Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Year-Ender Report

This is my 281st and the last post in this blog for this year. It's 27 posts shy of 2010 but if we include my other posts here, here and here and another in an undisclosed kind of private blog, I could say that I have been quite on a roll this year. Before I jot down the highlights and low lights of this blog, allow me to thank you all my dear readers for constantly visiting and reading my posts. Thank you to those who have subscribed and to those who have left thoughtful comments. I will not be motivated to write as regularly as possible if not because of all of you. I hope that this coming year you would still be there to accompany me in my journey, my life.

I started the year all too positive of what 2011 would bring to me. I changed the layout of my blog and I roamed Manila with my friend, Eddene. We were fixtures of Saturday and Sunday markets in the metro and malls and parks too. We were just so full of energy. February rolled in but it wasn't as eventful as I had expected it to be. I felt like I was in a one-sided relationship at that time and I just had to learn how to let go. This wasn't a painful thing to go through though because I kinda knew that it would end this way. Maybe it was all wrong at the very start and to forget about the sinking feeling, I just burrowed myself in doing the best I can at work. Oh yes, 8-hour shifts stretched to 10 until I reached even 12-hour workday sometimes. It was a little toxic but I managed to carry on like that for months.

March was when my parents and my sister visited me here in Manila. I was not able to blog any of our activities here but I sure did enjoy our time spent as a family. The last time I saw them was October of last year. What I liked most was my mom cooked some meals in my apartment. It was also the time when I bought a new fridge because the old one has been wonky and so small for my groceries. April came and went like a blur and all I could remember were attending the Samsung TV launch and the days when my BB conked out on me. The last one was the most memorable as I was told by Globe that they have to send my BB to Singapore for repair and it would take at most 2 months for it to get repaired. I was beyond disbelief (If you are a BB user and your phone will be taken away from you for that long is unimaginable). Yes, I am exaggerating a bit but that is exactly how I felt. Worst is Globe did not have a loaner phone that I can use. I had no other choice but to apply for another plan with that thought of giving the phone and line to my sister when I finally get my BB back.

My Boracay trip did not push through in May so all the planning I did just went to waste. It's okay though because the money I saved went to the out of the country trips that I had later in the year. June came and I was a little disappointed because I had to work on my birthday. Everything was quelled when I was given a surprise party by my coworkers led by the supervisors that reported to me. I got teary-eyed. I felt loved. Hehe! I also came out with my 30 before 30 list. I only have more than 5 months left and I am not even half-way through my list but of course I still have time, 5 months is still 150 days. I am crossing my fingers now that I won't be as busy and devote some of my time to my list. Wish me loads of luck!

I was only able to travel out of Manila in July. That was when I decided that I should smell the roses and leave work behind for a little bit. I travelled to Coron with some officemates and a friend from Denmark. It was all our first time to visit the island in Palawan and everyone had an awesome time. I did develop a little rash from the hiking and swimming and rubbing against the life vest on my arm but it went away after a couple of days. There's nothing a rash cream and powder can't heal. August was spent planning my first trip to Hong Kong and Macau with Olive. I was still kind of scared that time because of the hostage crisis that happened to Hong Kong nationals here in the Philippines but we braved it. I have written quite a few articles about the trip which took place in September.

I went home to see my family and help out for the last minute preparations for my sister's wedding in October. She married her long-time boyfriend and it was a lovely wedding attended by their friends from work, church and school as well as families of both parties. I was the maid-of-honor of course. At first, I was hesitant to attend because I had foreseen that I will be the subject of interrogation as to why I am not married yet and all that. Then again I still attended and told myself that it's better that I am still single because if I am already married then I will be called matron-of-honor. That is worse I think. I'm too young to be a matron. Haha!

Kidding aside, November saw me and Olive in Malaysia and Singapore. We had loads of fun as usual except for some setback with the hotel that we booked online but nevertheless we made the most out of our opportunity to travel. I also quit my job and reported to a new office the week after I got back from my vacation. I haven't written that much articles about this trip because I took too many pictures and I was just too lazy to watermark them. I have posted a couple but I still have lots of articles waiting in my drafts folder. I will try to find time to publish these travel stories this month (hopefully before I fly back to Singapore next month). I was also able to meet Mika Hakkinen on the first week of November (loads of thanks to Johnnie Walker's Step Into The Circuit campaign).

Last month, I thought will just be spent adjusting to my new work environment. Then Nuffnang gave me the opportunity to travel back to Malaysia (all expenses paid including the travel tax and terminal fees, airfare of course and accommodation at Marriott Putrajaya) to meet 500 other bloggers from all over the Asia Pacific and Australia for the 2nd Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards. It was an awesome chance I consider it the cherry on top to my awesome 2011. The experience gave me a chance to get to know other bloggers, be on a tour bus with them and motivated me to be more diligent in blogging and keeping you all posted.

The past year came by and almost went unnoticed. I am grateful to have started this blog as I had a way to document the things that happened in my life. I thank you all for visiting my blog even when I talk about nonsense things sometimes. Let's all hope for a better 2012 and exert every effort we can to learn from the previous year's mistakes and misses.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Food Find: Chee Cheong Fun

I almost always blog about food that I really love. When I was in a hawker center in Singapore (Pek Kio Market/Hawker Center along Owen Road), I bought an interesting food that I really liked. I found the Chee Cheong Fun interesting because it was made on the spot and you see how your food is made.

