February 29, 2012

I love Dubai's Souk Madinat Jumeirah

We stayed in Dubai for only three days. But with that short span of time, I can safely say I love Dubai! And I especially love Souk Madinat Jumeirah.

We were brought there by my high school classmates who are based in Dubai. I have no idea what Souk Madinat was. We were just following their lead.

I was absolutely pleased they brought us there. I just love the vibe of the place. Souk Madinat Jumeirah is a combination of a lot of things. It's one of those lifestyle places you'd want to visit and hang out all day long. There's the traditional Arabian souk, modern restaurants, souvenirs, cafes, and bars.

I am just sad that we were not able to stay for a long time as we were slated to visit another place that day. I promised myself, we will visit Dubai again. But my husband said he'd rather go to Turkey. Well, he can have his cheap turkey holiday while I go have my Dubai love affair. Haha. Just kidding!

With my high school classmates
My very hospitable classmates who are based in UAE. Thanks Cathy, AN, Gang, Elvie and Hadz (not in pic). You really made our stay fun and memorable.

Souk Madinat
I would love to ride that boat!

Souk Madinat 2
An early weekend breakfast here sounds perfect!

Souk Madinat 3
About to check the shopping alley

Souvenir shopping at Souk Madinat
Souvenir shopping with my high school friends

Souk Madinat 4
Just finished shopping for ref magnets

Souk Madinat with Burj Al Arab as background
Burj Al Arab at the background

Our Dubai trip was really a whirlwind trip. If I can rewind time, I would like to stay in Dubai for a minimum of one week. We weren't even able to go up Burj Khalifa because we woke up late. But that's for another story.

Beware of Craigslist Scammers

If you are an apartment or a condominium renter, please beware of this email address: naturele.monique@gmail.com. She/He uses the name Laurence Poulet, Monique Poulet, Denise Poulet or Laurence Monique Poulet. That's what her/his email says anyway.

I had an email exchange from this person who "wanted" to rent our condominium in Boni, Mandaluyong City.

In the beginning, I did not have any doubts. She/He sounded legitimate. But after a few email exchanges, I had my doubts. She/He was eager to pay the rent right away without even asking much information about our condominium.

Here are her messages to me. I copied it as it is. She's not fond of using greetings or salutations.

"I am highly interested in renting this from you (referring to the ads from craigslist) so I want to know if it is still available for rent. If yes, send me more pictures of it."

I replied that it was still available and I sent her pictures. Her reply..

"Thanks for getting back to me, i am willing to rent the apartment and i am at sea at the moment as i am a Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) employee in Canada but i got transfer to work and study part time down there but due to the nature of my work, phone calls making and visiting of website are restricted. I only squeezed out time to check this advert and send you an email regarding this apartment. i am ready to rent it asap so tell me how much is the rent per month and how much deposit do i have to pay."

I asked her some questions like start of rent, how long is the contract. Her reply...

"I want to start the rent on March 20th
I want to rent for 1 year or more
Yes. I will need the parking space for one car
OK. Send me the contract online so I can read and sign"


At this point, she still sounded legitimate. I quoted her the monthly rent (Php26,000). Her reply..

"am satisfied with the cost and am willing to pay for it via paypal to send me your paypal information for me to make the payment or go to www.paypal.com to create a free PayPal account if you do not have PayPal account already.
Send me the total amount to pay now. (rent + deposit)"

After this email, I got a little suspicious. She wanted to pay the whole amount (deposit and advances which is about $1850+) through paypal? I already have a paypal address so I did not click the link she gave me. And like I said, I was already suspicious. So anyway, I still went on and asked for some personal information like her full name, address and ID/passport number for the draft contract I was making. Her reply...

"I attached my passport copy here for you. I want you to send me a copy of your own ID back here."

I was surprised she gave a copy of her passport. Here's the copy she sent me.

Her full name on the passport reads: Laurence Monique Denise Poulet. What a long name! If this is not her own passport, I apologize. I am just posting the one Monique Poulet (or whoever she/he is) sent me.

Anyway, I thought...she trusted me already? She must be trustworthy as well (yeah, stupid reasoning!). So, I also scanned a copy of my passport and sent it to her together with the draft contract. I only realized later on, what a stupid thing I did. Now she has a copy of my personal information! Silly, silly me!!! The scammer replied twice...

"i have appended my signature in the contract. now i want you to send it back to me with your signature"

"OK. I will transfer the payment as soon as I get on a computer and I will send you email after the transfer is completed. In the meantime, i want you to send me the full address of the house so I can give it to the Removal Company to calculate the cost of moving my things down there."

