Thursday, March 22, 2007

Spa Virgin

My boyfriend picked me up from Cagayan de Oro! :) I was so tired but I think we went to the Mall of Asia first before going home. We grabbed some food to eat and strolled for a while and then we went home.

The following day, my boyfriend said he wanted to surprise me. I was so eager to know what his surprise was. He asked me to close my eyes. Being the impatient one, I kept on asking him where we were going and he told me he was taking me to a place nice and quiet. He was taking me to a place where I can relax. When he finally let me open my eyes, I saw the big sign... The Spa!

I was soh thrilled because I have never been to a spa before! I did not want to look like an idiot so I was determine to watch other people first before I did anything hehe... There weren't so many people so I was not that conscious and I found myself becoming more and more comfortable in my skin. Yeah... I was butt naked! Sorry to the visual people!

I thought I would suffocate in the sauna but after a while it began to feel really great. I can't wait to be in another sauna soon! There was a jacuzzi too... I was like a female Mr. Bean! I wanted to go for a dip but I did not want to take my towel off! Haha! It was hilarious! I was wrapped in my towel and when my body was submerged already, that was the only time I let go of my towel. Note, I did not want to wet the towel too and the Jacuzzi is in the wet area. It's not called wet area for nothing! There was flowing water even outside the Jacuzzi! And then another girl entered the room. I could not get out of the water and I was wishing so hard she would not go for a dip in the Jacuzzi! Whew! She decided to sit, Indian manner (naked) in the sauna! I wanted to transfer to the sauna but I did not want to see her! After a while she walked out and that was the time I got out of the pool and transferred to the sauna!

I felt so relaxed after the cold and hot bath. I had some ginger tea at their waiting lounge and after a few minutes I was called to the massage room.

The massage was pretty rough for my boyfriend and me! I wanted the massage to be more gentle but they were bent on hurting me! Hehe!

After the massage, I felt pretty! Loved my skin more!

Thanks baby for the wonderful treat!

Eavesdropping on a Jeepney

As I was waiting for more passengers enough to fill the jeep going to the UP campus, a father and son (around 8 years old) sat adjacent to where I was sitting. The father then began telling his son in Filipino, "Did you see that man sleeping earlier in the bus? That man did not want to pay so he pretended to sleep.". To this the boy replied unbelieving what his dad said, "No way! Really?". The father, determined to prove his point added, "Didn't you notice how he suddenly woke up when the conductor said Ayala?". The boy just had to nod and that was probably enough to convince him.

When I heard the father say all these things, I was indignant. Why is the father corrupting this child's mind?

Before I can further berate how this man is leading his child to a path to hell, the father explained to the son, "The jeep won't leave yet because we are still waiting for another train to arrive. When a train gets here, more people will be riding the jeep. When the jeep is filled to its capacity that is the time we will move.". The son just listened intently to what his dad was saying. The father, eager to share so much to his son pointed to the direction of a small wooden structure and said, "That's where the goat lives.". The son peered out and was pretty impressed. The father began talking again and brought out one of the books he carried in a plastic bag, it was a book about volcanoes, "Did you pick this out yourself?...".

Then it dawned on me. All the father was doing was to teach his son about things that the father feels he needs to know. I understood now why he had to say the harsh realities of the world to a child so young for how can a father teach his son the ways of the world without corrupting him?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Cagayan de Oro

Continuing about my travels...

My boyfriend picked me up from Terminal 1 the night I got back from Bangkok. While the people I was with were looking forward to resting during the weekend, I had another flight to look forward to in a few hours. I got into my boyfriend's car at around 8pm and I will have to board another plane at 5am the following day. I was going to Cagayan de Oro the following day. My boyfriend who lives in the South cannot come that early from his house but he wanted to make sure I can safely get to the airport so he decided to spend the night in his office.

Before he decided to spend the night in the officel, we decided we wanted to spend more time together and besides, I was not feeling so tired yet, we went to the Mall of Asia. I missed Razon's Palabok and Halo-halo so we had some. After eating, I was already feeling the fatigue and I had to attend to my stuff because I have not packed yet.

I went home and my boyfriend went to his office. A mere three hours later, my phone was vibrating already. I had to force myself out of bed and take a bath. The deliberation of whether I should get up or not was long and arduous, eventually I was able to convince myself that getting wet in the shower that early in the morning will not kill me. Because it took me forever to decide whether to get up or not, my boyfriend waited for a long time for me to go down.

I was in no hurry because I was thinking since my flight was domestic anyway it would probably not take a long time to get to the plane. I mean, no more immigration line and so on... (Yes, this was my first domestic flight and I was alone!) Boy, was I wrong! I almost was late! It's a good thing my boyfriend knew I had to hurry up! True enough I was one of the last few people who was able to check in. A man who got to the counter a few minutes later was refused to check in.

