Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My 32nd Birthday at Manumah Beach

Fortunately my birthday falls in between the Eid Al Adha holiday and we have family guests from Riyadh, KSA to celebrate with us. On one hand, our guest, Shaun, is also invited for an overnight camping in Manumah Beach by his former work colleague who works in an airline company in Oman. The schedule date happens to be my birthday. I’m happy because for me it’s like “hitting two birds with one stone”. We can go swimming and meet new friends all at the same time, on my birthday.
my melted birthday cake

Days before my guests’ arrival to Oman, Jesse and I scout the beach’s location in Seeb. We want to make sure that it can be perfectly fine and ideal for swimming especially we have little kids. The sand is not so refine compared to other beaches we have been to. But, gladly, it is near to a residential village called Manumah and very accessible to the city proper as well as to the highway. There are also gazebos readily provided for public use. I take several pictures of the beach and send to my friend Elle, Shaun’s wife, for her to see it beforehand. I also advise them to bring camping gear like tents, sleeping bags just in case they want to camp out.
the view of the beach
The morning of the 28th, after breakfast, I cook food and I prepare some of our beach wears. However, just for no reason, I don’t feel like camping at that moment, all I want is to swim and stay there up to late evening. So I told Shaun, my kids and I will just go home later then Jesse will get back to join them for the overnight camping. And he agrees with me, because as much as he wants to, he prefers to sleep at home and get more rest for our adventure the next day. But he is bit ashamed to turn down his friend’s invitation and cannot do anything but to spend the night in the beach.

We arrive at 5:00 o’clock in the afternoon. We are warmly welcomed by Basti and his wife Patty along with their three adorable kids- a girl age 9, a boy age 4, and 3 months old baby boy. Another family, Mark with his wife and two daughters also joined with us. Mark, Basti, Shaun, and Elle are former workmates in Lufthansa Technik in Manila. But now, Mark and Basti are currently working in Oman Air while Shaun and Elle are now connected with Riyadh Aviation in KSA. It is a small world, indeed, for these fellows. They happen to meet up once again not Philippines but here in Oman instead.
my son and friend EJ swimming together
It is a fun and relaxing the whole afternoon. The kids are having their own good time in the beach, swimming, running, playing, and making sand castles. We grilled pork and chicken. Eating and Chatting. For mommies, the center of our chat is about raising kids and parenting style which we share our own personal funny experiences and nerve-wrecking moments. While daddies talk about their working environment and office colleagues. Then, Elle take out the ready-made birthday cake. She lit the birthday candle and asks me to make a wish. Anyah and I blow the candle together while everyone sing a birthday song. I’m so touched and happy. It feels like I am a young girl once again!

Not until 8:00 PM that Mark and his family bid goodbye. They will drive to Musannah (which is our place) and stay in the Millenium Hotel after they have availed the hotel promo of 75 Omani Rials for a family room per night. When they left, daddies begin to assemble the very big portable tent for Bas and his family. It takes them more than 30 minutes to put up the whole tent. Meanwhile, Shaun brings their small tent that can accommodate two persons only where kids love to play around, inside, and out.
our new found friends here in Oman
At about 10:00 in the evening, my kids and I along with Elle went home ahead and bid farewell to Bas and his family. I am so thankful for the warmness and friendliness of the couple and their little children. I hope to meet them once again and perhaps plan a camping trip for our family.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

It’s another long holiday in Oman for Eid Al Adha

The news came out today from the radio and newspapers. It is officially declared that Oman will have a long holiday in celebration for the Eid Al Adha or “Feast of Sacrifice” on the 26th of October.

For those who would like to know what this Eid Al Adha all about, I ask my Omani officemate, Omar, across my table. He told me that this feast is a celebration of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) willingness to follow Allah’s (God’s) command to sacrifice his son Ishamael (well, I have heard that same story in Christianity when we have bible study during my childhood). But when he was prepared to kills his son, Allah revealed to him that his “sacrifice” had already been fulfilled. Ibrahim had shown great love for Allah superceded others that he would offer his own life or the lives of those he loves in order to follow God.

