Forever 21 in Makati!

I was soooooooo excited that Forever 21 is literally right outside my doorstep. I love Forever 21 in the states as you can get some cute clothes for very cheap (when I say cheap I mean a couple bucks if you buy it on sale). Even if it tears up after a few wears it was worth the purchase. So I ventured into Forever 21 and they have basically the same stuff they have in the US. I was excited until I looked at the price tag! So in the US you can find some really good deals like shirts for $5 or $8 and tank tops for $2.50. The cheapest shirt I saw that I liked was around $20! No real bargains. I was bummed. Most items of clothing averaged around $20 – $25. Okay I know that isn’t a lot, but I’m cheap LOL I don’t normally shop that much as it is and I am a bargain shopper. I mainly buy all my clothes on sale or at Marshall’s, Ross, TJMaxx, Target and the thrift stores (I am addicted to thrift store shopping especially for household goods and DIY projects).

They did have my size though, which I was worried about. I know I can go there if I want to buy a cute outfit; however, there are other stores that sell cute clothes as well for cheap.

Okay so the positive:

They have great jewelry just like in the US! Check out some of my purchases

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“I’ll Give You Good Price” – A Short Trip to Market! Market!

Ah Market! Market! So apparently this is the smaller/safer (no pick pocketing) version of the famous Green Hills where you can bargain and get good deals especially pearls.  Soon as you walk in  you see the stalls full of amazing jewelery!  The first vendor comes up to you and say’s “Yes ma’am. Fresh water pearls. I’ll give you good price. You can try on.” The first time this is kind of cute. After about 20 it gets rather annoying!  They say this at every single booth. Okay let me say that normally when you shop in the Philippines they say “yes ma’am” all the time at every store! But I swear at Market! Market! they all have the exact same line! 

 Besides pearls,  they also sell a lot of amazing coral too.  There are so many beautiful necklaces, earrings and bracelets! I will be buying a tremendous amount of gifts over my period of time here in the Philippines. I bought my first pair of pearl earrings that match my necklace that my friend gave me perfectly for 150 PHP ($3.50) that I just happened to be wearing at the time. I didn’t bring much money with me as I didn’t know we would be walking through  (I was on my one day orientation by the relocation/immigration company) there so I only bought the one pair of earrings. I do know that next time I need to have a budget as I can already see myself spending a ton of money! No pics, as again, I’m waiting on my upload cord for my camera. One week to go!!!!

You can also buy fresh produce and flowers at Market! Market!  My host bought a beautiful potted orchid that she had wrapped for around 620 pesos ($12.50). This actually didn’t seem that much of a discount as I can go to Costco in the US and buy a potted orchid for the same price.

Okay side note – I don’t know why, but I compare everything to US prices. Like everything should be cheaper. I know that isn’t the case, especially since I bought  Tabasco sauce for almost $10 when I could buy it in the states for $4 at one of my favorite stores Target, but it’s imported so I know it’s the price worth paying. 

Check out my first purchase of pearl earrings below. I believe these are South Sea Pearl earrings (found commonly in the Philippines):

I will definitely be taking a trip back to Market! Market! I didn’t even get to experience all of it. They looked like they had some great vendors including a guy where you buy coconut from and he will grind up the coconut right then and there. I will be going back just so I can try that!

TTT…

Batangas Trip

I will make sure not to bore you in this blog with work stuff. Plus, I’m in HR and most of the stuff is confidential anyways :), but I will mention little work bits here and there. After all, work is the whole reason I am here in the beautiful Philippines.

As you know I arrived in Manila on Saturday morning. I specifically rushed to get to Manila this past weekend so I could make it to this two-day offsite meeting for the group I will be supporting. It’s amazing to think that I was offered to take this assignment about mid December and here I am two months later already living in Manila! Crazy, but such is life! NEWho, we set off early Monday morning via Coasters (bus/van. Kind of like shuttle buses in the US) to Pico De Loro in Batangas (if you have read some of my earlier posts you know I went to Batangas during my business trip in January and never posted. Yes, that post is still to come). The ride up to Batangas was shorter than last time as it was on a Monday and not on the weekend. Pico De Loro Resort was beautiful! I don’t have many pics:

  1. I was working
  2. I left my USB cord to upload my pictures from my camera back in Cali so have to wait for the hubby to bring it when he comes. I searched all over Makati and apparently Fuji is not popular as I went to about 15 stores to try to find this darn cord and no luck. So I’m stuck with my trusty iPhone camera.
  3. iPhone cameras kinda suck, well sometimes. So I tend not to take too many pics with the camera so you’re kind of SOL for the next week and a half.

