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Camping among greeneries in UAE

Our campsite

Over the weekend, we went on a camping trip with a couple of good friends. Our previous camping experience was always in the desert as there is endless sandy desert here in UAE. We love desert camping and kids can run around barefoot and enjoying the nature. However, we always have to rush in the morning to pack our stuff before it gets too hot as there is close to no shade.

This time round, we headed to Wadi Showkah instead to camp. With some off-road, we manage to reach quite a big area inside the wadi with a lot of flat ground that is great for camping. We found one that is good for 4 tents and there is also a tree that gives us some shade.

The tree that provides us shade in the daytime

The road leading to the site is pretty bumpy hence a vehicle with high ground clearance would be recommended.

Road leading to camp site

For sedan, this is where you can park (this is about 20 mins away from where we camp):

25°06’40.0″N 56°08’17.2″E (25.111116409301758 56.13811111450195)

Our camping site drop pin:

25°06’40.0″N 56°08’17.2″E (25.100088119506836,56.10026168823242)

As it is within the wadi boundaries, surrounded by mini hills, there are many free and easy hiking that one can do while camping here. Kids enjoyed the nature and make their own little enclosure/spot to play. Another plus point for the parents would be there is no internet 3G connection here, so kids had no choice but to blend in with the nature and play.

Busy at work

For meal, we prepared BBQ satay, Korean style pork belly, chicken wings, sweetcorn. We even had tiramisu for afternoon tea and fruit stick for after dinner dessert. Everyone bring little joy to the camp and we had an amazing time.

Afternoon tea
Homemade satay with natural lemongrass brush
Chicken wings in the making
Our macho satay uncle
Fairy lights… new addition to our romantic night

The next morning, we had a quick brekkie- some croissant and coffee, milk with cereal. Then we leave our tent at the site and went for a hike.

The hiking place is around 40 minutes drive away. Drop pin: 25°06’11.3″N 56°03’42.3″E

Due to rainfall couple of weeks back, there are lots of pool along the hike. Be ready to get wet if you would like to hike. Basically, you will get wet from waist down including your shoes as the rocks inside the water is quite sharp so you will have to wear to shoes.

Look at how deep the water is
can even swim

Note to self: There is another access point to reach the hiking site that is easier on the car. This is the entrance: 25°05’52.1″N 56°01’53.2″E (Water tank parking MTB Meeting Point).

Homemade carbonare sauce

1. 240g spaghetti (I use Barilla no 13 Linguine)
2. 200g bacon (cut into small pieces)
3. 3 eggs plus 3 egg yolk
4. 3/4 cup whipping cream
5. 50g parmesan cheese
6. Salt and black pepper (to taste)
1. In a pot, add some olive oil and water. Boil.
2. Once the water is boiling, add the spaghetti and cook until al Dante (it took 9 mins for my no 13 Barilla linguine)
3. Drain the water and set aside.
4. In a frying pan, add some olive oil and pan fried bacon until crispy. Remove bacon and keep the oil in the pan.
5. In a bowl, add egg, cream, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, mix well.
6. Reheat the pan with the oil from the bacon, add the spaghetti and give it a quick stir.
7. Next, add in the egg, cream , cheese mixture and mix well (keep on low fire so that the egg won’t harden).
8. Lastly, add in the bacon and give it a quick mix.
9. Serve warm, garnish with some parmesan cheese!
10. Enjoy!

Al Ain staycation December 2021

Al Ain Zoo

As we enter Al Ain, I can see why the city is dubbed as oasis city or garden city. The city is indeed a green oasis amidst the bare desert, worthy of its title as one of the UNESCO Heritage Site.

Al Ain is part of Abu Dhabi region, as we are coming from Dubai, we need to pass by a checkpoint where we have to show our Al Hosn apps and do an EDE scan. For vaccinated individual, we need to have PCR done within 14 days and for the unvaccinated, PCR test has to be within 96 hours of entry.

