Category : Kelly’s Diary

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.

ADVENTURA OUTDOOR PARK- lots of zipline, obstacle course!

Let the adventure BEGIN

If your child has endless energy and love thrills, ADVENTURA is the place for you. However, I would only recommend this during winter time as it is 100% outdoor. Although some area are shaded by trees but in summer time, it will be too hot to be doing any of these activities.

Located in Mushrif Park, you do need to pay an entrance fees to enter the park using the NoL card. If you do not have the card, it can be purchased on the spot at the entrance.

There are different trails that are suitable for different heights so there is something for everyone. There are a few package available and it all covers 3 hours of unlimited fun with an option to add on gloves rental or unlimited mineral water, Adventura Earth bags. Entertainer has buy one free one offer but not applicable on the basic package. Therefore, we had chosen the Adventura package which includes 3 hours of fun plus unlimited water and gloves rental.

We were there on a weekday as the kids school had parents teacher conference and the kids had the day off. So, it was relatively empty or should I say very empty as the first two hours of our time there, we are the only guests, so we had the whole place to ourselves.

Safety measure in place

We started with training to get used to how the strap and hook works. There are safety measures in place so at any one time during the course of the obstacle, we can only remove one of the hook (there are two hook to ensure that we don’t fall off). After we got used to how to use the safety hook, it is time for fun.

Our first trail is the blue trail (Explorador) which is suitable for kids above 1.25m and even adults. Took us about an hour to finish it, it is a mixture of monkey bars, balance bars, hanging bridge and some ziplines. We all had lots of fun with that.

sideway wall climbing

However, when that is finished, we had a hard time finding another trail that is suitable for the whole family. We try the rangers which is designed for kids 1.15m and above but it was too short for the adults so we played with the kids for a bit and then venture out to try the Adventura trail for 1.4m and above. It was exciting but not easy, I had a hard time doing the sideway wall climbing as it requires a lot of hand and upper body strength.

Overall, we all had a good experience despite the heat is getting really unbearable towards mid day but I still had a good time. Hope to go back again in the winter time.

Price list

Jabal Jais hike end of April- really hot!

Although weather forecast state the weather is only 13-21 degree C at Jabal Jais, we really shouldn’t believe it. Reality and forecast are actually two different thing. We arrived around 2pm and it was 25 degree but feels like 30 degree C.

What make things worse is that I am wearing a super tight jeans thinking I could pair it nicely with my newly bought leather jacket from Global Village and it did not help. I seldom gave up halfway when hiking but it was really too tight and too difficult to hike so I had to descend when we are just halfway to the first checkpoint.

Cong and the kids were very good and manage to hike to the flag! Good job!

After the descend, we enjoyed sitting under the canopy while the kids played at the playground. It was relatively empty that day so it was nice and not too overcrowded. By 5pm, the breeze was really nice with a tinge of chilly in the air. The sunset that evening was pretty although there was a thick mist in the air, but that makes it nicer.

It was an unplanned trip but each one bring something to complement one another. We had a nice and simple BBQ sausage and burger for dinner, and kids play around the little area we cordoned off with our cars.

It was tiring but an unexpected nice trip to catch the last of winter. Unless Oman border open, otherwise it will be difficult to feel that nice cool breeze until end of this year!

We finally travel out of UAE after 1 year and 3 months– without passport!!! #Wadi Al Hora #Madha #Oman

Nice for a dip!

We have stayed in UAE for 3 years now but little did we know that there is actually a little Oman doughnut inside UAE that does not have border control! So, it is easy to understand why we must head there this very weekend after learning about it. Based on the information I have gathered online via a hiking group in Facebook, coupled with Wikiloc drop pin location and a couple of photos, we decided to give it a try.

Luckily the weather is still cool enough early morning for us to do some hiking. We depart home at 7am that morning so that we could start our hike latest by 9am. The hiking trail is really inside Oman and with that, it means that no network coverage unless you are using roaming.

The coordinate which is accessible via sedan car: 25.299566506010237, 56.29734177890819 and then, if you would like go to the start of the trail (little bit off-road required, AWD preferred) is at this coordinate: 25.30453317862541, 56.287650339368284

The place is about 2 hours away from Dubai and to our surprise, it is actually just a right turn from a highway we always use when we are headed to Khorfakkan, meaning we have passed by this turn to Oman umpteen times, not knowing we can actually go “overseas” so easily.

The parking spot at the start of the trail are actually quite limited as it is quite narrow, and that works to our advantage meaning there is not much hikers around the area. We met a couple of locals and hopefully it stays this way and hikers will keep the place clean and untouched unlike Wadi Abadilah which has become quite a dumping spot.

