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Dubai

December 1st, 2015 No comments

After spending two solid days in Abu Dhabi with our friends Kym and Will, we drove the 90 minutes or so to see our other friends in Dubai for three and a half days. We first met Carey and her family at church in the Philippines where they lived near us for a year and we became fast friends. Our kids were very excited to visit with them again and play with their toys and dog. Carey acted as our tour guide and babysitter when we needed one. It was wonderful to be able to reminisce about friends and the Philippines with their family. After spending a week in the UAE during the cool season I would be willing to move there.

Most of the ride from Abu Dhabi to Dubai looked like this...a lot of nothing but sand. After living in a concrete jungle for three years, I think this view is beautiful.

Most of the ride from Abu Dhabi to Dubai looked like this…a lot of nothing but sand. After living in a concrete jungle for three years, I think this view is beautiful.

Sometimes we came across these air conditioned bus stops.

Sometimes we came across these air conditioned bus stops.

Filling up your car in the UAE is time consuming. Since there aren't a lot of gas stations in the country, you wait in long lines to fill up your car.

Getting gas in the UAE is time consuming. Since there aren’t a lot of gas stations in the country, you wait in long lines to fill up your car.

We made it to our friend's home and it was great to to see them again and the kids couldn't wait for their kids to get home from school.

We made it to our friend’s home and it was great to to see them again and our kids couldn’t wait for their kids to get home from school.

We left the kids with our friends and Matt and I had another date night at the Mall of the Emirates. Matt tried snow boarding, and I watched the penguin show sinec I have only tried skiing once in the fourth grade and that wasn't a fun experience.

Our first evening in Dubai, we left the kids with our friends and Matt and I had another date night. This time at the Mall of the Emirates. Matt tried snow boarding at Ski Dubai, and I watched the penguin show since I have only tried skiing once in the fourth grade and that wasn’t a fun experience.

We had a delicious dinner at ? where we were also able to watch people who were at "Ski Dubai"

We had a delicious dinner at Karam Beirut where we were also able to watch people on the slopes at Ski Dubai.

Day 1

Our tour guide, Carey, had us walking a lot on our first morning.

Our friend and tour guide, Carey, had us walking a lot on our first morning.

Culture breakfast. We ate the traditional food that Emerati families would eat and then we were able to ask any question to our hosts about the country, culture, or anything else on our mind. Yummy food, very informative and fun.

First stop was to Al Bastakiya area to attend a culture breakfast at Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding. We ate the traditional food that Emerati families would eat and then we were able to ask any question to our hosts about their country, culture, or anything else on our mind. Yummy food, very informative and fun.

We walked to the water taxi area to rode the boat for a short ride to cross the water so we could see some souvenir shops.

We walked to the water taxi area and rode the boat for a short ride to cross the Dubai creek so we could see some spice souk & gold souk.

GOLD ring that is big enough for a giant!

GOLD ring that is big enough for a giant!

While the older kids stayed home to play with their friends and toys, Blake joined Matt & I at the Dubai Mall where we took him to his first aquarium.

While the older kids stayed home to play with their friends and toys, Blake joined Matt & I at the Dubai Mall where we took him to his first aquarium.

Blake wasn't sure about this glass flooring where there were large fish (maybe some sharks) underneath.

Blake wasn’t sure about this glass flooring where there were large fish (maybe some sharks) underneath. He was too scared to walk over the clear areas.

While waiting to watch the Dubai Mall fountain show, Blake was making friends.

While waiting to watch the Dubai Mall fountain show, Blake was making friends.

Duabi Mall fountain show is only about 7 minutes, but was fun to watch and to see Blake enjoy the lights, music and water.

Duabi Mall fountain show is only about three minutes, but was fun to watch and to see Blake enjoy the lights, music and water.

Night view of the Burj Kalifa after the water show.

Night view of the Burj Khalifa after the water show. We actually watched the water show twice before heading home.

Day 2

Our friends got us 9am tickets to go up the tallest building in the world, The Burj Kalifa.

Our friends got us 9am tickets to go up the tallest building in the world, The Burj Khalifa.

You don't actually go all the way to the top of the building, but still at 452 meters, we made the records books.

You don’t actually go all the way to the top of the building, but still at 452 meters (494 yards), we made the records books.

Our kids looking out at Dubai from the Burj Kalifa

Our kids looking out at Dubai from the Burj Khalifa

If the Burj Khalifa had a voice, this what it would say.

If the Burj Khalifa had a voice, this what it would say.

