Friday, October 31, 2014

Dubai

Boots got the whole crazy idea about going to Dubai while we were surveying the view from the observation deck of the Sydney Tower.  He has had this thing about the tallest buildings and the tallest towers since Ate took us to the Empire State Building, and of course he wanted to reach the tallest of them all.  It's what he wished for for his seventh birthday.  He didn't want a party or any gadget or gift - all he wants is to climb Burj Khalifa.  He has such simple needs, right?

It was fairly easy to book the trip thru my trusted travel agent Lorie, whom coincidentally I first met when I had to cancel an El Nido trip with Ches and Yoshi bcoz I found out I was pregnant with the baby who will become now nearly-seven Boots.  Owww.  You have to book thru a travel agent, anyway, if you don't have a relative or friend in Dubai, bcoz you need a sponsor for your visa application, who has to be a Dubai resident.

Lorie got us into Howard Johnson Hotel in Bur Dubai.  It is actually a hotel chain primarily located in the US and Canada.  We had to take a suite bcoz apparently Dubai hotels don't allow families with two kids to be in just one regular room.  (I also read that Dubai hotels are the most expensive in the world, second only to Geneva.  Ha.)  So it was either a suite or two deluxe rooms.  I told Lorie we will have to take the suite bcoz my kids still sleep with us even back home. Groan.





The suite was nothing fancy - it was large, clean, comfy, but it wasn't luxurious, certainly not in the level of the Marina Bay Sands suite.  Hahaha.  My favorite feature was, strangely, the bathroom tiles, which had a peculiar sandbar design.  It's so Middle East.

Most of the staff manning the reception were Pinoy.  We made fast friends with Jennifer the manager, Mykel the concierge (who taught us all we needed to know about getting to Jumeirah beach and Burj Al Arab), Nikko the other concierge, and Sheila the waitress who chatted us up every breakfast.  They called the elderly Indian bellhop 'Tatay'.  Hahaha.  After long days and nights touring Dubai, it was a lot like coming home when we got back to the hotel bcoz of all the familiar Pinoy faces.







The rooftop had a decent pool, jacuzzi, and sauna, and we got to try all those while waiting for one of the tours we booked.  Ches even had a go at the gym.  You could see the Burj Khalifa from the rooftop.  It's like Washington Monument or Mount Mayon - when you're in the area, it will be hard to find a place where they're not visible somewhere in the background.

I had a good experience here with the Indian lifeguard who helped me fix up the sauna and returned my Ray-Bans which I forgot on one of the lounge chairs.  Ches thinks he has the hots for me. Sniggers.  He thinks that of every guy who does anything nice for me, as tho he can't believe I'm the kind of person others just want to be nice to.  Hahaha.






The first stop of our Dubai city tour was actually the gold souk, but there was nothing there that interested me, much less the boys.  I stopped buying real jewelry since MWC.  We mostly just ogled at all the luxury cars on the road, and if they were parked we had our pictures with them.  Hahaha.  

There's supposed to be an ATM in Dubai that dispenses gold bars.  Sniggers.  It's as easy as buying soda, you know.  I'm not sure, tho, whether that's found in the gold souk.  Gold bar ATM = only in Dubai. 

Then we headed to the Dubai Museum, which is more like it, right?  It was actually converted into a museum from an old fort from the 1800s, the Al Fahaidi Fort, thought to be the oldest structure in the area.  Cool, huh.  

It opens up into a huge courtyard, and the buildings house several exhibits about the old Dubai and its people and trade.  It's easy to squeeze the tour of the whole place in under an hour. My favorite parts were the doors with elaborate floral patterns.  As you know, I have This Thing With Doors, ever since I fell in love with the massive red doors of The Forbidden City a couple of years back.    





And then came the episode I've come to call Jewel Takes On The Pakistani.  The latter is our driver/tour guide, a youngish Pakistani guy in a preppy outfit and a demeanor that aims to say he's on his way to an event way cooler than driving some Third World tourists around.  I gave him the third degree bcoz he didn't follow our itinerary, which was supposed to include photo stops at a mosque, a palace, and the Burj Al Arab.  He made all kinds of excuses - that he was bringing us instead to nicer places, that traffic was bad and we were running late - but of course I didn't let him off easily.  I don't back out of fights, especially those I start.  Sniggers.  To his credit, he remained gentlemanly all the time I was scolding him.  I guess he exacted revenge when he took pictures of us, which turned out to be all blurry.  HAHAHA.

