Monday, July 30, 2007

Walking Bum in Makati City

Who likes Mondays? Not me. And because of this I am not in the mood to write another lengthy entry about Negros Oriental right now, so I will leave you with a candid video of myself.

The unsuspecting me didn’t know Dutchman was filming from the back (he is filming every/anyone, every/anything, and every/anywhere he fancies!). Moreover, I didn’t know he has a... uh... bum obsession? Er, fetish perhaps? Haha

This was taken in Greenbelt, Makati City (Manila, Philippines) the afternoon we arrived Manila after depositing our baggage in the hotel. As you can see on the short video I am in a hurry. It was a sizzling hot day! Sweating. Sticky feeling. I am being baked under the sun. In Visayan lingo: ALIMU-OT KAAYO

Next entry will still be and last of Negros Oriental. The unsullied villages, the friendly people, interesting events and just wonderful stuff.

Travel Period: July 2007
Destination: Makati City (Manila), The Philippines

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Negros Oriental - Dumaguete City

The resort we booked at Dauin, which is about 20 minutes to/fro Dumaguete sent a chauffeur to pick us up at the pier. There was a group of French tourists as well (they boarded in Tagbilaran, Bohol) who joined us in the van. They were staying at the same resort and we rarely bumped into them for the whole week we stayed there.

Although we didn’t stay in Dumaguete City but having rented a scooter to help us move around easily, we were able to spend a good amount of time in the city. We both loved the boulevard. I wish Cebu had something like this.

This is my favourite Dumaguete City foto. The trike truly symbolizes Dumaguete.

Me ordering at Jollibee - I simply do not understand the redundancy of taking orders? Twice? Where is the logic? Next foto is the ubiquitous tricycle.

Dumaguete Belfry; the Boulevard during a beautiful morning -look at the glorious clouds; and Filipino ingenuity: a street vendor selling burners made from soda cans, lol.

OK, moi here with the trusted San Miguel Pale Pilsen Beer, and oh dear, I have such a shiny nose!

Open-air terraces at the Boulevard (by the Dumaguete Bay) at night. The Boulevard is surely a lively place when the sun goes down. At 'Why Not Disco'... some of the local girls dancing on top of the bar.

More fotos can be found here: Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental - Philippines

Here are some of my/our Dumaguete thoughts:

1) Compared to many small-town cities I have been to, Dumaguete came across clean and orderly. Good job, Dumaguete officials. Dumaguete is also known as a university city.

2) And like any small metropolis with the village feel, Dumaguete is no less different – tricycles swarm freely and plentifully on the chaotic streets. These ubiquitous traveling machines serve as the town’s efficient, fast, and most affordable public transportation, while motorbikes and scooters are its equivalent for private vehicle use.

3) The Boulevard along Dumaguete Bay is the central nightlife and hangout in town. Here you can find a few café-restaurants, fast food shops, street vendors, a disco pub, hotel, and a park where trees are strikingly dressed in bright lights. It’s always Christmas in the Boulevard at night.

4) You can buy a map of Negros Oriental at Cangs, Inc. near Jollibee in the main shopping area for Php 99. It isn’t much but it shows you where (not exactly though) the interesting places, i.e., nature and touristy spots, and will help you navigate the island at the basic level.

5) A 1-hour scooter rent costs Php 20 in Dumaguete. I managed to get 4 days (24 hours x 4 days) for Php 1,000 so I think I did well with negotiation. Bravo!

6) There is this interesting stretch of outdoor terraces at the Boulevard at night. Street vendors sell Balut (aborted cooked chick embryo – yuk!), tempura, squid and fish balls there. I must admit I was tempted to indulge in a tempura or a squid ball but refrained since my system is still vulnerable. Street food might just make me more ill than I already am.

7) And speaking of being ill, we had to go to the hospital (Holy Child I think) for my laboratory tests (UTI again), paid a quick visit to the doctor at the out-patient services, and afterwards bought the needed antibiotics. Unlike the “hospital-from-hell” in Bohol, as Dutchman would say, the hospital in Dumaguete was far and way better, so he took a seat and passed the time for me in the out-patient area.

