Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Tourists: The GG Girls

Last 24th of April at 12:45 in the morning, I picked up my college friend Gemma and her officemate Gaile from the airport, they stayed with me for 3 days and became tourists here in Singapore and they had a sidetrip in Kuala Lumpur. After arriving in my room, they put their bags into the walk-in closet and I have received some "pasalubongs". They gave me a dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts and 4 boxes of Max's Caramel Bar. We all slept immediately as we had only 4 hours to sleep.


After having our breakfast, we headed to the MRT and alight at the City Hall station. Our first stop was in Esplanade and Merlion Park. There, the GG girls took some pictures. We really didn't take much time in the park as it was very hot so we decided to make our way to the Singapore Flyer. At first, they were so afraid to look down from the tube of the flyer. They just sat there and observed but eventually, they became comfortable and took some pictures. It was a one round of turn that took us 30 minutes to enjoy the view of Singapore's skyline.


We had our lunch in Vivocity then we went to the Aeroline office to book tickets for their KL trip. Afterwards, the girls bought tickets for the cable car going to Sentosa. I wasn't able to join them as I had to go to work by 2pm. The girls enjoyed their stay in Sentosa and even got the chance to have a picture with the monks. They also watched the famous 'Songs of the Sea' show. At around 9:30pm, they made a quick visit in Clark Quay and because they were really tired that moment, they just decided to go home. When I entered my room that night, they were already sleeping.


On their second day, we woke up a little late so we had a quick breakfast then run into Jurong Birdpark. They bought the 3 in 1 park hopper tickets. They made their way to the park as I waited for them outside. It took them almost two hours to roam it. Snow City was the next destination we went to. We were all delighted as the feeling was so cold after a very hot temperature in the park. We made a three rounds of sliding on the ice and we really enjoyed it. We hurried to Vivocity and they took their steps inside the Aeroline bus for a long trip going to KL.


They arrived at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia at 6:30pm and checked into the Corus Hotel. The girls immediately went out to pose in front of the famous Petronas Towers. Gaile met her uncle who is working in KL. The girls toured around the KLCC mall and bought some souvenir items. Their departure the next day was 9 in the morning and I met them again in Bugis MRT station to take them to the "tiangge" site here in Singapore. The girls took a total of 3 plastic bags each of "pasalubong" items.


Due to very short of time, I took all those items and they made their trip to Singapore Zoo and Night Safari. After I put all the souvenir items they bought from Bugis, I hurried to Lucky Plaza to buy the fragrance as requested by the girls. The girls made a quick tour inside the zoo and had almost 1.5 hours inside the Night Safari. The time was indeed really short and they were already in the house at 9:30pm and packed all their things. I helped them with their things until they were inside the taxi, they told me that it was okay not to bring them upto the airport as they were fine and very thankful. More tourists/visitors to come in the coming months...

More pictures from Gemma's multiply site.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Let's Get Political

Even I am 1,476 miles away from the Philippines (based from Mabuhay Miles calculation), I am still updated with the current events and political news from my home country and most of them were bad. The latest was the acquittal of Lance Cpl Daniel Smith on Nicole rape case. I really don't know what went wrong and what to believe. The big news came out in 2005 when Nicole claimed that she was raped at the back of van last 1st of November 2005 and three other US servicemen that were involved were cheering. But now, Nicole recanted her statement just this 8th of March and telling that she wasn't really sure what happened that night as she was really drunk. What the f*ck???!!! Where is Nicole now? She is currently in the USA and living a happy life. We cannot ignore the fact that her recantation made a big impact on the new decision issued by the Court of Appeals – and it is final. Does the government have a part on this new unsatisfying event? I won't be surprise if another remarks or adjective terms will be given out to the Philippines, such as nation of liars? Remember that our country was tagged as "nation of servants" by a Hong Kong journalist last month? What image are we portraying to the world?



Another irritating news is the never ending issue on charter change. Personally, I am not in favor to this idea. It is clearly visible that several government officials want to extend their term to hold power and use it in any other way they want. There is no problem with our constitution, what the main problem is the attitude of those who are governing us. If only 100% of our politicians are honest, true to their will to serve and God fearing, then there will be no issue and the nation will live a peaceful life, no more poor people, no more Filipinos will have to leave the country to work overseas and for sure there will be a low crime rate. Changing the constitution is not the answer.

