Saturday, November 28, 2009

3 years and counting

"If i don't like it there it's okay for me to come back right? You wouldn't think I failed."

I told my mom these words three years ago. It was the morning of my departure for what would be the adventure of a lifetime and I was scared. I was leaving the one place I knew as home to go to a strange new world where I didn't know anyone. In between sobs of goodbyes I asked my mom to give me her blessings that it would be okay should I wish to go home even if I end up not finishing my contract.

Today I finished that contract.

1,576,800 minutes of my adventure is over. And I'm starting with the next one.

Time does fly by so fast. I've never cried as much, I've never been hurt as much but more than anything else, I've never been happy as much.. The past three years tried my spirit to the core and taught me some of the hardest lessons I'll ever learn in life. The Jaime/Hazel who left Manila three years ago is not the same girl you see now.Sometimes I wish I was the same but I know that life goes on.. We change. People change.

So today I say thank you-- to all those who made all these things possible. To the one who pushed me to say yes to this adventure (without even knowing it) and to the one who helped me stay true to my promise until today. And most of all to all those I've met along the way..

I am grateful.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Monday Hangover

I have a hangover. And its Monday.Ayos diba? di naman ako lasing.. kulang lang sa tulog. My head is still whoozy that I am in no mood to work on my lecture tomorrow (well tapos na siya a couple of minutes ago but Im too lazy to review it pa). I had to wake up early today as I had an early meeting on campus but alas! the meeting was cancelled (argghh)

The weekend was filled with activities and there was never really much time to rest and just sleep the day away. Friday night, I went out for crabs with Angeli and Jay after a long day shopping for wardrobe cabinets and beds at IKEA. It turned into an all night inuman (till 2am) at our house. It was pure glutonny. haha. We took Angeli to the resto with no menu (a.k.a. Hokkaido) and had crabs, fish and the bamboo lala with beers. Jay said Angeli and I are a bad combination especially when it comes to eating. Correction, the three of us are a bad combo when it comes to eating.hahaha. We didnt notice the time until it was almost 2am. By then our topics covered the most mudane to the weirdest. haha. Ano yun? secret na lang!

Saturday was another packed day. After waking up I went for some Beauty stuff and had my hair done in the parlor. Afterwards I had a late afternoon chat with neighbor Jom and then off to Don Manny's birthday celebration in Sri Petaling. Don Manny's lechong kawali and binagoongang baboy were worth the travel. I went back at midnight and fell asleep immediately. I was just too tired.

On Sunday we cleaned the house a bit and I went off to run in the gym. I needed some exercise to keep my mind off stuff as well lose some of those unwanted calories gained from two days of glutonny.

The glutonny did not end there however as the F1 race gave us another excuse to eat. Angeli made some kebabs and bought San Miguel beer. Steve, whose in town for his modules joined our trio for an afternoon of eating and drinking. The F1 may have gotten rained out but the party went on. We chatted till almost 2am. Who would have thought we could consume so much time?! haha. Steve left early but Jay and I stayed on. If not for our early day in campus, we would have probably ended up talking the whole night long.

Now I think another weekend to recuperate.. haha. Sana wednesday na.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Restaurant with no Menu

I just came back from another food adventure in this wonderful city called KL. I have been wanting to eat crabs since last month but we've been to lazy to go back to Restoran King Crab in Kelana Jaya. Who would have thought that I didn't need to go far. I just had to walk about 5minutes from my new place to a sidewalk resto called Restoran Hokkaido (we serve no pork)--ganyan talaga ang name niya sa sign board.

The foodtrippers (a.k.a. Jay, Stanley and Me) decided to have dinner out after Stanley's short visit. We walked down Jalan Lumut and stepped into the world of Hokkaido. Nope, there's nothing Japanese about their menu. In fact they don't have any menu at all.The auntie pointed us towards the cieling where they have a rough listing of the kinds of food (not the cooking style) they serve. After about 2 minutes of feeling lost, we decided to trust the suggestions of the auntie and ordered steamed fish sechzuan style (whatever that is) and their version of the chili crab (i was asking for the singapore style one but she said theirs is the specialty of the house).

