Everyone here calls me ma’am no matter what age they are. In the states this is more common in the South but I’m a California girl. Ma’am is not in my vocabulary! Everything is “good morning ma’am, good afternoon ma’am, thank you ma’am, no ma’am, yes ma’am.” I get it at the hotel, restaurants, on the streets by the policeman, at the mall and at work. I don’t know if I will ever get used to it as I’m used to this being a sign of respect to your elders. Sometimes I just want to say “you don’t have to call me ma’am. My name is Jess!” But of course I refrain. My driver to and from work calls me Jess so that is at least a break for the short 10 minute ride to work! So I say to you “Good Evening Ma’am.” TTT
When traveling I always like to try out some of the hotel food as sometimes you can find some really good restaurants at a hotel. One night I ate at Jasmine Restaurant, which specializes in Cantonese cuisine, located on the 2nd floor of the hotel. The restaurant is nicely decorated in a chic art deco design and more on the upscale side. The food was really good. I ordered fried rice and some spicy shrimp in tomato sauce (one of my hubby’s favorites in the states). The portion size of the rice was really large as it is enough to share with a few people, but the shrimp was just enough for one person. If you are in a group I would suggest ordering multiple entrees as usual when you eat Chinese food.
They had a Belvedere lemon drop on the beverage menu in the cocktail section. It took them forever to bring me my drink and when they brought it, it was in a glass that you would drink a scotch or vodka. It looked just like vodka with a little bit of lemon in it. I said it wasn’t a lemon drop so they had the hotel bar make one that took FOREVER again. When I received the hotel bar lemon drop it was the worlds tiniest lemon drop LOL I just said it was fine as they were trying. They were so sweet and accommodating that I couldn’t bother to say anything. Plus, it actually tasted like a lemon drop, but this really was really just a “drop.” I should have just kept the first one they gave me 🙂 Perhaps a lemon drop here in Makati is something different, though I thought a lemon drop was the same everywhere.
The chef came over and greeted me during the meal and asked if I liked my food so I really can’t complain about the place. You don’t have the chef come out and greet you the majority of the time when you’re eating, well at least not at the restaurants I go to.
Interesting menu Item
The hotel also has a bar/lounge area where you can order drinks and small plates. The hotel only offers WiFi in the lounge so this is an area that is frequently visited. One day after work I went to the CinnaBar and sat outside. They have a Koi pond and most important, ceiling fans that make the atmosphere nice and relaxing. It is a nice place to grab a drink or quick bite to eat in a calm setting.
That’s today’s thoughts (TTT)…
I am still getting used to having our van checked with mirrors and guards opening the van prior to entering any hotel, mall or the office as well as having my purse and any bag inspected before I go in as well. You have armed guards with AKs outside main office buildings as well as K9’s (they have K9s outside the hotel as well. Sometimes they have a cute Jack Russell that makes me miss Chase).
Besides the overload of security, my first day at work was great. It was nice to meet all the people that I have emailed and spoke to over the phone over the years. Everyone is so sweet and it is good to hear that people were excited when they saw my name that I was coming here. I brought along some pasalubong’s (small homecoming gifts – Ghirardelli chocolates) that I handed out to folks when I met them. I’m trying to fit in with their culture as best as I can. So far the only word I really use most of the time is salamat, thank you, as everyone speaks English here I feel weird trying Tagalog since I’m sure I’m butchering it 🙂
The view from my office is amazing. On a clear day you can see the sea. I have to get used to the constant honking I can hear from my desk even though I’m all the way up in a huge high rise. It is definitely not like my quiet office back in the states. Well I have a cubicle, but I don’t mind that. As long as I have a place to put my crap I’m fine! I am in an area kind of off to the side so luckily it’s not too noisy.
After work I finally ventured out to the Greenbelt mall which is right across from my hotel. I’m not a mall person in general, but I guess I have to start becoming one since that seems to be the thing that everyone does around here since it’s air conditioned. My hotel is across from the high end stores that I would never shop in back in the states like Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, Louis Vuitton, Prada, etc. So I just walked right through into the next mall that is cheaper. I hear there is a Forever 21 in one of them so I need to figure out which one so I can make it over there. I don’t know if they will have my size as I can barely fit into the US Forever 21 :p I went to the Landmark, which is one of the cheaper malls and I purchased a tote bag since I forgot to bring one. When we went to the beach this past weekend I had to take the hotel laundry bag so I wanted to make sure I didn’t have to do that again!
I ate outside in the middle of the Greenbelt 5 at Simply Thai. It was a beautiful setting as I sat and watched Fashion TV without sound while I ate and had a yummy Sangria. I didn’t have a plan when I went out and didn’t realize I was going to be sitting outside so I didn’t put bug spray on. Big mistake! I was bit all over my right arm and on my left leg! @Letty I need to order some more Avon bugspray/sunscreen!!! I’ll let you know how many bottles!
