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January 31, 2008

My 2008 Goals

I've never written my goals before whether in paper or on-line. I just keep a mental note of the things I want to achieve (mostly major goals and long-term) and let things happen in their own time. I am proud to say that I was able to achieve most of those goals. But they say, writing down goals is more effective. Just like a written agreement, written goals are more binding. Since I want to be more agressive, starting this year, I am going to write my goals and review my progress regularly. Following the S-M-A-R-T philosophy, here are my bloggable goals for 2008.

S-pecific;
M-easurable;
A-ttainable/Achievable;
R-elevant/ Realistic; and
T-ime-bounded.


Personal


  • Have a baby.


  • Lose 20 pounds by end of the year. I guess it's self-explanatory.


  • Read at least one book per month. Since I got hook into blogging and blog-hopping, I haven't been reading books anymore. I miss reading books. This year, I want to read different kinds of books including fiction, biography, inspirational, personal finance and management.


  • Do atleast one different activity per month. I've been here or four years already but I haven't been around the Qatar much. My activities are limited to malling, watching movies/play or eating out. This year, I want to spice-up my life a little and do something different like camping, picnic or going to the beach. You read it guys, I haven't been to a beach here! Discovering new restaurants also belong to this goal.

Personal Goals at Work



  • Complete at least one on-line training per week. Our company has many on-line trainings available through Learning Mangement System or LMS. Some of these trainings are really good and only takes 30 mins to 1 hour to complete. I guess one training per week isn't to much to do.

  • Complete the Project Management Curriculum. As I do atleast one training per week, I want to complete the Project Management Curriculum.

Personal Finance



  • Achieve my planned savings of _________ for 2008. Sorry guys, the amount is non-bloggable. heheheheheh. I intend to keep part of this amount in a high-yield savings account. Then a good portion of this is alloted for a family trip to Hong Kong in 2009.


  • Open a high-yield savings account in Qatar by 2nd Quarter.


  • Start a financial investment in Qatar by 3nd Quarter. Since Dollar is depreciating, Peso is getting stronger each day and Riyal is still peg to the Dollar, I want to keep my savings and investments in Riyals. At least if Riyals decided to un-peg from the green buck, I can convert it to more Dollars. Besides, Qatar's economy is growing exponentially so investing locally is a more logical path forward.


  • Pay my creditcard in full every billing cycle. I don't want to pay a single dirham in finance charges. Doing this will keep my finances healthy.

  • Repainting of my old car by 3nd quarter. I included this in my financial goals because this can cost a lot of money.

Travel



  • Travel to atleast one international destination by end of the year.


I will review my progress quarterly to see if I am on-track! How about you, do you also write your goals?

Revisiting 2007

This post is late but hey, Chinese New Year isn't over yet. I just wanted to write how grateful I am for all the blessings we received not only in 2007 but also in the past years. 2007 had been particularly a very good year for us and it's so good that whatever not so good times we experienced can be considered insignificant already. The only thing missing is a Baby, which we hope will come soon. Looking back, here are some of things that made year 2007 special.


  • My husband's second promotion in 2006 was made official in January 1st of 2007. What a great year to start isn't it?

  • We won a holiday package for two to Dubai during the family day celebration in my husband's company. But since we've been to Dubai twice already, we went to Oman instead. I am yet to write my posts about Oman but pictures are here. Oman was awesome!

  • I've got an incentive from my work. It was unexpected but something I was hoping for.

  • My boss approved my request to attend a symposium in Austin, Texas. For the first time, my husband and I had the chance to visit the land of milk and honey. We extended our trip for a few days and visited my best friend in New York. The photos are here.

  • We had a month-long vacation in the Philipines and spent a great time with our loved-ones. During our vacation, I underwent a Lasik-Eye Surgery at Asian Eye Institute, which is quite a milestone in my life. For the first time in my life I can see without the aid of eye glasses. We also bought a property and started a financial investment.

  • Walter's grandma celebrated her 80th birthday. Walter went home (2nd trip for this year) for a few days to attend the party.

  • My paternal grandfather was hospitalized but we’re thankful that it wasn’t a serious illness and he was able to get out of the hospital in time for Christmas.

  • Walter and I enjoyed a year long of good health.

As I've said it's really been a great year. I am hoping a better year ahead! How about you? What made your 2007 memorable?

