Betawi Restaurant: Affordable Indonesian Food in Dubai

I had the opportunity to try Indonesian food in Dubai when Jana and I visited Betawi Restaurant in Karama. We were there for a meet-up with some Pinoy bloggers in the city. It was nice that we didn’t have to go far since the café is just located near my place.

Betawi Restaurant in Karama
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

betawi dubai
Betawi in Al Karama, Dubai

Dining at Betawi Café with Pinoy Bloggers in Dubai

Normally, we go out and eat in fast food restaurants and other food places in the malls. We seldom go out to look for unique finds that are tucked in different corners of the city. Luckily, we were going to meet bloggers who have plenty of experiences in Dubai so they know some great restaurants that are easy on the pocket.

dubai betawi restaurantinside the Betawi eatery

We met up with Kenneth at Burjuman station and walked towards the back of Park Regis Hotel. We found the restaurant and I was happy that it wasn’t full yet. This place can get busy especially during peak hours. With the limited seating, loyal patrons sometimes have to wait.

Food in Betawi Cafe

Don’t expect that this is a posh place as you can see from the photos that this is just a small eatery. Despite this, the restaurant has been shortlisted by Timeout Dubai Restaurant Awards in the best budget category. Here’s the food we ordered.

nasi goreng dubai
Nasi Goreng – 25 AED

Dubai Food Indonesia
Pecel Ayam Bakar – 30 AED

This reminded me of food trips when we spent a week in Bali, Indonesia during my backpacking trip. This reminds me that I should also blog about my food experiences there.

Prices of main meals in this Indonesian restaurant in Dubai would start from 25 AED. This is truly a great find because I didn’t have to pay much to eat great food.

Indonesian Food Dubai
Chicken Satay, Siomay, Es Campur and Es Teler, Nasi Padang

Over good food, I was able to discuss common topics of interest with fellow bloggers in Dubai. I hope to meet with more people soon!

bloggers in dubai

Pinoy Bloggers in Dubai, meet-up :)
with Rachel, Lady and Ed, Kenneth

Betawi Restaurant Details:

Address: Street 4B. Mabrooka1 Building Shop #20-21,
Karama, Dubai, United Arab Emirates – behind Park Regis Hotel
Telephone Number: +971 56 759 8118
Facebook Page: facebook.com/betawifanclub

Travelling with Locals through Withlocals.com

I’m not the best guy when it comes to planning my trips especially when they’re overseas. I usually have very reliable friends who make all the research about places to go, things to do, and food to eat. Only requirement for me is that it should be budget-friendly. I don’t know if this makes me sound like a total prick but I’ve tried planning my itineraries and they don’t come out as nice. Or maybe it’s just not my thing.

So imagine during my 9-month backpacking trip when I had to travel solo in other countries. Most of the time I only stayed inside the hostel and went out only to buy food. There were moments that I’d push myself to get out of the hostel and interact with people just so I can experience the culture of a destination.

siem reap tonle sapRiding a boat in Tonle Sap in Cambodia offered by a local family
Way cheaper than getting a tourist package.

I didn’t want to pay tour companies a pricey amount simply because I couldn’t afford them. But there were moments when I’d mingle with locals in the area and have conversations over noodles or fruit shakes; or even greeting with a simple “Hi!” while biking on the streets. Sometimes with a thick face, I’d ask if I can go inside their house because I wanted to see how it would look like. I’d offer a small tip as a token for the agreement. These moments make travelling more worthwhile for me because I get to talk to the locals and see life through their eyes.

Withlocals.com Concept: How it Works

There are plenty of tourists who go out of their way to experience the culture of a certain country and Withlocals.com provides that opportunity for people in a destination to share what they have to these travellers. Instead of hiring a tour company, you can hire a local!

Basically, a local is the “host” and the tourist is the “guest”. The host offers a service (touring the guest, preparing traditional food and delicacies, teaching a skill) and posts their profile online. A Guest who wants to try the service will pay for it online and meet with the host according to the agreed schedule.

withlocals
Screenshot from the site

Meet-up with Strangers and Security concerns

I did a bit of browsing on the website and found out that Withlocals have ambassadors that will authenticate the the host as well as take photos of the tour, service, or package being offered. So nobody can just set up a bogus account without verification. This somehow minimizes inhibitions that comes with meeting strangers on the road. It’s always better to be safe!

Instead of paying tour companies that hire tour guides, you can directly search for actual locals who are also experts in the area.

Another Option

This is great for travellers who have more time to spare. I’m not saying that tour companies are bad, I myself would hire one for convenience (and if I’d have more money). However, if you’re looking for an alternative, then this is something you can consider.