Chee Cheong Fun is a type of rice noodles roll or steamed rice roll. It is commonly rolled in round shape but some are cut in very thin square pieces. There are two types of Chee Cheong Fun; one is the local (Malaysia/Singapore) kind which is served with tim cheong (sweet bean sauce) and another one which is the Hong Kong style served at dim sum places with fillings like shrimps, roast pork or minced meat in it. The one I tried at the Pek Kio Hawker Center is the Hong Kong style.

How it is made is by mixing flour, starch and corn flour and then water is added to the mix and stirred continuously to avoid any lumps. The consistency should be light so that the texture is maintained smooth. Salt and oil is also added to the batter. The mixture is then poured to a steamer. A thin layer is what you need for the steaming. While in the process of steaming, sprinkle thinly sliced herbs (to your liking0 as well as any filling you wish to eat. Once the mixture becomes opaque, scrape and fold and slice. You may opt to garnish with sesame seeds and pour sesame oil on top for added flavor. You can use any light soy sauce or hoisin sauce for dipping.

This delicacy is not easy to like especially if you are a sensitive and/or picky eater. It looks like pig intestines (thus the name chee cheong). Regardless of how it looks, I can tell you that it is so yummy and it's worth a try.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Sweet Stuff at USS

The one thing I really liked about Universal Studios is that they don't frown upon taking pictures of their merchandise. I didn't have to resort to taking some ninja shots to post here. I hate it when store don't allow photography. It's as if I am stealing their products if I do or will their merchandise fade with the flashes? Ah, mind boggling... Anyway, let me share to you some of the pictures I managed to take when I visited Universal Studios in Singapore last month.

The giant Universal globe outside the theme park. The smoke you see is some form of mist to freshen up anyone who comes near . 

Colorful lollies. There were so many kids around this candy post before I took a picture. 
 This candy store is situated on the corner before you turn right to go to the SciFi City. This is a sweet tooth's haven. The candies and chocolates were sold at a reasonable price too.

Giant Chupa Chups... Ah, for sure you can't eat this big lolly. What's inside is a plastic container full of the normal lollipops. I wonder if that lolly is really that big, how long will it take for someone to finish it. 

Chocolates!!! You can pick and mix 10 pieces for only S$5.90. I could stay here all day...

Some more colorful lollies...

And now, the Hershey's store just outside the park. You wouldn't miss this store...

I had so much fun at the Universal Studios. I am going back again next year. I made sure that this is part of my itinerary. I really had so much fun in Singapore. One of the reasons why I will go back is this heady feeling of being a kid again in a theme park.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Oh Singapore, I Want More!

My next trip to Singapore early next year is already ironed out and I haven't even finished blogging about my last trip yet. I went to Singapore last month with Olive. It was a very full trip and an eventful one too. Some of the things that happened I will not write about anymore but for sure those were etched in both my memory and Olive's too. While in Singapore, we were able to meet Eddene (my high school classmate) and Amayah (our college classmate).

I did fiddle with my camera and chose an automatic setting that was very nice in my camera but very dark and unreal when I uploaded it. Anyway, I will be sharing some of the pictures that I think came out nice at least.

Eddene, Olive and I met at Ion Orchard and we had our lunch at Food Republic. I love Singapore's food courts because it doesn't look like a food court. It's relatively clean and organized unlike the food courts here in the Philippines. I also observed that each stall offers unique food choices. There's a stall that offers dim sum, another one offers curry and vegetables, another one offers chicken rice variations, another one for laksa and soup-based dishes as well as ramen and many others. Hmmmm, I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.

Approaching Singapore aboard PAL plane

The cleanest train so far. It's a little scary because there were only a few passengers. I kept thinking about the horror movies I have watched with train scenes. This was from Changi Airport (Terminal 2) to Tanah Merah station.

The Christmas tree at the Orchard Road

We were at the Esplanade when I took this picture. Super zoom lens at work...

Marina Bay Sands Hotel (another super zoom at work)

The Merlion and Marina Bay Sands Hotel. The barrier was set-up to thwart any suicide attempts. There has been reports that many people took their own lives by jumping to the water to drown. Gave me the creeps!

Olive and Amayah near the Merlion. 

Me posing with one of the elephants scattered around public places in Singapore. 

Marina Bay Sands Hotel and The Singapore Flyer (Helix Bridge and Art Science Museum can be seen where we were too)

The Durian elephant. How artistic!!!

Chijmes is a historic building that is considered to be a national monument. It was once a Catholic Convent School. This complex now houses restaurants (indoor or al fresco options).

CHIJ means Convent of Holy Infant Jesus. This is located in Victoria Street. This old church functions as a wedding venue by Watabe weddings. The architecture is very intricate. 

This is one of the rows of shophouses in Kampong Glam (just north of the Singapore River). 

I had so much fun in Singapore but I felt the days we spent there are not enough. You can also read about   my others posts of Singapore here, here and here. I will be posting about an experience at a hawker place  where I tried the kedong dong juice sometime next week. It's going to be a food post. 

I am going back there in February and all reservations have been made and everything's paid already as well. My itinerary is not that hectic though. It will be relaxed (with wine and cheese moments and just lounging in my hotel room). After that trip, I am hoping to come up with Top 10 things to do or eat or whatever. 

I hope you enjoyed this post. Please do let me know if you have any suggestions on what I need to try when I go back to Singapore.  I would appreciate all suggestions.