Where he took us to instead was the Atlantis hotel in this place called The Palm, a man-made island in the shape of - you guessed it - palm fronds.  (The aerial view of The Palm shows you one of those hugely extravagant things Dubai has become famous for.)  You couldn't even get in the lobby of the hotel and even if you could, how fun is that knowing you're just visiting for a few minutes and not checking in?  It's like, I'm a first-time tourist in Manila, and your itinerary includes taking me to Manila Hotel, where all I can do is take pictures of the facade and the bay it overlooks.  Groans.         




At least we had a whiff of fresh air from this body of water that Chester says must be the Persian Gulf.  Well, hello there, Persian Gulf!  We're happy to meet you!

It was relatively quiet save for a few Caucasians engaged in water sports.  It looked a lot like Manila Bay, actually - only bluer, and less dirty. 

A while back I showed the boys this feature in Readers' Digest last year or so, about this crazy slide in a water park that is not only nearly vertical, but also plunges you directly into a pool encased by glass compartments full of sharks.  Aarrgghh.  Talk about extreme adventures.  It turns out this slide is in Aquaventure Waterpark in Atlantis.  Good thing we made the connection belatedly, or the boys would have nagged Ches and me to no end to go into the darned slide.    






The last stop of the tour was Dubai Mall, but that was where we killed time before our flight back home, so I'm doing a separate post on that.  One of the Pinoy staffer in the hotel told us that is usually the racket of these tour guides - they leave you off in the mall to get done with their tours.  How convenient for them.

At night we went on another touristy activity, the dhow cruise dinner.  The  boys were excited to get into a big boat and have a dinner buffet while going around the Dubai Creek. So that was fun, even if the food was mostly blah.  There was fish, chicken, beef, rice, pasta, and veggies, but they were all rather bland.  I was not optimistic about Middle Eastern cuisine, to begin with, and I'm the kind of person who gets into a mood if I don't eat good food - so I made sure to stock our luggage up with all sorts of chips and sweets, tuna paella and cup noodles.  Hahaha.   

There was also live entertainment on board.  There was a giant horse-shaped mascot that went around and nuzzled the guests and kicked Yoshi bcoz he was being too rowdy as usual.  Kids and adults alike enjoyed that.  And then a young Arab performed this amazing local dance called tanoura.  We had seen it the night before at the Desert Safari, and my, were we impressed.  It involves a male dancer clad in several layers of colorful, elaborate skirts, which light up and form something like a giant jellyfish at the end of the dance.  The dancer also juggles round, wooden objects - and all these while spinning around and around, for a solid 10 minutes or maybe more.  Wow.  These guys must take something so much stronger than Bonamine before getting into their routine.






The boys remember this part of the trip mostly for the two Indian girls on the other table, whom we code-named Dora and Doray.  Yoshi cracked up when I noticed the elder one with fierce bangs and quipped, 'wagas ang Dora haircut ni Ate!'  She had a little sister whose bangs were a little bit softer. We were pairing Kuya up with Dora thruout the night.  He's a good sport about these things.  Bootsie not so, hence we kept quiet about him and Doray.  Hahaha.  He did spot two pretty little girls at Burj Khalifa, and he code-named them Dory and Doris.  Crazy.      

And then there was this winner blooper from Boots.  Dubai Creek separates the two main parts of Dubai, Bur Dubai and Derai.  Ches forgot the latter one time.

Ches:  So it's Bur Dubai and what's the other one?
Boots:  Mur Numai?

HAHAHA.     

The best part of any trip:  creating memories with loved ones.    

My favorite part was staying on the open upper deck which offered nice views of the Dubai skyline - all the tall, glitzy buildings with their peculiar shapes and bright lights, the ancient, well-lit mosques and heritage villages - as well as the other dhows and abras in the creek.  