We had time to spare in the afternoon, so we went to the "Atlantis" hotel and walked around their aquarium.

We had time to spare in the afternoon, so we went to the “Atlantis The Palm” hotel and walked around their Lost Chambers Aquarium.

In the late afternoon we got picked up in a 4-runner and headed out to the desert to experience a desert safari. Blake stayed home with our friends for the evening since he was too young.

In the late afternoon we got picked up in a four-runner and headed out to the desert to experience a desert safari. Blake stayed home with our friends for the evening since he was too young.

There were so many cars there to do "dune bashing." It is like a roller coaster ride in the car and air is let out of the tires for this experience.

There were so many cars there to do “dune bashing.” It is like a roller coaster ride in the car.

We stopped and watched the sunset during our time of dune bashing.

We stopped and watched the sunset during our time of dune bashing.

We arrived at the "Arabian Nights Tour" dinner location where hundreds of people gather for a buffet dinner, entertainment and a fun experience. Mason quickly made friends with the majority of the kids there and they all played tag.

We arrived at the “Arabian Nights Tour” dinner location where hundreds of people gather for a buffet dinner, entertainment and a fun experience. Mason quickly made friends with the majority of the kids there and they all played tag.

Mom & daughter henna.

Mom & daughter henna.

Camel ride was short, but now we can say we rode a camel in the desert.

Camel ride was short, but now we can say we rode a camel in the desert.

Farley family as Emirates.

Farley family as Emiratis.

Day 3

In the Middle East, Fridays are the Sabbath day. So we got to attend church with our friends inside this villa that is their church building.

In the Middle East, Fridays are the Sabbath day. So we got to attend church with our friends inside this villa that is the LDS church building.

After dinner we drove about 15-20 minutes and pulled off on the side of the road and picked a "camp ground" area in the sand dunes. Matt caught this small lizard with his bare hands.

After dinner we drove about 15-20 minutes and pulled off on the side of the road and picked a “camp ground” area in the sand dunes. Matt caught this small lizard as it was zipping over the sand dunes.

After dinner we drove about 15-20 minutes and pulled off on the side of the road and picked a "camp ground" area in the sand dunes. We got to watch the sunset with friends.

We got to watch the sunset with friends.

We built a fire in the sand and made s'mores.

We built a fire in the sand and made s’mores.

To end our Friday Sabbath, we went home and decorated Halloween sugar cookies.

To end our Friday Sabbath, we went home and decorated Halloween sugar cookies.

Day 4

We woke up early and went to the JBR beach where they "mow" the sand. We spent a couple of hours there playing in the water and enjoying the company of friends.

We woke up early and went to the JBR beach where they “mow” the sand. 

We spent a couple of hours playing on these inflatables in water and enjoying the company of friends.

We spent a couple of hours playing on these inflatables in water and enjoying the company of friends.

Mason got to help carve a pumpkin since it was Halloween. Poor boy is 6 years old and that was his first time to "carve" a pumpkin.

Mason got to help carve a pumpkin since it was Halloween. Poor boy is six years old and that was his first time to “carve” a pumpkin.

We had such a fabulous time being with friends and exploring Dubai.

We had such a fabulous time being with friends and exploring Dubai.

More photos of Dubai here.

Abu Dhabi

November 24th, 2015 No comments

We have now lived in Asia for three years. Two years ago a good friend from Texas moved to Abu Dhabi and I wanted to go visit her. Then, when another family that we met in the Philippines moved to Dubai, I knew we couldn’t miss the opportunity to visit them both by taking advantage of Manila’s direct flights to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). I had been telling Matt for nearly 18 months that I wanted to spend our fall break visiting these friends and exploring that part of the world. We had never been to the Middle East and were told that in October the weather would be cooler. So off we went, and the weather cooperated and we all had a wonderful time being with friends and exploring the UAE. Many thanks to our fabulous host in Abu Dhabi, Kym, for taking such good care of us and being our tour guide.

Philippine Air has a direct flight from Manila to Abu Dhabi that is nearly nine hours. To upgrade to business class is rather inexpensive for this flight, so that is what we did and even 16 month old Blake knows this is the preferred seating.

Philippine Air has a direct flight from Manila to Abu Dhabi that is nearly nine hours. To upgrade to business class is rather inexpensive for this flight, so that is what we did and even 16 month old Blake knows that this is the way to go.

We made it to Abu Dhabi where our friends were waiting to pick us up.

We made it to Abu Dhabi where our friends were waiting to pick us up.

Day 1

View from our friend's condo of Abu Dhabi.

