Missing HongKong

It’s been almost a month since we moved to another country, but it seemed as if it were just yesterday.

Waaaaah, I miss Hongkong very much– the beautiful skyscrapers, the tall buildings and towers, the long yet fascinating Victoria harbour, the ever fast MTR, the effective and efficient medical system, the delectable HK and Chinese cuisines, and the rich HK culture……. ahhhh, I indeed miss it (especially our humble abode).

My last day in the Fragrant Harbour of Asia was very emotional. I had almost the whole day crying. Only the thought of leaving our place made me cry like a river. What the heck! Such emotion was so strong that I felt as though my heart was literally squeezed.

While looking outside our apartment’s glass window, my tears began rolling down my cheeks. Leaving that apartment (which of course I called home for three years) was tough.

My husband knew that it’s a sad day for me, but he was still a bit surprised to see me weeping like that. He even asked me this while holding my hands: “Is it really hard, Babe?” I could not even answer his simple question because a big lump on my throat prevented me to do so.

To tell you honestly, I also did not expect that leaving Hongkong would be as painful as moving away from my home country for the first time. But my three years in HK gave me freedom, new learnings, and awesome experiences. I fell in love with the place, so to speak. And when I fell, I really fell, so departing from the Harbour made it hard for me.

When we were at the Hongkong International Airport, my eyes were swollen. Couldn’t think of the right word to describe my facial expression and emotion then. I was silent and contemplating.

After 12 hours of flight, we arrived at our destination. Sadly, we’re totally far from Asia. New timezone. New culture. New language. New residence. Everything new.

But there’s something a little older and will not change, however sad or happy I am– That’s my love for my baby blue eyes.

He’s the main reason behind my frequent travels for the past few years. Like what I’ve told him before, I would be with him whichever country he resides in.

Having my own family has helped me to cope with my new life here in Europe. Thanks to them! And yes, thanks to my husband’s family for welcoming me wholeheartedly. Couldn’t ask for more. Really.

Anyway, enough of sad moments and homesickness. Time to move forward for tomorrow is another day. Yes, it is!

P.S.

I will surely see Hongkong in the future. That’s a promise.

-J.L.

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We hired a helper in Hong Kong

I was not born with a silver spoon. Neither had I a nanny when I was a kid.

For me, hiring a helper was never an option while living as an expat in Hong Kong, but…

Bunny #2 became a surprise!

Having a hard time with my second pregnancy while taking care of our little bunny gave my husband an idea of hiring a domestic helper.

I was against the thought beforehand, but my body said otherwise. I was weak and nauseated most of the time, so my husband still encouraged me to look for someone who could be with me and our bunny.

Five times of puking every day and having loss of appetite, plus the tiring household chores prompted me to agree to my husband’s idea.

I joined a group of foreign domestic helpers on Facebook and advertised our hiring. I posted there the requirements and asked those who were interested to contact me afterwards for a possible interview. By the way, I was looking for a hardworking and dedicated Filipino domestic helper back then.

A lot of applicants messaged me, but I shortlisted them to make it easier for me to choose the right helper/nanny. I had four candidates then, and told my husband that I already set an interview with them. He said ok, so that’s it.

The interviews with those Filipino workers went well. It was really hard to choose and break someone’s heart, but we had to decide asap. In the end of our search, we chose a Filipina from Ilocos region, two years younger than I am and have her own family in the Philippines.

Actually, hiring her was not easy, because she was terminated by her previous employer. Based on Hong Kong immigration law, she should go back to Philippines first while waiting for her working visa with us. And that her papers should be processed by a recognized agency in Hong Kong. Fair Employment Agency came to our rescue.

The agent assigned to us was very helpful and attentive to our needs. She sent me updates regarding the hiring of the Filipina worker. We really had a great choice of agency, despite the fact that they were not a cheap agency to begin with.

Everything was processed by the agency. I just had to give them some pertinent papers to send to the Immigration. Of course, my husband and Charm (her nickname) needed to sign some papers in the office of Fair Agency. Two days after, Charm flew back to Philippines to process her papers in the local agency there and waited for her visa to arrive.

We waited two months and 2 weeks for her to be with us. Actually, we were having vacation here while she was in the Philippines.

I had to rebook my flight from Switzerland to Hong Kong because my baby then was sick, and also had to rebook Charm’s flight due to strong typhoon in Northern Philippines. Anyway, all was well afterwards. My bunny and I went back to Hong Kong and waited for our helper to arrive. Three days after our arrival, she came to Hong Kong.

