Abu Dhabi’s Corniche Public Beach

Dousing myself into cool azure beaches is one thing that I enjoy a lot. I’m sure everyone would agree that it is so relaxing and definitely it relieves one’s stress whether from work or in life. I was in Abu Dhabi for Eid break and since I heard about its open beaches at its corniche area (there are more in other locations), I headed there together with Syaoran and Vaj. It was worth the time and what we got into did not disappoint us. In fact, we really had fun that afternoon and our stay lasted for more than 3 hours. Originally, our plan was to stay only less than an hour so that we could spend the rest of the evening roaming around the city center. The open beach is located at the west part of the corniche just across ADCO (Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations) building. I think it is one of the safest public beaches I’ve been to in both UAE and KSA. There are security guards stationed around. Lifeguards are visible and checking the swimmers from time to time. Beachgoers, men and women alike, who are clad in beach attires (bikinis) act properly as they were enjoying the water. Respect to everyone is observed. It is far from what we experienced in Dubai’s public beach where other nationalities ogle like hungry vultures. (please read my post: http://clecstrotter.com/2013/08/10/night-swimming-at-jumeira-beach/)

The beach is well taken care of. The white sand that stretches hundreds of meters is regularly raked. The swimming area is cordoned with buoys as marking suggesting that swimmers are warned not to go beyond. It is clean. I had not seen any trash at all. There is an area that exclusive for families. Mosque is near while restaurants, snack kiosks and children’s playgrounds are just within reach. Changing rooms and showers are also available. They have the basic amenities beachgoers need. But I hope they would add more facilities like water sports to delight those visitors and local residents alike who love water adventure.

The beach front at the Open Beach in West Corniche where we dipped into its blue water.

The beach front at the Open Beach in West Corniche where we dipped into its clear water.

The beach rules are posted in prominent areas to inform beach goers of the do's and dont's.

The beach rules are posted in prominent areas to inform beach goers of the do’s and dont’s

Beach map

Beach map. Corniche beach, the ultimate experience.

One of the kiosks in the area that sells soft ice cream.

One of the kiosks in the area that sells cold drinks and soft ice cream.

Dipping into its clear water is something I truly enjoyed.

Dipping into its clear water is something I truly enjoyed a lot.

The towering buildings serve as backdrop of corniche beach.

Background of the corniche beach is a cluster of Abu Dhabi’s towering buildings.

Syaoran and Vaj reminiscing child hood days, playing a Pinoy game they both enjoyed.

Syaoran and Vaj reminiscing child hood days, playing “kingking baka”, a Pinoy game, they both enjoyed.

Across the beach is where Marina Mall and the highest flag in UEA are located. That was our destination after the swim.

Across the beach is where Marina Mall and one of the tallest flagpoles in UAE are located. That was our destination after the swim.

Abu Dhabi’s corniche beach serves its purpose i.e. a public beach that is accessible and free for everyone. It is one of the treasures that Abu Dhabi could offer to its guests and also to Emiratis who desire a healthy life, a better quality of life above all. As visitors, let us do our part to ensure that cleanliness and orderliness are maintained at corniche beach or at any beach for that matter. Let us not deprive others of the same fun we too experienced, because afterall in this world everyone, like us, deserves to enjoy the nature.

Night swimming at Jumeira Beach

It was unexpected that another beach-swimming experience awaits me after returning from Abu Dhabi. Now this time it was in Dubai.  “Beaching” was not in the plan, not at the time when what I needed was to lie down and take a nap after our tiring last day in Abu Dhabi. I think our visit to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque under a scorching heat of the sun (at around 40 degrees) knocked off my energy. I need to recharge. I should have to go on with my schedule the next day which entails hitting the sack to be prepared. But I was just thankful because such another beach experience was rejuvenating- the spirit perked up. And what is also good about it was meeting people whom I look forward to become friends eventually.

