SORRY MUM, I AIN’T READY YET

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I’m half-awake, sun is beaming through the window and I muttered to myself “finally I’m home”. Suddenly all my memories from childhood started gushing in. Remembering those nights when my father used to carry me on his back whenever I fell asleep in the living room. The days when my eyes are half-closed for 2hrs pretending to Mum I’m sleeping during afternoon siesta so I can go out and play with my friends afterwards. I can always remember how I used to love sliding through the wooden handrails in our stairs and never stop until my Grandma screams from ear to ear. (I miss you lola!) God, I miss my childhood! It definitely relived all those memories and felt a sense of nostalgia. And for some reason I felt safe and reconnected to myself. When I say safe, I mean I’m back in the comfort of the people who truly loves me, no matter which choices and wrong decisions I make. In other term, I am in a place whom I don’t feel anxious and waking up early for work is not necessary.


I knew my mum missed me a lot and I do more to her.  I’ve never felt so close to my mum until today. “Dito ka nalang kaya ulit?”. Mum asking me to stay back home for good. I didn’t answer back. I wasn’t ready for that question. After a few moments of contemplating, I tried to come-up with an answer or I guess an excuse. “May contract pa ko Ma na dapat tapusin, 2 Years kasi un”. Its true that I do still have a contract to finish, but I felt I am not ready to move back as of yet.

This is a new version of myself coming home, an underlying problem of being an expat abroad: its different. I knew a few expats who share the same sentiments with me. I also knew some who regretted staying abroad, but I knew more who regretted staying back.

With my expat colleagues

“Why do we go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” – Terry Prattchett, A Hat full of Sky

I just don’t feel I have fully-figured everything out and maximize all the possibilities of leaving from a foreign country. Like every other expat I know I still hold unto my purpose before we hop unto that plane carrying all the buck of our hopes and dreams for our family and even to ourselves. Guess I may have that “Peter-Pan Syndrome” or just the thought of me entering middle-age with nothing is just frightening. I am still on that process. My future still looms grim for now as per my judgement.

But I am certain as well that living in our host country is just temporary, a “transit place” as I call it especially UAE whom no matter how long you stay, there’s never a chance of getting permanent residency.
Its seemed embedded in people’s minds, perhaps the media has got it all wrong and romanticized the idea of living abroad is easy, making it seem effortless rather fancy, except that its undoubtly exciting and envigoratingly fascinating, more often than not, its not the place we’re in it forever. I may be coming home, but not today.

 

 

 

 

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LAYOVER CHRONICLES: BANGKOK IN 15HRS 

Travel & Lifestyle, Uncategorized

I almost made a reckless uncalculated move. 

“Hi, I have a flight to catch at boarding at 3:40PM and would you mind if I can go first?” I asked a huge man with a pile of luggages in the queue at the Left Luggage Area. I’m holding my passport huffing and puffing as I arrived 5mins before 3pm at Suvarnabhumi Airport. 


With less than an hour in a freaking massive airport, without having gone through security, passport control &  Immigration yet, what can possibly go wrong is to miss my flight because of my recklessness.

I had a layover for almost 15hrs in Bangkok before I flew back to Dubai. I arrived at 12:45AM slightly terrified as it’s already wee hours so I thought its better I book a night stay closer to the airport. I was waiting for more than 10mins already. I didnt get a local sim so I don’t have any means to contact the driver. When fear started creeping in,  I asked for a favor from local Luggage guy who unhesitatingly made a call to my pickup. Big thanks to you! You’re my saviour though I forgot to ask your name! 

I  booked at Plai Garden which is like 5mins away from the airport. It has the worst reception person-in-charge and  probably its way colder to stay outside than in my room with a malfunctioning AC. I can’t complained enough and the only thing I love is that they provide free Airport Transfers plus the balcony. 


The next day I had breakfast early and decided to checkout before 9am and was driven back to the airport.

