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

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

My First SoleDXB Experience

So, it was my first time in Sole DXB and it didn’t fail my expectations, yaay! Here is my photo diary, hope you like them ❤

Where the talks are happening!
Where the talks are happening!

So many amazing and talented people all in one place and it LITERALLY BLEW MY MIND! Good music and great vibe courtesy of Uncle Jheff’s, thanks to DJ Cheriana for playing my jam – Digable Planet’s Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat), lol – OLD SKOOL yo!

DJ Cheriana
DJ Cheriana

It was great catching up with old friends as well. You guys rock!

And meeting new friends, yaay! Below are the portraits of the most beautiful girls in SoleDXB! #GirlPower

 

More random photos.. 

Too bad, I wasn’t able to stay til the after party. I heard it was LIT! I wanna thank all these unforgettable individuals who allowed me to take their videos/photos and were patient with me and made sure I got my shots.

Also check out the short video I did!! Let me know your thoughts! << Click this or go to www.facebook.com/debbiefortesphoto. Don’t forget to leave some LOVE!

See you all next year! Peace! #SoleDXB

 

 

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!

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

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

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

Debbie F. On Apple World Gallery

Hello again!

I guess this time you are all aware of my inclusion in Apple World Gallery #ShotOniPhone6. Wherein they picked photographers (pro and amateur) to be a part of this award winning campaign and the largest mobile photography gallery ever assembled to be featured in 70 cities in 25 countries through billboards and magazines in subways, highways and airports. It is an honor to be a part of it and I am so lucky to have met some of the Apple World Gallery photographers on Twitter and Instagram. Helping each other to look out for our images. I cannot thank my friends in real life and my instafriends enough for their undying support in helping me find my Apple image/billboard while they are on their holidays.

I would like to share some of the photos they have sent me and some photos I have screenshot on Twitter. If ever you see my image anywhere in the world, please do not hesitate to take a shot of it and send it over to me at hello@debbiefortes.com. I appreciate each and every one’s help and support! Peace! 🙂

 

MANHATTAN, NEW YORK, USA

Manhattan, New York Photo Credit: Brand Cities
Manhattan, New York
Photo Credit: Branded Cities
Manhattan,New York Photo credit: Brand Cities
Manhattan,New York
Photo credit: Branded Cities
Manhattan, New York Photo credit: Yasmine Ferdjani
Manhattan, New York
Photo credit: Yasmine Ferdjani
W 47th St. New York, NY Photo credit: Leslie Parrott
W 47th St. New York, NY
Photo credit: Leslie Parrott
W 47th St. New York, NY Photo credit: Leslie Parrott
W 47th St. New York, NY
Photo credit: Leslie Parrott
W 47th St. New York, NY Photo credit: Leslie Parrott
W 47th St. New York, NY
Photo credit: Leslie Parrott

 

BARCELONA, SPAIN

Barcelona, Spain Photo credit: Ahmed El Gamal
Barcelona, Spain
Photo credit: Ahmed El Gamal
Barcelona, Spain Photo credit: Ahmed El Gamal
Barcelona, Spain
Photo credit: Ahmed El Gamal
A street across from Placa de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain Photo taken by: Rula El Kaliouby
A street across from Placa de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain
Photo taken by: Rula El Kaliouby

 

 

BERLIN, GERMANY

Berlin, Germany Photo credit: Ahmed El Gamal
Berlin, Germany
Photo credit: Ahmed El Gamal

 

Berlin, Germany Photo credit: Ahmed El Gamal
Berlin, Germany
Photo credit: Ahmed El Gamal

 

HAMBURG, GERMANY

Hamburg Central Station, Germany Photo credit: Huda Bin Redha
Hamburg Central Station, Germany
Photo credit: Huda Bin Redha
Hamburg Central Station, Germany Photo credit: Huda Bin Redha
Hamburg Central Station, Germany
Photo credit: Huda Bin Redha
Hamburg Central Station, Germany Photo credit: Huda Bin Redha
Hamburg Central Station, Germany
Photo credit: Huda Bin Redha

 

FRANKFURT, GERMANY

Frankfurt Terminal 2, Germany Photo taken by: Ahmed El Gamal
Frankfurt Terminal 2, Germany
Photo taken by: Ahmed El Gamal
Frankfurt Terminal 2, Germany Photo taken by: Ahmed El Gamal
Frankfurt Terminal 2, Germany
Photo taken by: Ahmed El Gamal
Frankfurt Terminal 2, Germany Photo taken by: Ahmed El Gamal
Frankfurt Terminal 2, Germany
Photo taken by: Ahmed El Gamal

