Hello Riyadhizens! Thank you so much for tuning in to our very first Facebook Live where we’re just “chatting” with each other. Haha! We said we’ll only take 15 minutes of your time but we chatted non-stop and it lasted over an hour! Sorry about that. But here’s the thing, we actually enjoyed it and because you asked for it in the survey that we ran for a few days, we will probably have more chats via Facebook Live in the coming months where we’ll recap the month for you and also let you know what to expect in the coming months. If that’s something you’d really like for us to do then join us and comment on ever FB Live videos we’ll be doing. We’ll appreciate it so much. 😉
Speaking of appreciation, thank you so much for an amazing 2016, Riyadhizens! Thank you for supporting us all the way and thank you for behaving in our blog and social media accounts, haha! What we love about our readers is that there are no negativity, no fighting, no trolling in our accounts. Thank you for that because truly, we are living the positive and just good vibes theme of the blog. We would also like to give a shout out to our very patient webmaster Mr. Mark who’s keeping the back-end of the blog safe and sound. We couldn’t have done it without him throughout the years.
Tthis entry is a recap of our year. We did this in the video but some of you might want to go to the links we mentioned as the highlights and bests of our years. Some entries might gone unnoticed and then you realize you need it in your life. So we’re still writing this entry anyway to help you find some entries that matter and will matter to you in the coming year.
In January of this year, I got married in the Philippines. Being married to the love of my life is of course the highlight of my year. I will have to admit that it wasn’t in my plans to get married. I’m that kind of girl that friends predict will not marry because of my independent personality and career-oriented goals in life. But I did and it’s one of the biggest, most important decisions that I ever did. (I have to thank my husband for loving me! Haha!) If you got engaged and is now planning for your wedding in the Philippines, it can be done! It’s a bit of a headache planning your wedding long distance but it’s also worth it when you see your visions and ideas come to life. I wrote about How To Plan Your Wedding (The Long Distance Way) Part 1 and Part 2 in the blog to serve as a guide to bride-to-bes and their husband-to-bes. You’ll more or less know the essentials, budget, and suppliers. I hope these help you plan that grand day in your life. For those who are planning on getting married through the Philippine Embassy, I also wrote how that works. As Reina announced in our Facebook Live, she also got married this year, on the third week of December at the Philippine Embassy. If you’re following suit, here is my entry on How To Get Married at the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh. Congratulations to every one who are trying the knot this year! Best wishes! We hope our wedding guides will help you.
2016 is also the year that I became a huge fan of online shopping. I had a series of “My Online Shopping Experience” entries in the blog. Of course, I still shop in the sprawling malls of Riyadh but there’s nothing like scoring items that are not easily available in Riyadh in the online world. Or, items that are way cheaper if bought in websites. I mastered the art of waiting and in fairness, I strengthened my emotional quotient guys! Hahaha! I discovered the wonderful world of iHerb, a website that sells organic products from beauty and skincare to groceries, supplements, and even pet grooming. I wrote about iHerb in My Online Shopping Experience in 2015 and I expanded that to Drugstore.com in 2016. Unfortunately, Drugstore.com shut down in November; I’m still looking for a replacement online shop for drugstore products that are not available in Riyadh. There are some online sites that don’t deliver directly to Riyadh and so I signed up for Shop and Ship, the forwarding service of Aramex, and wrote about Shopping The World with SnS. Basically, they gave me addresses in different countries where I can forward my buys, the most important is the United States address because most websites only deliver to the US. I like the service of SnS.
Food is definitely a huge part of The Pink Tarha’s content. You love our reviews in restaurants around Riyadh. Again, just to be clear, we are not being paid to review restaurants. We do not go to restaurants and announce that we are writers for The Pink Tarha blog. Most of the time, especially when it’s a new restaurant, we just go there, take photos of our food (just like any normal human being in this time and age), dine, and leave. Our experiences are of simple consumers who just want to eat. We also get invited to try and eat in restaurants and we usually put a disclaimer in our entries so you know. And even though we get invited, our opinions, comments and feedback on the restaurant, its food, its ambiance and staff service are still our own. We do not let free food cloud our judgment. Anyway, in 2016, we brought you a list of wok restaurants (mostly take-out kiosks) in our entry Come, Wok With Us. We saw the trend of noodles and fried rice rise in the city. Mexican food came calling through Salsa Grill, which has the best mango salsa in Riyadh (hands-down!).
