So I had travelled quite a lot of times by car with my family from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to Manama, Bahrain over the years especially when there was no cinema in Riyadh yet.
Last week, my trip to Manama was different because first, I didnt go there with my family, and second, I did commute by bus and train from Saudi to Bahrain across borders which was a first experience for me.
I had always been curious about Saudi Arabia's public transport system so I asked my friends and travel buddies, Sarah and Leonor if they would like to try it out too and I was not surprised finding out that their eagerness and excitement were no less than mine.
We booked our transportation online as follows:
Thursday, 2nd May 2019 - Riyadh ETD:3:00pm to Manama ETA 11:00pm via SAPTCO VIP Bus - Fare:180SAR (one way);
Saturday, 4th May 2019 - Manama ETD 10:00am to Dammam ETA 12:54pm via SAPTCO Bus - Fare: 70SAR (one way)
Dammam ETD 3:42pm to Riyadh ETA 7:19pm via Saudi Railways Train - Fare: 136.50SAR (one way)
We booked our accommodation at Panorama Hotel - a nice hotel located in Juffair which was near many
places we wanted to go to. Ladies night (and day) it was!
And the main question is: How was the commute from one kingdom to another? My answer: Well, it was indeed very convenient and organized - really unexpected (in a good sense!)😉
The VIP Bus from Riyadh, the SAPTCO Transport Bus from Manama and the train from Dammam left on time, not even a minute late. All the units we've been to were clean and well kept. Even the toilet inside the VIP Bus was tidy and unexpectedly not smelly🤣
I thought that maybe we will be delayed at the border as that weekend trip coincided with the closing of most schools in Saudi, but I thought wrong.
While crossing from Saudi to Bahrain, we arrived at 8:10pm at Saudi Customs, went down the bus to go to the Immigration section. We were asked to leave our passports at the Immigration Counter (Saudi), and went back to the bus. We waited for almost 30 minutes then the bus driver handed our passports back to us. At 9:00pm, we went down the bus again and proceeded to the Bahrain Passport Control Department. The queu was short and it took us no more than 10 minutes to finish. Then we were asked to put our
bags on the xray area while
a Bahraini Custom Officer inspected whatnots inside the bus. All checks and scans were done in roughly 90 minutes. Our bus left the border 9:38pm. We reached Manama Bus Station at 10:05pm which was an hour earlier than our ETA.
We had quite a good time that weekend in Manama - strolling around the old city and traditional souq, bar-hopping, shopping, watching movie, going to spa and just relaxing.
Going around Manama was quick
and easy as there is a lot of options to move around - Careem, Uber or just ordinary metered taxis are plentiful
and affordable as Manama is a small city and places to visit are within easy reach.
We left the hotel at 9:00 am on Saturday to catch our 10 am bus. We were earlyat the stationso we left our bags at the SAPTCO office and did a quick shopping for Bahraini sweets and spices
in the nearby souq. The blue SAPTCO Transport Bus left Manama at exactly 10am and we reached the Bahrain border shortly. At 10:30am the driver asked us to go down for Bahrain Passport Control check. There were three Bahraini officers in the office and it took them only 5 minutes to check all the passengers' passports and ID's. We climbed up the bus and reached Saudi border shortly. We waited inside the bus as the driver told us there was no need to go down to the Saudi Passport Control Office. Soon after, at
11:00am a Saudi officer got into the bus and took our passports one by one.
At 11:27am the bus driver returned to the bus and handed our passports back to us.
we waited thru a short traffic and at 11:35am, the driver instructed us to put ourbags in the xray machine. All the passengers heeded while another officer checked inside the bus. We waited beside the xray machine as all the passengers already lined up their bags. Finally it seemed that there was no officer available to operate the xray machine and at 11:51am our driver asked everyone to pick up the bags and return to the bus. We left the border at 11:55am and reached Dammam Bus Station at 12:25pm-that's half an hour earlier than our ETA!
