Monthly Archives: August 2010

A When In Laos Special: The Wash Hair

For a person who’s anything but spontaneous, I am really impulsive.

 

One lazy Wednesday, my friends were booking a flight to Bangkok then off to Hua Hin, a beach paradise approximately 200 km south of Bangkok. We got lucky we made the cut for the promo rates which summed our fare less than THB 2,000 (around USD67) each via Nok Air. While they were planning our trip, I was admiring how gorgeous Miss Universe 2009 Stefania Hernandez’ hair was. It was the first time I saw a beauty queen with short hair. I mean, most of them have long and wavy coif but she had a sleek but equally stylish bob. So I sent an SMS to my friend and asked her when I should reimburse her for the tickets and then typed in I really want to cut my hair. She replied that we would go to the salon after work.

When we finally agreed with the time, I started fidgeting and the thought of cutting my long locks after two years scared the hell out of me. Hair grows, I (re)assured myself. Some people liked my hair for being naturally bouncy and wavy, but on my part, I got tired of it. On the other hand, I was afraid something will go wrong during the haircutting process and I might end up looking –uhm –worse.

 

My First Wash Hair

In 2008 when I had my internship here, I observed that the ladies have long, shiny, straight hair. I, for one, was always wondering how in the world they are able to maintain it because in my case, whenever I grow my hair long, I always come to that point where the whole maintenance gets to me and end up cutting it short. Turns out, some of them don’t wash their hair everyday; instead, twice or thrice a week, they get a little help from beauticians in the country –hence, Wash Hair *sic*. This is like the regular shampoo/blow-dry combo salons offer but the thing with the wash hair is the hairwashers thoroughly massage your head… translation: it kind of hurts. It’s supposed to be hard, Mina (my friend) chuckled, I actually like it that way. You can tell him not to though.

Right, I thought to myself. When could I have mentioned this to my hairwasher when he looked like he enjoyed scraping my scalp off. But despite all my shock and scalp-ache, while he was blowdrying my hair, it felt great. My hair feels lighter and clean and it smells fruity.

I wondered though, I was about to get my hair cut…why is this dude drying my hair? Aren’t they supposed to leave it that way and blowdry it after the haircut?

 

Dry-cutting

I heard of dry-cutting before, but I thought it was only offered in high-class salons in the metro. I first came across this concept when I was watching a lifestyle show in the Philippines where a famous hairstylist, Pin Antonio, did a little makeover on Jodi Sta Maria’s hair. But that was in the early 2000s and I never thought that technique is also practiced in Laos.

Apparently, dry-cutting is preferred by some because the hair is on its normal state, so texture and weight of the hair are already studied by the stylist. This also helps the clients to see the actual look and not be fooled by the blow-drying-to-perfection scheme at salons to make the hair look fab but the next morning, it has gone beserk. The stylist also can easily spot those annoying split-ends.

The hairstylist came in. He asked me if I got the picture of the style that I wanted. Earlier that day I was taking screen captures of Stefania Fernandez’ short hair; I saved all possible angles just to be sure the stylist gets the right picture. I showed him one and he was all, Okay. He started twisting my hair, placing pins on top my head, and then went snipping and snipping like he wasn’t cutting hair at all. It felt like he was cutting grass.

After 10 minutes,  after  some crazy twirls and flips –change has happened overnight.

So when you’re in Laos, and you see a salon even small ones in residences… Go for it. It will only cost you roughly two dollars but the light feeling after a stressful day at work or heavy sun exposure? Priceless.

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Miss Saigon, the Ao Dai and Pho

As of this writing, the author wants to slit her wrists for sending off her much-awaited-fit-to-boot ao dai to her parents cos it can no longer fit in her luggage back to Vientiane. It’s so damn difficult to find a pair for her size –and she did, and it looked great on her. Did she have to send it back to the Philippines?


Instead of going out and blowing candles, my 22nd birthday turned into a flight out from Vientiane to Phnom Penh then off to Ho Chi Minh City. I was waiting for my luggage at some carousel then I realized the passengers around me didn’t look familiar. I cannot afford to waste any minute because in an hour, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office – HCM (TECOH) will close and that’s the worst thing that could happen. As soon as it occurred to me that I was at the wrong carousel, I squeezed my way out of the Korean crowd; from afar, I saw my red luggage already fished out of the conveyor belt.  With my rollie in tow, I aimlessly searched the crowd for my Welcoming Committee–where the hell are they?!— that I almost hit another passenger, as if my clumsiness hasn’t embarrassed me enough in this lifetime (I once tripped at the main intersection in Vientiane during rush hour, flat on my face). I then spotted my dad waving at me. Thank God.

