Year of the fire monkey 2016

HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone! How did you spend your new year? Hope it was a good one!

Thank you for all the messages you sent to me via email, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram asking if me and my family are ok after several news broadcasts reached you regarding the massive fire in Dubai last new year’s eve.

We are all fine and wasn’t near the vicinity. We were at home, like all the other new year’s eve nights in the past.

However, I had many friends who were at Downtown Dubai waiting for the fireworks show when the fire broke out. Dubai Police was very efficient to take action to evacuate people to safety, successfully managing crowd control.

The fire broke out at 9:30 pm and there was speculation the annual fireworks show at Burj Khalifa could be cancelled but no, it went on despite the fire still going on. The live broadcast on TV however shifted its focus to the countdown and fireworks show at Burj Al Arab. (Dubai new year fireworks show is on at 3 locations: Burj Khalifa Downtown Dubai, Burj Al Arab, Atlantis and JBR)

The hotel that was on fire on New Year’s eve was The Address Downtown Dubai, one of Dubai’s most beautiful and iconic buildings.


We saw it being constructed when we came to Dubai in 2007 and completed. We personally love The Address brand of hotels. We are frequent diners of their restaurants and have stayed in one of their hotels. It breaks my heart to see it on fire on live tv.

It definitely wasn’t a great way to welcome the year of the FIRE monkey.

How about you, where were you when 2016 rolled in? What do you look forward to in 2016?

The year end blues

happy new year 2016

In some parts of the world, it’s 2016 already. In a few hours, Dubai will say goodbye to 2015. I’m still stuck in the office. I’ve cleaned up my desk and done all work load required for today but still have about an hour or so before we are allowed to go home at 6 pm.

I feel I shouldn’t be writing this blog post but I have time on my hands…and I feel I need to write this to feel a bit better.

How’s your 2015?

I feel my 2015 came in a whoosh. My family and I experienced some life changes that made half of our 2015 uncertain. To be honest, 2016 kind of scares me. There’s this talk of a probable new job in a new place, moving houses within Dubai, even a possibility of moving out of Dubai, etc. There’s so much uncertainty that sometimes I find myself not being able to sleep at night and it’s not nice. I am naturally a morning person and I am deemed useless past 10 pm. When these kind of nights happen, it really sucks. I’m neither awake nor asleep and I am not awake enough to do anything productive. In short, I am wasting time just staring into the dark, blank space waiting for sleep to come – and it usually comes really late, or really early…in the morning at 3 or 4.

And I have to wake up and work the next day. I have to thrive from 8 am to 6 pm knee deep in paperworks, sometimes slipping in and out of conciousness. I wish for less nights and days like that in 2016.

Health-wise, I’m spiraling down this last quarter of  the year. My back pain that comes and goes (started after I had my cesarian section surgery in 2011) came back in October so I took a break from working out. Even when I felt I was ready to do my workouts again, I missed a workout. And another. And another.

I feel pudgy. I feel terrible. I am not happy with the state of my fitness. And because I’ve gained weight, the back pain is back. It’s an evil cycle.

It’s awful to think that the days – they really go by and don’t care whether you exercise or not. Life goes on. The days go on. And the more the days went on without exercising, the more it sucked.

But they say, if you can’t stop thinking about it, then you have to work for it to achieve it. So, I am back to eating clean again and exercising again starting tomorrow. Yeah, yeah, yeah, what a cliche right? New year’s resolution to be healthier, lose weight, yada, yada, yada.

But I don’t care. I can’t give this up…because no one can do this for me but me.

I actually found myself standing at the border, one feet on one side – deciding whether to live the rest of my life as a fat person (awaiting diabetes or heart disease) or on the other side – suck it up and aim to be fit again, for myself, for my kids. I will choose the latter.

Enough of the soggy year end sad stories. SORRY.

Then, there were still wonderful things that happened in 2015.

1. I was able to go to the Philippines again in July, to see my home town after seven long years.

It was an epic trip. I didn’t know how much I missed being home until I was there and I didn’t know I’d long to go there again till I boarded the flight back to Dubai. I might have lived in so many places but now I know, I left a big part of my heart in the Philippines. 

I was also able to visit our relatives (father’s side) in Davao. The last time I was saw them was in 1996.

2. I travelled to Europe. TWICE.

First was an impromptu trip to Austria. My ‘just because’ trip, the trip I felt I needed to make to find myself again. Second was in Czech Republic and what made it more awesome was I got free tickets for myself and my daughter through a contest I won.

