Travel Diaries: Ait Ben Haddou and Atlas Studios, Ouarzazate, Morocco

Being total movie buffs, we already lost count how many films shot in Morocco we have watched, most specifically in Ouarzazate, tagged as Morocco's very own Hollywood or locally-coined Ouallywood. The favorable weather condition (it's sunny by default), cheaper production costs, and exotic location, have lured a long notable list of filmmakers from all over the world through the years. I actually thought it was a far-fetched dream and until now I still can't believe we managed to pull off a great holiday in such a beautiful and exotic country.


4 Reasons Why Couples Who Travel Are The Happiest

Here's the biggest secret: A third party was the very reason why our marriage has changed for the better. He's fun, demanding, and always gets me excited in more ways than one. He loves to plan things out, but he can also be the most spontaneous. He loves a good challenge and pushing people to their limits. Because of him, I've discovered so many things about myself and I have done a lot of firsts that I thought I could not do before.

5 Films That Will Inspire You to Travel

Let’s face it: we’d all travel 365 days a year if we could. However, even the most hardcore traveler takes the occasional day off every once in a while. Whether your feet have been stuck on the ground for too long and you’re looking for the motivation to get away, or you’re simply recuperating from your last big trip before gearing up for the next one, travel movies are a fantastic way to keep your wanderlust ignited while you're stuck at home. 


Travel Diaries: Bangkok, Thailand

As a pre-birthday treat for myself, I asked my husband if we could go on a quick trip to Thailand during UAE's long weekend last December. It didn't take much to convince him, and before I knew it, we were packing our luggages and rushing to finish work early in order to catch our late night flight to Bangkok.


A Paris-Inspired Reading List

Ramadan has always been a great ally when it comes to reaching my reading goals and this year is no different. When I'm not catching up with my favorite series or annoying the hell out of my husband, I am usually just curled up in a ball silently reading a book, which is quite nice to be honest. One look in my already-filled up bookshelf however, and it's become more obvious that space would really pose a huge problem for us if I don't stop acquiring more books. Yes, I've amassed quite a home library in our five-year stay here in Dubai, but this bookworm just couldn't bring herself to stop. And no, this isn't me complaining at all. :)


Travel Diaries: Macau

During our Hong Kong vacation, my husband and I also managed to go on a quick day trip to neighboring Macau. We purchased our return ferry tickets from TST Terminal in Kowloon and spent the entire day sight-seeing. To be honest, it would have been better if we stayed for atleast two days because my legs and lungs almost failed me rushing from one place to the next. In our goal to check everything off our itinerary, the day trip almost became an episode of Amazing Race. Haha! Exhausting, but fun nonetheless. Good thing I was wearing one of my trusty white sneakers. :)

A former Portuguese colony, Macau is actually one of the richest cities in the world, sandwiched in between Hong Kong and China. I was impressed with the overall vibe of the place: clean, safe, and modern, but still very loyal to their history and culture. Tourism and legalized gambling primarily fuel their economy, which is apparent in the number of American casinos established inside Macau. 
The immigration process was quick since we didn't need a visa to get to Macau. We then boarded one of Galaxy Resort's free shuttle buses lined up just outside Taipa Terminal. Believing in beginner's luck, we did try the slot machines inside Galaxy only to be disappointed big time (never again). To mend our broken hearts, we cooled down with some sweet crepe and drinks from Mazazu before hopping on another free shuttle bus which took us to Macau Tower Convention and Entertainment Center. Those free busses are truly heaven-sent and have made this trip a lot easier for us.

We spent a good two hours inside Macau Tower, a 338m high tower and one of the city's most iconic landmarks. My knees literally weakened walking on top of the see-through glass floor of the Observation Deck. I didn't realize before that an insane fear of heights could actually exist! Fortunately, we managed to tide through it and even posed for some silly photos armed with nervous smiles.
The view from the top of Macau Tower mirrors just how modern it is with all those skyscrapers.