Reina mentioned that her favorite food/restaurant of 2016 is Nozomi and I wholeheartedly agree. That Japanese restaurant is exquisite! There’s an Extravagance in Nozomi but it’s well worth its price. Another memorable meal was the Fondue of Melting Pot. It was a different way of dining where we got to cook our own food and mix and match the meat and sauces to our liking. It’s a very slow yet delicious way of eating. We loved the terrace dining place of the restaurants in Centria Mall and we frequented La Vela a few years ago but that was closed and replaced by Fancy, Modern Hualan. It’s a Chinese restaurant that elevates dishes and ambiance. We rediscovered the Breakfast Offerings of Buffalo’s and found out that they’re offered all-day long! And also its sister company, Fatburger. It seems like the brunch phenomenon launched just a few years ago and now here we are. Coffeeshops have always been popular in Riyadh and we listed the Coffeeshops That Are Not Starbucks (we like Starbucks too but we want to give others a chance). We also love the coffee at Feminine Cafe, one of the ladies-only restaurants in our No Men Allowed entry. Have you read about the best Italian restaurant in Riyadh according to Foursquare? The pizzas are up for debate but no doubt, La Rustica definitely serves the best burrata! Pizzas are pies yes? But it’s a different pie concept when it comes to the Parade of Pies at Pie Days. They took the American pie and gave it an Arabic twist.
We were also impressed with the hotel restaurants in Riyadh because they amped up their game! I usually don’t enjoy dining in the restaurants of hotels because I find them too expensive but we were surprised with the following: Pampa Grill at Narcissus Residence and Hotel (BBQ), Acacia Restaurant in Movenpick Hotel (French), Il Terrazo of Al Faisaliah Hotel (Brazilian), Rosso in Four Seasons Hotel (Italian), Horizon Restaurant of Movenpick Hotel (International), Caramel Lounge of Rosh Rayhaan by Rotana (High Tea), Elements of Four Seasons Hotel (International), The Grill at Four Seasons Hotel (BBQ), Al Nakheel Restaurant of Four Points by Sheraton Khaldia (International), and Tugra Restaurant of the Burj Rafal Kempinski (Ottoman) (published in WSB Newsletter).
Franchise branches of international restaurants have also opened in Riyadh! Finally, we have the Arrival of Shake Shack! We got to taste the Fast and Casual Food of Panda Express. Riyadh got another taste of an international chain of burger In The Company of Five Guys. We Welcomed Kamps, a known brand of bakery in Germany. One of the popular cupcake stores in the States has also opened its doors in Riyadh and we wrote All About Magnolia in the blog. We’re still having cravings for their red velvet cupcakes and banana pudding time and again. Seafood, though lacking in Riyadh, finally got its spotlight with the opening of Ocean Basket in Al Aliah Plaza. Then there’s another burger joint in Riyadh that will remind you of Harry and Khumar. Yes, we Found The White Castle. We also got our Peri-Peri Fix at Nando’s! Everyone’s waiting for this chicken restaurant to open and until now, lines are quite long. And last but not the least, Yellow Cab, a homegrown brand of the Philippines, has opened its first branch in Saudi Arabia! We couldn’t be any prouder!
Food plazas seem to be the theme of constructions in 2016. Plazas are locations that have more than five restaurants in one venue, usually with a hypermarket as the center of it. It’s a good place to chill with families and friends because the food choices are almost endless. We told you about two food districts: Al Bujairi in Diriyah and Fiorenza La Piazza. We also wrote about the Top Five Restaurants You Didn’t Know Exist in Riyadh which includes the Secret Chinese Restaurant every one is asking about. We also put the spotlight on some home businesses like the wonderful and artistic cakes of Anna’s Princess Cakery and the Diet of Paleo Palette. We scoured coffee mornings and bazaars for unique finds like the various Baked Goodies at The Gathering that are mostly start-up bakers found in Instagram. We also featured some artists whose Art we saw in Le Marche Bazaar.