The never ending battle against Abu Sayyaf Group really sucks! Way back from the Sipadan hostage crisis until to the ICRC problem, the government still did not learn their lessons. Why do they have to make an all out war when there is a hostage crisis? Why when there was no problem like this they did not put much effort for a total liquidation of that group? There was a report that the latest freed man Andreas Notter was left behind by his captors because most of the ASG members were in a rush to get away from the sight of the military. But there was a speculation that there was a ransom paid. There was a news that a group of people were searching for a high caliber arms in the black market and it occurred right after the "so-called-release" of Notter. In this factor, I also don't know what to believe but I'm hoping that there was really no ransom paid. After the crisis, I hope the government will put an end to Abu Sayyaf.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Chef Ann for Lunch

Yesterday after cleaning my room (I will be having a visitor on Thursday night), I met my good friend Ann Yamat in Cold Storage supermarket in Northpoint, Yishun. She's been working in Singapore for over three months now and it was our first time to meet. The original plan of meeting was 10:30am until it became 12 noon. I just had Chips Ahoy and a coffee shake as pre lunch foods. Inside the store, Ann bought fish fillet, tau kwa, chicken parts, wine and other recipes for the meal. Afterwards, we went to their place in Admiralty, she is staying in North Oaks Condominium, the place is really nice. When I entered their unit, there was only one thing I told to myself... "my HDB unit is bigger that theirs... hahaha".


Anyway, we immediately started the cooking process around 1 in the afternoon. I was frying tau kwa and fish fillet that were dipped in flour while Ann was marinating the chicken. I became curious on Ann's onion and garlic slicers, they were quite nice and interesting. Ann started to cook Adobo and I got some tips from her. She simmered it until the sauce thickens. Then she prepared the sauce for the fried tau kwa and fish fillet, she was trying to imitate the 'Fish and Tofu' meal from Chowking, hehehe...


Then the final moment came, Ann's sister Jeng prepared the table. Around 3:30 in the afternoon, we started to QA the finish product. The verdict, they were all good and delicious. Honestly, Chicken Adobo is tastier than Fish and Tofu but both were really satisfying. Jeng was continuously putting rice on my plate so I have no choice but to eat them... hehehe... It was another "Diet Another Day'. I also tasted a cheesecake that Ann also prepared as our dessert.


Eventhough the lunch was really late, still we were all satisfied and thankful for the wonderful meal that we had. Ann toured me inside their condo vicinity and I must say, the place is really cool and great. I left their place before 5 in the afternoon and prepared myself for a long jogging routine in Yishun Park.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cambodia Trip - The Final Days

11th of April 2009 is our fourth day in Cambodia. After a breakfast (for my entire stay in Cambodia, vegetable omelette is what I had for breakfast), the driver Barang took us to this wonderful place, the 'Cambodian Cultural Village'. I think it is the same to 'Nayong Pilipino' as what we have in Manila. The place was a representation of different Khmer villagers and their passionate for environmental protection. There was also a spot that was called 'The Judgement Tunnel' (which became an instant horror tour as the girls were shouting and were basically so afraid) that showed us the different ways of punishing Khmer people for any sins they committed. There were also miniatures of the different temples that can be found in Phnom Penh. Also, a wax museum was there, representing the former lives of the Khmer people and an illustration of the progress of their way of living. After that tour, we had our lunch again in KFC!


We immediately packed our bags and prepared ourselves for a long travel again back to Phnom Penh and bidding goodbye to Siem Reap. Our bus departed at 12:30 in the afternoon. At almost 7 in the evening, we arrived in the capital city of Cambodia and were picked up again by Sarom. We were so hungry that time and after we left our things inside our room in the hotel, we immediately ordered 'Luc Lac'. Luc lac is the most recommended dish in Cambodia and we all agreed that it was really deliciious! The three of us ordered Beef Luc lac and the other one got Fish Luc lac. The taste was really satisfying and I promised myself to look for any Khmer restaurant in Singapore. After that fulfilling dinner, we went back to our room to sleep and that wrapped up our fourth day of stay in Cambodia. Our fifth day was basically about travelling. After a quick breakfast, Sarom brought us to the airport and made our way back to Singapore. It was a wonderful and an amazing trip and vacation at the same time in Cambodia.


Facts I have learned about Cambodia: First, in Siem Reap, constructing a building higher than the Angkor Wat is not allowed. This is for giving respect to the holy temple. Second, people in Cambodia were mostly known as Khmer and their country domain for the internet is dot KH (.kh). Third, KFC Cambodia celebrated it's 1st year anniversary last 11th of April so the KFC foods were new to them. Fourth, there is no Starbucks in Cambodia and it ruined my collection of City Mugs!!! There was this store that only sells Starbucks coffee but not an entire franchise of the popular cafe. Fifth, if you see two men holding hands while walking, you shouldn't think about gayness. It's their way of being friendly and being nice to other people. Lastly, while browsing TV channels inside the hotel, I saw a Pinoy soap opera dubbed in Khmer language, it was Bituin (the defunct soap opera in ABS-CBN which starred Nora Aunor, Carol Banawa, Desiree Del Valle and Cherie Gil). Also, a movie of Cesar Montano and Dayanarra Torres was also shown there (of course dubbed in their native language). A staff from Siem Reap hotel informed us that Pinoy movies and soap operas are famous in their country.