January 26, 2008

Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo Now Showing in Doha City Center

Last Friday, we watched Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo from Doha City Center Cinema. The movie is a sequel of Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo and an official entry to the 2007 Metro Manila Film Festival held in December 2007. It stars real life sweethearts Judy Ann Santos and Ryan Agoncillo. This movie is simply hilarious! We had so much fun watching it. If you want a feel good movie and a good laugh, Sakal, Sakali, Saklolo will not fail you.

Some parts of the movie was shot in Barcelona, Spain, one of my dream destinations. Click here for the movie's Offical website and watch the trailer to have a preview.

Doha Scam

Qatar is a relatively safe country with very low crime rate that is why my husband, Walter was really surprised with the unusual incident he experienced a few days ago. I am posting this to warn the residents who might find themselves in the same situation. Walter also posted this in Qatar Living and we found out that a number of Qatar residents were also victimized with the same modus operandi.

Last Thursday, while approaching the area where we live, my husband saw a car who seemed to be lost and doesn't know which direction to go. My husband flashed his lights to get the driver's attention because his car is blocking my husband's way. While my husband is parking his car, the other car tried to park behind his car. My husband already sensed something so he stayed in his car for about five (5) minutes waiting for the other car to leave. Then the other car started honking and the driver called my husband. Thinking he might have offended the man when he flashed his lights, my husband stepped out of the car and approached the man. Then the drama begins.

The man claimed that he came from Saudi by car. Unfortunately, his car broke down and used his money to fix his car. He desperately wants to go back to Saudi (Riyadh) but he didn't have enough money for petrol and food. Right at that moment, my husband knew it was some kind of modus operandi. The man continued that he wants to borrow money from him and let Allah reward him in return. My husband knows there's something fishy going on but he wanted the man to leave so he gave him QR100. But the man was unhappy with the QR100 and said he needs around QR500. My husband at this point offered to accompany the man to the police station to seek help. The man said the police cannot help him and started to cry. My husband was moved because for the first time an Arab man cried in front him. Walter even invited the guy for dinner and offered some food. The man was pleading but my husband didn't give in. Eventually, the man thank him and left. My husband didn't even bother to look anymore if indeed the car has a Saudi plate. He also did not regret giving the man QR 100, thinking the man probably needs it badly.

I am sharing this to warn Qatar residents of the above scheme. I encourage you to be more vigilant of the people around you and be very careful always. You could be the next victim and it could be worse.

The Super Maid and Super Friends

I found this video from Kontsengkuba, showing the sad plight of our domestic helpers. The video is hilarious but it is also heart-breaking...




available in flash animation brought to you by fractalcow.com , tromaville and kakarabaw productions.
written and performed by rex navarrete, animated and adapted by dino ignacio

January 19, 2008

Doha is out of LPG, can you believe that?

Update as of January 21, 2008 evening: Finally, the LPG cylinder was delivered to our house today at 7 pm. Whew! I also read from the paper this morning that there is also shortage of flour and fresh chicken. It so happen I stopped-by the supermarket on my way home to buy milk. Because I'm so curious with what's written in the paper, I check the flour shelves and the fresh chicken area. Yes! there's no all purpose flour particularly Flour no. 1 and The chicken is already sold-out. It's good I still have flour enough for several cakes/cookies/brownies recipes in my kitchen and I still have chicken in the freezer. This is not good. The Qatar government has to do something about it. :(

* * * *

Update as of January 20, 2008: There is still no gas. Whahhhhh!!!!!!!! If anyone knows where we can buy, please let us know!

* * * *
We were in Villagio Mall yesterday night and we were supposed to try the mongolian grill. Unfortunately, the mall ran out of gas supply. Since the gas supply is centralized, all food stalls are affected. It's UNBELIEVABLE! When we got home, we found out that we also ran out of LPG. I don't know why but we always run out of gas on Friday when shops are closed especially in the morning. According to my brother, they've been calling the LPG retailer but no one is picking-up the phone. My husband continued to call until he gave up and called it a night. The following day, we were able to contact the retailer and they promised to deliver LPG. We waited the whole day but nobody showed-up. My husband decided to go to the LPG retailer to follow-up personally but he was told that LPG is out of stock throughout Doha. I have no means to confirm if indeed there was LPG shortage, but if it is true, it's very disturbing! First the eggs and now LPG then what's next?

