Going to Abu Dhabi was my dream since two years ago. When I know I have family relatives there and I see through internet that Emirates is the country whose islamic and modern culture. In January or February 2015, I saw my friend’s post in Path. He said that he got the cheapest airline ticket price that he ever had. Can you guess how much I need to pay from Manila and Dubai for two ways? IDR 390.000. You can try convert in google to your currency. It was very non sense, yet it was true.

The time I knew that promo, I shared to my relatives. However from 9 people who bought the ticket just my sister, my cousin and I who used that ticket. Three of us talked much about this non-sense-cheap-ticket-price to many people. Most of them didn’t believe it. However, we still pleased to tell about our luck to everyone hahaha. That’s why many of our friends and family know that we will go to Emirates.

The first thing that we need to do while saving money and arranging itinerary was asking for visa permit. I had problem in this case. Caused we didn’t use emirates airline, we can’t ask for visa directly from embassy. According to VFS I can ask to travel agent in Emirates. However, regarding to my friend, it will be more costly because they will bundle the price with hotel room. I didn’t need hotel room because I have my relatives there who let me stay in their houses. I asked the travel agent in Jakarta, nearby my house. I got reference from my sister’s friend. However, the service was totally disappointing. I had paid and gave the materials that they need from 3 weeks ago. Nevertheless, when we headed to Soekarno Hatta Airport, we didn’t receive our Visa. A few minutes before arriving at airport, my sisters’ visa was completed, neither did I. I received my visa through email two days later when I was in philippine. You know the insecure feeling when you want to go to your dream country without visa in your hand.

Trip member

We headed to airport using GrabCar. It is cheaper than regular taxi. First flight is going to Manila airport, had breakfast (I just ate instant noodle considering halal food), then we flew to Puerto Princessa. Unfortunately, my backpack was checked in Manila airport. Therefore I needed to pay around IDR 300.000 for that luggage. Arrived at Puerto Princessa airport, my couchsurfing friend, Neil had been waiting for us there. We introduced ourselves then headed to Neil’s home.

He is Neil, our nice host

We put our luggages there. While we wanted to go out, rain was coming. Therefore, we waited for almost half hour and continued exploring Puerto Princessa. Neil suggested us to Baker’s Hill. We went there, captured some pictures and had a late lunch. We also discussed our changed plan. Initially, I arranged the itinerary that we will explore Puerto Princessa City until night then the next day we will go for Underground River. However, the fact, we just explore Puerto Princessa City for 4 hours then we went to bus station to go to El Nido.

More photos in Baker’s Hill 

We bought SIM Card there while we waited for the van. Neil helped us to explain to the driver where we will go and to bargain the price to the driver. Neil said, “just go with this driver, pay for 400 pesos, don’t pay more. he will drop you until the hotel”. We just nod in agreement following his advice. When we waited for the other passengers, we just overslept and suddenly the driver asked us to change the van. Without knowing the reason and we were still mid-conscious, we moved to other van. Then we were wondering, “is he the same driver with the previous one? does he know about our hotel? will we need to pay more with this new driver?”. This insecure feeling urged us to contact Neil, but we can’t do due to the signal.

In short, finally we arrived safely to our hotel after taking 6 hours road trip by van. I had conversation with the officer before sleeping and also printed my visa which finally had been sent by the travel agent. The next day, we woke up around 8 a.m and at 9 a.m we headed to the beach starting our island hoping.

I chose tour A as I remember and the price around 1000 pesos. We captured many beautiful scenery pictures without forget to take our picture. Ya the landscape is so good, better than phi phi island, Thailand I guess. The remembered thing is that I just ate banana as main course and sucked watermelon as my drink due to halal food. Because they cooked pork, chicken and sea food in the same pot, so I can’t eat even the sea food.

