Sunday, August 24, 2014

All That Cath

We spent one evening in Singapore having dinner with D and G.  D is actually my boss but he's so kind and generous he basically adopted me when I was in Sg for business a few years back (2011, I think).  That was when I first met his wife G, equally accommodating and with whom I've managed to keep in touch thru all these years.  She would always send me something precious when D came to the country for business - a Cath Kidston bag, a Hello Kitty Swarovski pen, a necklace or a bracelet, a cheongsam even.  Plus bakkwa and chocolates for the boys.  It's overwhelming every time, and I always feel like telling this couple:  you guys, I'm open for legal adoption, let's do it.  Hahaha.

They took me to dinner at Imperial Treasure the last time we met in Sg, and when they found out our whole family was back for a vacation, they invited us all to dinner.  I decided to bring along only Ches, tho, bcoz he was the only one of the three boys I could rely on to behave thruout the meal. Hahaha.  

Ches agreed with my assessment the last time I ate at Imperial Treasure:  this is certainly The Best Chinese Food We've Had Since Beijing.  We had the yummiest crabs, prawns, duck - I lost count of the number of courses we were served and the glasses we finished of both champagne and red wine that came from their cellar in Scotland and vineyard in Australia.  (Yes, this is How The Other Side Lives.  The rest of us have to make do with scoring San Mig Light from the neighborhood sari-sari store. Hahaha.)  Ches marveled at how people so affluent can be so deprecating and funny. In fairness to them rich people, I've met a lot of them like this.      

At the end of the evening they booked a limo taxi to take us back to our hotel, complete with a chauffeur who offered us more drinks during the short ride.  The Life.

And it doesn't end there bcoz we brought home these two huge bags of Cath Kidston goodies.  G's only instruction to me was:  all the stuff for girls are yours.  Gasp.

I still clearly remember the first time D noticed my Cath Kidston bag.  It was at an oh so serious meeting in Makati Shang and as I approached he remarked on my floral satchel and launched into this whole story about his favorite Cath branch when he goes back to the UK (where he buys bags for G), as well as the fakes he spotted at Stanley Market in HK - all in front of my other boss, The Big Boss, actually, who just sat there unable to contribute anything about floral oilcloth bags, but looking thoroughly amused.  Groan.  Since then, G has given me a Cath bag and eyeglass case.   

This time, even the boys got Cath bags.  (Ches got some high-end perfume bcoz Cath doesn't have an adult male line.)  Boots chose for himself this London buses messenger bag (the website officially calls it the kids' sports bag).   Isn't it The Cutest? I'm so going to use this for myself when Boots isn't looking.  Hahaha.

Yoshi got the other kiddie bag, this backpack whose print goes by the official name Stop Thief! What a riot.  Unlike Boots, Yoshi could care less about things like clothes and bags and shoes, so it looks like Boots got himself his second Cath backpack.  Hahaha.  

As for me, I got all of these three bags.  Gasp.  I'm not worthy.

I love the blue Clifton Rose print and the red Kingswood Rose one.  I still prefer the older version of the zipped handbag, tho - the boxy, rectangular one that I got in the Shooting Stars print, one of my very first Caths three years ago.  This new shape is more feminine and has less sharp angles.  It has its own plus points, definitely.

My favorite is the foldaway tote.  So convenient to bring along when you're out shopping - you never know when you will be blessed with an opportunity to majorly hoard fantastic buys that will require an extra bag.  It's like the Butterfly Twist of Cath Kidston bags:  you can carry it around anywhere with you and it hardly adds any burden to your scoliotic back.

I told D and C they gave me so many bags I don't have to buy any more this year.

My other Cath Kidstons this year include these stationery items and eyeglass case that I scored at the Myeongdong branch.  All on sale.  Winner.

And these were what I got from my Christmas money from Ches.

There's my first ever leather Cath bag.  So fabulous and perfect at all angles.  It even comes with its own cloth case, also white-on-blue polka dot.  My only problem is - if the usual Cath oilcloths never seem to age and look like I will be able to use them forever, what more the leather kind?  While I'm happy they're so sturdy and everlasting, I also need to give Ches an excuse to buy more, i.e., bcoz what I have are all old and worn.  Hahaha.

I also got this kids' satchel bcoz of the bright, happy florals, and the fact that it was on major sale. You know the kind of sale price where you do a double take bcoz it's almost like they're giving away the product for free and it's a crime to not buy it?  That's the best kind of sale.

These two are what I got for little Bootsie.  When I was ordering online he was coveting the backpack and satchel bcoz he loved the fire trucks and outer space prints.  He loves using these two when there's an activity in school and he doesn't have to be lugging along all his books in his usual trolley bag.

I actually also brought him a pair of alligator-print high-cut Cath sneakers.  Too cute.  It's gotten dirty, tho, from all his running around, so I didn't bother taking a pix.  Hahaha.

