June 28, 2017

Eid al-Fitr in Riyadh

This year's Eid al-Fitr, my husband and I chose to just stay in Riyadh throughout the holiday, except for that day-trip to Al-Khobar. Maybe some other time (if we are still here), we'll go to other cities like Jeddah, Makkah, or Abha.

Surprisingly, there were still a lot of amazing spots in Riyadh that we haven't been to. Most of these places were just an hour drive away from our home. We visited three new places that were recommended by locals and fellow expats. Here they are:

National Museum of Saudi Arabia
Entrance is only 10 SAR per person. If you enjoy museum visits and like learning through displays and artifacts, prepare to spend 2 to 3 hours reading about history and going around the exhibits. But if you're just passing the time and just want to check out the museum, an hour stay or less will do. The park outside the museum is good for picnics and to just chill out. I appreciated more the presentations and flow of this museum than the one we visited in Bahrain. They are both educational, anyway.
Rawdat Khuraim (The King's Forest)
There's a huge designated public area which can accommodate people who like to picnic and camp. The parking areas are also spacious.  We saw an herd of camels looking for food when we went. I think it's best to visit during winter or during the transition from winter to summer when the forest is booming with colors. During summer, the forest could be too dry, nevertheless, you would still enjoy it especially if love bird-watching.
  
Camel Trail 1
If you are into hiking, then Camel Trail 1 would be a good choice for you. You don't need a 4x4 car to come here, just be careful driving in the rocky roads. Trekking down and back the trail would take an hour if you're fast, and would leave you sweating especially in the heat of summer. Don't forget to bring your water and towel. The surrounding views are spectacular. We've been here twice and we usually met a group of two, who also hiked the trail.
  
We hope to see more places here while we have the opportunity. The circumstances for expat living in the kingdom are becoming more challenging every year. We hope to get as much as we can from the experiences of living here. :)

P.S. Sharing another nice song here. Have a listen!

May 28, 2017

In Jubail for a day

Maybe it was the lack of things to do or the thirst for some adventure that pushed us to visit Jubail for a day. We had been to Al Khobar a few times already but never had a glimpse of its neighboring city. So off we went one Friday morning.

Jubail is one of the cities in the eastern province of the kingdom. Since it is a host of industrial cities, I haven't imagined it to have a greener landscape. Upon entering the city, the landscapes were more inviting and relaxed.

We visited the Al Nakheel Beach. It's still summer here but we didn't care much (at first) about the humidity and the scorching heat. We didn't bring picnic mats because we thought that there would be cottages like in Half-moon beach, luckily we found a carpet tucked away near the palm hut that was available. We laid it down the sand, ate some snacks while looking at the clear sea and the people enjoying the beach.
View from the palm hut
Clear waters and palm trees in the distance
A family swimming at high noon
A man fishing in the no-swimming zone
It was almost noon when we decided to leave the palm hut because it was becoming too hot. We looked for a restroom and then found a better spot to just hang around. There were enough spaces for picnics and family get-together, and play pens for children. But since it was summer when we went, there were no children playing. I would imagine the place to be jam-packed when the climate gets cooler.
Trees providing shade to most benches
Swings in the play pen
After my husband took a short nap on one of the benches, we headed somewhere else and wished to visit the beach in the cooler months.

April 29, 2017

Pilipinas

Birds chirping, tricycle and motorcycle engines starting, people talking by the sidewalk, and trees swaying: these are some of the sounds that I miss in the Philippines.

We went home to the Philippines last April 2. My husband only spent a week and had to go back to work while I stayed for the rest of the month. I did enjoy my time in Naic but it would have been best if my husband didn't have to go back quickly; he needed the vacation more than I did.

What I love about coming home is the feeling of being present with nature. You can just go outside, take a short walk, and see God's vast creation. You don't need to go too far. I tried as much as I could to put in my memory the beauty of the fields and greenery, the sea, the clouds, the blue sky, and everything so that when it's time to go back to Saudi Arabia, I have them with me.

