Store names seen in Manila

I’ve posted about the funny store names in Dubai, now it’s time for Manila to shine!

1. Elizabeth Tailoring

2. Christopher Plumbing

3. Anita Bakery

4. Doris Day and Night (a 24H cafeteria)

5. Goldirocks (a sand and gravel supplier)

6. Felix the Cut (children’s hair salon)

7. Curl up and Dye (a ladies salon)

8. Wash up Doc? (a laundromat)

9. The Way We Wear (a clothing boutique)

10. Leon King ( a video rental shop)

11.  Meating Place (a butchery)

12. Petal Attraction (a flower shop)

13.  Sylvestre’s Salon (where the tough guys go for a haircut, I suppose?)


Oh now that your’re here, before you leave, I’d like to request you to vote for my friend Elizabeth Neas who’s a finalist in a contest to win a blog she loves called “Because Mom Said So”. She believes she is capable to handle this blog and has passion to do so!

Please vote for her here (look for her name and read her essay if you like). Thank you very much! She appreciates all the help!

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Things I learned through a radio contest

After two years of shouting trivia answers inside the car while listening to a radio contest, I finally had the guts to call in and join on the first day of the challenge, last Sunday.

Here are some notable things I learned this week during my radio challenge:

1. Radio calls are exciting – Getting a call back from a local DJ is exciting.

2. Excitement expires – That excitement turned to a feeling of terror in a span of 5 seconds.

3. I am backstage shy – I know I suck at public speaking, I didn’t know that I would still be shy even on the phone, even if I didn’t have to face anyone at all.

4. I have extra-active sweat glands – My hands sweat profusely when I am nervous. I’m lucky my phone didn’t drown and die on me.

5. I hate my radio voice – I sound so different on the radio. I almost can’t recognize myself.

6. My mom thinks I’m bluffing – My mom didn’t recognize me in my radio voice, too. She said, I didn’t sound ‘natural’. Hello, mom? It’s even a miracle my voice came out!

7. 60 seconds is sixty seconds – On to the trivia challenge. I never knew 60 seconds could feel so long!

8. It is easier listening than actually participating – Being on the spot is tough. I need oxygen!

9. I need to stock up on my trivia study– I need to brush up on theater-related trivias. Those little unnecessary bits can be useful sometimes. The beauty of trivias is that the scope is so wide, there’s a lot of things to learn!

10. I can be a wreck when I am nervous – I hate anticipation! I hate the unknown. Since Sunday night, I couldn’t sleep well at night and a bit restless during the day, especially when the Trivia Challenge is on right before 8 am! *sigh*

11. I am lucky – I scored 10 but that is a very beatable score. I’m just happy 4 people who took the challenge didn’t score more than ten! Nothing but luck there since there are challengers who score 13 and above in the past!

12. I have the ability to immobilize my husband’s hearing function – I SCREAMED in the car when the last challenger’s time was up and she scored only 7, meaning that I am still the reigning champ and I won!

13. Never again? – I might never want to join that trivia challenge contest again or I might but not on the first day. Maybe in the middle of the week so I only have few days of restlessness.

Now that it’s finally over, I can finally do my happy dance and sleep peacefully. Hope you all have a happy weekend!!

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Essential things to remember when visiting Dubai

abra riding

A friend of mine came to visit last month and I was able to tour around Dubai with her. Here are some things I have learned, found useful knowing and just some bits of information for people wanting to visit.

1. Choosing the season is everything – Temperatures in Dubai ranges from lows of about 50 F/10 C in winter to a high of 118 F/ 48 C in summer. Peak tourist season starts from the end of October, where the extreme heat of summer has somewhat cooled off ‘a bit’. A bit because it is still warm and balmy in the noon and even at night.

November is when the tourism season really kicks off and we residents start to turn our a/c’s OFF and enjoy a smaller electric bill. You can swim in the beach until about the 3rd week of November but beyond that, forget it, unless you have reptile cold blood.