This is the lunch menu

But I just can eat this

More Photos in El Nido Tour 

With boat member

Back to the hotel around 5 p.m then we just have time one hour to wash our body because at 6 p.m the van will pick us up. We continued our trip to Puerto Princessa City (again). Because in the next day, we will flight to the Manila and Dubai. In van back to the city, I have new friends. He is Irish and his girlfriend is filipinos. He is very talkative and attractive person. I still remember the time when a guys in front of us threw out due to the shock in the car and he said “don’t hear the threw-out-sound, because it will encourage you to threw out too”, then when the guys threw out again with bigger sound, my Irish friend laughed whispery. I just can’t understand about his attitude. However he is just too funny.

Another unforgettable moment was that my leather jacket had been left in the hotel. I didn’t bring it to the van. Thank god, they gave me its name card when I was leaving the hotel. I called them and asked to ship to Manila. Unfortunately, she can’t ship directly to Manila. She just can transfer to Puerto Princessa. Therefore, I asked Neil to take my jacket from El Nido and send it to Manila. Neil did it. He was totally helpful.

We arrived at the city at 12 midnight. Initially the driver dropped us at the “bad hotel”. You know like the cheap hotel with full of whore. My two sisters didn’t feel comfortable with that condition. Consequently, we need to search the other hotels while bringing our quite-heavy-backpack. It was very hard to find the hotel. We spent around 30 minutes walking and finding the hotel. Finally, one tricycle driver guided us to recommended and cheap hotel around airport.

We slept for one night there. We woke up around 10 a.m, had breakfast then go to the airport. We just need one minute to go to airport from our hotel using hotel car, as one of the facility. We arrived at airport around 10 minutes before take flight time. We almost can’t fly because the boarding time already closed. But my cousin say pleeeeease wholeheartedly, then the officer let us check in. Finally we can fly to Manila.

At Manila Airport, we ate Pizza. I forget the name, but I still remember the taste. It was very delight pizza. Maybe, it was so delicious because we hard to find tasteful yet halal food in Philippine. We assume it was Halal, because it was bread, and we choose cheese and vegetables as the toppings. After 2 hours eating, we checked in to the Dubai. YEAAAAAY!!!! Finally!!!!!

We arrived at Dubai around 10 a.m. We thought that it’s just 5 hours flight, but actually it was 8 hours. We didn’t calculate time difference. In Dubai airport, I just amazed with the circumstances. That was like the first time going abroad. Because previously, I just visited South East Asia countries such as Thailand and Philippine. In Dubai, I see many different faces, different skin colors, different accent, and many more.

We headed to exit way while looking for my auntie. But we can’t reach her. The wifi signal in the airport, didn’t work. When we want to ask the stranger to call her auntie, fortunately there was cleaning service officer who asked me, “where are you from?”. When we answered “Indonesia”, she said “The woman using face cover was looking for you”. Waaaaw. Maybe she is our auntie. The officer pointed to the specific way. Finally we met our auntie. FYI, we never meet this auntie before.

She and her husband took us to their place using their car. I tried to enjoy the time in that night. Seeing the dubai road at the first time was so amazing. We arrived to the home around 1 a.m. When I amazed seeing this quite big house, my auntie said this house is given by the government. How lucky emirates residents. We slept in separate building. It supposed to be for the male guest. So, in Emirates, if there is male guest, he won’t enter the home. He will be serviced at that “male room”. Because if the male come in, there maybe the woman in home without cover. So, man can’t enter the home. Three of us slept in the “male room” using separate mattresses.

These are picture of our auntie’s home

This is exterior or “male room”

The interior of “male room”

The backyard

There are kurma trees

In the next day, my uncle go to our room and speak using arabic “blablabla”. I can’t understand at all. He can’t speak english. Afterward, the housemaid approached us and told us for having breakfast. She is from Majalengka, Indonesia. So, we can easily spoke Bahasa with her.

