Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Road Trip...The Last Adventure for Summer 2010 - Lalimar

Mornings at Lalimar is wake up to this...

a view of serene water meeting the blue sky...

My brother was up early, so he had breakfast with our driver-mechanic at the resto-bar by the pool. My mom, daughter and her nanny were having their breakfast at the cottage veranda and told me to order mine. I wanted bacon and eggs but was told "baconsilog" was not available so I opted for "longsilog" instead, also to be delivered to the cottage of course...I told you, they had great room service...although I think it's also because my mom is a big tipper :) The kids were still asleep so I decided to explore our surroundings while waiting for breakfast.

Cottage 1 where we stayed
the beautiful eternity pool

As you can see from my amateur pictures (taken with a simple digital camera), that this is a beautiful place and I'm very happy that we came.  Although the beach was full of stones, pebbles and corals, they were not sharp but rather fact walking on them carelessly could result in slipping like what happened to my son...causing a huge tear in his board shorts (the reason for the needle and thread).  The best footwear are slippers or sandals with good soles or snorkel shoes.  After getting their bearings, the kids walked on until the water reached above their waist and I could see them snorkeling.  The water was crystal clear and schools of fish could be seen even close to the shore...

We decided to have lunch before we left (check-out time 12 noon) and they offered an Italian menu.  I found out that they have an Italian chef who just started about 2 weeks before.  So we had 3 kinds of spaghetti and broccoli soup. They didn't have french bread (the oven will be delivered next week yet, said the chef) so we had to make do with the white bread we brought.  All in all, it was a satisfying meal and after saying our goodbyes to the staff, we were on our way home.

The way back home gave us a different perspective of the highway...driving up the mountains of San Carlos, we saw this...

San Carlos City's version of the Chocolate hills

and then this...


It was a great way to end the summer of 2010 and we will definitely come back...maybe sooner than later.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Road Trip...The Last Adventure for Summer 2010 - Part 3

The coastal view from Vallehermoso to La Libertad is breathtaking. I would love to have a home here where you wake up to the sea and sky becoming one. The road trip to Lalimar Resort took about an hour and it was easy to find since it is located right along the highway. The place looked clean and parking was spacious. There were a lot of people but I found out that these were just day guests. It was a very informal set-up...reception was also located at the bar where I found Leny who was in-charge of our reservation. I knew that check-in time was 2 PM but we arrived early a little past 1 PM and our room was still being readied but the staff was kind enough to allow us to stay in the porch while waiting. The room was very spacious, T&B was clean and there was hot and cold water. After a simple check-in procedure, we all settled in...and the kids went around to explore the place. I checked out the bar...and found that mineral water and sodas were expensive...a liter of Wilkens cost Php 55.00!!! I decided to go to town to buy water, soda and a sewing kit. La Libertad is a very rural if you are looking for a supermarket or at the very least, a grocery store...don't. There is a single level market with dry goods stores, a pharmacy and a cooperative store aside from the usual wet market and food stalls. I got 3 gallons of Wilkens at Php60.00 each and 3 liters of Coke and a liter of Sprite and Royal Tru-Orange...and of course, the thread and needles :) , as well as Php50.00 worth of ice in narrow plastic bags...mission accomplished! Now that I got the "essentials" out of the was time to have some fun. The kids decided to try the beach first while our baby Ella, went for a dip in the very enticing infinity pool with her yaya. I decided to join them and soon after the kids came over too. Since we were in the eastern side of the island, there was no sunset view here but, that's okay...the pool and the view from the Tanon Strait where you can see the island of Cebu was a treat in itself. We had dinner on the porch (they had room service!) and surprisingly the food was good and very affordable (so...only the drinks were expensive)...another great thing about our room was the fact that we were near the pool area where there was WIFI! After eating the kids went to the cabanas with their laptops and spent the rest of the evening on-line. They gave me exactly 5 minutes to check my e-mail. I was in bed by 10 PM but since Ella slept with me, I had a restless sleep. I think I woke up at around 2 AM to bring the air-conditioner down because earlier I gave up my blanket to the yaya who was feeling cold. I was not in the direct path of the AC, so I thought I wouldn't get cold. My mom, brother, Ella and her yaya Jackie were up and about by 6 AM....someone placed a blanket over me and I went back to sleep.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Road Trip...The Last Adventure for Summer 2010 - Part 2