 I seemed to be in a rut with 6more hours to kill at the airport so I thought maybe I can go see this vibrant city outside.  I have read a little about how much time I need. Suvarnabhumi Airport is 45mins away from the city centre and can be an overwhelming city for a first time self-proclaimed solo traveller. Haha! So there I was, braved myself that I can find all these attractions in less than 6hrs. Crazy I know! 

So basically this is how I did it:

Airport Rail Link 🚇 ➡️ Phaya Tai ➡️ Siam Station ➡️ Saphan Taksin BTS Station ➡️ ⚓️Sathorn Pier ➡️  Tha Tien Pier⛵️ ➡️ Wat Arun ➡️ Wat Pho ➡️ Sathorn Pier ➡️ Same route back to BKK Airport 🛫

Its such a great help to hold atleast a map of the whole Train System. I got mine at the information at the Airport Link. 

Express Boat along Chao Phraya River


Almost all attractions from Wat Pho, Wat Arun & Grand Palace etc.,are mainly accessible via an Express Boat from Sathorn Pier. If you want to pay less, go on the ORANGE flag boat, other flags mainly are for tourist on hop-on hop-off which would cost more. Cost per ticket per way is 14 THB. To enter Wat Arun’s Temple is 100THB. 

Arriving at Tha Tien Pier (N8)

Wat Arun undergoing refurbishment and covered with Scaffoldings but the intricate details is still magnificient!



In order to see Wat Pho i’ll have to cross to other side of the river which cost 4THB. 


Upon entrance at this temple, I was stunned with this enormous reclining Buddha. I can’t believe I’m seeing it for real and not just in history books back in school. To enter one has to pay 100THB which includes 1 free bottled water.

Along the side of this are 108 bronze bowls, where one can donate coins to bring good fortune and luck. I just felt I needed it so I tried it. 

Due to limited time I didn’t pushed through to see Grand Palace since getting on & off the boat takes time due to huge number of tourist. However, Grand Palace is accessible from Maharaj Pier after Tha Tien Pier. 

I decided to go back to the airport at 1:30PM. With a little bit of sprinting in between train exchanges, I can’t count how many times I looked at my watch and the BTS Rail map to make sure I don’t get lost.

One thing that adds up to the struggle is that I have to go through all the flights Departure Board to know my Gate as Thai Airways made it a habit of not putting gate numbers on their boarding passes. 

I guess I’m just lucky or I must have put many coins in the temple as I arrived at exactly 5mins prior to Boarding! Phew! Well its anyways worth it as I realized solo travel is still fun & exhilarating while I keep fear on the side. But it would have been more fun if I stayed a bit longer. 

COLONIAL HISTORY MEETS MODERN-ERA

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I was watching this 1995 Linklaters’s Before Trilogy Film while on my way home and all I can remember was that trip I did last Nov 2015 to Colombo, Srilanka. 

As I was travelling out of Dubai to do visa change, I am beyond nervous & euphoric at the same time! I had a chance to see the bare beauty of this city built by rarity and colonial history. A city mixed with the old and new and how each British Architectural building combined with rich Buddhism Temples, brass works and artistic carvings were remarkably preserved.

Arcade Independence

I made sure I don’t get confined at my hotel room and see a bit of Colombo. Colombo doesn’t have that pub culture vibe unlike any other city centres or maybe I just don’t have the luxury of time to find this holes in the wall around.

My hotel was just right next to an Old Dutch Hospital turned into a modern shopping & dining district. When I first heard about it, my initial reaction was “The heck. A hospital?  Isn’t that creepy?” The kid inside me barge in. Ofcourse, the normal thought in my head was maybe there are lots of military men got killed in this place from the recent wars. Trivia: The most recent civil war in Sri lanka only halted in 2009 which lasted about 25years (thanks, google!)