We took a cab to the train station and we reached there at 12:50pm. We were very early for our trip and the station was pretty crowded. We tried to re-book our train ticket to a trip earlier (there was a train leaving at 1:35pm but it was full so we decided to go to a nearby (Othaim) mall to eat our lunch and pass time. We went back to the train station at 3:00pm to check in. The train
left Dammam on time and we reached Riyadh station as expected.
Overall it was a good experience I could say. A short, hassle-free weekend getaway from Riyadh through easy transport back and forth. And of course, spending quality time with friends away from hustle and bustle in the city is always a happy retreat.
I'm currently doing a Capstone project in my TESOL Certificate- Teach English Now! from Arizona State University (ASU) - Coursera and the first assignment is about teaching philosophy. I'm not sure how is it it but I thought of sharing it anyway.
My Teaching Philosophy by M. Ocampo
‘When one teaches, two learn.’ When I was in second grade, my teacher asked me to stand in front of our class to complete a sentence that she wrote on the board:” When I grow up, I want to be a _____.”
I was hesitant at first because as a young child, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to become and I don’t know how my classmates would react with whatever I write on the board. I paused for a while and thought hard then I went up straight to the board, grab a chalk and wrote “a teacher”. I remember some of my classmates laughing. They probably expected me to write doctor or lawyer or probably an engineer which would be quite the popular reply from kids our age then.
My passion for teaching grew considerably stronger when I reached high school because we were given an opportunity to teach the less fortunate children in our city. I joined several teaching outreach programs catering from street children in the slums to the minority tribes up in the mountainous part of our town. This experience has taught me a lot, not only about the simple facts and lessons we give them but most importantly about lessons in life that later on became more significant for me as I matured.
Coming from a poor family, I was not able to take a degree in teaching during college and instead, I graduated with a bachelor degree in Pharmacy. But because teaching has always been a passion of mine, my first job was as an Instructor of Pharmacy in the University. I believed that teaching is not a one way street where only the teacher provides information and facilitates learning for the students. Rather teaching and learning is a wonderful exchange- a two way street between the teacher and his students.
Although I am abroad practicing my profession as a Pharmacist right now, I plan to teach again when I go back to my country. My passion for teaching has not withered over the years even though I neither had been in a classroom nor had a chance to teach students for a long time now. I want to pursue my desire to teach and learn “again” at the same time. For me, teaching is an opportunity to both teach and learn and for this, being a teacher becomes a privilege. Teaching is all about connection – a give and take relationship with all the knowledge and the ideals where love is the way forward and passion is what makes it real.
Once I get back to teaching, my short term goals as a teacher will include being able to provide meaningful lessons, facilitate enjoyable classroom activities and encourage students to practice what they learn from the classroom. On the other hand, my long term goals will be to help my students to explore their strengths and work out what their purpose is and to support them to have confidence, strong sense of self and positive outlook in life by inspiring them to become good citizens of the world, fostering a true way of being that I always hope myself to be.
I was in the car early morning and I suddenly glanced at the sun visor mirror. I thought I saw a grey hair just above the side of my forehead. I leaned towards the mirror and looked more closely. Ah, it is really a grey hair. I’m getting older- definitely.
And so my head started to spin. Did I miss anything? Realizations dawned.
Am I not cool anymore ( or was I ever?! –lol)? One thing is certain- I am happy with what and how my life has turned out to be, and I do believe that I still have a lot to do and achieve in the coming years. Cheers to more wisdom and years!
"Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love."
There are times when I feel weary doing the same tasks every day. At work, the same routine and at home, all the chores. Sometimes I feel like doing the same things all the time loses the very meaning and purpose of the tasks, and that perhaps nobody really care whether it is done or not. I’m not spared from injustices at work and I’m never always appreciated. I sometimes feel that my efforts are unnoticed and the tasks I do seem unimportant.
And yet the more I think about it, I realize that every small choice I make, every small act or task I do impacts the people I love. I think about my family and those who are closest to me, and I realize that every small thing I do is worth doing. Yes. Small things done with purpose matter. Small things done with passion and love are a big deal.
