Saturday, September 29, 2007

Christmas in September?

Apparently, living in Manila is going to provide plenty of material for me to write about. Here goes:

We have been provided several books to help us adapt to life in the Philippines. Something we read was very beneficial for us yesterday. We went to SM which is a department store, furniture store, grocery store, and several restaurants all in one. Danae had to use the bathroom and guess what? There was no toilet tissue. No, they didn't run out. They don't put tissue in the bathrooms at all. No empty tissue holder or anything. Because I read about that, I had a little tissue stowed in my bag to use.

In the grocery store, the most overwhelming shock was the stench. The entire back of the store is basically a butcher shop. Surprisingly, there were no flies or anything. But, the smell was gross. Danae held her nose while we looked around in there. I wasn't bold enough to purchase any meat yet. One day, maybe. Or, we'll just become vegetarians while we're here.

In the clothes section, we were pleasantly surprised by the low prices. Dwayne saw a pair of very nice linen shorts for P300 which is roughly about US$7. Ralph Lauren Polo shirts were around $17 for men and $12 for women. A lot of kids clothing for less than $10. We just might come back to the states broke but with a fabulous wardrobe. Speaking of that, I have yet to see a Philipino looking raggedy or with just a t-shirt and jeans thrown on. These people are always well put together from the makeup to the clothing to the shoes.

Now, in reference to the title for this post. These folks are SERIOUS about Christmas. Our driver from the airport told us it's the biggest holiday. But while we were out, we saw Christmas trees and fake Santas for sale already. And, the craziest thing is that they are playing christmas music in the stores. Yep, we heard "Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer" and "The Little Drummer Boy". For real, y'all! It was September 30th but felt like it was at least December 20th. Crazy!

That's enough about this place for today. If you're interested, I'm attaching a couple of little videos of the kids playing with each other. Just so you know they aren't sad or anything. By the way, Brayden smells like a Philipino already. I think it's because all of the ladies like to play with him so their smells have rubbed off.

video video

Manila

We have survived our first 24 hours in Manila. I don't have much to tell though because we slept a lot of it away. We ate breakfast in our hotel and it was pretty good. We ate dinner at Outback Steakhouse. Yeah, we needed a little American food before we experiment on our digestive systems. Everyone is wide awake right now and it's after midnight here. Of course it's midday in the US. We stick out here like a sore thumb and everyone stares at us as we pass them. Tomorrow we're going exploring in this area. Just downstairs is a shopping mall and a lot of restaurants. It seems that a lot is within walking distance so the location is nice. We're in a 2 bedroom apartment in the Ascott Makati and it's really nice. These people here are serious about their customer service.

I'll write more when I have more to tell. I'm going to try to go to sleep for a bit.

Later...

Friday, September 28, 2007

Almost There

At this moment, we're sitting in the Narita airport in Tokyo, Japan. We are dead tired because we didn't sleep much on the flight here. We left Houston at 10:50 am on Thursday and arrived in Tokyo at 2:15 pm on Friday. But, it was about 12:15 am in Houston so right when we got tired on the plane it was time to land. Now we're sitting in an unfamiliar place fighting sleep until our flight to Manila at 7:15 pm or something like that.

I feel like I'm in a dream. Surely I'm not really in Japan. Although, all the signs written in Japanese and the people walking around speaking Japanese keeps reminding me that I am. I've seen 2 black people so far. I know that's not really news but it was still something noticeable.

What else? Oh, we went to the bathroom. And, of course, they have the whole in the ground toilets. But they also have regular toilets too. The funny thing here is that they have 4 controls on the toilet. 1) music to play while you're doing the do 2) bidet 3) spray - that's the label but it's too spray the frontal feminine parts or vajayjay as Oprah calls it. I don't remember the fourth but it wasn't that big of a deal I guess.

Okay, I gotta go because I am dead tired and don't really feel like writing more. Before I go, the kids did exceptionally well on the plane ride. I was stunned!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Oh My Goodness...We're Moving

For real, y'all...

I knew we were moving. Didn't come as much of a surprise. I mean, I had to get gazillion shots (actually 6, I think). We've all gotten complete physicals, passports, made living arrangements, and everything else that goes along with a move. But today, as the movers are here packing up our stuff, it's finally real. We're moving to the other side of the world.........Manila.

