• Expat Life
  • Traveling Slipper’s First Anniversary!

    Exactly one year ago August 16,2015, I published my very first article on my own website. To tell you the truth, I don’t know what I was doing that time. I remembered it was mid of last year when I were talking to a friend about my penchant to travel and the love to write about it for the purpose of keeping a personal travel diary. With a little push from my friend and desire to share my travel stories, I decided to take the path of having a travel blog.

    First, I bought my domain name for the blog. It took me weeks to think of my website name. At the time, I don’t know what to name the blog until I finally came up with the name Traveling Slippers, powered by WordPress. Ask me why I named it that way, my answer is completely daft. I like to travel with slippers. (Silly, right?)

    The next challenge was using WordPress or the blog engine which I were totally clueless. Good thing, WordPress platform is user friendly and there are numerous online tutorials on how to use the blog site too. Lucky, my friend who works at Site Above Solutions guided and helped me all the way to answer all my queries and he took care of the technical side of the blog.

    I felt thrilled and goosey when I published and shared my first article (As an Expat- Traveler/Local). It was something odd to me. But receiving positive feedback from my family and friends made me really so happy. Of course, nothing comes easy. My head was spinning thinking of topics to write and adventures to do. (Well, still up to now.) There were even days I would question myself whether or not I wanted to keep posting since writing was never my strong point. Over the life of this blog, this little space has challenged me to do the things I have never thought I would do. Not only it honed my writing skills but opened myself to learn the other aspects of blogging. I have realized there is so much to learn in this world of blogging. Being a full time healthcare professional didn’t halt me from learning new things. Instead it gave me more courage to accept the challenge of being a blogger. Looking back, I must say I have no regrets. I feel grateful and happy of the road I have chosen to take. I am willing to learn and improve myself along the way.

    So, here I am celebrating my 1st blog anniversary. Yahoo!!!  Listed down are some of my travel posts in the past year:

    Cost of a Backpacking Trip to SE AsiaOne of my favorite travels I had. Traveled 7 cities in 3 SE Asian countries in 18 days. Check out the itinerary if you are planning for a backpacking trip.

    How to Apply Tourist Visa for USGuide and tips for Filipinos wanting to apply for tourist visa in the US.

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    Things Why I Love JapanDiscover the unique things to see and experience in the land of the rising sun.

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    Budget trip to Maldives, is it possible?Check out how Maldives can be a budget friendly country to visit.

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    A must- see and try in Istanbul Turkey Be in two continents at one place. Find out the things to be loved about Constantinople.

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    I would like to say thank you for all the readers for continuously supporting the blog. Thank you to my family, friends and those people in my life who inspire me to keep writing and doing the things I love to do! I hope to be celebrating with you all the next years of travel adventures to come.

    Cheers!!!

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    Any thing you want to ask? I’ll be happy to answer all your questions. Share on the comments below. 

  • Expat Life
  • A visit to Nizwa souq

      There are days that going to the mall seems not so exciting but an instant visit to the souq could be more thrilling. Souq is an old traditional Arabic market. Basically, everything can be found in the souq from fish, meat, fruits and vegetables to gold, silver, perfume oil, potteries, tourist souvenirs and antiques.It […]

  • Expat Life
  • Short hike in Jabal Akdhar, Oman

    Scorching heat, sweat and dry days, this is the time of the year in Oman where everyone is looking for a quick getaway. One of the places to visit during hot season is Jabal Akdhar. Jabal Akdhar which means “Green Mountain” in Arabic is one of the most visited destinations in the country. It is part of the 300km Al Hajar Mountain range, about 50-100km inland from the coast on the Gulf of Oman. At about 10,000 feet above sea level, Jabal Akdhar is undoubtedly one of the highest points here which makes the weather colder than the rest of Oman. It allows the growth of trees and other agricultural plants, that’s why it is referred as the green mountain. The place is very famous for traditional rose water and fruits such as pomegranate and apricot. Trying out these fruits and seeing how the rose water are made, are some of the activities to try up in the mountain. You can check the numerous old villages as well. Jabal Akdhar is a very good place for outdoorsy activities such as camping and hiking.