And boy was Auntie right.. The fish was fresh and just had the right amount of spicyness in it- just enough to give it that extra kick. It was steamed with a combination of oyster sauce and several herbs and spices. It resembled the thai version of the steamed fish with a twist. Then of course the crabs. It was a slightly different variation of the belacan crabs (with dried chili). But boy was it good! yum yum! I was telling the guys that I didnt use to like eating crabs because I didn't like the mess of taking off the shell. But tonight, I had no qualms whatsoever (to think may sugat pa ako sa kamay so I had to be extra careful). I was the last person standing (a.k.a taga ubos ng tira) and was dubbed as "takaw" by Jay. hehe.. My diet was totally ruined (what diet?!) but Im telling you it was so worth it. The fish, the crab and the beer was worth gaining a few pounds for.

The best part was when I got the bill. I was expecting it to be quite expensive (we were in the city after all). I was surprised because it was really cheap for a seafood resto in KL. They even gave us a fruit platter for free to wash down all the "umay" of the crabs and fish.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Penang Food Trip

I travel the world in search of great food. Last weekend in Penang was no exception. The trip was originally envisioned to be a food road trip. Maybe rent a car in KL and drive around to those far flung restaurants and eat something new. After a bit of thinking, we decided to go to Penang instead and join the weekenders of Nokia who were going there for their team outing. We took the 12mn bus from Puduraya and after nearly freezing for 4.5 hours, we finally made it to the the island of Penang.

Our first food stop was the mamak stall in Batu Ferringhi. Nothing was open yet so it was the only choice. I had breakfast of Roti Bakar with Planta Kaya and 2 soft boiled eggs (did i mention that this is an artery clogging cholesterol laden food trip?) plus teh tarik. Went around the city a bit afterwards to practice driving (see my other blog) and found ourselves in front of the Le Maison de Blue (a.k.a the blue house) which we failed to visit the last time Jay and I were in Penang. Finally I saw the infamous unesco world heritage site.

The second food stop was the Long Beach hawker stalls for dinner. We had grilled stingray, char siew pork, oyster cakes, beer and for take away- char siew pao. Glutonny. haha. We brought a bottle of Bacardi Rhum with us so we all got drunk in the hotel while pigging out on satay and siopao. The rhum tasted like cough syrup but what the heck..

Day 2 marked more food trips and road trips. I was slowly getting the hang out of driving on the wrong side of the road. I finally understood the concept of the roundabout. We left the hotel early to have brunch at Lorong Selamat in that famous Char Kuey Teow stall. Unfortunately we were too early so we let our stomachs guide us to the nearby Dimsum Food Restaurant (yep! that's the name). At first we thought it was a wedding. Dimsum pala. Ordered hakaw (genetically modified ata sa laki), siomai, siopao and several other varieties of dimsum. The waitress offered us "ride pork rips" (fried pork ribs) which Angeli thought to be "rice pork." It was really good.

An hour later we were feeling the MSG and was getting sleepy.So we headed towards Bukit Bendera for some site seeing. Unfortunately the funicular was fully booked till 330pm and it was only 1pm. The rain started to pour so we took shelter at the nearby stall and had ABC (the malaysian halo halo). I nearly had to make a side trip to the ER (naka plot ang hospital sa GPS ni gidiyap) as the ABC had pineapples (i am allergic) buti na lang I saw it before eating so I traded orders with jay. After spending some time in Kek Lok Si temple, we headed back to the hotel to rest.