It was after the surgical mission organized by the Provincial Health Office in '97 or '98 in Calatrava town that the team decided to come back to Bacolod via the new Negros Translink Highway.  It was about 60% finished then, steep and dusty with some fantastic sceneries.  Today, more than 10 years after, it is a bustling highway and the scenery became even more beautiful. The waterfall which I first saw in the 90's is still there with it's viewing deck.  There are vendors now selling foodstuffs and restrooms! The air here is cold and if you plan to stay longer and explore, it would be practical to wear something  to keep you warmer or bring a jacket.

But sadly, there is one thing that has not changed much...and that is, denuded hills. I still do not see new trees in the hills of San Carlos and Negros Oriental.  After some picture taking and a car-sickness mishap (all that zig-zags and curves took its toll), we arrived in San Carlos at around 10 AM.  San Carlos City has not changed much although they have a new City Hall, a park and a high end subdivision at the outskirts of the town proper.  There is a mall but it was basically empty except for some stalls, a few shops and the main department store.  It was also very warm so that we decided to have an early lunch in Jollibee (located in the mall)...then off to replenish some emergency supplies which was all used up due to that one car-sickness episode ;)  We went to look for a grocery store in downtown San Carlos but the only one we found was this popular general merchandise store that sold only cheap made in china goods...oh well. Finally, after getting the bare minimum of what I needed... muscles and legs no longer aching and niece no longer carsick...we were off to our destination...the Lalimar Resort in La Libertad!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Road Trip...The Last Adventure for Summer 2010 - Part 1

For the longest time I have been wanting to take a road trip to Northern Negros via the Translink Highway that run from Salvador Benedicto town to San Carlos City.  The first time I passed through here was in the mid 90's when it was still being completed...the view was fantastic but on the roadsides were basically just nipa huts and road workers.  I remember we were a convoy of ambulances and we would wave at the people and they would wave back, especially the children.  I actually felt like some minor celebrity...heehee.  And so last June 5, 2010, a day after my brother's birthday, we decided to take that road trip.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Postscript to Singapore

After posting my travel photos to Facebook and this blog, I got a lot of comments re: how nice Singapore is, how orderly and efficient, how modern, how disciplined, etc.  Basically, I agree with all comments except that somehow beneath all that orderliness, efficiency and modernism lies a restless it dissatisfaction? defiance? cynicism? boredom?...I can't quite pinpoint it, but somehow the impression I get is that people are not really happy with their lives and that life is not quite satisfying as it seems.  Even our tour guide who seemed up all the time, seemed to me as trying very hard to show his enthusiasm.  One would think that in a country where the per capita income is very high having a highly developed market-based economy, life would be very satisfactory and happier, but it seems not, since you rarely see people smiling and looking happy or friendly in Singapore.  Almost everyone looked very business like (not to mention tired) and in a hurry, that I felt like they were all trying to sell me something...and when I do buy, I get a half smile...haha.  Still, I do  not think it is a city I want to retire in.  I got the same feeling in Kuala Lumpur, though in a lesser degree.  Well, I guess living in a competitive society does that to people.  Melaka (Malacca) however was different...there they smiled and responded to us...very much like what we would do to visitors in Manila, although the sales people in the mall were also very business-like, unlike in the Philippines where they would actually start a conversation with you.  But I think, this is because in Malaysia, they have some difficulty communicating in English.  In Singapore, English was not a problem but their pronounciation was hard to understand.  I was also mistaken for Indonesian in the cruise and had some people approach me talking in their language...which was a new experience for me.  In the Philippines, I am often labeled as mestiza but to others, I am obviously Malay :)

