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Monthly Archives: July 2013

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Although I hear about credit card scams and fraudulent transactions gone haywire in this part of the world quite often, I’ve never really given it some serious thought.

Sometimes I feel wary when some merchants would request me to send them a copy of my credit card (back & front) and I wonder what really goes on when I hand that card over and it’s taken away, out of sight whenever I pay the bill in a restaurant or what happens when one uses the card frequently for online transactions.

 I wish I have been more cautious but really, how does one make sure that the details are kept secure. It’s not like I have eyes stuck in every credit card transaction.

 A week ago, I was surprised to see some alien transactions on my card and have verified with my bank that yes, I didn’t teleport to the US of A  just to buy supplements and drop by at the MET museum in New York. I’ve been slaving off here in Dubai the week the transaction occurred so nope, that wasn’t me.

A couple thousand of Dirhams were charged on the card before it went over the limit. Thank the heavens I’ve stubbornly insisted to my dear husband that we maintain a low credit limit thus preventing the fraudster to go on a spree, courtesy of yours truly.

 Well anyway, I now have to go through the boring dispute process which takes like 49 years to be resolved! I mean, why can’t they just pick up the phone speak to whats-his-face in Bank-of-wherever and just credit me back already. I give it 2 or 3 days max to make that 2 mins phonecall. Life should be simple that way, yes?

But of course, in reality, whats-his-face first gives you the form, you send it back to him, he sends it for approval, it will be sent to gazillion departments and be pried over by thousands more before they can confirm that the customer is right. Teleportation has not yet been invented thus this transaction is fraudulent.

 Whew. So for the meantime, I’ll have to wait for the provisional credit amount which is probably lost in someone’s inbox and delayed because the person is probably on shortened Ramadan timings and will soon go off on EID holidays.

 Meanwhile, I sit tight and wait for my replacement card only to discover that another transaction that we were promised to have been cancelled had just gone through on the card again erroneously.

 Lordy. Another dispute form in Department Whatever

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ImageI was scanning through my old email account today and it felt like going through a minefield of memories, virtually floating out there in the world wide web, ready to be plucked anytime.

Some of them were dating as far back as 2004, the same time I started my first job ever in the call center industry. There was a lot going on at that time too. I was 19, had a steady income, getting myself through college while partying in the sidelines.

I have to admit that I’m a bit sentimental like that. It seems like just yesterday, I was just a struggling student who had an empty wallet and a big dream while now I’m actually living it.

So much has changed and so many people have walked in and out of my life. Most of them, I hardly talk to anymore and our interaction has been limited to a casual ‘like’ in facebook and some random stalking from time to time.

Some of the things that I found were:

1) Pictures: Ones that have long been forgotten. It was pretty rare to own a camera phone or a digital camera during my heydays! Some of them were forwarded by other friends. Others were scanned images from my camera phone print-outs.

2) Conversation with old friends. Email was the bomb way back then but now, even if we have gazillion apps in our phone, keeping in touch seems like a chore. You start with a hi, hello, what are you up to and a couple more sentences thrown here and there and then somehow the other person slips into passive responses like ‘k , i see, aha, lol ‘ (insert emoticons here)

3) Yahoo Messenger conversations. Screenshots of the ones that I have forwarded on to friends for gossip purposes. The ones that make you cringe. Did i really say that to this significant other?

4) School stuff. A stash of books reviews, reaction papers, powerpoint presentations and classroom notes. Hmmm.I had tons of them that would make you fall asleep while reading mid sentence.

5) Work stuff. Spam emails from work. Group messages updating each other’s lives. Team metrics during my call center days. My God, these are novelty items now.

I can’t believe I actually thought about abandoning this email account altogether. I stopped using it because of the ridiculous amount of spam emails that I’ve been receiving but now I think of it as this virtual chest of memories. Even the spam messages are reminiscent of a certain era.

It’s definitely something that I can brag about to my grandkids someday and I’m sure emails and messengers will be a thing of the past by then. I can imagine how they will laugh at the thought of using emails, keyboards or powerpoint. Ha!

Funny how a few emails can bring you back in time. How a few forgotten words and pictures can revive memories and make you slightly tear up inside.

Time, pls slow down for awhile.

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A 30 minute ride from Philippines to Dubai non-stop, yes?

Like a crazy little addict, I just keep on dreaming about vacations that I’m probably never going to take.I would draft itinerary’s just for the fun of it and let it stack up in my hard drive just to be buried and forgotten.

I’m just a speck in this entire planet called earth and have barely 85 years to complete my lifelong goal of circumnavigating the globe. Conquering them one street, one city, one country at a time.

