On Friends & Friendships

imagesSocial media has made it possible for people to become friends to anyone around the globe merely through the click of a button. I think it’s generally a good thing. My need for friendship isn’t too much but once I decide to build one, I intend to make it genuine as much as I can. Somehow, maintaining friendships can be hard work but so worth it at the same time because our friendships are one of the most influential and essential parts of our life. Recently, I’ve been pondering quite often about my friends and friendships. The friends worth keeping and friendships worth saving. The fact of the matter is that, my social circle is quite noticeably shrinking. I don’t see that as a bad thing. I actually think I quite understand now what they mean with “less is more” and “quality over quantity.”

images (1)I first arrived in Kuwait on the 1st of March, 2009. I have a variety of friends back home but very few real ones. They’re some of the best people I’ve met. The kind of friends for keeps. A few weeks since, my friendships have changed a lot. I’ve met different people of different nationalities. Most of the friendships/connections built were situational. Most needed context to make sense. Some stayed longer while some had a shorter shelf life. I still do wish them well now but I don’t intend to reconnect. Luckily, I also get to meet a few that didn’t need any context but exist in any given situation, people who are always there during my ups and downs, stayed during my best and my worst days, the type that lasts.

Several times, I let go of a few friends while a few others let go of me as well. I didn’t think I was being selfish to let go of them just like that but mind you, it wasn’t always easy to put an end to it. However, given the world we live in and the values instilled in us, I knew it was necessary.download

A couple of years afterwards, two of my closest friends abruptly ended our friendship. I first received a message from one of them telling me never to call her again and a few days later, I received pretty much the same message from the other. Sure I’ve made mistakes and dealt with things the wrong way. We had misunderstandings at times which is pretty normal in any relationships but why they suddenly wanted to end the friendship, until now, I still don’t fully understand.

Your peace is more important than driving yourself crazy trying to understand why something happened the way it did.

My heart ached. It really did. Breaking up with friends is just as painful as any other relationship break-ups there is. So after months of failing to know how I’ve wronged them, I stopped. I thought maybe knowing the answer may not satisfy me just the same and I don’t want to drive myself crazy thinking why. I just finally allowed the hurt to help me grow. It was sure a painful way to end an almost decade of friendship but I’ve decided to just let go and move on. I still sometimes think of them though and wonder, did they give up easily on me? Or did I give up easily on them?

downloadI love my friends, really, I do. Friends are one of the most beautiful gifts of being alive. They help shape our lives one way or the other. They cheer, support, help and see the best in each other. Friendships that have depth and true understanding is one among the essential elements of a blessed life. And I feel blessed to have a handful of them. Interestingly enough, some of us drifted apart at some point for some reasons, both inevitable and necessary, but later found each other again and our bonds became stronger. Sadly though, not all our friends give us that good effect. Some lie. Some betray. Then it’s difficult to rebuild trust and loyalty once again. So sometimes it’s better that they end. And a lot of my friendships are meeting its end nowadays.

Whichever and however way we choose our friends/friendships, I think it’s vital that we offer a meaning in each other’s lives. It’s nice to think that we fulfill them and they fulfill us. My friends mean something to me in different ways and play different roles in my life. I do appreciate, value and respect each one of them. Be that as it may, I personally don’t find any reason to work on a friendship that leaves me unfulfilled. More so, friendships out of habit or obligation. That’s just not fair and friendships are voluntary so I think there’s nothing wrong in ending friendships that doesn’t suit you in a positive way anymore.

5e833fe87a8c01614aff165d433a3c29Sometimes, too, we just outgrow our friends. At some point we realize that they’re not good for us because they bring us down or whittle at our confidence every so often. Some friendships evolve with us, but some do not. I will not apologize for evolving closer to my true self and evolving past their comfort zones. We change as we age and grow. So I think it’s just right to let go of such friendships and accept that it’s over.

Other times, too, we have this friend who always swings the conversation back towards him/herself and has no interest in what we have to say. I’ve met a number of them kind and I just avoid them as much as I could and luckily, they themselves stop talking to me, too.

b9cf3e4b311dd4d5e5f3366375bf2c20Moreover, there’s betrayal. As it is with all kinds of relationships, nothing could murder friendships faster than betrayal. It hurts a lot to be betrayed. It hurts all the more to end a friendship because of betrayal. I no longer see any point of saving a friendship when one betrays the other.

From time to time, psychological or emotional issues also become reasons why friends drift apart. It’s important that we maintain everything balanced in our friendships. Support for each other. Will to help in making each other better. Give and take. Trust. Unfortunately, there are times when these factors shift its balance and no longer serve one or the other in a worthwhile, beneficial, balanced or positive way. One typical example is a change in fortune among friends. The manner how we deal with situations like this isn’t always the same, thus, causing friends to drift apart. Where envy or jealousy didn’t exist before starts to gradually emerge. It’s nice to have friends who are always there when we are at our worst but I just don’t get them when they leave us in times when our fate changes for the better. (More of this on another entry.) So I suppose, it all boils down to who we pick as friends in the first place.