I had to pick-up my jaw as it dropped when we entered a courtyard floored with cobbled-stones and dimmed lights all over the place. It has an ambiance where history meets modern-era from all the restaurants & boutiques lined up here. On my first night, we ate at Harpo’s Colombo Fort Cafe. It has a very chill-out interior serving Mediterranean food is perfect to its classic location.

Image taken from their website as my old phone’s camera was crappy at night. You may visit their page on the link on this image.

This was the only picture I got during our dinner.

 

Did you know that there’s a story behind this skirt I’m wearing? 

Moonstone or Sandakada Pahana contains carvings of animals with a half carved lotus flower in the center.

On my 2nd night, I felt staying up in my room would be so mundane. I was told not to go out of my hotel alone especially at night as it can be dangerous for foreigners like me. Well for the fact that I definitely looked like Asian (but a little chinese) and I don’t have that white flashy skin, I think I would be fine – my stubborn self persuaded. So I liberated myself and sneaked out. (This really can get me killed I thought). I went back to Old Dutch hospital where luckily some souvenier shops are still open and this is where I bought this unique “Batik” dress. Except that I got some strange looks from some locals outside, I got back to my room without a fork stabbed at my back. 
It became more exciting on the 3rd day as we walked into this old impressive architectural building – Arcade Independence. As I dig a little bit, it used to be a Lunatic Asylum during the British Era. Yay! 


Tuktuk – Metered Taxi in Colombo


 How beautiful I thought how this building showed itself as if telling its own story behind each antique furniture defined by its age and craftsmanship.  As it was a bit late when we went there, though the building was still open, most shops are closed. It was renovated so well that the lights made the whole building dazzling at night. (Hated myself for not bringing a camera with me). After we had dinner, we head into this hip cafe to pass  some time. This cafe has a cool interior and is situated inside a wide vast backyard of an old National Museum where its outdoor seating is perfect to hang-out. We had the best night together with my colleagues’s coolest sister & fiancé as we play to some old classic songs. I knew a few songs back then so got a chance to play as well. 

Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple

Seema Malaka


On our last day, we were able to squeezed some time to see some temples before we head back. Sadly wanted to see more of this country but reality is calling me. The reason I correlated Before Sunset’s film to this trip, is by how we truly connect with strangers, how we talk (A lot), no matter which race nor religion we belong and a chance to be in an idyllic place is a plus. 

Although I’m arguably caught up with work during the day, in which, I should be, I was secretly wishing to myself I could extend it for long. I reckon its a good reason to comeback soon on my own. 

My Not-So-Secret love affair with the Mountains

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When I think of Hiking back when I started in 2012, I can only imagine long drudging walk carrying all your life on a towering backpack in some remotely ragged mountains. Never I imagined to be enjoying any part of it. 

I was not born with little boots in my feet. Its just been over 4years since I started this unconditional love-affair with the mountains and I had always been vocal about it to my friends and even to my family whom initially was opposed to it. 

Waking up in Mt. Napulauan Summit

Back at home I always had a struggle asking permission to go for a hike. It always seemed to be a trial in court with mum every weekend. But its funny sometimes no matter how she’s against to it, I later found her cooking up something for my packlunch or something I could take before I head off. I always missed you mum and your homecook.

This was taken just 2days ago when I decided to go for a hike in Wadih Litibah in Ras Al Khaimah. When I say 2days ago, I literally meant I’m still lying catatonic in bed at the moment writing this because of muscle spasms all over my body. Its my first climb here in UAE after over a year of cool-off from the outdoors. I always thought I would never be able to do this again after I left Philippines until I was invited by my ex-roommate “Ate Grace” to her group of Filipino mountaineers here in UAE. Its a  community group who organizes all outdoor activities from rowing, rock-climbing but mainly hiking. 

It was a long weekend but the drudging thought of staying upright in my bed for 3days makes me cringe, so the “proactive inner self” did what is needed. I randomly picked someone from the group, added on facebook and asked if their will be an event for the holidays. There I found “Sir Roy” who was the most hyperactive in the group and seemed to be trustworthy. So after series of short talks over messenger, I was then invited in the event and attended the pre-climb. The fun part is I invited along friends who are beginners in the world of hiking.