We make our way to Al Ain Zoo, greeted by the giraffe, hippopotamus, white tiger and many more. I am really glad we gave Al Ain Zoo another chance. Our first visit to the zoo was not pleasant as we missed out quite a big part of the zoo and saw mainly the oryx and gazelle, and with the scorching sun, it did not help.

Loving the giraffe with the mountain backdrop

TIPS: Do check out the map and make a right at the entrance to check out some of the cool animals before going to the right side where most of the animals are located. Also, as most of the zoo is not shaded, it is definitely a good idea to visit when the weather is cool. It was 17-25 degree Celcius when we visit.

We had our lunch at the Zerafa Restaurant inside the zoo, and the prices are really reasonable. The avocado juice is great and fried chicken is pretty yummy too!

One of the highlight for the kids were the petting zoo, and there are lots of grounds for kids to run around and picnic can be a good option too. The zoo is still undergoing extension and we could see koala, elephants and gorilla coming soon!

White tiger

Personally, I really like the big cats exhibit where the white tiger, lion, King Kong , and jaguar roaming around. This is another good reason to come in the winter as these big cats does not sleep as much and really walking around, being active.

Time pass really fast and we actually spend a good 7 hours in the zoo, having fun!

Open 9am to 6pm daily, definitely recommended to visit if you have not done so. The entrance fees are super reasonable at AED 31.50 for adults and AED 10.50 for kids 3-12 years old. If you fancy to feed the giraffe, you can do so at an additional AED 31.50 for 4 pax!

Don’t forget you need GREEN AL HOSN to enter the zoo!

Check out some of our highlight at the zoo:

We left the zoo at 5pm, heading to check in our hotel at Aloft Al Ain, just 20 minutes away from the zoo. The room is really spacious and modern. Despite not having much facilities in the hotel, we had a really nice stay. Breakfast was not included when we book our room, but upon checking in, we were offered a breakfast deal of AED 40 for adults and kids under 12 eats for free. If you do not fancy the hotel food, there is a good selection of restaurants within walking distance from the hotel. We had dinner at Ziryab followed by desert at Lore. I have to give 5 thumbs up to PULL ME from the dessert menu, definitely one of the most amazing dessert I have ever tested. Their kunafe cheesecake is amazing as well.

Our spacious room with two queen bed! Really huge beds!
Infinite pool at roof top- check out Jabal Hafeet at a distance.
PULL ME- sponge cake with vanilla ice cream , flowing caramel, milk and Oreo pieces. Perfect combination!
Kunafe Cheesecake

The next day, we headed to Jebal Hafeet, the second tallest summit in UAE, but I was quite disappointed as there is no hiking trail on the mountain. I am guessing it is because it is very near the UAE Oman border, hence not advisable to hike around there. They are still constructing the area, so the rest area are under construction. There is no toilet at the submit (at the moment) despite having a small coffee shop. We had ice cream and it is very good price (AED 25 for 4 ice cream at the top of Jabal Hafeet). At the foot of Jabal Hafeet, there is a public park/hot spring but it was not open until 3pm on the day we were there. Seems like it is always only open late afternoon.

The rugged Jabal Hafeet with the Green Mubazzarah park at its foot.

Hence, we decided to check out the camel market, yes you heard it right. A camel market, selling camels, for their meat, milk or for pet?

Camel for sale!

We ended our day checking out Jebel Hafit Desert Park. There is a couple of hiking trails, mountain biking, camel riding and one can even do staycation in the cool looking star bubble clamping tent! The entrance to the park is at AED 20 per family or AED 10 for adults, AED 5 for kids. We reached close to sunset so decided to give this a miss and keep the fun for our next trip down to Al Ain.