After having breakfast, another auntie came in. She asked us to go to her mother’s house. We called her mother “Umi Ce’e”. She is already 80 or 90 years old, but still energetic and she is very very very funny. We can’t stop laughing when we hear her story, advice, or whatever. We were being introduced with the family members and they treated us very well. I don’t know what to say, but the service was so wonderful. We had lunch there, we ate Nasi Uduk.

She is umi ce’e

Ami Noval

More photos

Hale Ferial

The mineral water packaging is small there haha

At 4 p.m, after my auntie back from her work, we explored Abu Dhabi. We went to Syeikh Zayeed Grand Mosque, Emirates Palace and Etihad Tower. Syeikh Zayeed Grand Mosque is super breathtaking. Honestly, this is the most beautiful mosque I’ve ever seen. Yes, I don’t go to Mecca and Medina yet. I love the weather, the exterior, interiour, the people there. Someday I want to spend my half day from Ashr to Isya in that mosque. Very peaceful.

We continued to Emirates Palace, the king’s place, the seven star hotel. It is very glamour and grande.  After going around the palace, we stood outside building, in front of Etihad Tower and absolutely took picture there. Etihad tower is the tower in Fast Furious 7 where the car breaking glass coming to the building in high elevation. Before back to home, we had dinner in the mall nearby my auntie’s home. Our auntie introduced her daughter to us.

We’re ready to tri until late night 😀

More photos in the mosque 

Photos in Emirates Palace 

Emirates Palace. Big and grande.

The next day, we spent our half day in our grandma’s house, Umi Ce’e. Had a lunch and headed to Dubai. Before we left, there’s also fun story.

So…… the first day, I told to my uncle that I want to meet Ami Majid (Ami means uncle in Arabic). I’ve meet Ami Majid twice in Jakarta. When he was in Jakarta, he went to my home. My uncle, Ami Noval ask “What the family name of Ami Majid?”. I don’t remember exactly. But, when I checked my phone, I saved his number “Ami Majid Abdat”. So, I answered “Abdat”. Ami Noval surely said, “No, maybe what you mean is Bawazier. He is Bawazier, his name is Saleh. Previously his name is Majid, but now his name was changed to Saleh”. I just confused seeing Ami Noval’s confident argument. I tried to ask my sister, but she’s also not sure. Ami Noval directly called someone using arabic. Then he said, “Okay tomorrow Saleh wants to see you. After breakfast come here again”. We just agreed what he said.

I was wondering, how it would be if the person who will come is not Ami Majid that I mean. My sister said “Impossible, if he didn’t know us, they won’t meet us”. Eventually, do you know who is the person? Yes, he is not Ami Majid whom I meant. I just don’t know who he is. My sisters came lately to the room and she whispered to me “did you kiss his forehead?”. I said “No”. She said, “You should, because based on family tree, he is our grandfather. He is our grandma’s brother from another mother, but same father. And FYI, in Emirates or (maybe) other arabic countries, we should kiss on the forehead to the respected person such us parents, grandparents, teacher, etc.

In the end of our conversation, suddenly he opened his wallet and give me some money. Without calculating the amount, I just put it to my pocket. I said thank you to him. When he already backed, I walked to bathroom and calculated the money after taking piss. I wondered that he gave me a few sheets of 100 dirhams. Nonetheless, it was 500 dirhams per one sheet. And he gave me 4 sheets. If I calculate to Rupiah, it was about Rp. IDR 8.000.000. Can you imagine getting that money from person whom you don’t know before? I shared the money to my sisters, my grandma in Jakarta and also my grandma’s siblings. FYI in Abu Dhabi, I didn’t pay anything. Totally free. It’s not only free, even I get income from them. Beside ‘Ami Majid’, Umi Ce’e, Ami Noval and Hale Ferial also gave us cash. I don’t what to say except thank you. Their treatment to us was very total.