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We were actually invited by our friends’ relative to join them for a picnic in Jumeira beach. Hearing the word “beach”, I prodded my friend to go despite it was night time and even if how tired we were.  Jumeira beach is a famous white sand beach that stretches along Dubai’s southern coast until the area of Jebel Ali. It is where some of the posh hotels are located, such as the Jumeira Beach Hotel and Dubai’s famous landmark- Burj Al Arab and the Palm Jumeira, the home of Atlantis and Aquaventure. Some portions are public beaches that means open for everyone and free of charge. As it was end of Ramadan and the start of Eid holiday, it was expected that lots of beach-goers flocked the area. Indeed, when we arrived we saw cluster by cluster of people occupying the open spaces near the water sitting on their picnic mats. Others were already dipping on chest-deep water. The night weather was muggy and the beach was calm with small waves rolling slowly. The water was warm. For me it was perfect for night swimming. There was no pensive mood. All you could hear were the the bursts of deep loud hearty laughter from the people around. But a warning for all especially women, some nationalities who shared the beach were disrespectful. They were ogling and seemingly finding a chance to make advances to female beach-goers. There were some men walking along the beach front peeping. They pretend to be taking photos of each other using their mobile phones but actually directed to women. But, we have our own way to assert ourselves, as always Filipinos are inventive.

Jumeira beach map from googlemap.com

Jumeira beach map from googlemap.com.

The tallest building in the world serves as backdrop of the beach

The tallest building in the world serves as backdrop of the beach.

Beach buddies from L to R: Syaoran, Dan, Ann, Vaj who I’m sure equally enjoyed the beach experience.

Beach buddies from L to R: Syaoran, Dan, Ann, Vaj who I’m sure equally enjoyed the beach experience.

These lovely ladies just love the night swimming

These pretty ladies just love the night swimming.

Just pure fun

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Jumeira beach offers every visitor and the residents alike fun beach experience in Dubai. 

True to its word, Dubai is one of the most livable cities in the world. It provides services and public amenities that are accessible to all walks of life. And Jumeira open beach is one of them as it offers every visitor and the residents alike fun beach experience in Dubai. While Dubai is doing its best to serve everyone, we have to do our responsibility as well, i.e. to observe its laws.  After all, what we want is peaceful and healthy living in a country that others called their second home.

The Golden Temple of Dambulla

For me travelling is culturally enriching that is why rewarding. I would be immersed to different cultures, understanding the local’s behaviors and learning their way of life. When I went to Sri Lanka, I got the opportunity to feel the life in Kandy city when a Kandyan family invited me to their home for a cup of tea. I had the chance to personally witness the Buddhist worship in the temple of the Tooth Relic. Apart from those, I got to see the religious places such as the holy temple in Kandy and that equally famous Golden Temple in Dambulla. Those temples which are frequently visited for worships underpin the richness of the country’s tradition and manifest their spiritual devotion to Buddhism, the major religion in Sri Lanka. 

The Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy City, considered as one of the holiest places in Sri Lanka which houses the surviving relic of Buddha, his tooth.

The Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy City, considered as one of the holiest places in Sri Lanka which keeps the surviving relic of Buddha, his tooth.

The Golden Temple of Dambulla is located 80 kilometers north of Kandy City. It is acknowledged as one of the historic and religious sites in Sri Lanka serving as pilgrimage for centuries by both Buddhists and Hindus. The temple is along the main highway that connects Kandy and Colombo. From the road, you would see the golden statue of Buddha that sits on top of a temple cum Buddhist Museum. This temple is the main access going up to the cave monastery complex, another significant historical place that houses more than 150 Buddha statues including reclining Buddha and well preserved mural paintings. Due to the artistic, archaeological and spiritual importance of the complex, it is listed in UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Buddha's golden statue sitting on top of museum seen from the main road.

Buddha’s golden statue sitting on top of museum seen from the main road.

A closer look of the golden Buddha.

A closer look of the golden Buddha.

A long line of statue  monks depicting their daily routine.

A long line of statue monks showing off their daily routine.

To reach the cave monastery, you need to climb steep stairs to which along the way some souvenirs and food (mainly fruits) are sold. After around 20 minutes, I reached the top and a number of monkeys greeted me at the temple’s entrance. I saw some of the visitors feeding those monkeys which perhaps keep them staying in the vicinity. Entrance fee to the cave costed me LKR 1300. It may be expensive but to witness an important and sacred pilgrimage site existing for 22 centuries I think it was worth it. Before getting in, you should wear appropriate clothing. Sleeveless and short trousers are not allowed. You should likewise need to remove your shoes/sleepers which could be kept for a fee at the entrance. Yes, as a show of respect, you must be barefooted.