8) There are no real coffee shops selling real coffee in town. The only café-restaurant we saw that has a real coffee machine, and helaas on our last day, was the Sansrival Café near the Boulevard. The café is tucked away from sight but it is right across the Chinese restaurant on the side corner street.

Some videos here:

This is a STILL video of a busy crossing in Dumaguete City by Jollibee fast food. Filipinos have great talents when it comes to traffic!

And this is a MOVING video. We just rented a scooter and went cruising town. I am so proud of Dutchman quickly adapting the great Filipino skill of manuevering with art and grace through the chaotic Philippine traffic. Goed zo!

9) Was it just us, but there seem to be an abundance of gruff and crotchety looking white muscled men with flamboyant tattoos in the city?

10) And why is it that there are so many mismatched Fil-west couples here? It’s either the above mentioned--white, muscled, brassy and tattooed men or grizzled retirees in their graying and wrinkling years with young trophy Filipinas. When I say young they are usually 23 and below. If that is not enough, these Pinays have a sundry fashion sense playfully blended with fun, the dressing up to paint the town red and out-and-out erotica. Lots of exposed skin... back, strap, or sleeveless tops in rich colors paired with body hugging pants flared at the bottom or titillating mini, mini shorts and accented with elevated sandals and generous accessories. Just perfect. OK, I might get haters for posting this!

11) Because of that, Dutchman and I felt, just a teeny bit though, out of place. Looking at the usual Fil-West suspects in the city, he would come across too young and I too old. A woman in her 50’s actually approached me while I was queuing up in the pharmacy. She said, “Your husband is handsome and decent looking, and you too (as she looks up and down like I am some sort of specimen)... unlike the rest of the couples we see around here” – Uh huh, OK she just said that. Must I rejoice that we are different from the discriminated stereotyped pack? Or, should I be ashamed and be full of indignation that Fil-West couples have deteriorated into a genre that society scoffs at and strongly frowns upon? Honestly, judging is tiring and a waste of time.

12) All caucasian (white) males living in and visiting Dumaguete are either an American or a German. They all seem to have one name: JOE.

13) “Why Not Disco” is a must visit. The experience will give the visitor a sneak preview of the locals enjoying night life entertainment. The local men just sit passively with their beers and finger foods in the corner while the women rush to the dance floors. They gyrate their thinly clad bodies teasingly, jiggling like worms, in groups while facing the mirrors. It took us some time to realize that these girls were actually masturbating in front of the huge mirrors, practically, haha. Masturbating in the sense of indulging in utter self gratification--look at me I am so pretty and sexy. Welcome vanity et al. Ah, women, tsk, tsk, tsk... Entrance fee to the disco is Php 70 with 1 free drink.

14) For the first time in alcohol history, beer (lager) tasted like flavored water. I could finish a bottle in a gulp and that still leaves me thirsty by the way. 3 beers would do me nothing. What has become of me? Red horse was okay though, it left a bit of tang to my parched taste buds.

15) We had this fabulous 1 hour massage for Php 150! The massage place is near Silliman University and the treatment was just amazing. The attendants carefully washed our feet in a basin of warm and fragrance filled water before the massage. Afterwards they gave each of us a warm cup of green tea served in an artsy platter. Of course, we gave the girls a generous tip!

16) Dutchman and I also shopped at Super Lee Plaza, a department store in the busy crossing by the main shopping area. We both bought Jag jeans for only Php 900! Buy Filipino! The store was a much better and convenient place to shop than in the posh and abstruse malls of Cebu, Manila, and Singapore. They only bring confusion. It’s not a joke when you are faced with 40 shops selling the same thing. You end up not knowing where to start and the desire to spend has waned. Maybe I am just impatient but consumerism does have its own flaws too.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Hellish Boat Ride to Tagbilaran, Bohol

From Singapore, we flew to Cebu, Philippines with Cebu Pacific Air, and because this is a budget flight with a budget airline, everything was budget in standards (maybe never next time?), i.e., the terminal is located in Singapore’s very budget terminal, the flying hours truly budgetised – 12:30AM, and as expected, the flight schedule was delayed for 1 hour while the Manila flight was 2 hours delayed. {sigh}

We arrived 4:30AM in Mactan Cebu International Airport and my family was already (eagerly) waiting outside for us. Aw, poor them, they had to wake up so early to receive us.

