November 26, 2013

I Have Learned Lately

1. Taking a long time to make the right decision is almost equivalent to making the wrong one.
I took a long time to book our hotel in New York because I wanted to stay in a nice hotel with a nice price. Who was I kidding? It's New York and it's Christmas! I was waiting for an excellent deal from travel sites that never came up. In the end, I had to choose between a not so nice hotel with a pocket-friendly rate  and a nice hotel with a heavy on the pocket rate. When I think about it, I shudder at the many hours I spent in front of my laptop looking for the special deal. Sigh.

2. A cough is not just a cough.
We had to go to Manila two weeks ago because EJ wasn't getting better here in Phnom Penh despite seeing two different doctors. He was actually getting worse (high fever, couldn't sleep through the night, nose bleeding).

We went to his pedia and it turns out EJ has persistent allergic rhinitis. He's okay now and we're back in Phnom Penh.

Sometimes, we may think a cough is just that. We even self-medicate sometimes. But we shouldn't do that. Allergic Rhinitis, according to EJ's pedia is also called pre-asthma. It can become asthma if it's not treated soon enough.

3. Material things lose value, invest in the intangibles (travel, relationships..)
I have a couple of luxury bags. Now, I want to sell them because I don't use them anymore (actually I never use them often). But welcome to the hard truth: I bought one bag for over a thousand dollars and somebody offered to buy it for only a couple of hundred dollars. Ouch!

4. No job is too small for anyone. 
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with the many everyday small things. But to get through the day, I just imagine I am Aung San Suu Kyi. Why? I read a story (or someone told me) about her, when she was still living in the UK, she irons everything even her husband's socks.

