Saturday, December 31, 2016

Bidding adieu to 2016

2016 has been an interesting year — good and sad. Yin and Yang or in my case it's Yang and Yin. 

Highlights of my year: leaving the yin, keeping the yang.

👉 Welcomed 2016 in great style – outside my comfort zone in Eastern European country Georgia. 
Thank you self! 

👉 Received my first-ever and probably last-ever Pandora rings which  according to a friend, are more expensive than her wedding ring. 
So thanks to the most generous moNsieur* I've ever met.

👉 Graced, LOL, the spectacular world's richest horse race Dubai World Cup show and sang & danced in the crowd during Janet Jackson's Unbreakable  Concert. 
Thank you company!

👉 Tried Jacuzzi and Steam/Sauna for the first time in my life. 
Thank you self!

👉 Went for a little healing retreat in Bangkok
Thank you self  and thanks moNsieur* for the motivation. LOL

👉 Company sent me to Super Secretaries Training Workshop for skills upgradation. 
Thank you boss for the endorsement!

👉 Experienced an Emirati wedding with a weekend getaway in Abu Dhabi. 
Thank you boss for the invitation!

👉 Had walked to "Beat Diabetes" for first time. 
Thank you Landmark Group for this initiative!

👉 Marveled the water cascading from the bridge over Dubai Canal – one of Dubai's newest attractions in 2016.
Thank you Dubai for your never ending attractions!

Hello 2017 💃

Friday, December 9, 2016

An Emirati Kinda Wedding - 2/2

Read An Emirati Kinda Wedding - 1/2 here

I was once read that going to a local wedding is like going to a Disneyland for the first time which is somehow true. Apparently, they don't do small weddings so expect a big crowd as big as over a thousand guests like this one.

The Invitation Card

These "no phone, no children, no camera' are printed on the invitation card 
So I dared not to take photos because usherettes were ready to confiscate your phones or demands to delete the photos anytime.

The Dresses

It was like the glitziest red carpet in Hollywood, you can imagine the most glamorous sequin or designer evening gowns women wear during the evening wedding banquet at St. Regis Saadiyat. Body-hugging and plunging necklines were plentiful. All that glitters was gold (or diamond and crystal). Seeing the other guests in those dresses made me feel I had underdressed myself.

The Banquet

Held at the hotel's Regal Ballroom, the Ladies reception was obviously grand and opulent. The wedding theme and decoration style was elegant.

Over a thousand guests arrived that night. The seating arrangement was segregated the catwalk elevated part in front of the stage was for the family/relatives, close friends and sheikhas (royal females).There were rows of rectangular tables and their seats were facing the stage as if they were judges to some Got Talent show. I was placed at the round seat for 10 people right after the elevated part of the hall. 

The Music

Arabic songs were played during the whole time. I was expecting there would be a lot of dancing but there were none. The only time they played English songs I can relate was when the groom joined the bride on the stage. Three English songs - Aerosmith's I don't Want To Miss a Thing, Jason Mraz's I'm Yours and John Legend's All of Me.

The Food

Food was served every now and then. I actually lost count of how many times they had served dishes and removed plates, served and removed, served and removed. I have tried a bit of everything, they were very hit-and-miss.

The Bride

The lovely bride arrived around 11-ish looking happy and walked around the catwalk for half an hour or so till she reached the stage, presenting herself to everyone as if she was doing her final walk and the final look as a single lady. It was like Miss Universe's final walk as the reigning titleholder.  

Anyway, not providing an LCD projector (I was told LCD projector is very common in an Emirati wedding) was a good decision as when she did her "final walk" all eyes were turned to her. 

The Groom

After the bride was settled in the stage, an announcement has been made (the arrival of the groom). Most of the guests started covering themselves with their abaya and we positioned ourselves along the catwalk directed the stage. A procession of about five little boys in kandura holding their traditional sticks followed by the Groom and the Father of the Bride. Both men were wearing a thin, gold-trimmed bisht over their kandura - they were looking like sheikhs. The groom was stunning and glowing; he was all smiles.

Then photo op - bride and groom posed with their family/friends for portraits. 

The Giveaway 

The official logo of the bride & groom
It was a CD containing 2 Arabic songs.

I have managed to snapped few photos when I noticed everyone was practically whipping out their phone while the bride/groom/family were busy with their photo op...

-End of Experience-

Saturday, November 26, 2016

An Emirati Kinda Wedding - 1/2

A destination wedding experience and an ultimate getaway. 

Got an Emirati wedding invites and didn't let it slip through my fingers as it might be the last opportunity I had to experience such wedding. 