I would rate the trail easy except a few areas which you may need a push as it is climbing the rocks on the rocks next to a water source which can be quite slippery at times. Other than that, most of the trails are flat. I would say 40% of the trail is shaded from the morning sun which can be quite brutal in the summer months.

Highlight of the trail would be an abandoned car which we still can’t figure out how it ended there, some mini ponds which is good for a dip (ankle deep), and some trees, flowers and frogs. We also spotted a snake sleeping in a mini cave so be careful and not disturb them.

Overall, it was a good hike and probably we can re-visit them again when winter hits end of the year!

The cheapest covid PCR test in Dubai!

A standard Covid PCR in Dubai cost an average of AED 150. Some requires an appointment and some are walk in or even drive through.

It is spring break now and we are thinking of something crazy (probably the side effects of coping around for too long). We wanted to go somewhere out of the country and not just a staycation. Weather is getting warm in UAE and hiking is no longer a good option this holiday.

Of course we had to choose a country that does not require quarantine, otherwise our break will be sucked quarantine-ing somewhere. So we have shortlisted it down to Egpyt or Georgia. Steven has contact in Egypt and that makes planning easier with our last minute decision.

Many things has to be considered as there are many uncertainties. We checked the requirements for travelling int Egpyt and it is negative PCR test within 72 hours of entering with exception for kids below 6 years old. Returning to Dubai require PCR test as well for adults and kids below 12 years old are exempted.

We did not want to buy air tickets in advance in case we fail the pcr test as steven just gotten his vaccination shot less than a week ago so our plan is to get the test done and buy the air ticket later as this minimise our risk.

We found out that the cheapest test is done via SEHA, a National Screening Centre that has a few branch. The nearest one would be in City walk, which is around 30 mins drive away.

First we had to download the SEHA apps and register an account using our Emirates ID and phone number. Then we can book an appointment.

If you belong to any of these categories- you can get the test done free of charge once every 4 months: UAE Nationals, residents above 50 years old, and people suffering from chronic diseases. For the rest, it is AED 65 and you can pay after u make an appointment.

Appointment can be made via its apps or by calling their hotline 80050.

Once appointment is made, turn up on the day in your time slot and it is seamless. There is an area where you do registration using your emirates ID and then a staff will pop by your car window to do the swab.

Prepare a tissue as you would feel some discomfort after the swab.

Test results will be available within 24-48 hours, u will get a SMS notification and then results and printable copy is available on the apps.

Update (January 2022): The cost of PCR has dropped from AED 65 to AED 50!!

Educational Visit to Terra Sustainability Pavilion @Expo 2020

Terra pavilion at Expo 2020 are now open for public until Apr 10, 2021. The theme for this pavilion is sustainability. There are two main components – under the ocean and under the forests. Using hands on activities and interactive games, it highlights the importance of us taking care of the environment to sustain the earth we are living in now. Many of our daily activities harm the earth and there are many ideas on how we could do our part in reducing these harms even in our daily lives.

As the kids are learning about environmental issues in school now, this is a good addition for them to further enhance their understanding in their school UOI this term.

Did you know that 2700L of water is used to produce just ONE COTTON T-SHIRT!

Entrance fees are at AED 25 each, you get free entrance if you are less than 5 years old or more than 60 years old. Tickets are available online and you can choose your time slot. Gates open at 3pm on a weekday and 4pm on a weekend.

You can enter the expo area at any time but only able to access the pavilion area at your designated time slot. For example, if you book your time slot at 4pm, you can access the pavilion area between 4pm to 4.59pm.

Tickets available here:

https://www.expo2020dubai.com/en/pavilions-premiere

Once you enter the pavilion, there is no time limit. Take your time to explore and learn. There are two entrances – one is the under the ocean and another under the forest. It doesn’t matter which entrance u use to enter as it is link inside. Once you are inside, you can access both exhibition without the need to Q again.

There are security and thermal check at the main gate so do allocate extra time for that and make sure you are in time to enter before the end of your allocated time.

Water and snacks are allowed on the premises but if you did not bring any food, not to worry as there is a cafe at the end of the exhibition and also many food trucks available to grab a bite. As the weather cools down at night, it is nice sitting around enjoying the music and have some food.

Sandstorm experience first hand

It was the wrong weekend to go camping!

After couple of successful camping experience, we thought what could go wrong. So, while the weather is still not so warm, we decided to re-visit our first camp spot (a little gem we found back in December 2020) off Love Lake at Al Qudra.