It's not about what you do, it's about how you do it.

~~~

I guess, I miss blogging after all. LOL!

October 29, 2013

On Hiatus

Hello blog world! It's been a while again.

So, what's keeping me from blogging and bloghopping? Well,  I could say I am busy researching about our Christmas trip to NYC. Or that, I am busy keeping up with the errands after our Bangkok trip. Or that, I am busy taking care of EJ because he has been coughing for almost a month now despite changing doctors and meds.

I could go on and on and make a long list of excuses why I am not blogging again but truth is, I just don't have the enthusiasm to blog anymore these days.

I don't know.

Maybe I'll write again next month. Maybe not. I really don't know.

For now, this blog is on temporary hiatus until I decide otherwise.

Thanks for reading and hopefully I'll find time to visit blogs this week.

October 1, 2013

Our Experience: US Tourist Visa Application Process in Phnom Penh

I've heard not so nice experiences from other Filipinos when it comes to US Tourist Visa application. While those stories did not stop me from applying our visas, they did make me anxious about our application. And to be honest, I did not want to spend $160/person non-refundable visa fee for nothing. That's a lot of buffet dinners already. LOL!

I am not sure if the US Visa application process in Phnom Penh is the same in Manila or any other cities in the world but I found out that the process here wasn't as tedious as I expected/imagined.

US Visa Requirements:
1. Passport with at least two blank consecutive pages and is valid for at least six months from date of travel
2. Application Confirmation Page (online)
3. Appointment Confirmation Letter (online)
4. 1 Natural Color Photo ID with White Background(5cmx5cm)
5. Non-refundable Visa Fee $160/person
6. Supporting Documents

For our supporting documents, I prepared:
1. Birth Certificate
2. Marriage Certificate
3. Hubby's Certificate of Employment
4. Hubby's Payslips (past 6 months)
5. Certificate of Health Insurance for the three of us

The application form can be accessed through the US Embassy in Cambodia website. After submitting the form, you will then have to schedule your visa appointment which is also online.

We submitted our application on a Friday and chose Tuesday (7:30am) the following week for our visa appointment.

We arrived early for our appointment. I think we were there before 7am. Since, we had an early morning appointment we did not have any breakfast yet. I thought we'd be finished in less than an hour. I was wrong. We stayed for more than a couple of hours for several instructions/processes:
1. Get a number.
2. When number is called, submit passport, photo ID, application confirmation page and appointment confirmation letter.
3. Pay the visa fee.
4. Wait for number to be called again for fingerprinting.
5. Wait for number to be called again for interview.

The interview itself was short and fast. We were asked: which city in US are you going to visit? do you know anybody in the US? which countries have you visited before? how long have you been here in cambodia? from which city are you in the Philippines? what's your work?

Then the interviewer asked to see hubby's certificate of employment. After checking the letter, he said "You're set. Your visa is approved and you can pick up your passports after two days."

EJ's US Visa

I am happy because we were given a 10-year multiple entry visa. Yay!

For more information about the visa application, please visit the US Embassy in Cambodia website {http://cambodia.usembassy.gov}.

September 26, 2013

Our US Visa is Approved

This made me smile today...

We just got back from picking up our passports at the US Embassy. We were given a 10-year multiple entry visa to the US. Yay!

We applied last Tuesday and we were told our visa was approved. We just did not know if we'd get a single entry or multiple entry visa. We were really praying for a 10-year multiple entry visa. US visa fee is a bit expensive, y'know? :)

It's all set (at least for now). We're going to spend Christmas in New York City. I hope and pray it snows during our stay there. EJ wants to make a snowman.

I read that it does not always snow during Christmas in New York (but in the movies, it does hehe). They usually get their snow in January and February. But one can never tell. So please, please let it snow when we are there. LOL!

I'll write a separate post on how to apply for a non-immigrant (tourism) US visa here in Phnom Penh and our interview experience.



September 25, 2013

Solibao Restaurant (Heritage Mansion)

Nobody recommended Solibao restaurant when we were in Baguio. Most of our friends and family recommended Cafe by the Ruins, Mario's and Hill Station. We discovered Solibao on our own.

To be honest, I wouldn't go to Solibao based on their menu. They serve all-Filipino food, which I had enough of already back in Manila. But Solibao has good reviews in almost every restaurant review/guide that I read. So I gave in.

I am happy I did.

According to their website, Solibao has been serving fine Filipino food since 1972. They have five branches in Baguio. We visited the one in Heritage Mansion.



The restaurant was not busy when we arrived. Probably because it was only 5:30pm when we got there, definitely not dinner time yet.

{As usual, EJ was not in the mood for picture taking}

{Buttered Chicken}

This was good. It was crispy and tasty. We were not able to finish this only because this came in late and we were already full.

{Sinigang na Bangus Belly}

I love this too. Just the right sourness and generous serving of veggies and bangus belly. 

{Ihaw-Ihaw Delight}

This was so-so. It felt like they had grilled this earlier and just reheated it. The pusit did not taste fresh as well.

{Puto Bumbong}

This was the best puto bumbong I've ever tasted! That's muscovado sugar with butter and grated coconut. The following day, I ordered this again in their Session road branch. It was still as good as the one I had the night before.

For me, Solibao should not be missed when one is visiting Baguio. I also suggest you visit the Heritage Mansion branch. The place felt authentic compared to a commercialized Session road branch. 

Solibao Restaurant – Heritage Mansion
Kisad Road, Abanao Extension
Baguio City, Philippines 2600
Tel. No.: 074.448.3815

September 21, 2013

EJ's Post 7th Birthday

I've mentioned in this blog that EJ was having a post birthday party together with his classmates and some friends. I had no intention of doing anything except booking his party at Monkey Business and let them handle everything. Unfortunately, their host was not available.

So hubby and I were forced to become party hosts. We then decided we'll add more than games to the party. That's where the minecraft theme came in.

Since all of his friends and classmates are into minecraft, we decided we'll have games related to the famous game.

I made a Creeper party hat. Hubby made Steve's head and a Creeper piñata. I was also in-charge of the party giveaways and prizes but I had no more time to make any of the minecraft character. So the giveaways were just put in plain blue paper bags and prizes were just wrapped in blue paper.

EJ and the minecraft pig. We used this for our "tail the pig" game.

EJ and the minecraft torch which was used to hit the piñata.

Monkey Business party room

EJ and his early guests

It's all boys! We also invited his girl classmates but not one was available.

Aside from tail the pig game we also had balloon race and mine (find) the gold (coins) around the party room.

After the games, we served the food. Menu from the package I booked included sausage, mini pizza, fish fillet, french fries and  chicken nuggets. Water and orange juice were unlimited.

I ordered a minecraft cake from Bloom Cafe. It looked pretty cute and looked like the cake in the game.

What's your birthday wish babe?

Happy birthday, EJ! Mom and Dad will always be here for you. We wish you nothing but good health and happiness always. We love you so much.

After we distributed the lootbags, the kids were in a hurry to go and play outside. 




EJ said he had an awesome time. Hubby and I were happy because that was our goal. Even though hubby and I had late nights making the props for the party, it was all worth it. Bringing smile to kids, especially to EJ was worth all the work and the voice which I almost lost at the end of the party. Haha!

September 18, 2013

The Art of Labeling

I've never been a creative person. I admit that. But there are times when a creative idea pops out of my head and I think yes, I am creative after all! Nah, I am just hallucinating.

I've come across many people who are very creative. They are probably born creative or have been developed by time, circumstances, their surrounding or a combination of many things.

I have no reason to be jealous or be pissed with someone's creativity. In fact, I am in awe of those people who can think out of the box, or inside the box with a twist. My problem is with those people who can "creatively" label people. There is nothing wrong with labeling people. But when you use it in a derogatory way, a condescending way or simply to make fun of people, that is totally off.

My classic example is "Hey you're fat!" This for me is okay, but when you say "Hey, fatso!" that's a different story. You are already labeling that person and that label is in no way being nice. If you are talking to someone you are close (like your stomachs are basically attached to each other) with, that is probably okay but not with someone you barely know.

What's my point and where did this come from?

I've seen and heard an adult saying some of those derogatory labels to a kid. It's not nice. It simply is not!

And my point is, people should be kind to each other. We probably would be living in a much nicer and happier place if people are kinder to each other. I am tired of this dog-eat-dog world, crab mentality and other negative things people do.

That's all. I thank you.