So fast forward, after the family stuff, it was finally time for our little 5-day vacation. I picked Negros Oriental to holiday mainly because of its proximity to Cebu, only 3+ hours boat ride to its capital, Dumaguete City. The place also seems nice with many things to see and do, and moreover, we haven’t been to this island yet. So, off we go!

Hellish boat ride: Cebu-Tagbilaran-Dumaguete

Ocean Jet is the fast boat that fords the Cebu – Tagbilaran (Bohol) - Dumaguete (Negros Oriental) – Dipolog (Zamboanga del Norte) route daily. We picked our tickets at Letty Drug, a ticketing outlet, in Osmena Boulevard near Fuente Circle just beside Rizal Museum Library.

That day we heard about typhoon warnings in the Luzon area (northern region of the Philippines) but heard nothing in the Visayas (central region) where we are. To get to Dumaguete, Negros Oriental, we had to go via Tagbiliran, Bohol

Me with Ocean Jet in a preggy style (I am not pregnant, lol!) and Chinese-collar inspired cotton tunic I bought in Ayala Mall in Cebu.

My favorite foto: Visayan sunset. Taken from the upperdeck of Ocean Jet on our way back to Tagbilaran, Bohol - Cebu from Dumaguete.

Nevertheless, halfway through the journey to our first stop Tagbilaran, Bohol the boat experienced forceful wave struggles from the sea. Turbulent waters saddled the boat, jagged waves as high as a house engulfed us! Oh dear me, an unruly storm is cooking outside and I hate the fact that we are trapped inside this boat. We thought it was just a temporary turbulent wave episode but little did we know that this unsuspecting boat ride will turn into one hellish adventure.

In the next hour, and for every 5-10 minutes, we were sent flying into mid-air and crashing roughly back to the sea. Every time this happens, the very frightened women who are already crying buckets of tears would scream in high pitch chorus. Know what, it just makes the whole setting so grim. Then suddenly, the weather just got worse. We are not only flying mid-air but ferocious claps of 2-metre waves and strong currents of angry winds hit us mercilessly from both sides of the boat. Bam. Blag. Clap. Swoosh. Are we drowning yet? ARGH. I know sarcastic but I am seriously starting to get worried...

There is a middle aged woman laying unconscious in the front row. The young woman sitting a seat away in front of us was crying and shouting at the top of her voice, “God help us!!!”. A steward had to personally calm her down. Another woman towards our left already took the orange life saver vest under her seat. She had it ready on her lap! OMG, we are really going to drown?! My heart is thumping fast now, real fast.

Meanwhile, the crew were dutifully doing their rounds, albeit calmly, and giving menthol candies, a sniff of whiteflower (strong menthol liniment), and small black plastic bags to passengers as many are nauseous and are experiencing the vomit rush.

This is after the big startling clap of wave that sent everyone screaming like a bunch of terrified chickens trapped in a cage. You can see in the video passengers being evacuated because water leaked into the boat.

This is a shot when another wave hit us, but not as strong as the latter. We were already sailing at the lowest speed, even then the waves rocked the boat as seen on film. The videos were not as spectacular as the live one though!

Then I saw water leaking from the roof of the boat, on the left hand side. OH DEAR NO. A few passengers were evacuated to the back and the real worry began to sink into my system. Are we going to drown? Can you say my spine went cold? I am starting to feel really petrified now!

