Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Khaleef @ Al-Khaleef, Abu Dhabi

spotted in al-ain, abu dhabi.

 

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your kingdom calls, khaleef. haha.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Spotted My Favorite Emirati Kuih ‘Luqaimat’ @ Al-Ain Mall

luqaimat.

owh those crispy deep-fried dough balls that I love so much. dribble a ladle-full of date syrup on top – heaven! I first fell in love when I tasted one in global village back in 2008, and since then never failed to buy a container full of delicious luqaimat everytime I’m in global village.

basically, macam cekodok diorang la kat arab emiriyah bersatu ni. hihi.

however, global village only opens a few months in a year, so for the rest of the year, I don’t know where I can get a good supply of my favorite luqaimat – until recently!

so happy we spotted ‘khosa bosah’ while taking a quick stop at al-ain mall, abu dhabi. that’s a LONG drive from home but at least when we’re around that area, we know where to get a nice plate of luqaimat.

 

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this is a small café on the side, inside al-ain mall – it’s not even a proper café will enclosure – just a counter, lots of décor and few tables set up. but I think it looks so wonderful! I LOVE the whole thing – the stripey arabian majlees table cloth, the ‘desert’ wallpaper, even a wind tower on top of the kiosk! (wind tower is one of the architectural elements of arabian homes back in the day)

 

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this is one side of the café – absolutely love the desert wallpaper, with the oil lamp hanging, and arabian teapot as décor.

 

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my boys are crazy about luqaimat too! they can gobble ‘em up in minutes!

 

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this was a really good plate of luqaimat – the perfectly round dough balls are freshly fried so it’s crispy on the outside and super soft on the inside. it’s served with date syrup on top, and a sprinkle of sesame seed. perfection.

 

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always accompanied by toothpicks to eat the luqaimat with.

 

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before – and after.

 

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anytime we’re in al-ain again, you’ll definitely see us there. gobbling up a plate of luqaimat. or maybe two.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Holiday @ Danat Al-Ain Resort With an Awesome Pool!

we stayed in danat al-ain resort when we enjoyed wadi adventure last few weeks. it was obviously an old hotel, judging by the elevator alone – with its old-fashioned number buttons that you see in old malls in ipoh! haha.

but old is gold at times, and we had a wonderful time at danat al-ain resort, abu dhabi.

 

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most importantly the boys were so excited to see the swimming pool – after the disastrous ‘splash pool’ experience at wadi adventure. they were so psyched to dive in!

there are 3 pools at danat al-ain hotel – an olympic-size pool, a cute kids’ pool with a slide, and another huge pool with differing depths throughout. I love the latter pool because even my younger kids can enjoy that huge pool because it’s not too deep. and it’s not too shallow for a full-grown man either – so all my boys could enjoy being in the same pool!

 

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the room is comfy, spacious and clean. overall an enjoyable experience for us!

 

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my boys having awesome pool time : kahfi in red floaties, kazim in blue float, and big bro khaleef in goggles.

 

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the kids’ pool is small, but this makes it easier for the lifeguards to keep tabs on the kids. it also has a roof over it which is so helpful once the sun goes up!

 

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goin up to use the slide

 

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my boys made friends with this adorable boy ibrahim who has a lebanese mom and jordanian dad. he hung out with my boys the whole time. he was SO cute and chatty!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Wicked Whitewater Rafting @ Wadi Adventure, Al-Ain

always wanted to try whitewater rafting. who, me? NAAH! I’m talking about mr. khairul the adventurous, outdoorsy half of syigim-khairul. haha. we headed on to ‘wadi adventure’ al-ain. it’s situated in the foothills of the majestic jabel hafeet in al ain, abu dhabi as you can see what surrounds the spacious waterpark.

wadi adventure has the world’s longest man-made whitewater channels; with 3 channels of different levels. awesome!

wadi adventure basically has 1) this big wave pool where you can surf, 2) a pretty nice wall climbing spot, 3) an ‘airpark’ where you can climb, balance on walking planks, do flying fox and stuff. there’s also a 4) mediocre, unimaginative ‘family pool’ and 5) a sad excuse for a kids’ pool called ‘splash pool’. I’ll explain more later.

‘wadi adventure’ is not really a water theme park as it doesn’t have any water rides and slides – but there are many activities you can indulge in – the most popular would be the whitewater rafting and kayaking.

 

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entrance fee + extra payment for activities!

and you have to know that the entrance fee of aed50 for adult and aed25 for kids give you access to ONLY the surf pool beach area (which is also closed to others if someone is surfing- according to the lifeguards), family and splash pool, and the low ropes course. the OTHER attractions that I mentioned above? you have to pay EXTRA.

for white water rafting, we pay an extra aed100 for 1.5 hours.

for khaleef to do his favorite wall-climbing – aed40 for 20 minutes!

there’s pros and cons to this arrangement : first, for someone who wants to do ALL the activities offered would have to pay much more; it would be better to include all activities in an appropriate one-time entrance fee.

however,

like for me who only accompany my boys at the pool, and to just take videos of mr. khairul on a raft shouldn’t need to pay so much than others who wanna do more activities. so in that sense, it’s good that I’m not paying for activities that I’m not gonna do anyway.