I took the Cebu Pacific plane, I was toally scared because I have never taken Cebu Pacific before and I have heard of crashes. Across my seat was Giselle Sanchez, but I left my camera phone so I was not able to take her picture. As I was disembarking from the plane, I also realized Blakdyak was behind me.

When I got to the airport, I immediately was able to spot the van of Ridgeview Chalet. I was asked to bring a swimsuit because according to the other Cisco people, the pool was nice. It was my first time in Cagayan de Oro and I assumed that since there was a nice pool the weather is probably warm. NOT! It was Baguio kind of cold since it was morning. Nonetheless, it was cold and all the clothes with me were summer clothes!

Fortunately, for the actual Instructor's Summit, I had with me a pair of jeans and my vendor shirt. Whew! I was soh tired that after facilitating a group and assisting in registration, I was found out cold! I am not usually someone who will fall asleep in a public place but I was so exhausted because immediately after I got to Cagayan de Oro we were on our way to the Polytechnic University there.

At around 3pm, we headed back to our cottage and decided to rest a bit and swim. Ha! My roommate and I just slept through the entire afternoon! The guys woke us up at around 7pm and at this time I was still very groggy I actually thought it was already morning. I thought they were just asking me to have breakfast! I did not even get to change clothes! I went out wearing my Havaianas, vendor shirt and pants. The same things I was wearing in Baguio just a few weeks back, well save for the Havaianas!

Before I knew it we were on our way to Big Bys (I don't know if I got the spelling right). The steak was great though I have to say I would still pick Tagaytay Highlands Steak any time! The price difference is very big though so Big Bys would still win in terms of economy. After eating, we met up with another guy. He was one of the officers. He had with him 1G USB drives that he sold for 700Php! Cheap huh? I was waiting so long for a cheap flash drive! I bought one even though those units were not for us to buy. Almost all of us ended up buying.

He took us to a bar, where to our distress, played ballad songs! I was in the mood to dance the night away! I don't drink nor smoke but I loved dancing and this is the only reason I go to bars! A few hours later, they started playing upbeat songs and I got to dance finally!

We went home at around 2am but some of the boys still stayed on to party their kind of party. Eww!

The following morning, I had breakfast and swam. Not my usual number of laps though becauuse the pool was just 25 m., maybe less.... It had a slide but I did not attempt because I hate it when my butt hits the pool so hard, it brings back the spanking memories!

After swimming, I took a bath and packed my stuff... Not so much to pack this time because we did not get to go to pasalubong hubs. We ended up buying goodies like cashew nuts, peanut kisses, and more peanuts from the airport. Our flight was delayed. The Cebu Pacific girl announced that the flight we were suppose to take during boarding time that the plane is still in Manila! Whoah! It was because according to them the runway was under repair. We had breakfast at a nearby restaurant and looked at more pasalubongs.

My regret during this trip was that I was not able to make the most out of my stay. I was not able to go white water rafting and go for an underwater cave dive. Maybe next time...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Four Nights in Bangkok

The following weekend after Lipa, I was packing my bag again for another getaway. Last December I applied to go to ENGAGE Thailand. It's a conference with European people and I thought it would be a great opportunity. I was still in a different high due to the fellowship awarded to me and at that time I felt I can do anything.

I applied and luckily, I got in!

So that Sunday, my mom took me to the airport and I suddenly remembered that I left my Ipod and my camera at home. My mom decided it was still early and so we decided to go back. After my mom gassed up, we decided I can live without my Ipod. I later on found out that my camera was already in my bag. I was so in a hurry in packing my things that I did not realize that I have actually packed my camera.

It has been 12 years since I was last in Bangkok and though I really never liked Bangkok a lot because of its humid air and boring temples, I was excited because this trip is free and I love going to conferences and meeting people who are into grid computing and other research areas!

I was thrilled to find out that when we got the airport, we were picked up by a chauffeured, red Mercedes-Benz! A few minutes later we were already at the Conrad Hotel. The lobby was pretty simple but the hallways and the room was fantastic!

The bathroom is my favorite because apart from it having aroma oils plus a bathtub and a separate shower and a yellow elephant ducky, the toiletries smelled great! The bath robes were so soft and soh comfy! The walls were all glass and it just had a curtain that can be drawn open and close by an electronic switch! Haha! At first it was cool but after a while it got kind of annoying since I would always mistake it for a light switch. There was even one time I did not realize the curtain was drawn open because the maid just made our room up!

The beds were pretty with a bolster with silk as its pillowcase, on top of it rested a silk Elephant stuffed toy. Now how cute is that? Everyday a fresh bowl of fruits is left in the room.

By far, Conrad Hotel is the most beautiful hotel I have stayed in yet.