 

LONDON, UK

Camden Town station, London Photo credit: Hyku Desesto
Camden Town station, London
Photo credit: Hyku Desesto
Monument Station, London UK Photo credit: Hyku Desesto
Monument Station, London UK
Photo credit: Hyku Desesto
Monument Station, London UK Photo credit: Robbie
Monument Station, London UK
Photo credit: Robbie
Somewhere in London Photo credit: Karen McLean
Somewhere in London
Photo credit: Karen McLean
Waterloo Station, London, UK Photo credit: Hyku Desesto
Waterloo Station, London, UK
Photo credit: Hyku Desesto
Oxford Circus Station, London UK Photo credit: Jakub Mroz
Oxford Circus Station, London UK
Photo credit: Jakub Mroz
Oxford Circus Station, London UK Photo credit: Jakub Mroz
Oxford Circus Station, London UK
Photo credit: Jakub Mroz

 

PARIS, FRANCE

St. Lazare Station, Paris France Photo credit: Karen McLean
St. Lazare Station, Paris France
Photo credit: Karen McLean

 

ABU DHABI AND DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal 1, Departure Photo taken by: Altamash Javed
Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal 1, Departure
Photo taken by: Altamash Javed
Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal 1, Departure Photo credit: Me
Abu Dhabi Airport Terminal 1, Departure
Photo credit: Me
Dubai Airport, Terminal 3, Arrivals Photo credit: Kriks Krikorian
Dubai Airport, Terminal 3, Arrivals
Photo credit: Kriks Krikorian

 

MUMBAI, INDIA

Mumbai, India Photo credit: Geet Rathi
Mumbai, India
Photo credit: Geet Rathi
Mumbai, India Photo credit: Internet
Mumbai, India
Photo credit: Internet

 

WASHINGTON, DC USA

Street Sense HQ Washington, DC USA Photo credit: Street Sense
Street Sense HQ
Washington, DC USA
Photo credit: Street Sense

 

AUSTRALIA

Men's Fitness Australia Photo taken by: Peter David
Men’s Fitness
Australia
Photo taken by: Peter David

QASBA

Recently Discover UAE, a project based Instagram account aiming to explore United Arab Emirates, held their first instameet/instawalk in Qasba located in the Emirate of Sharjah.

“Qasba – 10,0000-acre project including a 1 km-long man-made canal and 60m high observation wheel, it was made open for the public in 2005. It includes Masrah Al Qasba, a theatre, the Maraya Art Centre, the Multaqa Al Qasba meetings and conference centre and a children’s Fun Zone. The project, managed by the Al Qasba Development Authority (an affiliate of Shurooq) has an architectural design including pedestrian bridges, boats, and lagoons. It attracted two million visitors in 2011. (Source: Wikipedia)”

I am very happy to have returned and explored around this place again with other fellow Instagrammers/Instafriends.

Here are some of the photos I took of Qasba and its tunnel and gorgeous mirror like canal.

PS: i just learned how to create a watermark on photoshop hehe.. 🙂

Qasba_3 with watermark_debbiefortes
needlez and pinzz

Qasba with watermark_debbiefortes Qasba_2 with watermark

#WWIM10_Dubai

Community members of Instagrammers Dubai and Peeta Planet team actively participated the 10th Worldwide Instameet held last October 5th. The theme was “Chasing Sunrise”. The members gathered at the Creek Metro Station at dawn. During this time, each members were given some Instagram freebies such as stickers, badges and pens.

First, we covered Saif Mohd Belqaizi Shipbuilding Yard which is located just a few steps away from the Creek Metro Station. The place may be an unlikely place to have an Instameet but I was fortunate that I woke up at 5am and witness a hidden gem behind those high walls of Jadaf. I am truly amazed at the ships being built and according to a shipbuilder one ship can take 5-10 years to be finished.

Here are some of my photos taken at the #WWIM10_Dubai. I was trying to mute the colors and decided to go B&W this time.

And oh by the way, Instagram just made me their SUGGESTED USER follow me if you haven’t @needlez_and_pinzz

Peace and love x

WWIM10-3 WWIM10-5 WWIM10-7 WWIM10-11