The boat continued to rock us, and everytime, I stop breathing. My chest just felt so horribly tight. I am clenching my fists and my muscles are tense. You see I am imagining the end of my world already, lol. My teeth were chattering and my hands trembling, clasped to the edges of my seat, I kept thinking out loudly and arguing with myself – Why did I ever make the decision to go to Negros? Why? Why? Why? *sob* OMG, we will drown, we will all be dead! Then my conscience is chanting at the back of my head: DO NOT PANIC. DO NOT PANIC. It is a chaos inside my head!

The local guy beside me was not much of help as he only had the doomsday scenario in his mind. He said that the Tagbiliran to Dumaguete leg is worse than Cebu to Taglibaran due to the fact that the wave currents in the area are stronger. GRRR, I want to stitch his lips!

Secretly though, I thought of getting off the first stop in Tagbilaran and canceling the trip to Dumaguete.

On the other hand, the Dutchman was calm (I ignored him for a while as I was so preoccupied with my day of reckoning) and he filmed a few shots of the treacherous ordeal. They were not that spectacular than the live version though. He confessed after that he was worried as well and was already eyeing the exit doors. He even mentally devised a plan on how to quickly snatch the life saver vests under our seats, grab me, and then leap over the row of seats towards the exit doors. It would be tough as the boat was packed.

Yes, it was THAT scary. Well, as you can see I am still alive and blogging.

We reached our first stop, Tagbilaran, Bohol very much delayed but safely. Many frightened passengers canceled their Dumaguete leg. Due to the perilous journey to Tagbilaran, we had to wait for the coastguard to clear the onward trip to Dumaguete.

Dutchman consoled me a bit saying, “I have a feeling that the pass to Dumaguete will fare well, don’t worry.” We also moved towards the back of the boat. The stewards said there is less oscillation from the back. And indeed, the sail from Tagbilaran, Bohol to Dumaguete, Negros Oriental was way, waaay better! Hallelujah.

On other news that same day: A similar fast boat going to Lucena City (in Luzon, northern Philippines) capsized. Many people were feared dead. I know. Scary.

Travel Period: July 2007
Destination: Tagbilaran, Bohol | Dumaguete, Negros Oriental

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Iron Traumatised

So I am back in the flatlands. And as always, the holiday was too short. It is always too short. *SIGH*

I am also jetlagged, and tired. My body clock is still ticking away in the Asian time zone. Furthermore, I have to (unwillingly) pick up the Dutch life routine once again, work, face the dreaded sobbing Dutch weather –truth is, there was never summer in the Netherlands, like today we had torrential rain crashing down that almost blinded me on the steering wheel, and the only nice thing that welcomed me so far was less traffic in the highways.

No, this is not fun at all. This is not my post-holiday dream. Nor I am in the mood to talk about my holiday adventures right now. Well, perhaps this weekend when I am fully adjusted back to this very depressing Dutch environment.

But, I have something else to tell.


Well, today I was. Quite silly I guess. And, for the second time!

I was driving in A2 towards the direction of Amsterdam for work, when I thought about the morning activities I did before leaving home - took some tomatoes from the fridge for my lunch... ironed the blouse I am wearing... I did iron it... oh wait... the (flat) iron. Did I unplug the thing after ironing?

Many conflicting and worrying thoughts were playing in my mind –- Did I? Did I not? I could not remember unplugging the iron from the electrical socket? My recollection is blank! (This memory loss has been my problem lately, signs of relapse to old age, lol)

I know road traffic laws prohibit using the mobile phone while driving, but I just have no choice. I have to. I must. I called the Dutchman.

“Did you check the other room and saw if the iron was unplugged?”

“I left before you, how would I know?”


“Are you going back?”


I did go back. Grim images of smoke coming out of the bedroom window haunted me, and throughout the seemingly looong ride (just 10 minutes actually) back home, my feet felt like I have huge ripe wriggling ants crawling under them. I must get to Utrecht ASAP!!!

And I am glad its holiday season or I would have cursed under my breath, swore sharply and deathly at other drivers, and pulled my hairs apart as traffic in A2 (from both directions) is the worst in the country. I was so damn worried the skies in Utrecht would be burning red because of the darn iron.