Ami Saleh, who gave us much cash :’)

We moved to Dubai. We were dropped by our auntie and uncle in bus station. My uncle paid for the bus, even my other auntie already gave us money for taking bus. We headed to Dubai by van. Until Ibn Batuta, we took Metro Dubai to my friend’s apartment. It’s like MRT. We had dinner in Kebab shop nearby the apartment while waiting my friend. Because he texted that he will be at apartement at 9 p.m. We arrived at Kebab shop at 8 p.m

The apartment is Time Place Tower. It’s in Dubai Marina, nearby Palm Jumeirah. My friend is Franco Picollo. He is from Argentina. We never meet each other before, I just contacted him via couchsurfing. Though he was quite clumsy and introvert, he was nice. He gave us the room key and elevator card so that we can back to apartment whenever we want.

We just had two days in Dubai. We decided to take Dubai City Tour, because our time so limited. We can’t see many things in short time just by ourselves. I browsed through the internet and book the tour. However, I can’t do Dubai City Tour by that day, because it was already late. We can book for Desert Safari in afternoon and Dubai City Tour in the next morning. We started our exploration in Dubai from 8 a.m. We went to Emirates Mall first. We did Ski Dubai there. The price is 325 dirhams for one hour ski lessons and many unmentionable facilities. It was my first time experience with that cold weather and artificial snow. It was so freezing, but I was so excited. FYI, doing ski is not as easy as we see.

More photos in Ski Dubai 

From Ski Dubai, we continue to Desert Safari. We recharge the phone credit because we can’t call the travel agent (we were given one SIM card from my auntie in Abu Dhabi, therefore they can easily contact us). And do you know, I don’t know how much remaining credit in my card and how to recharge the credit, because it uses Arabic. I can’t understand.


We were picked up by Uncle Said. Actually he is travel agent officer. But we called him uncle because one of our uncle’s name is Said. He is very friendly and thoughtful. I don’t know how to describe desert safari. It was so amazing. It was my first experience seeing sand in huge amount in dry desert, just so exotic. We didn’t forget for taking picture.

In desert safari package, we got traditional arabic custom, camel riding, henna tattoo, dinner, belly dance, etc. All of them include in package beside alcohol and TRX riding. We got new friend there. His name is Daniel, he is from Portugal yet living in London currently. We really enjoyed the night. The circumstances literally seemed like in TV Series, sex and the city. Where we can enjoy arabic dinner in the middle of desert while seeing belly dance and another traditional arabic performance. Unforgettable.

More photos in Desert Safari 

After taking this picture, owl owner ask the money from us. Huh. Uncle said said it included in package

I’m a bit scary selfie with camel haha

He is Daniel

Back from desert safari, we went to Burj Khalifa. Finally we saw the famous and tallest building in the world. However, to be honest I didn’t really excited seeing the building. Yes, it’s tall. But, I don’t know, it’s not as breathtaking as syeikh zayeed grand mosque, the desert or ski dubai. We also enjoyed water fountain dancing performance at Burj Khalifa, next to Dubai Mall. We entered the mall, because we used Metro and the entrance is located in Dubai Mall. I also saw the biggest aquarium in Mall.

More photos around Burj Khalifa 

We backed to hotel, sleep and the next day we joined Dubai City Tour. We visited museum, atlantis, burj al arab, and many more. Yes, it just a few minutes for one destination, but at least we have seen the landmarks there. I really love dubai museum. The statue, the interior, were so “middle east” hahaha.

More photos in Dubai Museum 

After city tour, we had lunch in Deira City Center and bought gifts and souvenirs in the shop nearby Deira City Center. We backed to apartemen at 7 p.m. Repackage our luggage due to our gift which is quite much yet we didn’t bring any extra bag. Selfie is a must before we headed to airport. We took picture together with Franco and we also gave him Batik as our thanksgiving.

with Franco

Photos of Franco’s Apartment 
View from apartement’s balcony
Place where we slept

It was hard leaving Emirates. The days was just limited, we wanted to extend but we can’t due to the ticket, the initial plan, our annual leave, etc. We flew to Manila and….. the story in Manila begins.

