AL AIN: Cycling in Al Ain Oasis

An amazing historical place to visit in the UAE. It is approx. 3000 acre and it was built to tame the desert.

Tim and I rented a bicycle for an hour to ride around the oasis rather than walking it. Honestly, you can do both and it’s massive. Around the oasis, there are museums and art galleries to stop and see.

I highly recommend you visit Al Ain Oasis, I guarantee you will have a good time.

 

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ABU DHABI: Mangrove Walk

The Mangrove Park  opened earlier this year and it was built on Al Jubail Island. The gates open at 8AM and close at 5PM. So to avoid the crowd due to the Covid-19, we decided to visit the park at 8AM LOL. By the way, there is no entrance fee and food and drinks are not allowed and they have a couple coffee shops at the entrance of the park. Other than that just enjoy the walk and we recommend to visit when it is high tide.

It was a beautiful morning walk and very surreal. 

ABU DHABI: Picking Vegetables from Emirates Bio Farm

It’s a 2 hours drive from Abu Dhabi and extremely long and boring drive but it was indeed worth it. I always wanted to visit the farm and learn few things here and there. Tim and I love to plant. Especially Tim but sometimes, he doesn’t let me touch the plants.

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Anyway after driving for 2 hours straight, we finally arrived at Emirates Bio Farm at 11AM. We bought our ticket which is about AED 35 per person (approx. £ 8) and booked a farm tour for 12PM. We walked around the public area and bought cold beverages to keep us cool. We then started the tour and they made us pick our vegetables.

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Right after the tour, we had brunch at their restaurant and paid AED 90 (approx. £ 21) for a breakfast platter for two.

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We really had an amazing time and bought fresh organic vegetables from their mini supermarket and it a great place for families to visit.

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DUBAI: Road Trip to Hatta

It was February the 14th 2020, Valentines Day. When we all decided to go on a road trip to Hatta, Dubai. Hatta is known for Kayaking, Hiking and Resorts.

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Our first stop was Hatta Kayak, we all decided to go kayaking. However, Diana, Danny, Ivan and Xin Wei rented a pedal boat. We then had lunch at an Omani restaurant called ‘Tanoor Lahm Restaurant’. Our last stop was a resort and entertainment hub called ‘Wadi Hub‘. It’s developed by Meraas and we just brought our camping chairs and mats and just sat there had chai karak and enjoyed the weather.

Here are the below locations:

Hatta Kayak

 

Hatta Wadi Hub by Meraas

 

Tanoor Lahm Restaurant

Most Delicious African Cuisine

This is strictly my opinion. I have tried Moroccan, Sudanese, Egyptian, Kenyan and other few African cuisines but Ethiopian is my ultimate favourite and I’m sure a lot of people will agree.

My first Ethiopian experience was at home in UAE. Our helper was from Ethiopia and one time we went to her local restaurant and bought Injara (Ethiopian Bread) and she cooked a spicy potato stew and I immediately fell in love with Ethiopian cuisine. The first time, Tim and I had Ethiopian food was at Harlem in New York City with my friend, Marwah. Tim really enjoyed it so we tried several restaurants in U.A.E and his favourite thing about their cuisine is their famous coffee. One of the best coffees around the world.

When we had the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia, the first thing that crossed our mind was OMG!!!! We are going to have authentic Ethiopian cuisine’.

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Ethiopian Coffee

Our first day in Addis Ababa, we learnt that Ethiopian Christians fast on Wednesdays and Fridays which means they only have vegan food on those days and avoid meat. I LOVED it because I really enjoy vegan food. My favourite dish is called ‘Shiro’, it is a stew made out of chickpeas. Our first meal was ‘Wat’ which is a spread of the injera bread with lots of stews for everyone to share. Since we landed on a Friday, we had vegetarian stew and their cooked spinach was soo…. delicious.

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Tim is a meat lover and especially a red meat lover. At the age of 14 years old, I decided to become ‘pollo-pescatarian’. A person who eats only white meat. That’s why I married a white man LOL. Just Kidding. It was for health reasons and also I was never a fan of red meat anyway. When I married Tim, I tried some steaks from his plate but honestly, I couldn’t have more than a bite except in Tokyo; he begged me to eat a whole Wagyu Steak and once his step-mum cooked steak at home which I ate and it was good too but that did not convince me to like red meat. After turning 30, I decided that I want to cut down my meat intake so I starting having vegetarian or meatless meals on weekdays and eat fish or chicken on a Saturday. My family and friends found it weird but I feel happy so when I knew that Ethiopia had a variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes, I was so pleased.

Ok meat lovers, I won’t bore you. Tim’s favourite dish was ‘tibs’, meat mixed with vegetables and our tour guide told us that the meat are all organic and that I should give it a try. I had a piece and honestly, it didn’t taste fatty at all and really had a fresh taste to it. Tim also liked ‘Gored Gored’ which is a beef stew.

