San Juan Family

by: xtian001

In: Family & Friends | Personal | Xianelle

21 Sep 2011

Qatar City Center Parking Rates

by: xtian001

In: Qatar | Shopping

19 Sep 2011

Above are the Parking Rates in City Center

We went to Carrefour yesterday to settle some stuff in the bank as well as to do some groceries. I was aware of the parking fees being implemented but never really knew how the pricing scheme worked. I’ve read from somewhere that you do get 2 free hours if you buy items worth 100QR in Carrefour and have your parking ticket stamped at the Customer Service. However, when we were already paying for the parking, I still got surprised that I had to pay 13QR for spending 3 ½  hours in the mall. I was a legitimate customer of shops/businesses in the mall yet I have to pay 13QR. The cashier was telling me I spent 4 hours though my ticket says otherwise. So for every minute spent after your 3rd hour would be considered as your 4th hour? I didn’t really have time to argue so I just paid and left.

Let me just clarify some things. I am someone who does not mind paying 10QR for parking in a mall for my time there. However, paying more than 10QR when I’m a valid customer and brings my business to the shops in the mall pisses me off. If you don’t mind paying more than 10QR for parking, then better not continue reading.

City Centre is a mall and the idea of a mall is to bring people in and even those not planning to spend tend to do impulse buying just because they enjoy their time in the mall. The idea of charging exorbitant (for me at least) parking fees defeats that idea.

If they want to retain customer loyalty, a revised parking fee scheme like above is suggested

If the real reason for implementing parking fees in City Center is to stop employees from nearby offices to park in City Center, there is a simple solution. Anybody who has a daily 300QR accumulated receipts from the shops in City Center gets free parking. 100QR receipts get 2 hours free with a charge of 3QR for each succeeding hour up to 3 hours. That’s 5 hours for only 9QR. Any succeeding can be charged at 15QR. Those without any money transactions are charged the normal rate as it is. That means an employee from a nearby office would still have to spend 58QR/day if he wants to park, while those who are valid customers of the mall, remain happy. It’s a win-win situation for City Center and its shops.

Let’s dissect the actual City Center parking rates above.

Normal Shopper: Basically, if I go to Carrefour but buys less than 100QR (10 min) , go around the mall (20 min), buy some stuff here and there (45 min), eat at the food court (45 min), transact with my bank (1 hour wait), visit Qtel (30 min), for a total of 3 hours and 30 minutes,  I pay the normal fees and don’t get any discount at all. That 3 ½ hour would actually be considered as 4 hours and I have to pay 18 rials!

Carrefour Shopper: I do get 2 Free hours on parking. Wait. Let me rephrase that. I get the FIRST 2 hours free.
What’s the difference? Well, if I get free parking for 2 hours, I am expecting that they’d start charging me from the base hour after my 2 hours. I get a clean slate and only get charged 3 QR for the succeeding hours I am in the mall after doing my groceries. So I only get charged 7QR after spending 2 hours in Carrefour, plus 2 more hours eating and doing more shopping.

However, since I only get the FIRST 2 hours free, my next hour is charged 3QR (for my 3rd hour) but then jumps to 10QR after every hour since I’m already on my 4th hour.

Between the two scenarios, I pay 7QR after spending 4 hours in Carrefour while the latter would mean I have to pay 13QR for the 4 hours I’m there. And comparing it to the Normal Shopper, I save 5QR as they would pay 18QR! Yey!
Cinema Viewer: This is where it gets muddy for me. Ok, I buy a ticket for 35QR for the cinema, spend another 35 for popcorn and soda and I get a discounted rate of 3QR till my 6th hour. I only pay a total of 17QR for my 6 hours or 14QR if you want to compare it to the scenarios above, I pay 11QR only. The cheapest as it is.

I give them a business of 75QR and I get this big discount while if I do my groceries and spend 700QR, I still luck out on getting the same rate as a Cinema Viewer.

If City center is not willing to adjust the prices, the shops might need to think of ways to regain customer confidence and shoulder a percentage of the parking cost.
1.    Bringing back the scenario of the Carrefour shopper  who spends 700QR and the Cinema Viewer who spends 75QR. Carrefour should increase the discount based on the amount of spending i.e. 100QR – First 2 Hours free, 300QR – 3 Hours free and so forth.
2.    Any buying transaction of 100QR from any shops should merit the first 2 hours free parking.
3.    Transaction with banks, with a usual wait time of at least an hour, should also get 2 free hours.