Business and Cause

I’m happy that more business startup companies like Withlocals are set up as it not only promotes tourism, but also helps foster a community. They have a great cause.

On an economic standpoint, I like that it acts as a platform for individuals to develop a business mindset and empower them to earn extra income. In turn, clients who take advantage of these services/packages will get their money’s worth because they’re paying actual locals.

withlocals collage
Just some of the activities available
Photos taken from the site

Eat, Tour, Do Activities with a Local

From Eating Vietnamese Lunch to Plucking Tea in Sri Lanka to Learning Parkour Basics in Singapore, you can experience these activities offered by people in the area.

Based on their site, they don’t have hosts in the Philippines yet, but I’m sure that it’s on the works. I can’t wait to tell my travel blogger friends who want to earn extra income to sign up as hosts as they can surely benefit from this concept.

If you want to learn more about the site, check these pages out:

Website: withlocals.com
Facebook: facebook.com/Withlocals
Twitter: twitter.com/Withlocals
Instagram: instagram.com/withlocals

One Month Vacation Leave: Plans and Goals

It’s the start of my one month vacation from my retail job! After living for a year in Dubai and working as a sales attendant inside a mall, I’m finally going on a 30-day leave. I’m excited because it’s been awhile since I last had a long break.

Here in Dubai, everybody’s life is all about work. If you belong to a great company, you can spread your vacation leave across the year. Otherwise, you have to work for a year first (sometimes even two) before granted a vacation.

dubai mall
The Waterfall in Dubai Mall
Adjusting to Life in Dubai, UAE.

initial Plan

When I was browsing through jobs before, I only wanted a job that would let me stay in the UAE regardless of what position it was. I kind of bit my words in the process because I didn’t think that it would be much of a challenge in the beginning.

I used to have an office job that required only 8 hours of duty, 5 days a week and I would also sit on a desk most of the time. I would only have a computer station to work on my daily tasks. Now, my job ideally requires me to stand at least 8 hours everyday for 6 days straight. It’s a little physical but I’ve managed to get past it.

dubai metro
My Daily Commute
Dubai Metro

One Day-Off a Week

The biggest factor were my days off. I didn’t think having one day off a week would have a big impact on me. That I would crave for these moments where I could just sleep the entire day or travel and go somewhere.

I’m not complaining though. I’m thankful that I have a job that pays the bills and keeps me afloat. If I gave up that easily, I would have gone home and just go back to my old lifestyle. The reason for my being in Dubai in the first place is what inspires me to do better and to strive harder in achieving my goals.

desert safari dubai
Dubai Desert Safari Adventure
Short breaks in the city.

plans this month

Work! Work on my online projects and building my sites to their full potential. Now that I have more time on my hands, I set bigger goals for myself. This might be too vague so let me break it down a little:

Work on Online Sites

  • Edit Theme Templates of Websites
  • Set up a Forum for Community Site
  • Write a Short Ebook Guide to Dubai for Filipinos
  • Outsource an Employee

Others

  • Learn to bake a cake
  • Explore the City and Nearby Places
  • Meet Bloggers in the City

2014 goals
Bought a Planner
New Goals this 2014

Why am I still thinking about work when I’m supposed to be on vacation?

Actually, the whole blogging thing does NOT feel like work at all. I enjoy watching things unfold before my eyes after I work on them. I don’t know if it’s wrong but developing something from scratch gives me a certain kind of high. I feel empowered and it boosts my confidence that things will be alright because I’m not relying on one aspect to satisfy my daily needs.

What about Travelling?

This soloflightEd blog was a normal personal blog before it became a travel blog. It’s going on a transition stage again where I don’t know if I’ll be able to write more old adventures or even new ones.

I still value travelling. I will tour other areas in the city or head to the nearest beach to get some sun. However, this blogging and creating something online excites me more. For now, let me shift my focus so I can achieve more goals I’ve set for myself.

handstand soloflighted
Almost but not quite. Handstand attempt.
Can’t seem to keep my energy down.

How I Manage My Finances While Travelling

When I was in Siem Reap, Cambodia, I received an email from Claire of TravelingLight asking me how I manage my finances while backpacking. I gave my two cent’s worth and thought that this was a good blog entry to share to my readers.

It can be risky bringing all your cash with you inside your bag especially when you are travelling alone. Also, the possibility of spending your money frequently is bound to happen if you have it on hand all the time. Hence, I suggest setting up bank accounts and enrolling them in Online Banking so you can monitor your transactions conveniently while on the road.

backpacking southeast asia
Keeping my money safe.
When I backpacked for 9 months, I withdrew money on a regular basis and not in big bulk.

