Facing fears in RAK

If you’ve lived in Dubai for more than a year then it’s likely you’ve driven outside the emirate to one of the many neighbouring options. Ras Al Khaima also known as RAK is around an hour and a half drive just outside Dubai, depending on which area you are coming from. It makes a weekend stay-cation in the UAE easily accessible with plenty of affordable hotel options to stay in.

RAK is surrounded by a rugged mountain range which you can hike, climb and now even zip line down. As my friend likes to get adventurous for her birthday celebrations, the latter is what she organised for a Saturday in January although we were under the impression it was more of a hike.

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Little did we realise we would be wearing a harness and helmets and be mountaineering, scaling and climbing up and down Jebel Jais; the UAE’s largest mountain, with the highest point reaching 120 metres. Fine if you love heights. Not so fine if you are petrified of heights like me.

Luckily the team at Jebel Jais made us feel very safe. A team of 4 professional climbers with heavily experienced backgrounds were there to help us along the way. After signing a waiver, the safety brief shows you how to clip your carabiners then we are on our way to start the 4 hour journey.

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The first part of the climb is challenging to say the least. At one point I’m that scared anxiety takes over and I have a mini melt down/panic attack and I start crying and hyperventilating. My body whole body is shaking from nervousness and I consider backing out of the rest of the journey. My friend and one of the tour guides help me to calm down and advises me to take some deep breaths so I can try to relax. My friend even suggests that I put some music on my phone, so I switch on some hip hop and rap music on Spotify so I can calm down and focus on the task ahead.

We finally reach the first zip line and although I’m hesitant, it’s the part I like the most. Mostly because I’ve done a few zip lines before and I actually find them quite fun.

As we move around the cliff side, the support and encouragement from everyone is overwhelming. We were all working as a team and helping others in front or behind of us.

By the time we reach the second zip line most of us find it to be a breeze as we know what to expect and more importantly we know how safe we are. So most of us are letting go of the ropes and lettings our hands fly through the air. Watch the zip lining vid here

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The last challenge is scaling down a mountain front. Unable to see where your next step will be I was thankful to be first in line with an instructor in front of me to reassure me and help to keep me calm as we edge our way down the mountain front to the final zip line.

The last zip lines spans over 300m and down below you can see the winding road. Some cars have pulled over to watch and cheer us on. That feeling you get as you are released is so carefree; as well as a mixture of thrill and excitement. As you fly through the air you simply cannot stop smiling.

After everyone’s completed the final zip line we start our small descend to where we started. Everyone is on a high. The greatest sense of achievement comes over us as to what we’ve all just completed and this day will definitely go down in the memory bank for years to come.

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On that note, I can’t recommend this trip enough to the fit and able. Even if you are a little scared like I was. If I can do it, you can too!

If you’re looking for more information or wanting to book yourself then click on the link below.

Jebel Jais Via Ferrata

What to eat when you visit Sydney

The top 10 things to eat when in Sydney, Australia.

  1. Yum Cha aka Dim Sum. Recommended location: Cabramatta, this is where you’ll find the most authentic tasting dishes.

2. If you’re a fan of My Kitchen Rules then you must pay a visit to Kin By Us in Macquarie Park. The duo serve up some Asian inspired fusion dishes which are not to be missed.

3. Bao’s are all the rage. You can find these soft and squishy buns at Belly Bao or alternatively Mr. Bao or Bao Stop.

4. Who doesn’t love a soda float? Especially when said soda float contains alcohol. Find them from none other than The Soda Factory, in Surry Hills.

5. Fancy AF ice creams. I mean look at my ice cream. It’s floating in a cloud. Create your own at Aqua S.

6. If you’re lucky enough to have family or friends in Oz then there’s nothing like a home cooked meal prepared on the BBQ along with some fresh seafood. Check out my Xmas spread below.

7. Everyone’s always looking for the best gelato in Sydney. I can tell you now that N2 extreme rocked my socks off. I prefer it over Messina.

8. A freak shake. Canberra started the craze and the rest of Oz followed. Check out The Missing Piece in Macquarie Centre for your fix.

