Life in a Suitcase

Some things you might be interested to know....

Friday, September 18, 2009

Gulf News Readers Picture

Kailangan ko na ng bagong blog, eto na muna, madali lang, di na kailangan mag-isip masyado...

My photo made it to Gulf News Readers Picture of the Day, Aug. 30, 2009 issue...

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Slumdog Mania

The small Jamal and Salim of "Slumdog Millionaire"

I can't blame US president elect Obama for wanting to see the "Slumdog Millionaire" after the movie made a lot of noise and took home 8 Oscar's!

On mid-january 2009, I have reported to our headoffice in Paris and had an opportunity to spend a weekend there with my colleagues from the middle east. We made a great plan for the weekend, this time to visit churches like Sacre Cour and Notre Dame. After a week of working long hours, I was too excited for the weekend to relax. I had to sleep early on Friday night just to make sure I have enough energy for the next long day of definitely loads of walking. Then came Saturday morning. At 9am, it was still dark, and raining, and at 2 degrees. I had a really slow and relaxing breakfast while sending messages to my colleagues suggesting that we instead meet at 12noon, wishing that some sun will show up, but it never did. We then had to cancel our church visits but had to do something else until somebody suggested that we meet in Chatelet Les Halles, a metro and a train station and a mall in one, quite a huge place but indoors so we were not worried that we will get sick and will not be able to work on the next working week (imagine the company's disappointment of spending money for your flight and hotel and you will be...what?...sick???).

So what do we do. Most of the shops are on sale, but because it's a weekend and it's the last day of the week for the Parisians to shop (Most shops are close on Sundays), it was too crowded for the very word of it. You will just get disappointed seeing the long queue on the cashier, epecially when you just want to pick up a t-shirt (like me)...While sitiing on Starbucks (after searching for this special coffee shop for like 30 minutes), somebody suggested to see a movie and I raised my hand in agreement.

The main objective is to see a movie in English so after browsing the lists, and mini-mini-mini-moe...we had chosen "Slumdog Millionaire". The synopsis is in French so even if I put together all the few words that I understood, it still didn't make sense to me. Anyway, there's nothing else to do so I shelled out 12 Euros (waaaah!) just to pass the time.

It was mostly in English, but sometimes especially when Jamal and Salim were still small kids, they speak Hindi..and I didn't understand, but because of the French subtitles, I didn't understand more..haha...

In the end it was a good movie. It is one good movie I can recommend president Obama and anyone to see. It's not only about the story but how it was made. I am not going to explain it in detail but what can I just say is go and try to see this movie. If it's not being shown yet in the cinemas (and for my friends in Saudi who don't have cinema at all) I'm sure there are already pirated copies around (ooopps, did I just promote movie piracy???), and make sure to get the one with an English subtitle.

At the back of my mind, I was happier thinking that our project in India is still delayed so I don't go there soon. When you see the movie, you'll know what I am talking about.

Reading the newspaper the other day, I just found out that it took home 8 Oscar's and many more from other award giving bodies. Well, the movie and the makers of it deserve all the recognitions. Even if it's not really an Indian movie, but rather a movie about an Indian kid, I am happy for my Indian friends here in the middle east for the success of this movie entirely shot in their country and starred by their people...Mabrook!!!

By the way, I managed to see Sacre Cour the next day. It was a little bit sunny at 4 degrees. And the next weekend, I was in Vienna...a WOW and a completely different story.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Technology and the work-life balance

I happened to read this article from the RoyalWings, the inflight magazine of Royal Jordanian, while on a flight from Amman to Beirut. It is about how our lives are being affected by today’s technology that we work wherever we go, regardless of the time of the day, the day of the week, who we are with, etc.

Jen Miller, the author of the article, said that technology allows us to be connected and contactable all the time. I’ll be honest to say that I’m one of those people who will make sure I reply to work emails wherever I am. Before going to bed, no matter if it is 10pm 0r 2am, I make sure that I check my inbox so that I don’t miss an important information, and reply when possible.

