The Gift That Keeps On Giving

I’d have to be honest with you all and admit that my husband is not exactly the most romantic man in the world.  But one fine birthday (can’t remember which one), he totally surprised me by giving me one gift I’ve always wanted (a passing request which I never expected him to remember) — having my very own rambutan tree in front of my house. I remember waking up that morning to the sound of the cangkul (a tool used for digging up soil) hitting dirt and grass, then squealing in delight as I peeked out my window and saw him planting a rambutan sapling in the front yard.


It took about three years before the tree started bearing fruit, with the first harvest only yielding less than 10 fruits. But now, that my tree continues to bear fruit year after year after year, with the number of fruits increasing with each succeeding year.

The anticipation starts months in advance, the moment those tiny flower buds make their appearance. I watch with trepidation as many of these flowers get washed away by the rain or blown away by strong winds. Then the flowers suddenly become miniature green rambutan fruits…and the suspense mounts even more as the fruits get bigger and bigger. The moment the fruits start showing the first tinge of red (ripe rambutan fruits are red in colour), we scramble and start harvesting them, lest the monkeys from a nearby hill beat us to it.

Thank you, DH. It’s like my birthday all over again each and every time I savour these sweet little treats!

P.S. To all the men out there, this only goes to show gifts don’t need to be expensive to be memorable and sweep women off their feet!

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My Top 3 Favourite British Slang Words

When I was new in Malaysia, it took me quite  a while to adjust from American English (the norm in the Philippines) to British English (the norm in Malaysia). Suddenly, I had to start saying ‘lift’ instead of ‘elevator’; add u’s to words like neighbour, labour, and colour; pronounce ‘family’ as ‘femly’ and ‘sure’ as ‘shore’ and shorten the ‘ary’ in words like secretary, military, and elementary.

Twenty-one years later, my English is a hodgepodge of Filipino English, American English, British English, and Malaysian English (Manglish?). Every time I go back to the Philippines, people can’t quite place my accent and, often, I’d have to modify the way I pronounce things to make sure I get understood.

Lately, I notice that I tend to lean more towards the British way of pronouncing things. Perhaps I can blame this on a predisposition for all things British — in no particular order: scones with clotted cream and jam, Sherlock, Harry Potter, Merlin, Jamie Campbell Bower (‘City of Bones’), Benedict Cumberbatch (‘Sherlock’), Sam Claflin (‘Hunger Games’), Jim Sturgess (‘Across The Universe’), One Direction, and The Beatles.

I’ve gained a newfound appreciation for British English and am even learning to distinguish its variations (the Queen’s English versus Cockney, for a start). Watch this adorable little girl demonstrate to us the difference between Cockney and the Queen’s English:

And now in my 21 years of living in Malaysia and learning British English, I can now handpick my favourite informal words (a.k.a. slang) in British English:

1. Wicked
(slang) excellent
He’s got some wicked trainers.

My favourite use of ‘wicked’: When Ron meets Harry for the first time and gets to see Harry’s lighting scar on his forehead.


2. Bloody
(British English, very informal)  used to express anger or to emphasize what you are saying in a slightly rude way

I’ve had a bloody awful week.
It’s a bloody disgrace that some war widows don’t get a decent pension.
Don’t be a bloody idiot!
This computer’s bloody useless! It’s always going wrong.
Don’t you tell me what to do! I’ll do what I bloody well like in my own house.

Click here to see a video of actor Russell Brand “accidentally” swearing (i.e. using the word ‘bloody’) during a TV interview.


3. Brilliant
(British English, informal) very good

“Did you like the film?” “I thought it was brilliant.”
She’s got a brilliant sense of humour.
Oh, brilliant! My parcel’s arrived.

All definitions sourced from Cambridge Dictionaries Online.

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2 Years In The Blink Of An Eye

How could two years just pass by like the mere blink of an eye? (Click image to view 15-second video clip on Instagram.)

your hand fits in mine

Happy 2nd birthday, Little Dragon…

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MH370, Forever In Our Hearts

It has been almost 2 months since we lost you, MH370, but you are still in our hearts and minds…


Pic taken with a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 on board MH flight from KL to Manila in March 2014.