9. A pork sausage roll with tomato sauce. Nuff said.

10. Last but not least, a chicken schnitzel or schnitty as us Aussie like to call them.
Most pubs and RSL clubs serve up a decent schnitty and I couldn’t leave Sydney again without smashing one down. Don’t forget to ask for chicken salt on your chips and your choice of gravy.

L.A & Palm Springs in 7 days

Well first things first, I touched down in L.A, jumped onto google maps to find the closest In & Out burger. We are waiting for our transfer to Palm Springs via coach to go to Coachella festival but first we need our burger fix. Getting a cab from the airport is such a rip off so we walk. About 15-20 mins later just outside the airport is a In & Out burger and it is way busier than we expected. But we order and wait cause were desperate for our fix.

So to make sure I’m fully satisfied I order the double double. No mucking round here.

Feeling satisfied after In & Out, we head back to the airport where we will soon board our coach and after 26 hours of travelling I dose off into a deep sleep on en route to Palm Springs.Palm SpringsThe next day we arrive at Coachella. At this 3 day festival you are spoiled for choice with numerous food trucks and stalls including Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse where I had a monstrosity of a steak sandwich. So big I had to share it. Unfortunately I didn’t save the pic only snap chatted it. It was juicy with a generous portion of  sliced steak. Definitely worth every dollar.

The art installments at the festival are just mind blowing.Caterpillar

So is this amazing sunset view with this skyline. The ferris wheel is definitely worth the wait.

#indio #coachella #2015 #sunset #feels #vibes #peace #love #happiness #nofilter 🎡🌴🌅

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BalloonsOne of the days we ventured into the camping site where we found more food and came across a rad poutine stand. I mean who doesn’t like chips with cheese & gravy? Again no pictorial evidence you’ll just have to take my word for it on how good it was.

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Bear in the camping site

One morning before the festival started we decide to go out for breakfast in Palm Springs. I’d done some research before we went and Cheeky’s looked the goods. We arrive around 10am and there’s a wait list with 10 groups in front of us. Shocked, we are offered a seat in the adjacent cafe where we can have a drink (alcoholic or coffee) whilst we wait.

CheekysWe ran into a famous DJ and his wife while we were waiting. I was a bit star struck and we were lucky enough to have a chat with them and also took some happy snaps.

Finally, some 20-30 minutes later we were seated and began to order the food. The bacon flight I’d read was the thing to order. So that’s what we had along with a breakfast quesadilla, scrambled eggs and some fresh juices.

#baconflight #cheekys #palmsprings #bacon #flavors #breakfast #foodporn #pork #bacon4life @cheekysps #theglobaleats

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That night when the hunger pangs kicked in and between performances we managed to grab some teriyaki chicken sticks from a small vendor and they were literally bigger than my head.

#chicken #teriyaki #stick #sizeofmyhead #foodporn #coachella #theglobaleats

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On day 3 of the festival the giant sized caterpillar turned into a beautiful butterfly.

And the caterpillar turned into a beautiful butterfly… #day3 #coachella2015

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It was my first time attending Coachella festival. It’s such a happy place with so many amazing acts to see. I’d love to return again one day.

#coachella withdrawals

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After the festival came to and end I headed back to L.A on my own to spend a few days in WeHo and do some shopping, exploring and eating.

There is so many Vietnamese restaurants in West Hollywood. I had never noticed it before. I love me a good Pho soup as well as some fresh Vietnamese rolls as a healthy starter.Pho

#Vietnamese #springrolls #healthy #pork #westhollywood #foodporn #ricepaperrolls #theglobaleats

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One morning I went on a stroll and came across this place by chance, Joey’s Cafe. I decided to try green eggs and ham only after years of reading the Dr. Seuss books.

#greeneggsandham #westhollywood #breakfast #oj #foodporn #nomnomnom #catinthehat #theglobaleats #drseuss

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I later took an Uber to Santa Monica to go down to the pier. On my way down I took a stroll and came across Joe’s Pizza. The slices are bigger than your head.

#joespizza #pizza #nomnomnom #santamonica #foodporn #tomato #mozarella #basil #theglobaleats

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Of course you’ll want a cupcake from the Sprinkles cupcake ATM.