Some of the fruits sold along the way up to the cave monastery.

Some of the fruits sold along the way up to the cave monastery.

The place becomes a dating place for young Lankan couples. I saw at least two pairs while on my way up.

The place becomes a dating place for young Lankan couples. I saw at least two pairs while on my way up.

Monkeys at the side of the entrance greeting visitors.

Monkeys at the side of the entrance greeting visitors.

This is where the entrance fee of LKR 1300 is paid.

This is where the entrance fee of LKR 1300 is paid.

The complex has excavated shrines that contain those hundreds of Buddha statues and whose inside walls and ceilings have murals depicting the life of Buddha and his journey to reach Nirvana. Buddhas are all over and seemingly looking and reaching out that you too could achieve enlightenment.

Excavated shrines that house Buddha statues.

Excavated shrines that house Buddha statues.

Reclining Buddha from the first sanctuary. This is I think the biggest among the reclining ones.

Reclining Buddha from the first sanctuary. This is I think the biggest among the reclining ones.

Basically, the sanctuaries are full of Buddha statues.

Basically, the sanctuaries are full of Buddha statues.

Buddhas of different sizes are everywhere.

Buddhas of different sizes are everywhere.

The largest sanctuary where most of the statues are found.

The largest sanctuary where most of the statues are found.

Century old-murals inside the temple are well preserved.

Century old-murals inside the temple are well preserved.

How these monks and the locals are taking care of this wonderful complex is commendable. I truly salute them for doing all  the efforts to ensure that this temple is not only preserved for every tourist to appreciate but most importantly to show to us that Buddha’s life is indeed worthy of emulation.

Awestruck Experience: Pura Ulun Danu in Bali

I was in Bali with a friend and since it was our last day in the beautiful island, we decided to spend our limited time to explore its other side. There were a lot in our list, but hotel staff suggested to see one Balinese Hindu temple in Candi Kuning. At first I was reluctant because I thought it would be all the same temples I had previously visited like in Sri Lanka. I was actually thinking of visiting Ketut, a Balinese shaman (manghuhula) who was catapulted to fame because of the book/movie, “Eat, Pray, Love”. But since we would be hopping from one place to another along the way, then we got on for a day tour. There would be other time for Ketut and the adventure in Ubud.

After travelling for more than an hour in a rented private car, we reached our destination which is perhaps around 1000 meters above sea level. Cool breeze greeted us when we stepped out from the car. We proceeded to pay IR 30,000 to enter a relatively small complex where the Ulun Danu Temple is located. I was amazed by the place. Though busy that day as many tourists flocking the place, the atmosphere was peaceful. It gives you a feeling of serenity, a glimpse of Balinese spirituality.

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Ulun Danu Temple is set at the west side of lake Beratan, the second largest lake in the island. Built in honor of Siwa Ganung, goddess of water, the temple stands high and charms every visitor. It is picture perfect and couples would love to have this as backdrop of their pre-nuptial shoots.

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Adding to the stunning beauty of the place is Beratan mountain which on its own is likewise picturesque. During our visit, it is mist covered. And one local told us that anytime of the day a slight drizzle is expected.

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The place has manicured gardens with well trimmed grasses. A Buddha statue could also be found in another side which means that Buddhism has presence in the area.

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Scattered around the complex are several structures Hindus used for their worship and celebrations.

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I would not leave the place without at least dipping my feet on the cool water of the lake. I should have even tried to swim or ride a boat that roams around the lake to see the temple afar.

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Our visit in the temple was worth it. The romantic feel of the place and its spiritual aura overwhelmed me. I truly admire how the place was taken care of especially those pagodas which stand for hundred years. It was a good journey to end our one week stay in the city of Gods.

