So this is Christmas

Ever since moving here in the desert three years ago, the month of December has always been a huge struggle for me to get pass through. Sharp pangs of homesickness always hit me hardest during December not only because it is the month when Christmas season is in full swing (the happiest month in the country where I grew up) but it also happens to be my birthday month. So just the mere thought of closest friends and family greeting me "happy birthday" were enough to break me into tears.

Fortunately, something has changed this year...

It's my third Christmas here in Dubai and even though it's never (will never ever be) the same as celebrating Christmas with my family back home, I'd like to believe I've finally gotten better at dealing with this tough season. I don't know. Maybe my perspective has changed this year or maybe this is just me finally growing up.

I've become more accepting of life's realities no matter how harsh. I've started facing the results of my decision to move here with a braver front. There's still the incessant whining and rants of course. I guess that part will never go away. But at the end of the day, I deal with it and I move forward.

So yes, I am still sad but I am happy. I know that last part sounded weird but that's just the best way to put it. More than the nice gifts I received under the Christmas tree a few days ago, I really have a lot to be thankful for this year and a lot of good things and blessings to look forward to in the coming new year. I'm beyond excited! :)

I hope all of you had a very merry Christmas! I wish you are all feeling happy, loved and blessed this festive season wherever you are in the world. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!


Travel Diaries: Tbilisi, Georgia and beyond

Happy weekend! It was my birthday last Thursday. Took the day off and flew to Tbilisi, Georgia early in the morning and I really couldn't imagine a better way to celebrate. After checking in at Courtyard by Marriott, we decided to tour outside the city first and experience snow (because you know, being perpetually sun-kissed Dubai residents, we just gotta dive into snow first).
We went to Jinvali, Ananuri, Gudauri and even braved the extremely cold weather by hiking all the way up Kazbegi Mountain to see Gergeti Trinity (a 14th-century church situated at an elevation of 2170 meters) up close. If full blown hiking is not really up your alley, you can actually rent a truck instead driven by locals. The rough road up was scary and it still required a short hike to go all the way up to Gergeti, but I'm telling you, the stunning view from the top is definitely worth the climb. Will do it again in a heartbeat for sure.
After a scrumptious late lunch in Restaurant Gagieti (where we ate Georgian-style barbecue, fried chicken and their must-try dumplings which they call Khinkali) somewhere in Gudauri, Armen (our friendly Armenian guide) drove us back to a snow-filled Tbilisi night. It felt like a scene straight out of a romantic movie. We explored all around the old city's streets on foot, looked inside a lot of stores, discovered a Christmas-lit park next to a whimsy Georgian cafe, danced under the snowfall, and took a million photos exactly like how silly tourists would.

Rustaveli Avenue was a stone's throw away from our hotel so it was easy to roam around. It's a good thing that Courtyard is located at the heart of Tbilisi and everything is just a few steps away. Of course, their famous winemaking method being tagged by UNESCO as an intangible heritage should be enough reason for us not to miss their wine. We've even tried some of the scrumptious wine-infused dishes being served at Cafe Restaurant Kala along the charming street of Erekle II.

We went to Peace Bridge, the famous old baths area, and met a lot of wonderful strangers who were very willing to take our photos for us. It was a fun experience. :)
Magical is not enough to describe the past three days. I've never visited that many churches in one day! With the help of our new-found friend Marine, I managed to finally conquer my fear of heights and stairs by trying every snowy stair of Tbilisi hills (first stop was Mama Daviti Church on top of the Holy mountain no less) and even trying out the cable car ride to get to Narikala Fortress and enjoy a perfect view of Mother of Georgia. It's just perfect beyond words. My only regret was not wearing proper boots. Snow can be dangerously slippery!

To be honest I feel extremely blessed to be at this point in my life right now. Really can't think of a birthday wish anymore, because I only have gratitude inside me. THANK YOU.

I've posted more photos of our trip to Georgia in this post.


Around these parts

I've been meaning to get back into the habit of regular blogging, but my lazy bones are always getting the best of me. Yes, I'm finally feeling a bit more settled at my new job now, which is a good thing. :)

This cruel summer season is almost officially over here in the desert and I'm just really glad that I'll finally be able to do the happy dance outdoors without a sweat (best thing ever!) in a few weeks or so. I'm currently reading Revenge Wears Prada and The Inferno and I'm aiming to finish them before the cool weather kicks in since we've got tons planned with friends and family. Our usual night jogging at the park will be back in full swing. Winter will always be my favorite season.

I'm flying to Oman for the first time tomorrow morning and looking forward to our movie date with the minions this weekend. Life is good! :)


Dubai Snapshots: Burj Al Arab's New Year's Eve Fireworks

As I was going through my camera's spare memory card the other day, I discovered that there were still tons of photos from our New Year's eve celebration with friends that I haven't posted yet. So please bear with me a moment. I know we're almost halfway through March and sharing these photos is such an abomination, but for posterity's sake, I just gotta post these of photos I took of Burj Al Arab's firework display. We watched it from our friend's rooftop and the view was beyond amazing! Such a happy memory for me.

We were also able to see a bit of Atlantis' and Burj Khalifa's fireworks displays from the rooftop, but all my photos didn't come out as nice as these ones since they're quite far. :(

I know it's way too late for me to say this, but still HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope 2013 is proving to be a rockin' year for all you guys. :)

Have a great week!