For dinner we searched for pork. Lechong Kawali to be exact. We stopped at three food stalls (two along tanjung bungah) and 1 in Gurney drive. Lahat bigo. We braved the saturday night traffic in Gurney drive to find the elusive roasted pork. There was a restaurant that looked interesting and popular but their "serve no pork" sign drove us away (Pork nga ang hanap namin eh!) Finally we decided to just eat the the Song River food stall in Gurney driver where we settled for pork ribs (minus the buto), bakuteh, fried rice, char kuey teow, crab spring rolls, and some weird squid dish (settling talaga ang tawag eh no?). To appease our disappointment over not finding pork, we bought some grilled chicken wings for our pulutan.

The nokia girls joined us after dinner for a night of drinking (ayoko na iuwi yung bote ng bacardi) inside our hotel apartment. Everyone was tired but still game to just relax and chill.

On our last morning in Penang we decided to return to Lorong Selamat and eat at that char kuey teow stall. This time hindi na kami papayag na umalis ng bigo. After finding parking, we went to the stall (it was open!) only to be told that there was a 45 minute wait for the infamous noodles. What?!!! 45 minutes?!!! That was the only thing we understood from our interpreter. But since we really wanted to eat at this stall, we said yes. Jay decided to order some oyster cake from the nearby shop to kill time. 20++ or so minutes later our orders finally arrived. The verdict? IT WAS WORTH THE WAIT. Can't say anything else. The oyster cake was also delicious by the way.

After a brief stopover at Starbucks to cool down and use the toilet, the travelling trio headed back to the bus station to go home. Another food adventure finished.

Next destination please.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road

I hold a Malaysian drivers' license but I have never driven in Malaysia. Two reasons-- one I dont have a car and two-- they drive on the other side of the road here. I just applied for my license just in case one day I would need it but I never really had an idea when that one day would be.

That "one day" became a reality last weekend.

An impromptu gimik to Penang last Friday gave me a chance to test my driving powers in Malaysia. Jay, Angeli and I decided to rent a car in Penang instead of taking the taxi (which was very expensive) around town. Found a car through right before we left KL and viola, we had a car. We met the owners in the bus station and they introduced us to my first car in Malaysia-- a proton viva. After photocopying my passport and license the owners dropped us off at Tanjung Bungah and wished us godspeed.

So picture this- It wasn't only that it was a right hand drive vehicle, it was also 6:30in the morning(still dark in Malaysia standard), the roads were winding (tunay at wagas na zigzag ito), and I had no idea how to get to our destination (Sri Sayang Hotel in Batu Ferringhi). The owner just told me to go straight and I wont miss it (Okay.. sana nga). Talk about baptism of fire right? Jay reluctantly transferred to the front passenger seat to be my navigator slash driving tutor slash taga asar and off we went to find the hotel. And did I mention it was a manual transmission? hahaha.

Slowly I acquainted myself with the car. Figured out how to shift gears and look at the mirrors. It was hard at first as I was so used to shifting with my right hand and now I have to do it with my left. Several times, I found myself operating the windshield wiper instead of the turning signals(Oops! Patawa talaga!). Every second I was telling myself that I cannot and will not fail this task. Talk about raising one's self efficacy to the max (ay nerd).

20 or so minutes later, we found Sri Sayang Hotel (note mali ang direction ni car owner). Whew! made it. The room wasn't available yet so we ended up eating at the nearby mamak stall instead.

We had the car for three days and by the end of day 3 I mastered going up and down Batu Ferringhi's zig zag roads. That road became my EDSA. Everytime we'd get lost, I'll just find my way there. Buti na lang may GPS ang phones namin ni Jay so we were not totally blind. Yung nga lang minsan maling direction ang binibigay ni mapking. hahaha.

I survived my first attempt at driving without any major hitches. I realized shifting with my left hand wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. It was in fact a truly exciting experience. My only waterloo was the roundabout (nakakalito naman kasi yung exiting system niya) and the parallel parking. I didn't even dare attempt parallel parking in Bukit Bendera (Penang Hill) for fear of sideswiping the cars parked around me. My one and only attempt was at the bus station which nearly gave my navigator a heart attack (sabi ko nga di talaga ako marunong eh).