He further tells me that Muslims normally have this feast at the end of Hajj or the annual pilgrimage to Mecca and the celebration will last for three days. During the celebration, they slaughter animals like sheep, camel, or goat and shared the meat to those who poor and unfortunate. A true Muslim has strength of heart, purity of faith, and willingness to obey Allah’s commands.

Apart from this tradition, this also means that the people, those who are working, will be on a long stretch of vacation days. The holiday for private sector will begin on Wednesday, 24th to 30th of October while those in the government sector will start from the 25th of October to 2nd of November, whole 9 days! Yeppeyy!!

We are lucky to enjoy the 9 days leave. So now, we can push through with our escapades together with our guests from Saudi Arabia who will visit Oman on the 27th to 30th.

Happy Eid Al Adha everyone!

Friday, October 5, 2012

An unplanned and quick leisurely stroll in Mutrah and Kalbouh Park

While resting in the car, an idea suddenly appears in my mind. I have friends from Saudi Arabia who will come to Oman during the Eid Holiday. I am trying to figure out and plan an itinerary for them. So this is the very reason I made a request to my husband to take us to Mutrah, which as many folks have come to know, is one of the popular spots in Muscat.

Mutrah is an old capital’s core district and has grown into a vibrant trading and residential port area over the years. It is situated north-west coast of Muscat and a favorite destination among locals and tourists because of the many beautiful sights and scenes that enchant especially those who visits here the first time. Among the famous landmarks that you can find are the Mutrah Fort, Corniche, Forts, Incense Burner, Parks, Fountains, Fish Markets, and Muscat Harbor There are also an array of restaurants and cafes that offer affordable drinks and foodies while the Mutrah Souq is a famous shopping destination with many tiny stalls that sell antiques, silverware, textiles, spices, and herbal products.

But, other than being here many times, these places are not in my agenda today so we immediately head off to Bait Al Zubair, Bait Mumtaz Gallery, and Omani French museum to get its regular timings. I just want to know the best time to come here and meander around the area. I asked my hubby to take pictures of the schedules engraved on the walls.

The timings of Bait Al Zubair
The visiting schedule of Bait Muzna Gallery
The timings of Omani - French Museum
A very huge image HM Sultan Qaboos Bin Said hang on the wall of Bait Al Zubair

We supposed to go back to the harbor right away but because of its maze-like streets, we get lost a bit on our way out. Not until we drive down to the rear side of old palace where we see thick breakwaters and other huge forts. We stop for few minutes to take some photos and admire these old-aged structures.
the back view of Al Alam Palace
you can see those thick breakwaters especially during low tide
the Al Mirani fort 
Can you see another Watchtower at the far tip of the rocky mountain?
Then we make our way slowly along the walled area and pass a roundabout across the frontal entry to the Old Al Alam Palace. We have been here previously and I tell you the view is so lovely particularly at night because of the illuminating lights that accentuate the entire palace. During winter time, many colorful flowers are in bloom that also petrifies the whole surroundings. Then again, Jesse steps out of the car to take a snapshot.

the Al Alam Palace at day time
As we drive back to the marina, we take a right turn to Kalbouh Park. This is a park by the sea located by the village of Kalbouh. They say that this is a picturesque spot during an evening stroll. I can imagine that because of the amazing views of the sea to one side and the rocky hills to the other where you can clearly see the huge incense burner above.

You can see the Huge Incense Burner directly from Kalbouh Park

There are kiosks and grassed amphitheaters dotting around which are good resting places for family picnic or simply to hang out. There are also small cafes that sell snacks and drinks. But the far end of the park is walled with wooden frames because that portion was destroyed and had been washed out to the sea during a strong typhoon last year.

The pretty white kiosks dotted around the park along with grassed amphitheater
Thick walls overlooking to the rocky mountains upfront
with my kiddos as the afternoon stretches and heats up the entire park
more more white umbrellas over there...and little cafes to serve you with drinks and goodies
the tip most part is now a secluded area and better to stay away
However, still, I love this park especially the nice landscapes, paved walkways, and the cool sea breeze that will help me relax and certainly have a good time with my family.

