Review: Our Kidzzdom Experience

Where to go for a fun weekend with the kids? Try Kidzzdom if you haven’t yet!

We celebrated my son’s 6th bday in Kidzzdom in Hayatt Mall, Riyadh. The overall feels is okay. There weren’t a lot of people so it’s kind of a plus factor because we didn’t get claustrophobic due to overcrowding.  Please note that the photos below are not mine, they are from Kidzzdom’s site.

kidzzdom-english-300x117

The lady in the cashier was friendly. I felt excited to get in because the initial experience from the ticket counter had been nice. So we entered.

big-85444-s5

album_images_1493801514-0image1

My son had to go to the bank first to get his money, the bank is a mini Saudi Investment Bank. The Filipina cashier was friendly and accommodating. I have observed her and noticed that her warmth wasn’t because we are of the same nationality; she is genuinely kind because she was as warm and accommodating to the locals and other expats as well. She had given my son 100 Riyalinos (the currency inside Kidzzdom). That should give him a good start.

Unfortunately, the lady in the small Panda store doesn’t speak English. With that, we had to borrow the banker and she attended to the needs of my son. He was asked to be the customer. He picked three small items and he placed it his mini grocery cart. He also got to experience being a cashier and earned some Riyalinos! I am sure he enjoyed the initial stops.

My son wanted to go to the store and apparently, the stores are “redemption stores” only. Their currency is Riyalinos and they have to have at least 500 in order to enter. I find it a little difficult to achieve since we’ve only earned 300 plus for the entire period that we’re there (from 2:30 pm to 6:10 pm) & we’ve already exhausted our energy.

This is the area map:

citymap-n1

Among the stops are the following:

The places that I’d strike out are the ones that are either unattended or places we did not find inside.

  • Train Station
  • The Riyalino Store
  • Supermarket
  • Fire Truck
  • Bank
  • Vault
  • Jewelry Store
  • Beauty Salon
  • Photo Studio
  • Toddlers Area
  • Police Station
  • Window Cleaning
  • Recycling Plant
  • Construction Site
  • House Painting
  • Pizza Restaurant – This is just the best. The Filipina who was assigned here on the 8th of December, noon time is one of the kindest people in the service industry and I have to commend, the pizza that my son made with her. Awesome!
  • Theater
  • TV Studio
  • Acting Academy
  • The Kidzz Dance – I don’t know if this is also the gym where the Filipina attendee was teaching the kids Zumba and hula hoops. She’s one of the most patient people on earth. Paid attention to teaching the kids and she really seemed happy while doing so.
  • Gym – I think I was referring to the gym. I am not sure
  • Fashion Boutique
  • Building in Flame
  • Newspaper Edition
  • Radio Station
  • Ice Cream Shop
  • Burger Restaurant
  • Rock Climbing
  • Post Office
  • Hotel – The one in here is also a Filipina. Having seen her, she seems to be doing the task according to the steps assigned MINUS the friendliness and smile. I have smiled 3 times at her and she didn’t smile back, looked at me without warmth. My son obviously did not enjoy the experience.
  • Fire Station – The lady attendant who is also a Filipina had been very patient with my son’s incessant desire to slide. She was so accommodating and I felt that hers is the busiest among all areas because a lot of the kids want to ride the firetruck while shouting “Fire Fighters!”
  • Milk Farm
  • Milk Factory
  • The Arts Academy
  • Flower Shop
  • Pharmacy
  • Dental Clinic – The Filipina attendant was so serious into teaching the kids. She showed respect to the nature of the place. I loved how she is thoughtful and really paid attention to the kids.
  • Hospital Nursery – A local was assigned in the nursery. She was very careful in teaching my son how to change clothes and bathe the baby. She was so meticulous and patient.
  • Optometrist
  • Reception
  • Surgery
  • Emergency
  • Ambulance
  • City Tour Bus
  • Customs Office
  • Coffee Shop
  • Driving School
  • Autoshop – The autoshop is being manned by a local. He is also the one assigned at the driving school. He is very friendly although looks a little gloomy nevertheless, if you’d talk to him, you will see that he is really enjoying and is really interested in showing the kids how the cars work. He is very patient.

I wished that the salon and the photo studios are open. I also wished for the construction site and recycling is there.  Well, of course, I wish for the ambulance to be working as well since my son didn’t get to have that ambulance emergency ride.