January 18, 2008

The Ultimate Pinoy Rock Concert: PINOY ROCKS

We missed the Rakrakan concert in Qatar last October 2007 and we skipped the Rakrakan Overload in Dubai last December 2007 in favor of a trip to Amazing Oman, which turned out to be a great escape. I guess things happen for a reason. Now, a bigger concert will be held in Doha featuring Parokya ni Edgar, Pupil (Ely Buendia), Kamikazee, Francis Magalona and Gloc 9.


Date: 29 February 2008
Venue: Aladdin Kingdom
Time: 7 pm onwards
Ticket Price: QR 100
FREE Shuttle Service


Ticket Outlets:
All Pizza Inn outlets
Infinity Events Group: 4369493, 4369228, 4369249
Ms. Cristina: Mob 6904730
Mr. Froiland: 5798304
Mr. Bong Mob 6573885
Coriner Cargo: 4418196
Conor Cargo: 4411872
Puerto Galera Restaurant: 4354217
La Rochelle Restaurant: 4435073
PSD-PTA Ms. Mona: 5389190
Hyatt Plaza Food Court: 4697665, 4582362
Abu Hamour petrol Station: 4692842, 4692831
Al Kharatiyat: 4783357, 4783019
West Bay Petrol Station: 4835293
New Rayyan: 4817576, 4817178
Al Meera Mansoura: 4413596, 4310358


Mark your calendars and see you there!!!

January 15, 2008

Krispy Kreme is Opening in Doha Soon!...



Last Update: 17 January 2007

Yes, you read it right, Krispy Kreme is here! While stuck in the traffic this morning, I saw a poster announcing Krispy Kreme's opening on February 1, 2008, 5 pm at Villagio Mall. I know that many Pinoys love Krispy Kreme. I like doughnuts but I am not huge fan of any brand. Still, it's good to know that there will be other doughnuts available in Doha aside from Dunkin'. I was wondering though, how much would Krispy Kreme cost here. Back in the Philippines, I remember the average cost is P40-P50/piece during our vacation in July 2007 ($1=P40.15 as of today), which is much more expensive than Go Nuts Donuts and Dunkin'. The last time I bought Dunkin' here in Doha, it was about QR 2/piece and I heard the price has increased recently. Well, everything is more expensive now due to rising inflation. Let's just wait and see if Krispy Kreme will also be a hit here and if it is reasonably priced!

January 12, 2008

Our Visit to the 2008 Trade Fair in Doha

We visited the heavily publicized International Trade Fair 2008 in Doha and honestly, it's quite disappointing.


First, parking was horrible. Any event expecting thousands of guest should consider sufficient parking space. I wonder why a huge international exhibition center has a very limited paved parking space. Oh I forgot, having lived here for almost four years, I shouldn't wonder anymore! But I can't help it. I don't mind walking a few meters from and to the parking lot - unfortunately, it rained last night and the unpaved area turned muddy. Just imagine what we had to go through just to get back to our car, not mention the thick mud in our shoes, several times of almost slipping in the mud and my husband's new car (less than a week!).


In my personal opinion, the word "international" did not live up to my own expectation. I was expecting world class quality products (particularly unique and famous products) from participating countries. To my disappointment, the trade fair was like one big air-conditioned flea market with over-priced goods! I would say that goods in Greenhills Tiangge, 168 and Divisoria Mall are much much better in terms of price and quality. I don't think I need to elaborate further. Those who attended the fair know what I mean. It's all media hype. But at least, my curiosity was satisfied. Next time, I will definitely skip this event.

January 11, 2008

Qatar Sand Dunes Adventures

During my early days here, one of the things I really want to experience is Sand Dunes Bashing (also known as desert safari) but we didn't have a 4-wheel drive vehicle then. Also, I am not aware of any tour operators doing such tours during that time. Then, as I got busy with work, I've forgotten about about it already

When we went to Dubai in 2006, we finally had the chance to have our first Sand Dunes Bashing experience. It's a one of a kind experience and we had a lot fun. But after that, I wasn't sure I'd like to do it again until my brother's visit last December.

The day before Christmas, my husband arranged a desert safari tour from Qatar International Adventures. We decided to have an afternoon trip. We met our driver/tour guide at the agreed the pick-up point at 2pm and we headed south of Doha to Mesaieed. We made our first stopped in the Sealine Beach Resort area to prepare the vehicle for our Sand Dunes adventure. While the driver is deflating the tires, my brother and my uncle enjoyed a short camel ride for Qr 20 (each person). You can consider it a tourist trap but if you really want to experience a camel ride and have a photo-op, just pay QR 20.