Part of the view from our friend’s condo in Abu Dhabi.

First place to visit was the Grand Mosque.

First place to visit was the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

Inner area of the Grand Mosque. Kalani was a little bit upset that women had to wear long sleeve shirts, long pants and cover our heads, but the men could wear short sleeve shirts and didn

Inner area of the Grand Mosque. Kalani was a little bit upset that women had to wear long sleeve shirts, long pants and cover our heads. Whereas, the men could wear short sleeve shirts and didn’t have to cover their heads.

Amazing chandeliers are inside the Grand Mosque.

Amazing chandeliers are inside the Grand Mosque.

We had lunch at a yummy Lebanese restaurant.

We had lunch at a yummy Lebanese restaurant.

We strolled along some malls and found a few "spices store". So many different types of spices before they are grounded up.

We strolled along some malls and found a few “spice stores”. Pictured: so many different types of spices before they are ground up.

We are friends from Texas, so we had to snap a photo in front of a Texas Roadhouse restaurant.

We are friends from Texas, so we had to snap a photo in front of a Texas Roadhouse restaurant…Blake’s never been to Texas, so he isn’t in the photo.

Farleys are in Abu Dhabi

Farleys are in Abu Dhabi

We didnave the

We were too tired to go inside and explore Ferrari World, but we made it to the entrance.

Day 2

We spent the morning exploring the UAE Heritage Village.

We spent the morning exploring the UAE Heritage Village.

Family photo with the Abu Dhabi skyline.

Family photo with an Abu Dhabi skyline.

Our first time seeing a camel up close. Mason was very comfortable being around it.

Our first time seeing a camel up close. Mason was very comfortable being around it.

Lunch at a Mexican restaurant where all of the staff were Filipinos. So of course they helped us take care of Blake so we could eat.

Lunch at a Mexican restaurant where all of the staff were Filipino. So of course they helped us take care of Blake so we could eat.

We had an appointment to visit the Falcon Hospital and learned a lot about falcons. If they are wearing a falcon hood they are calm.

We had an appointment to visit the Falcon Hospital and learned a lot about falcons. If they are wearing a falcon hood they are calm and can go on an airplane with their own passport. (in their own seat!)

Blake wasnt too keen on

Blake wasn’t too keen on being this close to a falcon. It was such a neat and educational experience for all of us.

Date Night at the Emeritus Palace. There is a strict dress code to enter, but you can never dress too fancy there.

Date night at Emirates Palace. There is a strict dress code to enter, but you can never dress too fancy there.

ATM machine where you can buy gold is inside the Emerites Palace.

ATM machine where you can buy gold, inside the Emirates Palace.

Night view of Etihad Towers that are across from Emirates Palace. The towers were used as a filming location for the 2015 film Furious 7. In the film, Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Brian O'Conner (Paul Walker) steal a Lykan HyperSport and drive it through three of the towers

Night view of Etihad Towers that are across from Emirates Palace. The towers were used as a filming location for the 2015 film Furious 7.

More photos of Abu Dhabi here.

Baler Vacation 2.0

November 22nd, 2015 No comments

With so many islands and countries to visit, we don’t normally go to the same place twice unless we have family there. However, we did make the exception to go back to Baler. In mid-September we made the five hour drive from Manila to Baler and met up with some close friends. We stayed at Costa Pacifica again for two nights and spent a whole day with our friends having a BBQ and playing at some beachfront property they recently purchased and plan to develop. It is was a quiet, beautiful, and relaxing weekend.

We started off the morning having breakfast at the resort and then saw these four LDS missionaries. We paid for their breakfast buffet.

We started off the morning having breakfast at the resort and then saw these four LDS missionaries. We paid for their breakfast buffet.

We had the whole beach to ourselves. Everyone had a great time playing in the water.

We had the whole beach to ourselves. Everyone had a great time playing in the water.

There is clean water on their property, but you have to use the spigot to pump it out. Mason really liked using the spigot.

There is clean water on their property, but you have to use the spigot to pump it out. Mason really liked using the spigot.

The kids also liked playing on the hammocks.

The kids also liked playing on the hammocks.

We had a super yummy BBQ for lunch.

We had a super yummy BBQ for lunch.

After lunch we walked to another area of the property to have a friend climb up the tree and get us some coconuts.

After lunch we walked to another area of the property to have a friend climb up a tree and get us some coconuts.

A beautiful location, good food and great people about sums up our weekend in Baler.

A beautiful location, good food and great people about sums up our weekend in Baler.

