Watch Out Ocean Critters! Newly Certified PADI Open Water Diver Here!

Please, please you can stop clapping. Just kidding. The hubby and I got our Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Open Water Dive certification the first weekend in February in Anilao, Batangas, Philippines after:

  • Reading a 250 page manual and remember how not to get myself killed in the ocean
  • A few hours of classroom lecture
  • Four quizzes (10 questions on each quiz)
  • Final test (50 questions)
  • Float and/or tread water for 1o minutes
  • 30 laps in the pool
  • Four Confined water dives in the pool at Dive Buddies in Makati (consists of skills tests)
  • Four Ocean dives in Anilao (consists of skills tests)

So after all of the above what does obtaining a PADI Open Water Dive Certification mean? Well it basically means we are certified to go scuba diving without an instructor up to 60 feet deep. The certification is recognized globally and is good for life.

I never realized how AMAZING diving would be. It is literally like swimming in an aquarium. The beautiful fishes, coral, clams, ocean floor, etc. It’s hard to explain. You just have to experience it yourself. Check out some of the photos for a glimpse into how our experience was.

The Manual and Dive Log

The Manual and Dive Log

PADI

PADI

Before our confined water dive

Before our confined water dive

The pool at Dive Buddies in Makati

The pool at Dive Buddies in Makati

I think the barb wire is used to keep people from jumping over the fence and using the pool in the middle of the night. I hope :)

I think the barb wire is used to keep people from jumping over the fence and using the pool in the middle of the night. I hope 🙂

Our gear

Our gear

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Just got on the boat that will take us to Dive & Trek

Just got on the boat that will take us to Dive & Trek

On the way to Dive & Trek

On the way to Dive & Trek

Dive & Trek - Anilao, Batangas, Philippines (Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

Dive & Trek – Anilao, Batangas, Philippines (Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

Dive & Trek - Anilao, Batangas, Philippines (Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

Dive & Trek – Anilao, Batangas, Philippines (Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

Dive & Trek - Anilao, Batangas, Philippines (Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

Dive & Trek – Anilao, Batangas, Philippines (Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

Dive & Trek - Anilao, Batangas, Philippines (Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

Dive & Trek – Anilao, Batangas, Philippines (Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

Preparing for the ocean dive at Dive & Trek in Batangas, Philippines. (Photo Credi - Mich Calma)

Preparing for the ocean dive at Dive & Trek in Batangas, Philippines. (Photo Credi – Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

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(Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

Exhaling so I won't float to the top (Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

Exhaling so I won’t float to the top (Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

Me and the hubby (Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

Me and the hubby (Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

The hubby and I diving together (Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

The hubby and I diving together (Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

(Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

Parrot Fish Photo Bomb! (Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

Parrot Fish Photo Bomb! (Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

60 Feet Dive (Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

60 Feet Dive (Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

The hubbies ghetto wet suit with the hole (Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

The hubbies ghetto wet suit with the hole (Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

After the final dive on the way back to Dive & Trek (Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

After the final dive on the way back to Dive & Trek (Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

Me getting my temporary (it takes a few weeks to get the real one in the mail)  PADI Certification from my instructor Sean Calma (Photo Credit - Mich Calma)

Me getting my temporary (it takes a few weeks to get the real one in the mail) PADI Certification from my instructor Sean Calma (Photo Credit – Mich Calma)

The graduates!(Photo Credit: Mich Calma)

The graduates!
(Photo Credit: Mich Calma)

Thanks to Sean Calma, our instructor, and his wife Mich Calma, the photographer. Check them out if you are either in the Philippines or will be at either their website http://divers.ph or Facebook page or their https://www.facebook.com/divers.ph Sean is really good at responding quickly if you have questions.

To learn more about PADI and the different certifications you can visit their website:

http://www.padi.com/scuba/

~Today’s Thoughts…

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A Little Lacy Bit of Heaven

I actually have these socks on my Pinterest board and then came across them at the 66 PHP ($1.50 USD) Japanese store at Park Square. I was super excited to see they have pads right where I need them too! These are great for wearing around the house or even slipping some pumps over. Super excited about my socks! I know, little things make me happy. Think I’m going to have to go back and buy some more!

TOMS

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On my way home from work everyday I drive by the Greenbelt (high end malls in Makati). Today I noticed a large group of people walking. Then I realized they were all barefoot! Barefoot In Makati I thought! I only go barefoot at home, in a hotel, other people’s houses or on the beach. Never in the city! Then I noticed a sign that said “TOMS.” I myself don’t own a pair of TOMS, but I do know of the company and their mission. I think I first learned about TOMS when I saw my good friend Heidi sporting a pair of cute red ones. I researched the company when I saw her shoes and thought “how noble!”. If you don’t know about TOMS they are a company that sells shoes. Yeah I know retail. But that’s not all! For every pair of shoes you purchase they donate a brand new pair of shoes to children less fortunate. What a great company to exist in this world where we seem to not care about anyone else!

So today is a “Day Without Shoes,” which is an annual event sponsored by TOMS. I’m sure everyone reading this blog has a pair of shoes, even more pairs then we need. I for one can attest to this! This event is to remind everyone that we all aren’t as fortunate. There are so many people in this world without shoes. So go a day, an hour or even five minutes without shoes. Better yet, buy a pair of TOMS. I’m thinking about it!

TOMS Website

I am in no way affiliated with TOMS.

“You Haven’t Been to Manila Until You’ve Been to Greenhills!”