In her first day, I gave her a sort of orientation. Giving her some house rules was very important for me so as to avoid some misunderstanding in the future. She was hardworking, dedicated, obedient and nice. My husband and I were lucky for having her hired.

Despite the expenses we spent for her papers and flight, we had no regrets because she was really a great help in our household. Thank God!

Charm’s duties were as follow: making breakfast, doing the laundry, cleaning the bathroom and the living room. My difficult pregnancy did not hinder me from making our dinner. Why did I have to make or cook our dinner? Well, my husband used to work from Mondays to Fridays and the only time we could be together was during the dinner on weekdays and yes, weekends as well. I told our helper that I still wanted to perform my duties as wife to my husband and cooking dinner was one of them.

Would you believe that I was able to make our dinner until the 8th month of my pregnancy? During Charm’s day off, even breakfast and lunch! I also took care of our bunny’s needs like giving her shower or bath, feeding her, and playing with her. Wew.. tiring but all worth it. Good thing, my nausea stopped after our European vacation. From fifth toward the last month of my pregnancy, I regained my strength and went back to being healthy. Gott sei Dank!

Going back to Charm’s tasks, she also accompanied me sometimes to my checkup or if not, she took care of our bunny. During my ninth month of pregnancy until the second month of my postpartum, she took care of baby S. I was touched because she treated her like her own, and for us, it was a sweet gesture.

Whenever we went out for lunch or dinner, she was with us. Charm was given freedom to choose her food and drinks when we were in a restaurant. I was the one feeding baby S., and not she. All she had to do was to carry the baby bag or sometimes took care of our bunny while I was in the restroom.

When my parents-in-law visited us in Hong Kong, she had not much tasks to do because we were out most of the time. She was even with us when we went to Macau, not as a nanny, but as a friend joining our group. She was indeed thankful for our nice treatment toward her.

She was not treated like a nanny, but a family member. My husband and I were not rich and neither of us have had a nanny before, so we were really against the idea of treating her like a slave or so. For us, she was (and still) a friend in our household.

Moreover, her dayoff was on Sunday and on Saturday but very seldom. Her busiest day was Monday; there she had a lot to do, but most of the days, she had free time. After our lunch, she had two hour-break and at three pm, she would make our snacks or accompanied me to the harbour while walking, or played with baby S in the park. Then, around 5:30, we were back to the apartment and there she was taking care of our bunny while I was preparing for dinner.

By the way, with regards to her stay with us, we told her on her interview that she would not be with us longer; not that we wanted her out, but due to the fact that we had to relocate soon (hubby’s work contract was about to end then). She had a year to work for us and that’s it.

But after our vacation in the Philippines in February this year, we told her that we had to relocate sooner than expected. We were both sad because she had become a family. Charm even cried after hearing my husband’s decision. Instead of being with us for a year, she only stayed with us for nine months.

I helped her to find a new employer. My friend (who’s also a Filipino domestic helper) recommended Charm to her employer’s BFF. The British couple wanted to hire her after interviewing her and calling me in March.

She was happy that she was able to find a new employer shortly before we parted ways. We gave her recommendation letter plus the other mandatory payment.

Her last day with us was also my and the kids’ last day in Hong Kong. We cried a river before parting ways. It was really an emotional day for all of us.

We may have relocated here but we maintain our communication until now. She misses us and the feeling is mutual. During her day off (Sunday), we also talk, so she can see the kids.

It’s very nice to know that we have not just had a helper/nanny in our household in Hong Kong, but also a friend.

We hope to see her again someday. In Hong Kong or maybe in the Philippines.

Missing Charmie.

End of my uber long post haha. Till next time!

-JL

Filipino Roots

The ever meaningful Philippine Flag. Photo credits to my husband.

As you all know, I am an expat living in Central Europe but I am very proud of my Filipino roots.

I love Philippines. I really do. In fact, I consider it as the best home ever despite all the not-so-good issues that its citizens complain about.

The camaraderie. The hospitality. The love and warmth. The happiness. The Pinoy resiliency. And yes, the Filipino spirit. These make Philippines the best home ever for me.

It’s not that I don’t love Hong Kong and my husband’s country. I love both with all my heart, but as a Filipino, my heart always go with my first home and first lovePHILIPPINES.

I may be away from home, but I think of it every day. No joke. I might be speaking Deutsch most of the time now, but that does not surpass the great value of Tagalog in me.

And if you are to ask me whether I am happy or not in my husband’s country, of course I will say I am HAPPY, but you know, I can’t help but to think of my parents and siblings back of home.

