Thursday, 27 February 2014

Day 11: Windmills

I've been seeing a lot of windmills, pinwheels recently.

Real windmills are not cute at all! They are huge and functional!

Today we went to a quaint village outside of Amsterdam. This is probably the best part of my trip. I'll let the pictures do the talking.

Before that, I want to be a geek and talk about windmills. The Netherlands is known to be an agricultural country in the past. They made and sold flour, oil, milk and cheese. 

Windmills are used to make these produce.  The wind powers the grinder that crushes the husk of the wheat to make flour and crushes the seeds to make oil!



Traditional Dutch houses have a distict look and the colors vary per region. This is not a theme park. This is actually a real village and people live in these cute houses.  FOR REAL!


I really like the windows but S believes they're scary. It's so easy for vagrants to break in and enter your home. Yes, we are from a third world country hence these fears.

We spent half a day in this village and I was very sad to leave

Further down, there's a much more bigger town. This is a hotel inspired by Dutch houses. Clever!


The Netherlands exudes a very distinct charm.




Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Day 10: The Red Light District

Amsterdam is notorious for its legalized prostitution and marijuana. The place where these two come together in sinful harmony is DA WALLEN, more famously known as the Red Light District.

Prostitution started in the area because Da Wallen used to be a port. Think Fantine!

I didn't get to take decent pictures because the place is dark. Furthermore, it's also not allowed to take photos of the girls in their rooms.




Obviously I'm not  an expert on this subject matter. Neither have I enjoyed the pleasure of their services. So take post with a grain of salt.

The average cost of a 15-20 minute service is 40-50€. These prostitutes operate like Cebu Pacific with a lot of +++. If you want to take the back door route, +30 . If you want to kiss her on the mouth that'll be another 20€.

I read up that they can normally entertain 8-10 clients and can make a minimum nett profit of 75€ a night. In Romania a girl can make 150€ a month  as a waitress. Even if you're not a math whiz, you can see that prostitution can be a profitable career option.

In the Netherlands, prostitution is legal. The prostitute pay taxes. Infact the last issue they had was them requesting for the same pension as the soccer players.

A prostitute must first register herself as a company. She is considered as self-employed. As a company, she can then rent a room. 



Her room is technically considered as her commercial space. This is the very room where she advertises her goods and the same room where she does the doodie.

(Photo from Flickr)

If I were a prostitute, I will ensure that I have a relevant and a clear set of 6Ps. Afterall, competition is tough with the girls just right beside each other. 

If you are planning to go to Amsterdam, I suggest you get a walking tour in the red light district. These tours are said to be led by former sex trade workers. It should be interesting.

If you're a guy and wants to know how to avail their services, check out amsterdamdiaries.com

Still on Pause,

L


Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Day 9: Rijks Museum

Okay, so we don't like art very much. 

I believe art can come in many forms like:

- food
- interior design/ living spaces
- flowers
- opera
- architecture 

I haven't really developed the appreciation for paintings yet. So much so that I have been to Paris 3 times in the span of 3 years and yet I've never been inside the Louvre.

So here we are at the Rijks Museum. We initially planned to see the work of Rembrandt and go next door and check out the work of Van Gough. unfortunately, it's more comfortable to enjoy our drinks rather than fall in line. Look at the line!



The line for the Anne Frank Museum is so much longer and colder!!

The Rijksmuseum is such an impressive building. the 10 year renovation that cost 375mio euros just ended last April 2013.

Yes, the Dutch are rich. They have been a trading country for ages. Currently, their tax rate is around 50%, according to my former-Dutch boss. I'd be more than willing to pay 50% in taxes if we have museums like this!


How can I refuse not lounging around in this beautiful coffee shop



Still on Pause,

L

Monday, 24 February 2014

Day 8: Memory Bank

We are off to a bad start as a result of my bad memory. Sometimes I worry I have early onset Alzheimer's.

That would be so sad if ever. I'm known to invest in moments, making my memory as my greatest asset. To lose it is to lose life itself.

Perhaps, this should be my inspiration for writing more diligently in my blogs.