Earlier in our lives when these cell phones, blackberry and internet are not yet around, the wall between work life and personal life is very clear. The moment you punched out your time card on that bundy clock for example at 18:00, even before it gets 18:01, then you are disconnected until the time you punch in again.

Now, that everyone has a cell phone, even the not so busy employees might be distracted by their managers or supervisors in the middle of their sleep, or in a bar, or in a moviehouse, or on a weekend out of town with their families, etc, to be asked job related questions, or to be informed that the schedule has been changed, or to be disappointed that the day-off has been canceled because something came up…well something like that, I bet you all dig this.

In my case, the secret is for me to find ways and time when to disconnect myself from work. But how about our business partners working in different time zones? What about my boss who’s time is 3 hours behind me. She must be in her office at 9pm my time, and if I get lucky that she stays later, it will be until 10pm. What if I don’t reply? What if I put it off for the next day? Will they think I am not working? Will they think I am lazy? Will I be out of the loop or something? Well I supposed it doesn’t really matter whether I reply now at 10pm, now that I am already tired, or tomorrow at 9am when I’m fresher and can think of a better answer. I should advice myself that.

So there it goes, technology makes many of us difficult to manage the balance between work life and personal life. But then again, according to Jen, technology is here to stay – we’re the ones who need to switch off…

So, I got to end this now. I have to check my mails…

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Welcoming 2009

in Taipe

In London

In Berlin

In Sydney

In UAE, a candle-lit vigil for Gaza victims

Shaik Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Makhtoum, Vice-Preident and Ruler of the UAE cancelled all celebrations in UAE in solidarity with the painful events in the Palestinian territory and the massacres in Gaza...

Similarly, Egypt, Jordan and Syria also cancelled their festivities.

It's a pity that when we have all the chance to "celebrate to the max" as we say, some of our brother' and sisters' opportunity to even smile is being taken away from them...sigh!!!

Source of images here.

Friday, December 26, 2008


Isang araw, galing sa Egyptian Embassy sa Dubai, naisipan kong dumaan sa BurJuman (isa sa malalaking malls sa Dubai) para magkape habang hinihintay ‘yung release ng visa. Walking distance lang ‘yung BurJuman from Egyptian Embassy, ‘yun nga lang ang hirap tumawid sa kino-construct pa lang na metro station dun. One day lang ang release ng visa for Egypt, submit mo sa umaga, makukuha mo na sa hapon. So para hindi naman nakatulala dun sa loob ng embassy, kape-kape muna.

Habang nasa starbucks, nagbabasa ng newspaper at pinapatagal ‘yung kapeng iniinom ko kahit medyo malamig na, may dumaan na isang pinay. Nagkatinginan kami na parang magkakilala, sabay “hi”. Nag-order siya ng take-out pero dumaan ulit sa harap ko.

“Pwedeng maki-upo”
“Ok, lang, basta wag dito sa inuupuan ko na, haha”

Ooops..teka lang, kung anuman 'yung iniisip mong magiging ending nito, mali 'yun, hehe...

Hinihintay daw niya ‘yung kuya nya kaya kung pwede makipagkwentuhan para di mainip. Sabi ok lang kasi nagpapalipas din lang ako ng oras.

“Nag-aapply ka “, tanong nya sa’kin, may dala kasi akong folder.

“Ah hindi, meron na kong trabaho, ganito, blah blah blah” sabi ko.

"Buti ka pa", sabi niya. "Ako nag-aapply pa lang kasi, ‘dami ko ng pinagbigyan ng CV ko. Ang hirap pala dito sa Dubai. Pangalawang visit visa ko na wala pa ‘kong nahahanap na trabaho. Ang liliit ng mga offer. Dami na naming nagastos".

"Buti na lang nga andito ‘yung kuya ko. S'ya yung nagdala sa’kin ditto. Sa hotel sya nagta-trabaho. Maliit lang din ang sweldo pero ok naman. Nakikituloy nga ako sa kanila eh bed space lang din ‘yung tinutuluyan nya, anim sila sa room, nakakahiya tuloy, ilang buwan na rin ako dun, buti na lang din hindi pa nagre-reklamo yung landlady".