Everything worked out well and if they’d only get full manpower to attend to the stations, it would have been more fun and realistic, I mean instead of seeing same faces at one station after another.

The fee is ok. A little pricey but worth it. Entry Tickets:

  • Infants enter for FREE
  • Toddlers (Age 2-3) SR55
  • Children (Age 4-14) SR105
  • Adults (Age 15 and above) SR55
  • Family Package (5 members) gets 10% Discount

Tip: Cobone.Com has an ongoing promo. Better check it out first before purchasing on site.

The fun part is, you can book them to host your party. Please click the link for information: CLICK ME!

I will definitely go back with a hope that it is going to be full-functioning with enough manpower & yes, hopefully, with a playmate tagging along this time for a “funner experience” for my son.

7 out of 10 stars!

Advertisements

How to Travel to UAE from Saudi Arabia by Land

I will be detailing the process of traveling to UAE from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia by land. This will include all the preps and advice I can give based on our successes and failures during those hours.

First, you got to set a budget. This will depend on how much you are willing to spend and how much you are willing to stretch to maximize the budget. Our trip cost me a fortune. We were 10 altogether, so there are 10 brains functioning; each wanting to go to a place after another — that means more spending. My suggestion – plan your itinerary. The “come what may attitude” only works if traveling as a couple, heck, it doesn’t even work when traveling with my husband!

Note to self: For long travels, better travel with family because no matter how bad the road rage is due to heat and exhaustion – you’re family. There’s no further harm you can inflict to one another except for stern looks and silly hand gestures!

Now about the paperwork:

You must have a valid UAE Visitor’s Visa. This can be secured from the website costing you around 250 AED per visa (I think) but since I was lazy (because I am sure they will be asking me to apply for them (9 people), I thought seeking help from an agency would be better), I secured our visa from a friend who works in a traveling agency. They charge way less than the regular travel agencies and it’s uber fast! If you want to know their information: please message me here. The agency processing in KSA costs around 500 SAR (I did ask around) and theirs is way less. I mean, definitely not 250 AED (because hello?), but way cheaper than local agencies. Theirs is based in Abu Dhabi. Note: I am not a broker, so you need to directly communicate with the agency.

Exit Re-entry Visa. This is important not only because you cannot travel without it, but also because it’s required by the bank for car authorization.

If you’re leasing your car, say like us; since we haven’t paid it in full (poor us), we had to go and get authorization from Alrajhi Bank, Alrawdha Branch (super far). That document costs around 36 SAR. Other banks charge more I think. They will only accept debit card payments, so you must have some money on your account. Note: If your wife owns the car, there’s a female section at the back side of the building where you will need to sign some documents; you must prepare the car registration (estimara), your iqamas (if she’s authorizing you) as well as your marriage contract, with Arabic translation.

More on the car: Even if your car is new, it is still good to have it checked. We discovered that the battery of our car corroded few hrs before our travel. It was crazy because we cannot run it for hours esp. with the threat that our new battery can get discharged again. Better to do the checking earlier than the 11th hour. You must also check your tyres. Have they been with you long enough that it could fail you while on a non-stop long drive? If you are unsure about your tyres, please, do buy a set (noting that spare is as important). Check your batteries, tyres, tools, and other emergency safety kits. If they’re all checked, you are good to go.

Gas: Going to UAE required us 2 full tanks of gas to reach the border (for a big car). Perhaps sedans and smaller SUVs would require 3 refills for the trip. But you know, the drivers know these things.  

Distance: As far as we can recall, we reached the border in 5 hours. We thought we’ve seen the Promised Land only to find out that we still have 6 more long hours to drive to reach Dubai city center. All in all, going there took us 11 long hours until we’re home sweet home — to our hotel. We’ll talk about that later. The trip homeward bound though is excruciating. We have used Waze all the freakin time so like the usual, it is so reliable except for the times that you didn’t solely rely on it and took a glance at Google Maps. We were taking Al Ahsa Road going back but it was a series of closed roads which Waze didn’t indicate albeit, driving us away (there must be a reason right?) but Google Maps encouraged our going there — on those closed roads! Why Google, why? We should have stayed with Waze but we wondered why it didn’t give us a reason for the detour. It’s a mistake on our part. It took us 2-3 extra hours going home due to the mishaps encountered along the way. We should have relied on Waze because it is live routing. Anyhoo, next time, we’d do better. 