That is what everyone told me. I can’t say I’ve been to Manila until I have been to Greenhills. So I’ve lived in Makati for a little over a month now. Now I can officially say I’ve been to Manila because I’ve been to Greenhills. The famous shopping mall in Metro Manila where you can buy jewelery (especially pearls), Knockoff designer purses, shoes, clothes, phones, bootleg DVDs, etc. It is the place to stock up on souvenirs and gifts for all your friends and family back home.

http://www.greenhills.com.ph/

Greenhills is bargain central. Never pay the price that they first tell you. You always bargain. I had learned a few words in Tagalog that I thought would be useful on this trip.

Macano = How much?

Mahal (exaggerate the “hal”)= Too much

I still can’t remember discount LOL but I need to make sure that I learn that one for next time. My friend from work went with me for my first experience. She was able to speak to the vendors on my behalf even though I did use some of my Tagalog as well. When you speak Tagalog to the vendors they seem to give you a better deal. Also, the more you buy the bigger the discount 🙂

*Cultural Moment*

I bought a purse and was the first customer. In Filipino culture if you’re the first customer they see this as luck and for hopefully a good sales day for them. You often get a discount for being the first customer (I’m always down for a deal). When I gave the lady my money she took the money and touched it over the rest of her purses and rubbed the money all over her body. The hubby had told me he had read about this, but I thought it would only happen in the provinces. I guess my assumptions were incorrect.

It’s hard to describe the Greenhills shopping experience without being there and seeing it for yourself, but it is basically like a big indoor flea market. People beckoning for you to come buy their products and telling you they will give you a good deal. One lady said “you promised you would come back and buy from me” when I passed her shop. It was just like being in Tijuana 🙂

I realized I spent a crap load of money in a short amount of time as I saw so many things I liked. There were a few shops that I really liked that I will definitely shop at again. Let’s just hope I can find them in the maze of vendors that is Greenhills.

Since most of the items I purchased were gifts for friends and family that read this blog you only get a sneak preview of the items. I did take a picture of some jade bracelets I bought for myself though 🙂 

  

Expat = Rich…Ummm…No!

If only expat life was all peaches and roses. Most people think expats are living the high life getting an expat premium and tons of extra allowances to live in another country. Yes, I did get an expat assignment in a great country where most people speak English and I can find a ton of American brands, but expat life isn’t just a bowl of cherries. You have to get used to a whole new country, culture and a whole new life. Not only are you looked upon as a “foreigner” but they assume because you are a “foreigner” that you’re rich.

So my friends and family know that me and the hubby are not rich. We are simple folk and try to be frugal. We make our own compost, we rip a paper towel in half to share, we rarely go out to eat, we grow our own vegetables to save on money, I cut the hubby’s hair myself and use Groupon, LivingSocial or Restaurant.com when we want to do something extra special.

Living in the Philippines is definitely something to get used to as a lot of places many locals try to take advantage of us. Whether it’s charging more for a service than locals pay, trying to scam us on something like parking or expecting I want to pay an extra 20 PHP ($0.47) for imported nail polish. I may be splurging more than I would be back home, mainly on travel since when am I ever going to be living in Asia ever again?!? However, I’m still not going to fork out 3,000 PHP ($70) for a gym membership at my work or eat dinner out every night. I wish I had a ton of disposable income but we do have a mortgage back home, pets, and a house that’s in the middle of being remodeled.

So here’s to trying to be frugal on an expat assignment while still trying to enjoy all that the assignment has to offer! Let’s just hope we come home with more money then when we left!

Filipino Costco and Salcedo Market

S&R is basically Costco. Same exact set-up down to showing your membership card, having electronics in the front and pizza and other food items off to the side. I swear it is Costco! Even a lot of the same brands as the US including Kirkland.  They even have Grapeseed oil which, I asked a ton of people in Manila when I was last here if you could find it here and they didn’t know. Well there it is in good ole S&R. I wish I would have known that before I lugged a bunch of it in my suitcase. Oh well! I signed up immediately and when the hubby came into town we added him on to the membership (700 PHP for membership and 400 PHP for additional member).  The first time I went, I went down basically every aisle. After I left I realized I bought mainly beverages LOL not sure, but I think I was thirsty. I heard you’re not supposed to go shopping when you’re hungry, but I guess that also applies to if your thirsty.

So I realize that a lot of the food here doesn’t have preservatives in it so you have to eat it extremely fast. The hubby and I bought some chicken and beef and about a few days later it started to go bad.  This means when we buy food we have to eat it immediately or within one or two days or else it’s a waste.

Overall S&R is okay. They sell a lot of stuff individually instead of in packs like at Costco. Overall I don’t think the price is as cheap as I would like, but it is a place to get some brands that aren’t as common here in the Philippines like Pop Chips or Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce. YUM! I’m sure we’ll be taking monthly trips to S&R, but I won’t be buying as much as I normally would in the US.

Salcedo Market is a small market held on the weekends at a park in Salcedo Village. It has local vendors selling food to eat, seafood, veggies, fruits, sauces, plants, baskets, bread, etc. I like the market because you can find organic fruits and veggies there. I even found a guy from America selling Spirulina (okay another thing that I lugged tons of bottles in my suitcase). Again, it is small so only good for a place to stop really quick and stock up on fruits and veggies and maybe get a quick bite to eat. I did buy a beautiful orchid there that I love! I found some great items that I was surprised to see and will go back again.

*Best Finds:

Purchased at Salcedo Market

Homemade Jasmine Essential Oil 135 PHP ($ 3.16)

½ Kilo (about 1 pound) Fresh Shrimp 170 PHP ($3.98) Okay not sure I this is a good deal but it was for me!

Fresh organic Veggies $3.27

Purchased at S&R

Raw Sugar 83 PHP ($1.94)

*My definition of Best Finds: Great product that is reasonably priced compared to what I can get it for in Cali and/or just something I really like J Hey it’s my definition!

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