LBC Made Me Happy 5 Days Before Christmas

Update. Check my previous post about LBC here.

Honestly, I am amazed – more of shocked actually, when my brother told me that they already received the package we sent last December 14. It was the 6th day, December 20th, when my family got the smiley box. I was not expecting it considering December is a peak month and I’ve read a lot of bad things posted on LBC’s facebook page asking where their packages are and how they’ve been waiting forever but has not received them yet. I consider myself very lucky since I already made up my mind that they will not receive the smiley box on time, I guess it is sweeter not to expect but get the results on time. 🙂 True to LBC’s word, air cargo takes 5-7 days to be delivered (within Metro Manila). I can attest to that!

Hopefully, my next transaction will be as smooth.

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Six Days Before Christmas

Indeed, time ticks so fast and now for the first time I’d be spending Christmas away from home. No tears allowed, just all smiles. 🙂 6 days to go and now I’m missing spending Christmas in Pinas. With that I’m leaving you some words – by Dr. Seuss, best for OFWs like us.

Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps mean a little bit more.

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LBC Express Box, A Big Gift For Your Loved Ones This Christmas

It’s amazing how a big box of sweets, toys, dresses and shoes can bring huge smiles on your family. For Filipinos, sending in a “balikbayan box” somewhat become a tradition to those working abroad. Your stay abroad will not be complete if you have not sent a box! 🙂 I have sent one! Yay! After 4 months of earning a little better here Dubai, my husband and I sent, I’d rather call it the “Smiley Box”, for our family this coming Christmas. My 6 year old daughter is excited to see her gifts for being a good girl and making it to Top 6 this quarter in their class. That’s why we thought it would be better if we sent the smiley box through air so they will recieve it in time for Christmas.

I have watched through online news about balikbayan boxes being sold by customs to other people. I would not risk that! That’s why the only cargo company that came in mind is LBC, famously known “Hari ng Padala”. 🙂 Well, let’s see if they conform to that title.

Since it is now December, only few days left before Christmas, My husband and I decided to send the package via air. This would only take 5 – 7 days for deliveries within Metro Manila. We went at the LBC office directly in Al Karama to pack our smiley box on December 14, Saturday. It is better if you go to their office to pack because if you have it picked up, they will still open and inspect your box at their office to check if there are any items unsafe or unlawful to transport. Our smiley box is big, size is 51x53x64 cm, the normal height is 61 cm, and weighing 36 kilos. The rate depends on how much it weighs for an air cargo. We paid 297 dirhams, transaction is fast. Here is their multiplier rate per kg for packages and documents for air cargo:

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Sea cargo on the other hand is more affordable and delivered after 30 – 40 days depending on the location. Below are the rates for sea cargo:

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There are also taxable items like cellphones, tablets and laptops. (For each phone, like the blackberry or iPhone, you will be asked to pay additional 167 dirhams for tax.) Items with batteries are also not allowed, remove the batteries beforehand.

They also have this ad that you get updates on the status of your box, I recieved none.

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So, let’s wait if that easy transaction will reach the recipient on time in 5 – 7 days. By the way, you can reach their location in Karama via bus or taxi. Drop off point for bus is Dubai Municipality Center 1 – Karama, then just walk across the street to G-Mart. Buses going there are 88, C14, C15, C26 and 97.

Check their website at LBC Express Inc, Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Dubai Shop 4 Mubarak Khalifa Building No. 75 10D Street, Al Karama, Dubai, UAE
800-035-702-444

Here’s an update on my smiley box, is it a Yay or Nay? Check it here.

Things to Keep in Mind Before Visiting Dubai

Dubai, a city in the emirate of the same name, has become a favored tourist destination in the UAE – make that Middle East as a whole. It is a country belted with religious and cultural tradition influenced by a more modern perspective. The reason it is known as a place or a city wherein the East meets the West. It is a place with state-of-the-art infrastratures, modernized transportation, and avant-garde cityscape bordered with strict rules and law you have to respect and follow. Whether you are going here for a vacation or seek employment, it is best that you know essential things before visiting Dubai.

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Here are some things to keep in mind (based on my experience) it may not include a complete set of rules but only facts I have observed.

CLIMATE Dubai has extreme weather conditions ranging from 10 degrees Celcius during winter up to a scorching hot of 49 degrees during summer. It is best to visit winter time during the month of November to March where the wind is chilly. It is also the best time to find a job and do walk-ins.

The weather that greeted us on our first month in Dubai. Summer starts in June and becomes extremely hot in August.

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TRADITION The UAE, including Dubai, grasps an Islamic tradition which is to be respected at all times. Ramadan is the fasting month for Muslims usually in the month of July to September. No one is allowed to drink, eat, chew, smoke or put anything in your mouth, including tourists, from sunrise to sunset in public places. You should also not take a photo of any woman without their permission because this is deemed unrespecful.