     

    Weeks back, I were invited by friends to try the new trekking path that was recently opened for the public. A trek near Alila Resort Jabal Akdhar about 7.5km long.

     

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    The road going to Jabal Akdhar is well paved but steep with deep curves so it is necessary to have a 4 x 4 wheel drive vehicle. We were 5 in one 4wd, the preferred number of persons in one vehicle. There is a checkpoint at the base of the mountain soon after Birkat Al Mauz where it is necessary to show a valid resident card or passport to the police too. The area is about 45 minutes’ drive from Nizwa. When we reached the top of the mountain, the weather was very refreshing, around 20-25 degrees Celsius.

     

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    We left Nizwa  around 7.30 am and arrived before 10.00 am on the starting point. We dropped off to some places before we proceeded to the hiking area. We started at small village of Mahabis passing the abandoned village of Al Khutaymi. There is a small parking area for the vehicles on the abandoned village. Not a lot of hikers where there when we started the trek probably because it was a new trail so not a lot knew about it. Marks are present so it wasn’t that hard to follow the trail. All trekking trails in Oman are marked the same. The start of the hike was arduous. It is advisable to bring less things while doing the hike. You need to be careful and watch the steps dropping down the mountain. Rocks were huge but what I love about the area was the wild plants along the path. The oasis in the rocky mountain added to the beauty of the place.There were many good spots to stop and enjoy the wonderful scenery along the trail. Truly I was enraptured by its sublime beauty that offers an escape to solitude.

     

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    The best part of this trip was, we were able to loosen up somewhere in Oman where the weather was very much bearable. The whole hike lasted for 4-5 hours, recommended for a beginner. Trekking in Alila Jabal Akdhar is worth to check! While we were waiting for others to arrive at the end of the trail, the locals gladly greeted and offered us some water. A very welcoming attitude by the locals to the tourists of their place.

     

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    Roaming around Jabal Akdhar we have noticed new luxury hotels on the area. Luxury hotels which I think becoming more common in the gulf countries. Since we were not prepared to try those hotels that time, we will definitely return back next time.

     

    Tips going to Jabal Akdhar:

    Only 4wd is allowed going up the mountain.

    Entry checkpoint to the plateau is at 6 km from Birkat Al Mouz, 15km from Izki, 30km from Nizwa and 155km from Muscat.

    At the checkpoint, have the license driver, resident card or passport ready.

    Diana’s view point is one of the famous spot in Jabal Akdhar. It is called due to the visit of Princess Diana in 1986 to this scenic lookout.

     

    What activity do you want to try in Oman? Share on the comments below.

  • Expat Life
  • Iftar buffet at Musandam Restaurant, Intercontinental Hotel Muscat

    Restaurants and hotels will offer scrumptious iftar buffet when the sun goes down in Ramadan. It is called “Iftar” which means to break the fast. There are wide range of choices from quirky to lavish food from different restaurants and hotels during the month of Ramadan.

    This year, I have tried iftar at Musandam Restaurant in Intercontinental Hotel, Muscat. My friend and I arrived exactly at 7:00 pm, the time iftar started.  We booked for reservation in advance as we were advised the restaurant is usually full during iftar on Ramadan. As soon as we arrived we were assisted by the friendly staff to our table. The place has an authentic Arabic design and warm ambiance perfect for an ultimate unforgettable Ramadan experience. There were tables and chairs outside the veranda but since the weather was really hot and humid, most of the guests stayed inside the restaurant. The place was full with diners. It was expected as it is the first ever meal Muslims eat after a whole day of fasting.