It got cold, too, like the way Baguio gets nippy at night.  This was actually the best time to visit Dubai bcoz in all other times of the year, the heat is apparently unbearable.  It drizzled on our way to the cruise, and the front page of the newspaper the following day showed a pix of locals frolicking in what they called 'the first winter rain'.  

I'm truly happy for them, but I just think it's a bit of a stretch to call that short, light drizzle as rain, much less winter.  Hahaha.









Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Midlife

I turn 39 next week, and I don't know if it's a coincidence that my recent conversations with Ches and our other friends somehow revolve around our getting old.  A friend is worried about a lump in her breast, another is on an extended sick leave, and I myself had a health scare last month.  We mused that we never even talked about illnesses in our 20s and even early 30s.  But now, moving into 40, health has become a big issue, and somehow we all feel the same:  what scares us most about getting seriously sick is not so much dying young, but leaving behind our little kids.

Short of diseases, there are all these other signs of our getting old.  Paula had to go on leave bcoz she stayed up till 4 AM finishing a TV series. Giggles.  We used to be able to do that even on week nights and still have the energy to show up for work the next day (albeit obscenely late). Ches and I were also talking about how we used to be able to survive on just a few hours of sleep at night, but now it's hard to function unless we get at least six, seven hours of sleep.  So even if people say the two of us look the same as when we were in college, we both know deep down that is no longer true, that having the same weight as 20 years ago (give or take a few pounds) does not equate to being as strong or hyper.

This month also marks The Longest I Have Ever Stayed In Any Job. Before this, my record was four years and three months at the law firm.  Now I'm on my fourth year and fourth month.  Yes, me already.  Ches thinks a major reason why I'm still hanging on to this old job is the spin-off last year, which actually involved a move for me from the parent company to the spun-off subsidiaries, and from doing purely Legal to HR and Admin. and now even Compliance, hence giving me the change I'm always itching for after a few years in one job.  He is so right. He knows too well I subscribe to that line in the Eraserheads' Spoliarium:  'Bakit ba pag nagsawa na ako biglang ayoko na ..."     

Recently Jon and I saw another acquaintance figuring in the latest controversy to hog the headlines. At times like this, we're happy we chose the quiet life away from anything government or politics, even if it means being perpetual corporate slaves.  I'd rather be unknown than infamous any given day.  I also would never dare tarnish the name of UP Law.  There are already way too many alumni in the limelight who cannot even manage to be cute, let alone be excellent.  Since I attended an MCLE class of Prof. Harry Roque last year, I've made a vow not to do anything to publicize myself unless I get to be as brilliant a lawyer as him.  And that is certainly not happening in this lifetime.

Jon himself turned 39 last week.  He lamented, 'lapit na mag-midlife crisis', as tho it's something inevitable like menopause.  Hahaha.

Well, there is always stand-up comedy when I get too old for the daily grind.  Not a few friends have suggested the idea to me, the same ones who always laugh at my stupid jokes and snarky comments.  The prospect becomes particularly appealing when I get into another hilarious moment with my boys, and I think - hmm, this is good material for my stand-up comedy routine.  Hahaha.
            

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Zombie Doctor




And so it was the office Halloween party again, and we had to tackle the matter of what to wear. Thankfully, Ate had sent Boots a zombie doctor costume earlier this year, and it fit him just right now, so the little one was all excited to get dressed up and go.

Yoshi figured he will be a Michael Jackson zombie.  All he really wants is to be able to wear his leather jacket that he had specifically requested from Ate.  He LOVES that jacket.  He will wear it everyday in school if I let him.  Boots and I are also coveting it and have lined up to inherit it once Kuya outgrows it.

Ate:  Why didn't you and Boots just tell me you also wanted leather jackets so I could have bought for you at the same time when I got Yoshi's?
Me: Bcoz we never liked leather jackets until we saw how good it looked on Kuya!

Hahaha.  

Vada had a skeleton mask and I got her a skeleton robe to go with it.  Me, I initially planned to go as Jennifer Laude, except I couldn't find a toilet bowl light enough to carry along.  Yes, I was vying for Miss Inappropriate/Poor Taste. Just kidding.  Everyone knows I'm too lazy to come up with a costume if it's not readily lying around at home.