Beach in December

My daughter enjoying the warm sun but cold water of the beach in December

** The Shopping Festival from Jan.15 to Feb.15 each year is any shoppers annual pilgrimage. **

By saying that, I will never discourage anyone wanting to travel in the summer months of June-September. Why not? The hotels are slashing their prices to up to 50%, there’s the Dubai Summer Surprises, a celebration of shopping and entertainment inside the temperature-controlled malls. Just watch out when you go out, though, the almost 50C and 90% humidity is not a joke but hey, I have survived for two summers here and so will you.

2. Take a map with you – It is not uncommon to hear taxi drivers saying, “This is my first day at work, Madam” or “Do you know the way, Sir?” after you tell them your destination. It is safer and more time saving to bring a map and point to them where you want to go. Of course, arriving at your desired destination will depend on your map and the ability of the driver to read the map. Don’t be shocked when they actually rotate it upside down over and over again with a very curious look on their face!

3. Bring smaller denominations– Unless you want to give more than half of your money as tip, it would be wise to have some coins and small dirham (UAE currency) denominations in your wallet. Taxis in Dubai are cheap at 3 dirhams (USD80 cents) for the first few kilometers and if you are a touris and taking taxi and realize that the place you asked to be taken to is just two blocks down the street which required you very small amount of taxi fare but you only have a hundred dirhams and the driver says, “No change, Sir” (whew that was a loong sentence). What would you do, then?

4. A bottled water can be a life saver – Buses and taxis won’t come as you wish them to and you’re probably stucked in the road sweating and dehydrated, even on December.

Sometimes for me, a bottled water makes a huge difference. I tend to have migraine attacks when out in the heat for too long without water.

5. Be aware of the cars! – and the overall traffic, really. Although the quality of driving have improved since we relocated here two years ago, mental drivers still do exist here in Dubai.

If you are coming from a country that drives on the left side of the road (like me, in Japan), don’t forget that Dubai drives on the opposite, that is, on the right-hand side of the road. This is a warning not only to people driving but also to pedestrians.

6. Electricity – Dubai is operating on a 220 V, 50Hz electric source. Check your gadget’s voltage before traveling. The worst that can happen is taking your precious vacation time traveling to the other side of the world and knowing you can’t charge your camera!

7. Respect of culture and tradition – During the month of Ramadan, you should refrain from eating, drinking or smoking in public places between sunrise and sunset. No questions asked!

However, hotels and some restaurants are open for diners but with the windows covered. The food courts in the malls are closed too.

8. No Camels in the city – don’t expect camels to roam freely in the city of Dubai. If you had high hopes to see a real, live camel for the first time in your life, don’t be disappointed if you won’t find any in the city.

Dubai is modern hi-tech Arabia. The streets are clean and futuristic skyscrapers dominate the city landscape, not camels. If you go however to the outskirts, in Nad Al Sheba or go on a desert safari, or visit the camel race course, just outside the city, then you will find the humped, long-lashed  creatures waiting for you.


Jockeys practice the camels for the daily races

** Camel racing is held twice a week in winter and during public holidays. **

9. Dress code– There is no dress code in Dubai and you can wear anything you want. Bikinis are very popular in the beaches. Dubai is the most liberal of all the emirates, and as of date there is no enforced dress code; still, modesty will win you more respect. Just because every kind of clothing is allowed doesn’t mean it is ok to wear shorts intended for five year olds when walking in the streets.

Speaking of clothing, be sure to bring some light jacket, cardigans or long sleeved shirts when visiting Dubai From December to February. It gets chilly in the mornings and nights, no matter how you perceive this place as eternally hot. If you’re not convinced and prefer to bring only t-shirts, then bring your favorite cold medicines too.