Yung pag umuwi ka na umiiyak, tatanungin nya sayo kung sino nagpaiyak sayo at sasabihan na sapakin mo the next day. He’s the kind of Dad na alam mong protektado ka, at walang pwedeng manakit sayo when he’s around. His word was the “law”, hindi ka pwedeng mag dahilan or umapila, it’s always either yes or no, bawal ang maybe. Kakaiba yung pag disiplina nya, maraming palo ng sinturon sa pwet ang inabot namin, pero bawat latay, siguradong may lesson at pangaral pagtapos.
Si Dadi, extreme sa tapang, extreme rin sa lambing. He never forgets any special occasion, kapag birthdays laging may handa at gift kami. Kahit wala si Mommy sa tabi namin, every year, may handa kami sa birthday ni Mommy. I remember that we used to go to Manila pag Christmas break, sakay kami sa owner jeep naming, going to SM mall, kaming apat na magkakapatid, tag 200 pesos ang Christmas gift from dadi, and we could spend it for anything we want. Sobrang saya na kami nun.
Ang tatay ko, sha naglalaba ng damit namin, nagluluto ng food, naghahatid at sundo sa school, pati sa pag attend ng mass, ginigising pa kami para hindi ma-late. Pati procession, nakabantay, ayaw may makalusot na manliligaw.
He taught us how to be strong and independent. Wag kang aasa kahit kanino. Pag kaya mong gawin, do it yourself and do your best all the time. Sobrang supportive. He’s our number 1 fan sa lahat ng bagay, but he never flatters anyone of us. Hindi sha vocal, pero alam mo na proud sha sa accomplishment mo. Yung smile nya at pagyakap tuwing may achievement kami, best feeling ever.
Parati nyang pangaral sa min tungkol sa pag aaral ng mabuti at pagpapahalaga sa pamilya. Tanging edukasyon lang daw ang maipapamana nila ni Mommy sa aming magkakapatid. He stressed that family stays and sticks together through anything and everything. Pag pamilya mo, dapat kampihan, suportahan, walang pag aalinlangan, walang tanong. Blood comes first. Family is everything.
I must have been quite a rebel when I pursued studying in Manila. Ayaw ni Daddy malayo ako. But later on, he understood. Love nya ako, there was never a question about it. Tuwing uuwi ako sa Mindoro, he always make it a point to cook my favorite humba. Walang kasing sarap ang humba ni dadi. Pati rin yung ginataang alimango na may pako.
Nung nagpaalam ako na magtratrabaho sa ibang bansa, my Dad cried a river. He was so upset, but then he must have known that I won’t change my mind. Ayaw nya and he was vocal about it pero napilit ko sha, and I promised him that I will be safe, and I will work hard as he has taught us to follow our dreams. When I reached Saudi Arabia for the first time on May 22, 2002, I found a letter from him inside my luggage. My dad is the sweetest.
Sa bawat pagkakataon na kailangan ko ng masasandalan, I always call my Dad. Tungkol sa work, kahit di nya naman kilala yung mga katrabaho ko sa hospital, I talked to him and asked for advice. He told me to be tough, wag magpapaagrabyado at manindigan kung ano ang tama. Don’t trust anyone. My Dad is the best mentor there is.
For 14 years that I have been working here in Riyadh, sa bawat pagtawag ko sa telepono kay Dadi, he never failed to ask me kung kelan ako uuwi. Kahit bakasyon ko sa Pinas, parati nya pa rin tinatanong kung kelan ako mag stay for good, kelan ako uuwi.
In 2013, I received a call that he had a stroke and was rushed to the hospital. Para akong mababaliw. Not of all people! Bakit si Dadi???!! Umuwi kaming lahat to spend time with him. He became very different physically. There infront of me was my favorite military man, my role model, my hero. Sickness has taken the best of his health, and we were witnessed to his mood swings. We were there to assure him that he will be okay and back to normal.