How I Manage My Money as a Digital Nomad from the Philippines

These tips are helpful especially to fellow Filipinos who have seen an opportunity in the online world and are utilizing the internet as a way to earn extra income. To the rest, these points are still helpful so you can find other options on how to handle your finances. If you have something to share, kindly share away in the Comments section as I gladly welcome ideas on how to save more money.

2 Things: PayPal & Unionbank EON Account

These two accounts are very important to me because I rely on them to handle my cash while travelling. Even now in Dubai, I still use them whenever I have clients who contact me and pay me online.

1. PayPal paypal

Set up a Paypal Account. If you do business or work for somebody online, most likely you’ve heard of this payment method. Paypal is a virtual account that is widely accepted by merchants around the world.  This is where I get paid by clients, advertisers, and employers online. I also use this to pay for my domain websites and hosting accounts as well as when I purchase items on ebay, Amazon or other shopping sites.

Note: Normally, you would need to have a credit card to set up a Paypal account. If you don’t have one, you can sign up for Paypal by applying for a savings account below.

2. Unionbank EON Savings Account unionbank eon

This is simply a Savings bank account. I’m partial to this bank because when I started in the online money business, I didn’t have a credit card to associate it with my Paypal account. This was and still is a good fix to that problem. The EON Savings is specially created by Unionbank with Paypal accounts in mind as they have this VISA Electron feature. I linked this with my Paypal and always use this to transfer Paypal funds to my bank.

With it’s VISA Capability, I use this as a debit card when going to shops that accept VISA cards even when I’m abroad. Other banks require you to activate international withdrawals and transactions by calling their customer service hotline. With this Unionbank EON, I don’t have to do anything.

My Monthly Payment Cycle

To put it simply, an employer pays me online through Paypal. I then transfer my Paypal money to my Unionbank EON Savings Account. Then I withdraw the money from my EON account using an ATM.

Online Salary in Paypal –> Transferred to EON Savings –> Withdrawn using a Visa Electron ATM

The money I withdraw is already converted to the country’s currency where I’m based. It’s convenient because I don’t have to exchange USD currencies to the local currency.

This is the cycle every month and I’ve never had any problems with this set-up at all. *knock on wood*

OPTIONAL ACCOUNTS: BPI & HSBC Credit Card

I also maintain 2 other accounts so I have more flexibility and options when doing business transactions. You don’t have to apply for these exact ones as these are not necessary.

BPI Savings Account

This is a regular Savings bank account. I use this for Philippine transactions wherein people send me money in Pesos. This serves as my back-up in case my EON Savings runs out of funds. You can choose any regular Savings account in your bank. I feel that BPI has more branches nationwide.

bank cards

HSBC Credit Card

When I don’t have money in my Unionbank account, and I need to purchase something online, I use my HBSC credit card. How do I pay for my credit card even when I’m abroad? I use my BPI account or EON account (when they have available funds). I do NOT strongly advise in getting a credit card especially when you’re not sure of the interest rates and billing cycles that are associated with your card purchases. I’ve been trapped before, and I don’t ever want to go back to that cycle again.

However, I still keep this account for convenience while I roll the money and buy time. If you’re planning to get a credit card, just apply for one with the most minimal interest and annual fee.

These other accounts are only optional, but they serve a great deal as back-ups. I used to own other accounts (BDO, Metrobank, Chinabank, BPI Credit Card), but I’ve had them cancelled already. No use to keep them when there’s no money in them. Hehe.

ONLINE BANKING CONVENIENCEdigital nomad

All of these accounts I’ve enrolled in Online Banking because it’s really convenient. I don’t have to call the bank hotline, go to a physical location, or wonder how much money I have by checking account balances in ATM Machines.

With online banking, I get to monitor my money over the internet, pay bills (credit card, electricity, phone, internet plans) during my free time. By managing my accounts on the net, I save:

  • MONEY – On Mobile credit for calling the Philippines for a simple inquiry.
  • TIME – I hate queuing in a bank or over the phone.
  • SALIVABy not having to explain my situation to every customer service representative.

Most banks have this facility available to their accountholders. You only need to inquire how to activate the online service.

Other Tips:

  • Withdraw only ONCE a Month – Make sure that the money you withdraw will be enough to sustain you for a longer period. There’s a charge every time you withdraw money from ATMs. If you withdraw only once, you’ll be charged only once.
  • Have a Secure Connection – Be careful when you open your bank accounts online. Make sure you have a secure connection to prevent unwanted hackers from accessing your details while on a shared network. Remember that it’s still the internet and everybody can access it.

indonesian money
Indonesian Rupiah in Bali
Lots of paper, but not worth as much.