Everyday do something that reminds you you're still alive
This beautiful quote I saw at the Adventure Deck of Macau Tower just resonated with me.

A cup of Mikado coffee and a slice of cake at the Singing Bean Express later, we went to our last stop which was Senado Square, a paved town square and UNESCO heritage surrounded by numerous European-style buildings and where a lot of events in Macau are being held. Sitting by the fountain is a visual treat and would give you a glimpse of the hustle and vibrancy of the place. To get there, we boarded a bus but this time a public one. Bus routes are very simple and easy to understand. Take note though that the driver will not return your change if you paid extra. Rates are fixed, but better to have exact change with you when riding public buses. Also, taxis can actually be crazily expensive in Macau.

Portugal's influence is still very much manifested in the charming city's infrastructures and traditions which I have to say, blended nicely with the Chinese culture. Just walking around and gazing at the old and nouveau felt amazingly beautiful.
Warm beef jerky and Macau's famous egg tarts! A trip to Macau without atleast sampling these won't be complete.

That would be me forcing a smile for a last photo with the facade of Saint Paul Ruins at the far back. Unfortunately, we had to rush and catch our ferry ride back to Hong Kong. We actually almost missed it, if not for the friendly cab driver who picked us up in front of Casino Lisboa and drove through all the shortcuts possible. He was kind enough though to stop for a few minutes right across Wynn Hotel so we could catch a glimpse of the dancing fountain. It was in no way comparable to Dubai's dancing fountain, but at that moment, it was just as refreshing and the exact breather we needed.

The limited time we had in Macau was really such a bummer. I would have wanted to atleast 'stop and smell the flowers' or maybe do a full on Geum Jan-di from that famous episode of Boys Over Flowers which was entirely shot in Macau. But I'm saving all of that for next time. We discovered and got immersed in a beautiful place new to both of us, met so many nice people along the way, and that's what matters.

Yes, maybe there were some things I would have done differently during this trip, but the adventure we had in Macau was insanely incredible. It's short but sweet, which is exactly how we wanted it to be.

What are your next vacation plans?

Best Moisturizers for Sensitive Skin

My perpetually dry and ultra sensitive skin is starting to feel the horror that this cruel Dubai summer brings. And I'm telling you, downing lots of water and staying indoors with the air-conditioner in full blast will help, but they are so not enough to save you and your skin from feeling victimized by the scorching weather. Fortunately, moisturizers have been invented to keep dry skin at bay. And although there were lots of hits and misses, it's amazing that I've finally discovered my dream team of hydrating creams that are perfect for my sensitive skin. Here's my trio of goodness.
Burt's Bees Sensitive Daily Moisturizing Cream is so gentle to the skin and it has been my go-to nourishing cream during the day when I don't have to go out of the house. I say this because it doesn't contain SPF. This moisturizer doesn't irritate my skin with its unique formula of cotton, rice extract and aloe. The good news? Fragrance-free and hypoallergenic. Going natural is always a good thing.

I alternate Burt's Bees with my Soap & Glory For Daily Youth 365 Moisture Lotion during the night. My skin has this disgustingly weird habit of breaking out like crazy whenever I use a certain product daily, so I need to switch it up every now and then in order to avoid zits. Sadly, I spent the latter part of last year suffering physically and emotionally from adult acne so no, I'm not going down that road again ever. I don't do mistakes twice.

To be honest, I only ended up taking home this product for its uberly cute pink box. (Pink with a touch of vintage? Just take my money, please. Haha!) Good thing S&G's For Daily Youth, didn't disappoint when it comes to soothing my stressed and dry skin. The cream is not sticky, instantly absorbed, and also apparently suitable to all skin types. The scent kinda bothered me at first (it has peach and juice extracts), but I eventually got used to it. Don't get me wrong though. This product doesn't smell bad at all. If you like mild citrusy scents, then this one's perfect for you. I just would have preferred if this is fragrance-free, but other than that, this cream works wonders to my skin.