I’ve also met a lot of people who just befriend you because they need you. We don’t usually see this right away at the beginning of friendships but eventually, it shows. They take, take, take. And you give, give, give. Then they leave you. They build it when they need it, and break it when they don’t.

Here’s the thing, it is important to always try our best to see things from different perspectives before we make rush judgments whether to still keep these friends or completely cut our ties with them. After all, we all make mistakes. Some of us (myself included) don’t like to rely on anyone for anything to get us through life’s hardships but perhaps there’s nothing wrong in giving the friendship a second chance, be a bit forgiving and understanding maybe, because throwing away a friendship can’t be that easy. Every kind of friendship adds something to our lives, good or bad, it’s just up to us how we are going to let it affect us.

People Watching

One of the most important things for me whenever I get the chance to travel is getting into the vibe of the place I’m visiting. And what best way to do this than to people-watch!  People-watching is something I find really entertaining to do. There’s no specific time of day (or night) to do it and you can actually do it anywhere. It’s harmless. It’s free! The only important thing to remember is don’t creep anyone out when you do this. 🙂

People-watching is not a hobby, for me at least! It isn’t something I always do when I have free time. And as I have mentioned, I just usually do it when I travel. I don’t plan when and where to people-watch, it just happens. Whether I’m on a street stall trying out different street foods, or when I drink in bars (or in the streets, too), in a park or even just when I’m sitting by the window of the hotel/hostel I’m staying in or more often in cafes. It mostly happens when I’m alone, though I must say, it’s really fun people-watching with friends. People-watching lets us see the beauty of people, whether as a group, as a couple or as an individual. If you’re lucky enough, you even get to see the details in a person. And so far for me, Vietnam is the best place to people-watch. Tourists either amazed or disgusted seeing things for the first time, locals on their daily routines, women in micro-mini skirts and sky-high heels riding scooters/motorbikes, persuasive (and aggressive) vendors, unusual street performers, school boys and girls either tired or brimming with joy that school is over.

What happened one Friday in January though was a first for me. I went to the airport, sat in a coffee shop and started reading. I’ve been trying to concentrate on my book for half an hour but some noise outside the coffee shop was bothersome. So I gave up.  Since I’ve been trying to use my phone mainly for calling and texting, I opted not to use it and decided to just people-watch. I don’t really people-watch here. Seriously, I don’t know why but it doesn’t interest me. But then I ordered another cup of black coffee, a cinnamon roll and started people-watching.

Fifteen minutes later, I got bored. Nothing seems to catch my attention. So I ate my cinnamon roll instead. I was about to go back to my reading when a couple around their late 20’s came in. They were in the counter for like 15 minutes and I think they’ve already asked the barista every  single type of coffee served there. I can clearly see how annoyed the tired-looking barista was already specially when they ended up ordering just two cups of American coffee. 🙂 The guy on the table beside mine smirked after hearing them order and muttered to me, “Finally, two American coffee!” I didn’t notice he was also observing them. We ended up chatting about the couple, coffee and books until he finally joined me on my table.

We continued to people-watch until a group of young guys arrived but just stood in front of the cafe, according to my companion (I’m not sure whether he mentioned his name or if I asked but I don’t really remember actually, I just know he asked mine), they were still waiting for one more friend and that the other friend prefers to go to Starbucks. They were speaking in Arabic in husky voices (so I didn’t really understand what they were talking about) and they were all wearing sweatpants and hoodies. One of the youngsters was wearing black-framed glasses and has curly black hair. The other two looked daft and arrogant. I didn’t notice them leave but my new friend whose name I didn’t get to know said they’ve decided to go to Starbucks.

My attention is now on an Asian woman sitting across our table, alone and very busy with her phone. Obviously, she’s going on vacation. She had her hair dyed and permed, her nails painted bloody red and she seems to be wearing all her jewelries. Haha! Then suddenly her phone rang. (I’m pretty sure even the people on the other side of the airport heard her phone ring! 😀 ) And her voice was like a foghorn, believe me. It’s too loud. I didn’t quite understand what she was saying because of the dialect she’s using but I’m pretty sure she’s angry. My new friend said it isn’t the first time she saw women like that in the airport so it doesn’t surprise him anymore. I kept my mouth shut. 🙂

I decided to leave a few minutes later to meet with some friends and we ended up hearing mass. I haven’t visited the church here since 2009 and I honestly didn’t feel quite comfortable, I don’t know why. So I ended up  eyeballing the people around me. The middle-aged couple in front of us kept on giggling for reasons we didn’t know. Sitting beside one of my friends was a plump lady who looks like in her late thirties was busy texting, smiling from time to time. I was surprised when she suddenly started taking selfies. An elderly man sitting at the back-most pew was dozing off. A woman leaning sideways to one of the pillars of the church seems to be staring blankly faraway. The mass ended and I didn’t understand a thing about the sermon. We waited for a while for the crowd to lessen before we went out. Just a few steps from the church’s main door was a Christmas tree where people, young and old, were trying to strike a pose. Children running around while screaming. Babies crying. People talking loudly. It didn’t feel much like I was in church premises, really. I kind of felt like I’m in a market. With my experience that day in the church, people-watching also lets us recognize how much the world has changed.