During the first day I was able to go to Central where I was able to buy a Wacoal on sale! Was soh happy with my find! After which we took the train to go to MBK! It's similar to the Greenhills Shopping Center. I was able to buy preserved mangoes that tasted soh soh yummy!!! I loved them! So much so I brought home a kilo and 6 kilos of sampaloc which later on turned out to be not sampaloc haha... How careless of me!!!

After MBK, we went to Suan Lom, the night market to hang out a bit and to look at the night bazaar. I could not shop much because I only had with me limited cash.

The following day, we went to MBK again and this time I asked how much a Shiseido sunblock and I found out it was soh much cheaper there. I decided to buy enough so I can get the free suitcase. I needed a place so store all the 7 Kg worth of preserved fruits!

I had to carry all 7Kg back to the hotel, it was the most exhausting thing I had to do in Thailand! I had to drag the suitcase with all the preserved fruits aggghh!

We were in time for the opening ceremonies of ENGAGE and the cocktails. I had fun because I met a lot of people. I was intimidated at first because we had to talk to Europeans who appeared snobbish at first but I found out later on that they were actually very friendly! I ended up meeting a lot of them!

On the second day, I enjoyed meeting more people and getting to know the researches of the people in Europe and other parts in Asia. After the cocktails, we ended up going to Suan Lom again because it's just a good 15 minute walk from the hotel. This was after we had coffee, hot chocolate for me.

On the third day there were more talks but in the afternoon I got to go mall hopping! I walked and walked from one mall to another. :) After the malling, we got back in time for dinner where I got to sit with Europeans and the organizer. It was fun but it took a really long time. After dinner we headed for Pat Pong and I finally got to see the sexy girls. I did not enter though because for one it would have been expensive and two, they say it's really gross. Maybe I'll go with my husband there someday. :) They say some of the naked girls are gays!

On the fourth day there were less talks and more networking (or was that just for me?) I got to meet a French guy who I am now collaborating with to produce a proposal. The proposal is already done and I am really hoping that it will work out! :) I would love to stay in France! :) There was no free dinner on the fourth day so we went to Suan Lom to eat at the food court and scoured the night bazaar more meticulously this time!

As you can guess, I have gained so much weight after Thailand because of all the buffet breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner a few more and I could have turned into a hobbit! :)


After my Ortigas 5-day conference, I had to wake up really early for Lipa. I was going there with Cisco people for the Cisco Quality Assurance Instructor Summit. It was a difficult trip especially since I was riding at the back of an SUV.

By the time I got to Lipa my brain was blended! :) I loved the La Salle Lipa campus. The walls had paintings and I really liked the idea that they had replicas of the classics there. It will make the students more cultured! I got to taste my first kapeng barako there! It was yummy though the other people I was with told me it wasn't all that good. I already thought it was good enough. My barako was my second cup, the first one did not really taste so good and it was back in Baguio when we were checking hotels out.

After the summit we headed to Cavite where a skills competition was taking place. I was already very tired and hungry at this point in time but nonetheless, I had fun!

I liked this trip because I got to go home at the end of the day and just fall asleep. :)

I love Cisco!

Ortigas Getaway!

After getting back from Baguio, I slept the entire day! I was so exhausted. After hearing mass with my family and strolling 'til 8pm at the Mall of Asia, I trudged back to the condo to pack my stuff in the still smelling of strawberries suitcase. I was fortunate that my boyfriend volunteered to drive me to the Malayan Plaza where I will be sharing a room with a complete and total stranger. I was excited because though this APAN conference is just in Manila, I got in because of a fellowship grant. Everything was paid for by APAN. All I had to do was show up and learn.

The Malayan Plaza is situated in front of Podium and I have never been there. I was thrilled that I was going to live in a hotel for five straight days! I was more thrilled (Really!) that I was attending the conference packed with Grid people in no less than Edsa Shangri-la Hotel!

The talks were very intresting, I met people working on Grids and some of these people I am in touch with. I am now presented with an opportunity to go to Taiwan because of a person I met there working on EGEE. The team will be subsidizing my air fare plus they are asking me to talk about grids here in the Philippines!

The experience was very enriching for me. I got to learn a lot and I was filled with new ideas! It was really absolutely fun! I am looking forward to the 24th APAN and I hope to be able to participate again. However, this time, I might end up paying for my own air fare. If I am meant to go there, God will provide I believe!

I even got to talk to the guy who approved my application! It's such a small world. A group of Indonesians asked me to accompany them to SM Megamall because they wanted to taste our ice cream and they wanted to shop for souvenirs and one of them, I later found out, was the one who approved my application. I almost kicked myself when I realized I do not have a business card on me when he asked for one. Darn it!

My stay in Malayan was great, the breakfast was always a feast (for me at least at that time) and the food in Shang was so sinful but I was a weakling. I had spare tires around me torso after a week of Shang food. My menu for an entire week was Malayan Plaza's buffet breakfast, AM buffet snack, Lunch buffet, PM snack buffet, all by Shangri-la and Kamayan, Dad's, Saisaki dinner!