~~~

On another note, I am excited to go to Bangkok next week. We have a  5-day holiday (YAY!) here in Cambodia and we're taking a mini-break to Bangkok.

Flights and hotel are already booked. All I need is to diet so I can indulge in real Thai food again.

~~

Happy midweek, everyone. Remember to be nice. Okay?

September 16, 2013

Le Chef at the Manor, Camp John Hay

Like I said earlier, our Baguio trip became a food trip. I think I gained over a kilo in just a span of four days in the city of Pines. Not kidding. The weather, which was cold and wet made it more conducive for pigging out.

We were supposed to have a late breakfast at Cafe by the Ruins that day but it was closed for renovation. Not knowing where to go next, I blurted out Le Chef to the taxi driver because I remembered it from googling restaurants in Baguio the previous day.

When we arrived, it was still bright and was only drizzling....



..but midway through our brunch, the drizzle became heavy downpour and it turned dark and gloomy.


The best thing to do?


Order a second cup of hot chocolate. This was really, really good!


And pair it with this pastry and a giant ensaymada (forgot to take a picture). The ensaymada was also good. The rain did not stop yet and we have already consumed gazillion calories so hubby and I decided to take pictures of ourselves. EJ did not join in the fun. He thought his parents were baduy! LOL!


After we got tired taking our pictures, we decided to go to the Outlet Store which is just below The Manor Camp John Hay. But because it was raining, we took the "shuttle" going down. We paid P100 for what should have been a 2-minute walk (or so). Now that I think about it, we should have taken the taxi instead. It would probably cost us only P50. Oh well.

The Outlet Store

There were so many signature/branded items for sale like Mango, Benetton, Nike, Gucci, Prada, etc. I was tempted to buy a Gucci shoes for hubby but the price seemed a little too much still. 

EJ, feeling cold and sleepy

After a few minutes of window shopping, we decided to go back to the hotel to rest and plan where to eat for snacks and dinner :)

~~~

Le Chef at The Manor
The Manor Camp John Hay
Open Daily from 6AM to 11PM
Serves breakfast, lunch and dinner

September 14, 2013

Dreamy Hill Station

When we went to Baguio City, it was at the height of Tropical Storm Maring. We weren't able to do anything but eat because the rain did not let up during our entire 4-day, 3-night trip. Okay, it did but only for about 5 minutes when we walked from SM Baguio down to Session Road. And after that, it was non-stop rain again. Our Baguio trip became a food trip. No complaints though!

We ate in Mario's, Le Chef at The Manor, Solibao's,  Hill Station. We went to Cafe by the Ruins (highly recommended by friends) but it was under renovation.

For me, the best experience was at Hill Station. To be honest, I don't remember the food that much but the place has left a lasting impression with me. It was dreamy and cozy. And I just loved the feeling of being there.

The place is so pretty

Every angle in the restaurant is picturesque

Me and my yellow rainboots

EJ eating his fresh mushroom soup

Hubby's order - Moroccan Spiced Baby Back Ribs

My order, I forgot what it was called

EJ's - Charbroiled Cheese Burger

Hill Station is below the Casa Vallejo Hotel and it is connected to a kid's bookshop called Mt. Cloud. EJ had a great time browsing through books before he settled on buying one.



For a budget-conscious like me, the food price at Hill Station was a little on the expensive side (main dish around P400). But anytime I find myself in Baguio again, I'd be sure to visit this place. 