We later went to the fish market. I told my friends that I’m just gonna wait for them outside because I don’t feel like going around there. I sat in a bench munching some chips. There were two guys talking  near where I’m sitting. Both of them were tall, well-built, have beards and were wearing hoodies. One of them has a small, tribal sun tattoo on his left hand. I was about to turn my attention to something else when I heard one of them say, “I want to go back to Baguio.” My ears started to burn upon hearing this so I paid closer attention to them. Not only was I people-watching, I was also attentively eavesdropping. 🙂 I was pretty much able to hear nice and new things about Baguio and it made me really happy because Baguio is actually my hometown. So see, people-watching is a very informative activity, too. Haha!

People-watching is an entertaining thing to do really but I’d still prefer sticking my head on a book. But that Friday didn’t seem to be a good day to read thus I turned into a passive observer watching life go by. And now that I’ve tried it here, would I do it again? Maybe yes. Or maybe not again.

I’d be glad to hear your stories about people-watching, too, feel free to write them in the comment section.

Happy day, homo sapiens! 🙂

12 Things I’ve Learned from Working in Kuwait

It’s almost nine years since I boarded the Etihad Airways flight leaving Manila a few minutes past midnight. I haven’t been home since then. But for as long as I can remember, working overseas — specially in the Middle East — was never part of my plans growing up. Moving to a foreign country could be a scary stuff for many but not for me. It’s just that, at that time, I didn’t see myself working abroad. But to borrow the words of Jamie Lannister (or George R.R. Martin to be more precise), “…the things we do for love.” So off to Kuwait I flew…

Jumping into life as an expatriate was a decision I made for love. When I think about it now, I still somehow think it’s one of the most stupid decisions I’ve ever made. I had a rewarding job back in Manila, was earning good enough, have a wonderful family and friends. So why leave? Love. Yes, love. But that’s not what I wanted to write about today though here’s a spoiler… it wasn’t a happy ending. It wasn’t all easy but I can say I still have been very fortunate and blessed after that. What happened then opened new doors, challenges and opportunities for me. Thus, here I am now.

Personally and professionally, these long years of working in Kuwait and living on my own has taught me a lot of things. Allow me to share some…

1. I’ve learned to become totally independent/self-reliant. Arriving in an unfamiliar environment by myself, I didn’t have a choice but to find my way around and rely on myself completely. I have already moved out of my parents’ home a couple of years before I came here but it’s always easy to go home to them whenever I want to or need to. But moving to another country, clueless, is a totally different thing. I learned to cook my meals, treat my wounds (physically & emotionally), going to the doctor when I’m sick, making my grocery list, paying my house rent and bills — I have to do it all on my own. (Thanks to technology I am able to pay my bills or order food online just by clicking this and that, click, click and click then it’s done, as sometimes it’s not easy calling due to language barriers.) It’s amazing to realize that I was able to adapt pretty quickly. I’m glad how I’m able to improve an independent mindset and was able to enhance my decision-making skills. Of course I still make mistakes, but it’s from these mistakes that I learn to be wiser and stronger being on my own. Being able to do things my way is a very liberating feeling!

2. I’ve learned that nationality matters. Well, we always hear that we are all global citizens but in reality, nationality matters here. It does. I understand this connotes a negative meaning, however, sad as it seems, people are paid according to what passport they carry. An Indian teacher can never get a salary equal to an American teacher though they have the same qualifications. Nationality determines the salary for different job titles.

3. I’ve learned a great deal of patience and balance. I always try to be as optimistic as I could about life, however, patience was never really my virtue. Coming here though, I’ve learned to be patient with myself and other people or else, I’d better go back home. It just hit me one day to just take it easy and be patient for a while, balancing my work and social life and give myself a chance to learn how things work in this country.  It is definitely a big adjustment, seriously. But being patient and knowing how to balance things helped me adapt to these differences.