One has to be reminded that City Center and Carrefour might have 2 different owners. Whatever discounts you are getting from Carrefour/Cinema might be paid back to City Center.

In any case, City Center earns from the whole thing while businesses loose any way you see it. You do get parking but people would be wary of staying long and defeats the idea of impulse buying in a mall. Besides, a lot of the shops in City Center are available elsewhere.

If you don’t mind paying for Carrefour’s parking fees, then go ahead and continue giving them your business. If you’re like me who sees 10QR as the most you’d pay for parking, make sure you get in and out fast.

Vacation in Bohol 2011 – Day 1

by: xtian001

In: Bohol | Travel

30 Aug 2011

Flight to Bohol

Our Bohol trip started in the wee hours of the morning on July 3. Our flight which leaves from Manila to Tagbilaran (Bohol) was scheduled at 6:30 AM. That meant leaving Angeles at 2 AM, travel 1 1/2 hour to Manila and at the airport at 4. We didn’t want to be late checking in as if the flight has been overbooked, we might get bumped off. By 6:30 AM, our feet were already several thousand feet above land! The new addition to the family, 11-month Zoie, had our numbers to 7 adults 2 kids and an infant.

Mavis and Zoie

My niece, Zoie!

It was quite interesting to see the rows and rows of hills which dotted the island while still on the plane. These hills are about to be 1,776 that spread over 50 sq. km. are more well known as the Chocolate Hills as they turn brown during dry season. Humongous Chocolate Kisses!

Chocolate Hills from the plane

Rows and rows of hills!

Upon landing, we were met by our Tour guide/driver to take us to the most visited areas in Bohol.

Tagbilaran Airport

Arriving at Tagbilaran Airport (Bohol)


Sanduguan Site/Monument

Sanduguan Site

That's 7 adults, 2 kids and a baby!


Where's Wally?

This is a monument to commemorate the “sanduguan” (blood Compact) of the native king Datu Sikatuna and the Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legaspi as a sign of friendship between the two people. This was in 1565.

Baclayon Church
Baclayon Church
The Oldest Coral Stone Church in the region was built on 1727. It is considered as the foremost among the best-preserved Jesuit-built churches in the Philippines and one of the oldest in Asia.

Prony  the Python

Prony the Python

That is a BIG snake, isn't it?

I’m not sure how long “Prony” is but he his huge.  Captured on Oct. 21, 196, from being 5 ft. long, he now measures at more than 25 ft. and weighing more than 200 kilos. Since we were the first to arrive, we were able to go inside his cage and touch him. The owners of the place take care of other animals as well.


Bohol Tarsier

What big eyes you have!


This is the rarest Tarsier in the world

One of the more controversial places to visit would be the Tarsiers.  We didn’t visit the Tarsier Sanctuary in Corella, Bohol but in one of those located beside the highway where a small area is dedicated to tarsiers.
These big-eyed insectivorous primates are nocturnal in nature. However, it is said that contact with Human Beings (petting them, loud noise and use of flash in cameras) often leads them to death. Tourists are to be wary of the above when visiting  these places. Please, please, don’t touch nor disturb the animals. I was using a 70-200mm lens on my camera thus there was no need for me go up-close. I didn’t even have Xiane pose with one as I didn’t want to disturb them in any way. It was good to know that the owners of these places have already stopped placing the animals on tourists for a photo opportunity. And if you are offered, please walk away.

Chocolate Hills

Bohol Chocolate Hills

Remember those green-wrapped Kisses for Christmas?

Chocolate Hills

50 minutes from Tagbilaran City, the Chocolate Hills complex gives you a great view of the hills. The Chocolate Hills Complex has a restaurant, hostel with swimming pool and an observation deck where one could view and even count the hills at the view deck 210 feet (64 m) above the ground. There are a total of 214 steps leading to the observation or view deck. Here one can view the landscape that is covered with more than a thousand Chocolate Hills.

It took us at least 10 minutes to get up those steps as halfway through, we decided to rest are aching feet and use the opportunity to get some photos. There were several decks in between the base and the top view deck . More photos followed while we got to the view deck. Going down, an easier  walk way is available but takes more time to get down. Those who don’t want to use the stairs could also use the walkway which gives you more time to admire the view.
The Chocolate Hills complex has a restaurant and would be one of your best stops to take that needed restroom break.

Bohol Man-Made forest

Bohol Man-Made Forest

Watch out for passing cars!