Wow! I thought, is she really serious about renting the unit? But at the same time, my suspicions came back...Isn't she on a computer already? She has just replied to me and even if she says she's just using her mobile, she still could log on to paypal, right? So I thought of googling her email address. I also told hubby about my doubts. He told me to compare the signatures on the contract "Monique" sent me and the signature on "her" passport.

Signature on the passport

Signature on the contract

Voila! Totally different signatures! But I don't know why I still replied with: "I received the signed contract already. But I noticed a discrepancy with your signature in the passport and the one in the contract. Please let me know which is the correct one before I send it back again with my signature. Thank you."

Before she could reply, I already googled her email address and I found this from scam.com thread. I copied this one from one of the commenter there:

"One day later I receive this message from:
naturele.monique@gmail.com

Hello,
Thanks for getting back to me, i am willing to rent the apartment and i am at sea at the moment as i am a Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) employee in Canada but i got transfer to work and study part time down there but due to the nature of my work, phone calls making and visiting of website are restricted. I only squeezed out time to check this advert and send you an email regarding this apartment. i am ready to rent it asap so tell me how much is the rent per month and how much deposit do i have to pay.


Very soon new mesage comes, where I am asked to set PayPal account.

For me no doubt it's FRAUD. Just for you guys to see email addresses."

For a complete conversation on the thread, please visit this link: http://www.scam.com/showthread.php?p=1142445

Monique replied right away with some lame excuse...

"I didnt even think about it. The signature in the passport was my old signature. We all were instructed to change both our signatures and password when we got cyber attack from groups of hackers. The signature I sent is the current and correct one."
To get the conversation rolling, I replied with: "Okay. I was just concerned because, for notary purposes in the Philippines, we attach the passports of both parties in the contract.
I will send you the contract with my signature later because my printer has ran out of ink."

She replied after a minute...

"Ok. I can understand. You can send it online if you have a copy of your signature in your computer or your email."

After this last message from her, I did not reply anymore. I knew already that she's scammer. I got two proofs. The signature and the one I found from the thread. I immediately changed the passwords on all my accounts.

Today, I received an email from her. She said..

"Hello,
I was just about to pay when i have this problem with the moving and shipping company, the shipping company says i will need to pay for the moving before they can ship my items, they charge me p25000 for pick up and delivery, and payments for Mover agent will be made to the corporate international headquarter in Spain. The payment is to be made through western union money transfer. I will add p25000 tomy rent deposit that i will transfer to your paypal account which you will help me to send to their corporate headquarters in Spain. I will send the funds through paypal transfer andI will email you to let you know when i am through with the payment. This can be done by visiting western union office near you office cos there is always western union office nearby, I will also include p5000 for the western union money transfer commission . I would have done it myself but i am not with enough cash here but i can transfer it from my paypal account because it is attached to my bank account.....I will appreciate your cooperation here."


So there you go. After this email, I did not reply her/him anymore. And I changed the password on all my accounts.

But my worry now is that she might use my passport and steal my identity online. I hope and pray she won't.

I have learned my lesson. Never give out your personal details and important information to people you don't know and are only dealing through the internet.

Here's a simple tip: When in doubt, google everything. You'll be thankful you did.

Hope this post helps someone, somewhere, somehow.

Secret Tips for Traveling Around London

London, as per most major capitals around the world has an extensive selection of fantastic food halls, markets and restaurants to satisfy a wide variety of tastes. Whether to you want top class fish and chips, to the finest French cuisine, there will be a place to suit. Below, we will highlight some of the more quirky eateries in town.

Enchanting Eateries

Meat Liquor – a new ‘pop up’ restaurant venture from the creators of ‘The Meatwagon’ and #meateasy hashtag are a purveyor of excellent American style burgers, chilli cheese fries, deep fried pickles and cocktails. Arrive early to avoid the notorious queues, as the restaurant has a strict ‘no reservations allowed’ policy.

For something a little more personal, why not try James Ramsden’s ‘Secret Larder’ supper club, which is ran fortnightly in his North London home. Established with his sister, Mary, this event happens every other Thursday night with a range of hearty home cooking, wine and music. Guests can stay as long as they want in the evening, making it a relaxed and intriguing affair.


Dans le Noir

For something more sensory, why not try Dans le Noir on Clerkenwell road – the restaurant which serves its diners in complete darkness. Once in the main dining area, you will eat, drink and socialise with no lighting to guide you, allowing your taste and smell receptors to do the work for you.


Travel Ideas

In order to facilitate your various trips around London, we also should consider a few of the best travel tips.

