Turning "bano" as I move to SG

Almost 2 years ago, I visited and fell in love with the “convenient” country instantly and wished that I’ll have a chance to work and live there.
 
This year, after keeping my crazy faith in my dream job, I was given a very good opportunity to explore and establish my career and a bonus to move to Singapore. Coming from Manila, moving here is such a treat because of its convenience.
 
TRANSPORT SYSTEM
Who wouldn’t love Singapore’s Public Transport System? You can just go around the whole country with its MRT & LRT or if you prefer to do more sightseeing on the way, just hop in one of the many buses to choose from. 
 
 
Compared to Manila’s MRT, Singapore’s MRT has a very comprehensive comprehensive map (photo above), a panel that shows the schedule of train arrivals or the number of minutes left to wait, strict implementation of ‘no eating and drinking’ rules, and some trains have route info panels that show where you actually at! 
 
 
EZ-link makes my life so much easier! With its multiple use especially in transportation, I normally just need it and I’m all set.
 
LITTLE WORRIES GO AWAY
They say that low crime doesn’t mean no crime at all but as a Filipino who had lived in Manila for almost a decade and has developed a good ill-never-be-a-victim-of-crime skill, Singapore is such a place where I could fully breathe (and never worry about my bag being stolen or left open when walking.)
 
I also do not sweat in small things because:
 
1. People in this country automatically take the side of escalators so that those who are rushing can pass by.
2. When crossing the small streets without stop lights, pedestrians can just cross the pedestrian lane anytime (but of course still with caution) because cars give priority to pedestrians and automatically stop compared to what I’m used to that I have to wait for the upcoming car to pass by before crossing.
3. And of course, stop lights are perfectly working and generally (some are not), people know how to use them. 🙂
 
SINGLISH
The only difficult thing for me might be to fully understand Singlish. Here, words like alight, take away and 1 for 1 are used instead of get off, take out and buy 1 take 1. Definitely, I’ll learn more words as time goes by and I’ll definitely learn how to appropriately use “lah.”
 
(Image from: Google Images)
Some of my friends like this country so much even if they’ve visited or  lived in other progressive cities already. But some feel a bit suffocated of its strict rules and fast-paced environment. As for me, I’m still getting to know Singapore but the chaos of Manila will always be missed.
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Toss up for a good year!

One of the most interesting celebration of new year for me is the Chinese way. Because of their many different beliefs and rituals, they welcome the new year  full of hope and optimism.

Two weeks after I moved to Singapore, I celebrated CNY for the first time together with my We Are Social family. Here, the Chinese believe that tossing up yu sheng (raw fish salad) symbolises luck, prosperity, good health, and all things good. The practice of mixing it together is called lo hei (also in Malaysia) which means tossing up good fortune in Cantonese. Yu which is “fish” in Mandarin, shares the same pronunciation with another character that stands for “abundance.” Each of the ingredients in yu sheng has significance like sesame seeds, which represents flourishing business and green radish for everlasting youth. As everyone partakes in mixing the salad, wishes are uttered to shower blessings to their lives for the year ahead.

For a first-timer, I was not bad in tossing but I don’t think I tossed enough for a promising year so I’ll back it up with hard work! 🙂

BEFORE AND AFTER.

We spent half day in the office going around the city to celebrate the new year with lo hei, tea, and childhood games! Plus, I got my first-ever ampaw!

We Are Social family
One of my first good friends in the office, Vera, invited me and Tianyu for a reunion dinner with her family. It was a great pleasure meeting her beautiful family and sharing a hot pot with them.


After the dinner, we visited a few temples and headed to Chinatown for the countdown. The countdown is very nice to experience but you better be prepared to endure the heat because of the crowd and loud noises from fireworks cause they believe that it will shoo away the bad things. 


Khmer Memos

I finally realized my travel goal for this year a few weeks ago when I visited Siem Reap to see the majestic Angkor Wat. 🙂 I wasn’t able to cross the border of Cambodia and Vietnam as planned but I think it’s a good idea to visit them separately to focus more on getting to know them more.