I am definitely happy here with my own family, but this will never change the fact that I also miss Mama, Papa, my sister and my brother and their own families.

Moreover, questions like these occupy my mind…

What is my family doing at the moment”

“Are they ok?”

“How are my friends in there?”

“How’s the education in the Philippines?”

“What happened to my former students?”

“What’s new in my hometown?”

“What are the current events there?”

“When will be my next vacation to my beloved country?”

Oh, how I miss Philippines. Really!

Five months of being away from my home country isn’t easy. More difficult than being away from Hong Kong.

It might take three to four years from now before I get to visit Philippines again. Seems like an eternity huh. But yes, I have to wait. Good thing, I have lots of patience. Anyway, time is just fleeting.

After a few years, I’m back again. How excited I am to see my family and close friends on my next vacation. To spend quality time with them and to see them happy are what I dream of once in a while.

It might not be too soon, but at least, it will happen in the near future. I hope and pray that my family and friends in the Philippines will be (and are) always healthy and safe.

Trusting God is what I do now. In time, my family, friends and I will meet again. That’s for sure.

For now, I just have to be contented to having our daily communication via Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and Whatasapp. I am really grateful to these social media platforms. They make it easier for me to connect with my home country and of course, to my dearest family back home.

My Filipino roots will stay with me as long as I live. Wherever I go, whichever language I speak, whatever foreign food I eat or whatever lifestyle I adapt to, these will never change the fact that I am a Filipino, by blood and by heart.

Mahal kita, Pilipinas. Pangako, babalik ako. Kitakits ha.

It all started with a ‘Pho’

Being an expat in Hongkong is not that easy.

New culture. Different lifestyle. Difficult language. No friends–these summed up my first two months in Hongkong.

Boredom and homesickness were my companions. My husband was most of the time at work and sadly, we only had much time at night, during weekends or holidays.

I was longing for my family and close friends back then. For an extrovert like me, this I tell you, it’s really hard to be alone. Thank goodness! There were Facebook messenger, Twitter, and Whatsapp for communication purposes.

One day, my husband asked me if I wanted to meet the Filipina wife of his colleague. Of course, I said YES. I had been waiting for that moment to happen, the moment which could possibly give me new friends.

Her name’s Ruth. She’s a wife of a Hongkong national working in the same company with my husband.

Before I met Ate Ruth personally, her husband messaged me on Facebook. He asked if it’s ok with me to meet Ate because she’s also alone and bored. Woooaahh, we were in the same boat huh. Anyway, he gave me her number and told me about his high hope of me being friends with Ate.

Our supposed meeting in the first week of November was postponed because I went to the Philippines for a short vacation.

It was in the last week of November that I met her and her then-one-month-old baby boy. Our rendezvous was at New Town Plaza in Sha Tin. She’s very nice and accommodating, something that really made me think she’s the one I’ve been waiting for in Hongkong haha.

My new friend and I strolled around some shops. You know, women and shopping sounded almost the same! hahahaha just kidding. I wanted to buy some nice clothes then, and gladly, she helped me decide on which clothes to take.

We had our merienda at Viet’s Choice, her favorite restaurant. It was my first time to eat in a Vietnamese restaurant.

Oh, how I liked the delicious taste of the Vietnamese noodle soup called pho. The rich, savory taste of its soup base, the yummy combination of ginger, fresh mint, cilantro, onions and other herbs, the flavoursome chicken meat, and the good taste of the flat, long rice noodles caught the attention of my picky tastebuds.

My favorite kind of Pho. Sliced Vietnamese ham gio lua Pho with iced milk tea

Another kind of Pho. Sliced beef brisket Pho with hot milk tea

Of course, I ordered my favorite milk tea. It’s always my choice of drink whenever I was in an Asian or local restaurant.

I was really glad Ate Ruth chose Viet’s Choice. We really had a great time eating and having conversation there. In addition to that, we also discovered that we shared some common traits. Nice to know!

Who would have thought that the start of a good and strong fellowship just happened in a restaurant called Viet’s Choice? It was indeed a special place for Ate and me.

Fast forward to the present —–

Oh, how I miss eating pho and drinking milk tea.

And…

how I miss my close friend.

Like what I’ve said, it’s not that easy to be an expat in Hongkong, but because of the presence of Ate Ruth and her family, my social life in Hongkong became colorful. 😀

I do hope to see her again in the future. Guess where? In Hongkong or maybe in the Philippines.

Time flies so fast. For sure, we will see Ate Ruth again. Maybe not so soon, but definitely after a few years.

But for now, hello Facebook and Whatsapp! hahaha

Time to pause for a while and eat some dinner.

