Thursday, October 23, 2008

Travel: Things I Want to Know

      When I get to a new/foreign city, these are some of the things I want/need to know right away. I try to get as much information as I could off the internet, but sometimes there's not enough so I just have to wait til I get there...

1. Where's the best place to exchange my USD to the local currency?
     ==> I usually ask my achi for this. She knows these things so I just follow. I didn't do badly in Math, but I think exchange rates fall under Economics and logic which are things I was never too good at. :p I get confused with the "buy" and "sell" stuff so I let my sister do the analysis and comparison which she does like this *snap fingers*. She knows where the best rates are in Hongkong (out the hotel, cross the street, round the corner, up a flight of stairs in between tiny shops) and Bangkok-- so for our trip to Bangkok, I texted her. ;-)

2. How much do I give for tip?
     ==> I ALWAYS forget to read up on this before going on a trip. I HATE tipping mostly because I NEVER know how much to give. Actually, I don't like tipping wherever I am.. here, there. I always walk away with an unsettling feeling that I gave too little (and tell myself never to show my face in that place again- when here) or too much (and tell myself I'm being one of 'em ridiculous foreigners- when there). I feel so happy when I read a sign from management asking guests not to tip (like in Plantation Bay in Mactan).

3. Where's the nearest train/bus station?
     ==> This is actually something I could figure out before getting there. But sometimes, I still need to ask around just to get some orientation.

4. Where's the nearest Catholic church? How do you get there? What's the schedule of masses?

     ==> More often than not, a Sunday or two will come up during the vacation so I need to get to a church. And I would say that this is probably the first question my parents ask when they arrive anywhere. Hongkong it's at the Mariner's Club. Singapore, just take a cab (I was always with my parents so I let them take care of figuring it all out and just ride along). St. Mary's at Sydney was easy to find and get to. Tokyo was difficult- Rocky and I just went to Sophia University on our own without knowing the schedule (the church was closed but good thing their beautiful prayer room was open).
     For Bangkok, I couldn't find all the information I needed from the internet so I had to ask the lady at the front desk. I knew the names of the churches and some I had the addresses to, I needed help marking them on my map. It took them awhile (and for me to trust that the information they were giving me were correct), but we decided to go to the Assumption Cathedral (because it was also the only one I had the mass schedule for). We took the Chao Praya boat, got off The Oriental pier and it was just a 2-minute walk from there. :-)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Healthy Dinner?

     There's a whole leg of Jabugo ham hanging in Jolly's house and he gave Rocky a small plastic container full of ham to taste. :-)

     So we... er, I decided to have a soup and salad and ham dinner. (Haha, that's because my afritada yesterday wasn't perfect and I was kinda bummed out about it-- who messes up afritada?? And I wanted to take it easy in the kitchen tonight.)

     Got salad greens and cherry tomatoes from S&R. A bottle of "no oil", healthy salad dressing (in case the one we have in the fridge is spoiled na). Wheat pandesal to go with the ham (Rocky's request).

     So for dinner tonight, all I cooked up in the kitchen (with assistance from the helper) was hardboil two eggs, fry a pack of bacon and heat two cans of Campbell soup (Chicken and dumplings soup). Oh, and wash the tomatoes.

     I love bacon! I love bacon! I looooove bacon! I loooove bacon! I ate most of it. :p

     I looked over at the container filled with ham... imagined it all in Rocky's blood stream (because I don't really eat that kind of ham, I just like King's ham... hahaha!) (and I conveniently did not imagine all that bacon I just ate :p). I asked him if he could finish all of it hoping to segue into suggesting that he bring it to share with his officemates as he does with stuff (like cake, etc.) we can't finish at home. His answer, Yup! Eventually. :-)

     Soup and salad dinner- healthy? Hah! Not in our house. :p

***** ***** ***** *****
Next time, when I'm not lazy I might try this:

Isn't that just mouth-watering? The picture and how to make it are fromhere.