3. I didn’t fall sick this year.

Maybe because I’ve been strictly following my exercise routines regularly, 5-6 times a week, at least till the last quarter of the year.

4. I kept my job

I’ll be nine years in the same job, same employer in a couple of weeks. 

5. Despite of everything, I am still here.

Yes, I am still here. I’ve laughed more and cried less this year. I looked back into the blog posts I wrote in 2015 and found something I wrote about mindfulness. Why do I keep forgetting that?

Changing year always bring out the blues in me, it’s always prone to heavy drama. It’s crazy to think that the transition from the old year to the new one is only a day apart. I shouldn’t probably have access to a computer during the last days of the year.

What do I wish for in 2016?

I wish for nothing but the basic things – good health for all, stability and a stronger will to be able to do whatever I put my mind into. 

Happy new year, to one and all. May you have a prosperous new year and get whatever your heart desire! Thank you for being part of my 2015!

Happy New Year 2015!

Happy New Year 2015

What do I look forward to in 2015? Health, first and foremost, going back to see my family (my father has not ‘met’ my son), more peace of mind, focusing more on blogging and probably less time spent on social media (boy, they sure are thieves of time!).

So…how did your city celebrate the new year?

Last year, Dubai set the world record for the largest fireworks display, with 479,651 shells fired in just six minutes on New Year’s Eve. This year, Dubai took the world record for the largest LED-illuminated facade. Burj Khalifa has been wrapped with LED panels with a total area of 32,467 sq metres, surpassing the existing record held by Mall Taman Anggrek in Indonesia, with the LED screen area around Burj Khalifa nearly 3.75 times larger. Source

Here’s what happened at Downtown Dubai, dubbed as “the center of now” during New Year’s eve:

We stayed at home because we learned, that the best way to see the fireworks display on new year’s is at the comfort of home, with champagne in hand. Heh. I know the euphoria of the crowd would have been very exciting but the need to get to the venue hours before midnight, standing for long hours in the cold (my being too realistic puts me off..what about toilets?) and the struggle to go home after smoke clears off…I have heard of horrible stories and being outside, with dead legs and a hungry stomach is not my idea of spending the first day of the new year.

But that’s just me.

I still dream of being outside in Times Square though one day…but that could be just a dream because I don’t want to wear adult diapers…(one of my friends actually said that could be the solution of my there’s-no-toilet-and-I-need-to-go scare)

Anyway, I hope you all had a wonderful new year celebrations, however you spent it and I hope all the best for you and your family in 2015!

Top photo credit

What do you look forward to in 2014?


And just like that the first day of the new year is done!

Ok, it’s back to work for most – unless you’re in Japan where the New Year gets more weight and everyone is still curled up under their kotatsu till the first week of January ends, like this. (inside that low table is heater…central heating in houses in Japan do not exist!)


I’ve been thinking, 2013 came and went – what were my best moments of that year?

I am sure there are many and I’ll try to remember each after I recover from brain fog due to excessive ice cream consumption (don’t ask). But being invited to go to Istanbul by Turkish Airlines was definitely one of the highlights of my 2013.

Here’s a video of the bloggers trip last November compiled by our sponsor. It’s amazing because we have this group of professional photographers/videographers who followed us around to document the whole 3 day event!

To more travels in 2014! This is what I look forward to this year!

bye 2013 hello 2014

Happy New Year!

bye 2013 hello 2014

Happy New Year, everyone! How did you celebrate the New Year? Were you out to see the fireworks display from where you are?

Dubai grabbed the world record for the biggest fireworks display last night. I get asked, “Were you there?”

No, I wasn’t. One of our new year family traditions is to never leave the house empty as we welcome the new year so we were just at home. Come to think of it, I’ve never been outside at new year’s eve all my life!

Anyway, the fireworks was great, especially when you see it on the TV – in your comfy sofa, warm home (it’s cold outside right now at night here in Dubai), with a glass of bubbly.

Plus, you can see the show in ALL angles and without inhaling all that smoke!

Here’s a video of Dubai’s firework show as it attempts to break world records. (And of course, they were successful – it’s in the Guiness website: Dubai holds the record now for largest display of new year fireworks)

How was your New Year’s eve?

How did you celebrate the New year?

My family and I, as family tradition, spend every new year’s eve at home. We don’t go out to party, to a concert or spend it in another house. We believe that we all have to stick together in our own home as the new year rolls in as it signifies unity.

Also? we wear something with polka dots. The reason behind this? The dots are circle in shape same with coins so it is believed to bring in prosperity (wealth). Yeah right…as I grew older, I started to think, it would be better to wear something with rectangles, the shape of money bills, not coins! Anyway, I still follow the tradition up to now and my daughter happily obliges.

