Thursday, January 2, 2014

TRAVEL | Abu Dhabi 2013 Memoirs : The Arrival

I'm not quite sure where to start this journal. My trip in Abu Dhabi last December 25th was an amazing experience and I have so many stories to tell. I guess, I'll do it day by day. I stayed in Abu Dhabi for four days so this will be quite a long entry.

Day 1 : December 24, 2013

8:00 pm - I was still packing up my things and messaging my good friend Dazzle in Abu Dhabi about my arrival. I had to prepare some important docs and jot down contact numbers and addresses in case the immigration asks. I have a had a taste of Dubai immigration's "hospitality" so I don't want to repeat the same.

9:30 pm - My colleague (who was already asleep) drove me to the airport. The nice thing about Oman airport is that it's very quick to get through. Once you've checked in, you can be sure that all is going to be fine. They have this electronic gate for GCC residents. You only to swipe your ID card and you can get through. Awesome isn't it. Something the Philippines will never think of doing just because they (officials) are so whatever.

12:00 mn - The pilot was speaking on the plane's intercom and greeting everybody a "ho-ho-ho merry christmas." This is really interesting I told myself. First time to spend Christmas in a plane. There isn't much difference really.

Day 2 : December 25, 2013

1:30 am - Touch down. It was a quick trip. Roughly 40 minutes travel time from Oman to Abu Dhabi. At the immigration, I was glad to encounter a nice officer who assisted me with the visa and instructed me what to do. Unlike the Dubai officer, Abu Dhabi officers are more accommodating. The only problem is that I didn't have cash so I had to exchange my Omani Rials into Dirhams.

2:00 am - The teller at the money exchange was probably so bored with his job that he was so reluctant to pay attention to what  I was saying and actually looked so irritated. This irritated me as well and for the that, I tried to calm myself and just let this go. It's Christmas anyway.

2:30 am - Finally out of the immigration. Now the question is how to get a cab going to Dazzle's house. I should really take note that taxi system in different countries vary. I tried to call Dazzle on the phone but there seems to be a problem with the line.

I went out and walked in the freezing cold only to find out that the airport taxis are the only available ones. I didn't want to spend too much on a taxi so I walked and walked. When it looked like I was going in the wrong direction, I walked back. Sat for  a while and thought of my next best move.

There must be a way out of this airport. So determined as I am, I walked in the opposite direction and gladly found by chance this taxi. The driver was a 30-year old Syrian guy who kept on talking to me until we reached my destination. And the rest is history.

3:00 am - I rang the bell of flat 304, King Mindi Building. Dazzle opened it and was so surprised to see me. She was actually worried as I didn't call (when I'm supposed to) but everything was fine. She prepared something to eat. I gave her my Christmas present and glad that she liked it. I was still a little ill this time. So after a cup of coffee, we decided to call it a night.

9:00 am - I woke up early to take a shower. The mass after all is at 10:30 am.

10:30 am - The mass has just started and the church was packed to the ceiling. We had to stand at the back. This is my first time to attend mass in the Middle East so it is really memorable for me. I just had issues with the homily, but not to spoil the Christmas momentum, I rather not discuss it here.

11:30 am - We decided that it was lunch at Max Restaurant at Khalidiya. T'was a wonderful and hearty lunch. Could have been perfect it Ate was not so slow in giving us back my credit card. Dazzle was running late and panicking. She'll be left by her service if we don't come back to the house on time. In the words of her colleague, she would have said- "Hey, did you know that you have wasted 30 minutes of my precious time and that you can never pay it back!"

1:35 pm - Back to Dazzle's house. So she had to leave for work and I have the whole afternoon for leisure.

4:00 pm - After a quick nap, I set out to begin my outdoor photoshoot. First stop is the Corniche, which I had no idea where to find. All I knew was that I had to board the number 9 bus and I'll find it. 

At the bus stop, I couldn't help but notice the three pinays talking with each other. I ignored them after a while. But when the bus came and I had to pay the fee, guess what- the pinays paid for me as I had no small bills. I was very thankful. I tried to pay them but they said let it go coz it's Christmas anyway.

5:00 pm - The sun is almost setting. Just enough time to go around the city. I started the walk at Marina Mall and continued along the corniche.

6:00 pm - By this time, the wind is already getting colder and stronger. But I kept on walking, determined to find Sheraton. I found Sheraton indeed, but sadly it wasn't the branch I needed.

7:00 pm - Had to take a taxi going to the Sheraton Corniche. Upon arrival, I used my charm to be able to call from the reception. I called Dazzle and told her I'm already there and will wait for her at the lobby by 11pm.

8:00 pm - Dinner at Flavours Sheraton. It was seafood night. Something I will really think about since I am not fond of seafoods.

10:30 pm - Went to Zenith Bar. It was the salsa club. Drank a couple of drinks.

11:00 pm - Went back to Sheraton to wait for Dazzle. I still had time so I went to the wash room to refresh. When I went down, Dazzle was already there.

11:05 pm - The club started getting filled with people. It was a fun salsa night. Dazzle got to drink free. That was the good part of it.

1:00 am - Dazzle and I are still on the dance floor doing salsa and bacahata but when we noticed that there were only three couples left, we decided to go back home.

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