I blogged about some little details that I remember the most about Siem Reap (please click the links to read the full details). I haven’t finished everything yet but here are some random things that I’ve compiled so far:


Since I love coffee and sitting in the cafe always help me understand the place where I am by listening and observing every passersby and their way of life, I wrote about the best cafes that I found in Siem Reap. 

The Bloom Cafe at night

The “cool lounges” of our favorite, The Blue Pumpkin

Chilling (with fast wi-fi) with Indonesian lovely friends, Dita & Chichi


I rarely shop when I travel but this is the first time that I feel so regretful that I didn’t hoard this wrap around pants. I swear, for $6, this is one of my best buy ever!


Meet the new addition to my blogging network, the forgetful blogger–Kris. 🙂

I love being Asian. I love being Southeast Asian more because there’s something unique in ASEAN’s traditional clothes that I find so elegant and full of characters. Meet some of my favorite fashionable and lovely Southeast Asian bloggers.

Traveling to Cambodia anytime soon? Then, learn some of the useful words that will save you from hunger and other more inconveniences.

Som OrKun!


Siem Reap: some pieces for home


“The air is different here,” that was my first description of Siem Reap, the home of the largest Hindu temple of the world, (and the place that I was dreaming about exploring by boat for the past months) and a place for the second largest airport in Cambodia and most “touristy”.

As I wander around the town by foot and by the usual Tuk Tuk that they offer you in $1, I battled with my feeling of doubt. Am I in the right place? 

I looked at the architecture, tried to converse in Khmer,  asked curious things to prove my doubts wrong, then yes, I was lost. 

The image of Cambodia that we traditionally grasp from the media that’s available to us feels different and surreal. I’m sure Angkor Wat is amazingly beautiful but talking about the “Cambodia now” doesn’t become a topic for most of us. 

Cambodia is beyond temples.


TONLE SAP RIVER SETTLERS

I was surprised that there’s a tour to see the poverty in Cambodia in floating villages. I was asking myself if Cambodia is doing this to gather more NGOs and minimally solve the problem of these settlers for now by inviting the tourists to donate something to them to support their basic needs

We didn’t go to the traditional tour and decided to see how the family living in floating houses in Tonle Sap River near the street. 


It was amazing how they move their houses from one place to another whenever they needed to especially if someone will park their boat or use it. Men of the families are usually in the water checking everything that they could do to support the family.



I find the Kitchen very efficient and neat.


And since I could never tell a story just by looking at them, I tried going around the river with some Filipino bloggers as we shout from time to time as the boat sways.


I have seen kids going to school in barefoot that shows how the current situation promises a wonderful future for Cambodia.



SAME BUT DIFFERENT

Like how we Filipinos adapt to the changing demands of our current society as the BPO Industry promises growth and slowly replaces our own language with English, I am seeing the similarity with Cambodia as it uses USD more than their Riel because of its growing demand in the tourism industry.



I feel sad at times that we, Filipinos, often speak English than our language but I feel the same whenever foreigners ask Cambodians why they don’t use their money most of the time.



I HOPE TO BRING HOME

Traveling is always a learning experience. When you travel, there always a time when you will realize that the world is big that keeps your humility.

As I travel to see the world and show the how it is to be a Filipino to the world, I’d like to bring some pieces of my Siem Reap visit to the Philippines by wishing that we have the following:

CLEANER PUBLIC TOILET.



and MORE TRASH CANS.


I still need to see the temples and the picturesque sunrise in Angkor Wat tomorrow but yes, I’m loving it here in Siem Reap- good conversations, beautiful people, wonderful merge of cultures and laughter. I’m truly grateful to have this opportunity to spend time with my neighbors, BlogFest Asia 2012 made it happen.

Twitter: @blogfestasia12





What I learned about Surfing

On top of my list when I was in my early 20s (Goodness! I’m saying this now!) was to surf, first was to climb a mountain. I usually have a timeline for my plans, Climb a mountain: 18, Travel abroad: 25, (both were realized before the deadline by the way. haha) but for surfing, it was just in my list but I never believed in actually doing it. 

I learned lessons from my first ride (hoping to get a chance for a second ride) that remind me on how I should look at life when not riding the waves:

1. Impossible really becomes not possible if you never give it a shot. My list doesn’t say that I should be a professional surfer but for a long time, I was thinking that even just trying it… is absurd. 