>> The polka dots thing is just one of the many funny, superstition laden New Year traditions from all over the world.

While we were in the comfort of our home with home made dishes waiting in the dinner table and eyes watching TV for the new year countdown, so many of the people were outside in the cold, some waiting silly for hours just to watch a 5 minute firework show at the world’s tallest building:

There were two other big fireworks show going on at the same time – one at Burj Al Arab and another at Atlantis The Palm.

I wish they would just join forces and make ONE firework display like in Sydney or New York.

The firework shows all look so beautiful but the agonizing traffic afterwards? Never mind. I don’t want to spend the first day of the year stuck in the road tired, sleepy and hungry.

How was your new year’s celebration?

Dubai’s Burj Khalifa New Year fireworks!

How was your New Year celebrations, everyone? Mine was great, we celebrated with family, cousins and friends who came over and slept in our house. We had a very good time, just like how I wanted it.

My 2011 started off with a big surprise: I found my digital camera battery charger that’s been missing for two months now!! The husband was cleaning the cabinets and lo and behold when I opened it, my Canon battery charger was there! I therefore resolve not to lose it again, to keep things where it should be and return everything in its proper place everytime. Aye, aye, sir!

Anyway, Dubai welcomed the New Year 2011 with a blast. Literally! The festivities at the world’s tallest Burj Khalifa was grand. See for yourself!

If the embedded video doesn’t work, you can watch it via this link.

e wanted to see it but the traffic was terrible and it’s presumed that after the fireworks display, we would spend hours on the road going home. I don’t want to start my year like that, sleepy, tired and pissed at other drivers.

Glad I found the media coverage online. It’s so much better to see it this way, taken from above and all angles rather than with all that crowd, traffic and people’s heads in your way, don’t you agree?

It’s January 2, I’m back to work and tomorrow’s back to school for Pristine. I wish each one of you a great start of the year 2011. And I hope your celebration was not just fun but also memorable.

after the quiet New Year

Things had been quiet and slow here in the Emirates since Friday last week. The radio is playing all instrumentals, song after song after song. Think of endless piano rendition and no words. Can be nice if one is having a migraine but not too cool when it’s a weekend or when I’m dragging myself to work on a Saturday or Sunday!

The ruler of Umm Al Quwain, one of the seven Emirates of the uAE has died and in true UAE fashion, the radio suddenly halted all programs and played quiet music out of respect to the one who died. Government offices also get a delicious bonus of three days off. Private sector slaves like me do not get the same pleasure.

We had lovely blue skies on the first day of 2009

UAE had a very quiet New Year. As a sign of sympathy to what is happening in Gaza, as an Arab nation, the UAE ruler declared there would be no public celebration or noisy festivities on New Year’s eve. There were no fireworks in the sky, the highly expected and anticipated fireworks display at the Burj Al Arab was cancelled. Sheikh Mohammed (ruler of Dubai) even said New Year parties in hotels have to be cancelled too. Since I always just stay at home with my family on New Year’s eve, I don’t know if the parties were really cancelled. What a case of bad timing for tourists who came to Dubai for the New Year.

Now the quiet is gone and everything is back this Monday morning. School is back, the honkers on the road are back and Nickelback is on again in the radio.

Speaking of radio, I finally got Pristine’s voice recording to work on this blog. If you are interested to listen to what she had to say on air, here it is.

How was your New Year’s celebration?

The year that was 2008

I’ve done this in 2007 and doing this again this year.

1. What did you do in 2008 that you hadn’t done before?
Travel to Japan from Dubai and back (16 hours travel time including a layover in HK) with a 4 year old.
2. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Not close to me physically as they are in Japan but 2 of my close friends gave birth after years of trying.
3. Did anyone close to you die?
No, thank God.
4. Did you travel? Where did you go?
Yes, to Japan and to the Philippines for a wedding. 
5. Best thing you bought?
My cellphone?
6. Where did most of your money go?
Our travels, my mom’s visa.
7. What do you wish you had done more of?
Taking photos while we were in Japan.
8. What do you wish you had done less of?
Eating peanut brittle.
9. What kept you sane?
Peanut brittle and BLOGGING.
10. What drove you mad?
Not completely mad yet but exercising so much yet not losing weight like I expected was driving me a little mad.
11. What made you celebrate?
My mother finally getting a visa and able to stay with us longer.
12. What made you sad?
An overworked husband!
13. How was your birthday this year?
No celebration at home because M was out for work (it’s ok). We were invited to a children’s birthday party. Pristine was so happy – that’s enough birthday gift for me, her happiness.
14. What political issue stirred you the most this year?
Obama – he did not stir me but my mom watching the debates and following with all the election in the US kind of made me think. My mother loves politics! That’s so new to me.
15. Were you in love in 2008?
Yes, to the same person
16. What would you like to have in 2009 that you didn’t have this year?
A baby.
17. What date from 2008 will be etched in your memory and why?
June 12. I don’t want to recall.
18. What song will remind you of 2008?
One step at a time by Jordin Sparks – a good song and it’s Pristine’s favorite.
19. Compared to this time last year are you happier?

