Humans Of Ningxia

I was lucky enough to be invited to visit and explore Ningxia, China last month by Chinese Tourism and Asia Travel.

Ningxia is also known as the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and is located in the northwest part of the People’s Republic of China. Twenty percent of China’s Hui population lives in Ningxia and it is one of the 56 officially recognized nationalities of China.

I was not aware of Ningxia’s existence until last month.

I got invited a week before the event. Good thing, I got all my documents sorted out just before the Islamic New Year in UAE as it is an official holiday and the Chinese Embassy doesn’t work on that day. I applied for visa express and it only took 2 days to obtain the Chinese visa. I paid around AED 470.

I didn’t have any expectations of Ningxia. I tried to look it up on Instagram but I didn’t find any proper Instagram post of Ningxia. So, I head on over to the airport and hoped for the best.

I love adventure and exploring new places, pushing boundaries and flying to somewhere I have never heard of or saw before will be a good sign!

Boarded the Emirates EK326 to Yinchuan, Ningxia. Btw, this trip wouldn’t be possible without Emirates Airlines. They just recently launched their direct flight to Ningxia, China.

I have met Kit from Asia Travel, who picked us up at the airport and the super cool travel and lifestyle bloggers and photographers (@charleslibanjr, @travell1ngboots, @tauyanm, @najlakaddour, and @eothman).

We arrived Yinchuan around 5-ish pm. We checked in at Xifujing Hotel , met the hotel staff and Hallie, Kit’s colleague. I did a short Instagram Live to let my followers know about the hotel and the trip I was in. I had a food coma after stuffing my face with  19 super delicious Chinese dishes, all halal, from Xifujing Hotel. I forgot to say thank you to the chef.

My favourite is a dessert with Durian: 

I told Hallie and Kit that I have never eaten so much in my life and that all the dishes we had were all super yummy and guilt free, which made me eat more. have visited several tourists attraction in Ningxia.

For 5 days, we have visited several tourists attraction in Ningxia and what really caught my interest was the people so I decided to do a small project called Humans of Ningxia. Here are some of the portraits I took.

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This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We have visited a Hui family and taught us how to make a halal snack and how to prepare and drink ba bao tea.

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I went to Ningxia without any knowledge or clue about what to happen and what to expect and returned to Dubai as a storyteller armed with full of experiences, memories, photos and videos and new friends.

I will post another blog about Ningxia – the hotels, tourists attraction and what not so you will have an idea where to stay and where to go, so stay tuned for that.

Staycation with Sheraton Dubai Creek

Situated along Dubai Creek in the heart of Deira. Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotels and Towers first opened its door to the tourists and expats in 1978 as one of the 5-star hotels in Dubai.

View from my room

Each room and suite have its one of a kind overlooking views of the famous creek, historical Dubai and the city skyline.

Guests who are booked to Junior Suite will automatically have an access to the hotel’s Club Lounge.

And if you are a fan of the old Dubai (like me), the pool area has an access to the nearby creek. You can rent bikes at the hotel or walk around and explore the area.

I arrived at the hotel and checked in at around 6pm. Tatiana, their Marketing Executive welcomed me and showed me around. And since I arrived late, Sheraton Dubai Creek gave me the latest check out time at 5pm, woohoo! It gave me more time to swim, yay!

I had my complimentary breakfast at Hatta All Day Dining. They serve regional and international breakfast and if you are an SPG member, you get 20% discount off.

Moving on to the highlight of my day – BRUNCH AT THE CREEK

Brunch at the Creek is every Friday from 12:30pm to 4pm and is located at Vivaldi By Alfredo Russo on Level L. The setting is Al Fresco with a breathtaking view of the Dubai creek and skyline. They serve a selection of Italian cuisine by Michelin-starred Alfredo Russo, a selection of Indian cuisine by Asiana and a selection of Japanese cuisine by Creekside.

Fun fact: Chef Andrea Russo goes around and offers risotto to all its guests.

Also, there’s an area for kids to play in case they’re in the mood to swing and slide while you enjoy your seafood pasta.