I got home, my fidgety hands gripping the house keys on the lock -three locks, hastily opened the door, and in a speed of light dashed straight to the bedroom that serves as our walk-in closet where the suspect is located.


*huge sigh of relief*

-- but felt so stupid for wasting time, effort, petrol, and all those horrifying thoughts crowding in my mind! This is the second time this stupid (flat) iron did this to me! AARGGHH

I read somewhere that many people actually suffer from this ironing trauma. Some of the more serious individual cases were said to have gone visiting shrinks regularly.

Conclusion: Ironing is a dangerous domestic chore. No wonder I hated it so bad.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sights of Singapore

Mabuhay! We are now in my beloved Pilipinas [Philippines]!

We just finished our 2nd leg of our Philippine vacation tour and we are now moving forward to our 3rd and 4th (last) itineraries on the travel agenda (sounds businessy haha) before we fly back to Amsterdam.

Well, last night, finally–after putting this off for days, I have managed to upload my Singapore fotos! We have a lovely 24 x 7 wi-fi internet access in the resort we are staying right now, but like anything, blogging got a bit delayed because I am, of course, on holiday. So take a peek at some of my fotos below.

Dining along the Singaporean River. The Chili crab wasn’t cheap; I paid €30 for the darn thing!

Colourful river side restaurants and where the nightlife of Singapore is. A view of Singapore skycrapers from a moving bus (I was fast enough for this shot!).

On top of the bus! And, a sampan boat - we boarded a similar one as well.

A fake elephant in Little India and rest & relaxation in Sentosa Island after 2 days of running aroung in Singapore.

Here are the foto albums:

Singapore Album 1: Singapore City Center
Singapore Album 2: Singapore – Geylang, Little India, Sentosa Island, & Outskirts

Exciting stories will come later. I have so much to tell! So cheers for now from warm Asia (even if its raining now).

Sunday, July 01, 2007

I can’t get no satisfaction

Normal women always moan about their weight, their hair, their partners, and just about everything. Just like me. Pretty normal I guess. But last Thursday, I had one of those painful awakening. An awakening that made me so angry I swore I am not giving in. Never ever. I will fight! YES!

OK, now I got you interested. The story goes like this.

Being in a strenuous quota-measured job, I am always working late until everyone has left and only the cleaning man and I are tinkering around in the pod. So I told myself I need to have a life during work days too. Thursday evening was a good time to go out because the shops are open late. I promised the overworked me to leave a bit early that day and find something really nice to treat myself. When I say leave a bit early, this means leaving at 6PM sharp, unfortunately.

In one shop, a dress caught my attention. A white sleeveless frock designed in Marilyn Monroe petit style with printed black flowers. A large wrap around black belt accented the dress and the skirt was so pretty, it was flowing, summery and just very, very girly. I fell in love with it! So I quickly rushed in to search for a size 36 and marched excitedly to the dressing room to fit the marvelous thing. Ooh, I can’t wait! I was already thinking of wearing this on the first day of our Singapore stay before we fly to Cebu, Philippines.

See, I am rarely out there shopping for stuff but when I am excited, I really am excited.

Alright, did some tush wiggling, waggling, pulling, pushing, stomach in, and breasts out. Eh, WTF? Why this freaking dress won’t fit me? @#$%^&*!

Panic. Sheer panic. Hysterics! My world has crumbled down to pieces. Earth shattering earthquake rocked the small fitting room -- OMG! I can’t fit in to this 36 dress!!! !!!

Well, let’s say that the dress fitted my body when I breathe in and don’t breathe out, and the boob section is left open. Apparently, they have, erm... eh, you get the point.