"Kawawa nga ‘yung kuya ko eh, minsan tuloy hindi na nakakapagpadala sa pinas. Sya pa naman ang breadwinner dun".

Naputol ang litanya dahil biglang tumunog ang phone niya. May nag-text. Nilabas niya ‘yung phone niya, N95

Padating na daw ‘yung kuya nya, ni-reply nya para sumunod sa starbucks.

Wala pang 10 minutes, dumating na ‘yung kuya. Nag-order ng kape and as usual, parehong litanya tungkol sa hirap ng buhay sa Dubai, mahal ng renta sa bedspace, mahal ng bilihin, maliit na sweldo, hindi nakakaipon, may loan, simot ang credit card at hindi na nakakapagpadala minsan.

Sa tagal ng pakikinig ko sa sentimiento ng magkapatid, oras na pala para bumalik ako sa Egyptian Embassy. Nagpaalam na ko. Sabi nila, kung free daw ako minsan, sumama naman daw ako gumimik, madalas daw sila sa Chikka Grill. Naisip ko bigla, ang hirap nga pala talaga ng buhay sa Dubai.

Hindi ako maka-oo, so sabi ko, kunin na lang nila ‘yung number ko, at kung nasa Dubai ako at available din lang, susunod ako kung sa’n sila mag-invite.

Binigay ko yung number ko, at ‘yung kuya, para ma-save ko din daw ‘yung number nya, nag-miss call sa’kin….from his Iphone.

Ikaw, gusto mo din bang magtrabaho sa Dubai??? Mahirap daw….

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Travel light...yan ang palagi kong advice sa sarili ko para relax and buong journey, kaya lang hindi pa rin maiwasan na may mga pang-asar na dumadating:

Nakapila pa lang sa luggage x-ray, bakit binabangga ako ng trolley nung mamang nasa likod ko...makuha ka sa isang tingin.

Bagong biling luggage, matagal pinag-isipan kung papatulan yung presyo, ok napag-desisyunan na bilihin at gamitin na, paglabas sa x-ray, lalagyan ng sticker (baggage checked) na napakahirap tanggalin. Pero matatanggal din, maiiwan nga lang yung pandikit nito.

Check-in...mahaba ang pila. Lipat ako sa kabila, yung iniwanan kong pila, biglang bibilis. Kasi 'yung nilipatan ko, biglang may pasaherong may problema sa visa, reservation, etc. Kulang pa 'yun, aalis pa yung counter clerk para ipa-check sa supervisor nila yung problema. Di ba pwedeng yung supervisor na lang yung lumapit?

Para mabilis ang check-in, iipit ko 'yung e-ticket ko sa passport page na may visa ng bansang pupuntahan ko, huhugutin ng clerk 'yung ticket, magpi-pindot sa computer at tatanungin ako, "saan dito yung visa mo?"

Aisle seat please...

Passport control...pila ulit, wag na lang lumipat kasi dalawa lang ang mangyayari, yung aalisan ko bibilis, yung lilipatan ko babagal.

Salamat at may E-gate na sa UAE.

X-ray ulit- ang tagal matapos nung nauna sa'kin, kasi hindi sya ready, tunog ng tunog 'yung sensor, hanggang sa pinaalis na pati sapatos...

Ako naman..para ready, alisin na yung watch, wallet, coins, susi, belt...alam ko na 'yan, ready na ko lagi. Pero minsan, ilang beses akong pinabalik ng security sa sensor door kasi tunog ako ng tunog, according to my checklist, inalis ko na lahat ng mga tumutunog. Syempre, naasar na rin 'yung mga sumusunod sa'kin. Ganti-gantihan lang. Cuff links pala...tumutunog din pala, ngeh...

Boarding..."We are now boarding all passengers assigned in Zones E&F", biglang nagtakbuhan lahat ng pasahero (lalo na 'yung mga...ay wag na lang pala sabihin kung taga-saan). Hindi na ko makikigulo, mauna na kayo. Di naman aalis 'yung eroplano ng di ako kasama.

