Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The one where I almost got deported

My jolly conversation with US immigration officer went like this. For dramatization purposes, let us call him Joe1 and Joe2 (there were two of them).

Joe1: Good am. Had a long flight?
Joe2: (just grunted and took my travel documents. He was the one inputting all the details into the system)
Me : Really long flight. I'm glad to be on solid ground now (attempt at building camaraderie)
Joe1: So where you come from?
Me : From Singapore. But had a Hongkong layover.
Joe2: (turns to Joe1 with a frown) Is this passport ok? It is handwritten
Me : (cringing with humiliation. my passport should really be the new one now)
Joe1: (to Joe1) Yeah theirs is like that.
Me : Sorry I was supposed to get the new one. But I got so busy and they had to send me here so I didn't have time (grabe. why do I always have to be so chatty at the wrong moments! Rochie shut up like now na!)
Joe1: (he just smiles. He was actually very nice to me).
Joe2: (just frowns some more. He wasn't nice to me at all).
Joe1: So you work in Manila?
Me : I used to for two years. Then I moved to Bangkok.
Joe1: So you live in Bangkok?
Me : For 4 years. Then I moved to Singapore a year ago. That is where I work and live now. I am homeless that way. (I was trying to make a joke and I ended up just incriminating myself! waaaa...akala nila mag TNT ako!)
Joe1: Hey, you shouldn't joke like that with the big man here (points to Joe2 who still looked serious and, oh dear, was he angry???).
Me : (now nervous after realizing faux pas and just smiles and has now resolved to be silent)

What can I say? I have an irritable foot-and-mouth disease -- I always put my foot in my mouth every chance I get.

Good thing I wasn't deported or else I wouldn't have worn my new (and only) Zara wintercoat that hubby bought for me as a gift. I have experienced winter in other countries three times previously. And always ALWAYS I look like a little 12 year old girl bundled up in thick jackets (I think even 12 year olds dress better than me for winter). So this time I was so excited to actually look like a grown up!

I stayed at the Wyndham Andover in Boston. Three things I loved:

1. free wi-fi (chatted with hubby and family during the night!)
2. the flat screen television
3. the nice, comfortable bed (which I was so grateful to sink into after my near-immigration fiasco)

Although on the eve of my departure, I was woken up by a screeching fire alarm and had to wait in the freezing cold in my sleepwear (with jacket of course) and there wasn't even any staff around to explain what was going on! And my great big sendoff was a nice blackout in the middle of my packing. ;) It was as if Boston wanted me to go back to Asia already. hahaha.

Friday, April 2, 2010

4th Month of Married bliss: Novotel and Clark Quay Adventures

Usually my hubby and I are not so adventurous with our stomachs. In fact, when we find a restaurant or a dish that appeal to us, we don't mind trying it over and over until finally even our unimaginative appetites get sick of it and demand something new. (no need to ask us then how many times we've had dinners at Sakae Sushi and Din Tai Fung).

Thanks to my favorite food blogger, we both tried two new places during the weekend. ;) Let me rephrase that: two new and affordable places (in light of our tipid mode these days). And we found a new mall too! hehe.

hotel stay
Using Paui's miles, we were able to get a free one night stay at Novotel in Clark Quay. I was so enraptured with the hotel. It was newly renovated (none of that old, dark and creepy aura), it had a sleek modern design and while our room was not too large (wala rin K magreklamo dahil libre), the bathroom and the bed were to die for.  In fact, our first reaction when we entered the reception was "wow! looks exactly like Langham!" Langham Place was the hotel we stayed in Hongkong during our honeymoon.

We got robes and slippers, cable television, and best of all, bathroom toiletries in these cute tube-like containers. I was packing a few of them into my bag before we checked out and Paui just shook his head and muttered something like 'typical pinay'. Burgis! hehe.

