Friday, July 7, 2017

the Philippines

As I mentioned in my previous post, I was in Taiwan en route to the Philippines for work. I should also mention that I got a new position recently, and now have a decent sized part of my team in Manila. It was conveniently planned around their annual beach weekend outing...

I landed in Manila around 4 pm on Friday afternoon. Due to the intense rain, thunder & lightning that had just happened, our luggage was delayed for about one hour. I then found a (metered) cab and headed to my hotel.

Now, I have heard rumors of the traffic in Manila before and was given a fair warning by the people I work with. However, it is one thing to hear about it and another to experience! It took me 2.5 hours in the cab to travel from the airport to where I was staying. To put this in perspective: this is a 10 kilometer drive. Apparently the rain, it being a Friday, and it being payday that day all played major factors into my crazy commute. I am valuing it as an authentic Manila experience!

I then got to where I was staying (booked via airbnb) and pretty much went straight to work after! The team there works Canadian business hours, and with the time difference, means they start work around 9 or 10 pm local time. (9 am MNL time is 6 am PST and 9 am EST - I am getting better at converting all my time zones!)

After work, around 7 am local time, we all piled into a van and headed to the beach! This was about a 3 - 4 hour drive. It was beautiful when we got there!! Plus, so nice and warm. Tropical warm.

I rocked in that rocking chair quite a bit. It is called a toomba toomba in Tagalog.
We immediately changed into our bathing suits & hit the beach. My goal was to get a tan. Sadly, with having to wear sunscreen and it being overcast, I did not get too much of one.

This was being sold on the beach. Sadly I don't remember what it was called, but it is sugar and coconut (I think!) melted together and SO DELICIOUS. I could have eaten a million.

This is my little buddy Sabrina. We played in a water a lot together!!

We laid on the beach all day, swam in the water, and bought cool things from vendors who came by. Did you  know pearls are a great deal in the Philippines?!We then had dinner, had a beer after dinner, and went to bed after. I know what you are thinking at this point: when did I sleep?!

Being a vegetarian in the Philippines is not an easy task! This meal there was a vegetable dish, which was bitter melon. There is always rice at every meal!! (even at McDonalds for breakfast)

From when I left Wednesday evening until Saturday night at the resort, here is when I slept:
- 6 - 7 hours on the flight from Vancouver to Taiwan (granted, broken plane-style quality of sleep)
- 30 minutes in the aforementioned taxi ride to where I was staying
- 2 hours in the bus ride from work to the resort

I then slept a solid 8 or 9 hours Saturday night at the resort! I was pretty sleepy. On Sunday, some people woke up early to see the sunrise. I was not one of said early risers. After I drank my coffee by the beach, we went to the beach again. We then headed home in the afternoon!

I delighted in the photos from the people who did wake up to see the sunrise!

I also did not participate in this event. I wanted to throw up just watching them!! This "disco ball" was pulled behind a jet ski and spun the WHOLE time.

Not a great photo, but it was pretty rainy on the way home!
Overall, the beach resort weekend was super relaxing and fun to spend time with people I do not see very often except for on the video phone! I will blog more in a few days about the rest of my trip and other fun things I learned about the Philippines. I need to head over to check in to my flight shortly and want to try to beat the crowds. I hope you are having a great weekend!

Thursday, June 29, 2017


Well hello from Taiwan! I just noticed that this is my first blog post in the month of June. Whoops. Since I have some time before waiting for my next flight, I thought I'd tell you about my current adventure.

I am headed to Manila in the Philippines as we have an office there. I will be going on an outing with the team this weekend to a beach resort and am super excited to meet everyone in person! As part of my travels, I intentionally booked a stopover in a cool place to include an extra little adventure. Hence, here I am in Taiwan!

My flight left Vancouver at 2 am, and arrive in Taiwan at 4:30 am local time. I then took a cab to the Lungshan Temple (Longshan? I've seen it spelled both ways everywhere!) as the metro was not open that early. I was so thankful that Justin & Eliza have lived in Taiwan for a while so I got a bunch of tips on where to go, how to get around, etc. Justin even gave me some Taiwanese money & his metro card so that I didn't have to get one myself. So awesome, thanks guys!

Also, a big bonus is that Taiwan has free wifi around the city. How awesome is that?! I definitely have used more than my fair share of free wifi. It gets lonely wandering by yourself! 

Below are some photos and comments about my brief adventure away from the airport. It is a bit scary traveling by yourself when you haven't done in a while!! I am happy to report that I survived and was totally fine. They speak a lot of English here! Phew.