So yes, Singapore is a first-world Asian country but its society is far from perfect. Life there is fast, stressful and I think there is a lot of pressure to make money in that country.  Everything is expensive and my estimate is...if you earn less than SG$1,000.00 (net) a's a hard life and your housing will probably be an HDB flat.  As I was browsing in the shops, restaurants, I'd say that for a comfortable but not luxurious single life, one must at least earn a net income (less taxes/housing) of at least SG$2,500.00 a month.  If you want to factor in regular shopping, a social life, daily lattes...then one must earn more than SG$4,000.00.  But hey, this is all based on my perception and may not necessarily be correct. They have high taxes so I presume that healthcare and education must be free or cheap because they are subsidized.  We Filipinos always look to other countries and wonder why we are lagging behind...why we cannot have the kind of economy they have...the answer if we are to see Singapore and Malaysia as examples is strong taxes, discipline, political will.  The question to answer for us...are we willing to pay 20-30% tax on our gross incomes?  A higher salary scale means even higher taxes...Right now in the Philippines, we pay 4 -20% taxes on our gross income. Many people who do not pay taxes fall under 3 categories - either because of very low income, they have very low salary scale, or they just under declare their income. One main reason for those in the last category is that government is corrupt, so why pay?...but isn't cheating a form of corruption too?  This is like the case of which comes first...the chicken or the egg.  Who does the right thing first? Government or the people?  Is there no cheating and corruption in Singapore and Malaysia...of course there is something that is as old as Adam...a corrupt-free society is a fairy tale.  But it can be minimized, controlled, if not totally eliminated.  The other reality is without money government cannot function effectively, efficiently and equitably. Singapore can afford to give a lot of benefits and services to the people, tax incentives to tourists, government subsidies to business, health and education because they have the money to do so. Thus, if we expect our government to do the same....we must pay the right taxes.  It is as simple as that.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

2010 Summer Adventure - Port Klang-Day 3 and Singapore-Day 4

Port Klang is about an hour ride from Kuala Lumpur (I know I said that before)...I spent the whole trip thinking about "my bell" was a quiet ride to the port and even the scenery was sparse.  In fact I saw several unoccupied and empty townhouses, business establishments on the way.  The Star Cruises Terminal Port is located at Pulau Indah which is located next to the cargo terminals of Westport and is quite impressive but there were very few people around except for some parked taxis waiting for passengers who want to go around.  Still thinking about the bell...I saw one in a souvenir shop but it cost RM 25...okay, so I am obsessing about it but I am not that obsessed!

This was our last night on the boat, and so we had dinner at one of their more formal restaurants.  The boat left the port for the trip back to Singapore at about 8:30 PM.  After dinner, some of the group went to watch a show and enjoyed the other amenities on the ship.  I on the other hand was too tired to socialize and decided it would be more practical to get my things ready for the disembarkation the next day.  It's a good thing too because I woke up late the next day and breakfast was way past 9 AM and we had to put our things out by 10 AM for collection by the staff, otherwise you will just have to huff and puff carrying your baggage out of the ship personally.  We checked out by 11 AM and took this time in going around to check out the different ship amenities...and there was quite a few!  But since we took a day trip, we really were not able to enjoy what the ship has to offer...maybe next time...if there is a next time :)

There was a pool/slide, gym, spa, library in Deck 12 and even a conference/seminar room.  I also learned that 75% of the ship's staff are Filipinos and in fact I met 2 each at the spa and restaurants. They had a 10 month contract and get to go home for 2 months in a year, that is if they renew their contract.  We were told to wait at The Lido for final instructions for disembarkation.  As we were approaching Singapore, I was thinking that in spite of the tight schedule, I am grateful for this trip and the break it gave me from work, so thank you for this unexpected birthday know who you are :)   Arriving in Singapore, we just had enough time for a quick lunch, last minute shopping at the harbor mall, and then the half an hour trip to Changi Airport.  Checking in was a bit slow because the staff opened at 5:30 PM but everything went smoothly after that. The airport is also one big mall...but I only had $7 left from my tax rebate and bought a luggage tag with it.  Oh and as a final experience...I got lost.  I took the wrong turn to go to my gate and literally walked up to the end but there was no E22...asking around (not panicking yet because I still had enough time)...they told me to go back and turn left (I was at the right side) back I feet literally hurting.  Once I got there, I saw everyone coming towards seems that the gate was changed to E4...and I had to go back to where I came from...whaatttt???  Oh well, all that walking made me discover that there was free internet around, so I was able to log in and check my mail after 3 days. AND there was a foot massage machine there which gave your foot and leg an experience you will never forget...honestly... that was probably the best experience I had in this trip ;)  really!