Why not take a trip down the Thames on a Thames Clipper. One of the very best views of London is from the river and this water-bound taxi has unlimited usage for £8 per day. The boat runs from Millbank (Tate Britain) to the O2 music arena at Greenwich, stopping at all the usual sights, such as the London Eye or the Globe theatre.

For those looking to watch their spending, why not take the number 11 bus around central London, rather than the expensive tourist bus companies. While you may not get the commentary along with the ride, you will save around £15-20 per person whilst taking in the sights of Ludgate Hill, St Paul's, the Bank of England, Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Victoria Street, the Strand and more.

An extra tip would be to buy an ‘Oyster’ card from the TFL website and add some credit to it for your travels. Oyster card bus journeys cost £1.35 per fare, compared with a cash single fare of £2.30 – A considerable saving if you are taking multiple journeys in one day. This also comes with a daily cap of £4.20, meaning you will never be charged more than that in any single day regardless of the number of journeys you make.


Oyster card

These savings also apply to tube journeys, with an oyster fare costing just £2-2.70 in zone 1-2 compared with £4.30 for a single cash fare. Where possible, it is almost always cheaper to use an Oyster card.


~~~

This post was written by Scott Wood from onefinestay. Visit onefinestay.com for luxury vacation rentals in Central London.

February 28, 2012

Doctor Visit

We went to the doctor early this morning because hubby and EJ are both sick. Last night EJ had a terrible non-stop coughing episode. He probably only slept for a total of one hour. And hubby and I couldn't sleep as well. You just couldn't with a sick boy around.

If only I could take EJ's place! My heart really broke into pieces last night. I saw how he struggled and how badly he wanted to sleep but he never complained. Not even once and he never whined. I am so proud of him.

So this morning, we went to a Filipino doctor's clinic here.


Waiting for the doctor to arrive


The secretary said the appointment book was full and I needed to call first. But I guess she took pity on EJ who was still coughing that time. She put us in the first appointment of the day.

Hubby is a little better now. He said he can probably go back to work tomorrow. He still has cold but he said he could manage.

EJ was able to take a short nap this afternoon. He's still coughing and is still feverish so I am hoping he can sleep peacefully tonight. He needs his rest and energy back. God bless him.

I need my sleep tonight too. I survived today without sleep and I was expecting a migraine. But thank God, I was spared.

Hoping tomorrow will be a better day for all of us.

February 27, 2012

Resto in Phnom Penh: Pangea @ Naga World

We really never learn, hubby and I. We've promised ourselves that we will only eat in buffet restaurants once a month. Aside from it being expensive, it's also a danger to our "diet".

But last Friday night, we went to Nagaworld's Pangea restaurant. It's an International Buffet restaurant and every Friday they have a barbecue.

When we were there, we said we will only eat the barbecue and some sushi. But well, you know what happens when you're surrounded by food. We over ate again. Ugh!

The buffet costs $30++/person and $39++ with unlimited wine. Hubby and I both had wine. Another ugh! I had three glasses of wine that night.

Pangea Restaurant is located at the second floor of NagaWorld Hotel.


{Salads}



{Seafood cocktail}



{Sushi. I wish they had sashimi though.}



{Grilled prawn and fish}



{Grilled fish ball and sea crabs}



{Lamb and duck}



{Chocolate fountain}



{My third glass of wine}


We had eaten here before and was surprised how they have changed the whole menu. The buffet selection before was quite boring. But now, they almost have everything you want in a buffet.

It seemed the whole restaurant was a smoking area. That was a turn off. We liked their new buffet menu but I don't think we're coming back again if the restaurant is still a smoking place.

Paris: Beautiful Jardin du Luxembourg

One of the beautiful spots we've been to in Paris was without question the Jardin du Luxembourg. It was just so beautiful even at Fall. I think it will even be prettier at Spring.

Jardin du Luxembourg is located in the 6th arrondissement, near the Sorbonne University. We were fortunate that this park is just walking distance from Holiday Inn Notre Dame, where we were staying.

Well, a lot of attractions are close by Notre Dame area actually. So we were really lucky to have chosen the perfect area to stay in Paris and just have to walk to everything.

However, if you are with a group of people or a large family travelling, I suggest you get a car hire in France. It's going to be cheaper and not to mention very convenient when you move from one area to another.

Anyway, here are some of the pictures that we took of Jardin du Luxembourg:

Jardin du Luxembourg 1
This is the point of entrance for us.

Jardin du Luxembourg 2
I just love how the trees' trunks are so pitch black.

Jardin du Luxembourg 3
Beautiful potted flowers!

Jardin du Luxembourg 4
Another angle. It's just so pretty!

Jardin du Luxembourg 7
Palais du Luxembourg. It served as the headquarters of the Luftwaffe during the Second World War. Now, the building currently houses the French Senate.

Jardin du Luxembourg 5
Our family picture. Look how cute our boy is!

Jardin du Luxembourg 6
The fountain in the middle of the pool/pond.

Jardin du Luxembourg 8
This has got to be the most beautiful shot of the batch. My husband perfectly captured the mood. Somber but pretty.

Jardin du Luxembourg 9
One of the statues inside.