#cupcakeatm #sprinkles #beverlyhills #cupcake #atm #food #travel #theglobaleats

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Although I couldn’t see the screen so I dined in to enjoy my latte and red velvet cupcake.Sprinkles Red Velvet

I wasn’t leaving until I had one last pork fix before I left. So I popped into Kitchen 24 for a pulled pork burger and crunchy sweet potato fries.

There’s still so many places on my L.A foodie list but it mean I’ll just have to go back once again which I totally have no problem with.

Traveled April 2015
Flights: AED 5,225 economy class – You can fly non-stop from DXB to LAX with Emirates. They run a once a day service.
Accommodation: We had an all inclusive Coachella ticket and hotel package which cost us 1,275 USD per person. We stayed at the Riveria hotel. This also included daily coach transfer to and from the festival. After the festival I used Airbnb to stay in West Hollywood.
Visa: USD 14 – apply online before travelling – Esta (Certain nationalities – make sure to do your research before traveling.)
Spending: USD – Food is pretty cheap depending on where you eat and the portion sizes are huge. If you are travelling with someone you could easily share meals. The shopping is also a lot cheaper than Dubai especially for cosmetics and clothes but don’t forget tax is added at the counter.

Eat well, travel well

Nossy x

24 hours in Singapore

I touch down after a 7 and a bit hour flight from Sydney and I pass swiftly through immigration. When I say swiftly I was through there in no longer than 5 minutes. That’s a first in any country I’ve ever been to! I’m already impressed with Singapore as I make my way to cab line, making sure not to get into a premium taxi or limo by mistake. I’ve heard Singapore is an expensive city so I’m trying to save money where I can.

My taxi driver is knowledgeable having grown up here. He know’s exactly where I’m headed. As we drive away from the airport I am gobsmacked by how green and luscious the streets are, a stark contrast to the sandy roads back home in Dubai.

After reaching my friends condo and dumping my suitcase I get changed and we head straight out for some food. We take a short walk and we arrive at Lau pa sat hawker center which just so happens to be the largest and oldest hawker centre in Singapore! For those who don’t know what a Hawker Centre is basically a food market containing numerous different types of stalls offering a range of cuisines all for a reasonable price.

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It’s a Victorian style building which houses this food market and every where you look there is something cooking, wok’s sizzling, steam rising and it’s in this precise moment, jet lagged or not, I feel like I am indeed in Singapore.

I pace around look at all the varieties. How does one choose. With umpteen noodles, rices dishes, dumplings, poultry and seafood it makes it nearly impossible. We settle on carrot cake A.K.A Chai tow kway, soursap for drinks (which has immense health properties), Hainanese steamed chicken and rice served with buk choy and chicken broth (which I decided on as there was a queue full of locals so it must be good right?), cheung fun stuffed with prawns and some boiled dumplings. Cheap, delicious and very satisfying.

After our tummies are full we head to Marina Bay Sands for a nightcap at CÉ LA VI SkyBar. The view will leave you speechless. It’s also super scary being that high up if you’re scared of heights like I am but it’s definitely not to be missed. You might even be lucky enough to catch the light show.IMG_1033A cocktail on the rooftop averages around the 25 Singaporean dollar mark. Whilst a standard nip & mixer still around 20 Singapore dollars.IMG_1032We managed to get into the VIP lounge so I could snap a quick photo of that famous infinite pool which only the hotel guests have the pleasure of using.IMG_1051The following morning we went for breakfast at Wild Honey in Scott’s Square. The menu sounded super appealing and even though it was fully booked when we tried to call, they were able to seat us as a walk-in around 10am on a weekend. We even managed to nab an outdoor table.

A spicy citrus juice, roast almond latte, flinders lane breakfast with a side of candied bacon set me back a whopping 50 Singapore dollars including tip & service charge. It was a delicious breakfast but the portion size defeated me.

Wanting to do some site seeing in my short time remaining we grabbed a taxi to Gardens by the Bay Unfortunately due to the weather the OCBC skyway was closed when we arrived. Probably a good thing for me considering I’m a wuss when it comes to heights. Inside we find a restaurant inside one of the futuristic super trees which you can pay entry for and also enjoy a beverage whilst taking in the 360 views. The outdoor balcony was shut for a little while so we drank our tea inside.