DRESS CODE Visitors are encouraged to dress appropriately. Clothing should not be transparent, statement shirts with offensive slogans are not allowed. Wearing shorts or skirts in Dubai are acceptable in some places, but when you’re in doubt just wear safe. At the beach, 2-piece and 1 piece swimsuits are accepted. Men are also not allowed to go out bare-chested.

Skirts and shorts are widely accepted, only in Dubai. There are other emirates that require below the knee skirts and sleeves elbow length.

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ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION It is only allowed to resident non-Muslims with an alcohol license. You can drink alcohol in licensed bars, restaurants or at home. Make sure to keep the receipt, just in case. Drinking and driving is a crime and you can get caught even with slightest amount of alcohol.

SMOKING It is widely accepted in many designated areas.

DRUGS Use of illegal drugs are strictly prohibited and can result to imprisonment and deportation. When buying over-the-counter or doctor’s prescribed medications, it is best to keep the doctor’s note and the receipt.

INTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS Sexual relationships, cohabiting or getting pregnant out of marriage is illegal. Public display of affection is not tolerated, kissing or hugging in public as such. Holding hands for married couples are permitted. I always bring our marriage license wherever we go, be it a shopping mall, restaurant or at the beach.

CAR LIFTS OR RENTALS If you will be staying for more than a month in Dubai, it is best to rent a vehicle or car lifts. Taxi fares are expensive, starting rate is 3.50 Dirhams and minimum rate of 10 Dirhams.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION Public Transpo is run by RTA, you need a NOL Card to ride a bus or the metro. Chewing gum, drinking or sleeping inside the bus or the metro are also prohibited.

Nol card

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The Metro (Green Line and Red Line)

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FOOD There is wide selection of food in Dubai, including Asian, (Indian, Chinese, Thai, Filipino) Arabic, American or anything you are craving for. There are Filipino supermarkets available which sells a variety of Pinoy food like rice, taro leaves (for laing), seafood and pork. Pork is sold in special sections. Fast food, diners including streetfood are also available. Shawarma and Indian food are among the favorites.

Indian Food

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Bulalo Steak

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Chicken Inasal

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LAW Offensive language, spitting, littering, jay walking, and foul behaviour are some of which against the law. The UAE law is very strict and should be abided both by locals and expats.

Dubai and their people is amaze, to ensure a memorable stay respect is the key. Now, enjoy!

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Tell Tales Few Can Tell

Yowza! It has been a long time since I’ve had a new blogpost. Worry not because I’m continously updating and reading all your comments which is overwhelming! Truth is I’ve started blogging because I want to share the food I cooked as a newbie or a chef wanna-be then eventually blogged about wanting a change and thought why not document what is going through my life now? I don’t want it to be publicly announced, even though I never thought of gaining readers in the first place- all I want is to write what I wanted to happen in my life, to check if I’m achieving something in my bucket list. That’s the main reason why all 3 of my blogs are made anonymously, no pictures showing faces, no babble, just real story of what’s happening in my life. And I never thought I could help many by helping myself in the process, too. That’s why I would like to say a big THANK YOU! Thank you for supporting this blog, I will try as hard to share more of my experiences. Let’s see how my life will be after 2 years, after finishing my contract here, will I be able to check all that’s in my bucket list? Help me! It will all be our little secret, only us can tell. 🙂

Please also support my love for cooking, please check out:

Kitchen Anonymous

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On that note, I’d like to leave what William Shakespeare cited,

“It is not the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”

Visa Run To Kish Island, Iran

The infamous Kish Island. Most expats, if not all, know this as an exit point from UAE to have their tourist or visit visas changed into employment visa. Same to those who have not landed a job and have consumed the days in their tourist visas. Under UAE laws, foreigners on such visas are required to exit the country once their travel documents have expired and Kish Island, which is part of Iran, is a common place for visa runs because it is the nearest freezone area where no visas are required including to Filipinos.

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It has a bad reputation because some expats who are waiting for their employment visas are not given the said document by their employers and have waited there for so long, 1 month – 2 months- sometimes even longer. The main reason why there are some Filipinos, even other nationalities, are stranded on the island is because they ended up without funds for staying too long.

Stories say that some are indulging in illegal activities like drug pushing and prostitution just to get money for their food and hotel stay.

I have met 2 kabayans there doing an odd job as a cleaner in the hotel where I stayed at. Their hotel accomodation is free and they have meals thrice a day. I adore them to bits, there’s nothing wrong with what they’re doing and they just wanted to save money for their flight back to Dubai.

Before going to Kish, my employer gave me 2 options: First, to go back to the Philippines to wait for my employment visa and second, to go to Kish Island. I chose the second option because of fear in facing the immigration officials once again and be offloaded this time since I already have an entry/exit stamp to UAE (In case the company will give me another Tourist Visa). On the other hand, if I’ll be given an Employment Visa, I need to shell up expenses for medical, OFW seminar, PDOS and other requirements needed. I decided to go to Kish, I was very scared but all I can do at that time is pray and take the risk. I have friends who have been there and they told me it’s okay. Just be careful and alert, always bring your money with you, do not go outside at night alone, do not take a cab alone and everything will be okay.