Jardin du Luxembourg 10
Another one. Unfortunately, we did not see the original model of the Statue of Liberty which is inside the park. I guess we will see it some other time.

I hope.

February 23, 2012

Cruises

Have you been on a Cruise? How about Med Cruises or Mediterranean Cruises?

I used to think only "old" and filthy rich people go on a Cruise. I don't know why I had that way of thinking. It must have been what I heard or what I've seen in the movies or television. But yes, that's how I imagined people who are on a Cruise until I met some of the passengers of a cruise liner when I was still working in a hotel in the Maldives.

In that particular liner, they had all kinds of passengers - couple on their honeymoon, families with young children, families with older children, middle-aged couple, and old people.

I was surprised to find out that "younger" people are already cruising because I also had this misconception that cruising is for people who just want to lounge all day on the deck. I was wrong. Cruising is actually a lot of fun!

From that day onwards, I started googling and reading more about cruises.

There are actually so many cruises to choose from - family cruise, winter holiday cruise, asian cruise, summer cruise, european cruise, themed cruises, etc, etc. You name it, they have it!

What I am keen to join someday is the world cruise. Yes, it is pretty ambitious of me. But if you can dream, then dream big! I don't see anything wrong with it.

Hubby and I have actually talked about this already. We would like to do this once our son has graduated from college. A sort of a graduation gift for him and for both hubby and I.

It is still a long way from now. But that is fine. It gives us plenty of time to save for the big day. It should be fun and exciting!

White Belt

It is Thursday and that means EJ has Taekwondo class in the afternoon. I already made sure that I won't forget to bring his belt. Last week I did and I got into trouble with him.

He was mad at me. LOL! Well, only for a while.

I am glad that he has continued this afternoon class. He did not like it at first. Maybe because he did not know anyone at the beginning of the class. But now, there are about five boys from his class. So he's at home.

~~

Hubby has a business lunch so I am alone for lunch today. I was thinking of going out for a little shopping or just some "me" time but I will just be spending unnecessarily so I decided to just stay home and window shop online. I think it's a better alternative. LOL!

I needed to look at anniversary rings anyway. Hubby said we should change our wedding rings. Mine is already too loose. If I lose more weight, I don't think I could wear my wedding ring on my finger anymore (was thinking of making it a pendant though).

I saw this one and I am in love with it.

It's a sapphire and diamond ring. I love the fact that it's also affordable at $395.

~~

Can you believe it that we've got one more week left of February? It's going to be March soon! Wow! I am just amazed how fast it's been since the beginning of this year.

But fast or slow, I am always grateful for every day, for the chance to love, grow, share and learn. Everyday is a blessing. Let's enjoy today for tomorrow will come soon enough.

Have a great day, blogosphere!

February 22, 2012

Tokyo Disneyland, See You!

We have been to two Disneyland - Hongkong and Paris.

Hongkong Disneyland_1
We first visited Hongkong Disneyland last January 2010 and again on February 2011.

Hongkong Disneyland_2
Hongkong Disneyland, with Mickey and Minnie

Paris Disneyland_1
We went to Paris Disneyland November of last year.

Paris Disneyland_2
Paris Disneyland, with Mickey and Duffy

We're hoping and praying we can visit another one before this year ends. We're thinking of Tokyo Disneyland.

I think this year is the right time to visit Tokyo. We all know that Tokyo is a very expensive city. But after the recent tsunami, things have changed. Hotel accommodation and flight tickets have gone down a bit. So we're going to take advantage of it.

Disneyland is of course for my son. But this visit to Tokyo will mainly be for me. I know that sounds selfish but I have long been dreaming of visiting Japan.

I am fan of Japanese food. I am intrigued by their culture - old and the new generation. I love almost anything that comes from Japan. And oh, I love Japanese fashion too.

Japan is one of my must visit place. So I am very excited about this trip in the making.

Lunches at Home

You ask, what's in a plate of someone trying to lose weight and stay healthy? You might imagine the food to be so bland, don't you? I thought so before.

Well, I am no chef but I try to make our lunches as fun and tasty as possible. And we always, always have two kinds of fruits on the side - our healthy dessert.

Here are some of our lunches this week:

Sauteed pork chop, tomato and kamote (or sweet potato) as our substitute for rice

Giniling (Stir fried ground pork with capsicum and carrots), saging na saba (grilled banana), and cucumber

Eel rice toppings with tomato, cucumber and seaweed.

Our fruit basket is always full. We do consume a large amount of fruits lately. And we always have papaya (not in the picture) because hubby has come to love it (he doesn't like it before).

I am happy with my current weight and I feel I have more energy than before. Hubby has lost considerable amount of weight also but he's still trying to lose a couple or more.

We're hoping this become a lifestyle - eating healthy and living healthy.

February 19, 2012

Beautiful Day

Yesterday was a beautiful day!

We started our day by going to the guitar stores along Monivong Street to look for a new guitar for hubby. He wants to buy a second guitar, sort of a back-up. He said he can never have enough guitars.