God forbid my memory dies before me, I will have something to remind me that I had an amazing life, that I had great friends, that I had a wonderful family and that I was loved.

Today, we went to have coffee at the Eye. Such a beautiful place. It would be a pity if I forget this..



Sunday, 23 February 2014

Day 7: Design Hotels

I'm sucker for unique and or fancy pansy hotels. Bad hotels can make me cry. I've walked out of quite a couple, including Manila hotel back in 2004. 

This love for Design, Charming, Luxury and Resort hotels was developed and cultivated by my GBF. Note that those 4 are different from each other, atleast by my own standards.

Example of Charming:





Example of Luxury: 

I usually associate this with Business. I don't feel relaxed in these types of hotels. Most often that not, these types of hotels are located in the city center.



Example of a Resort-y hotels. You never need to leave the hotel premises! Ideal for relaxation and procreation.




I would classify the Safari Reserve hotels in Africa under resorty and luxury. 

Going Back to the subject of this blog!

Because I am scared to travel by myself, we ended up traveling together and he would never tolerate ugly accommodations. He'd say , "we didn't travel so far to live in misery"

Much of my appreciation of the finer things in life actually came from him. 

Thank heavens, I found a man who shares the same sentiments and a man who can afford to support my only vices:  "comfortable" habitation and (very) good food. 

To be honest, when your best friend is gay, it's hard for a boyfriend to keep up with the taste that you would have developed during the friendship. The level of knowledge on "other"matters can be also daunting, if not entirely shocking. I won't expound on the latter, but let's just say I took S on a tour of the shops in the red light district. I tried to remember the things my GBF taught me on my first trip back in 2009.

In that same year, my GBF brought me to one of the coolest hotels I've ever seen. And in my years of traveling, I've never seen anything close to it yet.

Since then, this hotel has won many accolades. 



I'm so happy to be back!









I have so many cool pictures! It's still as gorgeous as it was when I first came here.

AND THE ROOMS!!! That deserves an entry in itself.

For now, I'm off to breakfast! 


Still On Pause,

L

Day 6: Puff the Magic Dragon

Or is it Day 7? 

With the change in time zone  and my jet lag, I honestly don't know what day it is already. I'm so tired and I'm freezing my ass off.

And I'm being a big coward!

My friends have been encouraging me to smoke weed as part of my irresponsible phase. And I'm actually in a place where it is legal! 

Arggghhhh I'm too chicken to do it. No one can seem to guarantee that there is a standard "trip". This is the part I'm nervous about, the absence of any assurances that I won't go crazy.

The first time I was here, I was too scared that my GBF (gay best friend) would take pictures of me in compromising situations. Now, I'm sure I'm in good hands but I still can't bring myself to make that one huge leap ( or that one huge puff). 

For the rest of the afternoon, I just took a stroll and tried to inhale as much second hand pot smoke as I can.

This is so lame.


Still on Pause,

L


Saturday, 22 February 2014

Intermission: Mr. Morgan's Last Love (movie)

This is a sad story about an American Widow in Paris who meets and develops a relationship with a young french dance teacher.

It is easy to assume at the start of the movie that it's going to be a love story between Mr. Morgan and Pauline. However, as the story unfolds, it doesn't seem to be the case. He actually misses his wife and his life is empty without her. Pauline is just a reminder.

I cried 3/4 of the time. S held my hand, wiped my tears and then started laughing. He doesn't know that I felt so sad because I know time will come that we will grow old and eventually our health will fail us.  I can imagine us going through it together. But for the life of me, I don't think I can survive without him. Most likely, I'll end up as Mr. Morgan. 

This is the reason why I feel so much about death. It seems inevitable. It's just a question of when and who goes first.

This is a story about the one who gets left behind. 

The movie didn't have any breakthrough cinematography. But what it lacked in special effects, it made up for it though smart dialogues and brilliant acting. Michael Cane did most of his acting though his eyes. It was so powerful.

To the idiot who classified this movie as Drama/Comedy, I hate you! My eyes are swollen thanks to you!