     

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    Dishes served were a combination of Arabic and international cuisine with a focus more on Arabic food. The buffet was amazing! I love the wide selections of Middle Eastern mezze. Mezze are salads and dips served as an appetizer course or light meal. Creamy olive oil topped hummus, eggplant filled moutabal, traditional fattoush, crunchy tabbouleh and halloumi salad to name a few. They have chicken and beef salad too. There were wide choices of bread perfect for the mezze. For the soups, they have seafood and lentil with lemon wedges and croutons.

     

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    There were more than 5 choices of main dishes to choose from with authentic Omani dishes to try. I tried ouzi as my main course. Ouzi is an oriental rice with lamb. The other international food served were Asian noodles and Bolognese. I was advised the main course dishes are change each day to give the diner a different taste every time they will visit the restaurant.

     

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    Ouzi

     

    There was a live station for barbecue grills and bread. Skewered chicken, lamb and shawarma were served hot on the plate. The chef was approachable and even explained the food I weren’t familiar with. Saj bread or markouk was shown how it was made on their live bread station.

     

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    Bread live station- How saj manakesh were made

     

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    Saj Manakesh

     

    The dessert station shouldn’t be missed. There were more than 15 types of Arabic and international desserts available. Kunafa (cheese pastry soaked with in sugar based syrup), katayef (sweet dumpling filled with cream or nuts) and oum ali (Egyptian puff pastry made of milk mixed with nuts) were some of the desserts to try. As much I wanted to try everything, I chose the French macaroons and the chocolate fondue.

     

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    Dessert station

     

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    Katayef

     

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    The staffs were all hands on, assisting us throughout the dining experience. The over service was great. We were so full and felt overwhelmed with so many options to choose from. It was such a great iftar experience.

     

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    Kahwa ( arabic coffee) was served after the meal

     

    Musandam Restaurant Intercontinental Hotel

    Iftar Buffet: 20omr

    For reservations: 24680605

  • Expat Life
  • Things I’ve missed about the Philippines

    When I started living abroad that is when I realized how much I miss being away from home. My everyday life in the Middle East is different to what I were accustomed back home. Culture, tradition, weather, food, transportation… everything is completely different. My being away from home has made me appreciate a lot of things in my country even more. For sure many things have changed but that’s what makes me eager to be back and experience everything that home has to offer. I can’t wait to see the Philippines again!

     

    Local cuisine

    It is hard not to miss the food. I do cook Filipino dishes while living abroad but some ingredients are just hard to find. Most of the time, I make alterations. I grew up in the province of Albay in the Philippines that uses a lot of coconut milk to local dishes. Coconuts are abundant in the Philippines but limited to the country of Oman. Instead of using fresh coconut milk, I buy coconut powder or make use of ready-made coconut milk in can. Taste is okay, but there is something different about how food are made back home.

    Pinangat is on my top list of food that I want to eat. I’m drooling for it. Pinangat is a local dish from my hometown, which is made up of taro leaves, meat, chili and coconut milk. It is wrapped in gabi leaves, tied securely and simmered in coconut milk. Other local cuisines that I miss a lot are –  Bicol express (spicy dish made up of pork, shrimp paste, chili and coconut milk), kare-kare (ox tail with fresh greens stew), lechon (roasted pig) and Bicol version of Adobo. It is hard to enumerate all but I can’t wait to try it all again. Nothing beats eating these home-cooked food back home having the authentic taste with your family and friends.

     

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    Lechon

     

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    Kare kare. It’s not appealing to see but it taste good

     

    I miss all the tropical fruits too! Bananas, mangoes, avocados, coconuts, pineapples, santol (wild mangosteen), langka (jackfruit), lanzones and a lot more. These fruits can be found fresh in the local market for cheap prices. In the province, mango trees are everywhere and some fruits can be eaten right away without a need to pay for it. It is just around the neighborhood.

     

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    We don’t buy coconuts. It’s for free!

     

    Street food

    Street food are spotted everywhere in the Philippines. All are cheap and will not go beyond 20php/ .50 USD/ .200 OMR. Banana and kamote (sweet potato) cues are my favorite. It is a banana or a sweet potato coated with caramelized sugar on the sticks.

