Category Archives: Foreign Service

10 Days…

And so it begins…

IMG_5789[1]

While this chapter of our lives comes to an end…

IMG_5798[1]

And I’m still not ready to say my goodbyes.

IMG_5782[1]

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Foreign Service, Philippines

Bad Diplomats?

Our neighbor host parties (dinner?) next door at least once a week, always on a weekday.  Always ends close to midnight.  Their guests all leave at once, are always very loud, laughing and chatting and hanging out in front of our front door before saying their final goodbyes and taking the elevator.

When you take the elevator in my building, if you make a right, there are only two apartments – mine and the neighbors.  Mine comes first, and it’s about 15-20 feet from the main elevator, the neighbors’ are at the end of the hall.

Our walls are made of concrete – when my neighbors have their little events, we don’t hear a peep.  When you gather in front of my front door and chat loudly, however, the noise travels through my apartment reaching every bedroom, since all our bedrooms face the living room (video tour here), added to that, the wooden floors are great at making sound travel.

When Lily hears the loud voices echoing through our apartment, she responds the same as any dog:  she barks.  Loudly.

A couple of weeks before I gave birth, I finally decided to attemt to put an end to the loud noise, the last thing I wanted was to have a baby awake all night because of people hanging out by my door.  So on a Tuesday at 11:30pm, I went out and told the group of 10 people hanging out to please be quiet, we were trying to sleep.

The noise got better and for a little while, if there was anything, it would be passing noise, no one was lingering here.

Then it restarted.  To make matters worse, guests started going to the hallway to have lengthy phone calls, right in front of our door.

So sometimes Karl goes out and asks them to please be quiet, we have a newborn baby sleeping.  Sometimes I’m the one who asks.

Yesterday, the neighbor angrily accosted our helper to complain to her that we don’t own the common hallway, and we are bad diplomats for asking people to be quieter.  Because don’t you know such guest was the president of XYZ company?  And another president of ABC company?

Say what?!? 

Am I the only one that expects MORE from people in high positions?  Consideration for others is not something you’re exempt from just because you have money, but if you do have money, I expect you to set the example for everyone else!  And truth be told, let’s be honest, I don’t care if you’re the Queen of England!  It’s the middle of the week, late at night, if you want to be loud, do so in your own apartment where the insulation keeps my baby and my pets from getting aggravated!

It’s going to be really really really hard leaving Manila.  I’m going to leave an amazing group of friends behind, and board that plane with incredible memories.  But this kind of crap?  This sense of entitlement that some have just because they have money?  I won’t miss it at all. 

(Want a more drastic example?   The men who murdered George Anikow were granted bail 3 months ago, despite having coldly murdered the former marine and spouse of a US diplomat – the murder itself happened because rich kids were told what to do and did not like it.  It was all caught on video, but the video, where Anikow is seen running away, then tackled and stabbed by the four men, was not considered to be enough evidence.  And then one wonders how some of the richer folks here get this sense of entitlement.  Well, because they can.)

3 Comments

Filed under Asia, Foreign Service, Manila, Philippines

Boracay!

As I mentioned before, as we are getting ready to leave the Philippines (in 25 days!!!), I was sad that we had never been to Boracay, the most famous beach in the country.

Stories of crowds and the partying atmosphere might excite some, but actually kept us from going there. Personally, I hate crowded beaches – I like my space, my quiet, my peace. To add to that, tickets to Boracay are just as expensive as international tickets, so we chose to go to places like Hong Kong, Taipei, Jakarta, Shanghai, Brunei, Kota Kinabalu, Seoul, Bangkok, (etc, etc) instead.

But splurging for a 5-star stay at the Shangri-la in Boracay sounded like the perfect way to end our time in the Philippines, plus an easy first trip with a newborn!

Ellie did great on her first plane ride, I nursed her on the way up and down, as everyone recommended in order to keep her ears cleared, and she slept the rest of the time.

IMG_53383

We got to the resort, and immediately fell in love…

IMG_53537

The view from our room didn’t hurt…

IMG_53583

IMG_54027

IMG_53783

We spent the next few days at the private beach in front of our room, the water and sand were gorgeous!