Easy Lemon Meringue Tart

INGREDIENTS (Makes 7 inches tart):

1. 240g digestive biscuit- crush to crumb
2. 20g brown sugar
3. 2g of salt
4. 108g unsalted butter, melted
1. 105g lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
2. 4.5g lemon zest
3. 90g sugar
4. 18g all purpose flour
5. 1.5g salt
6. 3 egg yolk and 3 whole eggs
7. 21g water
8. 45g olive oil
1. 3 egg white
2. 40g sugar
1. Crush the digestive biscuit using a rolling pin
2. Add brown sugar and salt, mix well.
3. Then, add melted unsalted in 2 batches, mix well.
4. Then flatten the crust using a small bowl (see video)
5. Place the tart in pre heated oven at 180 degree Celcius (with fan) for 10 minutes
1. While the tart is baking, let’s prepare the fillings.
2. In a pot, add sugar, flour and salt. Mix well.
3. Add the eggs and lemon juice, stir to mix them.
4. Then add lemon zest and water, mix well.
5. Place it on stove at low fire and cook for 5 minutes or until it thickens (see video)
6. Once it has thickens, add olive oil immediately and stir to mix.
7. OPTIONAL: If you do not want your tart to be too sour, remove the lemon zest by sieving them.
8. Then pour the fillings onto the warm/hot crust that has just came out of oven.
9. Next place the lemon tart into the oven at 180 degree Celcius (top bottom heat with no fan) for 10 minutes.
1. Beat the egg white with sugar until it stiffen.
2. Next pipe them onto the surface of the tart.
3. Bake at 180 degree Celcius top bottom heat with fan for 5 minute or until the meringue turns brownish.
4. Let it cool down to room temperature and put in fridge overnight (or at least 2 hours)

PHOTOS (For illustration):

Flatten the tart with small bowl
Lemon fillings poured into the tart
Pipe the meringue using piping equipment
Remove from oven when meringue turn brownish
Distinct three layers!

Siew Bao (Baked Flaky BBQ Pastry Bun)

INGREDIENTS (Makes 24 pieces)
For fillings:
1. 500g of skinless chicken thigh (cut into small pieces)
2. 4 tbsp of hoisin sauce
3. 2 tbsp of oyster sauce
4. 2 tbsp soy sauce
5. 4 tbsp sugar
6. 2 tsp dark soy sauce
7. 1 tsp sesame oil
8. A dash of white pepper
Marinate overnight.
Frying the fillings:
1. Some oil
2. 6 cloves of garlic, minced
3. 4 small shallots, minced
4. 100g of green pea
5. 3 tbsp of tapioca flour plus water
6. 2-3 drops of red colouring
WHAT TO DO: In a frying pan, add oil, then stir fry the garlic and shallots until fragrant, add meat. Fry until cooked, add green pea. When the mixture is less watery, add the tapioca flour with water. it will instantly become very sticky. Let it cool down.
For the water dough:
1. 200g all purpose flour
2. 20g sugar
3. 35g unsalted butter, melted
4. 15g cooking oil
5. 90ml water (+/-)
6. 1/2 tsp baking soda
7. 1/4 tsp salt
WHAT TO DO: Mix all together and let the dough rest for 10 mins. Then cut into smaller piece, and follow the YouTube video on how to make.
For the oil dough:
1. 100g all purpose flour
2. 55g unsalted butter, melted
3. 15g cooking oil
WHAT TO DO: Mix all together. Then cut into smaller piece, and follow the YouTube video on how to make.
YouTube Link:
To assemble, follow the YouTube video.
Add egg wash and bake in oven preheated at 180 degree C for 15 minutes. Then remove from oven. Add another layer of egg wash, sprinkle some sesame seeds, bake for another 15 minutes until golden brown.
Let it cool down before consuming.
Stir fry until dry
Assembled, ready to go for egg wash and bake

Off road adventure to Crescent Moon Lake

I have seen a couple of people sharing Crescent Moon Lake photos using drone and they always look amazing. The fact is the lake really look amazing from above due to the shape and colour.

This is the aerial view we took using our Mavic Mini 1 on 10th September 2021. If you look carefully at the main crescent structure, in the water, the lake is surrounded a thin layer of sand and in the middle of the lake it is all dark green and this is due to the algae growing in the water. Whereas, at the secondary structure in the middle, it is mainly sandy and with a little algae growing in the middle and hence, not as dark green as the main structure.