The Bohol Forest is a man-made mahogany forest stretching in a two-kilometer stretch of densely planted Mahogany trees located in the border of Loboc and Bilar towns. This is very, very nice. Passing through the stretch, one gets awed at the sight of the mahogany trees lining up the road. Watch out for passing cars if you decide to get photos!

Bohol Hanging Bridge

Bohol Hanging Bridge


Bohol Hanging Bridge Souvenirs

Bohol Souvenirs - Cheaper than most locations

To cross the bridge, one has to pay 10 Pesos. It is basically a bamboo hanging bridge to connect 2 areas separated by the Loboc River. On the other side, one can buy souvenirs and food stuff but the main thrill of stop is crossing the long bamboo bridge itself.

Loboc River Cruise (Lunch buffet)

Loboc River Cruise

The family that eats together, stays together

Loboc Buffet

Deossn't really taste as good as it looks

Community Entertainment in Loboc

Kids and Adults sing and dance for the some donation

This might be a disappointing stop as the food served on these boats fail in comparison to any home-made cooked food. I’d rather spend my 300 Pesos somewhere else. However, I’m not sure if I can just pay the 100 Peso entrance fee and use a boat. So that’s 400 Pesos per head! You get bland and dried food, good entertainment (a guitarist sings songs while you are eating plus you get to be entertained by local communities while on the boat).

Would I recommend it? If you are after the experience, I’d give it a go. But if the food is you’re after, go somewhere else.

Back to Pot Planting

by: xtian001

In: Food | Qatar | Shopping

25 Aug 2011

I visited Lulu Hypermarket at D-Ring Road this afternoon to do my groceries. I have been going to The Center since I came back from vacation since it’s nearer to our apartment. But I was looking for some items that I didn’t see in The Center so off to Lulu I went.

After being in traffic for 15 minutes and looking for parking for another 15 minutes more, I finally was able to enter Lulu. I was planning to buy some soil for my potted seeds but going through the vegetable section, I was surprised to what I saw!

Spice Planet!

Got these for 9.50 QR. Excited!

Since I started with my Pot Planting a week ago, I’m excited to try planting some peppers. The Spice Planet pack I got had some Scotch, Habanero, Jalapeno, Santa Fe and Dutch Chilis.

Scotch (Caribbean red peppers), Habanero, Jalapeno and Dutch Chili Peppers

Just to give you an idea how hot the Scotch and Habanero are, a typical Jalapeno have a heat rating of 2,500 to 8,000 on the Scoville scale while a Scotch would typically have between 100,000 to 350,000 Scoville Units (unit of measurement for heat of peppers).

I’ll be trying to germinate these guys tonight and add them to my other seeds that I’m currently germinating. I already have some Basil, Parsley, Cherry Tomatoes and Bird’s Eye Chilis.

Basil, Parsley, Cheery Tomatoes, Birds' Eye Chilis

Basil, Parsley, Cherry Tomatoes, Birds' Eye Chilis

So far, the Basil and Cherry Tomatoes have sprouted root stems so I have some transplanted on pots already. I’m hoping the others would follow soon.

Basil Pots

Basil Pots

Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes


WDTV Live Plus and 3TB External Drive

Look at what landed on our Aramex Box! The WD TV Live Plus and a 3TB Seagate Expansion External Drive. A perfect combination to watch all your downloaded movies and shows. AVI, DIVX, XVID, WMV, DVD-ISO, MP4 and even MKV gooodness! But we still have to see if it really works.

The problem encountered by those who have bought these Media players along with a 3TB external drive is that the player doesn’t seem to recognize the 3TB. I won’t go into the technical details. Anyway, Western Digital supposedly has updated the firmware of the WD TV Live Plus to use hard drive more than 3TB in capacity. It was included in their Version 1.05.04_B Firmware Update and states that it resolved this issue and now “Supports USB hard drives greater than 2TBs.” See Firmware release notes here.

I still haven’t opened the boxes yet and will update if it really works. Crossing my fingers. Otherwise, I have to use my 500GB with the WD TV Live Plus and use the 3TB for backup purposes.


UPDATE: Does the Seagate 3 TB External Drive does work with the WDTV Live Plus? Yup, it does! No hiccups at all!

About our blog

It's been 10 years since the San Juan Family started their blog documenting their lives in this little spot called Qatar. Follow Chris, Mavis and Xianelle as they share what Doha has to offer.

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