I left the shop with slumped shoulders and in sunken spirits. The awakening has wounded me terribly, and low, real low. Firstly, goodbye pretty dress (it was on sale for 50%, so double ouch) and secondly, the realization that I won’t fit in to a 36 dress was truly a sad reality. I am mourning. On the contrary though, there are 34 sizes disguising as 36, but still, I used to fit in easily to a 34 size too in the past. *sob!*

At any rate, last night I dared to stand on the weighing scale. For weeks, months, and even years I have been very elusive and have successfully ignored this intimidating thing. Dutchman thought its pretty hilarious that I am so terrified of the weighing scale, or at the remote idea of standing on it.

BUT! I am resolved; I am going to fight this fear so I stepped on it!

On the weighing scale it says: 57 kilos

Oh, not bad? Not really bad. I thought I was heavier? Like 60 to 65.

Quickly checked the BMI website and typed in my height 158cm vs. 57 kilos. The computer screen before me said I am by far very healthy and that I have a normal weight. Aw c’mon, who are they kidding me?

I still could not believe it. No, could not believe it.

Does this mean in the last 5 years stay in this country, I have only gained 8 kilos? I thought I have put on 15 kilos or something? Since when have I become so pessimistic? lol

I actually have evidence of my last recorded weight: a registration from the Land Transportation Organization (LTO) of the Philippines when I renewed my Drivers license on June 2002, wherein after 2.5 months, I left for the Netherlands.

49 kg!

*Sigh* those were the days. I was 32 then.

Anyhow, I have been now eating one sliced brown wheat bread every morning with coffee without sugar. For lunch, green salad with tomatoes and cucumber are on the plate. In the evening is something similar too.

I also bought this special chewing gum to relieve myself the needless desire to eat when this hidden monster attacks me, and some herbal medication to help cleanse my system and mitigate fast bowel movement.

Then of course I would need to move more, but the pathetic weather in this country never encouraged me to do so. I am just so dying to stretch my muscles and do brisk walking. Sometimes it’s nice to put the blame on the weather when you are lazy you know. It’s the easiest justification I suppose, he-he. Actually, I still have to buy a pair of running shoes, and perhaps I will buy this in the Philippines when we are there.

Goal is to get down to 50. Dutchman bargained 52 kg would be appropriate. Hmm, okay.

Well, I’m shallow (just like a lot of women). I just want to fit into my sexy halter tops again without showing off those jumbo arms and holding my breath and still feeling fat. Fat perhaps can be subjective as people tell me I am not fat at all. But there lay the differences in each individual’s standards, I guess.

Yesterday, I also took a picture of me with my blow dried hair and saw a face that is quite foreign to me (see the left foto below).

Left foto is Maria Clara, simple and um, virginal, think the straight hair did it, while the right foto is the effect of my hair after tying it into a bun overnight, taken this morning... and voila, my hair has a bounceful drop with lovely curls. Yeah, this is just done by tying the hair into a bun overnight, so great tip for the girls!

This picture on the left above somewhat reminds me of the proper Filipina Maria Clara (symbol and personification of the true Filipina virtue and nobility) portraits during Dr. Jose Rizal’s days, circa 1800. Like I am so demure, conservative, prudish, chaste, submissive and virginal, the typical woman a man brings home to his mother for dinner, ha-ha. Oh dear, this makes me choke, lol.

So I am posting this one up here for a change. It’s not harmful to think of ourselves as the opposite of what we truly are, well, from time to time. Dutchman says I am so ingetogen (modest and quiet) in this foto which does not really fit the real me. He thinks the foto is a downgrade, which is a laugh! The right foto though he finds normal.

Nevertheless back on to the hair, I rarely blow dry and style my hair in this country. Due to the eternal rain that falls in this place and the constant wind blowing, it is totally pointless. Why waste 30 minutes tugging and jerking your hair when given a minute, the rain and wind will just sweep all your efforts and styled hair away anyway?

But these pictures above are liberating to me, and to those women who are dependent on blow drying and styling. In this drizzly and windy swampland, we don’t really have much choice... but sometimes, we just have to do it. Go ahead, blow dry and style your hair! Against all odds, simply, for the sake of our sanity.

Lang leve fohning in Nederland!

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