net, two persons can have a room, buffet breakfast and complementary entry tickets to Iceland Waterpark. Isn't that a great deal? For having a five year old (three Iceland tickets, three buffets), we had a junior suite for AED 440 net.

When Iceland opened in Ras Al Khaimah last year, we found the AED 225/ adult and AED 175/ child rates expensive. They were not on our Entertainer (buy-one-free-one) vouchers book and I was hoping to come across a promotion.

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Since it's summer, the waterpark has extended evening hours. Last night, a weekend, the lifeguard said they're up until 1 am. We went at 5pm when the sun was down and left 10pm. The high humidity (I sweat real wet)  did not really matter. The waters were warm, except for the Penguin Falls.

Somebody who just came from either Wild Wadi and Aquaventure is not to find The Rapids, Torrent River, Master Blasters, and the dares of Burj Surj and Tantrum Ali.

Even without these, the Husband thinks Iceland's Plunge Point made his knees tremble more than Aquaventure's Leap of Faith. Plunge Point gets the thrill seeker to jump five meters down a 3.34 meters high pool. Of course, the faint-hearted-me-who-cant-even-jump-on-a-meter-high-pool just watched and cheered.

Iceland's quality is in the number of rides. I found it tiring though to pace the stairs up each time. Oh, if they only have interconnected rides to cater to the lazy-us. Or a pulley to bring us up the top, like those in Aquaventure (again, laziness).

By the way, Filipino food is now available in The Platter's Kusina Ni Nanay, I hope they make good business.

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Iceland's walkways are covered by rubber mats which slightly feel uncomfortable. Meanwhile, some areas are painted and I found them slippery as I tiptoed fast when they were a little burning hot. Some of the water pools were painted with blue and are were scraping/ chipping out. The Gremlin's toes and knees used them a lot, and he had his skin blue :)

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The Gremlin enjoyed the night of course.

Information:
Website: www.icelandwaterpark.com
More of my photos: click here


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ACACIA HOTEL


Acacia Hotel from E311

This hotel is found within the Ras Al Khaimah industrial zone, catering mostly to business travelers. For those who wants the pool minus the sun's heat, it's best to use it before 11am when the building's height can still give a good cover.

Overheard: 'Ang lakas ng loob'

The Gremlin sketching a view from outside

Acacia's Junior Suite

Acacia Hotel's Lobby
Iceland Waterpark

Iceland Waterpark

Of Ajman UAE and its Traffic Signals

We just arrived from Ras Al Khaimah today via E11 (summer is at it's peak and we thought taking E11 is safer than E311, Emirates Road. We even stopped by a fellow traveler who flagged us. He borrowed a jack to fix his flat tire.)

E11 traverses the emirates of Sharjah and Ajman between Dubai and RAs Al Khaimah. This road is a good orientation of the different driving skills required in each Emirate. In Ajman, the traffic signals are quite different. There are digital screens doing countdowns and telling the driver how many seconds are left -- that you could cross if it's green; that you should wait if it's red.

The Husband at first thought this is cool, but just until  today when he was speeding on the open road. He was too used in Dubai where we chuckle on "jumping on yellow light". In Dubai, green traffic lights blink, turns yellow before finally it's red. In Ajman, the green lights count 3-2-1, and it immediately turns red.

Lesson learned: Keep in mind that in Ajman, there is no green light blinking and yellow lights to signal slowing down. Slow down to stop on count five if speeding and there is still 50 meters to sprint.  

A digitally clocked traffic signal in Ajman



HOW DO AJMAN LOOK LIKE:

On another note, here's some photos I took as we drove in Ajman:
These architectures give a consistent outlook for Ajman

Residential villas and one-two storey buildings line some of the roads in Ajman

Notice the availability of sandy areas used as parking in Ajman

Radisson Ajman in the far end

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