For more pictures you may visit my photobucket site here. Pictures in this site were mostly views and scenes of places in Cambodia. If you want to see pictures with our faces, hehehe, it is available in my Friendster and Facebook account, just add me: carlo.malbas@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Cambodia Trip - Days 2 & 3

On the next day, we were scheduled to go to Siem Reap by bus and travel for six hours! Our tour package was handled by The King Angkor and the good thing about them, they have a hotel both in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap so accomodation and tour itinerary wasn't that difficult. We were on the Paramount Angkor Express Bus and the travel was smooth but very long. We arrived at Siem Reap at about 2 in the afternoon and we were picked up by Barang, the driver. Upon arriving on the hotel, we immediately went to our room and refreshed ourselves for a long hours of journey ahead.


Since it was past 12 that time, we had our lunch first and it was in KFC!!! The girls were excited about it because KFC Cambodia is serving gravy! I ordered two piece chicken for 2.90USD. Everybody was fulfilled with the lunch we had, including Barang. Then we made a quick shopping again in the Central Market and I bought some shirts and souvenir items. We also had a very short visit to the Angkor Market and we only bought an ice cream on that store. Afterwards, we hurried to Phnom Bakheng for the sunset view. We have to go to the top spot which required us to walk almost 10 minutes and that was really tiring, paakyat kasi yung daan. There were many tourists that time and it was a happy moment for everyone. But we were dismayed with the sunset as the sun was mostly covered by clouds. We went back to hotel after the sunset photoshoot to rest and be prepared again for the next day.


The third day was the most exciting day as we visited the world famous Angkor Wat. We departed from the hotel at 8 in the morning and an English speaking tour guide was with us and he calls himself as 'Robinhout'. We entered first this ancient gate structure going to the Angkor Wat itself. We were all amazed with this temple complex that is located in Angkor, Cambodia. According to history, it was built for the King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and capital city. The architecture is really excellent! After our lunch on which I ordered Amok or Chicken Curry, We next visited Bayon, it is a well known and richly decorated Khmer temple also at Angkor in Cambodia. The most disttinctive feature of this temple are the massive stone faces on the many towers. The outer wall of Bayon also features historical events and scenes from the everyday life of the Angkor Khmer. There were soldiers, elephants, unfinished temples, battle, war and other historic views on the wall.


Afterwards, also on that day, we visited the famous Ta Prohm. It is famous because it was the location shoot for some of the scenes of Tomb Raider which starred Angelina Jolie. Anyway, Ta Prohm is a typical Khmer temple and also popular for it's large roots of a silk cotton tree running along the gallery. After a long day, we decided to return to hotel at around 3:30pm to rest and be ready for a dinner buffet in Jasmine Angkor Restaurant with a matching traditional Apsara dance show. We were all excited about the dinner and the Cambodian noodles, cake and ice cream were all good! We were there as early as 6:30 in the evening. On the buffet table, there were lots of chicken cooked in different style, also fishes, fruits and other desserts were present. Almost 8pm, the traditional dance show started. We left the place around 9 in the evening and that was the story of our third day in Cambodia.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cambodia Trip - Day 1

If last year I was in Batangas for the holy week, this year I was in Cambodia. After a fulfilling vacation in Manila which ended on the 7th of April, my trip to Cambodia was commenced from the 8th to 12th of April. I was with my officemates Gilyn, Razel and Ate Vinz. We departed from Singapore at 6:45 in the morning and arrived in Phnom Penh after one and a half hours. We were picked up by our travel agent and went directly to hotel to prepare for a city tour. It was my first time to go in a country where US Dollars were used as means of payment for goods and other services, their own currency (Riels) was not commonly used.


Our first stop was in the historic Choeung Ek Genocidal Center or popularly known as the "killing fields". There were large numbers of people (at least 200,000) were killed and buried by the totalitarian communist Khmer Rouge regime. Upon navigating the place, we found several mass graves of victims without heads and grave for children and women whose majority were naked. After that thrilling part, we were brought by our driver Sarom in the Russian Market where we found several items for souvenirs and gifts. We met these two young Cambodian sellers and we got a lot of discounts and a free item.