So the day has come and I was  ecstatic on packing my bag and leaving again for another adventure.  It took us 3 long hours uphill to get to the campsite. It wasn’t the normal terrain I’m used to since this is composed of astounding rock formation everywhere that you have to be cautious every one step over the other whilts carrying more or less than 6Kilos of my backpack. 

Astounding Rock Formation

Perfect view for a Campsite

Taken by Ms. Carol at the Campsite during Socials

The highlights of every climb is not stunning views alone, but also the camaraderie you build during socials. You get to meet all types of people from all walks of life with all different views as to what brought them to the mountains. How time slows down and I had never laugh like that and its true that it disconnects you from all the digital distractions we normally do on a daily basis. Its for sure it made me miss my old group socials back in Philippines. 

LUZON321 11.10.2012 ( 3rd leg – Mt. Pulag)


Hello Greater Pinas!  Solar boys & Girls see you soon. 

Its always great to wake up in the mountains with stunning backdrop whilts holding a coffee in hand. We had to breakcamp and hike up again to reach for summit. Its thrilling and exciting to see the summit. God’s work of hands is evident in every corner as you can’t imagine how this rocks formed itself stunningly. 

Trail to Summit

I’m always glad to be part of this fun climb arranged by the great people behind Filipino Mountaineers Federation (FMF – UAE). Thanks for making us feel that its worthwhile spending our UAE National holidays in an unconventional way. 

SO WHY I DO LOVE HIKING?
Its always been a question even to myself. A question with so many answers I can’t write about because its something you only feel when you’re up there. An answer I was never convinced until I tried it myself. I say up, means to get there is never easy. Its meant gasping for breath, muscular leg spasms, uncomfortable sleeping (camping) and not to mention the fear that you may end up your life disastrous on the rocks down below. 


Nonetheless in exchange for that are countless reasons why one can injure all of them. It’s the spectacular stunning views and scenery, the amazing people you climb with and the immensely fulfilling feeling once you reach the summit. 

Words are not enough to describe the feeling when your up into the summit after a long hard hours of walking. These are just simple things one wouldnt appreciate if your heart is not into it.

What NOT to Fear as a First-Timer Abroad

Travel & Lifestyle

I was loving the weather recently because winter is finally around the corner and the cold breeze at night makes everyone wants to stay outdoors after long work hours. I was with my friend the other night and we decided to go to Boxpark. Boxpark is the newest outdoor shopping district which stretches along the road of Al Wasl Jumeirah  . What made this unique are the colourful shipping containers piled on top of shops and restaurants. Cool right?

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Anxious Camie

So while we were strolling, we noticed very few expats (compared to normal shopping malls) and mostly locals (Arabs) came to shop and dine. My friend (Camie) who’s new to Dubai, declared how she feels anxious when around with locals. She even thought accidentally bumping into them can get her to jail at any point in time. We laugh secretly to ourselves of that crazy idea.

I can’t blame her as I share the same sentiments when I was new here. I had the same anxiety and silly things that scared me on my first few days in Dubai.When even scanning my Nol card (used for buses & trains) scares me that I may look idiot and people may wonder how I landed here. From talking to drivers and doing groceries can suddenly be intimidating. When everything seemed to be automatic and made me think if  I had been living under a rock all this time.

“But that’s the wonderful thing about foreign travel, suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most basic sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross the street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses”. – Bill Bryan 

Its without a doubt normal to have all these apprehensions upon moving to a different country. From the language barrier, the worries of starting new social life and the fear of career failure. My mind would sometimes taunt me of all the what if’s. “What if I don’t find a job, I have no career to go back to. “What if I don’t find same like-minded friends here”. What if I fail at my personal mission and go back home empty-handed. I always immediately snap the thought out.