Hello, Ho Chi Minh City, with a scary mass of motorists cutting one’s vehicle’s way. I really thought I was going to have stroke at that time –no traffic lights, rain started pouring and we only got an hour left before the consulate closes. This workshop, I thought to myself, is definitely something, alright . We went straight to TECOH, picked a number and waited patiently for my turn. In between my review of papers and payment and annoying bangs falling down my face, my parents and I had fun catching up. And they said the magic words: Pumayat ka (trans: you lost weight).

The consul was keen about my papers. I was trying to read her expression and all I can hear was What’s a Filipino doing in Laos, applying visa  in Saigon to go to Taipei? I smiled at the thought and was ready to answer. But she just peered throguh her spectacles, and  asked if I was really working in Laos. I showed her my ID and work permit, hot-off the presses from the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare. She asked her assistant to photocopy my documents,  issued me a receipt and instructed me to go to the cashier. I can get my passport after two days –finally, my Taipei Workshop’s a go. A fantastic birthday gift, that is. With my visa being taken care of, I had my days devoted to myself and exploring the town. Project Vietnam is on the way!

Since I made a ginormous mistake of failing to take a picture of my ao dai, I would not want to talk about shopping. No–shut up—shusssh! There’s nothing to buy in Saigon except for the beautifully-made ao dai. There’s nothing special in Saigon except those delicately-embroidered bags and handkerchiefs. There’s nothing exquisite in Saigon except those wonderful handicrafts, trinkets and iridescent scarves. No shopping. NO! (Go to Cho Ben Thanh, it’s right across Saigon Square, a block next to Saigon Centre…And you didn’t hear that from me!)

I did nothing but eat in those three days. In Laos, pho is quite a staple. Why not try the pho from where it came from? Why not taste the fusion of Vietnamese spices with a Western twist? Why not smell the deliciously good aroma of Trung Nguyen Coffee and Highlands Coffee?

And with that, y’all…Welcome to Saigon!

Four days in Saigon, a 7-hour waiting time at the airport, flew back to Phnom Penh and then finally to Vientiane. It was mad! The following day, I was off to Taipei –and things have never been the same after.

Facebook is blocked in some parts of Vietnam. Some say you can access it using proxy sites, OpenDNS or whatnot…I accessed it through my phone. So yey, Samsung widgets! 😀

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I Hopped Off the Plane at SIN With A Dream, My Cardigan

I do, I really do

20 JUNE – CHANGI AIRPORT

Immigration Officer: Is this your first visit to Singapore? (leafing through my passport)
Me: Uhm..Huh? That’s my latest passport right there.
*Drats those old passport! And I really didn’t understand what the officer asked. I thought he was looking for my latest book*
IO: Yah. But is this your first visit?
Me: Oh no no. I came here in 2002, it was a long time ago…eight years to be exact. I’ve gotten old.
*Which is true…*
IO: Oh there it is (upon seeing the stamp on my previous passport) Ah, you’re not that very old so I think it’s okay!
Me: *chucklesi know, who could laugh at Passport Control, I’m such a quirk.* Yes, and I vividly remember the whole place.
IO: *laughs* Well, enjoy!
Me: Thank you, I will.

…And I did.

At the early age of 13, I already settled my career to be based in Singapore (SG).

It’s not a secret anymore, after all the spamming, begging and vlogging expressions of interest, I wanted to become an MTV VJ for some reason that requires a separate entry. However, due to circumstances beyond my control namely looks and eloquence, this dream already sparked into flames. But then, there a lot more career options in SG other than being a big-shot host, so I still got my heart set for the goal.

Since my brother moved in to SG two years ago, I’ve bugged my parents incessantly on letting me visit him. But that visit ultimately translates: I want to see MTV studios and do a walk-in audition, which by the way will lead to my family’s utter humiliation. I guess they already thought of that hidden agenda so their constant visits were all tagged as  “official”, meaning the series of trips didn’t include me. Even when my brother got married, I was at home sulking to death that I wasn’t part of the ceremony; they argued it will be very expensive to take the whole family for a 10-minute-civil wedding. My dad promised me that one day, I will be able to join them. True to his word, he gave me a full week of exploring the city and I –had a freakin’ blast.

Day 1. Hello, SG!