We arrived back in Manila, Friday, April 23, at 11:15 PM.  We checked into Richmond Hotel in Ortigas but by the time we got to our room it was almost 1 AM and I thought, we should just have stayed in the airport since we were checking out at 7 AM the next day anyway.  So as an ending to this adventure, I just want to say that I enjoyed the whole experience and hopefully I will be able to visit Singapore and Malaysia again someday but this time on my own time and see all the things I want to see...the malls excluded =))

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

2010 Summer Adventure - Melaka & Kuala Lampur, Day 3, Part 2

After a very sumptuous lunch at Hotel Equatorial, we proceeded to ride the bus that would take us to Kuala Lumpur.  It was a very short visit to Melaka/Malacca and because we basically just moved around the Bandar Hilir area, I'm sure there is more to the whole city than just the Dutch Square, St. Paul's Hill and Chinese temples.  I would like to visit again one day and take in more sights and explore the whole city. We left Malacca at about 1 PM passing through the more modern part of the city until we got to the North-South Expressway....Kuala Lumpur, here we come! It was a 2 hour drive and as soon as we got to the expressway, our guide allowed us to nod off to lalaland ☺☺☺.  After dozing off for a half hour or more, I started to be more aware of our surroundings and there was one thing I noticed...emergency phones every 2 kilometers or so, and there were motorcycle lanes! The landscape was also mostly palm trees, plantations probably...I was trying to look for rubber trees but can't find any or maybe I just don't recognize the difference between a palm and a rubber tree (^-^). 

Palm or Rubber Trees (?)

We had a pit stop and let me warn you if you plan to visit Malaysia....most cubicles in public toilets have the squat type while there is usually only one or two cubicles with a flush type.  The malls' restrooms are clean, however the ratio of squat type to flush type is still 3:1.  It made me think...people here must have a thing about squatting.  Okay, hold that thought!   We continued on our way to KL and first stop was....of course, the famous Petronas Tower.

Since we arrived in the afternoon and for lack of time, we no longer entered the premises, besides I have had my fill of high-end malls and buildings in Singapore.  So it was just several minutes of picture-taking and walking under the beating heat of the sun when the cool air of the bus air-conditioning beckoned to me.  Oh, and did I forget to mention in my previous post that several members of my group missed the tender boat from the ship to Malacca port?  Uh..huh...about 8 of them, although I think 4 purposely stayed behind because they have been to Malaysia before.  Anyway, 2 of them decided to follow us to KL after the ship docked at Port Klang which is about an hour away by taxi. So, just as we were finishing our photo shoot at Petronas, the 2 girls arrived and so, all is well that ends well.  Next stop, another mall of course...but thank heavens, it's more like the Araneta Center/Greenhills kind with very affordable goods.  I bought a bag for me (loved it!) and a wallet for my mom at a Vincci store.  BTW, there are Vincci stores in Manila too.  Then it was time to go and tired, sleepy and poorer me went up the bus to wait for the rest.  As we were moving out of KL, Gerry who was sitting on the next seat in front of me started opening his buys...and horrors!  I saw something he bought which I forgot to get....a Malaysian dinner bell souvenir! When I asked him how much he got for it...he said RM 10...what??? I still had RM 20 with me as I was about to board the bus and decided to buy batteries because I did not want to bring home any ringgits...sob, can I forget something that is a tradition in my home?  You see, every time someone travels, whether family or friend, the one thing I ask for is for them to get me a dinner or small bell...My bell collection is now more than 20 pieces and to think that I am the one can I forget something like that??? duh....can I hit myself now???  I started to rationalize by saying that I forgot because I was tired and sleepy...and that I already had 2 bells from Singapore...that I forgot that this time I was in Malaysia...nahhhhh...I should go and drown myself in one of those squat toilets, that's what I should do.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