I admire those people who bravely came and surmount that fear and lived with it conventionally. There’s really nothing to fear albeit sometimes it may sound off or uneasy but I always take it as an opportunity, a challenge to myself as I embark on a new culture, norms and new set of rules as I thrive on my daily life in this foreign country.

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Alserkal lates night Gallery

I guess we’re just simply afraid of all the overwhelming changes in our environment, perhaps the diversity in this place can make us sometimes uncomfortable but that’s exactly what contributes to our growth to become the person we all envision to be. You just have to embrace it.

“ADULTING” in a FOREIGN COUNTRY

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I was staring blankly at the white ceiling from my bed – yes! just bed, because owning a room in Dubai would cost you an arm and a leg. Certain things in Dubai cost you a fortune of hard-earned money back home from sleepless night-shifts and all Holidays combined. Forget Math altogether so you would stop converting it to your home currency. I suddenly asked myself, how about if I put this in a blog?

So I started this blog in the hopes to create an outlet of my scattered thoughts and whereabouts. A journal of my quests to thwart my sadness and to find solace for the next day , I have to face the harsh truth of reality – work. I suddenly realized I already had spent 449 days away from home and it reinvented everything about my life since I came here.

This is yet another travel guide or some travel bucket list check because clearly I don’t have that. I wrote this blog, to share my ventures and pursuits in a foreign country for a twenty-lost year old like me.

So let me tell a little brief background on how did I get here. I have continuously worked for the past 5 years. I always had this dream that I will definitely move out of Philippines before I turn 25 and stay somewhere far for an indefinite period. So it was June 30,2015 when I left my previous job whom I’ve gained so many great friends, supported my family and payed my bills (atleast for that time only). Few close to me knew how I can be a little impulsive at my decisions. That liberating thought was extremely compelling and I found myself booking randomly a round-trip ticket to Singapore. I booked at the exact date of my birthday -02Jul. I was so full of hopes but my fear started creeping in when I realize it will all be just me, fighting the odds and travelling alone for the first time Internationally. I’m over-analyzing the hard process at the immigration , like I was thinking what will be my first reaction if I see an immigration officer,will I freak out and run back to mum like a kid or will I just collapse and pray to God I evaporate in the air? Much like of a horror movie. All these negative thoughts are slowly eating up all the hopes left in my body.

It felt so liberating but my fear won against my will. Such a coward. So, apparently my birthday has gone past yet I’m still in Manila finding validation that my decision was right. One month had past, a friend from office, asked if I’m interested to try Dubai. DUBAI. Just by the name itself sounds terrifying to me. I’ve just seen it on TV but the thought of working at some of the most dizzying heights has never crossed my mind. In all honesty, I never considered to be working in the Middle East, knowing the distance from home plus the news of terrible weather is adding up too.

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Sheikh Zayed Road

It took me awhile to convince myself that this is the right time I had been waiting for. The next thing I know I was processing all my documents, had it authenticated, applied for my visa and board a flight to HKG bound for DXB together with other five great friends on Aug 24,2015.

This was the most difficult part of the leaving process – leaving significant people around. It hurts to see mum teary-eyed while we hug each other tight before we went for the Immigration section.

Passing through Immigration felt like winning Oscars but I had to behave like a normal human as possible. One hour later, boarding passes checked, walking through the Jet-bridge felt like a walk through the aisle at my wedding and my smiling groom (attendant) is waiting at the entrance.

As soon as the flight engines starts, I know  my life will change from there on. It’s all gonna be up for me whatever is waiting for me at the end of my destination. I don’t believe in luck because it diminishes the hard work you went through just for you to get wherever you are.

Although my goal at 25 got slightly delayed  it was immensely fulfilling to be able to do something bigger than your mind can imagine and to start fresh and the possibility that you alter your destiny however you wish (in a different country) kind of thrills me.

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Dubai Marina

So yeah, hello Dubai, what’s up for me here? Guess we’ll have to figure it out from here. 😊