After a little shopping, we felt hungry so we decided to have our lunch and it was in Khmer Saravan. The food was really nice, masarap in an affordable price. I forgot the exact name of the dishes that we ordered but we had chicken, seafood, fish and beef. The total bill was almost 45USD. Then we hurried to go to their National Museum. The building itself was really nice, an excellent architecture. Taking pictures inside the museum was not allowed (fortunately I was able to take two shots) but on the outside vicinity, we were able to take some pictures and enjoy a simple view of the garden.


Watt Phnom was the next place we visited. It was an architecture where you can see several mini temples and on upstairs, there was a place where buddhists were doing their rituals and some holy processes. There was also a huge clock on the other side that is really working! You can see the second hand moving and I was really amazed. A fee of 1USD was required for the visit but it was included in our tour package. Anyway, we visited next the Royal Palace and this place is really nice! We saw several temples that were excellently built. Since I haven't slept for almost 35 hours that time, I felt a severe headache and we decided to return to the hotel to rest as we all felt so tired because it was so hot. That was our first day in Cambodia, specifically in Phnom Penh.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Boys Night Out Again

I was with my Misys good friends Louie, Ryan, Arleen, Emman and Harold on the night of April 3. After my workout in Fitness First RSC Makati, I met them in our meeting place in Jollibee. Arleen was so damn late that time so we left the place before 9 in the evening. It was a boys night out again but this time, we just planned on having a dinner in a "dampa" style at the back of Mall of Asia. I was happy seeing them again eventhough it was only three months since the last time I saw them and another thing, namiss ko kumain sa MOA.


We headed first to the wet market and bought shrimp, tilapia, tuna belly, squid and a big head of a fish (sorry di ko alam name ng fish :>) and the total bill for the "pamamalengke" was 1,250php. Our "palutuan" place that time was in "Kainan sa Balanghay". We were able to get free two pitchers of iced tea. The foods were overflowing, we had buttered shripm, tempura, pinaputok na tilapia, inihaw na tuna, calamares and sinigang sa miso. It was a no diet mode that time so I just ate without thinking the percentage of calories, fats, etc. The total bill for the "paluto" was 1,350php so in total, we spent 2,600php for the dinner and it wasn't that bad. The foods were really good and delicious except for the calamares.

After that, an idea of going to Louie's house just popped out. Hahaha, at first, he was very hesitant to bring us in their home but eventually he agreed (napilit din... hahaha). The original plan was to watch the Wolverine movie courtesy of Arleen. Unfortunately, we weren't able to watch it as Louie's player wasn't able to fully read the USB. We also tried to look for a blank DVD so that we can just burn the AVI copy but there was no available disc at that time. So we just stayed there for a while and I tried to watch the first part of the movie while the others were watching basketball. I toured myself in Louie's pad it was really nice! After a while, pinapalayas na kami ni singkit... hahaha... So we parted ways at around 12:30 in the morning and it was another memorable night for all of us.

Treat and Trick

Last 3rd of April, I met my WeServ friends in Ayala. It was a super lunch treat from Allan and Chichi so Ivy and I got the chance to choose anything we want to eat... hahaha... It was actually a post birthday treat from Chi (she celebrated her birthday last January) and a pre birthday celebration for Allan as he will be celebrating his birthday later this April. We met in Pizza Hut Bistro in Insular Life in Ayala Makati where we ordered two regular pizzas and a dip platter (I don't know the exact name). chichi and Allan had salad while I got myself a fish meal. Ivy was contented on her mushroom soup. Dessert was the final meal and Allan had this dessert platter (again, di ko tanda ung exact name ng meal), Chichi and Ivy ordered this mango dessert and I had banana split. We had this little discussion and a super gossip pertaining to our former officemate in WeServ. Anyway, they are scheduled to visit me and Ann in Singapore on July 3 to 6. Wohoooo!!! Food trip na naman... :>

Also that day, I paid a visit to BPI Card Center office. BPI is a client of my employer in Singapore. Our main contacts for support purposes are Ernesto Barlis and Mae Uy. I was delighted to see them for the first time. It was a trick style as I surprised Estong on his desk and was shocked as he wasn't expecting to see me that day. Then he brought me to Ma'am Mae's office. They were complaining about card replacement but I informed them that I was on a vacation mode so work related problem was not my concern that time... hehehe... I gave them chocolates and some souvenir from Singapore as my present to them. It was also a good opportunity on establishing a good customer relationship for the company. I was able to meet all other staffs who are handling XLS application.

 
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