He recovered soon enough, thanks to my Mom and sis My for taking care of him. Not as robust as he was before, it was heartbreaking to see him succumbing to his moods and pains. I would look at him and talk about many things, sometimes he just stares back. I wished then that I could have been a doctor or perhaps an expert to read what was on his mind. Perhaps I could speak for him and tell everyone what he wanted to say. Madalas mainit ang ulo nya, I could understand his frustrations and I wish I could just hug him and tell him that everything is going to be okay. Pero pag okay ang mood nya, he tried to be as jolly as much as he can. Yung mga jokes na corny, nakakatawa kasi yung pagdeliver and you knew he was trying his best. My Dad is amusing.
Yung madaling araw na makatanggap ka ng tawag na wala na sha. Yung maraming kurot sa sarili mo para gumising and realize na panaginip lang.
For the first time, I run out of words to describe how I feel. Sobrang lungkot. Ansakit ah. Yung lungkot na parang hindi mauubos, hindi matatapos. Yung sakit at bigat sa dibdib na kahit araw araw mo maramdaman, parang hindi ka masasanay.
We were not ready and we will never be. Why didn’t you teach us how to let go?
Sabi nila, we have to be thankful dahil kasama mo na si God. Dapat daw maging masaya kami dahil hindi ka na mahihirapan.
If you’re leaving us was for you to get rid of all the pain, I pray for peace and comfort that you truly deserved. I will see you again someday and I will give you a big hug like I always do.
Parati mong tinatanong kung kelan ako uuwi. You are my home Dadi. And my life will never be the same ever again.
I love you so much Dadi, and you will always be in my heart and in my thoughts wherever I may be.
"If I can see the moon here and I also saw it while I was there right where you are, why does it feel like you're so far away?"
My six year old daughter asked and I didn't know how to answer. She was sick and she's asking me to go home.
I had to send my kids to Mindoro because it was not possible for us here in Riyadh to sponsor a maid anymore. It was one of the hardest decisions I had to make in my life. Being far from those you love is sad but not being able to be there when they need you is heartbreaking.
Many times when I think of them, i could only cry. Helpless, homesick, restless.
When my eldest had to face difficulties at school, I wanted so badly to hug her and tell her that everything will be okay. But I couldn't.
When my baby got sick and was rushed to the hospital, I was crushed. I wanted to be there for her. I just wanted to hold her tight and tell her that angels are watching over her and she'll be alright. But I couldn't.
The most painful consequence of having to work abroad for your family is not missing reunions or weddings or birthdays or anniversaries but being away when your loved one needs you most.
Sometimes my kids refuse to talk to me, saying they miss me more when we do chat. My eldest always asks me how many days are left before she could see me again. She tells me how hard it is to have parents away from their kids and all her friends' moms and dads pick them up from school everyday. I feel her.
My little baby keeps asking me to go home for her 7th bday and she says she has no other birthday wish other than to see her parents.
My sister says she finds my kids crying sometimes from missing us. I wish I could tell her I cry all the time from missing them. I always have to keep my self busy and tire myself up so I could just be normal.
No one told me it would be this hard. Nobody did.
I know I have to think positively. I have to be strong because our sacrifices now are intended for them to have a better future. Whenever I pray, i thank God for the passing day because I know it becomes a day closer to the time I'll be with them again. I pray that God would bless my daughters each with a heart that loves and a mind that understands more. I pray that he would bless my sister and my parents with good health and patience while they look after my children.
I stare at the moon tonight and imagine my daughters doing the same. I close my eyes and whisper how much I love them both to the moon and back.
It really is far, but hey, one day is almost over again. It's a day closer to the time I'll be with them but sadly, it's also a day away from them that I could never get back again.
Since the tragic typhoon hit Philippines a few days back, to say that I’ve been depressed with the news and all is an understatement. Watching the news and reading the feeds about my kabayans always bring me to tears.
Im so grateful that my immediate family was spared from Yolanda’s wrath when she passed by my hometown in Mindoro. For that I say, Im lucky. We are. But knowing that millions of my fellow Filipinos were struck the hardest beyond imagination breaks not only my heart but my spirit too.