Sa loob na ng aircraft...may nanunulak na naman, mauna ka na nga...please!

15C, aisle seat as requested. 12.....13.....14....15....puno na ang overhead compartment. Ok lang pwede naman "under the seat infront of you"... "Sir nasa may emergency exit po kayo, di pwedeng naka-block 'yung passage". Bakit naka-block ba?

15C, aisle seat as requested. 12.....13.....14....15....C...may nakaupo na. "Excuse me, that is my seat". Sagot niya "I know" (asar lalo da'ba?), I am with my family, we like to seat together". Ok, sana sinabi mo 'yan nung nagche-check-in ka pa lang...

Flight attendant with a smile (kahit asar na rin), "sir I'll find you another seat". Pasalamat ako syempre, kahit napunta ko between aisle seat and window seat...buntong-hininga na lang...

"We will be happy to serve you hot food in a short while". Kawawa naman 'yung mga flight attendants, sa isang kisap-mata, biglang mga naka-apron na, nakangiti pa rin, at magse-serve na ng pagkain. Tagal dumating sa'kin. And finally "Chicken with pasta or beef with rice, sir?". I'll have chicken...FA checks and says "sorry sir, no more chicken"....ang sarap ng beef.

During the flight, pag gustong mag-CR ng nsa window seat, tatayo ako...pag gusto ko mag-CR, tatayo rin yung nsa aisle seat.

Nasa CR. Merong tulak ng tulak ng pinto eh nakalagay na nga "occupied" kulay red pa.

Landing.."Please remain seated with your seatbelt fastened until the aircraft has come to a complete stop". Ewan ko ba kung bakit ang hirap intindihin ng pangungusap na yan...

And finally, out of the aircraft...buntong hininga ulit at pasalamat na nalagpasan lahat ng pagsubok...

Sabay litaw ng angel dela guardia "hindi ka pa tapos, may immigration procedures pa"....

Isa pa, bakit parang luggage ko yata 'yung palaging huling lumalabas...?

Marami pa, kung meron kang ibang naranasan na pang-asar, dagdag mo na lang....

Sunday, December 21, 2008

MERRY CHRISTMAS... myspace graphic comments
Myspace Chistmas Comments


Working for SMSI (SM Supermarket Inc.) during my college days to support my studies, I have always been taught how to fish…I still remember this posted in our bulletin board:


Those lines got stuck in my mind that even when I left SM and joined other companies, I used these as guideline, well especially at work. I hope there’s a lot of people out there now who are enjoying their fish because I taught them how to catch some.

Losing my weekend again as I have to fly this afternoon (Friday) to Dammam. I can’t remember when was the last time I had a proper weekend (Friday/Saturday in the UAE). The thing is, tomorrow, Saturday, is the start of working day in Saudi Arabia so I have to start working too. The morning of Friday is spent preparing the things I need for this trip.

Actually, I had a choice to fly tomorrow instead so I at least have the whole Friday to rest but I can’t find a flight, every airline going to Dammam is full. I wonder why. Even today, I can’t get a flight with my favorite airlines, I mean the airlines where I can accumulate miles with. My travel agent found me a flight via Air Arabia, a budget airline that flies from Sharjah. This is the first time I am taking a return flight from this airline and I realized how much savings I made for my company for this choice. Emirates Airlines and Saudi Arabian Airlines charges AED2,500 (USD676) for the same flight while Air Arabia is only AED830 (USD224). Super savings!!!

At the moment they already have flights to middle east, India and Pakistan, and more. I just hope they start a flight to Manila soon para naman matulungan ang mga kababayan natin na umuuwi sa Pinas or nagbabakasyon na hindi sinasagot ng mga employers nila ang ticket, or yung mga binibigyan ng cash value of the ticket at bahala ka na kung sa’ng airline ka lilipad. Malaking tulong ‘yun para sa mga pinoys dito sa UAE.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Handle With Care!