2010 Summer Adventure - Melaka, Malaysia, Day 3, Part 1

First day of the cruise, I was up by 5:30 AM, ready by 6:20, breakfast by 6:30 and waiting at The Lido by 7:00 AM for our shore excursion to Melaka and Kuala Lampur.  This was a technical stop for the ship and we will be transferring to a tender boat which will bring us to the Melaka port since the shallow waters there will not allow the ship to dock.  Entering the boat, I had this deja vu feeling...I think because it was like a harbor pilot's boat and something similar to what my maternal grandfather would use when he meets and goes up the international ships he would guide in entering the Manila port.  The short trip took less than an hour and this was what greeted us...and quite friendlier faces complete with a good morning greeting from immigration and the coast guard.

Melaka was recognized in 2008 by UNESCO as a world heritage city. We were first brought to this place, "Dutch Square", with its Town Hall, Clock Tower and Church. We then went up St.Paul's Hill, a daunting task for someone like me with weak knees and who is afraid of heights.  The fact that I was able to walk up, then down the steps is a small miracle for me.

The church ruins had a solemn air and I'm glad I made the climb because this was the place where the great Jesuit missionary, St. Francis Xavier was placed after his incorrupt body was taken in February 1553 from Shangchuan Island in China where he was first buried. He was temporarily buried in St. Paul's church on 22 March, 1553. An open grave in the church now marks the place.

On 11 December 1553, Xavier's body was shipped to Goa. The body is now in the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa, where it was placed in a glass container encased in a silver casket on 2 December, 1637.

Here are more heritage sites and museums (?) below the hill.

What exactly is a House of Enduring Beauty?

Their Rickshaw= Our Trisikad

From there, we went to a chinese temple but I did not go down the bus anymore because I've been to enough Chinese temples to realize that once you've seen've seen them all. The old Melaka itself is a small fact the bus kept going around in circles because to get to other places you have to keep on passing the Dutch Square.  But from what I understand, Melaka City is quite a big place.  I hope I can come back someday to explore it more, as well as the neighboring Penang, which some people tell me remind them of many old places of the Philippines, especially Silay, my town.

A tour in any place will never be complete without some shopping involved.  We were brought to a mall much like our smaller provincial malls called the Pahlawan.  I asked what the word meant in Malay and I was told...hero or warrior.  I wonder if we have the same meaning for the Province of Palawan here.

After the short shopping, we had a very very very good lunch at The Equatorial. It must be good hotel because while we were having lunch, their provincial governor arrived with his entourage. I would recommend it to everyone and anyone who plans to visit Melaka...most especially for its great food!

Next stop.....Kuala Lumpur!

2010 Summer Adventure - Singapore, Day 2, Part 2

This was my early dinner at Seoul Garden...can you see the sausages? the chili fish balls? what were the rest?

After dinner we were shuttled by the bus to Singapore Cruise Center at Habourfront where our ship, the Superstar Virgo was docked.  Our cruise guide, Icen took care of checking us into the ship and distributed our luggage tags earlier, so that when we got there, all we had to do was to tag our luggage and the next time we see them would be in front of our cabins. Immigration was still closed so we took turns standing in line.  Finally, they opened at 8:30 PM and after about 30 minutes waiting we passed immigration and entered the terminal bridge to the ship.  There were mascots with ship photographers waiting for picture taking as we walked along the long and carpeted bridge and we were required to swipe our key cards before entering the ship...pretty fast and efficient but not exactly as I imagined it to know something like those scenes from the Love Boat TV series. And so after that less than exciting ship entrance, we went directly to our rooms taking one of the many elevators (lifts, they called them like the British) and although we were told to expect some delay in the delivery of our luggage (earlier we were instructed to bring all necessities in a small carry-all bag) as the concierge had to hand carry each of them since the cabin alleys are not wide enough for the carts to maneuver, when we got to our cabin...they were already there! Wow, that's what I call great service! My cabin mate, Sheree and I did some quick freshen-ups and went to meet up for supper with the rest of the group.