4. I’ve learned that culture shock is a real thing. (It can happen to anyone.) And homesickness, too. Coping with culture shock I think was one of the most challenging aspect of moving overseas or even just traveling. Every traveler I think feels the same way to a certain extent but for most first-timers, I think it’s more serious. First thing that strike me was the language. I felt dizzy listening to people talking simultaneously and very loudly in an unfamiliar language that pretty much sounded like noise to me in my earlier months here. Next, the way people stare at me made me quite uncomfortable, too. (My mom told me it’s bad to stare.) A lot of men stare at women differently that it makes it awkward and unpleasant. I don’t know how to explain this well so I’ll leave it at that. I’m sure others who have worked in the Middle East will understand me. Another thing that still shocks me even to this day are the times when some men drop a piece of paper on your table with their mobile numbers on it. Seriously. You can decently ask for my name and my phone number if you want to be friends with me but dropping a piece of paper with your number and expecting me to call you or send you a message?!? Hell, no. I don’t know if this is okay with other women, but for me, definitely a no-no.

Work ethics and social interactions are far too different from where I came from so it’s really a big shock for me, too. Life doesn’t move as quickly here but life doesn’t end when you don’t get a reply to your email the same hour or the same day, but still. Unanswered phone calls are annoying as well. Some things that I can’t really get used to.

Alongside coping with culture shock, I also learned that homesickness can hit even the most independent of people. It was only less than a month since I arrived when I started  missing everything about my country already. I miss my family, my friends, the food/restaurants, my dog, my mom’s voice (specially when she’s angry (: haha!), my hometown, our home, my bedroom, my books, our village, the markets/shops/malls/bookstores, the public transportation, the pine trees, the fog, the weather, the rain, the discos/bars, alcohol/beer, the people, the fun. I wanted to go back home. But I thought better of it so I stayed. I realized it’s okay to be homesick. Some people I’ve met here make me forget homesickness every now and then. I just try to enjoy the time I have here with some good people I’ve met or by myself most of the time. Home will always be there when I return anyway. 🙂

5. I’ve learned that it helps a lot to learn the country’s language and culture. Communicating with people from different countries without a common language was something really irritating for me at first. I actually expected them to at least know basic English, however, that wasn’t the case. Many people I’ve met here don’t speak English at all. It’s surprising specially in places where English-speakers are expected. So it was (and is still) pretty difficult to communicate. Like in restaurants that serve Arabic dishes, of course as expats, we expect someone who is able to explain to us the dishes in English. It’s frustrating that the staffs aren’t able to explain these things to you. So my experience in a Lebanese restaurant helped me a lot about Arabic food. Anyhow, as days and months and years went by, it became very interesting to experience communicating without a common language! Yes, believe it or not, it’s possible! This happened almost everyday in my first two or three years and even these days, though rarely. But it’s not easy of course. It sometimes leads to miscommunication so it really helps a lot to learn the spoken language in your host country. I’m not saying learn everything but knowing the basics certainly made my life better and easier. It’s pretty annoying coping with a language difficult to understand and I never had the will to learn actually but it goes a long way to know at least how to greet or say thank you in other people’s language.

It’s also a big plus knowing cultural taboos and how to avoid them. I surely found some pretty odd things at first and many times, I disagree about something, but taking a step back and trying to look at things in their perspective helps a lot in understanding their culture/behavior and gradually I learned to understand and respect them. Nothing really comes out good for being an idiot abroad so I try to learn whatever possible things I can learn about the place, the people, the culture and gain understanding of whatever situation I’m into. I’m sometimes appalled or amazed or surprised but it all contributes to how I survive here.

6. I’ve learned to be flexible. I can’t always get what I want and people are not going to adjust or give way for me all the time so I always try to be flexible. Back home, I mostly work things my way and I’m mostly in control of situations but here, I’ve learned that life can’t always be like that. I certainly can’t have all things my way and not every situation is under my control. I’ve learned and understood that there’s always more than one correct answer. I always try to be open-minded and to be prepared to change my mind once in a while because things don’t just fall perfectly on my lap. Even in everyday experiences like eating out with friends/colleagues, being flexible and open-minded will make the experience better, happier and worthwhile. Trying unusual and never-before-heard dishes because it’s the only place open at that time of the day/night actually introduced me to new different dishes and new favorites! So being flexible lead me to different adventures.

7. I’ve learned to manage my expectations. It’s good to think positive but it’s stupid to underestimate how difficult it can get to live in a new place, a new environment, with different people, different climate and a new culture. It isn’t all fun and easy so give big enough room for disappointments, irritation, discouragement and tears. Don’t be overconfident as well but learn to find your niche in your new world and it will be satisfying and beneficial later on.

8. I’ve learned to ask for help. Being independent doesn’t mean you won’t be needing help. Though I can figure things out on my own most of the time, there are situations where it is wiser and more efficient to ask for other people’s help like asking for directions or how things are done here and there. It’s pretty annoying sometimes because of unnecessary talks/comments but hell, there’s no harm in asking for help.