IMG_54937

P10001633

P10001643

P10001923

P10001993

P10002063

P10002073

P10002276

P10002163

P10002447

And as Karl and Ellie took a few naps at the beach, I was able to explore the grounds and check out the pool (which oddly enough, was heated, so it was super uncomfortable in this sunny weather…).

P10001683

Boracay-12

I also visited the other private beach, which was much smaller, but being next to the pool, also much busier…

P10001763

But from there we could see amazing sunsets… (No filters needed – actually, for any of these pictures, everything looks exactly as it did on my camera!)

P10002803

P10002833

P10003013

Traveling with Ellie was great too! I wore her on my Beco Gemini, which instantly makes her pass out, so we were able to go out to dinner every night, and she was completely oblivious to it! (I’m getting really good at eating above her head…)

P10002393

IMG_54707

And to add to my joy, Ellie loved being on the beach!

IMG_53723

P10001653

IMG_54323IMG_54913

P10002523

P10002543

P10002573

And she loved the water too!

P10003113

P10003142

P10003192

P10003233

(Except when Karl held her…)

P10003216

We took advantage of the free shuttle and checked out the “real” Boracay as well…

P10002313

P10002323

P10002343

P10002363

But around the beach area, and specially the boardwalk, it was all so noisy and crowded, we were relieved we decided not to stay there!

The only hard part of the trip was leaving this behind…

IMG_54997

P10003273P10003313P10003363P10003593P10003663

I’m so happy we went to Boracay, and despite the extra expense for the flights and to stay at the Shangri-la, it was absolutely worth it! The place was paradise, and it was a super easy trip with a newborn too (after all, Ellie wasn’t even 8 weeks!).

We have one more trip scheduled before we leave, spending a weekend in Puerto Galera (which involves a drive + boat), and I ended up scheduling a trip with the girls from MADS back to Siquijor – 6 moms, 7 babies, 1 yaya. Now THAT should be interesting… Stay tuned… I’m also hoping procrastination to pack will give me a chance to finally catch up on all the trips I’ve taken in the last few months and failed to blog about!

2 Comments

Filed under Asia, Foreign Service, Philippines, Pictures, Travel, Travel Review, Traveling in Asia, Trips!

50 Days

We’re officially in the “leaving Manila” countdown.  In 50 days, we will hop on a plane with our baby, dog and cat, and say goodbye to this place that has been our home for the last 2 years.  A place we might never come back to.

We arrived as newlyweds with our pets (Lily was still tiny at 5lbs!) and will be leaving with a 3 month old baby…

I have very mixed feelings about leaving.  6 months ago, I couldn’t wait to get back to DC, the fact that my pregnancy hormones were flying high, also meant that my patience for the Filipino-way (“wait a while, ma’am”) was at a minimum. 

Since then, I have made incredible friends through the MADS playgroup, and know a ton of other moms with babies around the same age as Ellie, and it would have been SO much fun seeing them all growing up together!  Plus, since our baby was born in the Philippines, it now holds a special place in my heart as well. 

We still have a lot to do.  I know I want to do some shopping prior to leaving (sorry, Karl…), and I am off to Divisoria for what will likely be the last time next week.  Hope to add another trip to Greenhills soon too!

There is still a lot of sorting to be done (what comes with us?  What goes in the air shipment to DC?  What goes straight to Brazil and we can live without for a whole year?).  We need to sell our car, I need to start going back to the gym if that Marine Corps Marathon goal will become a reality, the pets and baby need their last immunizations (both due in a few weeks), baby still needs to be put on our orders (so she’ll “exist” to the State Department) and once that’s done we can finally book her ticket.

I am going to miss this place, and I am going to miss living in Asia.  I truly hope we come back one day (not necessarily to Manila – I hope we get to live somewhere different, because that’s part of the experience, no?).  I am going to miss exploring new countries and exploring the Philippines beautiful islands.

Now that I have a little over a month to go, I am not ready to leave.  I am so not ready.  And it breaks my heart that Ellie might never get to see the place she was born in.

I’ll be leaving the Philippines in 50 days.  But a little part of my heart will be left behind.

8 Comments

Filed under Asia, Foreign Service