10. Be Flexible – The buses have NO timings. Sure there are timetables posted in each bus stop but they are meaningless. Not one single bus follows any of those timings written there. The least you can do is wake up early and head to the nearest bus stop. (If you’ve decided to take the bus, that is)

The long queue to get on the bus on a weekend at Bur Dubai bus station

If you know where you are going by asking a few other passengers waiting at the stop, then you can get on the bus. If you are tired to wait for the bus to come for what seems like eternity, you can flag down a taxi in the bus stop, it is much easier and safer for the taxis to stop in the bus stop space.

11. Be Alert – Just be extra alert though, during my first days in Dubai, I have been beaten to a taxi ride by people around me. What happens, is that you call a cab, the cab stops near you and ANOTHER human being from out of nowhere suddenly appears, grabs the door open and gets on YOUR taxi and they speed off before you can even bat your eyelashes. And you can’t do anything now, can you.

12. Don’t do drugs – Dubai has a zero tolerance on drugs so don’t even think about it. Sometimes, this rule had been taken into absurd lengths when they jailed a visitor who had some powder residue in his SHOES.

13. 999 – God forbid, you get into trouble, call 999. The number is so easy to remember, so memorize it. You don’t have to speak Arabic when talking to the police.

How would the boss describe you?

I was shocked to know that there’s no more Thursday Thirteen (more shocked when I found out the site do not even exist anymore). While I am sad because it’s my favorite meme and I look forward to it every week, I can understand how it must be hard for the TT moderators to maintain the site and go through everyone’s list when they have a family crisis.

Meanwhile, I can’t stop posting lists just yet. Here’s one I got from my office mail. Every two years employees in the company I work with are assessed through a panel interview and given remarks about their performance. I will have my interview in a few days so I hope I won’t have any of these remarks (and the underlying FUNNY meanings) from my boss:

1. OUTGOING PERSONALITY – Always going out of the office

2. GOOD COMMUNICATION SKILLS – Spends lot of time on phone

3. WORK IS FIRST PRIORITY – Too ugly to get a date

4. SOCIALLY ACTIVE – Drinks a lot

5. INDEPENDENT WORKER – Nobody knows what he/she does

6. QUICK THINKER – Offers plausible excuses

7. USES LOGIC ON DIFFICULT JOBS – Gets someone else to do it

8. EXPRESSES SELF WELL – Speaks English

9. KEEN SENSE OF HUMOR – Knows a lot of dirty jokes

10. LOYAL – Can’t get a job anywhere else

11. HAS LEADERSHIP QUALITIES – is tall or has a loud voice

12. CAREER MINDED – Back stabber

13. RELAXED ATTITUDE – Sleeps at desk

Of course, these meanings are meant as a joke!

If you’re (still) writing a list of anything thirteen on Thursdays, do let me know in the comments so I can visit or sign in Mr. Linky (if Mr. Linky for TT is still working)!

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13 Memorable Christmasses

On this day, I remember my Christmas pasts…

1. 1981 – I was 5 years old and we just moved in to a new city. Everything looked bright and different. I remember being so happy after given miniature dolls by my parents. I also remember the big fight I had with my younger brother (3 years old) on Christmas morning. How could he be so interested in my dolls!?

2. 1982 – my first Christmas party at school. I loved the games we played. Couldn’t forget how my pregnant teacher devoured all the cookies, though.

3. 1987 – My father came home drunk on Christmas. Wait, don’t judge him just yet! We just moved in to our own house and we were waiting for him to come home from his Christmas party at the office. He almost never drinks alcohol, the reason why he got drunk easily with a small shot of brandy/whiskey/whatev.

It was our first time to see him drunk and very weak to celebrate Christmas with us. I/we never hated him for coming like that on Christmas Eve, I guess we were all just sad to see him down and out.

It never happened again.

4. 1989 – We lived side by side with Baptist neighbors. After their endless invitation to watch their Christmas show, my father finally agreed to let me and my 2 brothers go to their church and see it. The show finished at 11:30 pm and I asked them to take us home so we can celebrate Christmas at home with our parents. They said yes and we got in their car. It was 10 minutes before 12 midnight when we arrived in the neighborhood and before I knew it, they dragged us inside their home.