9. I’ve learned to just smile and not to sweat the small stuff. Seriously. A smile always goes a long way. (But still be cautious and use your common sense, of course!) Smiling just feels good. Smiling makes me happy and it could make other people happy, too. Remember that smile is contagious. 🙂 Moreover, don’t sweat the small stuff. Life could be way much worse than we could ever imagine so I learned to appreciate what I have and what I don’t and life as a whole. Really, life ain’t that bad.

10. I’ve learned the value of money. Since I started living by myself, specially when I started working here, the way I look at money started to change. I realized I can just buy a ticket to somewhere and enjoy a lot of different, wonderful, crazy, mind-boggling and extraordinary things instead of buying shoes and bags every so often. (I still don’t mind spending money on books though!) I’ve been able to travel to a few countries during my annual vacations and I was also able to see how people spend (or waste) their money and how little a lot of people have. I also don’t have much but I feel really blessed living the life I have now. I get to realize how much money I’m wasting on things I don’t really need when a lot of people don’t even have anything to eat. I’ve seen poverty in places known as tourist destinations but it’s saddening, heart-wrenching even, to see the reality behind these beautiful and astonishing places. Since then, I promised myself to spend my money wisely and find ways to help the less fortunate in my own little way.

11. I’ve learned to take risks after risks after risks. (Or else, life’s a bore.) I think my decision to quit my job back in Manila and come here was one of the riskiest thing I’ve done in my life. Less than a month since I got here though, I started regretting that decision. Everything was not what I expected, nonetheless, I stayed. Then I needed to take far bigger risks after that. As it turned out, what seemed to be a wrong decision almost nine years ago, turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.

12. I’ve learned to embrace diversity. It’s important not to stereotype. Everyone of us is a masterpiece. None of us is exactly the same as someone else. We were raised in different ways, we have different cultures and beliefs, thus, we have different opinions and way of life. Sure, some (or a lot) of things were strange, peculiar or unusual but overtime, I learned to accept and respect these differences as others accept mine. This diversity makes it all beautiful. We become more passionate about other people, it helps bring about a healthier lifestyle, it enriches our knowledge and opinion and it makes us closer.

These are the most notable things I’ve learned thus far living as an expatriate. (This decision I’ve made for love ain’t that bad after all.) Years ago I thought working abroad wasn’t for me. Not anymore. It has opened a lot of exciting, challenging, rare and unexpected opportunities, both personally and professionally that I think working abroad is a choice I’d make again and again. There were years of happy, delightful, wonderful and satisfying moments. There were weeks and months of tears and despair. But all these contributed to what and where I am now.

Kuwait is not a place for everyone. Countless times I thought it’s not for me, too. It’s certainly not the life I’ve wished/imagined when I was younger but it undeniably helped me in a lot of ways which couldn’t have been possible if I just stayed back home. I am pleased that I’ve learned a lot about myself and that my life had been better in one way or the other. For this I am glad for the experiences I’ve had here. Sure there are negative aspects of the country and sometimes I myself find it unsafe in some areas, but it’s not all war zones here or in the Middle East. We can’t ignore the fact that terrible things happen every now and then, however, we have to keep in mind that tolerance and respect for people and their culture is a two-way process. I still always tell myself and believe that there are far more good people here. Perhaps, I just have to give it a try to reach out again. I don’t want to be left wondering what if and if only.

Thanks for reading. Happy day, homo sapiens! 🙂

Wordless Wednesday

Spending Christmas Abroad

It’s Christmas time again and it surely is very colorful everywhere back home these days. Christmas trees, lights and decors here and there. Christmas is my favorite holiday. It’s the most joyful time with my family and my closest friends, the warmest feeling of happiness, great food, tons of drinks, gift-giving and so on. But this year, it doesn’t feel like Christmas is just around the corner. I’m not saying Christmas doesn’t mean anything for me anymore. It’s just that, for the first time in years, I just don’t feel the Christmas spirit at all. Oh, my heart is aching to go home.

As an expatriate, spending Christmas away from home can be a difficult time. Celebrating Christmas abroad is very likely not to be like celebrating Christmas at home, specially if you’re in a country that doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Well maybe, many expats, specially those who live with their families here, still feel the holiday mood because some malls put up a Christmas tree or hang some Christmas decors but it’s still just different, of course. And for some, it’s just another ordinary day.

This year will be my ninth Christmas far from home and here’s what it’s like for me:

I go to work on Christmas day.

Christmas is not a Muslim holiday which means it is not celebrated in Islamic countries like Kuwait. I mean, it’s not declared a public holiday even though there are a lot of non-Muslims residing in the country. A day off on Christmas day for Christian workers would be ideal but I’m not sure it’s being practiced here though in the company I work with, I’m usually given a half-day off. There’s not much difference for me anyway since I still have to go to the office just the same and I’d even choose to go overtime and go home later at night once the crowd is gone because even though it’s not a public holiday, people swarm the streets after work, buses are full, taxis are hard to find. Chaotic.