Check out of water, thick layer of algae in the middle, hence the dark green colour.

This is our second attempt to go here and we are glad that it was a success. This area is accessible using 4WD as some part of it are off road and on windy sandstorm day, the sand build up on the road can be quite significant , hence increasing the difficulty to reach the area.

If one would like to come, do choose a day where there is no sandstorm and come in the daytime before it gets dark. There is no clear signage so if you put in Crescent Moon Lake in google maps, follow the main road to Qudra area and there will be an area of Onyx enclosure and that’s where u start to go a little off road. Be careful as the sand build up may be thick or thin depending on weather etc.

Google location:

Onyx enclosure will be on your right before heading in the off road area
Start of off road heading to Crescent Moon Lake

The lake is smaller than we had expected and to be honest, the view is not as great as seen from above. Attached are some view we had while we are there. I am lucky to get some sunset shot which are amazing.

View of the lake from below
Sunset view

I have seen many people going off road into the sandy area further down the lake and it might be a great adventure for those who are adventurous.

A short video we made:

Secret Recipe Dumpling 粽子

Ingredients (Makes 25 dumplings):

1. 1.5kg Glutinous rice (soak overnight, sieve to remove water)
2. Shallot fry in oil
3. 1/2 soup spoon of white sugar
4. 1/2 soup spoon of white pepper
5. 1/2 soup spoon of coriander powder
6. 4 soup spoon of fish sauce
7. 5-6 soup spoon of mushroom water
8. 1 tbsp of dark soy sauce
9. 5 tbsp of soy sauce
WHAT TO DO : Soak rice overnight, sieve. In a frying pan, pan fried shallot in oil until fragrant then add rice and all the flavouring, fry the rice until dry.
1. 1kg 250g of pork
2. 1 tbsp of dark soy sauce
3. 4 tbsp of soy sauce
4. 1/2 tbsp of sesame oil
5. 1/2 tbsp of white sugar
6. 1/2 cloves of garlic, minced
7. 1/2 teaspoon of five spice powder
WHAT TO DO: Marinate overnight
1. 20 pieces of mushroom, wash and soak until soft (keep the mushroom water)
2. 1 tsp of fish sauce
3. 1 cup of mushroom water
4. 1 tsp of white sugar
5. a dash of white pepper
6. 3 tbsp of oyster sauce
WHAT TO DO: Soak mushroom until soft, then add the flavourings and fry until dry.
1. 2/3 cup of dried shrimps, soak and blend
2. Shallot, garlic, dried chilli, soak until soft– blend all together
3. A stalk of lemon grass
WHAT TO DO: In a pot, stir fry blended shallot, garlic, chilli with the lemon grass until fragrant. Remove the lemon grass and add dried shrimps. Fry until fragrant.
1. 250g chestnut
2. 1 tbsp of white sugar
WHAT TO DO: Wash and boil in water for 5 minutes, then switch off the heat and leave it in the pot for 10 minutes. Remove any red lines or impurities, then stir fry with sugar until sugar melted.
1. 12 chicken egg
2. 500g of salt
3. 4 cups of water
4. Large glass container with lid
WHAT TO DO: In a pot, add water and salt, cook until the salt melted and starts to crystallise, this shows that the salt water has reached saturation point. Remove pot from heat and let it cool down to room temperature. Wash the eggs and place them into the glass container. Slowly pour the salt water and salt crystals until all the eggs are submerged. Cover and keep in cool dark place for 3 weeks. Once ready, wash the eggs, dry them and place them in fridge.
1. black eye peas
WHAT TO DO: Soak overnight.
Wash and rinse in hot water to clean the leaves.
Follow this video as visual aid on how to wrap them:
WHEN READY, in a pot , boil water with salt and cook for 2 hours.
Tips: Move the dumpling up/down after 1 hour.
Once ready, drip dry and enjoy warm. or keep in freezer and steam when needed.
Fry the rice until dry
Marinate pork overnight
Stir fry mushroom until liquid is absorbed
Homemade spicy dried prawn
Stir fry water chestnut in some sugar
Homemade chicken salted egg yolk
Soak black eye peas overnight
Wrapping the 粽子

MasterChef Business Lunch

A couple of friends and me tried MasterChef Business Lunch menu and it exceeded our expectation. We went with an open mind and the flavour is really very interesting, definitely open up our mind on the limitless possibilities of food.