That being said, I was provided with 2 nights accommodation aSt Regis Saadiyat Island Resort inclusive of breakfast and any meals/beverages that aren't part of the wedding banquet – all paid by the bride and groom. A life no ordinary person would ever be able to afford.

The Hotel

The beach front hotel is located on the pristine beach of Saadiyat Island and framed by the prestigious Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in Abu Dhabi. 
St Regis is the most bespoke resort on the Saadiyat Island.
A buffet dinner with the bride and groom and their whole clan, I assumed it was a rehearsal dinner, was held the night before the wedding banquet, the first night on the island. It was set up near the hotel lobby lounge on the 3rd level, conveniently few steps from my room. The thing about dining in a posh place and rubbing noses shoulders with well off Emiratis IS you can't just whip out your phone and snap what's on your dinner plate.

The Room

Alone in the room, the feels of it evoked nostalgic memories of weekend hotel holidays, especially when I wanted a coffee and got no clue how Nespresso machine works, wish I had paid more attention when someoNe* made me a coffee over a Nespresso machine. Anyway, let me tour you around my lavishly appointed room. 

Here comes my comfy bed

Behind the table is a door and a shoe rack facing the cupboard
the telephone desk where I call my Butler service

Below the TV is the mini bar and behind it is a spacious double vanity bathroom; left door to the loo; right door to the tub
the bathroom with Remède bath amenities, from the toilet side, Shower in the middle and Tub at the far end

The bathroom with Remède bath amenities; from the Tub side, Shower in the middle, and Loo at the far end

The Butler assigned to me was kind enough to make me a bubble bath a la St Regis

Had to do this, LOL

View from the bath tub

My room has its own private balcony, offering a glimpse of captivating views of the bluest sea and beyond while enjoying a cup of tea, couldn't make me a coffee coz you-know-why

view from my private balcony

for the love of salmon, I ordered room service

The Hotel Interior and The Beach

Buffet breakfast the best and my fave is located on the level one of the hotel with panoramic view of the ocean and beyond, it features cooking stations where staff await guests' every whim. It has indoors and alfresco options and a very relaxing dining experience with local, mediterranean, international menu... superb choices for anyone's taste to enjoy. Again, the thing about dining in a posh place and....

So let's roam around the hotel and beach, shall we? A certain mystique surrounds the hotel due to the Mediterranean architecture and contemporary interior design...

And I can't get over the hotel's turquoise ocean view... breathtakingly stunning! It was super blue and beautiful out there.

*I still love very much..

Friday, August 19, 2016

Day 3: Bangkok to Damnoen Saduak

We left Bangkok past 7am .Headed to western Thailand - the Damnoen Saduak in Ratchaburi province. It was about two hours away from Bangkok. The weather was extremely hot and the AC wasn't working, imagine 15 people in a van sweating. 

We reached a pier where they served us coffee and a tiny slice of watermelon, I guess this is the part of the tour package where they mentioned fresh fruit will be served. We had our bathroom break instead while we were waiting for our motorboat. The motorboat took us into the floating market. So we got to get a glimpse and breathe the Thais life along the river. Since we chose to sit in front of the boat, water was splashing from the sides every time the boat picked up some speed. It was a fun ride. 

We arrived at the  legendary floating market, where it seems there were more tourists on a boat than vendors on a boat selling local fruits, foods and products. Everything was pricey so we just bought mangoosten. I believe TR and me were the only ones who bought something while on the boat. 

Our boat took us around before they let us explore the floating market on foot for 45 minutes. We didnt manage to get any because they weren't that cheap. We only had our lunch at a mini restaurant there where we were told the young coconut water costs 50 bahts (it was 40 bahts) but charged us 60 bahts after having it. Nice business!

We left this Little Venice of Asia to visit elephants camp called Chang Puak. Bought ticket to a 30-minute elephant ride around the man-made jungle and canal.
TR and me
Our mahout asked us to pay him 100 bahts if we want him to take our photo (that explains a lot why he hid his face with a hat on photos) so we said no and asked the facilitator instead. 

While riding off, he (the same mahout) asked us to give tip for the elephant (we gave 20 bahts, BTW). The ride left me feeling guilty.. Wish I had fed the elephant instead.

We returned to Bangkok and roamed around the street next to Khao San road before going back to hotel. I managed to buy at least one Thai harem pants. Since we had already checked out in the morning as the hotel did not let us have a late checkout, we only freshened up at the hotel lobby's toilet before leaving to airport. I seriously never felt so unclean and smelly in my life till that day.. LOL

◄  Last Night in Bangkok