But is it really possible? Approx 192 countries and so far, I’ve only been to 15 of them. While my jet-setting colleagues have passports as thick as a bible, I have barely scratched the surface.

It may seem a lot from where I come from.There are even people who live their entire life without ever getting a glimpse of how busy Hong Kong is, how a trip to the Himalayan foothills can be such a glorious sight or how enchanting it is to surrounded by countless churches and fountains while in Rome.

I wish there will come a time when traveling will not be as expensive and restrictive as it is today. When someday, you can just catch a super jet and reach the other side of the world in a jiffy. Have a falafel for lunch in the middle east and still make it back to Japan for a sushi dinner. And that too without costing you an arm and a leg nor require one to be employed as a pilot or a cabin crew.

I dream of a world where people can freely cross borders and live wherever they want to. No passports. No nationalities. No stereotype.

For the meantime, I’ll keep on dreaming and drafting some of my best laid plans.It might come true one day. Just you wait.

As with planning dinner out with friends,the last minute plans always turn out to be the ones that are likely to push through instead of the best laid ones.

So last night, K and I ditched the boring plan of spending some time in the gym and stuffed our faces with oily, spicy and disgustingly delicious Thai food at this place called Smiling BKK instead.

I know what you are thinking. The name doesn’t sound interesting at all but they have assured us that their food on the contrary is a promised trip to gastronomic heaven.

The place is located in some alley in Al Wasl. It’s very easy to miss it as there are no signs visible from the road and it’s tucked in a line of grocery, stationery and tailoring shops so it would be really helpful to ask around. Don’t try to be hero, just roll down the window and ask coz you won’t find it on your swanky GPS either.

Their walls have been painted black which makes the place look smaller than it already is, a lonely chandelier hanging above with amusing little pictures strewn all over. At first I thought we got lost and ended up in a tattoo shop in some dingy little alley but thankfully we were not.

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We found our two friends quietly snugged in their small tables and chairs.It was still 7:00pm but we were famished so we gave our order to the waiter. Tom yum soup, appetizers, tempura, tiger prawns, stir fried chicken, satay.

As soon as the appetizer plate landed on our table, we got busy. There was a moment of silence while we stuffed ourselves with their delightfully cooked pockets of fried wanton, shrimp cake and shrimp crackers. Followed by oomps and aaahs.

We would have loved to have the soup in the beginning but it took a little longer to cook that than the appetizer so we had that next instead.

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This was probably the highlight of the meal. Shrimps, mushrooms and ginger swimming in the perfect broth of lemon, coconut, curry and God knows what culinary delight it was made of. Be careful to tell them exactly how spicy you want it to be. Medium is the way to go but you can always ask the chef to make it more spicy if that appeals to you more.

Five burning mins after sipping the soup, I was ready to have my beer.

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Well, one can only wish. But the reality was, we were stuck with these

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The place doesn’t serve alcohol which probably is the only let down I can think of.  Specially for the ones hoping to have a slice of Thailand in this little nook of the neighborhood. It ain’t Thailand if you aren’t drunk with alcohol and seafood, baby!

By the time the main dishes rolled in, we were already full and bursting at the seams but the tiger prawns were so tempting I just had to take a bite which lead to of course a few more slices of this and that. The stir fried chicken was too spicy for my liking so I laid off that and was too full anyway to complain.

Banana fritters with ice cream was served to cap our meal and my, was I surprised when they laid this out on our table. Boom! Surprise conservative people of Dubai. Don’t let your imagination run with you on this one. It’s just one innocent dessert, I promise. *looking around guiltily*

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No way I’m going to jail in this country just because of some indiscreet dessert so we quickly ate the whole thing while rolling with laughter. Starting with the balls. harhar

We had some Moroccan tea in our favorite shisha place to cap the night off and melt those sinful calories we just had. What a day it was and to think it was just Sunday, the beginning of a long harrowing week here in sunny Dubai.

A week of slaving off in the gym is totally worth it.

ImageSurprise! Just when you think about growing that bank account instead of going on a spree after payday, life throws you a curve ball in disguise as the Dubai Summer Surprises.

The temperature is creeping higher and higher, we’ve started cranking up our A/C even if it’s just the break of dawn and you’d think that the tourists would slowly dwindle this time of the month but alas, genius struck and they’ve found a way to maintain the flow of tourist if not draw in more people during summer here in Dubai. Specially for the ones who have deep pockets and a penchant for designer clothes, bags and what have yous.

So K and I blended in with the crowd this weekend and braved the nearest mall  which is Mirdiff City Center to check out what this hoopla is all about.