You brought something fragile as a pasalubong. Did you write "handle with care" in your luggage? Yeah right! Did you think somebody's got the time to read that. I took this video while waiting for a flight in Dubai airport. All I know is that the luggage that was thrown the hardest wasn't mine.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Being connected with a French company, I wonder if they do give Christmas bonuses to their employees. Tanong lang naman, no expectations.

Thinking about it again, the bonus that I already got from my current job is something not material. Mas maganda siguro sabihin "less material". It is something that I learned that continuously gives me more benefit over the years than just a lump sum at the end of the year.

Here it goes...

From the time I needed to leave Doha for this new assignment, I had to pack my things to come back to UAE. I can't definitely bring everything with me. 5 years in Doha made me accumulate a lot of "I want one of those" things na hindi ko naman kailangan. To cut the story short, I needed to decide and keep only what I really need, and believe me, there were plenty of things in my cabinet that I bought and never really used, and don't plan to use anyway. I had to put those in good use so I gave them away to my friends, neighbors, cleaners, etc and I saw how happy they were receiving these mostly unused things.

It also gave me the opportunity to also close my credit card (finally isa na lang that time).

With this and with all the travellings, I realized that I can "live on a minimum". I certainly don't need all my 20 denim pants, 10 jackets, 7 towels, di mabilang na shirts and all the bottle of perfumes na tagko-konti(tagalog 'yan) na lang ang laman. Now, I only have mostly what I need and before buying, tatanungin ko muna ang sarili ko kung "kailangan ba kita talaga kaya kita bibilhin, o bibilhin kita dahil kailangan kita???", LOL. Ok, honestly sometimes I really can't avoid buying a new t-shirt every now and then, I know I don't need a lot of t-shirts pero I can say na ito na lang ang pinaka-bisyo ko. When I see a new t-shirt and it fits well, bili na agad.

But wait, hindi ko naman tinatago for so many years in my wardrobe 'yun. Once in a while, pag walang magawa, nire-review ko yung wardrobe ko para alisin yung mga hindi ko na kailangan at pinapamigay ko naman. Pati security guard ng building namin nakikinabang. So mga friends, wait lang kayo. Before end of this month, end of the year na rin, I'll do another inventory to clear my stocks, LOl, para mas clear ang pagpasok ng 2009. Ako pala ang mamimigay ng Christmas bonus.

Anyway, this for me is really a great bonus. The ability to live on a minimum. The fact that I can fit things in my luggage and still live comfortably for a period of time. It made my life lighter, "less material" and less expensive too. In other words "HAPPY".

Nissan Altima 2009 Silver

I fell in love with her the first time I saw her...

Ang porma, great options, keyless ignition...and more. Sabi ko kaagad, I want one of those, LOL...kaya lang wala pang driving license sa UAE.

I have been thinking what car to buy and considering few options plus some friends recommendations. The fact is, I only live in UAE for like 1 week in a month, so getting a really expensive car is not practical at all. Besides my bro-in-law already drives his own 4WD so our transportation problem is reduced. I have been checking this cool site. Friends in the UAE and the middle east who wants to shop cars, check prices and specs, read reviews, be it brand new or used, just click here.

So what I really NEED (but I wanted the Altima) is just a car to move around UAE at times. I have a home office and the only thing I need out are some admin things like visa's, air tickets, paying the bills, buying supplies, collecting my salary check (once a month of course), visiting our stores in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and that's all. The rest of my personal businesses are just a walk away from our flat in Sharjah.

Probably rent-a-car will be a better option. Just rent it whenever I need (and choose different model everytime) so I don't get stuck with a bad debt. Getting a loan is not good for my cash flow, will be flowing out...

Yesterday, as my bro-in-law's passenger on the way home from Dubai, I spotted this black Toyota Yaris completely tinted and I said, that looks cool...and half the price of Altima...

so, I don't know yet. Got to get my driving license first. ENSHALLAH!!!

Ever been worried about something not worrying about?