I did not know what else to do, we went inside their house and I don’t know what came in their minds when they decided to let go of their huge dogs outside after that. Their robotic maids started to tell us to sit down, put napkins in our laps so the hosts can start the Christmas dinner!! Hey, this is not our house! My parents do not have a single idea where we are at that time. No cellphones! My two brothers were crying and I felt like wanting to too.

How can we escape with all the dogs on the loose outside? How can we get past the gate?

In short, we spent Christmas with a family not our own and this is big deal for me. I almost couldn’t forgive myself and what my young brothers went through. Sure we had better food and shinier utensils but nothing beats Christmas with my own family.

5. 1995 – My first Christmas away from my family. I and three other friends were representing our school in a journalism conference in Baguio (northern part of the Philippines). Situated about a thousand meters above sea level, Baguio was so cold in December, it almost didn’t feel like it was in the tropics. I think this trip made me want to live somewhere where there is winter.

6. 1996 – My wish to live somewhere where there is winter and snow for that full Christmas effect in my childish imagination came true. I came to Japan in October 1996.

On Christmas eve, all the foreign students in my university were taken to tour the old city of Kyoto and Nara. It was my first time to be on a bullet train in Japan and I had the time of my life! All of us stayed in a hotel in Kyoto, one room for each of us (were were 10 scholars from Asia). This is probably the MOST memorable Christmas I had so pardon me for being so wordy about this.

I was used to staying awake until 12 midnight on Christmas eve to welcome Christmas. I expected fireworks, merry making and lots and lots of noise. After all, this was Japan, they can make the grandest fireworks and the loudest machines, can’t they?

What happened was surreal. I was looking out the window and my clock. Clock-window-clock-window. It was 5 minutes before 12 midnight but still no sign of any movement in the streets of Kyoto except for a few running cars and couples hand in hand. 3 minutes before, 2 minutes…nothing happened!! Snow began to fall as the tears in my eyes. I couldn’t believe they don’t have anything festive in Japan!

Where were the people? Too cold to go out? Too sleepy to stay around and celebrate? Why no one bothered to tell me this before? Needless to say, I was devastated. I was young at 20, in a foreign land, used to being with my loud, merry family in times like Christmas. Being alone was too much.

7. 2000 – My supposed to be last Christmas as a student in the university in Japan. My friends planned to go skiing and spend Christmas in a log cabin in the mountains but I saved my money to buy tickets to fly to the Philippines to celebrate Christmas with my family.

8. 2001 – My first Christmas after graduation! M and I spent a lovely Christmas in an English village atop hills overlooking the frozen Suwa Lake in Nagano.

9. 2003 – I spent my first Christmas as a mom – ALONE, in a hospital room. I gave birth on the 23rd of December and in Japan, one has to stay in the hospital for seven days after normal delivery (14 days for C-section). The lights were off and I can only hear the sound of babies crying in the nursery near my room.

10. 2004 – M underwent CT and MRI scan a few days before Christmas because of a severe headache that left him almost unconcious. Yeah, too much working in Japan can do that to you!

I have never prayed so hard in my entire life especially when he said, whatever happens, I should remarry and get on with my life!

The scan results were released a day before Christmas and it revealed nothing suspicious. We celebrated our Christmas a little more thankful that year!

11. 2005 – We spent our first Christmas in a house we just bought earlier that year. We bought our first real (fake) tree, decorated and very excited but a week before Christmas, Pristine fell very sick, she wasn’t able to celebrate her 2nd birthday on the 23rd. My brother came from Tokyo to offer help. The house was a mess and I looked like a walking zoombie. Nevertheless, we celebrated it in our own little way, me, my husband, Pristine and my brother. We gathered around the heater (freezing in Nagano, Japan in winter!) and ate and told happy stories. Even Pristine woke up and enjoyed that night so much.