 

Friday, 21 February 2014

Day 5: Up in the Air


One of the saddest moments in my life was when I got my silver kris flyer card. This was a downgrade from my Gold Elite Status. I got downgraded after 5 years of living the life.

Whoever thought of the Elite Flyer concept is a genius. This is the most visual way to show that you are above everyone else. I have enough self awareness to humbly admit to this vanity.

It starts with a gold tag that you attach to your bag. Upon seeing your card, corporate travelers automatically deduce that you must an important person to travel that often.

Then to make it more obvious, there is a different counter for gold and PPS/ million milers. Your luggage also gets a red priority tag and comes out first in the conveyor belt. This saved me a lot of time in the past.

The best part of being a gold elite is having access to the lounge! Free buffet! Free flowing coffee! Free magazines! Free flowing Alcohol!!!

As I write this in the MIASCOR lounge, S chirps in to ask "Don't they have cheese?" I just roll my eyes. Cheese?  MIASCOR Lounge? Shattap and eat your lugaw.



Going back to my glorious days!

I can't accurately describe the  feeling when upon boarding, they get your green boarding pass and replace it with a blue one. 

This means you have been upgraded to business class. This happened to be around 5x and the feeling was extraordinarily amazing! I wanted to scream and jump up and down on those 5 occasions. No kidding! Ofcourse I didn't. Vanity forbids you to show enthusiasm.

How do you achieve the elite status?

One needs to rack up 50,000 miles in 3 years to be a gold elite flyer. Easy Peasy, right? Not quite! To maintain your gold status, you need to rack up 50,000 miles in 1 year or else you go down to silver.

Ever since I came back, I haven't been traveling that much.

 I miss living out of my suitcase. I miss airports, however  stressful they are. I miss staying in hotels and collecting toiletries.

I'm love the life up in the skies. If I travel on business class, I make sure I don't sleep so that I can enjoy everything it has to offer. 

How can you not love traveling on business class? Look at these seats!




My GBF won't sit beside me because all throughout the flight I ask for chocolates, cookies, milk. You name it!




Sigh... 

Such was my life then. For now, I'll go back to my lugaw and avoid coffee so that I can sleep and dream that I'm still flying business class.

Someday, if I give birth to many sons, perhaps my husband will make me travel first class.

Still on Pause,

L










Thursday, 20 February 2014

Day 4: Unfit Mother

As I prepare for my trip, I can't help but feel what an unfit mother I will turn out to be. 

Look at my "survival kit"!




And it's not even because I'm trying to save money.  I've been to Europe a number of times that I know by day 5 my veins will craving for MSG.

 I can't survive on olive oil, salt and pepper and bread. Neither can S. Infact more so S! He paid 20 euros for sweet and sour pork in Paris!  Then he had Thai food in Napa and RamenS in New York.

This time, I will come prepared for our MSG fix!

Gosh! If I have these unhealthy  cravings how can I be a champion for healthy eating when I have kids! How can I make them avoid chips and fast food?

MSG is such an addiction.

I better get this out of my system really soon.

Still On Pause,

L

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Day 3: Finally, The Tearful Good Bye






Today I say good bye to my outlook.

Relationships run out of love but my outlook never runs out of mails.  

Everyday it cheerfully serves me atleast 70 emails for breakfast.

My fiancĂ© occasionally forgets to send me an SMS or two  through out the day. BUT never my outlook! My beloved outlook never fails to send me messages every hour.

Outlook has allowed me to make friends in different parts of the world. 

Unfortunately, it also gave me my share of annoyances.

Emails, while efficient, have limitations in conveying tones and emotions. If you want to be safe, add a lot of emoticons to get your feelings across. 

:) I'm nice, seeee

 :( oooppss I'm sorry

:o  oh no what did you do!

: / errr

: |  do I look like I care?

Many people have witnessed my LQ with outlook. I screamed when it hanged. I cried when it hanged.  I got mild strokes when it crashed.

I'm sad that no one will greet me when I get back from this long trip. No more 600 or so emails awaiting my return.

Bye outlook, my life will be empty without you.