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However once it was open we were both eager to go outside on the balcony. Again, the nerves kicked in as what instills more fear in me than heights itself is a floor beneath my feet which I can see through. It was like a metal grate which did not seem safe to me at all but I’m sure it was.

Even on a gloomy overcast day the unrestricted views from the rooftop viewing platform are magnificent. I’m sure on clearer days you could see the surrounding islands.

 

IMG_1086IMG_1087We head downstairs and buy tickets for the cloud forest dome. It’s a magical place. An indoor forest of exotic plants and waterfalls.

After exploring the cloud forest we start to venture back towards my friends place with a pit stop along the way for lunch. We end up in the food court at Marina Bay Sands where I search for a soup, something to try cure my throat which by this stage is starting to close over. I stumble across a place serving a Beef noodle soup for about 9 Singapore dollars.

IMG_1234Right behind us we see another food shop and were mesmerized as we watched a chef making handmade noodles.

Part of me wish I got to see this first as I definitely would of eaten from his shop. However for a first timer these food courts can be overwhelming as there is so much variety to choose from, you could spend all day just deciding.

I do recommend doing your research before travelling as Singapore can be quite an expensive city depending on a) how long your there for b) what you want to do and c) where you want to eat.

I only got a taste of what Singapore has to offer and there is so much more to see, eat and do, that next time I’ll definitely be staying longer than 24 hours.

Eat well, travel well.

Nossy x

 

 

 

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Say Jambo to Zanzibar

For EID Holidays this September my girlfriends and I were deciding where to go. We had 4 options. Pintrest boards were made as well as a list of pros and cons and the small island of Zanzibar off the Tanzanian coast came up trump.

Zanzibar is a 5 and a half hour direct flight from DXB. We flew at 4am and arrived at 8am with the time difference which gave us a full day upon arrival. We stayed for 3 nights and had 4 full days to explore Zanzibar.

We arranged a transfer with our hotel for a set fee. We stayed up North in a town called Nungwi which is about an hour and a half from the airport. Our hotel was a 4* star boutique hotel called the Zanzibari. The manager made us feel very welcome.

After check in and a beverage on arrival we were taken to our rooms. We stayed on the ground floor but have read the suites are bigger and with better views. The Zanzibari has it’s own private beach as well as pool with a bar and plunge pools overlooking the ocean.

Safari Blue Tour – This was our highlight of our trip without a doubt. The tour consisted of dolphin watching, multiple snorkeling stops, a quick stop on a sand bank followed by a BBQ lunch of freshly caught seafood, local Kilimanjaro beer and the ability to climb a fallen Baobab tree.

The RockRefer to my post here.

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Prison Island – Our driver for the day after The Rock, took us into Stone Town where you can catch boats from the beach over to Prison Island. We did not book a tour however we paid our drivers “friend” $40USD plus tip in total to take the 4 of us for a return boat trip. The entrance to the Tortoise Sanctuary was USD$4 per adult.
The lovely English manager gave us a tour with free commentary and history about the Island and the tortoises. We even got to hold the baby tortoises which are kept in a locked cage and guarded by security at night as some people keep stealing them.

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Fodrohni markets – Is very popular amongst tourists and locals and its where you can find street food. You can judge for yourself whether you should eat there but we stuck to more established restaurants.

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Stone Town – If you’re going here in the daylight, I assume it would be fine. We however visited late one afternoon as the sun was going down. I had done a lot of research about where to eat in Stone Town and wanted to head to one particular restaurant. We set off in the winding maze of stone buildings and uneven footpaths.
We asked for help and were shown in many different directions which leads us around in circles. After feeling frustrated and now walking around in the pitch black with motorbikes beeping as they rode past our safety net quickly dwindled and we followed a group of mothers and children right out of there and back onto a main road. Now personally I would recommend for anyone that wishes to go and experience Stone Town, to take a tour. As even in broad daylight you are bound to get lost.

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Orphanage – On our final day in Zanzibar we spent the morning relaxing on our private beach and taking multiple snaps of this stunning view and location we’ve called home. Noticing we hadn’t spent as much as we’d anticipated we decided to leave our hotel a little earlier and asked the manager to recommend an orphanage that our private driver can stop on our way back so we could meet the kids and make a donation.
It’s sad to know that a lot of these children are without families but these shelters make sure the kids get the love and attention they need. Not to mention food, water, shelter and also education.