The tragedy affected families- a lot of them. Losing a house you built for years with your family is never easy. Knowing that your livelihood will no longer be there to support you financially for the years to come is unbearable. And if you happen to lose your loved ones altogether in a disaster, wouldn’t that shatter you as a being? And food, and water. It has been days since the typhoon subsided but relief hasn’t reached most of them yet.
My heart goes to every mother, sister, daughter, friend, who was out there during the storm surge. I am also a mother to my kids. I am a daughter to my parents and a sister to my siblings. My thoughts are with those who fought for their lives up to their last breath. Salute to those who were able to save a soul in the midst of their own struggle.
But this is not the time that we just hear the news and shrug it off. It is not enough to be sad for the victims and to always say “kawawa naman sila”. Yes, we should pray, but we should also help them with whatever we can. They say we should do our best and God will do the rest.
May this storm bring out the best in each of us, who are more fortunate than the others. Let us share what we have to our brethren. They are our kabayans. We are one family. We are thankful for our foreign friends who responded to our calls. Pero ikaw, Pilipino ka rin- don’t you think it’s time to help?
It’s my day. The usual greetings poured in from friends around the world, even from those who have been out-of-my-reach for quite some time. Sa inyong lahat po na nakaalala at bumati, thank you. Unlike previous 9/11’s (yeah, most people hate this day, but it’s mine anyway), I woke up stressed to be happy today. Aside from both my girls being sick and feverish, my Dad recently had a stroke on the left side of his brain. Because the stroke was sudden and unexpected, the family has been in many shifts for almost a month now. Though my Mom and my eldest sister takes on the job of taking care of my Dad, the situation has become mental and emotional toll for the whole family.
I was with him just about 2 months ago. He was lively as ever and he seemed healthy and happy. My sisters and I were with him during this year’s Father’s day. It was probably the first Father’s Day celebration we had in 15 yrs and the best one ever. Until the stroke happened out of the blue and there was no time to prepare.
Being far from him at this time is an additional burden because I could not physically take care of him as much as I would love to. Every night and day, I pray for my Dad to recover. I pray to God to touch this man with his healing hands so that I could hear him talk again on the phone. I remember the last time we had a long phone conversation, he thought he was talking to my sister instead of me, and I just let him go on talking. I was smiling on the other line, because he was not a bit in doubt that it was me. Then, finally, he asked me something about my sister’s new house and I was not able to answer. He laughed so hard he was chuckling. Oh, that familiar sound I miss so much. I would trade all birthday gifts in the world to hear him laugh again.
How can I be happy today when that man I love so much, the one who used to have everything under control could not take a grip of the things in his own mind now? He’s anxious and probably depressed, and I heard he gets the mood sometimes. What if his current reality proves to be his new normal. That I cannot accept and it always brings me to tears because my strong, smart Dad of 35 years cannot help himself sit or stand nor speak (or control) his mind clearly. Yesterday, I was told he fell on the bed again. I thought maybe he was trying if he could turn to the other side of the bed but he couldn’t.
I feel for my Mom and my sister who are with him right now and I regret that I could not help them physically. My uncle and his wife are there for support right now, and I’m grateful to them. At times I feel that it would be best to hire a nurse and yet would that mean we’re paying somebody to take care of him while that's what we, his kids, are supposed to do?
Every 11th of Sept. probably during the past 34 years or since then that I was old enough to remember, my dad never failed to greet me with a cheerful birthday greeting. The birthday cards and long, rather sentimental letters he wrote for me were always happy additions.
But today, it is different. My loving Dad could not probably grip a pen to write a birthday card or a note for me. He has trouble saying my name and I somehow think that he must have forgotten my birthday too.
Anyway, it’s 11th and nonetheless it’s my day of the year, and I still do believe in birthday wishes. So today, mine would be for my Dad whom I love so much.
When I was small, my Dad used to tell me “mag ingat ka, wag tatanga-tanga!”. It may have sounded harsh to everyone except me because I never doubted my Dad’s real intention of letting me know how much he loves me and how much he wanted me to learn how to take care of myself, especially when he was not around.