After our brief stop, we drove to the in-land sea and to the Qatar-Saudi boarder together with two other cars. Trips are usually done in groups for safety reasons. Along the way, the driver did some driving tricks but not as adventurous as the ones we experienced in Dubai. But we're glad that he is concerned about our safety. Besides, his car is not equipped with roof cage to prevent the car from caving in passengers in case of overturn.


On our way to Qatar-Saudi boarder, one of our tires was damaged. We stopped to change the damaged tire. I believe we're very near UAE because our mobile phone had Etisalat's signal. The drivers of other two vehicles also stopped to give a helping hand to our driver. This is why trips has to be in groups so that if any of the cars needs assistance, somebody can help right away. The tire looked scary, isn't it?

After changing the tires, we headed to the beach at Qatar-Saudi boarder. The Emir has a big tent near the shore. This time, our mobile phones had a Saudi signal. The beach was AWESOME! There were some folks fishing at the bay. We were told that they can catch big fishes there. Fishing and overnight camping for our next trip would be a great idea.




The last stop is at QIA camp. They have a nice big camp complete with facilities such as arabic tents, bathroom, etc. This camp is used for overnight camping in the desert. However, desert safari tours with overnight camping can be arranged for minimum of 30 people.

In Dubai, desert safari tour is a popular tourist attraction. Usually, large group of cars do the bashing all together. Then after the dunes bashing, everyone gathers in a camp for camel ride, barbecue dinner, unlimited drinks (soft drinks, juice, Arabic coffee), shisha, henna painting, pictorial with national costume and sand boarding. The highlight of the night is a belly dancing show. All these are included in the tour price. There are also souvenir shops and buggy rentals. While dunes bashing in Dubai is a lot more adventurous and more organized, the in-land sea and awesome beach at Saudi boarder can only be experienced in Qatar. So if you are in Qatar or planning to visit Qatar, do have a Qatar Desert Safari Tour.

Here are video clips of belly dancing in Dubai.






Qatar Dune Bashing Photos
Dubai Dune Bashing Photos: Part 1 - The Adventure, Part 2 - In the Desert, Part 3 - Belly Dancing

January 9, 2008

Continuation of our Anniversary

The actual day of our anniversary happened to be the finals of Qatar Exxon Mobil Open 2008 and fortunately, my husband was able to get tickets for us. It's Andy Murray of Great Britain VS Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland for the finals. Big players like Federer and Nadal did not join this year's tournament but it's still a good game to watch.

I've been here for almost four years already but I always skip events like this even if entrance is FREE. I always say there's not much to do in Doha - that's true but not absolute. Qatar open is one of those events that you can look forward to every year. Free tickets and open for all, what else could you ask for? This year, they even had free Doha 2016 shirts, caps and pen as promotional items for Qatar's bid for 2016 Olympics.


Freebies

This is an embarrassing revelation but it's my first time to watch a tennis match in my entire life - not even in T.V. or some amateur tournament. I know some famous tennis players by name but never really watch a game. I'm clueless about the game rules, terminologies and scoring system. All I know is that you have to bring the ball to the other side of the court by use of a tennis racket. I wasn't into sports. Didn't play any of them except bowling. LOLs My husband was my live Google during the games. He explained to me the terms, the rules, the scoring system, etc.


After two sets, the score is 1 all. We didn't wait for the decision game anymore because we were chilling and we're hungry. The night before was warm so we didn't expect the temperature to drop and we did not bring thicker jackets. As expected Andy won the match.

Before heading home, we had late dinner at Papa John's - our new favorite. I first heard about Papa John's from Mhavis and then from my boss. Their pizza is superb, not oily and even cheaper than Pizza Hut and Sbarro. We ordered chicken wings, chicken strips, cheese sticks, chicken florentine pasta, large pizza and drinks - all for QR 114 ($1 = 3.65) only. We ordered so much food we finished only half of the pizza.

Everyone enjoyed the night! I hope to go out more often this year and explore things that I've been skipping for the past 3 and half years!

Pictures are in my web album.

January 7, 2008

Anniversary Dinner at Fish Market

Time passed so quickly and we hardly noticed that it's been four years since we said our I dos. Just like the previous years, me and my husband dined out to celebrate our special day. This year, we chose Intercon's Fish Market restaurant. We just can't get over the seafood feast in Muscat so we decided to have a second round in Doha. Actually, we had our dinner a day earlier of our actual anniversary because Fish Market's seafood buffet dinner is only every Friday.