I can say this is one of my strengths, patient and less worried. Mahirap minsan. It is one of our emotional responses, mag-worry. I have read below lines sometime somewhere before. Too bad I wasn't able to note the author's name, but these lines are good to read on, print and stick on your office desk, near your bed and anywhere you might think it will be useful to reduce all those wrinkes...LOL...

Why Worry….
Most of the things you worry about are not worth the time and trouble
you take to worry. And all that needless worry distracts you from other, more productive, creative and joyful things you could be doing.

With every worry also comes the option to let it go. You can feel the worry, see it for what it is, and then choose to immediately walk
away from it.

As soon as you do, your mind becomes vastly more clear and more focused. Your spirit experiences a glorious refreshment.

When your mind is filled with worry, just imagine how wonderful it would be to have that heavy burden lifted clean away. Imagine it, and
then choose the simple act of doing it.

Choose to walk away from worry, and lift that burden from yourself. In a moment, your worry can be gone.

Breathe in the sweet, refreshing air of freedom, clarity and effectiveness. Walk away from worry, and walk forward with positive purpose.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Walang madaling paraan!!!

I thought I had an edge for owning a Qatar’s driving license and I drove for almost 4 years in Qatar. Siguro malas lang ako, kasi nung dumating ako dito sa UAE in November 2007, rules have changed na daw, at kahit may gulf license ka, you still have to go to the driving school and pass the required tests. For a gulf license holder, ang advantage mo lang eh you only take half the number of classes. Instead of 40 classes, 20 lang. And then, you also need to attend lectures, pass the signal test, parking test, and finally the road test.

I registered sa Emirates Driving Institute, hindi dahil sa ‘yun ang preferred school ko, kundi dahil ‘yun ang alam nung taxi driver na sinakyan ko. It was a good choice (choice ba ‘yun?) anyway kasi professional sila. At least on my experience, mababait yung mga instructors na nagturo sa’kin (hindi pala nagturo, kasi, kwentuhan lang kami while I drive…medyo may konting tips din). Even the lecture rooms are better.

I registered since April 2008 pero dahil I’m always out of UAE, di ko matapos-tapos ‘yung 20 lessons ko.

Isa pang malas, they changed the rule sometime mid this year again saying that gulf license holder can go directly to road test. If you fail, then you get some classes. Well, fair enough. I went to EDI administration to check if I can do the same and I was told that I was covered by the rule when I registered in April…grrrrrrrr…ok, tapusin ang 20 lessons, anyway bayad na ‘yun.

One time I had no travel schedule for almost 2 weeks, nilagare ko and finally got a schedule for signal and parking test.

It was easy. I passed. But it’s not over yet. Road test ang pinaka-importante and to what I heard, nobody passes the first try. My first test was on 26 November. Syempre, FAILED!!! I can’t figure out what I did wrong, but yes, it was my first. The worse part is that when you fail, you need to pay another 8 classes and the new road test.

I was okay not to pass because I already knew the never ending stories about this subject. What I can’t take is that the first guy who drove the car passed the test while he keeps on horning on pedestrians and he was driving too close to the right side of the road. There was a point that he stopped suddenly because a pedestrian was crossing, blew his horn and it was the examiner who pressed the hazard signal. It was his 4th try, so maybe that’s enough for him.

This morning I went back to the school to get a new road test schedule. Ready with my cash, I proceeded to the cashier and was surprised to find out that they increased the lessons to AED100 per class. I blew AED900 (800 for 8 lessons and 100 for road test), about PHP11,000, a price I need to pay for failing for no reasons at all.

Larry, my bro-in-law passed on his 8th try…congratulations. He doesn’t want to remember how much he ever spent to get this GOLDEN card. For more horror, or rather funny stories about getting a driving license in the UAE, click here.

My next road test is on 29 December…will it be a happy new year for me…ABANGAN!!!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Amman, Cairo, Alexandria, Doha, Bahrain

It is now the last week of Ramadan. I suffered quite a bit when it comes to lunches in some countries. This is also the last week of the 3rd quarter of the year and I’m done with my traveling schedules for this period. I tried my best to complete my visits so to enjoy Eid holidays which will start on 1st October.