In our expatriate orientation classes last week we learned what to expect, about culture differences, how to act and dress, about safety issues, and most importantly about the profile of adaptation. This was most beneficial as I realized there is a name for the highs and lows of moving to another place, another culture, a new set of friends.

When I left home for college, I don't remember feeling sad or anything. Maybe it's because I was only a 2 1/2 hour drive away. The only thing that bothered me was that my family just dropped me off and left. Didn't even take me out for lunch. My friend's aunt did that instead. I was just happy to be free...of rules. When I moved to Houston it was quite an adjustment. I didn't really love living in Houston until a year after we arrived. I think it was a combination of being farther away from family and the traffic. Boy, I had never lived in a place where it took more than 20 minutes to cross town. Houston was on a whole 'nother level! Then leaving Houston for California was, well, let's just say I haven't adjusted yet. Now, I get to move to Asia. And, I am so excited!

I still can't wrap my head around the 17 hours on a plane but I can't wait to get there and experience life there. I don't expect everything to go perfectly but I do hope there are no major bumps along the road.

Until later...

Monday, September 10, 2007

Viva Las Vegas...The Recap

Las Vegas was great! We stayed with Dwayne's aunt and uncle. They live about 10 minutes away from the strip which was perfect. Dwayne's dad also came out so we were able to leave the kids and enjoy time alone. Here's what we did:

Sunday - arrived in Vegas around 10 pm.
Monday - went to Silverton Casino. They have a small aquarium and Danae got to see them feed the stingrays and sharks. We also rode down the Strip and past Fremont Street. Also went to the Fashion Show Mall. Dwayne's dad arrived Monday evening.
Tuesday - went to Mandalay Bay and enjoyed their aquarium. It was very, very nice. We saw all kinds of animals...except the turtles because they were removed for their feeding. The kids had a blast! We ate at Green Valley Ranch Casino. Dwayne and I watch "Hell's Kitchen". This year's winner, Rock, got a job there. But, we went to the wrong side and his dad really wanted to eat at the buffet instead. Plus, the buffet was cheaper and you get more food. Initially, we were disappointed. But, the chicken marsala, salmon, and other goodies helped us get over the disappointment. Daddy took the kids swimming that evening.
Wednesday - We went to Hoover Dam. I must admit it was more than I actually expected. It was so HOT out there though. Horrible. Brayden ended up getting a fever by the time we got home. I guess he overheated. Some good old Tylenol did the trick. He felt and acted fine by that evening. Dwayne and I went out to the strip that night. We watched the fountains at the Bellagio, the pirate show at Treasure Island, and the volcano at The Mirage. We also walked around looking in the other hotels/casinos.
Thursday - We didn't do much during the day. That evening we went out so the kids could see the evening shows. Danae enjoyed the fountain show at the Bellagio until the finale started. I guess the water was so loud and shooting up so fast that it scared her. She wouldn't even stay with her grandfather so I had to hold her big 30+ pound self until she calmed down. She is such a scaredy-cat. We walked around on the strip a bit. Went into Caesar's Palace where it looks like you're outside because the ceiling is painted to look like the sky. Also, went in some of the other hotels there to marvel at the excessiveness of it all. Danae got a jack-in-the-box and Brayden got drums...both gifts from granddaddy.
Friday - We spent the day at Circus Circus where Danae got to play in the arcade. Unfortunately, ate at another buffet there and it was not good at all.
Saturday - we went to church during the day where Danae decided to use the bathroom in her clothes instead of telling me she needed to use the bathroom. I was so upset. Saturday evening, Dwayne and I went to the Bellagio to see Cirque du Soleil's "O". This show was soooo good. They had a pool in the middle of the stage that the people were diving into, synchronized swimming, funny clowns, and anything else you could think of. The tickets said there was a possibility of getting a little wet but we didn't get splashed at all, just a couple of near misses. The funny thing was these two black women who sat on the front row. They had on ponchos and shower caps. You know black women do not like to get their hair wet. We were rolling with laughter at them! It's not like anyone got drenched, just a couple of splashes.
Sunday - we went to an outlet mall and walked around. Also, went to Circus Circus to redeem all the tickets we won. Flew back to Cali that evening.

We had a wonderful vacation and now we're ready to get ready for our next move to Manila.