More photos of Baler here.

Puerto Princesa, Palawan

November 10th, 2015 No comments

It took us nearly three years, but we finally made it to Puerto Princesa in Palawan (along with some friends)! The Underground River was the main attraction and reason for our trip. So we decided to stay at the Sheridan which is near Underground River, but it is a two hour drive from the airport. The weather was not the best since there was a typhoon in the country, which meant we got some heavy rain. However, that didn’t stop us from having fun and doing everything that we wanted to do. We were able to stay for three nights and had a wonderful time.

Our flight was delayed in Manila, so to pass the time the kids shared the iPads.

Our flight was delayed in Manila, so to pass the time the kids shared the iPads.

Sheridan resort had nice rooms and friendly staff, but the food wasn't great...we discovered Daluyon Resort/restaurant nearby that had AMAZING food

Sheridan Resort had nice rooms and friendly staff, but the food wasn’t great…we discovered Daluyon Resort/restaurant nearby that had AMAZING food

The clouds were coming in, but we still stuck with our plan to do the Underground River

The clouds were coming in, but we still stuck with our plan to do the Underground River

The kids waiting for the paper work to be completed before boarding the boat for the Underground River tour.

The kids waiting for the paper work to be completed before boarding the boat for the Underground River tour.

Other people waiting to board the boat for the Underground River asked to take photos with Matt.

Other people waiting to board the boat for the Underground River asked to take photos with Matt.

On the boat ride to the Underground River we could see the "Sleeping Giant" in the mountain.

On the boat ride to the Underground River we could see the “Sleeping Giant” in the mountain.

We made it to the Underground River.

We made it to the Underground River…Blake stayed at the resort with a babysitter.

Our group is ready to enter the caves of the Underground River.

Our group is ready to enter the caves of the Underground River.

Bats and sparrows where the cave.

Bats and swallows were in the cave.

After a huge downpour, we all decided to go swimming. The kids really liked this trench and spent a good portion of their time here.

After a huge downpour, we all decided to go swimming. The kids really liked this trench and spent a good portion of their time here.

The dads did boogie boards and had some pretty decent size waves.

The dads did boogie boarding and had some pretty decent size waves.

After swimming we decided to do the zipline over the ocean. Mason was a bit scared and probably too young as well to ride by himself, so I went with him

After swimming we decided to do the zipline over the ocean. Mason was a bit scared and probably too young as well to ride by himself, so Tia went with him.

Kalani got to ride the zipline by herself and we bought the photo the company took of her.

Kalani got to ride the zipline by herself and we bought the photo the company took of her.

We did a mangrove tour and saw 2 different snakes in the trees...and we got wet with another downpour.

We did a mangrove tour and saw 2 different snakes in the trees…and we got wet with another downpour.

We waited for the rain to stop and then used these umbrellas for the tour which came in handy since the rain started up again. Tia's three-year old friend had a nice nap towards the end of the tour.

We waited for the rain to stop and then used these umbrellas for the tour which came in handy since the rain started up again. Our three-year old friend had a nice nap towards the end of the tour.

Dinner buddies...this little three-year old LOVES Tia.

Dinner buddies…this little three-year old LOVES Tia.

We went to Daluyon Resort for lunch and saw a monitor lizard. The kids were all very impressed.

We went to Daluyon Resort for lunch and saw a monitor lizard. The kids were all very impressed.

The walk between the Sheridan and Daluyon was along a dirt road and the kids had a great time exploring.

The walk between the Sheridan and Daluyon was along a dirt road and the kids had a great time exploring.

Palawan 2015 was nice and we are so glad that we were able to be with friends.

Palawan 2015 was nice and we are so glad that we were able to be with friends.

More photos of Palawan here.

Bangkok, Thailand Again

November 1st, 2015 No comments

In June we were able to go back to Bangkok, Thailand for two nights. During our previous vacation in 2013 we were not able to go to the Chatuchak weekend market. And we also wanted to play with tiger cubs and bathe with elephants again. This time we stayed at the Shangri-La and had a fabulous time there. Again we booked our favorite tour guide,”Nok” in Bangkok as well. It was a quick trip but nice to get out of Manila for a weekend and enjoy the sites and culture of Thailand.

You can never go wrong with Shangri-La.

You can never go wrong with Shangri-La.

The ambiance, rooms, food and staff are all so great at The Shangri-La. Mason was able to grab a ride with the bell-hop.

The ambiance, rooms, food and staff are all so great at every Shangri-La. Mason was able to grab a ride with the bell-hop.