I think of them and miss them.

I do think of my family and friends of course not only during the holidays but when it’s Christmas, the very thought that I’m away from them saddens me a lot. Christmas is that one holiday when everyone has to be home. My mom forgives us not being home on other holidays or special occasions but not Christmas. It was only when I started working here that our family ain’t complete during this time of the year. Sure we can arrange a video chat or something but with the time difference and all, sometimes, it’s also not that easy.

I somehow feel disconnected.

Sure, I get the freedom I’ve always wanted being away from home but it’s still a bit heartbreaking sometimes not being able to go home for Christmas. Putting up the Christmas tree with my brothers with my mom’s voice on the background is something I really miss. Not being able to eat with them for the noche buena, not being able to exchange gifts with them, not being with them is sad. Not being able to hug and kiss them is sadder. Not being able to join them for our family Christmas “rituals” makes me somehow disconnected from them.

I make my own celebration.

Well, I try to. I celebrated with friends like last year. Though I was just invited to a friend’s home, it ended up like I was the one who organized the celebration. It’s a long story but it turned out pretty well. It made us all feel a little less homesick.

I don’t get drunk.

I don’t mean I want to be totally inebriated of course but a few bottles here and there would help bout homesickness during this time of the year. Unfortunately, alcohol import or consumption is strictly against the law in Kuwait. Hotels and restaurants don’t serve alcohol as well. That means, I’m completely sober during Christmas. 🙂

I don’t get to have a lot of Christmas presents.

As I didn’t send as many. Haha! Not that I’m expecting gifts for Christmas but seeing the gifts piling up under the Christmas tree brings me joy. I’m not really good at gifts actually but seeing lots of colorful presents waiting to be opened on Christmas morning is a true delight!

It’s this time of the year that I always realize it’s not the end of the world.

Living abroad alone is a rough time, more so during the holidays but it’s this time of the year that I always realize it’s not the end of the world. I know it’s always up to me, of course, whether to make the most out of the situation or be a Grinch! Though alone, I still want to enjoy this Christmas and never look back at it with regret. Being alone ain’t that bad after all and I’d appreciate solitude and silence in a world that never stops talking.

Now how about you? Have you ever spent Christmas away from home? How’s it like? And how do you plan to celebrate Christmas this year? Feel free to share!

Have a wonderful Christmas, homo sapiens! 🙂

Thai Day Out

So it was my day off and two of my friends just finished from work and we’re all hungry. One of them really wanted to have rice and soup so we went to the Thai restaurant I frequently go to with my other friends and colleagues.

We had seafood tom yum, chicken satay, tempura and a variety of fried rice. The rice serving seemed too much for me that I wasn’t even able to order my favorite sticky rice with mango anymore. The tempura was quite disappointing though. I don’t think I’d ever order tempura from them again.

Anyhow, it still was a good late lunch (or early dinner) with my friends last Friday.

Do you enjoy Thai food as well? What’s your favorite dish? I’ll be delighted to know! 🙂

Shakey’s Kuwait

I received some very unexpected good news a couple of days ago and so my friend and I decided to meet and have dinner together to discuss about it and catch up with each other’s lives, too.

We decided to go and try Shakey’s Pizza as it has just opened a few weeks/months ago. I have never dined in any Shakey’s restaurant since I came here so I was really excited but wasn’t expecting too much as I always get disappointed when I do.

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So, we tried fried chicken & mojos. The chicken tastes like how I remember it should but the mojos were different and small.

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We divided the pizza in two flavors, mine was hawaiian and belly buster for my friend. It’s a bit different, too from what I’m expecting but still good.

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We also had pasta. My friend tried spaghetti with meatball, as in, MEATBALLLL! It’s pretty funny seeing a huge piece of meatball on top of the spaghetti! 🙂 You’d feel full already just by looking at it!

Anyway, I opted for spicy seafood marinara and it was a winner! That for me was the highlight that night. The serving was a little too much for me but it’s delicious! At a very affordable price.

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All in all, it was a great dinner. I think it’s safe to recommend it! 🙂 The staffs are friendly, as well. I wasn’t really expecting them to be that friendly but surprisingly, they were! So that’s a big plus. Oh except for the one who settled our bill…

Check ’em out, they’re located in Salmiya, just in front of Galleria 2000.

Happy day, homo sapiens!

About Last Night

My home and my new workplace is now far from my favorite Korean restaurant so it’s not really very easy and convenient for me anymore to go and eat Korean food. Last night though, I really can’t suppress my cravings any longer.

So of course, the very tasty and colorful side dishes or banchan (반찬) were served first: kimchi, fish cakes, pajeon, green beans, pickled onions and potato salad.