Below are the packages:

  • Soft packages: AED 169
  • House packages: AED 219
  • Premium packages: AED 269

Here are some of the images I took, ENJOY!

Additional details:

Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel & Towers

Baniyas Street

Tel: +971 4 228 1111

Mission: CABIN ZERO

Hola! So I am back from hibernation, not really as I am active on my Instagram and this blog needs an update. Right?

So here is the latest from my end:

  • Cabin Zero sent me a bag. It’s a Classic Ultra-Light Cabin Bag in original grey. I love muted colours so I picked this one. It is easy to pair with your #OOTD’s and if you are not into flashy colours then this one’s for you 🙂
  • I always carry my laptop everyday. Thankfully, this bag has a compartment for my 15″ lappy. Plus I put my camera in it as well.
  • Though Dubai is always sunny and rain isn’t an issue here but it’s a good thing that this bag is waterproof (in case I spill water on it)

Here are some additional features:

  • Built-in Global Luggage Tracker, powered by Okoban
  • Lockable Zippers on main compartment (lock not included)
  • 10 years warranty (upgradable to 25 years free of charge if you ‘like’ us on FaceBook)
  • Oversized padded air mesh shoulder straps
  • Fully Lined

Check out some photos we took during our desert exploration in Sharjah with Cabin Zero 🙂

Bay Square Instameet

Hello! I am back again. This is officially my first post for this year – YAAY!

I have been hosting some instameets in Dubai. My weekends are spent in discovering new spots with local based Instagrammers and sharing it through my social media platforms such as here, on Instagram and on Facebook. Here is the recent one we did in Bay Square. I would like to thank each and every Instagrammer who woke up so early and joined me in exploring this side of Dubai. Also, thank you to the guys in La Brioche for being a rockstar and a life saver and for serving us the best breakfast  ever 🙂

So if you are based in UAE or just visiting, join us in the next adventure.

Enjoy my photo story 🙂

 

 

Gems Of Italia Meet

It was my first time to visit Umm Suqeim Fishing Harbour last weekend. I got an invite to join Herald Herrera‘s instameet with Peroni UAE for Gems Of Italia and I felt like the universe conspired and decided to make the weather and the place looked really magical specifically on that day! YAY FOR DUBAI WINTER! Also, we just discovered a hidden gem! Not sure what it is, but it looked like a Stonehenge – DXB version! Here are some of the photos taken by me. Enjoy!!

Special thanks to:

Joy Caasi

Rhie Lim

GenyVB

@joycaasi
@joycaasi
@joycaasi
@joycaasi
@rhielim
@rhielim
ME!!
ME!!
@genyvb
@genyvb

First EuroTrip Part 2

The second country that I visited during my First Euro Trip was The Netherlands.

I took the ICE from Berlin Central Station to Amsterdam Centraal. The train left at exactly 10:30 am. I almost missed it as I got lost in the Berlin subways *sigh*. Got off from Hermannplatz or so I thought. Got out of the station and hailed a taxi (i know its a sin to take a taxi in Europe as it costs a lot, but idc anymore lol. Its either I pay 27 Euros or Ill waste 120 Euros). I reached Berlin Central Station panting and confused af as to which platform to take, thank God for their Information who told me to take the Platform 14. And you know what, Platform 14 is all the waaaaay up, so I again I need to move quickly as possible as I can. Fly if I can! As soon as I got on to platform, the train arrived. *WHEEEW* All’s well that ends well. Got on the train that will take me to Amsterdaaaaaam!

Amsterdam Centraal
Amsterdam Centraal

Arriving in Ams, the vibe is a bit different from the more reserved and hushed city of Berlin. Ams is loud and bright and colorful with too many tourists here and there. If you are not into these (like me) and if you like quiter moments with yourself or friends, I recommend that you explore and discover hidden gems at the back streets. I don’t know how to ride a bike so obviously I really looked like a tourist, ugh! I highly recommend that you rent a bike (if you know how) it will defo save you from walking a lot around the city. >>> BIKE HIRE <<<

I stayed at Ramada Apollo Amsterdam. If you don’t like the crowd and would like to stay away from people (lol, just like me again) – I highly recommend this hotel. And should you ever decide to stay here, you must go to their roofie to see the view of the city. Don’t worry this is just 15 minute tram ride to the city centre.