I realized I needed a backpack bcoz when I was looking for one for our Sagada/Banawe trip at the start of the year, all I could find was my old Disneyland denim one from Manang Lei way back when I was in law school.  I love that backpack, but I knew it was high time I got another one for my more adventurous trips.  Hence, this red-and-pink floral beauty.

Now these bird and mushroom prints are some of the reasons Why I Love Cath Kidston.  

I already have the blue version of the birds design in a day bag that I bought two years ago, and it's still among my favorites.  This white one, tho, is another marvel altogether, and also comes in this new tote shape that's so roomy and practical for everyday corporate life.

I went absolutely crazy over the mushroom print.  Who else thinks of putting mushrooms on bags?  I love it so much I got two bags of the same design, one an open carry-all, and the other a messenger bag.  The latter is reversible, too, into a white-on-red polka dot.  

Short of world peace, a girl certainly cannot ask for anything more.   

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Marina Bay Sands

So, Aaron and Jill did not only 1.  book all our tours, 2.  arrange all our transpo, 3.  feed us with all the best of Singaporean cuisine etc. etc. - they also got us a suite at Marina Bay Sands.  Omg.  Who does that?  For the nth time, I LOVE my in-laws.

MBS is this huge complex that goes beyond the hotel and casino.  It has a walkway connecting to the Gardens By The Bay, and lifts that take you right to the mall, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.  It's where we hung out while waiting to check into our room.  
My, The Shoppes is grand.  It's like all those high-end malls in HK and KL, particularly those attached to Marriott and Renaissance where I stayed before, the kind where I can never afford anything.  Hahaha.  Well, walking around and just hanging out is free, right?  As far as I could see, there weren't many people buying anything, either.    

In my next life, I'm going to be the kind of person who has lunch at celebrity chef's restos on a regular basis.

In this life, I will have to be content to eat at the food court.  Hahaha.  In fairness, Rasapura Masters goes with the whole high-end vibe of The Shoppes.  So even if it claims to serve hawker and local cuisine, the prices can be pretty steep and not at all the same as the hawker stalls outside. 

Best of all, The Shoppes also has a Cath Kidston shop.  Yay!  I'm going from zero to three this year. Before Bangkok I've never even been to an actual store and did all my shopping virtually, but then my first real store in Bangkok was swiftly followed by the one in Myeongdong and then now in The Shoppes.  Not bad, huh.

I was using a Le Pliage, tho, and not any of my Cath Kidstons (altho I did use my Cath backpack in Legoland and USS).  It was Boots who was carrying his fire trucks Cath backpack.  He is always breathing down my neck when I'm ordering online and points at things he likes, so I buy a few items to make him happy, and we squeal together when our orders arrive from the UK.  Hahaha.  Anything For My Babies.  As long as it fits into my shopping budget, why not?

I didn't buy anything at The Shoppes branch, tho, bcoz my friend Grace had just given me and the boys several Cath Kidston bags.  Gasp.  Separate post coming right up.      

Before long Aaron and Jill were leading us back to the hotel bcoz it was time to check in and the room was already available.  Yay!

MBS is reportedly seven-stars, but it's not official the way Burj Al Arab claims to be seven-stars. Yoshi says it's the most expensive building ever built per square meter.  (He even knows exactly how much.  He has breakfast with the owners, you know.)  It's unlike any other luxury hotel we've seen, too, bcoz there are always so many people walking about, clearly just passing thru instead of actually staying in.  The lobby looks more like the ground floor of a big office in that way, which is not to say that it is not grand and impressive.  

It's just that it can get crowded in that lobby and you would expect more exclusivity in a five- or seven-star hotel.  I guess it's bcoz people want to gawk and pass thru MBS on their way to Gardens By The Bay or the Merlion or the Singapore Eye, etc., which are all nearby.  You also have the group going up to the Skypark, right at the top with the gardens and infinity pool.  It's the very same activity we did with Jon and the whole gang when we went on our grand Singapore-Cambodia-Vietnam adventure in 2011.      

I prefer the lobby at night when it's all deserted and lit up.  The registration area only ever eases up at night - thruout the day there are long lines snaking at every direction.  You'd think the rooms were so cheap that just about everyone and his dog can afford to check in.  Sheesh. 

My favorites are the white domes that turn yellow when lit up at night.  I peeked from our balcony at the second floor, and the whole area turns out to be a fine dining Chinese resto.  There are actually little round tables inside the domes, complete with the staple red tablecloth and black chopsticks.  Too cute.

I LOVE yellow. Yellow has got to be The Most Underrated Color Ever.  Giggles.

The suite was bigger than our ground floor at home, if you exclude the garage and itty bitty yard at the side.  Hahaha.  There was a bar, living room, two TVs, huge bed, two full bathrooms with tubs and separate showers and toilets.  It was definitely The Life.