    Fish balls, squid balls, kwek kwek (quail boiled egg), kikiam and siomai are street food that are usually on a push cart and can be found near schools or crowded places. Trying all these food, brings back the memories of my teenage life in the province.

     

    Family, relatives & friends

    I miss hanging out with my family, relatives and friends back in the Philippines. Surely there are a lot of catching up to be done when i get back home. While modern technology keeps me connected to them via social media, actual personal interaction is still much more favorable.

     

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    Camalig, Albay, Philippines

     

    Mayon Volcano

    I have lived my whole life in the province of Albay. Mayon Volcano, the world’s most perfect cone volcano is the main landmark of the province. I used to get up seeing this amazing view every day. It is our pride. It brought substantial value to my growing years. Seeing Mayon Volcano will always remind me of the beauty and simplicity of life in the province.

     

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    Albay, Philippines

     

    Malls and bazaars

    Malls in the Philippines are huge and equipped with almost everything.  From groceries to department stores, boutiques, bookstores, spas, medical clinics, beauty salons, internet shops, restaurants, coffee shops, movie theaters and a lot more. A place where you can find everything to entertain yourself for a whole day. I miss being in a place where I can see a lot of Filipinos walking around.

    I even miss all kind of food bazaars and tiangge (Filipino version of flea markets) over the weekend in some of part of Manila like Salcedo market. I love seeing and trying local food and products.  To add more, I miss my bargaining skills in buying items to get big discounts.

     

    Mountains, beaches and all the natural wonders

    When you are living and working in a place where it is mostly desert, it makes you miss the feeling of being in a tropical country. With over 7107 islands, Philippines is endowed with mountains, waterfalls, caves, beaches and an array of natural wonders. Philippines is blessed to have a rich environment.

    Beaches in the Philippines is unparalleled in beauty. It is everywhere. White, black, pink sand beaches with turquoise crystal clear waters are all can be found in the Philippines. I missed the times our family will go to the beach on the weekend to swim until sunset. The mountains, waterfalls and the caves are spectacular too. I love to hike so definitely I will never allow not to experience it by myself. I can’t wait to see the overlooking views from the mountains. There are so many places in the Philippines I haven’t seen yet but definitely I will check on them soon.

     

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    Matnog Beach, Sorsogon, Philippines

     

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    Boracay, Aklan, Philippines

     

    Sunday Mass

    The vast majority of the Filipinos are Roman Catholics. As a Roman Catholic I’m looking forward to attend a mass with my family. Philippines as a former Spanish colony, have churches built during Spanish period that still exist up to now. These churches have been an integral part of the Philippine culture.

    In the Philippines, even shopping malls have chapels and conduct masses. This shows how religious the Filipinos are. Churches are available in Oman but access is limited to certain place like Muscat.

     

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    Jeepneys, tricycles and pedicabs

    The public transportation here is limited to cabs and buses. Mostly have their own cars. In the Philippines, the most common form of public transport are the jeepneys. Jeepneys are considered the king of the road. It is numerous. Jeepneys have open windows and are colorful in designs. It offers cheapest way of getting around. Aside from the jeepneys, tricycles and pedicabs are also abundant. Jeepneys have been the cultural sign of the country. Only in the Philippines!

     

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    Not the typical, it is an air conditioned jeepney

     

    Cheap services

    There is nothing more relaxing than enjoying the cheap services available in the Philippines. Haircut, hair treatment, massage and other spa services are affordable. No doubt, it is one of the first things most of the Filipinos from abroad do.

     

    Christmas and New Year

    I have never experienced Christmas and New Year in the Philippines for the last 4 years. Though we celebrate Christmas together with other Filipino colleagues and friends, it is still different to celebrate with the whole family and relatives.

     

     To my fellow Filipinos living and working abroad, what have you missed back home?