I took the following photos when I wanted the beautiful natural colors to be captured. They're best when seen with your own eyes. Hopefully, we can visit the Philippines again, soon. :)
Birds and the blue sky
Sunset in Ternate
Sand and palm trees
Visita iglesia in Inmaculada Concepcion
Clouds and tall buildings

March 28, 2017

Purchasing from iHerb

I was having bad breakouts when I decided that I should improve my skincare routine, therefore investing in good skincare products. I guess my breakout was caused by the treatment that was prescribed by my gynecologist; maybe my body was adjusting to the drugs at that time because my face was just doing fine before the treatment. Anyway, I was looking for affordable products with good reviews which do not contain harmful chemicals. Then I read about iHerb through this blog. It pretty much answered some questions I have about ordering from iHerb and having delivered the products to Riyadh.

I read about the reviews and the product information before deciding to finally purchase. I ordered the items below for an affordable price (inclusive of the shipping fee.) I chose DHL express since it seemed more convenient than the other options.
When the package was on the shipping process, DHL sent an email about the required documents such as the filled out form from the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA), copy of identification, copy of prescription (if any), and copy of invoice. DHL sent a code to download the form below.
 
I found out in my succeeding orders after the first one that a clearance from SFDA was not asked anymore. Maybe the clearance was only required for first-time orders, I'm not really sure. It was also easy to track the parcel through the number iHerb sent me. In case that the DHL page does not show the update or progress of the delivery after a few days, I suggest contacting iHerb about it.
Finally, after four days, I received the parcel. I checked each product and they seemed to be in perfect condition. I'll leave some reviews of the product in the website soon. So far, I love all the products I ordered. Great buys!
Aside from these products, I also ordered supplements and had no problem with clearance. Vitamins and supplements in iHerb are way cheaper than those in stores here.

If you happen or like to order from iHerb, I definitely recommend it. For first-time orders, they give discount when you use the code WELCOME5, or you can also use my rewards code JIL5716 to get a discount! :) 

February 26, 2017

Al-Janadriyah Festival Experience

"Takusa?" a Saudi man carefully holding a cup of tea whispered to my husband while we were looking at displays in a booth in Al-Janadriyah Heritage and Cultural Festival. I thought we misheard what he said but then he spoke further upon seeing our confused faces, "Takusa - takot sa asawa." (Takusa is a Tagalog slang, meaning someone who is afraid of his wife.) We burst out in laughter and the rest of the night had been relaxed and fun. I couldn't imagine how the locals learn that much of the Filipino language.

It was a Thursday night when we went to the 31st Al-Janadriyah Heritage and Cultural Festival. There was a heavy traffic going to the venue and fortunately, it did not rain that night. The parking spaces were almost full but we chanced a spot near one of the gates of the festival. We lined up to enter the gate and the security was pretty tight. Entrance was free and there was so much to see inside.

We actually didn't know where to start - the first thing we saw was the sea of people walking in different directions. Women were wearing head accessories and jewelries and men had different kinds of canes. I couldn't remember what we first checked out but I think we almost toured the whole place. Some of the exhibits have English translations while most were written in Arabic. I wished that we went there with someone who understands Arabic. Anyway, there were people in some exhibits who gladly explained their displays, while some even gave away freebies. Some exhibits showed different cultural dances while some had live musical performances.

The locals were generally friendly that night. Someone even asked if we needed help to take a picture of us.  A lot of walking was involved to tour the festival and at the end of the night, we were quite exhausted but overwhelmed with all the things we have seen and learned about the Arab culture.

We wish to visit again next year and hope to learn more about their heritage! Here are some photos I took at the festival:
 Inside one of the provinces' exhibits
Busy men doing their craft
 Music and dance show for children and families
 A Saudi man singing to his audience
 One of the Kings's horses
On top of a bridge
 Igloo-looking plant exhibit
My husband checking out a record player
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