My First Macro Shots

I shoot macro for the first time at Cabaling Beach Resort in Guimaras using a macro lens extender I got from SG. While my two friends, Padz and Syaoran were busy catching up with each others lives, I was crawling on the sand to get the right angle of a hermit crab, waiting for minutes and minutes for the perfect timing. I don’t know if the photos turned out well. You be the judge.

Hopefully, I would have free time again to do the macro. Learning by doing would be the mantra. Until then.

Singapore’s Thieves Market

Towering malls in Orchard Road or Chinatown or Little India are not the only places for shopping in Singapore. If you like the adventure of hunting for something worth your money and for a cheaper price, the Thieves’ Market in Larut Road is the best place to visit. It is not a thieves’ rendezvous as you thought of as no thieves are there, but it is a place where vendors hawk their collections of used and old products. Although originally in 1930s, it was a meeting place for looters trading their wares believed to be stolen elsewhere in Singapore. Today, it becomes a new destination for those who want to have a different shopping experience and get a feel of Singapore’s other side.

The market occupies the whole stretch of  Larut Road along Jalan Besar at the side of Weld Road. It is a short walk from Sim Lim Tower or Little India train station. The market starts from 1:00 in the afternoon until 7:00 in the evening.

To get the best find, it is suggested to go the earliest as buyers flock the place and vendors start packing up after 5:00 in the afternoon. The place is disorganized but that what makes it more exciting. Vendors roll out their mats and spread their merchandise ranging from used clothes, shoes, watches, toys, magazines and books, decors, household items, kitchen wares, bags, even old camera lenses, souvenirs among others. Name it and probably they have all for you. Show your haggling skills and you would surely get the best deals.

An afternoon spent in the market got me excited to try out other places in Singapore less frequented by tourists. I did not imagine a Thieves’ Market thriving at the heart of the city.  Singapore indeed is a place that never stops its visitors get fascinated. For sure, there are more to discover in Singapore.

Reunited in Baras

When friends are reunited after not seeing for a year, the rendezvous brings fun. It becomes pleasantly entertaining especially when two opposing beliefs clash over a certain topic that seems a matter of life and death. And with bottles of red horse gulped slowly the debate heats up becoming more intense yet actually hilarious. No one retreats and wants to surrender. But expectedly for a friendly discussion like this, it always turned out well especially after alcohol subsides and after being realized that it actually does not worth spending much of the time as the topic debated upon is hard to reconcile. Nevertheless it is all about fun amidst the silence in Baras Beach Resort.

Who would expect that they will look like these during the course. These photos paint thousand words.

The four of us, June, SA, Dulah and I, took a time out for a trip to Baras Beach Resort in Guimaras island. Baras is secluded and the best way to reach the resort is by boat. You can take the boat bound to Alubihod, Guimaras from Iloilo city- Ortiz wharf for Php 100. Another way is to cross to Jordan from the same wharf for a boat fare of Php 12, take a jeep to Alubihod at Jordan wharf and then from Alubihod Raymen’s Resort, you can charter a boat to the resort.

Map of Guimaras taken from googlemap. Baras Beach Resort is at the west side of the island (A).

Iloilo City is sinking. View from our boat on our way to Baras.

The three stooges.

Baras is a good place to spend time to relax because of its peaceful environment, far different from the disarray of urban life. Its idyllic location is certainly what dragging people to stay. But amenities are by far mediocre with some rooms not well maintained. Food choice is limited. Understandably because they need to get the supply from the town. Whatever supply they have, these would be the only available for the day. However, you may bring your own food and have it cooked in their restaurant. Generally though Baras scenery especially the green vegetation and the lagoon that is ideal for snorkeling and kayaking would make your stay worth. Resort management told us that they are doing their best to offer the best possible service to its guests. I heard that several improvements will be made for the ensuing years.

The beach front of Baras resort.

Opposite beach front is a stretch of white sand which may serve as resting place after a tiring swim.

A view of entrance to Baras.

A boat on stand by waiting for passengers to ferry back to either Raymen’s resort or Ortiz wharf in Iloilo City.

A group of friends on their way to the opposite side of the beach.

Another boat on standby. Boat like this can be hired for island hopping.

The three of us enjoying the calm lagoon with crystal clear water.

Practice shots while in Baras, not that bad.