This was late supper at The Pavilion Room, one of the many restaurants inside the ship.  It was a set menu and not very palatable ;) but the Indonesian server was very nice and so when she asked if my cabin mate and I enjoyed the meal...I said "yes" :)

Most of the group went to see the Magic Show at The Lido but not was almost 11 PM and all I wanted to do was to have a quick shower and sleep...wake-up call will be at 5:30 AM !!!

2010 Summer Adventure - Singapore, Day 2, Part 1

Arghhhhh! wake-up call 6:30 AM and it's still dark outside!  It seems that sunrise and sunset come later in Singapore than in the Philippines.  We were instructed to be at the lobby by 8 AM for our short ride to Fort Canning Lodge for instructions on the cruise, some activities and lunch at their Coffee House. By 1 PM we were let loose at Orchard Road, first stop...Ngee Ann City where the high-end Japanese owned department store Takashimaya is located. We were brought to Level 2 where all the branded boutiques were and where we were instructed to converge back at the information lobby by 5:30 PM.  Since my point of interest was neither electronics nor the high-end brands, I opted to walk along Orchard Road to look for The Heeren where a neighbor's son works at the Subway Restaurant. After walking several hundred meters, I saw it but unfortunately, the son was off duty but will be coming in at 5 PM for some paperwork but I could not wait for him, so I just left a message.  What fascinated me however was the way it's escalators were running...left side was for going down while the right side was for going up, unlike ours in the Philippines which was the other way around.


From there, I was off to my favorite Marks and Spencers (M&S) Store at the Centrepoint Mall...why?...well because I might get lucky and they might have stocks my size (wink, wink) and lo and behold! they did!!! I was able to buy 3 nice bras which cost me S$137 and would entitle me to a tax rebate at the airport...yay!!! They were actually cheaper compared to M&S Manila, saving as much as Php200 per bra, not including the rebate :)  Now that I have accomplished my goal, I decided to go back to Ngee Ann City and looking back down the road I came from, I realized that I was just a corner away from the hotel where we stayed...wth!!!  I have walked more kilometers in Singapore than at any given time in my mid-life! Wow! like the old Camel advertisement...I could say, I'd walk a mile for my M&S! hahahaha!  

I was finished "shopping" by 2:30 PM and so I started my walk back to this is just early afternoon with the mid-day sun still at its peak...I could feel my sweat pouring and it's a good thing I brought along a small towel "just in case".  Let me just say here that the Philippines is warm, even hot and humid but at least there is a breeze...Singapore is...just hot and humid. And there is no choice but to walk outside since the malls are separate from each other and so, I crossed at least 4 pedestrian lanes, walking fast at each one... and to think that I could not remember when was the last time I crossed a busy main road in the Philippines.  

Our malls (SM, Ayala, Robinsons, Greenhills,etc...) are better, more efficient and infinitely more comfortable to walk around since there are places to sit too and we also have free wi-fi almost everywhere!  Some of my companions went to Lucky Plaza where the electronics were but I still think we have better prices here in PI and as long as you can establish a relationship with the seller, it would be easier to deal with them.  Once I got back to Takashimaya, I tried to look for a place to sit but there was none! I moved around the mall for almost an hour, my feet and knees killing me, and decided to go up to a coffee shop at Level 4 where I was hoping to sit but it was full, not to mention expensive, so I was resigned to either go out in the heat and sit on the steps or use the rest, what else?  And then, I saw an old couple sitting at the only bench outside the coffee shop.  So I waited for them to leave and when they did, made a quick walk and sat on the bench for about 1 and a half hours!  One of my companions found me there and took the empty space beside me...he also had several shopping bags with him and we had a good laugh about how our feet were hurting from all the walking.  

finally a seat!!!