12. 2006 – I spent Christmas in the Philippines with my parents and my many brothers and sisters tagging along Pristine. A month after, we were to relocate to Dubai and traveling would be harder, costlier and longer so I thought I’d go and spend my Christmas there – who knows when I’ll be able to spend it again after living in Dubai.

13. 2007 – Our first Christmas in Dubai. When December was approaching, I thought we’ll never get to celebrate Christmas in this Islamic country but I was in for a surprise!

Merry Christmas to all who are celebrating!

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the numbers 1-13 and me

The serious lack of time (so busy at work and other gigs) made me brew up this TT in less than 10 minutes! I am so unprepared this week!

Here are numbers and their corresponding association with me:

1 – I have one daughter.

2 – The number of years living in Dubai

3 – The number of children I wanted to add but nah, I’ll add just have one more and that’s it. 🙂

4 – I have four younger brothers.

5 – am., the time I usually wake up, even on weekends and holidays.

6 – We are six siblings in my family.

7 – Seventh floor, we live on the seventh floor in an apartment building. Great view but no backyard!

8 – The number of hours I work x 5 days a week (Sat-Wed) + extra 5 hours on Thursdays

9 – P.M., my usual bed time. Yeah, I am a pre-schooler when it comes to bed time!

10 – The total number of years I lived in Japan.

11 – I was born on the 11th month of the year.

12 – The number of years I have known my husband, M.

13 – The total number of letters in my first name and family name.

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What they’re talkin

Mix English and Hindi/Tamil (a language spoken by a very large population of Indians living in Dubai) and you get an interesting version of English.

I hear/see these phrases on a daily basis.

1. What is your good name? – I was asked of my name in this manner during my first day of work.

2. How are you? – Don’t expect they are really asking you how are you doing by answering, “I’m fine”. It actually only means, “Hi” or “Hello” in Dubai. Don’t get upset if no one even listen to your reply of “I’m fine, thank you”. Save your energy and simplify your life by giving a nod or a smile.

3. Kindly do the needful. – A popular closing greeting in the office email. It means “do whatever is required”.

4. Not on his seat/out of station – Be alarmed when you’re looking for someone and you get this response on the phone. The meaning ranges from the person you are looking for being out for 5 minutes to being on leave for 6 months!

5. Itself – “The guests will be coming over tomorrow itself” or when you need to get something done and ask when you’ll get it, you’ll often hear “By today itself” which means forget it, there’s a 99% chance that it won’t be ready by today.

6. Only – I can’t explain why they like to put this word in almost every sentence when being interrogated.

“Where were you?”
“I was here only (why you didn’t see me)” or
“For that (referring to getting married) only he will go to India.”

7. Full stop – Once at work, my colleague dictated and I typed: “The elevator of xxx building services 50 floors FULL STOP.” He panicked, “Not FULL STOP full stop!! End of sentence, end of sentence!”

After a short brain freeze, I got it.

I did not type “END OF SENTENCE”. My collegue meant the punctuation mark called “a period”! Silly me.

8. Yes, tell me! – When you personally approach someone for help or call them on the phone, you will hear this.

“Yes, madame, tell me!”

It usually means, “I haven’t got much time, whatever you want, spit it out, immediately.”

9. No problem. – Translates to “no worries” for THEM but for you, it could mean a lot of trouble! Nothing gets done quickly here, this is the place where tomorrows never end, remember? If you ask for something and get a “No problem”, be sure to follow it up every hour, if need be!

10. Same-same – I ask, “How hot is India in summer?”

“Hot but not same-same Dubai, madame”.

I have also been told that my daughter and my husband look same-same.

11. Backside – Don’t fret, they don’t mean your “behind”. It means the back of something. I used to work at the backside of the Lulu Building in Deira and on a company’s notice board:

“You are all invited to party on backside next week!”

12. Nos. – Pieces, numbers of. “I saw 2 numbers bus coming at the same time five minutes ago.” or “We need 2 numbers stapler for the new employee.”

13. Cabin – A private office, a separate room, usually for managers and other bosses.

“Mr. xx is not on his cabin.” or “Ali Baba, in my cabin, now!”

