Saturday, July 28, 2007

I knew I needed my Mac for something...

After last Saturday's event of tea cup contents meeting Mac...I took my iBook down to the Mac doctor today.... fortunately all seems reasonably well...the keyboard needed to be replaced...the battery also (am waiting for that)...but otherwise all is well.... so am now back home with contact with the outside world...!

Fortunately....because....I found this Youtube video from Spike...the only thing I can say..... 'Only in the Philippines.....'!!!!

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

It just felt like any normal Saturday morning...

I can't help wondering what on earth is going to happen day so far.

1. Entire cup of tea deposited over my little Macbook (aka the love of my life!!), I can't believe it...four years we've been together...four years....its terrible...its little face went black, its breathing light went off and there was a very nasty whirring noise... It doesn't look good...

2. On leaving my apartment I go down to the lobby of my building and discover all the residents being prevented from leaving (actually being kept in a holding pen!!) whilst some poor unfortunate lady went completely mental out in the entrance area, smashing glass, hurting herself..blood everywhere....this went on for about half an hour until some form of authorities came and carted her off....what a mess...

3. SMS from the Blue-eyed Boy...he's getting that was a bolt from the blue....!!!! I thought he was confirmed bachelor material!!

In about an hour I'm heading out to the airport where Island Boy will hopefully be arriving from his little island of Cebu...

Hope there are no more shocks this little brain can't filter any more information!

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

And there I was thinking I was an idiot...!

So...I moved into my new apartment...which is very nice...the only fly in the ointment was the shower in the bathroom for the main bedroom....I had two options...scalding hot or nice hottish temperature with which to wake up gently. So every shower has been a battle in logistics of getting a few seconds of the right temperature so I can wet my hair, rinse off the soap etc etc...not good for a hangover I can tell you!

I asked my property agent...a very nice Dutch guy...if he could sort out the hot water problem came the whilst I was at work he sent over his team of maintenance guys to assess the problem..."no problem" came back the which I answered...did you check the correct bathroom....after some investigation - no they didn't!

They returned...checked the correct bathroom and agreed the hot water heater was a bit buggered...

Dutch property agent informed me yesterday afternoon that they had returned and replaced the hot water heater...I should have no more problems.... Oh joy...!

I got up this morning..bounced into the bathroom to have my first proper shower since arriving...and low and behold...its still a scald/chill situation...

I really thought that I had become completely incompetent and could no longer operate a shower tap properly...

I sat at my desk for a while this morning, debating whether to call the agent and readily admit I was an idiot and couldn't work a shower properly...

Eventually I called....I could tell from his tone of voice he really thought I was a complete idiot....

Late this afternoon I received a text from him...'Sorry, they changed the unit in the wrong bathroom'....

What a relief....!!!!!!!!!



Tuesday, July 17, 2007

It's raining....

It's rainy season here....allegedly....and it's great...

When it rains here it actually drops the temperature quite dramatically so it becomes almost chilly....unlike in Hong Kong or Manila where the humidity makes it feel even more uncomfortable when it just makes the environment that much more liveable!

The drawback of this, is that I have discovered that electricity is a little unreliable here during heavy rains and Saturday evening, I lost power in my apartment six times over the space of two hours.... have just invested in sizeable collection of torches and candles!

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Conversation with Island Boy this evening...

Madame Chiang: So, what did you get up to this evening
Island Boy: Went to see 'Transformers', you should go see it, it's fun...
MC: Nope, that sort of thing doesn't interest me...about as fun as watching paint dry
IB: Oh, What's that about?
MC: ....Long pause....



Well they made me laugh.....

Grocery shopping here is great...I can actually buy Marmite and Roses' Lemon and Lime Marmalade!!! And....

And this was too good to pass Siam Paragon (one of the nicest malls I've shopped in for a while), the Paragon department store has their Summer Sale on...with these signs everywhere....I couldn't help thinking how appropriate it was, given that we are in Thailand!

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Monday, July 16, 2007

It's the little things in life...

Well, I finally have broadband at home...and IDD....and by the end of the week, will have a new kitty to add to the household
(Chiang Kai-shek has been terribly lonely), her name is Clara at the moment...possibly options...Sun Yat-sen or Soong May-ling!

Other than work and setting up home, have done fairly little in the way of touristy things...however, the Island Boy is due in this coming no doubt there will be some sightseeing done then. But...if you class going 'out on the town' as the touristy thing then last weekend, in the company of the always intelligent E@L and the somewhat charming (in an 'arrogant tosser' sort of a way!) company of Indy, I ventured to Dream Hotel (Flava), Bed SupperClub and Q Bar....I must say, it would have been hard to find better company for such an outing...

The Sunday evening, in the company of the same two reprobates mentioned above...saw an Indian dinner being consumed under the watchful eye of Yasser Arafat by way of a huge framed pictures directly opposite E@L's seat....I guess that will teach him to pick the restaurant of choice from a review posted above a urinal in a girlie bar at Nana Plaza.... Seriously... you can't make this stuff up!!!

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Monday, July 02, 2007

here...and settled....vaguely!

I must all went according to clockwork!

Arrived in BKK, quarantine was a doddle, customs with a problem...picked up one of the 'authorised' limos into town, the apartment agent was waiting with the keys....after an hour or chiang Kai-Shek and I were unpacked and I was ready to start stocking the house...CKS in the meantime curled up on the bed and proceeded to sleep for about three days.

A few thoughts so far...

Tescos is good...but that is amazing!!!

The Skytrain is wonderful, as are the taxis!

My colleagues are very friendly and welcoming...only the first day, but compared to some places I've worked on the first day you already know who's going to be a challenge!