Lastly, when I have no choice but to go out there in the sun, I protect my face with Benefit's Triple Performing Facial Emulsion. This product is oil-free, packed with SPF15, and comes in this clear glass bottle that has awesomeness written all over it. I've been using this for three months now after discovering it through my friend Kim's post on Instagram and my sensitive skin couldn't get any happier. This one's a real winner in my books. Even my husband is using this daily.

How about you? What's your favorite moisturizer?

Travel Diaries: Hong Kong

Who in their right minds would decide to celebrate one's thirty-first birthday in Disneyland? Well, always the kids-at-heart, that would be me and my husband of course! And guess what, we had such a blast that we want to do it all over again. 

His birthday perfectly coincided with Dubai's long weekend, so we grabbed our chance to get away. It was just the perfect excuse for him to have a break and enjoy acting like a kid again. We flew to Hong Kong via Thai Airways and after resting a bit in our chosen hotel Holiday Inn Mongkok, we spent our first night shopping in Mongkok, and dining in Jasmine Garden inside Langham Place for authentic Chinese cuisine where we ordered braised pork with cuttlefish in oyster sauce, and some kick-ass dimsums. We then boarded the train to Tsim Sha Tsui for Avenue of Stars to watch the city's Symphony of Lights at the Waterfront. The place was packed with tourists so taking a photo with Bruce Lee's star was a struggle, and it rained a little bit when we were there, but the moment couldn't be more perfect.
Our second day started super early by heading straight to Lantau Island for Ngong Ping Village where the famous Big Buddha is located. I must admit that public transportation in Hong Kong has got to be one of the best we have experienced so far. It's so fast, convenient, and makes everything so accessible. We also bought an Airport Express Travel Pass as soon as we landed in Hong Kong airport, which cost around HKD 350 and already valid for 3-days unlimited travel on buses, light rail and MTR including two rides on Airport Express. It was very handy and convenient.

Fortunately, the cable car going to Ngong Ping Village was no longer under maintenance when we went there so we managed to save our asses from a long and tiring bus ride to the top. My husband has a fear of heights, but he conquered it for us to enjoy the scenic view. It was one of the best ways to see the Tian Tan Buddha on different angles. :)

After cooling down for a quick lunch inside Lung Fai, a homey snack shop serving traditional deserts and food (we tried their famous bean curd and it was superb), we spent the remaining half of the day inside Hong Kong Disneyland, and I was grinning from ear to ear the whole time because as soon as we entered, the afternoon parade started. The exact same spot where I decided to stretch my legs to rest apparently was the best spot to watch the parade. Front row seat material! I think I cried a little bit when Cinderella and Belle waved hello at me. Never mind that we had to line up for almost one hour just to get a photo with Mickey and Minnie Mouse. It was worth it. Just being inside the "happiest place on earth" would really do that to you.
We gave in and just had to buy our matching Disneyland shirts, of course! :)
This beautiful father and daughter moment inside Disneyland which I captured on camera was just priceless.

After having dinner inside the Banquet Hall right across Cinderella's Carousel (that sounded like what you would read from a fairytale book. Haha!), we secured a great spot in front of the castle to watch the night parade of Disney characters and of course, to enjoy the fireworks display at nine in the evening until closing. I still mindlessly hum the upbeat and lively parade song in Chinese to this day!
I got to say that this long weekend trip to Hong Kong was probably one of the most meaningful vacations we've ever had. Yes, there were moments of frustrations since we didn't know our way around, but we learned so much and discovered a lot of firsts. We didn't have any friends there to show us around or take our photos to begin with, we opted not to hire a tour guide, and our itinerary was all over the place, but we managed to pull through and have a grand time. Thank God for handy maps, friendly strangers, trusty tripod, restless feet, and determined hearts.

A trip back to Hong Kong is in our immediate future plans. We're huge suckers for theme parks, and when it's coupled with great food, amazing shopping, and fun-filled unexpected moments, we are definitely in. Always. :)
Back to Top