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Dubai Snapshots: Dubai Miracle Garden

We finally took the time to visit this year's Dubai Miracle Garden with some of our friends last week. Such an impressive showcase. Just imagine 45 million natural flowers designed and arranged in different shapes and sizes possible. There were flowers shaped like huge pyramids, big balls, cake towers, hearts, stars, cars, etc. There's even a flower bed designed like the United Arab Emirates flag. I'm telling you, the creativity in this flower festival is so way up and what makes everything even more amazing is the fact that this garden is located right in the middle of the desert! That's no easy feat, you guys!

Was smiling the whole time I was inside the garden and I must have taken over 500 hundred photos during the whole two hours we spent walking around. My camera almost died on me. There's just so much pretty everywhere and I felt really happy because you don't see things like this on a regular basis here in Dubai. It's a refreshing sight. :)

Now I know how Mary Lennox probably felt like in The Secret Garden. Only Dubai Miracle Garden is no secret. Since we came on a weekend, there were like a hundred other people roaming around that day discovering it for the first time as well. It's so incredibly busy that taking decent uninterrupted photos became a total struggle. But I think I still managed to get a few pretty ones though (I hope). :p

Flowers overload? I know my crappy photography skills don't do them justice because I promise you, they're more beautiful in person, so I guess I'd just let this video show what the experience's all about instead. I already dread the day when summer starts to kick in here in our part of the world and all of this prettiness starts to wilt. My heart is breaking just thinking about it. So come visit if ever you're anywhere near Dubai! Take my word for it. This one's a must see!

Hope all of you are having a great day! :)


Favorite little corner: My Home Office

After rearranging some furniture inside my bedroom, I was able to clear one corner right beside where my bed is. It's a very small space, but enough to fit one tiny desk and a chair. And since I didn't have a work station or extended office at home, I figured this would be the perfect little corner to finally set up one for myself.

I've documented my futile attempt to stay organized in a previous blog post. As usual that amazing plan was embarrassingly short-lived. Staying organized and keeping it clutter-free weren't an issue during my first few weeks in the apartment since I didn't have that much stuff yet. See below how neat and pretty it used to look like back in the days:

After a while of settling in, that's when things became quite problematic for little miss hoarder. The dressing table acting as both work and make-up corner just didn't work out for me. But thankfully, that's all water under the bridge now. Here's my new creative corner, which is kinda reminiscent of my study corner back in my college dorm:

My man was kind enough to help me assemble a small white desk I got from Ikea. I hung a mini whiteboard where I can write important reminders, put pretty photos or whatever, transferred all important documents (contracts, files, utility bills etc.) from my dressing table and even managed to put up some photos of my family on the wall for added inspiration. All those cute little trinkets from Jessy's sweet package which I got in the mail the other day were instantly put to good use for this. So thanks, Jessy! Meet my younger sister, cute niece and nephews, and of course the boyfriend - some of my most favorite people on earth ever:

I have neatly clipped together some of my favorite greeting cards I got from them as well so I can easily whip them out to read whenever I'm having a bad day. Homesickness is still a daily struggle for an expat like me so those sweet cards really come in handy a lot of times. They never fail to make me smile.

The space is still a work in progress but it's already serving its purpose, so I'm happy. Looks kinda messy but atleast everything has their own proper place now. I'm currently on the look out for additional prints and framed arts to hang for inspiration. Finally have one sole space where I can allow myself to be (creatively?) messy. I regularly work on a lot of writing and small design side projects at home during the weekend and since setting up this space, I've found myself a little bit more productive and organized now which is always a welcome change.

Do you also have a home office? What it's like? :)

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Memories: Panglao Bohol

This windy cold weather here in Dubai has been making me miss the beach like crazy a lot lately. I wanna go back to Panglao, act like a mermaid all over again, and feel like the waves and the shores are innately a part of me.

There shall be eternal summer in a grateful heart. - Celia Thaxter

It would feel so nice to just simply escape and forget about everything else. I don't know. I think I am just in dire need of a breather or something because obviously, I've really bitten more than what I can chew this time around. Argh. Just please take me to my beach! :(

Do you miss anything?

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I've got mail!

Hello everyone! How's this week treating you so far? I have to say that mine started extra awesome because of a wonderful surprise I got in the mail. I've always been very vocal of how huge of a fan I am when it comes to snail mails, so just imagine my excitement when I received this sweet little loot all the way from the Netherlands this morning at work:

My new friend Jessy from the blog Little Fashiolista really made my day with this one. It was such a lovely surprise and I really couldn't ask for a better way to start my day. I love you already, Jessy! You are one of the many reasons why I enjoy blogging so much. This community is brimming with lots and lots of wonderful and inspiring people like you and I feel so lucky that I got to know you. :)

Jessy also wrote about the mails she sent out in one of her blog posts. I didn't understand a single word because I don't speak Dutch, but judging from the photos she included along with the post, I think it's about that or something. Hehe. Such a sweetie. Now I feel kinda lame that I only managed to send her a Dubai postcard. Doesn't measure up for sure! Gotta make up to her one of these days once my workload in the office eases up.

Thank you so much again, Jessy! Keep rockin' and keep spreading your positivity all over the world. You're amazing! :)

P.S. If anyone's interested to swap postcards or something, just get in touch with me. I'd be more than glad to send you some special greetings from Dubai.

Enjoy the rest of the week you guys! :)

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