Day 1

We went back to the Damnernsaduak Floating Market. It is crowded with tourists and locals, but such a cool experience.

We went back to the Damnernsaduak Floating Market. It is crowded with tourists and locals, but such a cool experience.

They use these types of motors to power and steer the boats.

They use these types of motors to power and steer the boats.

We bought some yummy soup from this man right from his boat. You leave your bowl and spoon in your boat when you are finished and some how they make their way back to the vendors.

We bought some yummy soup from this man right from his boat. You leave your bowl and spoon in your boat when you are finished and some how they make their way back to the vendors.

We went back to the Tiger Temple. I was a little nervous to have our "not yet one year old" baby next to a big tiger, but it was fine.

We went back to the Tiger Temple. I was a little nervous to have our “not yet one year old” baby next to a big tiger, but it was fine.

Kalani got disgusted with how sweaty and "stinky" this tiger was while she held the head.

Kalani got disgusted with how sweaty and “stinky” this tiger was while she held the head in her lap.

We were able to go in a small group and feed and play with tiger cubs. Kalani liked to play with this two month old cub. Baby Blake was not allowed in this part and stayed with our tour guide.

We were able to go in a small group and feed and play with tiger cubs. Kalani liked to play with this two month old cub. Baby Blake was not allowed in this part and stayed with our tour guide.

Mason learning from his father how to feed a tiger cub.

Mason learning from his father how to feed a tiger cub.

We ended the day by bathing and playing with elephants.

We ended the day by bathing and playing with elephants.

Mason really had a great time with the elephants. He even did some "cannon balls" off of the elephant's head and basically saw the elephant as a "jungle-gym"

Mason really had a great time with the elephants. He even did some “cannon balls” off of the elephant’s head and basically saw the elephant as a “jungle-gym”.

Kalani didn't want to get wet, but we did take Blake out in the water and he got cooled off by an elephant.

Kalani didn’t want to get wet, but we did take Blake out in the water and he got cooled off by an elephant.

We ended the day by eating dinner next to the river and watched a cultural dance during our dinner.

We ended the day by eating dinner next to the river and watched a cultural dance during our dinner at our hotel.

Day 2

Klong Ladmayom Floating Market is more of a food area where you can buy food inside on solid ground, or outside by boat.

Klong Ladmayom Floating Market is more of a food area where you can buy food inside on solid ground, or outside by boat.

I had these small coconut pancakes the first time that we went to Bangkok and loved them. I was happy to find them again at Klong Ladmayom. They are small bit size snack.

I had these small coconut pancakes the first time that we went to Bangkok and loved them. I was happy to find them again at Klong Ladmayom. They are a small bite size snack.

There is a wide array of food options...Squid anyone?

There is a wide array of food options…Squid anyone?

We got to experience Chatuchak weekend market. Here we bought some "Thailand" pants that really only tourist wear.

We finally got to experience Chatuchak weekend market. Here we bought some “Thailand” pants that really only tourist wear.

Matt bought our "Thailand painting" from these guys on a previous trip. Besides painting canvas art, they also paint shoes.

Matt bought a Thai painting from these guys on a previous trip. Besides painting canvas art, they also paint shoes.

Chatuchak weekend market also has an area where there are dogs and cars for sale. Blake was very excited to see all of the animals.

Chatuchak weekend market also has an area where there are dogs and cats for sale. Blake was very excited to see all of the animals.

By the time we were leaving the Chatuchak, Blake was exhausted.

By the time we were leaving Chatuchak, Blake was exhausted and my make-up was running.

Matt and I had a quick date with Blake riding the free ferry that Shangri-La provides to Asiatique that is just up the river.

Matt and I had a quick date with Blake riding the free ferry that Shangri-La provides to the Asiatique Night Market that is just up the river.

View of Asiatique as seen from the ferry.

View of Asiatique as seen from the boat. There is a ferris wheel and lots of vendors there.

We only spent two full days in Bangkok,but with our wonderful tour guide Nok, we were able to cram a lot of things in. Nok is super easy to work with, has good English, great with kids, mixes up transportation between private cars and public so you get to experience everything. If you go to Bangkok, try to book Nok as your tour guide.

We only spent two full days in Bangkok, but with our wonderful tour guide Nok, we were able to cram a lot of things in. Nok is super easy to work with, has good English, great with kids, mixes up transportation between private cars and public so you get to experience everything. If you go to Bangkok, try to book Nok as your tour guide.

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More photos of Thailand here.