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For breakfast, we had ‘Fir Fir’ which is Ethiopian and Eritrean meal. It is basically made out of shredded bread, butter and Berber spice. Berber spice is the most famous spice in Ethiopia. Another breakfast meal is ‘Kinche’ similar to an oatmeal.

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Fermented Banana Bread. Technically it’s scrapped from ‘fake’ banana trees. It a tree that looks like a banana tree that does not grow bananas.

When it comes to Ethiopian beverages, all we think about is their coffee and yes, their coffee is extremely delicious. They also have a coffee ceremony.

Another famous drinks are their honey wine called ‘tej’. Ethiopia has a variety of beverages and dishes but this is what I encountered during our trip and I love it and I highly recommend it.

Let me know your favourite Ethiopian dishes.

 

 

5 Days and 4 Nights in Ethiopia

*Not a sponsored post

Tim and I visited Ethiopia from the 29th of November 2019 till the 3rd of December 2019 with our best friend, MIMI. The weather was perfect. It was a short trip and was booked last minute but we managed to do a lot. Thanks to KimKim for arranging our accommodation, our ticket and the tour.

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Here is a tip: When travelling internationally to Ethiopia, use Ethiopian Airlines. We booked our trip with Emirates Airlines and did not manage to get a discount on the domestic flights. If you book through Ethiopian Airlines, you can then get the discount by providing your booking reference number.

This blog post is our itinerary around Ethiopia. Honestly, I wish we did stay longer and explored more. Hopefully, another time. I would say Ethiopia is one of the most beautiful countries I’ve visited and would rank it on my TOP 5 favourite destinations.

DAY 1:

We flew from Dubai to Addis Abba and landed in the afternoon. Our amazing tour guide, Mahi took us for lunch at an amazing restaurant called Kategna.

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We then went to our hotel to check-in and to drop our luggage. We stayed at a very cozy hotel in the city called ‘Caravan Hotel‘. We became friends with the staff and learned Ethiopian time which I will talk about on a different post. We then explored our area and decided to check out a local cafe which serves coffee and sandwiches but we just went for the coffee and met locals and had a lovely evening.

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DAY 2:

We checked out early in the morning right after having breakfast and drove to the domestic airport to catch our flight to Arba Minch.

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First stop was at a local restaurant and they are known for their famous grilled Tilapia. Our tour guide recommended to explore the villages before it got dark then would take us to our hotel to check-in and relax.

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Lunch at a Garden Restaurant in Arba Minch

As soon as we were done with lunch we headed straight to Gamo Gofa. They are famous for their vegetable and fruit market. We walked around, met locals and just enjoyed the nature.

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Later, we visited the Dorze Village. Their houses look like the Elephants head. Our tour guide, introduced us to the prince of the village and he showed us around and invited us to his place. I will write a separate food post about what we ate at the village and generally Ethiopian food.

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As it got darker, our tour guide suggested that we should head to the hotel to check-in, relax and have dinner. We stayed at Haile Resort. The hotel is owned by the famous runner Haile Gebrselassie.

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Day 3:

We woke up really early in the morning for a long drive to visit the Konso Village, we walked around the village and bought a tiny mask from there. The site is part of the UNESCO World Heritage. The Konso people are known for cotton weaving and agriculture. Their religion tradition is called Waga/ Waga Sculpture.

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Afterwards, we walked around the Sunflower fields and made a stop at the Konso Lodge to have lunch. Since we had some extra time for one more activity, we decided to go hiking at the National Park.

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Day 4:

Right after breakfast, our tour guide wanted to take us to Lake Abaya but unfortunately, our boat didn’t work. We waited for hours to get it fixed but we all agreed, it was not meant to be. So instead, we decided to visit the Crocodile Farm before heading to the airport.

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I slept the whole flight and when we landed at Addis Ababa. The first thing we did was SHOPPING. We wanted to buy souvenirs for our family and friends and of course US. Tim and I bought a painting, a wooden mask and clothes. We later went and bought coffee beans to take back home. OH MY GOD! Ethiopian coffee is the best.

At night, Mahi took us to an amazing restaurant with live performance called Yod Abyssinia Traditional Food. The food was very delicious and we had such a fun night. The performance was insanely good and they even made us dance.

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Day 5:

Our day started at the Book Store, where I wanted to buy books for my brothers and myself. Our next stop was the National Museum of Ethiopia to meet Lucy, female of the hominin species.

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Before heading to the airport, we did a quick stop to have a good-bye lunch together at a really old house that is now famous restaurant and is also a hotel. The place is called Taitu Hotel.

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We were later dropped to the airport and flew back to Dubai 🙁

Ras Al Khaimah- Road Trip to Ghost Village and Jebel El Jeis

It was the perfect Road Trip. We drove from Abu Dhabi to Dubai and picked up our friends and met my brother and his friends at a Petrol Station in Ajman and drove to Ras Al Khaimah (RAK). It was long trip but totally worth it.