My flight was scheduled two days after my arrival from Vientiane. We left Los Banos at five freakin thirty in the morning and I couldn’t sleep in the plane because I was too damn excited like a child upon the sight of candy. However, the hotel bed was just too inviting and I fell asleep. I woke up and my brother and sister were there already. It only means one thing: Hell yeah, I’m in Singapore! First Stop: My Beloved, Suntec City Mall.

“And Win A Free Trip To Singapore!” –Reliving an old ad from MTV Asia. And no, I’m not pregnant!

Have To Go There To Make A Wish

Suntec City Mall. It is believed that when you go around this rotunda three times, extend your hand into the cool fountain,  and make a wish –it will come true.

And for dinner…

Singapore is known to be expensive, so we chose to eat at hawker’s instead. Seafood and tofu, anyone?

Go get that crab, mom!

Day 2. Funan, Here I Come.

Funan DigitaLife Mall is like SG’s electronics capital; you can find everything and anything in SG but Funan is just heaven. It is a five-minute walk from the City Hall MRT station, so locating it wouldn’t be a problem. Their photography gear floor is my idea of paradise. Too bad I can’t afford it.

First on my to-do/shopping list is to get lights and an external flash unit. There goes my savings. So Auntie was running test shots, I was asking her to let me try and she was like: No no, I will do it.

Me: *deep inside* WTH!

Clutching my purchase, no one will EVER be able to touch those. Look at my mom, she’s such a scene-stealer.

My brother’s bored, his wife is still perky and me goin all: ehhhh!

Soon, dahling, Soon… You guys are gonna be right inside my room!

Day 3. Oh Hello, Orchard.

Next on my to-do/shopping list, visit Orchard and make a scene at the MTV Asia VJ Hunt Challenge Week. Nah, as if.

THE Pass. Just put some cash in (they got a teller at the stations); SGD20 is enough to take you just about everywhere.

Day 4. The Path to Vivo City – At the Train Station, Kaka’s face was all over!

That day we were supposed to visit Resorts World Sentosa because I want to take a look at Victoria’s Secret. But it rained so hard, we got stranded inside Vivo City. My brother has this theory that I should never be left inside a store for more than five minutes, otherwise, I am bound to buy something. And with that —–

Day 5. Train to Victoria’s Secret

Because of the rain that halted my SG-tour, I decided to stay at my brother’s place that night. Their apartment is close to Vivo City, which makes it closer to Resorts World –I just wanted to see Vicky’s!

Resorts World!

I really wanted to get a pair of Jimmy Choos –but want isn’t always enough!

And we found it. The very first Victoria’s Secret Outlet in SEA…it’s really small though and doesn’t carry a range of products.

The flags of the participating countries for the World Cup were displayed. What was I supposed to do?!

Trying to pull a TMZ, my brother thinks he’s a celeb LOL

We went back to City Hall Interchange and had a nice family dinner at a Japanese Resto called Shin Kushiya in Suntec City. Some crew are Pinoys!!

Beer is part of culture, y’know 🙂

Tofu Steak for the (semi)vegan!

One good bowl of garlic rice

Tofu cheesecake, y’all!

Day 6. Boots and Toy Story

The next day, I wore my new boots, price marked down 70% mind you, but then again it also knocked down my feet. We watched Toy Story 3…the first Toy Story movie I’ve seen. ;P

Day 7. Jurong East-bound

After my parents’ 3-day conference, we went to visit my brother’s place.

We also had Dinner at Hog’s Breath. Very good food…for that price!

Me, my bro and sister

Fish and Chips for me

And some Mexican Platter for them

And another for my parents

And then, before I knew it…It was time to go.

SG is a familiar territory for most businessmen and tourists. Standard of living is very high and well, commodities are quite of the same league. I suggest if you’re on a budget, go try Singaporean food at the Hawker’s or foodcourts cos they got delicious meals for a fraction of a cost. If you want to try high-end restaurants though, I believe it will be worth the amount cos service and quality are guaranteed.

For the shoppers out there, JUNE IS THE MONTH for THE GREAT SINGAPORE SALE (GSS). Almost all items, branded or not, got 50-70% discount tags on them and that’s really something to look forward to. January also is a good month cos it’s their “Everything Must Go” sale… Ohhhh, I will definitely DEFINITELY GO!

So there you have it, my SG-tour after eight years. Hopefully, soon, I will be able to call it my second home 🙂 Just believe.

Entry title derived from the song Party in the USA performed by Miley Cyrus.

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