• Expat Life
  • Al Hoota Cave: A hidden treasure in Arabia

    When I  heard the newly renovateAl Hoota Cave which has a train going inside the cave is finally open to the public, I didn’t miss the chance checking it out. Al Hoota Cave, located in Al Hamra, Oman is said to be the first and only show cave in the Arabian Peninsula with a total length of around 4.5km with 500m publicly accessible. Something interesting to be up on the mountain.

     

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    My obligatory photo at Al Hoota Cave

     

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    Electric train to the cave

     

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    First, my friend and I have booked online tickets to Al Hoota Cave. They accept walk- in but to avoid long queue in buying tickets, I suggest doing it online and choose the time you want to go. Just make sure to arrive 15 minutes before the allotted schedule. By the time we went there, it was Eid Holidays. The line was long at the Visitor Center, and lots of people were visiting the place, locals, tourists, and expats. Since we bought our tickets online, we waited for our turn only for a while. There is a waiting area before you will hop in into the electric train that will bring you into the cave. 

    The train going inside the cave can carry 48 passengers from the Visitor Center into the entrance of the cave. The train ride was about 10 minutes going inside the cave. I enjoyed the rocky mountain view as we approached the cave. Kids and kids at heart enjoyed the electric train to the cave. 

     

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    Inside the train where visitors were enjoying the rocky mountainous view.

    Before getting into the cave, there are some reminders to the visitors that must be noted:

    1.Inside the cave is around 45 minutes of a walk, so it is advisable to wear comfortable clothing and shoes. 

    2. If you have a condition such as claustrophobia or illnesses such as asthma, I do not recommend the tour because of limited air circulation inside the cave. 

    3.Humidity inside the cave might reach 85% in some areas. Bring some tissue or handkerchief with you.

    4.It is also not allowed to drink or eat inside the cave, but there is a restaurant at the Al Hoota Visitor Center where you can take some food or hydrate yourself before or after the visit.

    5.Once inside the cave, a local guide will assist the tour which is knowledgeable in speaking English and Arabic languages.

    6.Taking photos inside the cave is not allowed. If you plan to bring your camera, you have to surrender it to the personnel at the entrance of the cave.  

    In addition to the cave tour, there is also a geological museum and gift shop at the Visitor Center to complete your Al Hoota Cave experience. You can explore the ancient geology of Oman from the various display. As for last stop, you can visit the gift shop to buy local Omani handicrafts and cave souvenirs. As a foreign national, I paid 6.5 Omr for the ticket. For more information, you can check  Al Hoota Cave website for schedule and ticket prices.

    The natural beauty of the cave preserved million years ago is indeed one of the hidden treasures of the country. There is so much to see and discover other than the desert in the Gulf region. Adding a train to the exploration of the cave makes the whole experience unique in the Arabian Peninsula! 

     

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    Sweaty after the cave tour!

     

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    Part of the Geological Exhibition

     

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    Souvenirs sold at the Gift Shop

     Tell me about your own cave experience on the comments below. 

     

     

     

     

     

  • Expat Life
  • Getaway to Al Bustan Palace, Ritz Carlton Hotel

    If you are looking for a short getaway, look no further than the Oman’s capital city, Muscat.  Al Bustan Palace, a Ritz Carlton being synonymous with first class style is surely a dream destination. 

    Two weeks ago, my sister and I went to Al Bustan Palace for a short weekend getaway. The scenery on the way to the hotel was pretty amusing. The view was stunning as it comes down the hill to the sea. It was something that will leave you breathless especially for those visiting Oman for the first time.

     

    The Lobby

    The lobby was grandiose and striking. The style of the hotel was based on traditional Arabic architecture in a palace setting.  It was originally designed to accommodate visiting head of state and high level members of GCC meetings by Majesty Sultan Qaboos. Now as a 5 star hotel,  it is a favorite spot for influential locals and visitors.

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    The Room

    I love the room my sister and I had occupied. The amenities include flat screen television with cable, tea and coffee making machine with mini refreshment bar. It was something that won’t disappoint you. The room we chose has a personal balcony connected to a lagoon pool and the room has a perfect overlooking view of the garden and the beach. The ambiance in the room was very classy. The wireless internet connection worked so well too.

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    Our luxurious room with a private terrace.

     

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    The room was clean and crisp. I felt so relaxed and comfortable!

     

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    Fresh fruits to welcome their guests!

     

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    Can’t get enough of this view! Our room is connected to a lagoon pool.

     

    The Facilities

    Facilities at the Al Bustan Palace Hotel include health and fitness center, tennis courts, restaurants and bars. You can check the daily activities they have for the guests too!