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Vaccinations – Not essential (I checked with various people) however to be on the safe side I got a yellow fever jab ((which lasts for 10 years)) and also started taking malaria tablets but I personally would recommend not taking them as the side effects can be quite bad. Do your research. Instead, load up with highly effective insect repellent and be sure to wear clothing to cover your arms and legs.

DO: Take USD. The Zanzibari Shilling is rarely used.

DO: Tip and round up

DO: Book your tours

DO: Your research on the best areas to stay depending on the length of your trip.

DO: Learn the local lingo. Just some basic phrases will get you by.

DON’T: Drink the tap water. Drink bottled water only.

DON’T: Book a hotel that has a non-cancellation policy like we did. As we did find something closer and more affordable however it was too late to cancel. Although in the end it worked out fine as we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at The Zanizbari.

Traveled September 2015
Flights: AED 1740 – You can fly direct from DXB to ZAN with flydubai. They run a once a day service.
Accommodation: AED 1040pp based on twin share in a garden room
Visa: USD 50 payable upon arrival
Tours: Safari Blue – USD65pp
Spending: I took USD400 which was more than enough. Food is relatively cheap even at 5 star establishments.

Eat well, travel often.

Nossy xxx

Staycation @ The Park Hyatt, Abu Dhabi

My friend invited me to stay at The Park Hyatt in Abu Dhabi. I happily accepted as it’s not often I go to Abu Dhabi and if I do, it’s only to Yas Island. So getting to see a new part of Abu Dhabi (this time Saadiyat Island) was a nice change.

The hotel is next to the St Regis and boasts it’s own private beach as well as suites, villas, 3 pools, multiple restaurants and conference rooms.

We checked into our suite in the morning which i’m quite sure is the biggest hotel suite I’ve ever stayed in.

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After we recovered from the grandness of our suite we got changed and headed down to the beach to soak up the sun. Towels and cold water are provided by the friendly staff. The ocean was warm and welcoming, the sand was toasty under our feet and the beach was one of the cleanest I’ve seen in the UAE.

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For lunch we headed to The Beach House where we sat outside on the comfortable lounges. The service here is faultless. The burrata cheese salad was out of this world. My first time trying burrata and I was so impressed. Softer than a mozzarella and the fresh cherry tomatoes, rocket and balsamic dressing accompanied the cheese texture perfectly.

For mains we had a mix of the catch of the day. Two fillets, one Sherri and the other Sea Bream. The Sea Bream was light and flakey, a delicate fish. The Sherri was a thicker fillet, a very fleshy fish.

Beach House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Then we headed to the poolside cabanas which sit along side the infinity pool. I tried the homemade strawberry ice cream which was just divine.

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We made a reservation for dinner at the Park Bar & Grill however due to a function we had to sit outside. The outside seating area is poolside and by night the palm trees are lit up with fairy lights creating a nice ambiance.

The service here is impeccable with every wait staff looking after us from start to finish.IMG_9031As well as a bread basket, they also served us a starter of sliced smoked duck breast and shredded beetroot. A fabulous combination of flavours.IMG_9032For an appetizer I ordered the king crab leg. Super fresh and delicate flesh served with wedges of lemon.IMG_9037
For mains we opted for a wagyu tenderloin. So tasty and perfectly grilled. I had a bernaise sauce on the side but it was not even required as the meat was so flavorful. I also had a side of asparagus sautéed in butter.

IMG_9045For dessert we decided to move inside and upstairs to the bar. We shared a dessert sampler and also a pineapple flambé served with ice-cream and a caramel sauce, the latter being my favorite.IMG_9055IMG_9056IMG_9060Before we checked out the next morning we had breakfast at The Cafe. It’s buffet style and they serve the usual breads, cereals, fruits, sausages, beef bacon, roast tomatoes etc, as well as pancakes & waffles and a chef on hand to make eggs as per your request. I also noticed they served congee, typically an asian speciality was a nice touch. The restaurant gets very busy inside though so would recommend going down early.

Overall I had such a pleasant stay at the Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi and I’m sure you would too!

Eat well, travel often.

Nossy x

http://abudhabi.park.hyatt.com/en/hotel/home.html