I didn’t get nice first impression in Manila. Firstly, when I wanted to take taxi from airport to my friend’s house, he asked for 1100 pesos. My friend said, it should be just 200 pesos. It was expensive maybe because it is airport taxi. We walked for a few hundred meters to find the taxi. We got our 1st taxi. When we entered, the driver didn’t turn the meter on. He ask directly for 500 pesos. We didn’t agree, because it was still expensive. We changed to another taxi. In the next taxi, he turned the meter on, but in the middle of driving, the wheel stir didn’t work. Consequently, he can’t turn right or turn left. So we were dropped in the middle of the road and paid for 50 pesos. Eventually we found our last taxi. The driver turned the meter on and he was not as freak as the driver before, quite nice.

We arrived at my friend’s house at 2 p.m. However, James, my friend was not there. He was in barbershop. His younger brother, king, opened the door with warm treatment. And in James’s House there are many people from different countries; Malaysia, France, Netherland and German. I was really excited for having new friends 🙂

We had late lunch in street food. We just needed to walk about 15 minutes to find halal food. It wasn’t as hard as finding halal food in Puerto Princessa. In the night we had dinner together and actually we celebrated King’s early birthday. It was so nice for having small and intimate party with new friends.

In the midnight, some of them went to the party. James works as public relation in club there. However, I didn’t join because I was so tired and I just took “safe” decision. I slept in the 1st floor where the dog sat about 10 meters from me. I didn’t feel safe honestly. But I tried to appreciate them by trying to sleep though every 5 minutes I woke up to make sure the dog wasn’t coming to me. I’m not dog hater. But I just scary of it. I had trauma being bitten by dog. Around 3 a.m James woke me up and asked me to sleep at 2nd floor because he and other friends will continue the party there. Finally, I can sleep safely.

We woke up around 11 a.m. We spent the time until 4 p.m at James’s House. Initially, I had plan to meet my couchsurfing friend, Kacper. Nonetheless, due to the time and traffic, we can’t do that. We just had conversation in James house until we backed to airport. Anyway James is also my couchsurfing friend. We never met before.

The dog which makes me unsafe haha

Where I slept before moving to 2nd floor

I remember the moment when James asked me to try marijuana. I said “no”. He asked, “why? You also don’t drink alcohol right? I can’t imagine being a moslem, how will I do the party?”. One of my friend, Ben said “I have visited moslem countries, there are many good cultures and party. Arabic party is so amazing. But I know you can’t imagine that”. Ben is my christian friend from Netherland. Furthermore, when James guessed about our ages. He wrongly asked my age, he guessed I am over 30. I said “I am 24”. And he ask “how many girls did you already fuck?”. I awkwardly said “never”. He added “How come? I can’t imagine with your face and style you’re still virgin”. Oh my god, he is really asked awkward and private things in the public. Even though, I honestly never do that, but it was just awkward, wasn’t it? In other side, James is still our warm-welcoming and fun host for me.

Thank you James 😀

We also gave James and Christine (one of my friend in couchsurfing) as our closing. We continued our trip to airport. We spent more than 30 minutes to find the taxi. Because they ask for 500 pesos. Firstly I said for 200 pesos. But I added to 300 pesos because it just was hard to find the taxi. We spent almost 3 hours inside the taxi due to the worst traffic. I saw many people dropped from their taxi in the middle of fly over to catch their flight. Thank god we still have spare time.

Arrived at Soekarno Hatta airport, we enjoyed meatballs. We missed Indonesian food already. This our trip is really memorable for me. Due to non-sense-cheap-ticket-price, couchsurfing experience, warm treatment from my family in Abu Dhabi (We even get profit from this trip in Abu Dhabi. We didn’t spend any expense yet we got the cash from them) and beautiful scenery. I need this kind of traveling next year. I will post the edited video in different post. I wish I’ll get more amazing travel experience in the next year.

“Where The Land Inspires The World”

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