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    The Breakfast

    For the breakfast, local food and international cuisine were served.  Fresh juices, bread, sweets…everything were almost there. The staff were very friendly and helpful. The buffet breakfast was included in our room price. Al Khiran terrace restaurant was a perfect place to sit and relax with the beautiful view. I love the view of the infinity pool from the breakfast area. The design of the restaurant has a touch of Omani tradition in a modern twist.

    I love the fresh coconut juice served for our breakfast. It was something refreshing!

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    My almost Mediterranean food except for the waffles!

     

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    My sister’s plate overloaded with beans with Arabic bread on it!

     

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    The chef who gladly cooked our preferred omelette for the breakfast.

     

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    Amazing view from our breakfast table, the infinity pool!

     

    The Pool and the Beach

    With the rugged mountain, the glistening beach and the pools outside the hotel, spending the whole day at the Al Bustan Palace is a perfect place to relax and chill out. The atmosphere was very calm.  

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    Isn’t it impressive? Great view outside of the hotel.

     

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    Relaxing moment in a lounge chair on the beach

     

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    Big smiles from us!

     

    must say, Al Bustan Palace is a perfect place for someone who wants to relax in a very tranquil environment.

     What is your most unforgettable hotel experience? Share on the comments below.

     

     

     

     

  • Expat Life
  • Recap on the life of an Expat in the Middle East

    Oman has been my second place away from home! Having lived here for quite some time, have given me the opportunity to experience being a local. In my previous blog posts, I wrote about how it is like to work and live in the Middle East. Let us look back to some of the blog posts and learn about the culture, traditions, food, people and life as an expat in the gulf country.

    The Life of an Expat in Nizwa, Oman – learn the everyday life of an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) in the town of Nizwa.

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    Filipino community in Nizwa, Oman

     

    Thinking of Working in the Middle East? Read this now – points to remember and consider for Filipinos who want to work in the Middle East.

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    Nizwa Souq, famous place in Oman

     

    As an Expat- Traveler/ Local my first blog post living as a Filipino Overseas Worker (OFW) in Oman.

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    Are you living as an expat in the Middle East? Share your experiences on the comments below.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Travel Stories
  • A glimpse to National Museum of Oman

    As it is still hot in Oman, I try to look for more indoor attraction to see. When I’ve heard National Museum of Oman is finally open to the public after being formally established by a royal decree in 2013, I took the chance to check on it.  I wanted to learn more about the cultures, traditions and history of Oman and that was just right on time.

     

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    The museum is a located at the heart of old  Muscat. It is two storey building with a total area of 13,700 square meters. The interior design showcases a state of the art architecture.  You can wander around the museum which houses 13 display halls including the Land and People Hall, Maritime History Hall, Arms and Armour and Currency Hall on the ground floor. Prehistory and Ancient History, The Renaissance and Heritage Galleries are just some displays located on the second level.

     

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    The archaeological artifacts in the museum is about 6,000. Some objects displayed were brought from around the world, donated by the locals.

    At the age of 5 or 6, a belt is given by a father to his son for special occasion.As he grows up, a he will be presented with a dagger which is a marks a milestone in his life. More interesting facts about Oman in the museum.

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    There is the hospitality section where guests can have a taste of Arabic coffee (kahwa) and try the local dates.

    The museum offers a cinema hall which screen a short movie about Oman. It is a fifteen minute HD film summarizing Oman’s entire history.  Arabic and English languages are both available for the viewers. For me this is the highlight of the museum, you shouldn’t missed.

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    What I like about the museum it caters different types and age groups of visitors. The museum has educational activities for the kids. It is also the first museum in the Middle East to adapt Arabic braille for visually impaired visitors. There are some resting area if you feel like tired of walking around. The staff are accommodating too!

     

    There is a gift shop that soon will be open inside the National Museum for souvenirs.

     

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    A prayer bead made of camel bone

     

    The entrance fee is 1 OMR/ 2.6 USD/120 PHP for Omani and other GCC (Gulf Cooperation Councils) nationals, 2 OMR/ 5USD/ 241 PHP for residents in Oman, 5 OMR/ 13USD/ 602 PHP for tourists. Children and students up to 25 years old, handicapped and Omani and GCC nationals who are 60 years old and above will enjoy the free entry to the museum. The museum will be open 4 times a week (Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday) from 9am until 3pm from July 30 until September 30. The opening hours will be subject to change following the first phase.

     

    Checking the museum have given me the opportunity to understand and appreciate more the heritage of Oman. It was a well spent day for a cultural experience!

     

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    Location Map:

    What is your experience visiting a national museum? Share on the comments below.