  • Do NOT Use Cash Advance Service - I have NEVER withdrawn money using my credit card. Aside from the transaction fee (of around 300 Php), it would earn interest every month if I don’t pay the full balance of my account before the cut-off date. Again, I use the credit card now as back-up only.
  • Know Your Bank Fees – Yes, always check the charges of your bank. There are other processing fees like EFT (Electronic Fund Transfer) that is deducted when you withdraw money, and I’ve tried and tested a number of Philippine Bank Accounts (e.g. Banco De Oro, BPI, Metrobank). Each have their own transaction fees, but I’ve found out that Unionbank EON has the least deduction amounts; sometimes even zero!

Whether you are backpacking long-term or short-term, or even if you’re not travelling but you’re doing transactions online, it’s good to know where your money is going. These are tips based on my experiences handling different bank accounts, and these are what works for me.

Here’s a blog article from another traveller, Paul of WalkFlyPinoy shares tips on how he manages his finances on the road:

How This Backpacker Handles Finances while on Long-Term Travel | WalkFlyPinoy

Do you have other tips to share? Would love to learn more. Let’s all spend wisely.

Check out my other Money & Travel Tips articles here:

Living for a Year in Dubai, UAE

Hi everyone! I haven’t been able to update this site as often as at all as I’ve been busy living a life in the desert. I’ve been based in Dubai since last year and have been adjusting to the new environment ever since. Might I say it wasn’t that hard nor was it easy, but I made it. I’ve been here for a year!

OFW Lifesoloflighted airport

Aside from the environment, I’ve also been adjusting to my new life as an Overseas Filipino Worker. It’s different from the set-up I had before where I was travelling in Southeast Asia and working freelance jobs online in hostels and coffee shops. I also tried to sustain my travel expenses while not forgetting about my responsibilities at home.

The set-up now is that I work inside a retail outlet and mostly have monotonous days in the shop. I’ve swapped my daily travel adventures to weekend vacations in the city and do my online commitments during my free time. It was not a quick transition, but this was a personal decision I planned even when I was still in my early backpacking stages.

Blog Absence

I apologize if I haven’t been able to update this site in awhile. I’m not sure if I still want to write about my travels when so many things have already happened. Maybe I will or maybe I’ll talk about something else.

The absence was not all bad as I learned to prioritize myself and my goals. Travelling is still a passion, it’s just not the main agenda right now. I’m more bent on pursuing my online projects and I’ve been more driven now despite having a full-time job.

Blogging is here to staysoloflighted blogger

As for blogging altogether, it’s more of an on-and-off thing. Whenever I have instances where I switch OFF, I just recall the first time I started typing my thoughts back in 2003.

From when I was a mere freshman in college to working in a fast food restaurant. From answering phones and doing Quality control in a BPO company, to juggling my studies and even working online with a full-time job. From the time I learned how to make money online as a freelancer to establishing websites of my own. From breaking free from the corporate office to backpacking Southeast Asia for 9 months and living a digital nomad’s life. From travelling solo to ultimately following somebody to an unfamiliar destination and rebuilding a career in a desert.

All these experiences are shared online though some have not been totally obvious. All these stages I’ve gone past and somehow, blogging is still here. Though I’m not as invested as before in this site, I know that I’ll always find my roots into posting a few thoughts online. Blogging for me is here to stay, regardless of how many blank moments there are in between.

Dubai as a second home

I’m planting my roots in the United Arab Emirates. It took some time, but I’m beginning to call Dubai a second home. The place is growing on me especially after hearing the news of the Dubai Expo2020 event in the future. Great things will happen and amazing things will have happened when that 2020 arrives. 7 years may be a bit long, but time flies anyway.

What’s Next for soloflightEd?

I have no idea. I still have plenty of backlogs from trips in the Philippines, Southeast Asia, and even here in the Middle East. I’m still going to write about my past travels, and maybe incorporate a few thoughts on life – my life – in general. Until then, let’s make the most of living. Happy New Year!

soloflighted dubai
Although less, I still do headstands

To my readers

Thank you to my readers who still take time to read my blog posts; and to some, send an email about how my articles have helped them in their travels. I may not have replied to some, but I read your messages.

It is always a great feeling to receive emails about how people have found inspiration in this site to pursue what they truly want, whether it be travelling or something else.

PS: I’m now on Instagram – @soloflightEd. :)