Now, for activities in Riyadh, there are a lot! I wrote about the Top Five Fun Things To Do in Riyadh last February. Of course, these activities are available all-year-round so you don’t have to worry of being bored this new year. We have yet to visit Snow City so yes, that’s something we’re planning to go to. 2016 saw Reina (and our friend Jou) hike in the Diplomatic Quarters and she shared her Highs of Hiking in the DQ so you can also get your fitness on #balikalindogprogram. For 2017, we will write about the places where you can walk and run with your families. We also discovered and learned a lot from Ennessi Farm in 2016. The passion for agriculture of the couple who runs the place is admirable and we like going around the place looking at their abundant crops. We also played Riyadh’s largest outdoor game, The Riyadh Race and run like crazy! We also had to use our brains to solve the puzzles that led us to the finish line. Speaking of solving puzzles, we tried Escaping Arabia and so far, we come to know that like these escape room games! We tried the three rooms of Escape Arabia and wish they come up with more!
We traveled in and around Riyadh province too during the Eid vacation spurning the entries, Where To Go During The Eid Vacation and What To Do During Eid which included spending the Night in Salam Park. I also went to King Abdullah Park and I promise to write about it soon! If you want a One Quick Road Trip, check out our entry that will take you to Shaqra, Ushaiger Village and back to Riyadh through the Huraymila-Salboukh highway.
We also traveled outside Saudi Arabia in 2016. Our first trip was to the Kingdom of Bahrain courtesy of Residence Inn by Marriot Juffair. We had a great time in Bahrain (it was my first time, and the third for Reina). That quick weekend saw us living in an elegant, spacious two-bedroom apartment quite at Residence Inn, touring the historical places of Bahrain, and going through heart-pumping, mind-boggling, exciting activities. Reina also went to Japan during her vacation and she wrote an entry on Planning For Japan so you guys know how to start applying for the Japanese visa in Riyadh. And she went on to write about her experiences in Japan through her Tokyo Diaries 1, 2, and 3. Last September, we went to Morocco with our friend Jamila. I wrote about how to Plan A Morocco Trip and also a series of entries that talked about our top fives: Cities To Visit 1 and 2, Unforgettable Experiences, Must-Dos, and Souvenirs.
We also launched our beauty blog in the latter part of 2016. Called Beauty Bets, this is where we put our beauty entries and posts originally published in main Pink Tarha blog. We published reviews of beauty products so you don’t have to waste your hard-earned money buying duds. I talked about the Palettes on My Wish List, my Favorites for September and October, Top Makeup Dupes, Brands That Are Worth Your Money, and the Sephora Masterclass that I attended. The truth is, we’re having a hard time keeping up with two blogs and we might let go of the beauty blog to concentrate on just the social media accounts of Beauty Bets but who knows? We’re still trying to make our schedules work. One of our goals is to have a network of websites in Riyadh. Well, I mean, there’s just the two of us but wth, maybe we’ll expand soon? LOL. We’ll see what we can do. You know how we do it… we aim high and just see where things take us. Inshallah.
In 2016, we also got featured in MBC 1’s MBC In A Week television program. You saw us wear our pink tarha literally! Haha! Finally touring and seeing what’s inside the Masmak Castle is also a highlight of this year. The Masmak Fort is one of the first tourist places in Riyadh and it’s shame we haven’t been there in our eight years of living in this city. And so, we are beyond grateful for this experience! We also got featured as Inspiring Women in the Women Skills Bureau Newsletter for September and October. We haven’t written about it but we also extremely grateful for the opportunity to share our stories to others. Also, this is the first time that I’m divulging that yours truly will be getting my alma mater’s Distinguished Alumni Award for Community Empowerment/OFW Ministry Involvement because of my “work” in The Pink Tarha. I will be getting the award in February and I am truly honored to receive this. Thank you so much for making this possible for me!
More or less that’s it! 2016 has been a truly productive and blessed year for The Pink Tarha. Thank you so much our dear readers for being with us in this journey. We love you! Reina and I are hoping that you won’t get tired of reading and supporting The Pink Tarha! Cheers to 2017!