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The main dish is haemultang (해물탕) or spicy seafood soup/stew. It’s made with a variety of seafood and some veggies. It’s a very comforting soup/stew specially now that winter’s coming. 🙂

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How ’bout you? What foods do you crave for nowadays? And do you like Korean food, too? I’d be glad to know… 🙂

Happy Thursday/weekend, homo sapiens!

Kuwait Municipality: Ban the Bag Kuwait

Hello homo sapiens!

This is from a friend and I hope you guys support it as well.

I just signed the petition, “Kuwait Municipality: Ban the Bag Kuwait!” I think this is important. Will you sign it, too?

Here’s the link:

https://www.change.org/p/kuwait-municipality-ban-the-bag-kuwait?recruiter=816367066&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=copylink&utm_campaign=share_page.share_redirect-control&utm_term=share_page

Let’s all help protect the environment.

Another Thai Treat

The quality of food has always been great in this small Thai restaurant that several of my friends and I have been frequenting this place for the last couple of years. Today, however, we opt for just a few dishes and the sticky rice with mango turned out to be our main dish rather than dessert…

Piggin’ Out

I’m sure many of you reading this have tasted Thai food already. You may have visited Thailand before or you may have tried eating from Thai restaurants in your place.

I’m not hard to please when it comes to food and Thai dishes are a delight anytime. So last Thursday, my preggy friend and I pigged out at Sabaidee Thai Cuisine.

Seafood Tom Yum
Shrimp Pad Thai

 

Khai Luk Khaei
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Khao Phat Neua

 

Peek Gai Tod

 

Khao Niao Mamuang

All the dishes were tasty, affordable and highly recommended.

Check them out and thank me later… 🙂

Sabaidee Thai Cuisine

Mezzanine Floor, Al Bustan Mall

Salem Al Mubarak St. Salmiya, Kuwait

Dinner

My friend and I had an unplanned dinner yesterday and we ended up dining at Korea Grill in New Park Hotel.

The side dishes (banchan) weren’t very good except for the kimchi. The Rabokki (라볶이) was good while the Jjamppong (짬뽕) tasted quite differently from what we were used to, but it was still okay.

Rabokki = Instant Ramen noodles + tteokbokki (spicy Korean rice cakes)

Jjamppong = spicy noodle soup (with lots of seafood)

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We also ordered hotteok (not included in the photo) which I think is the winner for the night. Hotteok is basically sweet pancake and is one of the most popular foods in Korea.

Korean and Vietnamese are my top favorite cuisines and I am not sure which one to put first among these two, unfortunately, there are no Vietnamese restaurants around here (as far as I know).

By the way, the service was very good.

How ’bout you? What’s your favorite cuisine? Let me know in the comments. 🙂

About Yesterday

My colleague and I were starving since around lunch yesterday and so each of us had a sandwich but still ended up eating in a Thai Restaurant after work.

The place is just a 5-minute walk from the office and is just a small space with four tables that can sit four people. Luckily yesterday, the restaurant wasn’t busy.

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It wasn’t our first time to dine here so it was easy for us to choose what to order.

We ordered tom yam soup with shrimps, chicken satay with peanut sauce (of course!) and stir-fried shrimps with basil and chili…

We also had seafood fried rice and shrimp pad thai…

We had a very satisfying meal. Generous servings and very reasonable prices. I can happily recommend it. 🙂

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The place is A Roy D Thai Restaurant located in Al Muthanna Complex in Kuwait City.

Happy Thursday, homo sapiens!

Galbitang

Korean food has become really popular for the last few years and I can really understand why. I work for a Korean company and yes, we get to taste their food every now and then. But my friend and I usually go together in a Korean restaurant near our office and yesterday was one of those days.

Yesterday’s meal was galbitang (갈비탕). It’s become one of our favorites this year (I think?) and it’s really good. It’s a beef ribs soup which I think has very little ingredients served in a stone pot/bowl but it really is very tasty. Even tastier when it’s spicy.

And of course, I have to mention the free side dishes. Kimchi, kimchi pancake, fish cake, cauliflower, spinach and pickled cucumber were served last night.

Happy tummy! 🙂

Last Friday Morning…

On Thursday night, my flatmates (1 guy and 2 gals) and I planned to go out on Friday morning just for breakfast, spend time by the sea and a little bit of road trip. I was skeptical about the plan because first, one of the girls is on graveyard shift, she’d definitely want to sleep once she comes home at around 6:30 AM. Next, the guy and the other girl would prefer to sleep on Friday morning rather than go out. And as for me, I don’t want to go to the sea. It’s definitely not my kind of thing.