Since there are so many malls that are connected I got kind of turned around but luckily the waiter pointed me in the right direction to get back to the Greenbelt 3, the one closest to my hotel, and I found my way easily . I am sure I will be venturing out to other malls, including the famous Green Hills so I can purchase pearls and other really cheap items! That’s today’s thoughts…
My first experience even before arrival in the Philippines was on the plane ride over. I sat next to a man named Dr. Ang who is the President of the Philippine Medical Society of Northern California. He grew up in the Philippines and now lives in the bay area. He was on his way to the Philippines on a medical mission to one of the provinces to repair cleft lips, throat issues, etc (http://www.pmsnc.com/tmp/Medical_Mission.html).
Dr. Ang had some fascinating stories. His father was truly remarkable; from running away from China to the Philippines, being an interpreter for General Douglas McArthur (if you don’t know who he is look him up), being a guerilla hiding out in secret passages behind stoves, to meeting his wife who comes from Barangay Batad in Banaue which is home to the famous Banaue rice terraces that many consider one of the most beautiful places in the world. Weirdly, one of the things that I found most interesting was that his father invented the manila folder. Go figure! One of the things I use on a daily basis at work and I met the inventor’s son on a trip to the Philippines.
Besides his stories about his father Dr. Ang specializes in about a gazillion things. His theories on sleep and diet were most interesting. He even invited me to their medical society’s annual dinner next year since I will be in the Philippines this year when they have it. So I do have to say I had an interesting plane ride over and my adventure started before I even stepped foot in the Philippines.
Day 1 in the Philippines I arrived at 5:35 am. I do have to say that flying business class does have its perks; first off the plane, first through immigration and first to get your bags is NICE! Believe me, being priority at Ninoy Aquino International Airport is sweet specifically when your plane has over 400 passengers and probably twice as many balikbayan boxes rolling off the conveyor belt.
I arrived at the hotel by 7 AM which was just in time for breakfast buffet. They have Chinese, sushi, all kinds of breakfast foods and much more to choose from. It’s fabulous! I love the fresh juices, smoothies and fruits.
After breakfast I looked around the hotel at the swimming pool and gym and then went upstairs to check email. Luckily I checked my work email as my new supervisor had emailed me and said she would be picking me up at the hotel along with a fellow co-worker I know who works in San Ramon for lunch.
My supervisors driver picked me up and we all headed to the Sofitel for lunch/dinner. The traffic is unbelievable and the fact that stoplights, road signs and pedestrians are ignored is interesting. You really have to be a defensive driver to drive in the Philippines.
The Sofitel is beautiful and apparently a lot of the nice hotels have amazing lobbies just as the Sofitel does. We sat outside and ate lunch watching the sunset. It was nice although the food was just okay.
For reservations at the Sofitel http://www.sofitel.com/gb/booking/hotels-list.shtml
After the Sofitel we went to the Landmark Supermart for my supervisor could pick up some groceries. It was good for me to see their markets so that I can have an idea of what to look forward to when I start my assignment. The market was big and clean and busy. They did have my husbands HP sauce, which he was wondering if he was going to have to stock up before we came. It seems similar to our stores in the US except they have a ton of fresh seafood to choose from, which is nice!
On our way back the driver stopped in the middle of an intersection when the light turned red and was pulled over by a policeman. They were speaking in Tagalog so we had no idea what he was saying. He was smiling, which all Filipinos do all the time. He spoke to him for about 10 minutes and they kept passing the driver’s license in and out of the window. Apparently the policeman was showing him drivers licenses of people he had taken and saying that he would take his too. The driver sneakily slipped him 100 pesos as to avoid getting a ticket. Its funny because my husband had told me he read about this, but I didn’t think it would happen to me on the first day. I guess that was a taste of things to come for me to get used to my new life in the Philippines.
I joined an expatriate community group online a few weeks ago and they happened to be having their monthly event on the night I arrived. At first when I got back to the hotel from the market I didn’t think I would go, but I decided it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity so I might as well take advantage of it. I hired a car from the hotel to pick me up and drop me off. It was at a place called Casa Nami Surf Pub. When I got there it was pretty dead but it got busy just as I was leaving. I was only there for an hour and a half since I was going on virtually no sleep. I met expats from India, US, Australia, etc. It was fun but I didn’t make any serious connections. Then again, I was only there a very short time and only met a few folks. I will go to the next one when I’m here for longer and make sure I go late. I will have my own driver then and won’t have to be picked up at a certain time.
So my first night ended around 9:30 PM and I have to say it was eventful for my first day in the Philippines. Looking forward to Day 2!