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Locals starting to have preference for Pinoy foods

Photo:Trade and Industry Undersecretary Abdulgani M. Macatoman is flanked by Commercial Attaché Charmaine Mignon S. Yalong and Allan Bautista, chairman of the League of Freight Forwarders and and LBC regional senior sales and marketing manager. DUBAI: More and more...

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Armenia! Armenia! – Top reasons why you should come and visit

by | Lifestyle, Travel

YEREVAN: Armenia is fast becoming a favorite travel destination among Filipinos in the UAE, especially those on a visa run, with good reason. This rustic country is rich in history and is relatively cheaper compared to other travel destinations, making it a travel paradise for budget-conscious Pinoys.

According to the January 2018 figures of global database Numbeo, the cost of living in Armenia is 49.30 percent lower compared to that of the UAE (excluding rent). Five hundred dirhams (roughly equivalent to 65,471.32 Armenian Dram at Dh1=130.96) can already last you up to a week or more, so even those on a tight budget will find Armenia quite affordable.

Visa on arrival

I was recently in Armenia while my UAE 30-day tourist visa was being processed. I paid the travel agency Dh1,700 inclusive of the visa processing. A 90-day tourist visa would have cost Dh2,500.

When we landed at Yerevan’s Zvartnots International Airport after a 3-hour flight, I was pleased to find that Armenian visa (paid upon arrival) only cost 3,000 AMD or Dh23.00!

I stayed at a hostel managed by Filipinos (the Little Manila Hostel) and it proved to be an ideal place away from home. It felt like a regular ‘Kabayan-only’ UAE flat was transported to Yerevan! The stay only cost Dh27.00 to Dh35.00 per day with free breakfast. For lunch and dinner, you may head to the nearest restaurant and fork out 2,000 to 3,000 AMD (Dh15.00-Dh23.00) for a meal which already includes soup, drinks and main dish.

An option that is popular among Filipinos staying at the Little Manila Hostel is to cook meals and share the cost with fellow guests. A thousand AMD already covers lunch and dinner.

Tips for touring Armenia

If you visit Armenia during the summer, you will marvel at the incredible landscapes and flowers in full bloom. However, for the typical Filipino bred in the tropics, winter is a favorite time to travel to Armenia.

If you have set your sights on this small but beautifully landlocked country with its snow-capped peaks and rolling countryside to satisfy your wanderlust, here are a few tips to enjoy your stay.

Where to go

Historians believe that Armenia became the first country in the world to adopt Christianity in 301 AD.

The country boasts one of the oldest civilizations in the world, and there are a lot to pique the curiosity of history buffs there. There’s the Temple of Garni, considered a Greco-Roman architectural masterpiece built during the 1st century AD. There’s also the medieval Monastery of Geghard, which is partly carved out of the mountain.

If cavorting in the snow and riding cable cars is your thing, head up north to the spa town of Tsaghkadzor or to its southern counterpart, Jermuk.

In Yerevan, which is the capital of Armenia, be sure to check out the central city square, called the Republic Square. It is surrounded by five major buildings, including the History Museum, which houses the oldest leather shoe in the world (5,500 years old).

What to eat

There’s plenty to satisfy your gastronomical cravings in this predominantly Christian city. You can try the national food, Mante, grilled dumplings made of minced lamb or beef, served with garlic sprinkles and yogurt. For some veggie treat, try Dolma, a succulent mix of various vegetables wrapped in grape leaves. There’s also a non-vegan equivalent, called Udoli Dolma, which is wrapped in cabbage leaves. Oh, and don’t forget to try the flavorful Borscht soup (yummy!), Armenia’s traditional reddish sour soup, a perfect comfort food during the winter.

With its rustic charm, it’s easy to fall in love with Armenia. A few days’ visit may not be enough, but if time is not on your side, you can always go back, and Armenia will only be too willing to yield its many secrets to you.

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THE FILIPINO TIMES is the biggest and most trusted Filipino newspaper in the UAE.

It has a print run of 60,000 copies and 250,000 readership per week; bolstered by 1 million visitors to its website every month. It also has an e-newsletter sent to its 250,000 subscribers every day.

The Filipino Times is FREE and has the widest targeted circulation across the 7 emirates of the UAE.

With more than 2,500 strategic distribution spots, TFT is available where the Filipinos are - at Smart Bus Shelters, Metro Stations, restaurants, supermarkets, schools, airport lounges, Emirates and Etihad Philippine-bound flights, churches, Filipino community events and many more.

THE FILIPINO TIMES. We are where the Filipinos are.

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