The laundry downstairs in my condo block is great...washing,

Chiang Kai-shek has taken the loss of Chairman Mao very badly...and when she is not sleeping is wandering around howling..ensuring that I cannot sleep.... a kitty friend needs to be found for her.... she's a very disturbed cat. She was howling incessantly in Manila and I wondered if the move to BKK would help...obviously not....if possible, she misses him more than I do.

Without BBC World, my life is a little dull....without my work BBC World....!!

I'd forgotten how much I like Thai food!!



Things I will miss from the Philippines...

The Philippines offers some of the most spectacular sunsets…and on a regular basis. Even after two years, I would keep an eye on the skyline every evening so I could pop outside at work to enjoy the streaks of pink, red and gold as they worked themselves across the sky – my colleagues thought I was loopy….but for me those 5-10 minutes most evenings were amazing

View from the apartment
My apartment itself was not so special, in a slightly older and a little tatty around the edges building…but the view…amazing… day, night, evening, early morning – always something different. And as I went to sleep on my last night there, curled up on my sofa bed which I had dragged over to the window for a better view, I knew that this would be something I would miss. Floor to ceiling windows overlooking the world! Unfortunately I discovered only recently that people outside on Shaw, even though I was on the 17th floor, could actually see me…as someone waved to me…from Shaw Boulevard as I stood there in my underwear!!

Evening Cocktails at the Sofitel
To really enjoy the sunset…head to the Sofitel down at the Bay…a couple of cocktails there watching the sun set over the bay…is almost as good as a few days out of town!

Sky Flakes Crackers!
Believe me, these are the best crackers in town!! As part of my farewell gift from my colleagues, they made up an emergency hamper for me with a huge tub of these crackers included!

Mango Rum liqueur
Unfortunately not one of the better known products of the Philippines and when it is used, its usually made up in cocktails….dont bother…just serve it straight on the rocks..its wonderful!

The local press
When living overseas, the usual number of English Language daily papers is very limited…Jordan had one, Hong Kong only had two….the Philippines….a huge variety. Granted the quality of writing can be a little questionable sometimes… but I cant tell you how nice it is to be able to follow local events with a number of different opinions. Plus the commentary is always enlightening, entertaining or both! I must also admit to finding some of the subject matter to be quite entertaining, I don’t think I ever opened either the Star or the PDI without finding something to amuse.

For many reasons…!! For me, Cebu is ideal, a big city with all the services that you could ever need and yet, not a huge amount of traffic, easy to navigate and easy accessibility to lovely beaches, countryside and views. Plus, I find the local population just a little more friendly and welcoming than in Manila.

The Cinemas
Living in Manila has reminded me how much I love going to the movies…. In HKG it always used to irritate me that cell phones would be used and the general chit chat would be louder than the movie….here, cell phones are usually on silent, and conversation is kept to a minumum…bliss! OK, normally I go at off peak times…weekdays, late afternoon…but still – my favourite day off activitiy…down to Rockwell, a large Starbucks cup of tea….and two hours of escapism!!!

The people – mostly friendly, always smiling. The Filipino population really are some of the most friendly and welcoming people I have ever come across… to be honest, the number of really nasty experiences here can be counted on one hand…and unfortunately one of those just this morning as I was leaving home… I have made some really good friends here who I know will be part of my friends ‘collection’ for many years to come….

Cebu Pacific
For a mostly domestic airline, they are efficient, organized and don’t promise anything they are not going to deliver. I have probably clocked up about 20 or so flights with them over the last year…only two delays, one problem with ticketing and that’s all. I would comment though that my first flights with them last year, inflight service was a slice of cake and a bottle of iced tea, then it was reduced to just the iced tea, now…any food or beverage you want has to be paid for….but it’s a LLC so I guess its just par for the course!

The language
Having a local population that all speak either fluent English or to an incredibly high standard has been wonderful, and makes us expats very lazy…this is the first country where I have not tried to learn the language either at a language school or at work… The English level also makes it easier to make really good friends here, in HKG I have quite a few HKG Chinese friends but conversation can be hard work….they try in English my rusty Cantonese gets used…but after a couple of hours it can be quite wearing on all of us…. Here, the only time I need to know the language is when reading the papers (as they actually throw in a lot of Tagalog words) or reading books about the Philippines or books written in Tagalog and then translated into English, which keep some of the original wording….then a quick text to the City Boy makes it all clear…!

The sense of humour
Filipinos have a sense of humour particular all to themselves..its not sarcastic like the Brits, its not obvious like the Americans, its more a cross of childish humour with inuendos… I think ‘impish’ would be the best way to describe it… case in point…. A few months back I had a very unfortunate incident at work whereby I sent a text meant for someone else to the wrong person…the person who received it was offended by the content even though it was not referring to her…. It caused a huge blow up at work and took days to resolve…. A few days after this happened I texted one of my staff some information…and he answered “Copy. And, don’t worry ma’m you sent the text to the right person”!!!! I just made me laugh and lightened what had been a horrific few days. I’ve saved the text on my phone and when I need a smile I just dig it out… Another time one of my colleagues during a building inspection had jumped out of a dark corner and scared the living daylights out of myself and some other colleagues…as pay back, the next time we were doing the same inspection, a few of my colleagues covered themselves in sheets and did the same thing to our colleague…and we filmed it… impish yes, hysterical definitely! Unfortunately, the humour is only revealed when people feel comfortable with you, which can take a while..but I think I’ve had more laughs at work here than anywhere else I’ve ever worked…

And last but not least…The gravy from the sizzling pochero at Abuhan in Cebu – trust me…its amazing…I’m sure it has all sorts of bad things in there but..its so good!

I’m sure there will be other things that I will miss, late afternoon strolls around Intramuros, drinks at Greenbelt, the amusement of day to day life here… but I know I’m going to be back…

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