We pulled all the stops. From designer to the casual affordable ones like H&M, GAP & F21 and ended up buying only from one store – (Insert name of high end shop here)

Although I’ve been slaving off for the past 4 weeks in the gym, I’m sad to report that that the weighing scale did not get the memo as it has stubbornly remained on the same digits! Arrghh.

I tried all sort of designer clothes and I was surprised to be looking so slim in the mirror I actually thought about buying all 5 pieces that I picked up. Thank the heavens I didn’t.

Damn! who needs to lose weight? I’m skinny enough. I said to myself as I was mentally thinking about getting a burger for lunch. I’ve been salivating all week but have been steering clear from those to avoid the extra calories.

Come Sunday, first day of work and I wore that outfit I looked uber skinny in but to my disappointment, I looked very chunky in it. This must be unreal. Do I even have my lenses on? I checked on 2 other mirrors in the house which confirmed it.

Sigh. Which only means one thing. I’ve been deceived by the skinny mirrors once again. It happened to me before in this fancy shop called (insert name of trendy shop). I ended up purchasing 4 tops because I looked so good in them in their skinny mirrors.

I know the lights seems more harsh in the fitting room and every inch of cellulite seems more visible too but I’d rather see the hard truth than be made to purchase an item based on a false pretense.

So yeah, I got it for like 75% off but it probably wasn’t worth that much to begin with considering how FAT I look in it. Huhu.

Late movie plus dinner on thursdays and brunch on fridays. Pretty much sums up our weekends in Dubai.

After being robbed from sleep all week, K and I love to lie in extra on weekends and don’t usually get up until the pets in our stomach are screaming for food. This particular friday I was craving for some chinese food and K was in good spirits that day so he agreed. He is not fond of them at all but after listening to my pitch of it being healthier than the junk we were about to end up stuffing our faces with at the foodcourt, he finally agreed to eat at PF Chang’s. I’m normally stingy and wary about overspending on weekends but I let it slip sometimes specially when it involves my kind of food. *evil laugh*

PF Chang’s casual dining is a bit pricey but we do indulge sometimes. K ordered some egg drop soup, spicy chicken with rice for the main dish and we added calamares as an appetizer/main (I’m filipino so I pair anything with white rice!).

Out come his cup of soup:

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It was delightful. I even had a sip just to line up my stomach for the big meal ahead.

The calamares was a bit of a surprise. it came with a bed of crispy white noodles you can nibble on. I like the peanut based sauce that came with it. Unique with a little touch of thai flavor in it. Dig in.

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The chicken was as expected. Not as spicy as K would like it to be but it was quite tasty and well balanced.

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More rice, pls?

Here’s K armed with double forks. Amusing isn’t he? It’s etiher that or the chopstick. hah!

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The only disappointment I guess were the drinks.You’d expect a fancy lemonade like this

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But end up being served with one like this.

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A bloody rip-off at 20AED when I can have free soap with water at home , yes?

We will probably be coming back as it was a good experience overall, just stay away from fancily named drinks like above.

Unlike royalties who probably have wads of cash to transform their bodies overnight, commoners like myself have no shortcuts in achieving a smoking hot bod except slaving it off in the gym.

I’m not even aiming for a front cover magazine kind of body. Just a thin waist, ripped abs, sexy back, slender arms, sexy thighs and my collar bones popping out.

Seriously, being in the normal weight zone would be enough. I’m not morbidly obese but let’s just say that my clothing choices have significantly reduced since I have to cover all evidence of gluttony and shopping is no longer the retail therapy that most women claim it to be but have started to become a chore.

Me: Hmmm. Those tank tops look really cute. Let me try it on.

Mirror: Well hello there. Not in your dreams. Get your lardy arse off my fitting room.

Me: Miss, can I get a larger size for this? ( in a whispered tone)

Sales Lady: Sorry, that’s our largest size.

 

I haven’t worn a sleeveless shirt in public for ages and while most people would claim that us women are too unforgiving when it comes to our looks, I think I have forgiven myself too many times.

So K and I, we push ourselves everyday even though it’s like pushing a truck uphill. They say the first month is the hardest and the ones that follow will be easy breezy. Well, surely looking forward to having the same feeling I have heading to Mcdonald’s while heading to the friggin sweat wonderland.

30 mins of treadmill, supersized yoga and a side dish of pilates for dinner, yes?

On the upside, gold’s gym have excellent facilities and bright, shiny equipment to pound on.I’ve been in and out of memberships all my life and I pray that I won’t get bored with this one.

Meanwhile, I like that there are so many things to choose from. It suits my fickle mind. Just take your pick and you’re on your way to gracing the cover of FHM.

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Can’t help but wish I had wads of cash instead.