~~~

Hill Station
Casa Vallejo
Upper Session Road
Baguio City, 2600

Tel. No.
(+63-74) 424-2734
(+63-74) 423 9100

September 12, 2013

Minecraft Party for EJ

Just when I thought I could catch up with my house work this week, EJ decides to have his post birthday party with his classmates this Friday. Oh wait, that's tomorrow!!!

My laundry and other house works will have to wait then. But not my blogging :)

Hubby and I have been busy since Tuesday preparing decors, party games and other knick knacks for the party tomorrow. EJ and his classmates are minecraft-obsessed, so we've decided we'll give them a minecraft themed party.

I'm  in-charge of the party hat, loot bags and prizes for the games while hubby is in-charge of the piñata and Steve's head as blindfold.

EJ never had a birthday party with his classmates because his birthday falls on a school break. We kind of promised him last year that he'll have a post birthday party with his classmates this year. So we really cannot say no to this party anymore.

When I brought EJ's lunch today in school, I heard him telling his friends about the party's theme and the kids looked like they're excited.

I'll post the pictures of the party as soon as I have a free time.

In the mean time, I wish you guys a happy Thursday!

September 7, 2013

Restaurant in Phnom Penh: Sunrise Tacos

Before we left for our vacation in Manila, Sunrise Tacos which is located at Street 63 was still under construction. Hubby and I were counting down to the day we could try their tacos, nachos, salsa, etc. When we came back from our holiday, it has already opened.

Decided to have lunch here today

The boys waiting for their food

Quick picture with the handsome boys

Homemade chips with unlimited salsa $1.75

Golden sunrise (folded and grilled tortilla with melted cheese and chicken) $2.50

USA Cowboy Tacos $8.25

Taco rice and cheese (Takoraisu) $4.75

We wanted to order hotdog sandwich for EJ but it wasn't available nor was the hamburger. We settled for the taco rice for him even if the waiter said it was a little spicy. EJ only ate a little of the rice but he ate a handful of the chips.

I like the chips and the unlimited fresh tomato salsa (they have nine different homemade salsas to choose from). I also like the taco rice and cheese. It had a generous amount of cheese toppings.

The staff was pleasant which is missing in most of the restaurants here. To be honest, I wouldn't mind coming back here.

~~~

Sunrise Tacos - Cambodia
171 Street 63
BKK 1
Telephone Number 077 854 545

September 5, 2013

Grade 2 in the House

It's back to school for EJ last Monday. He did not seem excited going back to school but he wasn't dreading it either. For him, it's a part of life and there's nothing to be excited about. Haha!

When I was his age, I was way too excited about going back to school after summer. I remember polishing my school shoes the weekend before and making sure that I have all the new notebooks neatly tucked in my bag. LOL!

The Grade 2! 

When I picked him up from school last Monday, he was animated. I asked him how did his first day of school go? He said, it's not only awesome. It was super awesome! So are you happy to be back to school, I asked him. He said yes! I guess the excitement kicked in a little bit late for him.

I am glad EJ is happy to be back to school. I was a bit worried when I found out that his friend from grade 1 is in another class this year. But he doesn't care much. He likes all his classmates and he said he's even made friends with the new students from New Zealand and Australia already.

Well, that's my boy!

September 3, 2013

And We're Back!

We arrived last Saturday to a rainy Phnom Penh.

I don't know where to begin my blog posts. There were so many exciting things which happened during our 6-week vacation in the Philippines.


EJ turned 7 years old! 

I celebrated my mid-thirties. Wow, that is YOUNG! :)

We went home to my hometown - Madrid, Surigao del Sur. Photo above shows EJ enjoying a grilled banana with sugar toppings while savoring the freedom of space on his scooter.

And we went to the City of Pines, Baguio city.

Although it felt like it rained the whole time we were in the Philippines,  it did not ruin our vacation. We still had an awesome time!

During our vacation, I felt like I wasn't going to blog anymore. I just did not have the enthusiasm. But here I am now, trying to squeeze in this short post in between my laundry, ironing, house cleaning and budgeting. I guess I'll still be blogging, whether you like it or not. Teehee.