So where I’ve been this time?...
All in 2 weeks....

Had a trip in Amman, Jordan on the 10th of this month. It’s a predominantly Muslim country so restos are all closed at daytime. They work until 4pm on Ramadan so I get to hold my hunger until that time, and know what, they are an hour behind, so the moment I got back to the hotel and order lunch, it will be about 6pm my time before my worms actually get their lunches…

Amman is a nice place, weather is colder (I just mean it is not as warm as UAE) and there are lots of places to see. However, I have never tried exploring the place on my own. During my first visit here, our business partner Leena and Husband Hani drove me around and showed me the old Amman, the new city and the Roman Theater where they filmed the Gladiator. I always say that on my next trip on this place I will schedule it on the weekend so I can go to the Dead Sea and float in the water. I’d also like to visit Petra. Well maybe next time because this time I opted to stay in the hotel for my 2 nights there than to go out thinking that locals are enjoying their Ramadan feast at night.

Come Friday I had to move to Cairo, Egypt and was relieved to see restos are open so I was able to take my lunch on time. For the Egyptians, if you eat, you eat…if you fast, you fast…well it makes sense…

I had already visited the Pyramids, Khan El Khalil market and the museum last time. Mohammed (I think half of the men here are called Mohammed), our business partner brought me to a floating resto at the Nile river. The weather is nice but I didn’t enjoy the food much.

Emille, an Egyptian friend from Abu Dhabi, happened to be on vacation in Alexandria so I tried finishing off all my work so I can at least visit the place. Emille did well in arranging everything for me. His friend (Alfred) in Cairo picked me up from the hotel and dropped me to the Cairo train station. He paid for my ticket even I kept insisting I should really pay for it. I was really feeling guilty and wanted to get even so I invited him for a coffee before he leaves the train station and while I wait for the next train. Before I even took my wallet out, the coffee is paid. I am really grateful with his gesture considering he didn’t even know me.
Sheraton Montazah Alexandria

2 ½ hours to Alexandria. I enjoyed the train maybe because I got used to the cramped aircraft (I don’t fly on business class…not yet…lol). Here you have more legroom and a better recline. Emille was right on the train door when I arrived in Alexandria. With friend Feddie they showed me a nice mall and then drove on the long corniche of Alexandria to the Sheraton in Montazah (really close to the residence of the king of Egypt long time ago). I really enjoyed the place more than Cairo. Cool winds, lots of tourists around, long corniche where you can actually swim, long line of cafes....
Montazah with Emille and Feddie

Montazah, Citadel, the biggest church in Alexandria (ok it is not very big, Emille admits it), the museum, the corniche, sugarcane juice, no traffic, cool weather…It’s good to be in this place and daydream…and then my daydreaming was interrupted by “we have to drop you back to the train station”…and I remembered I was actually on a business trip, sigh…but then I have to note this place as a vacation destination and recommend it to my friends….

Still reminiscing my Alexandria experience while in Cairo airport but had to start working while waiting for my flight, to finish my visit reports.
Back in Dubai but not for long. 2 days. Enough time to prepare my next luggage and the documents that I need so I really had to work overtime to get ready for my Qatar and Bahrain trip, my last schedule for the period.

In Doha, Qatar. It was an opportunity that Rommel’s family will have the Block Rosary in their place on Friday night. With Qpals, I became very religious for a while and then had a nice dinner all prepared by Rommel, wife Sandra and the rest of his family.

In Bahrain after 2 days and were just working. If my friends in Bahrain happen to read this, sorry but I’ll definitely see you all next time. I was there for 2 nights but was completely booked because we had to check new store locations.

Back in UAE, for a quite a while this time until the Eid holidays. After the holidays, it is time to get new visas for Saudi, Egypt and Lebanon.

And I need to go back to the Emirates Driving School to finish all the necessary things required to get the “most coveted UAE driving license”…

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Life in a suitcase...going on the 2nd year

It’s almost been a year since I started this assignment, a year since I left Doha, a year since I was again based in Dubai…and I didn’t even notice the time.

