Category Archives: Country Hop

2014 Means–

At Ao Pa Ka Rang

At Ao Pa Ka Rang

So I spent the last 14 days frolicking (frolicking–I like this word) in the streets of Bangkok, despite ongoing political protests and embodying the deer-in-the-headlights-commuter in the capital city. Since I did nothing but be all touristy, I won’t bore you with the details of my trip such as a slew of hipster food-snaps and check-ins. Instead, I shall share some of the best moments of my trip that, in hindsight actually, have helped me realize a lot of things. About myself, about my family, about life in general. After all, 2014 means–

New Life

It seemed like only yesterday when I wrote this piece as a tribute to my brother and my sister-in-law. Time flies. On the 28th December 2013 at 17:08, James Alexander S. Flor or Jian was born.

Adorable!

Adorable!

The Flor Family welcomes the latest addition to the brood of awesome people--hey, Jian!

The Flor Family welcomes the latest addition to the brood of awesome people–hey, Jian!

My other sibs, Marlo and Jen (the Singapore people), are also expecting. Hopefully, it’s a girl and would totally NOT  look like my brother hah!

New Adventures

Okay, I know. What the hell am I doing in the beaches of Thailand again when I am fully aware that my cameras and Thai waters do not get along (Exhibit A, Exhibit B). But this one is too good to pass up, so I left my camera back in the apartment in Bangkok AND ran away to Koh Samed!

Spent the first three days of the year in this beautiful island.  Nope, not overrated at all, I have to say. Despite the freezing waters and a bit pricey food and accommodation, you get to take home good photos and fun memories. Did I mention I went with my backpacking buddy and BFF PockLan?? Missed this woman soooo much!

To get to Koh Samed, Sai Kaew Beach Backpacker Style

1. Ekkamai Station – there’s a huge sign in from that says ‘Bangkok – Rayong’. Terminal Lady speaks English very well so you’ll be fine.

2. The van will drop you off to Ban Phe Pier where you will book a speedboat or ferry to get to Koh Samed. I recommend the speedboat cos it only takes 15 mins to get to the beach. I’m not really a big fan of ferries *sighs*

3. From Sai Kaew Shore, you can walk to your villa/guesthouse just to be adventurous and get lost in the mini-town. Motorbikes and ATVs for rent are everywhere, so if you want to cruise around the island, go rent that bike for a whole day and enjoy the view.

Top of the world

Top of the world

New Priorities

The New Year is never complete without the obligatory New Year’s Resolution. Now now, I’m all grown-up so I guess ‘no fighting with my brothers’ and ‘no hating on Sarah Geronimo’ could be taken off the list.

Here’s the more mature version:

1) Studies – should get my head back in the game. Ohhh, yes, I’m back in school!

2) Savings – should start thinking about the future–expenses *bangs head on the desk*

3) Stability – should lock in a regular income already to achieve #2

4) Staying Sexy – heh. Cos losing weight only marks the lifelong battle of weight management. Well at least it’s no longer just ‘lose weight’. It’s been like that for the last 14 years.

Wishing you a great 2014, dear reader. Never forget that new beginnings are always just around the corner. 🙂

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Filed under Country Hop, Musings

14 Moments in Jakarta 14 Years After My First Visit

I Was 10. Please understand. We OUTGROW that phase!

I Was 10. Please understand. We OUTGROW that phase!

Fourteen years ago, I traveled to Jakarta with my parents and brother. I have some memories of the place (which also involves “Kiss Me” looping on MTV Asia) such as going around Pondok Indah Mall, tasting my very first (and last, apparently) satay kambing and ayam goreng, and visiting Taman Safari in Bogor where I got to hold a snake and a white baby tiger. Even at a young age, I already enjoyed traveling.

But now that I am older and wiser (I hope), I became more interested in reflecting about life in different settings and context instead of just popping in and out of territories. There was never a time during my three-day visit that I was not on the look-out for something different to write about. So in celebration of my exploration, I have listed my Top 14 Moments in Jakarta and I hope y’all will enjoy this entry as much as I did writing it.

14 Transit in Singapore

Long hours of transit and early morning flights became my thing. Not that I enjoy them, I actually wonder why the universe is turning me against my own terms of travel comfort but I learned how to deal with them–I have to. I devised some coping techniques during these excruciating hours. Like get through Immigration and visit Singapore. After all, this is also my home.

(Top - L) Korres at Raffles City Shopping Centre (B2-16), Banana Split Sundae at Hog's Breath - Raffles, my sibs with Garrett popcorn (City Link), Gelato mania (City Link).

(Top – L) Korres at Raffles City Shopping Centre (B2-16), Banana Split Sundae at Hog’s Breath, my sibs with Garrett (City Link), Il Bruno Gelato (City Link).

13 The pungent odor of kretek–the smell of my childhood

Whenever my parents come home from Indonesia, the whole house smells like kretek. Like burnt wood but with a hint of incense or something. When you arrive in Jakarta, the smell of the airport? That’s it.

12 Losing luggage key

Seriously, on our first night. We had to navigate the whole Grand Indonesia Mall the following morning to find a new lock.

The Saw

The Saw

11 Hitting the hotel gym

It has been a while since I last went all out on the treadmill.

1o Parents speaking Bahasa

My parents lived in Indonesia during the first years of their marriage. My Dad was a UN Volunteer, my Mom was a fresh graduate exploring the world. I knew that they spoke Bahasa Indonesia well but listening to them having conversations with cab drivers, sales and hotel personnel, and everyone else at that, really made me proud! And regret the fact that having lived almost four years in Vientiane and I can’t even speak a decent sentence in Lao without stuttering.