 

I do have to share that I had my first videoke experience. It took me a few hours to get the nerves up and a few less people (About 20. Our entire group consisted of about 60 people). When most people had gone to bed the group finally convinced me to sing. They took a ton of pictures so I’m sure I will have pics to share eventually.

So what was my first song you ask? What else then Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.” First of all I suck at knowing names of songs. Until I hear the song then I will be like “ohhhhh I know that song.” So I chose a classic. So lessons learned from my first videoke experience:

  • I suck at singing
  • I suck at singing
  • I suck at singing
  • Oh and I suck at singing

apparently in the Filipino culture they don’t care if you suck at singing. They just enjoy hearing the songs and enjoying the companionship of being with friends. My team was very supportive as they all sang and danced with me even as my voice cracked and basically ran out like I had been at a concert yelling at the top of my lungs for hours. I’m sure this is only the first of many videoke experiences here in the Philippines.

On our way back from Batangas we suddenly pulled over. I saw a uniformed guard pointing to the coasters and we all pulled off to the side. Everyone started talking in Tagalog really fast and were pulling out their phones. I’m thinking “oh crap, what is going on?! Are we all going to get hauled off the coaster and have our IDs checked? Am I going to jail already after only being in the Philippines for a few days?” Also there was a guy holding all these knives. I was really confused. Little did I know we were stopping at the famous Rowena’s Cafe in Tagaytay. The armed guard was just security for the cafe directing traffic, my co-workers were pulling out their phones to text and/or call people to see what they wanted and the guy holding all the knives was selling them LOL. Boy did I feel stupid. Luckily all those thoughts were just running through my head and the perplexion didn’t show on my face.

So apparently this is the place to stop off to get Rowena’s famous blueberry tarts and other sweets and snacks. It was a mad rush and when I walked in everyone was picking up sweets and already pushing to the counter to pay for their orders. I wish I would have taken a picture as it was an interesting sight. I was too amazed at what was going on to take a picture.

Instead of blueberry my eye went directly to the chocolate tarts (if you know me, then you know I love me some chocolate). Not thinking we still had about two hours to get back to Makati so by the time I got back home my chocolate tarts were kind of melted. I ate one of them and man was it good! I stuck the rest in the fridge and have been enjoying one every day since. Definitely will have to stop by there again for more goodies as there was a ton of sweets and snacks there that I will want to try.

Another adventure in the Philippines comes to an end. Until next time…

That’s Today’s Thoughts (TTT)

I’m Home Makati

So after a cheap suitcase that I had to return and buck up and buy the Samsonite and decreasing one of my suitcases by 30 pounds in order to make the 70 pound bag limit I made it to Manila! Check out just some of my products that I shipped even though I left a pile of stuff sitting on the bed back in Cali hoping the hubby can squeeze it in his luggage when he comes in two weeks or if they can cram it in the tiny carton they give us to ship air. The sight was rather hilarious as I would take a few items out the suitcase, zip it up then ask the hubby to step on the scale with the bag so that I could see if I was within the weight limit (I think he did this about 7 times). We tried putting the bag on the scale, but you couldn’t see the number so we just would minus his weight holding the bag to figure out how much it weighed. We were hoping our scale was right and luckily it was right on. At the airport my two bags made out at 69.2 and 69.7! Yayyyy us!

So after my 14 hour flight (Side Note – I watched two very random movies, Sex in the City 2 and Harry Potter: Order of the Phoenix LOL) with a stop in Guam in good ole’ business class (I heart business class) I landed in Manila and breezed through immigration and customs. I was picked up by the manager of the transportation company and my new driver Mackie at the airport. We headed to my new home The Ascott, which is a nice serviced apartment that sits on top of Glorietta 4, one of the malls. They booked me starting at check-in for that day, which should have really been the day before since I arrived at 5:45 AM! So the apartment wasn’t ready. They put me in a temporary apartment until 1 PM. At first I was irritated as I sat around most of the day cause I just wanted to get to my apartment and get settled in. When they called me to tell me my room was ready all my complaints went out the door. The apartment is on a high floor (as requested wih a great view) and the layout is a little larger then the one they showed me when I was here in January. Mainly the kitchen size is increased, which was one of the things I was worried about, but now it is the perfect size.

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After doing a bit of unpacking (I need to go buy hangers in order to really unpack) I ventured down to what else but the mall! I wandered around aimlessly, but ended up getting a mani and a serious pedi at Let’s Face It Salon (nail’s, facials, massages, scrubs, microdermabrasion, threading, etc.). When I say serious I mean one where I paid to have a callus gel mask and a foot special cause the bottom of my feet needed a lot of work. I used to get pedis back home in Cali only once every six months or so because any money to save for the remodel of the house is a dollar closer to it being finished. I was there for around 3 1/2 hours and it cost me about $22. Now that my feet are a lot smoother I can get a normal mani/pedi for only about $5 each time.