So now I am a true blue driver in Malaysia. I am still carl-ess but at least now I know I can drive here. Finally nasulit ang misadventures sa JPJ office last year.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

When In Bangkok...(2.21-2.24.09)

I went to Bangkok last year for my birthday so this time around I wanted to re-experience the land of Tom Yum differently. Whereas last year's priority was Shopping and Eating, this year there was no shopping whatsoever in the picture. When we booked that flight ages ago, we agreed that this time around Bangkok was for taking photos.

We took the earliest flight and arrived at Bangkok at about 8am Bangkok time. Too early. We found our way to the hotel and checked in. Rested a bit and went on to find lunch. First task? EAT. haha. We gravitated towards something familiar-- Sizzlers, a steakhouse we discovered in Hatyai back in 2007. What can I say? Beer and steaks for lunch is simply H-E-A-V-E-N-L-Y. After satisfying our craving for western food, it was now time to check out the mall-- Centralworld (actually CR ng mall! haha). Sabi ko nga no shopping this time around so we just enjoyed the aircon and walked around. A couple of hours later we found ourselves in the famous Chatuchak market. So many people! Bought a couple of souvenirs (sige na nga a little shopping lang) and searched the market high and low for a roasted pork stall we chanced about earlier. All for the love of pork! haha. Although tired and feeling sticky, we met up with Jay's old thai officemate for an early dinner at the Thong lo district. If I thought lunch was heavenly, Dinner was Heavenlier! (is there such a word?!). More beers and pork later, we headed back to the hotel for a quick shower and went out after with Pom and Manu.

In Bangkok I finally got to experience what clubbing was all about. We drank at the Indy Trees Bar first before heading to Route 66 for some authentic clubbing. Talk about enjoying life. By 3:00am we were all half drunk (may mas lasing sa kin though) and ready to hit the sack. Hey dude! What's up?! ang linya ng mga kasama ko. hahaha.. Yan pala ang epekto ng 1.5 bottles in JW.

The next day (day 2), we woke up with a hangover. I literally had to move our temple tour to a different time as waking up early was not exactly our cup of tea. By the time we left the hotel it was past 10am. Now it was time for some serious Bangkok photography.

Now that I have my own nice camera, I can experience bangkok from a photographer's perspective. Our tour took us to the Wat Pho temple and the Marble temple. Both temples were amazing. Although it was packed with tourists, it was still a good experience for the would be photographer like me. 4 hours later, armed with our roasted pork bbq (WE LOVE PORK), we decided to take an extra long siesta and order room service. No more energy left.

More food welcomed us that night with a lovely dinner/reunion with old friends at the Waterside Resort Restaurant. It was a good 30 minutes drive out of Bangkok to this beautiful resto on top of a lake (man made?). Our thai hosts took care of the ordering and I basically just ate whatever was served in front of me. My favorite was the fish tom yum that was totally delectable.

On Day 3, we took photographs of the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It was a day long affair as the Grand Palace was huge. I nearly fainted of heatstroke because of the heat. But sabi nga nila, walang init, walang araw, ulan or lindol ang pipigil sa tin from taking pictures! The place was enormous but beautiful. I loved the weapons display the most. May sekyu din na nagfeefeeling napahiya tuloy ("outside!") After losing all the weight we gained to the heat, we headed for our last dinner in the city with Pom and Intira. More tom yum (fish head tom yum) and seafoods. What makes this country amazing is that every meal is a discovery. For this side street resto (which we nicknamed Benmore for the signage), the crispy pork intestines in garlic was to die for! Sa sobrang sarap, we ordered take out!.