Must do: First, get yourself the Iamsterdam card. You can purchase it from the visitor centers. It costs 75 Euros. You can use it on trams, ferry ride and free entries in selected museums. Too bad Anne Frank House and A’dam Lookout aren’t included.

Get the IAmsterdam card
Get the IAmsterdam card

Must visit:

  1. Eye Filmmuseum – This is included in IAmsterdam card. All you have to do is to take the ferry behind Amsterdam Centraal. Ferry cost = zero
Eye Film Museum
Eye Film Museum

 

2. Van Gogh Museum – I didnt know his life is interesting until I visited the museum. Included in the IAmsterdam card. Go check this!

3. Micropia – This is included in IAmsterdam card also. Not sure if this is a permanent exhibit but if yes, then this one is a very interesting place to visit whilst in Ams. Beside Micropia is the zoo, which i wasn’t able to visit because they were already closed at 5pm.

Spiral staircase in Micropia
Spiral staircase in Micropia

4. Zaanze Schans – The Windmills, need I say more? It’s a 30 minute train ride from Amsterdam Centraal.

 

5. Amsterdam Museum – learn more about the Dutch history!

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6. Museum of Prostitution – learn more about the oldest profession in the world located at the Red Light District.

A tourist poses as a prostitute.
A tourist poses as a prostitute.

7. The Art of Banksy – This isn’t included in the IAmsterdam card so I paid for it. The exhibition is a collection of all Banky’s art pieces and is considered as one of his biggest exhibitions. Runs until January 8, 2017.

8. Anne Frank House I wasn’t able to go at Anne Frank House as I thought that you can only get in when you book online (which is fully booked til the end of the year). On my last day in Ams, I learned that they also accept walk ins from 3pm til late. Will definitely come back soon and make sure to visit Anne Frank!

Outside Anne Frank House
Outside Anne Frank House

 

9. Stuff your face with their stroopwafels. Chill by the canal. Rent a bike! Enjoy life 🙂

So there you go! My first Eurotrip! If you have any questions, feel free to send them over to me. Peace!

Camera used: iPhone6

Post process: VSCO

First EuroTrip Part 1

I know, i know! I have been MIA for months. So sorry about that! But this is moi making a comeback! Yeah RETURN OF THE MACK!! With some amazing news.

Let’s start off with my first Euro trip last August 26 to September 2nd. First stop – Berlin. Then Amsterdaaaaaam!!

I was one of the finalists in 2016 EyeEm Awards under the Architecture category. Below was my entry 🙂 I didn’t win, but who cares! I got to see BERLIIIIIN!!! ❤ Walked the streets, rode the metro and learned from their history!

The Architecture Finalist
The Architecture Finalist

I stayed at Ibis Neukölln on Jahnstrasse. It just a stone’s throw away to Grenzallee, a Berlin U-Bahn station located on the U7. It was my home for 3 nights, from August 26th to 29th. It’s just weird that I only get to know that my room was next to a cemetery when I woke up the next day and looked out my windown. It was all good. I didn’t experience any supernatural thingy other than super tired by the end of the day from walking around too much. The hotel is really just for getting some rest so, don’t expect it to be super luxurious like the Ibis hotels in Dubai. I came to Berlin during summertime so just imagine, no AC in the room and even when the sun sets, the heat was still in the room. But like I said, I still love Berlin, regardless! And if there is one city that I will go back again and again, I think it will be Berlin.

Instant replay: I applied my Schengen visa at VFS Global located in Wafi Mall in Dubai. After I secured all the necessary requirements, I immediately scheduled an appointment. After less than a week of waiting for the good news, I finally got my Schengen visa! It was 30 day, multiple entry. Oh yeah!!

For more details about how to get a Schengen visa in Germany, click this link.

Here are some of the photos of my room in Berlin..