My employer sent another newly hired with me and we instantly became friends. They also paid for our round trip tickets and 7 days hotel accomodation. Kish Airlines’s airplanes (well, the two I’ve been) are oldish with hoary sounds. It scares me! Good thing it is only 40 – 45 minute flight from Dubai.

Maybe because I am with someone, I easily got acquainted with the place. We also met a Filipina at the airport and decided that we stay in the same room. Kish Island is not a scary place after all.

Things to remember while in Kish.

  • Clothing. For women, the top should be longer than your behind/ buttocks and with sleeves longer than your elbows. Skirts, leggings and pants are allowed but it should be ankle-length. You should also cover your hair with a shella, hijab or a veil.
  • Alcoholic Drinks. These are not allowed, although smoking is accepted.
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  • Iran Visa. Foreigners are allowed to stay in Kish without a visa for 14 days. On the 14th day, if you do not have your employment visa yet you should go to the immigration and apply for an Iran Visa to extend your stay. It costs 60 dirhams plus you also need to provide a passport sized photo wearing a shella/hijab.
  • Hotel. We stayed at Goldis Hotel, the place is okay. I did not see any bedbugs but it is 5 – 7 minutes taxi ride from Kish Airlines. There is someone who cleans the room everyday. Men and women are staying on different floors and men are not allowed inside women’s rooms.

    Check out the hotel’s price list in dirhams (AED):

    hotel per day – 40 with free breakfast (first night free if you stayed longer than 3 days) We were not able to try their breakfast during our stay.
    internet – 10/ hour
    wifi – 10/ 24 hours (very slow wifi connection)
    complete meal – 10 (serving is big with enough rice and one viand)
    rice – 5
    chicken viand – 5
    beef viand – 8
    etisalat – 28 for 25 charge
    Iran sim – 30
    water – 1/ liter, 5/ 6 pieces
    soda – 4/ 1.5 liter

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  • Malls and Supermarket. Surprisingly, there are numerous malls and supermarkets in the island and dirhams is widely accepted.
  • Transportation. Buses charge around 1.20 dirhams and taxis charge minimum of 10 dirhams.
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  • Tour. We went on a Kish Tour when we received our employment visas, to explore the island and check out their culture. It costs 10 dirhams for a 3 hour tour.
  • The Green Tree Complex

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    The Kish Traditional Water Reservoir

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    The Beach

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    Harireh Ancient City

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    The Mysterious Greek Ship

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    The Beautiful Sunset in Kish

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    After 12 days, we received our employment visas. Yay! We immediately booked a flight to Dubai but all are fully booked for that day and the next. So we need to wait until our 14th day for our flight back. I never imagined that I would enjoy my stay there. Kish is a beautiful island indeed. What I liked about the place is the greens, unlike in UAE where you seldom see plants and trees. I also noticed that medicines are way cheaper in Iran than in UAE. I bought some in their local pharmacy. Kish is not so bad after all, it was a nice experience. 🙂 But I am more glad to go back to Dubai and continue my journey.

    Online Scams Targetting Job Hunters

    According to Wikipedia as of 2010, the majority of the population in UAE are expatriates being 13% of it are locals or Emiratis. Whereas more than half of the people are seeking job for better opportunities. In my opinion, this causes some to a fraudulent scheme related to job hunting. My husband was once a victim! Being one who easily trusts someone even if I already warned him not to give money in any of his interviews.

    This is how they work, they’ll post an ad for a job opening in dubizzle (in different positions like secretaries, receptionist, waitress, sales, medical field etc.). When you applied to that position, they will send you an e-mail and will call inviting you for an interview. This may sound normal, because legit companies do call and send e-mails for the location of the interview. After being interviewed, they will ask for 300 dirhams for registration. My husband, being gullible or silly that he is (sorry for the term) gave the amount. 300 dirhams?! That’s more than 3600 pesos! Insane, right? I was angry when he got home and told him it’s a scam. He never believed me and said that there’s also a kabayan who gave money. After 2 days, the same number called back and said he’s already hired inviting him back to their office and instructed him to bring 200 dirhams for an offer letter. Crazy! Do not ever wire money to any company during interviews. Remember, we are here to look for a job and searching for one doesn’t mean we have to pay for anything. Be mindful and alert. Just a helpful reminder. 🙂

    Be keen, usually you can check if it’s a scam by:

  • The e-mail sent to you comes from a free e-mail domain like yahoo, g-mail or livestrong. If they are an established company, they should have their own e-mail provider, like if you received an interview for a company named Areej Group, the e-mail address should be harry.mendez@areejgroup.ae. (This is only an example)
  • Check if they have a website. You’ll also get information about them by doing this and common interview questions also include what you know about them. This is very helpful.
  • As per Ministry of Labor, it is ILLEGAL for recruitment agencies to wire any money from the applicant. Do not give any money, even a dirham!
  • Here’s a sample e-mail sent to me thrice which is the same e-mail sent to my husband. They just changed the name of the company, contact person and position available, but the rest is identical.

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