 

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the boys played at this little obstacle course run next to the ‘airpark’. it’s a decent one, but cammon – wadi adventure in ABU DHABI? I expected more. look at the kids obstacle course in ‘escape adventure’ teluk bahang in penang, malaysia and you’ll know what I mean by MORE.

 

airpark & zip lines

this is similar to what we did in penang a few years back. it’s basically walking while balancing of various items – planks, ropes, circular discs – while hanging by a zip line. it might be so adventurous and fun for a first-timer, but look at what my boys did in ‘escape adventure’ penang – and you’ll know that you ain’t seen nothing yet!

click here to read about this awesome place in teluk bahang penang!

 

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wall-climbing

khaleef tried his favorite wall-climbing. we had to pay an extra aed40 on top of khaleef’s entrance fee for him to do this. for 20 minutes. there was only one other guy waiting for his turn so there was practically no queue.

khaleef went up, and got strapped up in his safety harness.

 

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the dude in blue was the wall-climbing instructor. he motivated khaleef all the way; and I like that he addressed khaleef by name which personalized the experience.

 

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my khaleef all set to climb!

 

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pretty long way up, but khaleef was not hesitant at all to climb all the way! go khaleef go!

 

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whitewater rafting

boasting the world’s longest man-made whitewater rafting channels, mr. khairul was particularly excited to do this activity. it’s said in many sites that it’s important to make prior booking for this activity to avoid disappointment because it’s so popular (also kayaking) but funny thing was, there was hardly ANY crowd when we went eventhough it was a weekend.

it looks nothing like the waterparks that we’ve been to. NO crowd! just a few people here, and one family there, and another group scattered around. we were walk-ins and easily got a slot for whitewater rafting.

scroll through our pictures – do you see anyone walking around the park in our shots? it was like it was just us! haha.

(mr. khairul paid an extra aed100 for this 1.5-hour activity).

 

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there were 3 channels altogether with different levels. here is mr. khairul and his ‘raft-mates’ about to go on the first course – a mild, uneventful one just to get a feel of navigating through the channel. in each raft there would be 4 people, and 1 instructor sitting at the back.

 

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the boys tired from running and rolling on the kids obstacle course, watching their dad doing the whitewater rafting. you can see the ‘airpark’ at a distance. looks smaller and unattractive compared to the one in penang! click here to see.

 

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look at that view! what a fantastic sight of the foothills of jebel hafeet al-ain as they paddle away in that yellow raft. click the picture below for full view of the 1st and 2nd whitewater rafting channels.

 

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here is the final course to whitewater raft in wadi adventure – it’s the roughest among the three. it was funny (but looks dangerous!) when mr. khairul and his raft-mates were asked to ‘drown’ themselves neck-high in the surging waters and just let themselves float to the much calmer part of the channel. this was part of the training, to let them have a feel of swimming through the strong current.

 

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whitewater rafting has obvious risks when done in nature with sharp turns and hard rocks – so wadi adventure provides a safe, controlled environment where mr. khairul can still experience the exhilarating whitewater rafting with minimized risk!

mr. khairul enjoyed it so much and said THIS is what wadi adventure is all about (which basically translate to ‘this is one activity worth paying for!) in fact, amazing race has once made this course one of its challenges!

 

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splash pool

“where’s the kids’ pool?” I asked the lifeguards. no, this can’t be IT. but yes, this is IT. this was what I meant by ‘sad excuse for a kids’ pool’ at wadi adventure. calling it a pool would be an insult to awesome pools everywhere.

this is a puddle. you should call it ‘splash puddle’. my youngest kazim stood in the so-called ‘pool’, and it’s practically ankle-high!

my younger boys who can’t do wall-climbing like my eldest can ONLY enjoy THIS ‘pool’ when they come to wadi adventure so it was very sad to see that THIS was what they came all the way for.

cammon wadi adventure, give us our money’s worth and build a PROPER pool for the kids – with slides at least!

 

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in singapore, when we stayed at festive hotel in sentosa island, there was a ‘pool’ similar to this, only ankle-high but there were arches across the pool with water showering out, and big huge squirt guns around the splash pool so my boys had so much fun and not just ‘splashing around’. be creative lah wadi adventure! ni kat dubai marina pun ade! free!

 

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family pool

now THIS is what they call ‘family pool’ and I was very surprise to know that this was THE pool in the whole wadi adventure.

first, I was very disappointed that wadi adventure took no imagination AT ALL in building the pool. it’s just a boring rectangular-shaped pool with no design whatsoever. the pool in my current apartment has more imagination than this!

also, it’s quite small considering that it’s a FAMILY pool – assuming every single family visiting wadi adventure would want a dip in this pool.

also, it’s a FAMILY pool but it’s deep so my younger sons could not join their dad and elder brother in the pool. sure there’s complimentary floats but I would want a pool with differing depths so my sons can all swim safely.

 

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it was getting SO cold towards the end of the day!