Here are the photos from 2016 EyeEm Awards held in Heimathafen Neukölln. The nearest metro station is Karl Marx (my fav, cuz its KARL MARX!)

Some random photos of Berlin..

Next stop is AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands. 

(photos shot all by me. shot on iPhone6, post processed on VSCO)

Visit Ras Al Khaimah

June 23, 2016

I had the privilege to be invited by Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Authority team to experience their sumptuous and delightful variety of tasty Arabian dishes, desserts and refreshing Ramadan drinks at the Al Marjan tent situated in the heart of Al Marjan Island in Ras Al Khaimah last June 23th.

I live in Dubai and I still don’t have my own driver’s license so I asked them kindly if they can arrange a pick up and drop off for me which they happily did. I was picked up by RAK and SUN at exactly 5:30pm, in Dubai. We arrived in Al Marjan tent just a bit early for Iftar. The tent was set up in a traditional arabesque way. Gorgeous Ramadan lantern on top of the middle isle of the tent. The best part was the traditional entertainers, playing oud  and adding that middle eastern vibe, to top it all off. The ambience was perfect for those who will break their fast with their families and friends or simply dining out. Personally, I liked their lamb ouzi and their jalab 🙂 in short I had a food coma after stuffing my face with all the tasty food in front of me!

After the Iftar, I was invited to stay in Hilton Al Hamra Beach and Golf Resort  for one night. I was welcomed at the hotel desk by their friendly staff, Rechid. He informed me everything about the facilities of the hotel and handed me a tourist map, mini guide of the hotel and a voucher for meal and even asked me if I wanted to book for a spa/massage for the next day. He gave me a free membership of Hilton Honors where you can earn rewards, free stays, endless destinations, exclusive stay benefits and more. Another hotel staff by the name of Joseph, helped me with my luggage to my room.

Lobby Lounge

June 24, 2016

Hilton Al Hamra itself is situated between the Arabian Peninsula and Hajar Mountains. Their luxurious rooms have the panoramic view of the sea. I was lucky that my hotel room was booked in one of them. I knew, I was in for a treat ❤

My view from my room
My view from my room
panoramic view from my room
panoramic view from my room

I had my breakfast and lunch at Al Shamal restaurant. They are serving international cuisine. Although I had an option to have my lunch in any outlets in the hotel such as the Al Jazeera (Lebanese cuisine), Le Chalet (light meals, a-la-carte specialties) and Scirocco (modern public house). I wanted to visit Trader Vic’s Mai Tai as well but they only open from 5pm. I should’ve stayed longer. Next visit, for sure I will!

 

I did an hour of Oriental Massage in their state of the art spa and it was the most relaxing thing I did during my stay. Many thanks to April for the rejuvenating massage, my sore and tensed muscles were all gone now. In the morning, I went to their private beach, caught some tan and enjoyed the cool water of Arabian Peninsula. I wished I could swim though 😦

The guests have the option of going to the pristine white sand of the resort’s private beach and or soak up the sun at the two temperature-controlled pool or in my case, I mostly stayed in their jacuzzi 🙂

I was also able to view their Presidential Suite, thanks to Alison for showing us around the hotel.

Presidential Suite
Presidential Suite
Presidential Suite
Presidential Suite

My stay will never be complete without the beautiful and friendly hotel staff and of course the General Manager of Hilton Al Hamra, Mr. Gherardi. I was treated like a QUEEN!

Everything you need for a staycation and a home a way from home is already here in Hilton Al Hamra Beach and Golf Resort. Many thanks for having me. I highly recommend it to the tourists, expats and even the locals to visit Ras Al Khaimah whenever you are in the UAE and while your at it, stay and relax in Hilton Al Hamra Beach and Golf Resort.