From the cab to the city - the sun was still rising. Bright & early! (good thing I was able to sleep on the plane)

The entrance to Longshan Temple. So beautiful!

Inside the temple

Inside the temple

Me, inside the temple

Inside the temple

Cool guy nearby the temple, as I wandered

I don't this picture does it justice, and you will need to zoom in, but look at ALL the scooters!!

I got a delicious pastry and latte from 85C after the temple. I then continued to wander the area! Unfortunately, not a lot was open at this time of day. (7-11 was!)

SO GOOD. It maybe had coconut in it? I was not sure but I loved it!

More food: veggie dim sim at the airport. Yummy! This was about $12 for the dumpling meal. (it came with mushroom soup)

The airport food court. Too cute!

Dumpling seating, so fun.

And now, I am waiting to board the next flight to Manila. I plan to relax in one of the above chairs... after my cell phone is done charging in another area! I will continue to post some photos on Facebook and Instagram while away. Happy Canada Day!!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

a thing post, summer edition

My mom & I are going to paint nite at the Surrey Animal Resouce Centre in 2 weeks - join us! It's a fundraiser for SARC, which is where we got Mr. Chucho. Happy Mother's Day mom!

I need to sign up for more Spanish classes... but possibly something a wee bit more intense than the ones I've been doing at the City of Surrey. They are great, but I don't think they force me to learn as much as a community college class would, for example. Any ideas?? 

I would reallyyyyy love this lululemon t-shirt but it is old and I can't find it anywhere now :(

We attended a fundraiser for a girl us Spier kids worked with the Y's sister recently, and she died of Guillain-Barre Syndrome. The story is quite sad.  However, they were able to raise awareness and money towards research of the disease which is great!

Speaking of fundraisers, the annual Run, Walk, & Roll in support of the Center for Child Development is coming up on June 4th! I need to register.

We had this dessert in Dubai, and I made made it at home recently. It is soooo good! They call it the Egyptian bread pudding. YUM.

I don't know why this was a summer edition thing post... it just seemed fitting as it has been so nice lately! :)

Sunday, May 28, 2017

happy summer!

Things have escalated quickly around here temperature wise, as you  may already know! Here is what we have been up to lately. Warning: it involves a lot of Chucho photos!

This is our blood donation crew. We've all been going together for the last few donations, and it makes it so much more fun to go as a group! It's almost a social event this way. And you know me, where there is social-ness, I am there! My dad, Edwin, me, Eliza, Justin & their son Kalan (who REALLY enjoys the juice & cookies)

Chucho also donated blood a few weeks ago! My cousin Meryl works at the Animal Emergency Clinic of the Fraser Valley and she let me know that they have a blood donation program for dogs. Chucho met the 50 pound criteria, so we signed him up. This is him wearing his proud bandana afterwards. He also got an adorable little bandage but I didn't get a great photo of it!

Reading books with some of favorite twins, Julia & Harrison

Edwin & I took Chucho to Cultas Lake over the long weekend as we read that they had a part of the lake sectioned off for dogs to swim in. Turns out, Chucho avoided the water like the plague! We thought he might be a swimming dog... we were wrong. But it was beautiful there!

JC is in town! Yesterday, her, me, Chucho, Edwin & JC's fiancee Cristian went on a hike at Golden Ears Provincial Park. We did the Lower Falls Trail, which was BEAUTIFUL! (and quite flat - my hiking requirement) You hike to the waterfall you see in the above photo, which is much more grandiose in person.

Chucho enjoying the view

There are lots of areas where you can go down to the stream and sit by the rocks. So pretty!!

Chucho has been a great motivator to get out and do things outdoors - it has been so good for us. We will definitely be going back to Golden Ears, and maybe hopping into Alouette Lake. (well, I will.... not Chucho!) Hope you are enjoying these warm days - and don't forget your sunscreen!