Real, funny store names found in Dubai

Thursday Thirteen banner courtesy of Samulli

1. Rainbow Color Separation Services – poor rainbows!

2. Al Boom Gas Company – they better not explode!!

3. Al Sharq Pet Shop – where they also sell non-shark pets

4. Talent Secretarial Services – they’ve got talent, they say!

5. Excellent Men’s Saloon – a Salon!

6. Quick Hands Restaurant – I wonder if the food is served in milli-seconds?

7. Al Nasr Cinema Restaurant – believe me, there was no giant screen inside!

8. Athlete’s Foot (a shoe store) – where we might also find medication for athlete’s foot

9. Neatorama Cleaning Services

10. xx Roastery – I came in looking for roasted chicken but they only sold roasted NUTS

11. Hello Deira – The store in Deira sells mobile phones.

12. Automatic Restaurant and Grill – like everything will be grilled automatically?

13. Safestway Supermarket

These are just a few! I’ll be on the lookout for more. Any interesting business establishment names near you?

What’s on their list

I received lots of comments in my Bloggy Giveaways Carnival post, after asking what’s on top of their Christmas wish lists. It has been a fascinating week for me being able to read everyone else’s list items.

Here’s the top 13:

1. A Wii

2. A Camera or video recorder

3. A Kindle

4. A Laptop/PC

5. A TV set

6. new linens

7. plane ticket home/to somewhere

8. A day at the spa

9. A sewing machine

10. A baby!

11. Books

12. kitchen items – pots and pans, a crockpot, food processors, muffin pans, knives, mixers

13. new clothes/shoes

Are any of these in your Christmas list too?

** Sorry the linkies are acting crazy today. I have to find out why. Hope to put it back asap.**

Now that you’re here, please allow me to invite you to enter my two contests running this week: win a fab CD and DVD (take my word on this and thanks me later if you win!) and beautiful art prints.

What’s inside the Dubai Mall?

Thanks to Samulli for the beautiful TT banner.

How do you fill a mall with an area equivalent to 50 soccer pitches? Here’s what’s inside the Dubai Mall:

1. Dubai Ice Rink– Olympic sized ice rink offering various learn to skate programs. It will host international ice hockey contests. The rink also doubles as a concert arena.

2. The Gold Souk – The biggest gold store in the world with 220 retailers.

3. Food courts – Biggest in Dubai 160 food and beverage outlets, water fountains and outside terraces.

4. Hamleys – The world’s largest toy store.

5. Kidzania – A city scaled down to children’s size. Kids can role play in 70 different professions from doctors to chefs.

6. Sega Republic– Indoor spin coster, one of the largest selections of arcade and gaming machines in the world

7. Bloomingdale’s – One of America’s leading department store with 4 levels.

8. Fashion Avenue– Chanel, Gucci, Armani, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana & other luxury brands are showcased. Includes a 20 meter hydraulic catwalk to showcase new collections to the world.

9. Retail outlets – 1,200 retails outlets

10. Cinemas – Dubai’s largest with 22 screens.

11. Waitrose – UK supermarket chain covering nearly the entire bottom half of the mall on the lower ground.

12. Dubai Aquarium and Discovery Centre – One of the largest tanks on the planet, featuring the world’s largest viewing panel measuring 32.8m wide and 8.3m high.

I still can’t believe they put so many sharks in that aquarium together with the other fishes. News continue to spread that the opening of the mall/aquarium was threatened because of bloody shark fights.

Living animals, representing more than 85 species, including over 400 sharks and rays combined in the Aquarium. The massive aquarium spreads over ground, level one & two. The aquarium holds 10 million liters of water!

13. Waterfront– With views of the world’s tallest building, Burj Dubai, musical fountain that’s 25% larger than the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

Dubai Mall opened its doors to the public, setting several world records, early this week.

** I haven’t been there yet but we took a peek of the area one week before the opening. **