The boys were running around all excited, gushing at the size of the TVs and tubs, opening all the drawers.

Me:  Sorry, Tita Jill, obviously hindi sila sanay sa suite.  Hanggang boutique hotel lang kame!
Jill:  Ok lang po, ako din naman namamangha.


Lola was even pretending to use the phone when I took their pix on the bed.  She's a hoot like that. She goes out of her way to make people laugh, and often she doesn't even have to make any effort, she's just a natural comedian.  

Well, the craziness of Aaron and to a lesser extent Chestnuts must have come from somewhere, right?  And it certainly was not Lolo.  Hahaha.  We love Lola Gaya.   

The room opens out into a wide balcony that overlooks Gardens By The Bay.  The view is especially pretty at night when the artificial giant trees are all lit up, and in the morning with the sun peeking out and its gentle rays streaming thru the trees.  Beauteous.

Lolo got a lot of Facebooking and Facetiming done in the balcony while sipping his nth cup of hot coffee.  (Ches gets his caffeine addiction from Lolo.) The boys were teasing him that he was having The Life in the balcony.  Hahaha.  I couldn't think of anyone more deserving of The Life than Lolo.

What Boots was drawing in the living room was Lola in curlers.  Lola is infamous within the clan for her curlers.  She's the only woman I know who still uses the same old pink plastic curlers from my childhood.  She uses them everyday before going out.  I heard Armi was annoyed seeing her all curled up everyday when she stayed with them in London for several months.  Hahaha.  I can imagine.

Ches:  What time kame aalis for USS?
Aaron:  Mga 9 pwede na.
Yoshi:  So Lola, you have to wake up earlier so you can be done with your curlers by the time we need to go!


The boys were also harassing Lola whether she brought a swimsuit for their much-awaited swim at the infinity pool at the 57th floor, the very top of MBS.  Our last trip with the grandparents was in Boracay, where Lola played around with the boys on the beach in a pastel one-piece.  Her sexy pix caused a near-hysteria on Fb among the relatives.  Giggles.

In fairness, Lola looks good for her age. Well, what do you expect from someone who drinks ampalaya juice and takes the fat off bacon before cooking it?  Lola is my peg for aging gracefully - next to Madonna, that is.  Hahaha.  

I was initially scared of going to the edge of the pool, which looks right out to all those skyscrapers that make up Singapore's skyline.  It seemed like an acrophobic's nightmare.  The boys were bugging me to go, tho, and I would've felt like such a loser if I hadn't gone even for just a few minutes, so I went.  

It didn't turn out so bad bcoz there's a ledge a few meters down from the edge, so it's not like you're hanging by the edge where you can see all the cars swarming way, way below (like in Macau Tower).  That's the worst part of my acrophobia:  looking up and seeing how far up I am.  Yikes.

In any case, I'm glad I grew some balls for once and went thru the exhilarating experience.  It's not everyday you can claim I Swam On The Roof of Marina Bay Sands.  (Yes,  me already!)

Our last dinner was also the eve of Yoshi's birthday, so we requested Aaron to take us somewhere nice.  Luckily, a popular hawkers' area was nearby.  Aptly named Gluttons Bay, it's apparently the favorite of Pinoys living in Singapore, and it's also where they bring their guests from back home.  No wonder there's a Gerry's Grill among the line of stalls.

We had our favorite Singaporean dishes, chili crabs and cereal prawns, together with an oyster omelette, two kinds of chicken, and mountains of fried rice.  So, so good.  Just like that all of Yoshi's birthday dreams came true.  Slow clap.

The area also offers fantastic views of the city at night.  Out of all the Asian cities we've visited, I think Singapore has the most incredible skyline at night.  In KL, it's just the Petronas Towers, and in HK it's the IFC Tower and the Symphony of Lights show across the river at night - and that's about it. 

In Singapore, tho, there are all these unique shapes that come to life at night when they're all lit up - the giant ship that is MBS and the flower-shaped museum in front of it, the durian-inspired theater nearby, the helix bridge with 60 million twinkling lights, and of course, the Singapore Eye.  I think giant ferris wheels instantly up the romance factor of any city.   

The Merlion was an easy stroll away from Gluttons Bay, but we decided to walk the other way back to MBS.  Lovely views all around.  Again I felt that pang when I'm reminded of the contrast back home.  Sigh.    

And what should be playing just as we were boarding our flight back home the following day?  The Feather Theme from Forrest Gump.  Only one of My Favorite Music Ever, and is in fact what we asked our quartet to play on our wedding day while our entire entourage was marching at the UP Chapel.  Gasp.  I haven't even heard it in years, and there it was, just filling up Changi Airport among the orchids and other beautiful blooms.

That's how perfect our Singapore trip turned out to be.