• 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.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • Expat Life
  • Royal Opera House Muscat,must-see in Oman

    One of the places to visit in Oman is the Royal Opera House Muscat (ROHM). It is the premier venue for musical arts and culture. The ruler of Oman, Sultan Qaboos bin Said has been always a fan of classical music and arts. In 2001, the sultan ordered the building of the opera house which is the first in gulf region. The Opera House is located in Shati – Al Qurum, Muscat.

     

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    Royal Opera House Muscat has hosted numerous shows both international and regional.  Andrea Bocelli is just one of them who performed at the exquisite location.

    I was grateful, I got the chance to watch one of the shows Don Quixote ballet end of last year.  It was my first time to visit the Opera House. I was taken aback by its beauty. The grandiose huge white structure of the opera house is really impressive.  The interior design even enthralled me more. The design is a reflection of Islamic architecture and art in a modern form. Since it was my first time to attend a formal show, I can’t stopped looking around. All were dressed up. The show I had watched with my sister and my friend was a ballet in four acts and eight scenes based on episodes taken from the famous novel Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel De Cervantes. By the time I watched a show, I have noticed there were relatively few Omanis enjoying the show. Most of the audience seemed to be either expats or tourists.

     

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    It should be noted that they have a strict dress code. ROHM follows a strict formal or business dress code attending the show. No jeans, t- shirts or tennis shoes are allowed. For Omanis this means disdasha/thobe for men and formal attire for women. For non-Omanis this means suits for men and conservative dresses below the knee for females.  I remember when we watched the show my friend was asked to wear abaya as she was wearing a dress within the knee level. Abayas were available at the opera house to be used by guests. I guess it was better than not watching the show at all.

     

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    It is necessary to arrive early, for you not to miss  any part of the show. Show starts on time. There is a strict security check at the entrance as well. It is advisable to eat before you attend an opera show.  There is a short break but it might not be enough to feed your hunger or be distracted by your rumbling stomach. It should be noted that the phone should be on silent mode or totally switched off.

    For those having no time to watch a show,  it is open to the public to view the main hall and the theater daily from 8.30am to 10.30am. You can also visit the Opera Galleria which is part of the Opera House. It is a luxury shopping destination with wide range of exclusive, top quality products and fine dine restaurants. I recently visited the place to have a look of the sophistication of the shopping center. For a difference, I enjoyed the refined ambiance from a regular mall. From all the luxurious items i have seen there,  the only thing I can’t forget was the watch worth 10,000 OMR/ 25,000 USD/ 1.2 million PHP.  Gee!

     

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    Visiting the Opera House Muscat is a worthwhile experience! If you plan to watch a world class show, the tickets should be bought months before the show as it is usually sold out. You can visit Royal Opera House website to check the schedule and ticket prices. What’s  the next international show on the line? It’s West Side Story on February 2017! 

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    Location Map:

     

    Would you like to visit an opera house? Share your comments below.  

     

  • Expat Life
  • Hiking Adventures in Oman

    I love anything and everything about mountains, deserts, forests, clear skies and green sceneries. I find it very relaxing and fulfilling. I don’t remember what kick started this love but one thing for sure if someone will invite me I will mostly likely say yes. I like spending exclusive time with the nature. Oman known for its vast range of mountains has always been great for hiking adventures. Listed down are some of the hiking escapades I have posted in the past year that you may wish to try on:

     

    Adventure in Jabal Shams Check out the Grand Canyon of Arabia, my first hiking experience in Oman. Find out why trekking is not only seeing amazing landscape but also moving out of your comfort zone.

     

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    Trekking at the Cliff of a Canyon Find out how group hiking can be so much fun. A trek well recommended for beginners.

     

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    Short hike in Jabal Akdhar, Oman  A new trekking path opened to the public in Jabal Akdhar, the green mountain of Oman.

     

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    For sure this wouldn’t be the last time I will do trekking. I wish to do more not only here in Oman but also in the Philippines and other parts of the world.

    Where do you want to go for hiking? Share on the comments below.