The restaurant interior was cozy and dimly-lighted. There are countless selection of appetizers, salads, sushi, sashimi plus main entrees and deserts. There were fresh oysters and clams which are rarely found in Doha supermarkets. There are also steamed prawns, lobsters and crayfish. Fresh Tiger prawns and Canadian lobsters are also available for grilling at a cost. I was expecting though, that since Fish Market is located outside the hotel and near the beach, main entrees will include grilled seafood just like in Muscat. Nevertheless, it was spectacular dinner. Everyone was satisfied.



After dinner, we enjoyed the nice view of the West Bay skyline from the hotel's beachfront. West Bay is a reclaimed area, which is currently being developed as the Central Business District. Much of the building in our background is still under construction. I remember when I first came to Doha, there were only few buildings in this area. But now, residential and commercial towers, hotels, etc. are being being built faster than we could count them. We used a point and shoot camera only but Doha Snapper has a really good photo of Doha skyline.

View of Doha Skyline from Intercon's Beachfront


On our way home, we stopped by the corniche and strolled along the bay - something I haven't done for a long-long time. The corniche is a coastal area like "Roxas Boulevard" in Manila. Doha has one of the most beautiful corniche in the gulf. It is popular for walking, jogging, picnic and strolling especially for families. Across the corniche is West Bay skyline. I've been living here for almost four years already but I can count the times I've been here for a leisurely walk.

Stroll along corniche with West Bay skylines on the background


Corniche with Sheraton on the background


There are also small Dhow Boats available for cruising the bay for only QR 15/head. We didn't hire a boat but during my early days in Doha, Walter and I tried the Dhow boat cruise.



With my uncle and Dhow boat on the background


It was a great night and everyone had a blast! We also had interesting activities on the actual day of our anniversary. Watch out, my post is coming up!

More picture at my web album.



A Hazy Morning in Doha

It's unexpectedly cold today and almost zero visibility this morning. The haziness is partly brought by a sandstorm, which started the night before. The cold temperature is tolerable but the dust is really irritating and also affecting my breathing. Though not always experienced in the city, sandstorm is part of living here in Doha, Qatar.

Here are some pictures I took on my way to Grand Hamad St. this morning.


Airport Road

Approaching Grand Hamad St.



Related Post:

It's Officially Winter


January 6, 2008

International Trade Fair - Doha Consumer Expo 2008

There is an on-going International Trade Fair at New Qatar International Exhibition Center. It is said to be the largest Trade Fair ever held in Doha, Qatar where about 500 companies from 38 countries have set-up stalls. Sadly, I don't think there's any participant from the Philippines. *sigh...sigh* This could have been a great opportunity to showcase Philippine-made products. I know that Pinoy make quality products that can compete in international markets. I hope that our country can participate in the next trade fair.

We haven't made our visit yet but we are definitely going next weekend. The fair is open until January 13, 2008 from 9am to 1pm and from 4pm to 10pm. The morning sessions of January 7 and 9 are exclusively for women. Entrance is FREE. See you there!


Related News:

‘Largest ever’ trade fair in Qatar is inaugurated
Consumer trade fair showcases best of luxury goods

January 1, 2008

The Almost Dick Whittington Pantomime

I love watching play and musical. It's good that there's a theatrical group in Doha staging a number of shows every year. We make sure to watch them whenever there is an opportunity. Last December, we watched Doha Players' annual Pantomime entitled Almost Dick Whittington, which is loosely based on the life Dick Whittington, a known merchant and politician in London.

It's embarrassing to admit but I really thought it was some kind of silent play. I realized, I was totally wrong when the show started. It's exactly the opposite! The audience were even encouraged to participate during the show. We enjoyed it and we had so much fun.






Individual Photos here.

Apparently, performing a Pantomime also informally called Panto around Christmas season is British tradition that goes back hundreds of years. In fact, the original Dick Whittington first appeared on a London Stage almost two hundred years ago. It is often confused with mime (like I did), which is is a theatrical medium or performance art, involving the acting out of a story by a mime artist through body motions, without use of speech. A Pantomime has traditions and conventions that are distinct from a regular play or musical such as gender role reversal and audience participation. Click here to know more about Pantomime.

Doha Players' next performance will be "King and I" sometime in March. If you are interested, visit their website for information on show dates and time.