After 4 days, it was time to get back to reality. After checking out, lugging my luggage up 2 flights of stairs in the BTS, and having lunch at mcdonalds (my tradition!), we killed time by watching Underworld 3. Soonafter it was an amazing race to the airport. One thing that I won't miss in Bangkok is traffic. My! May mas ma traffic ng lugar kesa sa pinas! Muntik kong sabunutan yung counter when he said the flight was closed! Duh! It was more than an hour before our flight. Yun pala he was looking at the wrong flight code. Our flight got moved a couple of weeks ago so we had a different flight code now.30 minutes later we were finally waiting for our flight's boarding call. whew! made it just in time. Adventure finally over..

Nope. 2 hours later we landed in KL only to get lost in the LCCT terminal. Our plane landed on the departure area and the lone steward pointed us towards the wrong terminal (departure! aba! aalis muli kami?). It was a long walk to the right hall and when finally we made it, the immigration people were shocked to see us. They asked us where we came from and we all had a laugh when we explained our misadventure in the terminal.

At 1030pm the adventure was finally over.It was back to reality. totoo na to.

So when in bangkok what do we do? EAT, take PICTURES, EAT, and take more Pictures!

Sige na nga shopping na din on the side.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Quietly Turning 32

I celebrated my 32nd birthday last friday. But unlike the previous year where I made half of my KL friends drunk to oblivion (including myself), these year I celebrated my birthday quietly. I specifically chose not to have a big party this year because I wanted to make it more meaningful for me. Not that last year was bad. Turning 31 was very significant as I really thought I wouldnt make it past 30 when I was a kid (not to sound morbid or anything) so I wanted a big party to welcome that year. This year, I just wanted a quiet day to reminisce about the blessings I've had over the past 32 years (senti mode!)..

Ella and Classmate flew in on the 4th of Feb and on the eve of my birthday the four of us (Ella, Adrian, Jay and I) waited for Feb 6 on top of the Skybar at the Traders' Hotel in KLCC. We had beers and margarita and enjoyed the view after a lovely dinner at the foodcourt of KLCC. At 12 mn we headed back to the condo and waited for my actual birthday (I was born 12:55am). When the clock finally struck 12:55, I blew my make believe birthday cake (it was a chocolate flavored candle from Ikea) infront of my three friends.

The text messages and emails started coming in early in the morning. Karen was the first one to greet all the way from Manila. My sister called early Friday morning and most of my friends in Pinas sent in their greetings all throughout the day. It was such a great feeling to be remembered by them. Even my dad whom I havent seen or spoken to in over 8 years greeted me. I'm glad he remembered my birthday this year.

Friday night we had dinner at the Korean Bbq (suki na kami nito) where we pigged out and drank korean soju. There was a funny moment in the resto when I found a bug on the lettuce leaf and asked the waiter to take it away. He thought I was asking him to eat it and he said, "I don't eat bug!" I nearly died of laughter. All of us could barely keep it together. After dinner, it was a round of drinking at the house till 3am.

It was a small celebration this year but I kind of liked it that way. I got to celebrate my day with my closest friends and my bestfriend was here (Sana pwedeng ijeep na lang ang pinas para we can do this every weekend).

I got almost all the things I wished for on my birthday (may isa na lang na di natupad.. but sabi nga patience is a virtue)..

I am grateful.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

And the Winner is...

A couple of months ago there was a challenge--the adobo challenge to be exact. I even wrote a blog about it. Finally last night natest na ang adobo prowess ni gidiyap. We even had a special pot allocated for it (sponsored by Ikea).

The verdict? It was really good. Well worth the wait of 4 months (yata) and 3 hours (1030 na kami kumain eh) See good sport ako! ... walang bitterness yan! hahaha..

Sabi ko nga, I know when to admit defeat (sabi kasi ni Sr. Rose sa bridget before tuwing sportsfest that we should always have "humility in victory, and graciousness in defeat" ). So I am giving the adobo crown to my worthy competitor (parang nadal-federer match to.. long awaited..).. May iba pang challenges sa sunod. hehe..

And sige na, maalat talaga ang adobo dati. :)

Ang pagbabalik...