We happily packed, and drove there but did not check the weather forecast. The only thing we checked was the temperature to decide what time we should reach so that it is not too warm but bright enough to set up tent.

We decided to reach by 4.30pm while gives us ample time to pitch out tent.

It was a little windy when we reach but we thought it will settle down but unfortunately it got worse and we are practically covered in sand from top to bottom.

Check out the crazy sandstorm, definitely not CAMPING today!

We have to decide fast as it was already 5pm then. After a quick discussion, we decided to head out to Expo 2020 lake area to see if there is any place we could camp. However, the area is also located in the desert and not spared by the sandstorm.

Fortunately we found an area which is surrounded by trees and that help to reduce lots of the sand. However it was not a good camping spot so we just had our steamboat dinner and hang out.

We are lucky to arrived just before sunset to catch this spectacular view!
Kids chilling and having ice tea
Steamboat dinner

Luckily, we pop our projector in our car just before we left home so kids had fun with outdoor cinema.

Outdoor cinema..

Joshua is having his birthday the following week so took the opportunity to celebrate for him as well. Happy 8th birthday Joshua, hope you stay healthy and have many blessings 🙂

Happy Birthday Joshie…

Although we did not camp, we ended up staying till 1am and reach home 2am in the morning, sticky and sandy!

Animal encounter @ Dubai Safari Park

A variety of animals greet us at the door to Explorer Village

The kids have been wanting to visit the safari park ever since it reopens in October 2020. We always pass by the humongous signboard at it’s entrance when we go to International City and the kids were always asking when are we bringing them. My initial plan was to visit over the December school holiday but unfortunately the combo ticket were sold out before I could get my hands on it.

The combo tickets includes an air-conditioned bus ride into the explorer village where one could have close encounter with animals such as lion, tiger, oryx, cheetah, zebra etc. The ride takes approximately 45 mins so do plan your day. There is a staff that will give some fun facts on the animals along the way which makes our trip more fun!

Jaclyn enjoying the bus ride, which brings us through the animal’s habitat, both on land and in river.Can you spot the crocodile?

Did you know that there is no female lion in the safari park? And the reason is not that the male lion looks nicer with their mane but rather because the male and female tends to fight when they are kept together. However, I don’t see this issues with other zoos though, they must have kept them until control somehow 🙂

A lion resting and enjoying the shade provided by the trees.
Kid’s fav in Explorer Village. The tiger is literally just next to them!

Also, I did not know that oryx actually changes colour according to season. They are white in winter and slowly turns darker shade of brown in summer. So, the oryx is now half white and half brown, interesting facts indeed.

The weather is a little too hot and humid on the day we visited so we did not enjoy fully but rather looking for shade and some cold drinks to cool down.

I have to say that their food and beverages in the park is very reasonably priced. We had fried rice at the Thai food truck and the price range is DHS 20-25 for the rice that comes in a pretty big portion.

Ice cream at the Thai store are sold between DHS 3-8 , hence we could not resist but had some for our dessert after and they are really good.

Do bring lots of water as the weather is turning warm and the park is pretty vast so definitely needs lots of hydration. However, if you ran out of water, a 500ml mineral water sets you back at DHS 2 and it is not exorbitant. Do bring some coins to purchase the mineral water.

Colourful entrance to kid’s farm

Kids enjoyed the kids farm as they can interact with the friendly parrots. Safe distancing is in place and they limit the amount of people and time inside the aviary.

Petting parrots is definitely the highlight for the kids at safari park!

My favourite part is the ride though the Arabian Desert in an open air tram, although it was not a long ride but I just love the feeling of looking out and seeing the deers and oryx roaming freely in their habitat. This tram ride is available to everyone and you can enjoy it without having to purchase the combo ticket.

Enjoying our tram ride through the Arabian Dessert unique to this region

The official website definitely can do more in their information section. I could not find any information on the animals show on their website or at the entrance. We only got the information by asking the staff.

Some info below on the animal shows for those who plan to visit:

  1. Bird show at 11am. Location: Explorer Village Theatre
  2. Animal show at 3pm. Location: Asian Village Theatre
The 11am bird show where you can spot hornbills, pelicans, parrots, ducks, etc

The zip line and huge playground that you can see as you drive in the park is not open at the moment. If anyone of you visit the park in the future, do let me know when the zip line is open as that would warrant another visit from us.

Overall, it was a good experience and definitely one of the nicer zoo in the UAE. It would help if there are more trees planted to give shade as the summer in UAE is pretty harsh. The overall design and architecture are great and gives a majestic look to the area. Definitely give them a visit if you have time, whether you are visiting or residing in Dubai. Children do learn a lot especially during the explorer village bus ride!