 

Panoramic view from Presidential Suite
Panoramic view from Presidential Suite

For more details/reservations, please call or get in touch:

Hilton Al Hamra Beach and Golf Resort, Vienna Street, Al Jazira Al Hamra, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE

Telephone number: +971 7 244 6666

Fax Number: +971 7 244 6677

Email Address: reservations.hamra@hilton.com

Website: http://www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/uae/hilton-al-hamra-beach-and-golf-resort-RKTAHHI/index.html

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hiltonalhamra/

 

 

A R M E N I A

People asked me why travel in Armenia. The fact that there is a huge language barrier in Armenia, the people here are super sweet and extra nice and will definitely make sure to put an effort to communicate with you (thru Google Translate). They will pull over and let you cross the street. They will automatically bring you vase filled with water if you come in with a flower in a restaurant or cafe. I met some of the most beautiful and authentic people out here. They may look tough from the outside but they’re softies inside. Courteousness is definitely their thing, which a lot of countries lack nowadays. I can say that chivalry isn’t dead in Armenia.

We have been slaves of technology and social media but surprisingly, I didn’t see any single person on his phone anywhere on the streets of Yerevan. They prefer to talk face to face. And did I mention the weather? I could live here forever. I survived a negative temperature on top of a snowcapped mountain in Sevan. I maybe a city girl but I still long for simple things in life.

I would like to thank Ararat Hotel for taking good care of us all through out our stay in Yerevan. You guys rock our world!

Thank you Alibi Club for allowing us to celebrate our friend’s birthday, for the free drinks and for playing the dopest beats there is! You guys are the bomb!

Thank you Louis Charden for letting us in your Pinterest-like cafe even though it was super late and made sure we can have a glass of wine in celebration of our friend’s birthday!

We also enjoyed tasty home cooked Armenian meals in Garni – Geghard courtesy of Sergey’s Place.

We were all mesmerised by this magical place called El Garden located near the Genocide Museum in Yerevan.

ARMENIA – PLEASE ADOPT ME!!

By the way, all photos are shot with Fuji XT1 with XF 16-55 mm weather resistant, dust resistant, -10  degrees Celsius low-temparature operation lens. As you can see in the photos, it was all snows and rains but i was still able to take beautiful images. This camera and lens withstand the weather condition and I am just glad I brought them with me.

Armenia_2-6 Armenia_2-7 Armenia_2-8 Armenia_2-11 Armenia_2-12 Armenia_2-15 Armenia_2-16 Armenia_3-7 Armenia_3-14 Armenia_3-18 Armenia_3-35 Armenia_3-50 Armenia_3-52 Armenia_3-53 Armenia_3

 

a l d h a f r a c a m e l f e s t i v a l

Hello everyone! Before the year ends, I just want to wish you all a HAPPY and ABUNDANT 2016!

Indeed, this year has been an awesome year for me (and I hope for you too), from being selected to be a part of Apple World Gallery to being a full time professional photographer to taking over Instagram accounts to being a brand ambassador (I did a radio guesting too, yay :)) I have so many things to be thankful for and people to be grateful for (you know who you are :)).

I am hoping that this coming year will be more exciting for all of us. May it bring us peace, creativity, opportunities, adventures and success.

And for my last post for this year, I would like to share some of the photos I have took at Al Dhafra Camel Festival last week.

See you all next year!

xx Debbie
aldhafra-3 aldhafra-4 aldhafra-8 aldhafra-10 aldhafra-13 aldhafra-14 aldhafra-17 aldhafra

#ShotOniPhone6

Hello everyone! I am honored and excited to let you all know that one of my images from the Empty Quarter or Rub’ al Khali in Abu Dhabi has made it to Apple’s award winning World Gallery #ShotOniPhone6 Campaign. The first use was in a Spanish travel magazine called De Viajes, it went on sale last June 24th. I cannot wait to see it on billboards around the globe soon!

I ask each one of you to help me look for my image, may it be on print or outdoor, by taking a photo and sending it to my email: hello@debbiefortes.com. I will update this entry every now and then by putting up the photos you guys took along with credits.

Am looking forward to seeing all the photos taken by you from all over the world. Thank you!

The Empty Quarter, Abu Dhabi UAE. Part of Apple's World Gallery
The Empty Quarter, Abu Dhabi UAE. Part of Apple’s World Gallery