Located in Millennium Place Marina, this is the only restaurant in the hotel. Although the place is not big, it is very cosy and feature an open kitchen where we could see the chef at work. The staff greeted us warmly and show us to our seat. We were served tap water (which is really rare in Dubai) so that we could hydrate ourselves while looking at the menu to choose our food of the day. There is 3 of us and as Asian, we like trying different food so we ordered three different starter, main course and dessert to share. Their drinks menu are also reasonably priced with mocktails, tea and coffee priced between AED 20-30.

We started our meal with three amazing starter.

First starter: Grilled Figs, Halloumi & Roasted Hazelnut

This salad is very special, I can taste some flower-y and I am guessing it is jasmine. The figs are fresh and the nutty makes the salad crunchy.

Second starter: Pink pepper spiced prawn

Smoked cauliflower, grilled prawn with brown butter sauce. What surprise us is the fried parsley on top which is very flavourful and crispy, add a different layer to tantalise our taste bud.

Third starter: Roasted King Oyster Mushroom

This has to be our least favourite starter. There are too much spices to our liking ,although the pomegranate does makes it sweet and helps a bit.

Next, moving on main courses:

First main course: Pan fried roasted seabass

This may look normal but it is our favourite main course. The hit with this is how the seabass is pan fried to perfection. The skin is crispy and the meat is juicy. Coupled with the sauce and vegetables, definitely our favourite dish for the day.

Second main course: Short Rib Beef Rendang

We had high expectation for this dishes but were quite disappointed as the rendang is not what we had expected. We had a hard time guessing the vegetable that were served with it, although we narrowed it down to green mango and Seng Kuang.

Third main course: Salmon Fillet and Mushy Green Bean

There is no surprise in this dish, nicely fried salmon, mushy peas. The only surprise was we were ask how well we would like our salmon cooked.

The final course, dessert… of course we had to end it with sweet endings..

First dessert: Whisky Chocolate Mousse

This is definitely a hit for us. The chocolate mousse are very nice and not too sweet, coupled with the baked honeycomb candy – I definitely name this the best dessert on the menu.

Second dessert: Hello Dollies

I had high expectation for this as I like Lotus biscuit but it disappoints. It is way too sweet and it seems that it had some shredded coconut that does not goes well overall with the concept of this dessert.

Third dessert: Frozen Yogurt Parfait

We are glad we tried this last as it is sour and refreshing, wonderful to end the meal.

It was a great dining experience. Although the food had hit and misses, our overall experience was great. The staff is amazing and they takes time to explain to us about the food when the food is served, introduced us to some of their other special event – Mystery Box, Friday Brunch, Ladies night etc. We felt welcomed and valued as customer during our 2 hours there.

It is also a special occasion for us as our friend celebrating her birthday. MasterChef has kindly arranged for a complimentary cake and it makes her day.

The manager told us that they changed their business lunch menu every 3 months so I am guessing another visit is in place… let’s plan for another wonderful meal!

The business lunch are reasonably priced at AED 85 for two courses and AED 105 for 3 courses. The most amazing thing is on top of that, there is an additional 50% off the lunch menu for ladies.