One of my fav shot this visit- inside the aviary at African Village

To purchase tickets, do visit their official website as it gives a cheaper price. If you purchase them from head out website, they charge additional service fees.

Dubai Safari Park tickets:

https://dubaisafari.ae

This map will come in handy when you are planning your trip:

https://dubaisafari.ae/DubaiSafariPark_Map_V2.pdf

Learn. Enjoy. Explore.

Short video of our safari trip!

Exploring Mleiha Archeological Centre and it’s surrounding

Today we are going back in history and see what Mleiha Archeological Centre has to offer. Located in the Emirates of Sharjah, an hour drive away from Dubai, it is a small museum that house the fossils found in the surrounding area. There are lots of information on the life of the region and great for those who loves history.

There is a small entry fee if you wish to visit the museum.

You could visit their website for most updated information of the entrance fees: https://www.discovermleiha.ae/activities-adventures/

Opening hours

For us who is not so into history, we actually preferred to walk around the area. We did visited their museum but was not impress, it was smaller than we expected but I must say the cafe there looks pretty good and has outdoor seatings as well. There are a couple of archaeological sites near the museum that I would say worth checking out.

We went to one of the sites called The Wadi Caves and enjoy the trail. It was not long but definitely have lots of caves and interesting rock formation.

One of my favourite shot during the trip was taken at The Wadi Caves.

Loving this shot taken at The Wadi Caves.

We spend some time exploring the trails at wadi caves and you can do an off track hiking if you are up to it. As it was near sunset, we left the place and head to over to a sand dunes nearby to play with the sands before it gets dark.

This is the coordinates for the sand dunes:

25°06’46.3″N 55°49’40.7″E
https://goo.gl/maps/xQ3iyPJyugF9DJsv5

It is accessible by sedan car but be very careful and do not go further in as the sands are more soft. Stop at where most people park and you should be fine.

In case your car get stuck and you are stranded, you could try getting help with this Rescue apps. Tried and tested!

https://apps.apple.com/ae/app/إنقاذ-اﻹمارات/id1455614366

We had lots of fun at the dunes, kids could not get tired from climbing the sand dunes and slide down. Works best if you have a sand boarding board. Otherwise just be creative and play!

There are many families setting up tables and have picnic or barbecue so that could be an option as well.

Manage to climb to the top of the sand dunes before the sun sets fully.

I would definitely recommend The Wadi Caves plus the sand dunes, great for a half day out in the open. For those who love history, then definitely go for the museum as well!

First hike in UAE @ Al Rabi

Excited to start our hike

Hiking is not something that we did much in the past and we definitely did not expect the kids to love it. We used to do a short hike in the past when we visited other countries such as Lake District in UK but the kids was not very excited and would always wanted to go back to our hotel/accommodation rather than doing a couple of hours of hiking.

We did our first proper hike in November 2020 with a couple of friends and their family. The weather is still warm in the daytime in November so we decided to leave Dubai early and head to Al Rabi in Khorfakkan which is an hour and a half away. We met up at McDonalds to grab some breakfast to eat on our way there.

To reach the parking spot for the hike, just search Al Rabi Hiking Trail or Al Rabi Tower on google map. When you reach there, park at the long term parking area which is below the Al Rabi tower. You might risk getting a fine if you park at the short term parking area and go for a full hike. Short term parking are reserved for those who wanted to visit Al Rabi Tower.

Long term parking area

The hardest part (IMHO) is actually climbing the steep slope to go up to the Al Rabi Tower from the long term parking area. It definitely takes up lots of our energy and strength.

The killer slope from long term car park to the Al Rabi Tower
Start of the trail , just next to the Al Rabi Tower

TIPS: There are no washroom available at Al Rabi Tower so do visit nearby petrol station before heading for the hike. There are also no stalls selling food so do bring your own food and water. I would recommend getting 1L of water per adult if you plan to do the full hike which is about 7.5km, around 3.5 hours hike with rest.

The trail is well marked with many good spot for photo taking. It overlooks the city and port so you get both city and sea view. The pros of this trail is that it is not a loop so you could hike until a point that you are comfortable with and then double back on the same trail. It is well marked so it is good for beginner and it is not easy to get lost in this well marked trail.

However, it gets quite crowded over the weekend as it is very easy to reach plus it has a great view and easy to moderate trail. Definitely worth a try if you wanted to try hiking for the first time.

Very nice view along the hike
Loving this shot of a lone tree amidst the scenic backdrop
Some shots along the hike
We made it to the top