Now was that a fun week or what?! I forgot to share that during which I had to come up with an exam and answer key and a PhD report. hehe... I lost a lot of sleep during this time but the learning experience and the food and the stay at the hotel was all worth it!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Baguio Bliss!

For the past few weeks that I have not been blogging I have been doing my own version of Amazing Race!

I do not want to recount the dates as that means I will have to dig into my planner for that and I'm too lazy for that. Some time last January, on a Friday midnight I went up to Baguio for the first time in 21 years. I was a bit disappointed that I was not able to ride the luxury coach or the de luxe bus as we were unable to reserve seats. How was I supposed to know reservation was necessary? The ride took two hours longer because of the stops for the restrooms. When I got to Baguio, I felt as though I was in another country! I had to explore the place right away. No more sleeping, inspite of the fact that I was not able to sleep in the bus.

I was sent there by Cisco for a Quality Assurance Summit for instructors. Our host university was the University of the Cordilleras. After half a day of working we went to the University of Baguio and then scouted for nice hotels for the conference that we will have there on March 28. Yup! Am going back! :)

That night we ate at a pizza place by Session Road called Volante's. I ate Caesar's Salad with salmon and it was amazing! The salad made me so full that I no longer ate the pizza. We all were too full with our order so we ate the pizza for breakfast and it was still heavenly! A must try! After pizza we went to Padi's Point because I felt like dancing. I always want to dance.

Usually I dress up when on a night out but because that was unexpected, I did not come prepared. I was wearing a vendor shirt when I went to the bar. I was wearing my Nike Shox, jeans and a big white vendor shirt while all the rest of the bar population wore something sexy and clingy. Darn! Talk about underdressed. For a while I actually decided against on dancing. I mean I would look so out of place but the call of the dance floor was too much for me not to heed and before you can say "Push the button..." I was already there partying. Just in case you're wondering how the others reacted... A guy (possibly a teenager) danced with me! Haha... Beat that! Haha!

After the dancing a contest started. They were asking for females to go up the stage and dance their sexiest. It was a battle between young girls (No, I did not attempt or even contemplated to join). A girl got so competitive that she stripped down to her underwear! My jaw dropped! I can't believe she did that. Up to this day I simply can't!

The following day, we went to Minesview Park, bought jars and jars of yam at Good Shepherd's and went to the Ride Park where I got to ride a horse for one entire hour! How cool is that?! The horse ran every 1o meters or so hehe... My body ached all over the day after. I got to hang out with a friend of mine at a cool coffee place called Coffee By The Ruins. Amazing food and ambience there! Must try for people who visits Baguio! If you're wondering how I know the place, a friend of mine told me to try it out. We ended up walking around the entire City Hall rotonda looking for the place until we almost made a full circle! Apparently we took the wrong turn when we decided to circle around the rotonda. After exhausting ourselves, we began to doubt our navigation skills and decided to take the taxi. We forgot how much cheaper it is to take a taxi in Baguio. The rate in Baguio is way different. I don't understand why but I'm not exactly complaining. We stayed in the taxi for a few seconds (?) and found the place! We stayed here from merienda 'til dinner.

If you are into acoustic music, you might want to visit also Kofeeklatsz. May the establishment and its patrons forgive me for not being able to spell their name correctly. What were they thinking giving an establishment that name anyway? It's hard to pronounce and it's hard to spell! How are people going to talk about the place?

I got to buy kilos and kilos of strawberries! Yummy! For only 80 pesos a kilo! Coming from Manila, I know this is a great deal but the natives tell me it can go for as low as 25 pesos per kilos! Whoah!

Thanks to my newly found friend, I also got my first Ukay-ukay experience. I ended up buying a nice Louis Vuitton looping bag. I do not know if it is fake or the real thing but the inside of it is velvet to the touch and the stitching almost perfect. The price I got it for anyway is cheaper even if it were fake so I still think it was a great deal.

We stayed at Bloomfield and I really have to say that the location is great. It's near the Session road and across SM. So if you like gimmicks you might want to stay there. The rate is also reasonable.

On the way home, I finally got to ride a De Luxe bus and it was not as wonderful as I imagined it because for one, we were at the back and we were tossed like a salad. I do not like riding at the back of any vehicle. Especially not the bus.

I was so nauseated by the time I got to the Pasay station where my wonderfully sweet boyfriend picked me up. He said he could not find me because my head was buried in my arms. I was so glad that he, yet again, rescued me. If he were not there I really would have fallen asleep amongst strangers and who knows what could have become of me!

Thank you baby for waiting until the bus left Manila. I know you were tired and hungry that time. Thanks for getting up from bed so you can pick me up so early in the morning when I got back from Baguio.