(We didn't even bother slicing the cherry tomatoes. Just popped 'em in and munch! :D)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Travel: What I Packed

(Maybe I should make this post "What I Didn't Pack")

1. scrapbook, glue and stapler. Whenever I travel, I like to keep receipts, stubs, business cards, maps and brochures. I come home from a trip with a small shopping bag filled with this stuff. Sadly, I never find the time, post-vacation, to put it all together. So, for this trip I decided I'd do it during my vacation. And I'm so happy I did. :-) I don't know how to make pretty things- gift wrapping, scrapbooking- but I don't really mind. I just like having all the itty-bitty things nicely, neatly put together. :-) I'd do this again, but next time I'd remember to bring scissors also :-)

2. Quikpod. It's one of my favorite gadgets. It's so useful and Rocky and I never have to ask other people to take our picture for us. I love it! :-)

Here's a pic of us using the quikpod. Not the best shot since ideally the quikpod shouldn't be in the photo. :p

(And that's a grasshopper woven from coconut leaves that I'm holding over Rocky's head. A little souvenir he got for me.)

3. Dresses. I decided to wear dresses for the entire trip (except for days when I had to fly). I was expecting Bangkok to be hot (and it was!) and couldn't imagine being in jeans. And since I don't wear shorts, dresses it was. Also, I was travelling light... to leave more space and weight for shopping. :-D

4. Shoes. Well, I didn't pack any. The only pair I took with me was the one I was wearing. So I'd be "forced" to shop for shoes. Haha, as if I needed any more prodding.

5. Sunblock. Very useful. I didn't re-apply as often as I should have (tsk tsk tsk). And I should have placed some on my feet, too. My feet have tan lines now-- my toes are pale but the rest of my foot turned dark brown. Yikes.

Baggage: 20 kilos per person. I left with a little less than 9 kilos. Could have been lighter, I think, if I travelled with a balikbayan box + cover instead of my suitcase. Haha. I suggested packing the balikbayan gear box cover (I have at least 5 of those, I used when I shipped my stuff from Cebu to Manila), but Rocky vetoed it. He was right, I didn't shop too much to fill up a 20x20x20 balikbayan box, but we still had to buy one of those plastic/canvas bags for a few of the bulky stuff I got. :-)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

168 and Tutuban Center

     I used to sleep in the car while Driver Rico took me to 168. I've been wanting to go, but I had to "borrow" Rico from the office. Our scheds finally worked out last Monday. And RiaC came along with me. :-)

     It's so easy to get there pala.

     Anyway, my first purchase for the day were microfiber hand towels which after a timid "Anong last price?" were purchased for P1.00 less than the original price. Okay, I really don't know how to haggle, but its still cheaper than getting the same ones from True Value and S&R. I use it for cleaning around the house. :-) I bought it in one of the shops between 168 and Tutuban Center (Tutuban Prime Block?).

     Right outside 168 was a shop selling gift wrappers. RiaC was buying some for her mom. And I was buying some to fill up my gift wrapping organizer. :-) I think the shop we went to was on Sta. Elena St. (Jurong Trading?). They close for lunch, 12 to 1:30pm or something like that. RiaC got her boxes sa few shops down.

     RiaC and I went absolutely crazy at Michelle's Ribbon and Lace Center at Tutuban Center. The Luke18 Weekend just finished, but we found cheap rosary beads and crosses and string for the medallions- we decided to buy already for the next Weekend. Haha. I dream of going back there.

     Lunch was at Max's still at Tutuban Center. And I bumped into Atty. & Mrs. Bolastig. :-) It was nice to see them on a nice and lazy Monday morning. Haha. :-)

     After a few more purchases (mostly by RiaC ;p but she's quick to note that she didn't buy anything for herself), we decided to rest our feet. Our last stop was Eng Bee Tin for Jolly's black champoy.

     I can't wait to go there again. :-D