The lovely park from the opposite side of the corniche

In today's quick and short visit in Mutrah, I have come to realize that it is ideal to be here in the late afternoon especially when the sun is about the descend and pave way to a lovely evening where the entire area will be frequented by people and enliven by all sorts of entertainment. As for Kalbouh park, we will definitely come back here during the winter months and have a picnic the whole day.


Happy hours at Happy Land

After taking our lunch at Muscat Grand Mall Food court we suppose to get back to the car and take a short nap, however as we pass along a very lively theme ride playground with many fascinating neon color lights, I am struck by the sounds of its fun rides. So I invited my kids and hubby to take a quick peek.
You will surely be happy at Happy Land Entertainment Center

Since it is Friday and a weekend in Middle East, most people prefer to stay home than going out, so this day worked in our favor because the playground is not too crowded when we stroll around. The place is new and very clean with a number of amazing rides, video game machines, and play booths.

my kids at the playground entrance
with my beautiful kids

Without a doubt, I head back to the counter and buy a HAPPY CARD that costs 2 Omani Rials. There are many promotions and group discounts but I prefer for the 2 Rials card because we will only stay in this area for few hours. The card provides access to rides and games that my kids want.

bump cars ride
The signage

First, Andrei hop into the bump car and riding for 2 minutes at a cost of 0.600 baiza. I am laughing and shouting while my son maneuvers the car’s steering wheel while being bump by other cars around. It seems that I am the only one enjoying the scenes and not my son because of his scowling face. He told me, he is upset of not being able to drive the car as he supposed to do because the gear paddle is stiff and hard. Well, i guess because it is new anyway.

the cost of one ride
my son in his car

But I manage to calm him down and let him decide his next ideal game machine – the War Tank at a price of 0.600 per play. This time, as a game-addict-little kid that he is, Andrei concentrates on the big panel screen as to how he can move strategically and fire down the enemies and win the game. That game literally develops his logical and analytical thinking.  No wonder my boy loves to solve puzzles and answers mind games too.

isn't he too serious huh??
this game has taken so much of his attention
Later, I join with little Anyah in the carousel ride. Anyah choose the static little donkey because she is quite comfortable with it. It costs 0.600 baiza for a 2 minutes merry-go-round ride. At first she is having fun while the carousel rotates throughout but eventually she wanted to step out and feel a bit dizzy.

the carousel ride
me n mygirl in the carousel
been having fun at first but eventually get a bit dizzy
Well, when we check the card what is left is only 0.200 baizas. Though my kids have only tried few of the many offerings in the park but I guess it is worth enough to get, at least, a little amusement we want for this day.

the Jolly Jump 8 at a cost of 1 OR per ride

it will toss you up and down while rotating around
the Word Trip
it will move you sideways as you are lifted upwards
look who loves to drive down the highway

in the dance revo

this baby really wants to dance once more
For sure, on our next visits I will prepare bigger bucks just to maximize our fun in this playground.

is located near the entrance to food court and beside the City Cinema in
Muscat Grand Mall

Food Trip Friday: Chic King, Mersin, and Charley

I confess I am a food lover and so is my hubby. This is one thing that binds our together and surely ignite our fantasies of all-sorts of foodies especially when hunger and cravings strike in.

During our singlehood days, we visited numerous restaurants and food chains in town just to grab a bite or have a taste of their meals. Jesse even sneaked to my house late at night and invited me to dine in at a newly opened burger stand at the nearby street corner. It is also pretty crazy to drive hours away from the city just to visit the featured resto bars and cafes and simply order fruit shakes or a couple of beer. These are some of our [happy-crazy] moments and confession of our [too much] food addiction. And let me tell you we both have our own likes and dislikes. After taking that last scope and slurp, we made verdict as to the ambiance, the price, and the food tastes. A food that is well-prepared, tasteful, and way affordable is a satisfaction to us. The food and place that has the right price, a delicious food taste, and inviting atmosphere surely gets a big credit and nods of approval from us.