I kept wandering around and didn’t have any idea where I was. I ended up at one of the SM malls and bought some lechon paksiw (check out a description and recipe to cook it http://panlasangpinoy.com/2010/03/07/lechon-paksiw-recipe/)  and bread to eat for dinner. Luckily I found SM as I found the Forever 21! I didn’t go in, but was happy to see it as I was wondering where it was. Since I didn’t know where I was in the mall I decided to try outside. Boy was that a good idea because I was literally right around the corner from our apartment. Inside the malls confuse me, but soon as I get outside I know exactly where I am. I ended my first day home in Manila eating my Filipino meal looking at the Makati night scene. TTT…

Raphael, Lenny and Dave!

So on Valentine’s Day I ditched the hubby (I know I’m bad, but when did guys ever care about V-day?) and went to the Lenny Kravitz concert at the Fox Theatre in Oakland with my good buddy Ty. Her brother Chance plays for Raphael Saadiq so she got free tix and I was her date for the night 🙂

Raphael was amazing and her brother sang during one of the songs and man does he have some lungs! They put on a great show and were a great opener for Lenny.

We were in the V.I.P. section which was definitely a plus. Between sets of Raphael and Lenny I swore I saw a celebrity in V.I.P. but I shook it off and said no it’s not him. Later on in the show, Chance came over to talk to us and said “hey that’s Dave Chappelle!” No joke it was who I thought it was! Okay so if you have never seen the Dave Chappelle show you don’t know what you are missing. It is hilarious (kind of like Nick Cannon) Ha! Well you have to be ready for sketch comedy that isn’t necessarily PC so if you’re not into that don’t watch it. So back in the day my hubby would watch the Dave Chappelle show over and over again! It ended after only 3 seasons (well a partial 3rd season), but not because the show wasn’t popular, but because Dave needed to find himself I guess. Anyways, I knew my hubby would never let me live it down if I didn’t go say hi so I went up and introduced myself, he shook my hand and gave me a hug. I told him my hubby and I love him and then I said bye. Sorry folks no pics. I know Dave is a very private person. I so wanted to say one of his famous quotes. First one that came to mind was “I’m going to tell you something Joe Rogan that you might not know, I smoke rocks,” but I remember hearing a few years ago that he hates it when people quote his show. So I left it just that. I was excited to meet him because I’ve seen his show a bazillion times. His sketches of Rick James, Prince, Fear Factor, Wayne Brady are so funny. Well a lot of his sketches are funny, but those are just to name a few.

Okay and now on to Lenny! He is AMAZING! I don’t have much to say except he sounds just like he does on his cds. See the slide show for pics. I definitely have to add Lenny to my list of great concerts I have been to along with Adele, Prince, Alicia Keys and Maxwell!

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Though I did ditch the hubby on V-day he was very sweet to get me Cadbury eggs because he knows I love them and didn’t think I would get them in the Philippines. Thank you hubby for the gift! They were yummy! *drool*

TTT…

My Life Into Two Suitcases

How do you pack for six months? I have no idea! I’m frantic thinking about what I might forget.  I’m extremely worried about not having enough hair products or ingredients for my body scrub (I have been obsessed with making my own scrub for the past four months). I started packing this evening and ended up with 17 pairs of shoes. It is hard when trying to pack for work and pleasure. I need hiking shoes, water shoes, pumps, sandals and flip-flops! And that’s just the shoes! Ugh! If this is how my suitcase looks already I’m not sure if I will be able to fit in all the rest of my crap. Well time to stop complaining and try to pack the rest of my life up into two suitcases. Thats todays thoughts (TTT)!

Forever and a Day

Yes it’s been forever and a day since I posted. Lots has been going on. I started about three posts and never finished them due to a sudden change in plans. I promise I will still post them but, for now just wanted to let you know I am back in Cali, have been for awhile.

Now I am preparing to head back to the Philippines. The hubby and I have been going to appointment after appointment to prepare for our upcoming move. I still don’t have an exact date, but I’m planning for February 16th if all goes well and the hubby trailing about a week or so after. So much to do and so little time! Thought I would have time to have a little going away dinner or happy hour, but I seriously don’t think I will have enough time to fit it in. With immunization, medical/dental appointments, work, shopping, packing, house storage, visa requirements, etc. I am a bit overwhelmed.

I didn’t realize how much work it would be to be an expat even before you become one! Well at least we have our pets to cheer us up during this chaotic time. See our kitty in the pic below. I guess she thought it was too cold and decided to steal Bella’s tank and lay on the heating pad (hidden underneath the sand) and sunbathe under the heat lamp. Oh Kitty Meow Meow (that’s what I call her) 🙂