 

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the surf pool behind the boys

 

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I suggest going to wadi adventure if you really wanna try the whitewater rafting because that was really awesome; especially navigating through the world’s longest man-made whitewater rafting channel.

kayaking is also a hot activity, and if you wanna surf in a safe environment, this is a place to be too. but if you’re a family with young kids? you had better spend your dirham at yas island waterpark ‘yas waterworld’ for a more money-worth time. they have the most fantabulous kids’ pool!

(click here for our time at yas waterworld, abu dhabi)

that said, wadi adventure is truly an oasis in the desert; beautiful place to raft and surf!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Movie Review : U Want Me 2 Kill Him?, Fruitvale Station, The Railway Man & Blood Ties

I’m reviewing movies based on true stories – deceit and trust; hate, love, wrongfulness and forgiveness; death and living life. represented on silver screen.

‘uwantme2killhim?’ a true story about how a harmless cyber chat can turn ugly; ‘fruitvale station’ tells the true story of the merciless shooting of a black youth by a white cop captured in camera phone; ‘the railway man’ is a true account of a former brit soldier and the tortures he endured by the japanese circa 1940-s. finally ‘blood ties’ a movie which basically reminds me of the countless plot of hindustan movies.

 

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an intriguing true story of how a harmless cyber chat can result into unexpected consequences; even deadly one. a well-made movie, helmed by the two young actors who dominate the storyline.

plus they are both SO adorable!

plot : 16 year old mark; cute, popular, happy family – starts chatting with a random girl named rachel and found out she’s in some mysterious witness protection program with her abusive boyfriend. she asks him to take care of her lil bro john, an outcast in his school. and so begins a friendship between the two – which gets more complicated as the truth comes out…

jamie blackley as mark is so adorable I can’t believe I haven’t seen him in any other movie. if I were a teenage girl, I’d have his poster on my wall! haha. he’s like a very young ‘man of steel’s henry cavill. he’s charismatic in this one; very believable in all the emotions he has shown. I hope for bigger break for this young lad!

the story of ‘u want me 2 kill him?’ seems outrageously unbelievable to be a true story, but it’s more common than we care to admit. watch it and you’ll understand. a shocking ending to a well-told true story.

 

 

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we know how the movie is gonna end. the hero dies. the story is about the brief life of oscar grant, a young african-american; redeeming himself from his crimes, starting new, loving father, playful son – he’s the hero we wanna root for, despite his troubled past.

the movie made us like him a lot, with that touching scene with saving the dog and his lovely relationship with his mom – and then slapped us with the truth we all know – that he died in vain. shot (allegedly accidental) by a white cop in the middle of a busy metro station, on new year’s eve.

writer-director ryan coogler and michael b. jordan who played oscar grant are both in their 20-s and as african-american youths themselves, always feel like oscar grant could’ve been them; it could’ve easily happen to them. the whole cast presented a very natural kind of acting; almost like watching an interesting documentary or a reality tv show. wonderful assemble of cast, especially octavia spencer as the mother.

but of course, michael b. jordan steals the show; a brilliant performance that made us care for the character so much that the final scene became very painful to watch.

no matter how dark your past is, no one – NO ONE deserves to die the way he did.

 

 

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colin firth as ‘eric lomax’ and nicole kidman are both academy-award winners, so there’s no doubt of their acting ability. so I would just like to move your attention to jeremy irvine, the actor who played young eric. he captured the mannerism and speech of colin firth down to his footsteps and the way he stands. incredible!

an interestingly enough, it was colin firth himself who suggested that jeremy irvine played him as a young man!

based on an autobiography of eric lomax (the main character in the movie) a british army officer who experienced extreme torture by the japanese soldiers at a POW camp during the construction of thai-burma railway during WW2 just for building a radio. it was so traumatizing that he was still haunted by it till the present day.

colin firth is believable as the soldier with psychological trauma – the fear, the hate – all encompassed in his expressions and voice. a true great actor.

what if you were brit soldier eric lomax, and years after, found out that the japanese soldier who tortured you is still alive? would you confront him? will revenge be first in your mind? and what would be the response of that japanese soldier? unchanged? remorse? indifference?

I dislike war movies, for obvious reasons, but this is a must-see for fans of colin firth. “sometimes, the hate has to stop.” ~eric lomax.

 

 

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oh, this is one movie from my list today that is NOT based on true story. it’s practically citer hindustan actually. brothers. one a cop, one an ex-con. the rest, is pretty predictable.

of course the brother has a troubled past; drug-abusing wife and kids he left for prison. of course cop-brother’s work is compromised when his criminal bro gets out of prison. and of course they have a sweet dad who’s dying of something. and don’t forget to throw in a love interest with an abusive husband to make it more dramatic!

dah kata dah, hindustan!

but I won’t say that the movie is bad. it’s okay. and I’m giving it more stars than it deserves simply because of the A-list cast – billy crudup as the cop-bro, macho clive owen as the ex-con-bro and zoey zaldana as the cop’s ‘colored’ girlfriend.

watch it if you’re into this sort of family drama. for me, the actors make it worth the watch. and the ending is not bad too. really wraps up the whole drama; but at that point I dont even care if anyone is supposed to get what they deserve.

 

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