Thursday, May 11, 2017


It has been almost 3 weeks since we've been home from Dubai. I've been meaning to blog so much earlier than this, but I feel like I don't even know where to start with this trip! We have so many photos that it takes a while to go through them, plus getting back into the swing of normal life can be a bit hectic after a lovely, long vacation. (#reality)

We had a great time in Dubai! Here are my top 5 favorite things about our trip to the UAE:
- The food: did you see that one coming?! It is a mix of Indian food and mediterannean food. This translates to lots of spice, lentils, and flavor. I loved it all!
- The heat: it was around 35 every day there, which was manageable. Plus, everywhere indoors is majorly air conditioned! This was not even their hot season. I can't imagine what hot season feels like!
- The beaches: they are typical white sand, blue water beaches with awesome little food trucks and beautiful views. Our favorite, Jumireah Beach, had a view of the Burj Al Arab!
- The fanciness/grandiose-ness of everything: hotels are so luxurious, cars are so fancy, the malls are the biggest in the world etc. It is hard to not be fascinated by that!
- The culture: this sounds generic, but it is always so intriguing to see a completely different culture. This was so different than anything I'd ever seen! The mosques and the call to prayer 5 times a day is really interesting to read about.

Here are some photos for you! 

Have you ever flown with Emirates? I hadn't, and it was amazing. The food was pretty good for airplane food!

At the spice market - so colorful! I wanted to buy lots of things, but unfortunately you can't bring dried fruit etc. home.

I bought gold earrings! There was SO much gold. Crazy. Had to restrain myself...

At Jumireah Beach

My fave place to be!

Yup, that is me riding a camel!

I love this photo. Might be a framer!

We took a day trip to Oman, where we went on a boat trip. It has these beautiful rocky mountains on the edge of the blue water. We boated to a bay and swam around, had lunch, went on a banana boat, etc. It was one of my favorite tours we did!

Again, in my fave place, the water! See how blue the water is? Hard to tell in a photo!!

Edwin in front of the Burj Khalifa, the worlds tallest building. (fun fact - burj means tower!)

This had to be one of my favorite places to see as well. The Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. It is so incredibly white, clean, and grand! As you see, I had to be very covered in loose clothing to be permitted in.

People keep asking "would you go back again?" and my answer is yes! It was a beautiful place with tons of unique culture and lots to do. However, I think I would rather go somewhere new and somewhere I've never been before! Edwin & I have lots of places on the good ol' bucket list... where do you want to go next?! Have I inspired you to check out the middle East at all?

Thursday, April 6, 2017


I looooove making lists. Do you? Here are some random lists I thought I'd share with you!

5 things we are watching on TV/Netflix right now:
1. Suits
2. Better Call Saul (if you are a Breaking Bad fan, you need to watch this)
3. Departures (season 3 just got put on Netflix!!)
4. The Young Pope
5. Designated Survivor

3 of my favorite places you get a decent birthday deal from every year:
1. The Bay: $10 off when you spend $50
2. Forever Your Lingerie: $20 off when you spend $75
3. Sephora: a free birthday gift! (no purchase needed)

3 things that are on my list of things to do:
1. Book massages for Edwin & I
2. Buy a snow shovel (we were stealing my dads this winter...)
3. Get holes fixed in 1 pair of pants & 2 shirts

Lastly, 2 fun things you may not have known!
1. Did you know that dogs can donate blood? Chucho had a consultation yesterday!
2. Did you know that Purdy's has a no sugar added line? Christy-Dawn got me some for my birthday!

Hope you are having a great week!

T minus 3 days....!!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

32 continued

Here are a few photos of things I did for my birthday, and other things as of late. A continued birthday post, if you will!

Last Saturday, I went out for dinner with Edwin, Amanda, Rob, Eliza & Justin. Sadly, this is the only photo I took. After dinner, went to Amanda & Rob's place - this is me and Kesler, their cat!

My birthday morning. Yummy Tim's breakfast, yellow roses, a fancy new watch, and a pickle card. He knows me so well.

My mom made lasagna at my request for dinner last week. She is so good to me! (she made both a veggie & a meat one)

I love this picture! Grandma & Grandpa with the doggies.

My sister & Nenad came home this week! They had a wedding to attend on Friday so they came a few days earlier to hang out with us. They stayed at our house, and Chucho got lots of extra attention with them here! I got sent selfies all day long at work :)

I took one day off work to hang out with the gang. We went to Metrotown, had sushi, and went to see the new house in Aldergrove. This was 5 adults plus Chucho in my tiny Honda Fit. It was super fun!

Last night, we went to Famoso Pizzeria for a birthday dinner. So yummy!! I usually get the funghi pizza. (bottom)

After dinner, we went back to my parents and played Trivial Pursuit. It got quite competitive, but it was super fun! I love our family time :)

This week has been fun with our out of town visitors here. This week, things are back to normal. Then, next week, we are off on an adventure! I am super excited and need to start getting things organized. (And get a pedicure...) I am looking forward to the sun!!