Most of my childhood friends teased me for having a very strict Dad who would not let me go anywhere without him. I knew then that he never wanted me to feel alone or perhaps he was thinking that I, being the youngest girl in the family, was too soft or fragile. There were so many occasions and parties I never had the chance to attend because my Dad forbids me to. Once, he agreed that I attend a late night birthday party of my best friend in high school, after he dropped me off to the venue, I thought he went home, but I was not quite surprise to see him after 10 minutes, chatting with my friend’s Dad and stayed the whole evening waiting for me.
Finally, I graduated high school and my Dad didn’t approve of my studying in Manila. I was determined not to stay in our province. I had to convince him hard to let me stay and study in the city. For him, a family should always stay together in one place. But I had already set my mind that I will prove him how strong I am to live alone.
I was lucky to get a scholarship in the university, but expenses in the city were just too much for a newbie- boarding house, food, projects, etc. At the back of my mind, I knew that I could just call my Dad and tell him I could come back to the province with them, but I was even more resolute to prove my Dad that I can survive alone. I didn’t complain nor let anyone back home think that I was having a hard time during my first year so I applied for a part time job in a fast food chain and I studied harder and worked at the same time.
During my college days, I hardly had time to spend with my Dad. I worked during summer breaks and did my internship in some. But whenever I go home, I always spend time with my Dad and I always made sure that I let him know how much I missed him.
After two years of working in Manila, I’ve decided to try my luck abroad. I blindly signed a contract to work as a Pharmacist in a hospital here in Riyadh. My Dad didn’t want me to leave. I remember so clearly how hard he tried to convince me to stay, but I was firm. I knew that I broke his heart when I left Manila for the first time in May 2002. My dad was in the airport with me. I hugged him tight and he hugged me even tighter as if he didn’t want to let me go. “Magiingat ka Ineng dun ha.. iba na ang mundong pupuntahan mo dun sa Saudi.” Those were his words to me before his eyes were into too much tears. It was perhaps a warning of how complicated life could be ahead of me or maybe his silent way of telling me how sad he was to see his youngest daughter leave him for long.
That was ten years ago. I now have a family of my own and I have learned more about responsibility and commitment. I have learned not only to be strong, but more to be tough with life’s challenges. I have become more resilient with my decisions and stand up for things which do not only concern me but my family. I learned how to prioritize my children’s happiness over mine. I’m sure that my Dad will somehow be proud of me when I get the chance to tell him how matured his little girl has become.
If there’s something in me that hasn’t changed all these years, it’s my deep longing to spend time with my Dad again. My heart breaks every time my sister reminds me that he’s changed so much in the recent months. Maybe it’s because of his health condition, that he’s taking a lot of medications. Or maybe it’s because of his age. For whatever reason it may be, my Dad will always be the best father in the world for me. He will always be my strong confidante, my soldier, my number one fan, my mentor, my idol. In my lifetime, he is the only man who has loved me unconditionally. My Dad will always be God’s greatest gift for me in this world.
Happy Father’s Day Sarge!!! I miss you sooooo much!
What makes me happy?
People. Everyone around me who believes and inspires me- my family, my husband, my two beautiful girls, my friends and colleagues.
Life itself is a happy experience. The world is a happy place.
I had my own share of struggles, life was not easy for us back then but my Dad taught me how to believe in myself, work hard , be kind and to be strong. He inspired me to go out of my comfort zone. He used to tell me that the possibilities in life are endless and so I believed him.
l Iost him quite a few years ago but he has left me with so much inspiration to follow my dreams - to visit places I have only dreamt of or have seen in the movies when I was little and to do things I thought were only for the privileged few.
Wherever I go, I always remember my Dad, wishing he could see me from afar and somehow be proud of me as I have always been so proud of him. Life is short and I promised him that I would make the most of mine.
Travelling makes me happy and in all other things, I choose happiness. We all should- always..