Food: Of course, traveling long distance requires food. Make sure you’re all stocked up. There are several convenient stores along the way but it’s always better to have something packed before you go.

Hotels: Since my boss always asks me to look for hotels in downtown Dubai, I thought I’d check that out. Ohmigosh, the hotels there are pretty expensive! Like 6000AED above – per night!  So I compromised, looked elsewhere… but since I was booking the hotel super late, I missed the apartment type hotels that we liked! The practical suggestion is to book early on to get the best deals on hotels plus, with more choices. We stayed in Holiday Inn Al Rigga. It’s not bad. It’s a 4-star hotel as per Booking.com, but I tell you it’s not. The carpeting is old and there’s a funky smell on the corridors but considering our good experience including the facilities and service (not to mention the super comfy sheets), it’s worth considering again. It has an awesome location too especially for Filipinos who miss the Philippines and all its perks. If you’re like us, then this location is for you. The hotel is reasonably priced, from 14-19 June, we only paid 4300-4400 AED for the four rooms all together, excluding room service of course. They too have an interesting spa. I feel I must mention that, just go there and find out, if you dare.

So the thing is, hotels charge an extra 25% for the taxes (miscellaneous but it will be broken down accordingly) – according to my friend, the one who issued our visas from their agencies, they can get you a deal charging you with only 10% out of the 25% being taxed via Booking.com. If you’re interested, message me here and I’d hook you up.

UAE Tourist Spots: There are several places to visit in UAE. We have visited the Lego Land and the malls and my favorite Souq Madinat Jumeirah. I love it! That place satisfied the hipster in me and I think, that’s one of the best places ever. I loved Dubai Mall too, at least the Cyber Section (or whatever it’s called). I cannot wait to see the Warner Bros. theme park when it opens. By the way, we tried to go to Lamesa because it served Filipino food and pork of course, but it was closed, we came in too late. We also missed Regine Velasquez’s concert. Like I can make them watch that!  I mean given that it’s expensive plus, I think, I am the only fantard out there! All in all, I can say that we have maximized the time we’re there and we’ve gone to so many places, but since I am not a travel blogger, I would let others do the honors of detailing.

Fees / Immigration: Getting there, we paid 210 SAR at the border. My husband said that the fee was for GCC Car Insurance although I am kind of puzzled about the need since our insurance covers traveling GCC with exception of some countries but not UAE. We were asked to pay like it’s a standard procedure so I think it’s really necessary, of course, we paid.

Our iqamas served a vital role, you should have it ready at all times alongside the passports. Also, when you’re being scanned (retina, I think) at the immigration, open your eyes real wide especially if you’ve got the typical Southeast Asian eyes.

Returning to Riyadh has some fees too, we were charged 33 AED per person, but that’s it. They inspected us thoroughly for contraband (can you blame them?) otherwise, everything went with flying colors.

Again, I can hook you up with stress-free visa application and hotel accommodation with less tax (15% is significant!) but again, I am not a broker, you will be communicating with the agent directly.

Hope this helps.

Party Preparations and Pressure

2.jpg

My son will be turning five soon. He is my one and only son so he tends to have a lot of goodies every time. He doesn’t need a birthday to realize how he is celebrated. But then again, that’s where the problem starts; we don’t know how to make the day extra special.
We have an occasion that unfortunately fell on my son’s birthday. So we are celebrating his occasion a day early. It bugs my husband so much but for me, I have long compromised my own welfare for the greater good… so for me, that’s okay.

My motto remains, “DO NOT SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF.”

We won’t be able to go back home this Christmas so we would be missing a very important family occasion which is my sister’s wedding. It totally bums me that I won’t be there. I was supposed to be her Matron of Honor but since I have just started with this new job, I don’t have the nerve to ask for vacation. I am so totally not your regular 8-5 employee. I have accountability in my blood. My family understands.

So we are here even during Christmas time.

My son’s school will be hosting a Winter Party to start the Winter Break of the school. He will be celebrating his school birthday party there. Thank God because his teacher helped me with the cake and the clown. All I have to do is supply the Kiddie Meals and the prizes for the games and voila, I have less to think about.

All I need to prepare now is my son’s Day Before His Birthday Party. I have to coordinate with the caterers since I decided to get from different suppliers and we still need a cake to order and pick up.

If I were in my old workplace, preparation would be a little easier because of the flexibility but now, it will take gazillion years for me to establish that comfort being new and all. I hope things will eventually fall into their place.
God bless me!