We even tried their pool and lounged around trying to drain away hours of stress from the office. It was a bit awkward going to the pool clad only in a bikini and a wrap as we had to go through two formal-looking Chinese restaurants.

new food tries
Our stay, since it was free, did not include my favorite hotel treat: breakfast. And looking at their room service menu (which ranged from 16 SGD up), we both decided that lunch, dinner and any kind of activity involving cuisine would have to be done outside hotel premises.

And here the HT couple from http://www.everyfoodweeat.blogspot.com/ came to our rescue! For lunch after salivating at the pictures of bakuteh, we tried the Song Fa Bak Kut Teh restaurant, located just right across Central Clark Quay. To the cognoscenti, bak kut teh actually refers to the soup which is a complex mix of herbs, spices and boiled with pork bones for hours (how many I never ventured to ask). My hubby loved the soup! He felt the taste was so unique and the flavor so rich. He almost wanted to buy the herbs sold in the store. (I stopped him as he expected me to cook this dish myself.funny ha-ha). And the meat was so tender. I just cut into the rib using my teeth and the meat separated cleanly from the bone without any resistance at all. Ahh heaven.

Together with our soup, we also ordered braised pig's trotter. It tasted like (my favorite dish) the Cebuano humba! Only the latter is sweeter I think. But just as good. And as we both were not health conscious-people (I know, we really have to change) the best part of this dish was that piece of well-cooked fat just marinating in that thick sauce.  *sigh*. I suddenly miss dad's humba.  And to assure our heart that we still wanted it to keep beating after all that cholesterol, we ordered some vegetable kai lan (which I had to force feed to my reluctant husband).

We had an early dinner that day (as we just wanted to luxuriate in the confines of our room for the evening after all*ehem*).  Since we were so near Liang Court already, I convinced hubby to try one of the top 10 ramen in Singapore and one which my FT friends recently tried -- Black Pig Delux Shabu Ramen with Dragon Ball (parang anime lng noh).  We asked for the chili to be put on the side so we can savour the soup flavor first, untarnished by spiciness.

And our verdict? We are addicted to the soup (ordered the same thing.Neither one willing to not try the much-touted ramen. Competitive much?). The noodle was not too thick or hard. Just the right kind of chewy-ness to it. And we felt the soup was really tasty and flavorful and not the type of soup that would make your throat parch-dry after having it. Of course, we couldn't resist putting in more chili afterwards (laking Thailand ata toh). The dragon ball was minced black pig meat shaped like a ball. Paui said the meat tasted game-y. I couldn't distinguish, so I have to take his word for it.

We checked out at 12 the next day (huhuhu. good bye hotel living). We wanted to find some brunch place in Liang Court. Most of the restaurants there were Japanese and they even had a Japanese food festival on the first floor. On the second floor, we spied a Sizzler lookalike...only with more reasonable prices. The restaurant? Saizeriya. It looked and felt like an Italian diner (even their menu promoted Italian fare). But google informed me that apparently this western looking resto is owned by a Japanese. Globalization. Or food fusion. It confuses us all.

They had set meals where you can add some small amount to add soup and unlimited drinks. Wow, you can stay there forever. No wonder the place was jampacked on a Sunday morning with families towing kids on strollers. It reminded me of Golden Corral in the US. I don't have any complaints about the food (though it was nothing special, it was at least appetizing). The staff however seem to not know how to compute the bill, having changed our bill at least 4 times, despite us informing them of what we ordered (and ate) several times.  The place is a bit noisy, so if you are someone who wants a quiet brunch on Sunday morning, this place is not for you.

going back to hdb life
Then we could put it off no longer. It was time to put an end to our Clark Quay adventures. Paui still had to finish packing for his biz trip and I had to sort a lot of laundry before work starts next week. Ah. The tediousness of everyday life beckons.

But it was a refreshing change from our normal weekend routine. We got to spend time with each other, in a relaxing environment (i.e. nice hotel) without the pressure and stress of having to go sightseeing as you are wont to do when visiting another country. It was just perfect. :) In fact it was so perfect, we are doing it again. Ha ha ha. Shangri-la Singapore, you are next ;)