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4 Days in Geneva In 13 Instagram Pics

I was in Geneva from the 8th to the 11th of April to attend a triennial exhibition/conference related to my work. For a change, I went via Emirates Air and even though it meant a 4-hour transit in Dubai both ways, it also meant fantastic food (unexpected choice of word for airline food, I know), fantastic in-flight entertainment (heck yeah, I’m a Directioner! haha), and the opportunity to charge my electronic devices the whole way!

Geneva2014_1This time around, we stayed at Hôtel Suisse which was located right smack across Cornavin main train station and an easy 5-minute walk to Lac Leman.

Geneva2014_5This triennial trip has become a love-hate sort of thing for me — love because Switzerland is simply beautiful and who’d want to turn down a free trip to Europe anyway; hate because it meant meeting marathons from morning until evening (dinner meetings included) and by the time I’m done, all the shops would have closed already by 6 or latest 7 pm.

But life’s too short to dwell on the negative stuff so I chose to find happiness in the little things instead, like finding free tickets for the bus/train just before exiting the airport.

Geneva2014_2I’ve also *finally* figured out where to buy prepaid SIM cards — at the post office inside the airport building. The starter pack cost CHF14.90 and it included CHF20 credit.

Geneva2014_3As always, Geneva hotels issue a free Geneva transport card. For the first time in my 5 trips in Geneva, there was actually a spot check inside the bus for tickets and transport cards. They rarely check and if you get caught, I heard the fine is pretty steep.

Geneva2014_4 Oh, and I finally managed to complete my Tintin French comic book collection, thanks to the close proximity of our hotel to a Payot librairie (‘bookshop’, not to be confused with bibliotheque, which means ‘library’). No pics of the comic books though ;)

The weather was a bit chilly for spring but the sun was bright so I could not complain. In between meetings, I sneaked in a pic or two of the beauty outside the hall where I was having my meeting marathon.

Geneva2014_6The highlight of the trip for me was the opportunity to run beside Lac Leman, even if it meant dragging my derriere from the warmth of my bed and into the 5ºC spring morning weather.

Geneva2014_7I wore my brand-spanking new Nashata A-line ultra top underneath an old New Balance long-sleeved running top that I bought from Cape Town ages ago and the combination kept me warm enough for the short walk to the lake area yet the Nashata ultra top did a great job of wicking off the sweat from my body as I ran.

Geneva2014_8As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been battling plantar fasciitis for several months now and this was the first time I ran since Malaysia Women Marathon, thus I took it slow and easy, doing 1.5 km two days in a row at a leisurely 10 min/km pace. I actually found it tough to have to slow down since my pace has already improved to around 7:30 min/km so I ‘slowed’ down by taking lots of pics along the way.

Geneva2014_9The weather by mid-afternoon was a lot more pleasant, with lots of sun and a bit of warmth, so I did not hesitate to indulge in some gelato one afternoon. Never mind if it meant blowing CHF5 (approximately RM20 ~ almost USD6!) on a small scoop of noisette (hazelnut) and caramel salé (salted caramel) gelato.

Geneva2014_10And Switzerland being the world’s centre of fine chocolate, it only made sense to bring back as much chocolate as my arms could carry on my flight back! Hint: There is a Migros grocery store in the airport where you can do some last-minute chocolate shopping.Geneva2014_11The flight back to KL meant more movies and good food on board Emirates Air…and a bit more of shopping at Dubai Airport. Psst…do you know that Dubai Airport now has lots of shower rooms in the airport? And they’re FREE! Just bring along your own towel, toiletries, and slippers.Geneva2014_12

The highlight of my return flight was, again, food. This time, it was Filipino food called tapsilog (a contraction for tapa-sinangag-itlog or beef-fried rice-egg) which was way too expensive even for airport food…but, digging into the warm rice at 2 am and topping each bite with the runny yolk and the tender beef, I felt as though I was right back home.Geneva2014_13

Au revoir, Genéve! See you again in three years…


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