~~~

After that, we went to Street 143 for my turn of a little shoe shopping. Well, I was actually there to pick up sandals. Two weeks ago, I brought my old Charles & Keith and Steve Madden sandals to Beautiful Shoes and had it copied. Beautiful Shoes makes custom-made shoes, belts and bags and they can replicate your old shoes.

They charged me $17 for copying my Charles & Keith. And $10 for my Steve Madden (I asked them to use the sole because it was still in good shape). You get to choose the kind of leather you want to use and two weeks after, voila! You get your new pair!

My favorite Charles & Keith is new again!

Excited to wear it!

I am pretty pleased with their service. Hubby was jealous. He said he'll also have a pair of sandals and office shoes made. LOL!

I am planning to go there with a picture of a bag I want copied. I already have one in mind. Exciting!


Beautiful Shoes
#138 Street 143
Sangkat Boeung Keng Kang 3
Phnom Penh

Telephone Numbers
023-214669
012-848438

~~~

Lunch was at Orchidee - a new Khmer restaurant we found in Street 51 corner Street 208.

I like the ambience and their free wifi was fast. The food was okay but they are pricier than the other Khmer restaurants we've been too.

~~~

After lunch, we went to buy my new Macbook Air. Yup, I have a new toy. I sold my iPad2 because I hardly use it and then used the money to buy for my new baby. I am so happy I did that. I need a new laptop anyway as my old Compaq is near dying. But I am hoping I can still sell it so I won't feel too guilty about buying this new Macbook Air. LOL!

Then it was grocery afterwards. We also dropped by Filmart for our dose of Filipino products. I was so happy to find Shamrock Otap from Cebu. Hubby bought turones de kasoy and piaya.

It was an errand day alright but it did not feel like it. It's always fun to do everything together as a family. Indeed, it was a beautiful day yesterday!

February 16, 2012

Dubai: The Lost Chambers Atlantis

During the last leg of our holidays last November, we had a quick tour of The Lost Chambers in Atlantis The Palm.

My highschool classmates brought us to Atlantis The Palm. Originally, the plan was just to go around. But when we were there already, my son wanted to go inside The Lost Chambers. And I thought it was a good idea to also see what is inside.

Here's a very interesting story about Atlantis and The Lost Chambers which I got from their brochure and website:

"The first recorded papers about the City of Atlantis were written by the renowned Greek philosopher, Plato, in his dialogues Timaeus and Critias around 360 B.C.

In it Plato describes an incomparably beautiful land, a highly advanced culture and an unusually well educated population.

As we know today, the continent of Atlantis disappeared into the ocean. Although the reasons for this cataclysmic event are not clear, scientists generally believe that an earthquake related to a gigantic underwater volcanic eruption caused a flood of huge proportions which inundated the land, destroying almost everything. The sea level rose and so Atlantis sank beneath the waves. All the remains of the legendary City of Atlantis are Plato's dialogues, conjecture and The Lost Chambers...

During the construction of the resort, a complex series of passages was uncovered, thought to have been buried thousands of years ago by the waters of the Arabian Gulf. Upon further investigation, an ancient street system was discovered and the theory came into being that these were in fact remains from the Lost City of Atlantis."

Lost Chambers_1

Lost Chambers_2

Lost Chambers_3

Lost Chambers_4

Lost Chambers_5

Lost Chambers_6



Lost Chambers_7

The Lost Chambers is small compared to other cities' aquarium. But it's different and unique because it does not only display 65,000 marine animals but it tells a story of a lost civilization.

We did enjoy the short tour. And it was a bonus to chance upon the feeding, which our son has thoroughly enjoyed watching.

The Lost Chambers Ticket:
Adult - 100AED
Kid - 70AED

Opening Hours:
Open daily 10:00am - 10:00pm