My first swiss roll

INGREDIENTS (Makes 2 Swiss rolls):
For the sponge:
1. 5 egg yolks
2. 1/4 teaspoon of salt
3. 20g of sugar
4. 76.5g of all purpose flour
5. 13.5g of corn flour
6. 1 teaspoon of baking powder
7. 50g of fresh milk
8. 50g of vegetable oil
9. For the meringue: 5 egg whites and 70g of sugar)
For the fillings (buttercream):
1. 200g of salted butter (softened to room temperature)
2. 48g of egg white
3. 64g of sugar
4. 20g of water
5. shredded cheddar cheese**
For the fillings (cream cheese):
1. 150g of cream cheese (softened to room temperature)
2. 144g of chilled whipping cream mixture
3. 20g of icing sugar
4. 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
5. Strawberry jam**
1. In a mixing bowl, mix the egg yolk with salt and sugar. Whisk them evenly.
2. Add all purpose flour, corn flour and baking powder. Mix evenly.
3. Add in milk, mix well and then add the oil. Mix well. Set aside.
4. In another mixing bowl, whisk the egg white and sugar until medium peak.
5. Add 1/3 of the egg white mixture into the egg yolk mixture. Fold them in using a spatula.
6. Then add the remaining 2/3 of the egg white and fold in well. Tap the mixture to remove bubble.
7. Preheat oven to 170 degree C and bake for 30 minutes until the top is brown.
8. Let it cool down and cut into half horizontally using a bread knife. That’s where u get two Swiss roll.
9. Cut off the sides so that it is straight.
10. Slice the cake halfway to ease rolling (refer to video below).
11. You can add your favourite fillings. So far my favourite is either buttercream with shredded cheese (Begawan solo style) or cream cheese with strawberry jam!
TIPS: Place them into fridge together with baking paper after rolling so that they will stay in shape.
1. Boil the sugar with water until it is boiling.
2. While the sugar water is boiling, whisk the egg white until frothy and add in the sugar water. Beat until it mixture cool down.
3. Add in chilled butter and beat until fluffy.
1. In one mixing bowl, mix the cream cheese with icing sugar and vanilla extract.2.
2. In another mixing bowl, beat the chilled whipping mixture until medium peak.
3. Using a spatula, mix them evenly and it is ready.

PHOTOS (for illustration only):

Tap away the bubbles and they are ready to go in oven
Nicely done when its is brown 🙂
Slice them into half horizontally using a bread knife
Filled with buttercream and shredded cheddar cheese
Place them in fridge to stay in shape
Cream cheese version

Recent immunisation with Gardasil 9 and How to check/print immunisation record?(for Singaporean/PR)

Recently, after much consideration, I have decided to bring my daughter for HPV vaccine.

There are 3 HPV vaccine available in the market namely Cervarix, Gardasil and Gardasil 9. Cervarix protects against HPV 16 and 18 while Gardasil covers 6, 11, 16 and 18. The most coverage is provided by Gardasil-9 covers HPV 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52, and 58.

HPV 16 and 18 is considered high risk variant and accounts for 70% of cervical cancer and 84% of anal cancer. Hence, if you are looking to cover for these high variant cancer, then either one would be sufficient. However, in light of new studies, there are a few other high risk variant discovered and they are covered by the Gardasil 9. If cost is not a concerned, then Gardasil 9 would be a better choice as it also covers genital warts and some other high risk variants.

Since the Gardasil 9 is covered under our insurance package here in Dubai, we have decided to go for it instead of waiting to get the free injection in Singapore when my daughter is 13-14 years old (most country offers it between the age of 11-14 years old). The vaccine is recommended for kids 9-26 years old so since my girl is already 10 years old, it seems like a good time for her to get the injections. Another pros of getting it early (before 15 years old) is that you only need two doses at 0,6 months instead of three doses at 0,1,6 months.

After the immunisation, I do need to update the immunisation record with Health Promotion Board in Singapore so that in the event that we go back to Singapore in secondary school, my girl will not need to take the jab again.

So, in order to update the record, I will need to email the following documents to the HPB

  1. Birth Certificate for the child
  2. Citizenship Certificate (If not Singaporean at birth)
  3. Passport
  4. Immunisation record
  5. Identity card of both parents (front and back)
  6. Contact number and email for both parents
  7. Residential and mailing address

Email address:

If you would like to assess and check your child past immunisation record, you can log in using your Singpass at the same website. Log in using your own SingPass and add your child’s birth cert under dependant and you will be able to view their immunisation records.

Hope this helps!

Ah girl after the jab- playing with her pop it!