20. Biggest achievement this year?
Surviving a long haul flight with a young child.
21. Biggest disappointment this year?
Not losing weight.
22. What is the one thing that would have made you more satisfied?
If I was able to run even a half marathon or even a 5K or a half 5K!
23. Best new person you met this year?
A new female colleague from Pakistan.

24. A valuable life lesson you learned this year?
You can’t change people, you can change only yourself and control the way you react to these nasty creatures.
25. How was your health in 2008?
Not bad but still with migraines.
26. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I guess but not completely!
27. What countries did you visit?
Japan and the Philippines!
28. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
Savings, sleep
29. Did you suffer hardship in 2008?
Yeah, a little bit, you can say that.
30. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My mother. She can spend time with a pre-schoolers (plural – she is taking care of one more 5 year old, our neighbor) more than I do and yet manage to be very graceful at the end of the day!
31. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
My mother inlaw’s behavior. We were so close before, having a really warm relationship that defy all monstrous inlaw relations until this summer. She has ran amok with her emotions because of depression. She’s in the hospital now.
32. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
My brother’s wedding, going back to Japan, going to Tokyo Disneyland, getting a haircut after 20 months!
33. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Happier.
ii. thinner or fatter? same
iii. richer or poorer? Break-even
34. How did you spend the New Year’s?
With my family.

35. How many one-night stands?
36. What was your favorite TV program?
No TV at home!
37. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
38. What was the best book you read?
The Sky Isn’t Visible From Here by Felicia Sullivan
39. What was your greatest musical (re)discovery?
Natasha Bedingfield, Pink, Nickelback, Maroon 5!
40. What did you want and get?
An Ipod, I won from a radio contest!
41. What did you want and not get?
42. What was your favorite film that you watched this year?
Definitely MAMMA MIA. I can watch it again and again and again. And oh, The Polar Express – we watched it on Christmas Eve and I loved it!
43. What one experience do you never want to repeat from this year?
Pointless arguments with hubby.

44. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
Capris and t-shirt.
45. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most
Hugh Jackman, who doesn’t fancy him?
46. Who did you miss?
My friends in Japan.
47. Quote that sums up your year:
Love begets love.
48. Was 2008 a good year for you?
49. What was your favorite moment of the year?
Boarding the plane for Japan!

50. What was your least favorite moment of the year?
Having told “fat” by neighbors back home!! Truth hurts.
51. Where were you when 2008 began?
At home. 
52. Who were you with?
My family.
53. Do you have a new year’s resolution for 2009?
Read more books, be more positive, spend more time with my daughter.
54. What was your favorite month of 2008?
November because it rains in Dubai in November.
55. What was your favorite song in 2008?
Lots. Goodnight, goodnight by Maroon 5, Love Song by Sara Bareilles, No Air by Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown
56. What was your favorite record from 2008?
Definitely Maroon 5’s new album and Coldplay’s Viva La Vida!

57. How many concerts did you see in 2008?
No concert in 2008! 

58. Did you drink a lot of alcohol in 2008?
59. Did you do a lot of drugs in 2008?
Just for my usual headaches.
60. How many people did you sleep with in 2008?
The usual – my husband and daughter.
61. Did you do anything you are ashamed of this year?
None I can think of.
62. What was the worst lie someone told you in 2008?
None I think?

63. Did you treat somebody badly in 2008?
No, at least not intentionally.
64. Did somebody treat you badly in 2008?
No one.
65. What was your most embarrassing moment of 2008?
Being on air in the radio and accidentally blurting out, “Shit!”

66. If you could go back in time to any moment of 2008 and change something, what would it be?
I’d change the way I handled things on June 12.
67. What are you most looking forward to in 2009?
Having another baby, traveling to Jordan (whichever comes first)

 How was your 2008?

Do let me know if you’re doing this meme! Have a fruitful and blessed New Year everyone! Thank you for visiting, commenting, reading my blog in 2008!