9 Visiting Grand Indonesia

The mall that never ends. The mall that makes me feel woozy when I look down from the 5th floor. I am not even afraid of heights!

(L) Dancing fountain on the left, one of the mall’s attractions; (R) What you see isn’t the top floor!

8 Walking in the Rain to Rotiboy

It rained pretty hard during the day but my Mom wanted me to try Rotiboy so bad. We just got out of the gym anyway–it is not like the rain is going to ruin our hair or something. But when we were finally devouring the fluffy chunk of carbs, I thought ‘Okay, the treadmill was a waste of time.’ Rotiboy is some good bread.

Walking in the rain to Rotiboy

Walking in the rain to Rotiboy

7 Momma vs Food at Nonya Suharti Restaurant

My parents believe this is just the place to be. Everywhere else is below it.

Mom vs Food - Ayam Goreng at Nonya Suharti Restaurant

Eat! Eat! Eat!

6 The Nice People

I could not get over the nice demeanor of Indonesians. My Dad said that they are known for their refined manners and politeness amid adverse situations. That, in itself, is inspiring.

Mie Goreng Vegetarian at Chopstix - Grand Indonesia (Very nice service)

Mie Goreng Vegetarian at Chopstix – Grand Indonesia (Very nice service)

5 Traffic Jam

City traffic is always insane. On the bright side, I get to ponder when I am in the middle of one.

4 Batik Finds

Fabrics, I am all about the fabrics–I want to customize these babies. My parents also approved of my choices so I am quite confident that the patterns are pretty.

Chameleon Mode - fabrics from Thamrin City

Chameleon Mode – fabrics from Thamrin City

3 Luna Negra* (Plaza Bapindo, Citibank Tower)

Did I tell you how much I love this place? Nice ambiance and good food and EFFICIENT SERVICE, what more could you ask for?

Fiesta feeling at Luna Negra

Fiesta feeling at Luna Negra

2 The Digital Natives Reunion with Dear Maesy*

The best thing of being part of ‘Project Digital Natives With A Cause?’ is being able to meet amazing people from all parts of the world. You are either intimidated or inspired with with they do, with their ideas and perspective on multitudes of topics that a whole week of conversations and discussions can never compensate. Maesy is my big sis in the group; and while she may appear to be ruthless in public speaking and intelligent undertakings, she’s a real hipster at heart HAHA (I’m kidding, Maesy). I am HONORED to have walked the streets of Jakarta with her and talked to a soulmate yet again.

Italian - Japanese food. The combination is DIVINE.

Italian – Japanese food at Ocha and Bella. The combination is DIVINE.

1 Taking Matters Into My Own Hands

Lazy hour at the mall is all that took me to promote my website in the only way I know how. I probably would wear this every time I travel and make use of the long hours walking aimlessly in airport terminals. You’ll never know.

My Cup of Tee at Grand Indonesia (only an hour to wait for the shirt)

My Cup of Tee at Grand Indonesia (only an hour to wait for the shirt)

*Many thanks to Tito Mike Tesoro and company, and Maesy for being awesome hosts 🙂

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Filed under Country Hop, Food and Dining

Bangkok: Hipster Edition (With Special Promdi Commentaries)

(Promdi is Tagalog for someone who grew up in the province; setting foot in the city proves to be an interesting challenge. This also roughly translates to ban noc in Lao)

Growing up in a university-town, and finally getting out to start a career in the city (of a different country, that isn’t exactly as bittersweet as Manila or as manicured as Singapore), I know that nothing will ever be overrated to my promdi eyes. I will still look at skyscrapers wide-eyed; will still be fascinated with anything convenient (transportation, accommodation, food and groceries, etc), and will still contemplate if fighting for a spot in the city (New Yoooork) is what I really want, or if I’m cut out for it (didn’t exactly work the first time around, but I’m staying optimistic–small-town girl wants to  make it in the big city–how generic). I guess traveling is my way of environmental-scanning, testing the waters. Really pricey trial-and-error efforts, but I call it seeding (that’s how we do it).

Over the weekend, I went to Bangkok with (of course) PockLan and Jit. It’s that AirAsia promo fare again you book two months (or even longer) prior to the trip via Udon Thani, a border-cross away from Vientiane.

I like Bangkok. I’ve always liked Bangkok. This trip, though, I wanted to explore more; so with the help of some friends who are based there, I had a glimpse of the Bangkok Hipster Scene during daytime. Apart from the obligatory shopping, which I did at Siam Paragon and Central World *condescending laugh* (relax, it was only at the Gap and Uniqlo, respectively. Fine, and Zara. And MNG. They were on SALE).I went all the way to Bangkok to attend mass at the Assumption Cathedral, which is really beautiful (btw). I had my first taste of Dean & Deluca, which is apparently the closest you can get to New York City yuppie-diet; and I took the taxi (I’ve never been in a cab all alone, not even in SG) and BTS on my own (for the first time; was thinking about Bangkok Train Love Story throughout the trip to keep me calm). Oh, I also got to experience a design gallery of Thai Creatives at the Emporium. I realized there’s more to the city than frilly-Korean-garments at Platinum and the classic som-tam (we had some grilled chicken-Portuguese style? It’s good. But I still think Mom’s pan-grilled chicken is better). There are other places I want to see, so I have to get my travel funds ready for some city-culture-studies. I could always take the bus when I’m desperate, cos I’m still ban noc like that. And proud of it.

All photos were taken with Hipstamatic and edited with PicStitch. All I need are those plastic frames in yellow-green, then I could totally run the world. Hah!

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