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We wanted to discover the famous Ghost Village in RAK also known as Al Jazirah Al Hamra and we did a quick stop at Al Hamra Mall to have lunch and bought a few snacks and drove to Jebel (Mountain) Al Jeis to go on a picnic and enjoy the weather.

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We really had a great time and Jebel El Jeis is an amazing place to hike, to go on a picnic and to just hang out. Ghost Village on the other hand, is an abandoned town which is now slowly becoming a touristic attraction. Not much to do there but it was a nice walk since we were a group of friends discovering the town.

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Also the movie 6 underground was filmed at the Ghost Town.

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Bellion Travels: 3 Days in Taipei, Taiwan

Tim and I have noticed that Taipei has an art district with lots of galleries and museums to visit but since our trip was short and we didn’t have enough time, we just walked around the district but couldn’t make a quick stop but here is what we’ve done in 3 Days.

Day 1:

We bought our transport ticket at the airport to be able to use the metro and the bus, it is very easy to navigate around the city, and you will not find any difficulty.

Our first stop was the National Palace Museum located in the Shilin District. The Museum has a collection of almost 700,000 pieces of ancient Chinese artifacts and artworks.

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Afterwards, we decided to visit temples so we managed to see the Longshan Temple, which was built in 1738, and we saw the Confucius Temple.

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We had a lot of time to kill before the Night Market so we took the train and visited Taipei 101 and went on the 88th and 89th floor. Unfortunately, we could not visit the 101th floor because we had to book in advance. As it got late, we went back to the Shilin District and explored the Night Market.

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Day 2:

Tim booked a tour online to explore another part of Taiwan and we really enjoyed the tour.

The tour included Yehliu Geo Park, Jiufen Old Town, AMei Tea House, Pingxi Lantern and the Grand Hotel Taipei.

Yehliu Geo Park: North of Taiwan. Formations include the famous Queen’s Head. We did a quick stop at the famous Golden waterfall.

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Jiufen Old Tower and AMei Tea House: It’s located on the seaside mountain area in New Taipei City. The place is filled with really old markets from the 14th Century and we visited the famous Amei Tea House for tea and cakes which was also shown in the famous Japanese cartoon called Spirited Away.

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Pingxi: A very old town known for Lanterns. We bought a Lantern and wrote our wishes and we let it go up in the air. I ticked that off my bucket list so it was an experience 🙂

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The Grand Hotel Taipei: Before dropping us to Ningxia, we did quick stop at the Grand Hotel to take pictures.

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Ningxia Night Market was our last stop and the place known for the famous Taiwanese traditional street food.

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Day 3:

We decided to dedicate our last day to shopping and massages. Therefore, we visited Shi-men Ting and the Underground Mall at the Taipei Main Metro Station. Afterwards, we walked around the area of the National Museum and went for a massage.

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Food Adventure in Taiwan

As the Eid holiday was approaching and my family are abroad and busy packing their stuff to move to a new apartment. Tim suggested lets go to Taiwan, for the Eid holiday. I was a bit hesitant at first because of the Typhoon but we said let us just book the flights.

Luckily, the wind redirected to other areas and we had sunshine during our stay. Since it was a last minute trip, we did not have a plan nor an idea of what to discover but I was adamant to have a meal at Din Tai Fung and try Taiwanese cuisine. Click Here to read about Din Tai Fung restaurant in Dubai.

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Din Tai Fung is the only Taiwanese restaurant we know of in UAE, as I mentioned in my Dubai blog, the waiting time to get a table is long and so is the waiting time in Taiwan. Although they do have several branches of the restaurant, it is always full. Nevertheless, it is worth the wait and so we did wait for 70 minutes. The restaurant has more options, is much cheaper than the one in Dubai, and has many pork dishes in the menu. Now, I do not eat pork so they customised my dishes and I loved it.

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Before heading to Taiwan, a friend of ours suggested to try the famous stinky Tofu, which apparently smells worse than Durian. I agree; it smells DISGUSTING but guess what? We tried it. Once you have it, for some reason you become immune to the smell. Tim and I enjoyed some of the street food at the night market but I did not have the courage to try intestines, organs, and all that so I just tried the basics.

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One thing that amused us about Taiwan was its history. The natives of the land are actually Filipino and during the Chairman Mao, many Chinese people fled to Taiwan and started a new life on that tiny island and afterwards Japanese people moved to Taiwan and settled there for 50 – 60 years so the Taiwanese cuisine is a blend of Japanese, Filipino and mainly Chinese. Tim and I went to two Taiwanese/Japanese restaurants that were artistically prepared and served. It was delicious and I would love to go back just to eat there again.

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I have a sweet tooth and if you love desserts, I highly recommend the sun cakes and the green tea cakes made of beans and matcha. I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE THEIR CAKES. I bought five boxes of cakes just for myself to have with my Chinese tea.

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Anyway, I will blog separately about our Taiwan travel itinerary and places we visited but I must admit Taiwanese food needs a blog dedicated to their delicacies and delicious cuisine.

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