Still on pause,

L

 

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Day 2: A Hidden Coffee Shop

If there is one thing I know about pleasure it's this: To extend the pleasure you get from one thing, you must have intermittent exposure to it. Prolonged exposure creates normalcy.

For Day 2, I decided to get my pleasure from a secret coffee shop. Curator, tucked away in a wine bar, reveals itself only to those who seek it. And no! I didn't drink wine at 10 am!

I've seen their pop up store in Archives but never really found the time to enjoy a cup of coffee. When I had a job, I would wake  up 7:45 and leave for work by 8:30. I never really had time to enjoy a good breakfast. Plus, I didn't realize that it's just a pop up shop and they have a real one hidden. 

The place reminds me of the coffee shops in New York, rough on the edges. The interior design is industrial but softened by wood and flower and fruits accents. I'm not an expert on interiors but I know enough to say that I like this



I ordered the breakfast set for 280 bux. Boohoo they don't accept cards! Buti nalang I have some cash.

Breakfast set comes with coffee and I chose t#YKW Coffee Roasters.  Now, I have been drinking coffee since I was in highschool, to the point that I am already acidic. However, I still can't pick up notes the same way I can detect notes in wines.




Good thing Gian came by to educate me. First, she asked me to describe the coffee. I said, it's medium bodied (it has milk), medium acidity (it has milky) and slightly fruity (for the third time it has milk). Why the "milk" comments? Well, you can't really assess wine accurately if you've added coke or water to it.

Gian said the coffee I'mhaving is a blend of Ethiopia and. Rwanda. African coffees are usually fruity and acidic. If a coffee is acidic, it means that it's fresh. I didn't know this!

 They can't cook in the kitchen, so food is simple. The croissant is sourced from wild flour. It's okay.




How many pleasure points for curator? 3. They seriously need more food in the menu.


How about you, What's your source of pleasure today?


Still on pause,
L









Day 1: The Start of Nothingness

When I decided to quit my job after 10 happy years in the company, it wasn't because I was tired. I just had an epiphany.

I will be getting married in exactly 5 months time. To me, marriage is not just about being with the one you love 24/7. It's about being responsible for someone else's life. This is such a huge responsibility which I plan to take seriously.

To most people, this seems like a normal transition to adulthood. Not to me.

You see, I started working when I was 9 years old. I worked for our family business. Needless to say, I never got the chance to play. When I graduated from university, I worked for one of the country's top FMCG company right away. So, I never got the chance to be stupid, lazy or irresponsible.

I want to do all that before I get married. Just to get it out of my system.

My house is fully paid for. I have saved up enough to be unemployed for a number of years, assuming I stay single and frugal that is.

This opportunity to do nothing will only happen again once all my kids have graduated university, again assuming I have kids.

So I wish to take this opportunity to be selfish.

I want to wake up without a plan.

I want to not worry on a sunday night.

I want to have cocktails on a tuesday afternoon.

I want to have brunch on a thursday.

I want to take my laundry to the cleaners on a monday.

Simple things...

I never got to do any of these because I was HAPPILY working as a corporate slave.

Today is the first monday of my nothingness. I planned for a day of nothing but it still ended up to be a busy day! I didn't get the chance to go to the gym!

But  I promised myself that today is a day for FIRSTs!

It was my first time to join my fiance while he was attending to the repairs in our new home. I never had the time before. Infact, he attended to the repairs of my own home!

 I walked to our new home, coffee and sandwiches in tow. He smiled when he saw me.

Then, we went to my gown designer to drop off samples.  Before, i could only do this during weekends. After that, we went to the hotel to pay our deposit. I also got to lie down and stare at the sky for an hour! Amazing! I never did anything like this before.






To celebrate my first day of Nothingness, he took me to "Illustrado" in the old walled city of Manila.  Eating in this type restaurant is not a first for me, what is a first is me not having a ipad. I figured, now that I time, I don't need to multitask. I can eat dinner and chat up with my friends after dinner.


I'm very happy today. It is as if my heart slowed its pace to accommodate the change in my life.


Still On Pause,

L