All these questions…”What’s your job? What exactly are you doing? Are you a flight crew (winks)?” Then me saying “Oh it’s this and I do this and that and I travel a lot, really a lot”…and the follow up question…”oh yeah, cool! Do you need an assistant????”

I have been in the retail industry for so many years so even if I am actually an Electrical Engineer by education, I got stuck in retail, having connected with this industry since the time that I needed to support my college. And now given the task to look after the "middle east" area of a French franchise, I need to do a lot of visiting to our partner countries the largest of which and with the most number of stores is Saudi Arabia (sigh), Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar (where I have quite a lot of friends, so happy to be back once in a while), and then there’s Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon (the place where you see beautiful people in any angle you swivel your head), and of course my base UAE, not to mention reporting to the headoffice in Paris 4 times a year. Before end of this year we will also venture to Syria and India.

June 2008 in Paris, Celebrating 1st Half Results with the French Export Team

It was quite a good job, well actually, it makes me busy, it gets hectic at times. You see I am based in UAE but I stay longer out than here…sometimes I just have to unpack my luggage, do the laundry and pack again for the next trip. It will be a year this month that I am doing this…exciting, tiring, exhausting, but it makes me meet a lot of different people, plus old friends and acquaintances in these countries, and of course it makes me see places.

Rewind…August 2007, I was still in Doha and celebrated my birthday there. It was fun of course with Qpals (friends from Qtel – Qatar Telecoms) celebrating with me for 2 days of the weekend. They gave me my first Tissot watch which I gladly accepted, lol, packed in a supermarket plastic bag. It was a great birthday gift (and going away gift) because I look rich when it’s on my wrist.

Qpals and Daniel's (still inside Patty) gift

This year, last month, on my birthday, I was in Riyadh, KSA (nah! I wasn’t crying)…I was actually busy so I even forgot it was my birthday if not with some calls, SMS and friendster greetings…thanks to all who remembered even if I changed the dates in friendster (lol, I use to do that)…

Back in UAE, it’s Ramadan again, no resto’s until about 7pm…no problem, mom cooks…this makes me lazy to go out, I’ll be here for 5 days and if not I have to go to our logistics office in Jebel Ali on Sunday, I’d rather stay in my home office…come Tuesday I have to fly to Jordan and then to Egypt. Long time friend Raymond dropped me to the airport last time but it was a weekend, so this time I’ll take a cab (again)…

When in Doha I use to meet a lot of friends (aside from my work, lolz)…last time I finally met with
Aimee, Oneng, Bhogs and Arah again. Aimee paid our dinner because she was the closest to celebrate a birthday. I guess it’s my turn next time. After dinner, Oneng had to drop Aimee first but we stayed another hour in the car to finish Aimee’s Q&A portion, and Arah was proclaimed the winner. Also had a coffee with my kumpare Jake, this time, Che and my Gabriel (my inaanak) were already in bed so it was only Jake around who can’t stop telling loads of stories. One time I also had a nice trip with the Doha Pinoy shooters (you can find great photos on this link, unfortunately blocked in UAE) to the northern part of Qatar. Amazing places…this was the day I didn’t even switch on my laptop and my blackberry didn’t work so I was pretty much away from work. Meeting Qpals is necessary when in Doha.

Bhogs, Aimee, ako, Arah and Oneng in Doha

In Kuwait,
Pareng Al (my friend back in SM days and my Tatay’s inaanak) is there…after work we just meet with Meynard, have a dinner, visit their flat, sing-along with Meynards electric guitar, videoke… unfortunately, no alcohol in Kuwait.

Meynard and Al in Kuwait

Bahrain is intoxicating. If I ask
Michael (powerhorse buddy) to bring me to a dinner, he’ll bring me to a bar. Last time we had a nice dinner with Jen and Dennis at F1, and of course, drinks afterwards. Not so good when I had to work the next day, but it was fun after all. Other days I would see Ian, Pao and Pot for a dinner as well and a short tour around small Bahrain…

Visit to Bahrain Fort

There’s a lot more…later…