I have been remiss in my blogging for the last 2 weeks for 2 reasons: going back to work after a month long holiday is chaotic. Had to catch up with a lot of stuff not to mention I had a graduate class to run. But more than that moving houses is another chaos. I decided to live closer tot he city and be nearer the KL campus thus I packed my stuff over the Chinese new year break and embarked on another adventure in KL..I never realized that I could accumulate so much stuff in a little over 2 years of stay in Malaysia. Literally I gave away 1 whole balikbayan box of clothes alone. Andyan pa ang mga stuff like stuffed toys, books, etc. Ay naku! ang daming kalat.. Buti na lang may mga loyal workers (ay super heroes pala.. itago natin sila sa mga pangalang C J & DM) na matiyagang nakibuhat sa aming mga gamit nung grand lipatan day. May utang pa kaming mamak meals sa inyo. hehehe..

And finally kagabi nagka internet na sa aming bagong home sweet home.

Yahoo! back in circulation again. ;)

Monday, January 12, 2009

The last 24 hours

I started packing this morning. I was halfway to achieving another master packer level of packing when a sudden wave of sadness hit me. It was a cross between homesickness and feeling lost. I guess that's what they call the "neither here nor there" feeling. I have 24 hours left in manila (26 hours to be exact before my flight). Tomorrow I will be back to reality. Part of me is excited to go back, but a part of me is also sad because I have to say goodbye again. And I hate saying goodbyes.

Last night I went by Luis' place to give him my long overdue gift. I haven't seen my badminton partner in a year. I didn't want to go down at first but Luis made me stay a bit so we could chat. The reason why I didnt want to go down was I knew I was just gonna feel homesick after. Oh Well. It was nice chatting with Luis though. We crammed everything that happened to us in a year in 1.5 hours of talking while waiting for Byo. Our lives really went on different adventures na. But some things haven't changed like the couch I used to hang out in his place while watching football (favorite ko to!) and the trophies/medals we won when we used to compete as partners.

Today will be a day of saying goodbye again.. I'll have my last dinner with Ella and Adrian and hopefully that traditional last night coffee with Anthony. It's all about traditions today. And figuring out how to fit everything in my luggage.

Sana pwedeng iextend ang 24 hours. :)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Meet Ups and Reunions

Since I only have a week left to my vacation, I need to start meeting up with the people I haven't seen since I last visited. I didn't realize that time flew by so fast that my 27 days of break is almost over. Sa dami ng roadtrips na nagawa, ang dami pa palang dapat imeet at kamustahin.

So yesterday I had a marathon reunion session with long missed friends. I met up with Weevens for coffee in the afternoon and had a grand time laughing about our favorite folks and reminiscing about the events in our lives. After coffee I went to have dinner with my partner, Denden, who treated me to a super delicious tapsilog in Banapple (For some reason I've been having these tapsilog craze...). I haven't seen den in a long time so it was really great to see him again. It was like recalling one's life events of the past year in a very short period of time. Pinilit talagang pagkasyahin sa 2 oras lahat ng kwento. I didnt realize how much I missed my dinners and chicka nights with Den. We used to do this a lot a couple of years ago after our gym evenings at Moro.

After dinner I went to GBC where I haven't been to since January of 2008. Wanted na daw ako sabi ni Harry since I missed the two recent events-- the christmas tourney and the christmas outing. I borrowed Harry's racket so that I could play. This year I didn't bring home a racket since I had limited luggage space. It was nice playing with the old guys again. As usual tawa pa din kami ng tawa nina tita cons. I met some new faces and had a nice reunion with the old ones. I played 10 sets in all (5 matches), the most I've played since last year. I don't know how I lasted. haha.

There was a tinge of sadness when I walked out of GBC at 1145pm. I guess its the realization that despite my visit, I kinda miss being there every monday and thursday night. Parang bitin yung once a year na bisita.

In a week's time I'll go back to reality. Tama si Chu33y3itch wag na lang isipin muna yun coz malulungkot lang kami.