The photo below shows how scared I was on my first try:


2. Patience is always a virtue. Life is not designed to be flat, it has ups and downs, right and wrong, but we have to keep the faith and keep moving. If you didn’t ride the wave the first time, be more alert and try it the second time. If you fall, hug the board tight and try again. After a few try, you’ll know. 🙂
As cliche as it is, “something that does not happen doesn’t mean that it won’t happen.”

3. Listen & use your senses. In today’s world, everyone wants to talk which oftentimes make things complicated. In surfing, you need to use your senses, don’t just look, listen and feel the waves coming. Listen to the wind blowing, look at the waves beside you, quickly close your eyes to feel the waves and concentrate on your senses. You can’t afford to lose a wave cause you might not experience one anymore!


4. Sometimes, you just don’t have the chance to backout, so rock it! Sometimes, life gives us things that we think we don’t need but is actually for us to experience and we have to be brave enough to try what’s in-store for us out there. Most of the time, we need to risk then our lives will never be the same again cause it just gets better.

5. It will always be hard to keep the balance, but only the wise can do it (Read: wise- with knowledge & experience of falling and standing up over and over. haha).


6. Be prepared (you can’t afford to miss one wave, remember?).

7. Enjoy the ride. There’s a feeling of euphoria when riding a wave, it’s addictive. The feeling before, during and after riding a wave is indescribable but you can never tell a story about only “after the ride,” it needs to be a whole process to make the story complete so you have to enjoy every second of it.


FREEDOM. It was a liberating feeling to ride the waves. 
Awesome Idea: What I always do is to imagine the feeling when I was riding a wave, then I imagine my worries as the wave- scary and huge…after a few breaths, rode over my worries, then they go away! 
Maybe that’s a good idea for you to try surfing, so you’ll know what to imagine when worries come again!

So here is what I’ve found out in my hard drive, my “chimpanzee” first ride:


*This was a quick trip to Zambales, read the whole story here.



Surfing trip: Zambales


Roadtrip. Fresh fruits. Waves. –Some of the few things that keep you high in Zambales, a province in the central part of Luzon (Philippines). For some people in Manila, it’s good to go to South and wander under the sea but some prefer to check out what’s there going North and ride on top of the sea. But I suggest to do both and cherish the two unique experiences with genuine appreciation of the beauty of their purpose.

With my enthusiasm to explore and experience surfing, I packed and went on a quick trip to Zambales. I just had surfing in mind with no other expectations about the sea and accommodations. But I was surprised on how that simple trip turned out as one of the best trips I had, first, because I was able to cross-out something in my long bucket list- surfing. Second, because I realized that I had explored and had a wonderful break. Who would ever think that I’ll do so many things in that place aside from surfing? (Here’s the things I learned about surfing).

We stayed at my friend Josh’s usual hiding place, the Crystal Beach Resort. With very amiable staffs and very friendly locals, I enjoyed breathing fresh air and listening to the waves while:

1. walking around the shore and attempting to play beach volleyball.


2. Playing and climbing up in their obstacle courses with a real-life chimpanzee friend (that’s a joke among us cause we look like chimpanzees when falling from the surf board), Daisuke.


3. Being one with nature and having quality time to rest and recharge my spirit in the tranquility of the place in their duyan made from tires.It was really nice to close my eyes, feel the sun shines to my face, breathe in, smile and listen to the birds chirping.


4. Campfire we met again! Yey!
5. Pretending to be a pro when checking out surf boards.
6. Playing around. Wonderful conversations.
7. Getting more and more wounds.


8. And of course, San Miguel Beer in the middle of the day with my wonderful people.
9. Becoming invisible like me in the photo below:


I will always recommend a trip to Zambales, whether you’ll be trying out surfing or just simply lying on the beach while playing music all day. Even if you’ll visit alone, it just feels good to be surrounded by very lively people trying to ride every wave as if it was the last.

By the way, that guy below, my Kuya Josh, was still starting to surf when that photo was taken. Look how he falls! haha. But now, he’s riding unlimitedly and winning! Thanks for the fun trip Kuya!


San Narciso, Zambales-Pangasinan Road
+63.47.913.4309