Yoshi:  Mom, what are you wearing?
Me:  Just one of my black dresses and some nice shoes.
Yoshi:  Oh, so you're going as your own maldita self.

HAHAHA.  Slow clap.

I wore my long black dress from Debenhams and black and white Anna Sui Hush Puppies - not very Halloweeny, but who cares?  I was happy with my outfit.  Hahaha.  My substantial compliance was a skull headband I chanced upon at Gourdo's.  
   
What do you know, Boots won first prize for his costume.  Yay!  I guess bcoz his zombie doctor get-up is different and not like all the others you can buy in SM.  Hahaha.  Also, he hammed it up on the stage and made like an actual zombie when it was his turn to show off his stuff.  Such a performer, our Bootsie.    



He earned P3k for his efforts.  Hahaha.  When Boots was named as the grand prize winner, Yoshi squealed:  Yay, may pang-dinner na tayo!  Groan.  Not once did my kids not embarrass me when I bring them to the office.  Aaargh. 

In the adults' version, meanwhile, it was Athan The Maligno who won.  He was shy to join initially, but we were all pushing him to go for the P5k grand prize that Tolits brought home last year.  I'm so glad he won, he so deserved it.  

He actually painted his entire upper half with uling and mantika.  Gasp.  And when the show was over he had to go all the way from our office at the 23rd floor to the basement, where the comfort rooms have showers, so he could clean up.  Apparently whenever the elevator doors opened and the people outside saw him, they screamed and wouldn't go in.  HAHAHA.  What a riot.   
  



Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Classics

When I'm particularly bored or just plain lazy as usual, I go over my old blog posts and read thru the ones about my kids.  Those are always my favorites.  And then I have a good laugh with my three boys when we remember something hilarious or wild they did or said in the past.

These are their recent classics.

Yoshi:  I think my classmate Miguel has anger management issues.
Me:  And you know all about anger management bcoz you're a psychologist now?
Boots:  Even I know anger management!  It's when you can't stop being mad.  The illness is called 'angeria'.

HAHAHA. Slow clap for Boots.  Turns out he's the one with the psych degree.  Snickers.    

Yoshi was telling us about this one time when his CL teacher asked a question about the sacraments, and he was the only one who knew the answer, and all of it, too.  Apparently the teacher told him maybe he should be teaching the subject instead.

Me:  Was she being sarcastic to you?
Y:  No, she was smiling when she said it.
Me:  You could be smiling and still be sarcastic!   
Y:  Relax, Mom.  She meant it nicely.
Me:  I think she was being sarcastic!  I'm gonna talk to her!
Y:  Mom, trust me, I know sarcastic - you're my mother!

HAHAHA.  I LOVE Yoshi.  I'm always on my toes trying to keep up with his brain powers and unique sense of humor.  I work hard to provide him with all his needs and wants, in the hope that maybe I can be more worthy of the gifts he offers us every single day.     

Yoshi has a classmate named Marcus Bruno, whose nickname is Bono, and whom everyone calls Boner, to which he willingly responds.  Groan.  Why do they even know that word?  

Yoshi:  Obvious kung sino sa class namin ang may crush kay Miss Esteban.  Pagpasok nya sa classroom, tumataas ang mga pants nila!
Boots:  At least ako first week of class lang tumaas ang pants ko kay Teacher Khrystia!

AAARRRGGGHHH.  Seriously, in grade school?  I was all set to do something drastic (like deprive them of chicken nuggets) until they learn how to behave properly, but Ches does not seem the least bit fazed.  He and our other friends who went to boys' schools reassure me that this is all par for the course, that they've all actually gone thru and done a lot worse in their time.  Ugh.  Boys.  Such dignified, respectable creatures.

Oh, but they're so sweet, too.  Which erases all their other faults.

Boots:  You always smell so good, Mommy!
Me:  Not always.  Not after I do zumba, right?
B:  Oh, you smell good even after zumba, bcoz of all the love inside you.   

Owww.  Get a load of that, huh.  Boots is my man.  I told Ches, if he had half of Boots' romantic and original one-liners, he could have had me as early as when we were six.  Hahaha.