Lately, we came to realize how we would love to do this food trip once again especially now that we are in Oman where bunch of restaurants are sprouting like mushrooms everywhere offering numerous cuisines like Asian, Chinese, Iranian, Turkish, and Omani to name a few. And we wanted to try it every Friday, once or twice a month, just to have a little twist of our boring ordinary dining routine. And gladly Friday is also when most of these food shops are offering promos and all-kinds-of-sales extravaganza. So these are some good reasons to start our FOOD TRIP FRIDAY SAGA
So today, we begin that idea. We stop at Muscat Grand Mall at lunch time to see what is new in the food court. After hopping from one stall to another and dissecting their food menus, we finally made our choices.

Friend Chicken Meal from CHIC KING

some leftover pieces of chicken, fries, and a bun

My son Andrei is a die-hard fried chicken fan. Whenever we are in town and looking for food outlet, he repeatedly says his order. FRIED CHICKEN with FRIES and BUN. Good thing, even if KFC outlet is still closed by the time when we are in the food court, there’s the Chic King as a good alternative. We pay 1.200 Omani rials for three pieces of fried chicken, a single bun, and few sticks of fries. Adding 200 baiza for the mineral water.

Saffron Minced Meat Biryani from Mersin

The Mersin food stall a few tables from us serving delectable Iranian dishes

I help Jesse with his choice. With many variety of food stalls in the court, it is truly bewildering at first. But he is a bit captured with the food shared by two middle-aged women from our next table. It is something placed in a black rectangular plastic box with some biryani rice, meat, and lemons. Finally, I figured it out! It is an Iranian dish and pointed my finger to Mersin food outlet just a few tables away from us.

A display of fresh fruits and pre-packed meal from Mersin

the two friendly Iranian hosts at the counter while Jesse is making his choice

We get close to the food counter where two nice young Iranian attendants and a young Filipina, entertain our order - a plate of saffron minced meat with biryani rice, some humus sauce, and a cold orange soda. It all costs 2.800 Omani Rials (7.25 USD$). But Jesse has to wait for 15 minutes before his order is served.

Jesse's choice as printed in the food menu list
 The meat is tender, soft, and juicy. A few squeeze of lemon will bring the good flavor of the minced meat mixed with saffron powder. The saffron is considered the most expensive spice and extracted from the stigmas of a crocus sativus flower. It doesn’t only enhance the taste of meat but has medicinal value too. The hummus is the right combination to keep the balance between saltiness and tangy zest flavor of lemon. A hummus is a famous Mediterranean and Arabic sauce made of chickpeas, sesame, lemon, and garlic. Mind you my husband likes it since he clean it up pretty well.
The freshly cooked Saffron Mince Meat with Biryani Rice and Hummus
Gourmet Steak Deluxe from Charley’s Grilled Subs 

The Charley's Grilled Subs outlet in Muscat Grand Mall
As for my choice I love burger or anything that a bun filled with some dressings, veggies, and few strands of meat. So I opted for Gourmet Philly Steak Deluxe combo. The 6-inch-sandwich is chockfull of chicken steak strips, grilled onions, green peppers, lettuce, japeleno, tomato slices, and mozzarella cheese and top with sweet onion and teriyaki dressing. I also get a glass of cold softdrinks and a small plate of hot fries topped with cheddar cheese.
My choice for the day - Gourmet Steak Deluxe
  What a delectable foodies! I am happy with my order and I am so full that I can’t even consume the whole of it. I shared the other half to my hubby, who is at this time, is still on the brink of his hunger. Now I am satisfied paying 2.700 Omani Rials (7 US$)for the combo order.
A mouth-watering sandwich that satisfies my appetite
Tastier french fries with Cheddar Cheese toppings

Well the total costs of 6.900 Omani Rials (18 USD$) is good enough to satiate our appetite and quench our thirst. We are also happy sharing our food to one another and so with our little princess, who quickly grab some sticks of fries and tiny bite sizes of bread. Slurpp!

Now we want to go back to the car and take some few naps before heading to our next destination of the day.

You can visit and check out:

Muscat Grand Mall
2nd Floor, Food Court Section

They are open:
9:00AM to 10:00PM Saturday to Thursday
12:00Noon to 10:00PM Friday

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