By 5 PM, I decided to take a look at the bookstore (very much like Powerbooks) beside me, Kinokuniya and this is where I found moleskines! They were a bit more expensive than where I get them online at but unlike Avalon which has mostly black, they had all types and colors, so I got the red ones :)  I also browsed around the branded boutiques...Jimmy Choo, Bruno Magli (where there was shoes I would love to wear but after looking at the price, I lost taste for it...ugh), Gucci, Hermes, Cartier, Tiffany's a good thing I really don't care for branded things!  I went to the meeting area and almost all of us were already there...with several shopping bags filled with goods they bargained for like laptops/notebooks/iPads, cameras, gadgets, bags, shoes, etc.  They got good prices for their purchases but in my opinion being a sale addict...our prices during a sale here in the Philippines is still cheaper especially for branded goods. I think that when shopping abroad we should have a good idea of sale prices in Manila (not just in our provinces) to be able to make a good purchase.  Anyway everybody was happy with their buys and we went off to have an early dinner at Seoul Garden at level 5 of the mall before embarking on our Star Cruise. I used to be curious about Korean food being an ex-Kdrama addict but not anymore...the only recognizable thing I ate there were the chili fish balls and the chicken sausage...the rest were edible but in the realm of the unknown.

2010 Summer Adventure - Singapore, Day 1

I had a birthday surprise this April...a 2 nights Straits of Malacca Cruise on Superstar Virgo...courtesy of old friends.  On April 20 I took the 10:30 AM PAL flight to Manila to meet up with the group in NAIA Centennial Terminal 2 for the 3:20 PM flight to Singapore (SG). The PAL staff in Bacolod checked me in for international transfer to Singapore, so all I had to do was to get myself to the international side of the airport. This was the first time I ventured to the international side and I saw a Jollibee kiosk and...a Prayer Room/Chapel!!! I went inside to pray for my family's safety as well as the hospital while I am away and of course, a safe and fruitful trip for me too.  I went out feeling so see, I am really not a traveling person and being away from home, family and work for more than 2 nights and out of the country at that, gives me butterflies in the stomach.  In fact, this deep familial attachment is one reason why I chose to work and live near be with my family is over and above all other reasons for living. Of course, if we all travelled together, that would have been different..but the free invitation was for me alone and I could not refuse it this time since this a second invitation and to say no again would probably mean it would also be the last time. So there I was sitting all alone in the waiting area looking sad and excited all at once. By 1 PM, the group was complete and we were all eagerly waiting to board.  We arrived at Changi Airport past 7 PM and it was huge, orderly, efficient and traveller friendly! My only other international trip was in Hongkong just before the turnover and we landed in their old Kai Tak airport, my vivid memory of that was the stench I smelled when we landed.  My one comment of the SG airport is that with all the hype regarding strict security...we were able to get our luggages out of the airport with no security person checking if it was ours or not...I had my luggage pass ready in hand but no one to give it to...hmmmmm. There were 2 vehicles waiting, one for our baggage to be brought to Concorde Hotel and a huge bus for us to bring us to Kublai Khan Restaurant. After dinner, we were checked into the hotel for a good night's rest...wake-up call is 6:30 AM the next day!

Friday, July 06, 2007

what do I miss in Manila?

I was in Manila for 3 days where I attended a convention/reunion with my fellow graduates of HLMP. It was good to see them and a needed break for me to get away from the pressures of work. One of the activities lined up was to watch 2 plays in the CCP, Palanca in my Mind and Hubad, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. In retrospect, these are the things I miss most living in the province...the diverse cultural events, the bars and the bands, bookstores (although now, we do have NBS in the province), Mark and Spencers...what I do not miss is the traffic, smog, pollution, the floods, the noise and all the other unneccesary trappings of an urban lifestyle. Of course, what I need most when I do go plenty of money...but that's another story :)

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