Surprisingly, among us three at home that morning, I was the first to wake up. After half an hour or so, I’m still the only one awake and definitely ready to go out. Guess I was excited after all. 🙂

The gal who’s on a graveyard shift texted me and was asking if we’re ready because we have to pick her up at 6. So I tried calling the other two coz I don’t want to knock on their doors. So the guy woke up but the other gal decided not to go. And so the guy and I drove our way to the airport after some time to pick-up the other. And we got lost! Our home is very near the airport and we could have reached it in 5 minutes but instead arrived there more or less an hour late. But our roommate didn’t seem to mind because she even bought for us these delicious cinnamon rolls.

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And so off we go for a place to eat.

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We ended up here…

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We had breakfast at Prime & Toast. It’s the only one we saw open at the time so we didn’t have a choice and our tummies are growling already.

Afterwards, we went inside the Movenpick Hotel and had a view of the sea from there. I was thankful for the really hot weather at the time because my flatmates gave up on going to the seaside! 🙂

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Afterwards, we drove for a few more minutes and went back home because it’s becoming scorchingly hot again. Temperatures here in Kuwait these days is still between 42°C – 48°C though it feels hotter than that.

Anyhow, it was a wonderful Friday morning with my flatmates. I don’t normally go out on Friday mornings because I prefer spending it in the comfort of my bed but it’s nice doing something else once in a while.

Photo of the Day


So true! 

Saw this in front of Prime & Toast in Al Bida’a. Small but nice place. 

Another Sandstormy Day

At 9:45 am…

Pardon the photos 😉 You’ll literally breathe dust if you go outdoors. It was actually zero visibility earlier.

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And then it rained…

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Summer is coming, Kuwait! Are you ready for the scorching summer heat, homo sapiens? I think I’m not!

6:40 A.M. – Kuwait 

The Bamboo Stalk by Saud Alsanousi

This book won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2013. The story of a young boy with a Christian name, an Arab surname, a Filipino face and a Kuwaiti passport.

It took me a while to finish reading this because I found it so slow-paced in the first half. It got a bit better afterwards but didn’t come up much with my expectations. Though I must say, it gave me a good laugh when he named the tortoise as Inang Choleng.

Rating : 2/5 stars

Wall Art

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“Every now and then one paints a picture that seems to have opened a door and serves as a stepping stone to other things.” – Pablo Picasso

Empty Bench

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There’s something about empty benches…

Closed Doors

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Some doors are meant to be closed, and when you try to reopen them, you remember why they were closed in the first place.

Afternoon Walk

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Date Palm

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Kuwait

Adobe Reader X.lnk
17:30. October 22.

Eid Mubarak!

Long weekend ahead! Yes, more time to rest, read and relax (I hope) because it’s holiday!

Every year, Muslims around the world celebrate Eid Al-Adha, The Festival of the Sacrifice. It’s a big holiday that takes place at the end of Hajj or the pilgrimage to Mecca which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. It is also to honor and commemorate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to God.

It is also during Eid Al-Adha that many Muslim families buy an animal, like sheep or cow, to be used as sacrifice and then share the meat among themselves, their relatives, friends, neighbors and the less fortunate. It reminds me of Christmas where Christians also share what they’ve got to everyone and that there shouldn’t be anyone left with nothing to eat. Oh, the idea of sharing! I hope it happens every day, not only on holidays!

Anyway, the holiday kicks off on Wednesday, the 23rd and runs through Sunday, the 27th.

Eid Mubarak! 🙂

Thai Food Thursdate

I love Thursdates! Yes, Thursday dates with anyone (it really doesn’t matter with whom) as long as we have interesting conversations and good food, it is just good enough! Better if we can share a drink or two, but since I’m in Kuwait, that’s hopeless. So whatever we lack for drinks/alcohol, we just try to make it up on food and stories to share with each other.

So today’s Thursdate is with my friend (you know who you are) who just came back from vacation and yeah, Happy 1st Year Wedding Anniversary to you and your husband! We went to Sabaidee Thai Restaurant in Salmiya. Sabaidee in Thai means be well or be fine.

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It’s just a small restaurant with only two or three staffs I think but that didn’t matter because we definitely enjoyed the food. There were a lot of food to choose from in their menu and we opted for these few:

Gai (chicken) satay
Gai (chicken) satay

Peek Gai Tod (deep-fried chicken wings, Thai style)
Peek Gai Tod (deep-fried chicken wings, Thai style)

Khai Luk Khaei (fried hard-boiled eggs with tamarind sauce)
Khai Luk Khaei (fried hard-boiled eggs with tamarind sauce)

Flat rice noodles with seafood
Flat rice noodles with seafood

Pad thai (Stir-fried noodles - with seafood)
Pad thai (Stir-fried noodles – with seafood)
All the dishes tasted very good and the servings were more than enough at very reasonable prices.

So if you happen to be in the mood for some delicious Thai food, you can check it out. I personally recommend their branch in Salmiya because I haven’t visited the other branches yet. You can also check out their website here.