Gute Nacht. Bis Morgen.

JL

Roses from my dearest Hubby (and more surprises)

Red roses from Flower Delivery HK. Photo credits to my husband

In the evening before my birthday, I asked my husband if he already took a leave of absence for tomorrow. But sad to say, he could not make it. He had a whole day seminar in Central District to attend to. That’s what he said.

Frustration filled me.

Before bedtime, I messaged my dear friend if she could join me on my birthday. I already planned to attend the morning mass at Rosary Church in Tsim Sha Tsui and then have lunch with her somewhere in Kowloon.

My friend said yes to me. Ok, that would be fun. At least, I would not be sad on my birthday. So, I slept.

When I woke up at 4 am to feed my little bunny, hubby was not by my side anymore. I thought that he just went to the restroom.

Ten minutes had passed and I was already done feeding our baby, but he was still missing. I was already thinking what’s happening outside.

Baby slept peacefully after a few minutes, so I laid her down in her bed. I was about to get up when suddenly, the door opened and there my husband was, standing by the door, holding a small cake with lit candles.

Whooooaaah! What an early birthday greeting ha.

He started singing the happy birthday song while still holding the cake. Oh, my heart melted! His sweet gestures made all my disappointment gone.

Hubby kissed and greeted me once more. I was so thankful and glad with all his efforts. Waking up very early and preparing a small surprise for me were already enough to ease my “tampo” haha.

When I went to the dining table at 6 am, I saw my favorite Pepero, the delicious Lindt and Raffaello chocolates placed on my plate.

I gushed and said ‘thank you’ to Hubby.

Then, we had our breakfast together, which was not so common in our household. Then at 6:45 am, he kissed me and said his goodbye. He had to go to Central for his seminar on that day. And I believed him.

Having a small baby to attend to could somehow ruin a mom’s schedule. I wanted to attend the mass, but could not anymore because of my baby. I decided to attend the evening mass instead.

While attending to the needs of my little bunny in the living room, I heard the sound of the door.

Mind you, there were only two persons having the key cards in our apartment– that’s me and my Schatz!

What a surprise, right? Funny, he was also surprised to see me inside.

“I thought you attended the mass,” he said.

“Well, I changed my mind. I would attend the service in the evening.”

“It was me who was surprised. You shouldn’t be here now”, he was shaking his head out of mere disappointment.

“And why on earth are you here? I thought you had a seminar.”

Obviously, my husband lied. He’s not really going to Central. According to him, when he went out of our apartment, he just walked along the nearest street, then back, and stayed a little at the lobby while waiting for 8 am (the start of the mass).

Unfortunately (for him ha), I was still in the apartment, so his planned “surprise” was not accomplished.

I teased him and said, “You lied to me ha. Should I be worried?”

“Nah, I did it only for your birthday. I wanted to surprise you, but it looked like I was the one surprised.”

While we were talking, my phone rang. A delivery man called me and told me to go down in the lobby to get my flowers.

Another surprise.

But Hubby was a little bit annoyed. The man was supposed to deliver the flowers in the apartment, not me picking it up downstairs.

As I approached the man from Flower Delivery HK, I saw a beautiful and huge bouquet of red roses, with a small card on it, and a medium-sized box (Please see the photo posted above).

Oh, I became teary-eyed while I was in the lift. What a sweet and thoughtful man my husband was (and still, luckily.)

My husband, with a smile on his handsome face, opened the door.

I put the bouquet of red roses and the box on the table. Then, I hugged and kissed him. That’s the only way I could thank him for all the sweet surprises he has done for me.

“I hope you’re happy with all of these. It’s your first birthday celebration here in Hongkong and I wanted it to be extra special for you,” he told me.

Ohhh, I cried. I’m so blessed for having HIM in my life. Seriously, I could not ask for more.

My close friend with her baby boy arrived before lunch. Guess what? My dearest hubby made Hawaiian, Tuna and Salami pizzas for the three of us.

Wait, there’s another surprise. Another man from The Royal Garden Fine Foods delivered the mouthwatering mango cheese cake and six yummy mango cupcakes.

Mango Cheese cake. Photo credits to The Royal Garden Fine Foods

Mango cupcake. Photo credits to my husband

Speechless.

What a birthday treat indeed!

P.S. The box I received contained the flower vase and a set of Ferrero Rocher. As you can see from the photo above, the bouquet was already arranged. Guess who did it? My loving husband of course.

Thanks to my baby blue eyes. ❤

By Happy Wife

Craving for Milk Tea

One thing I miss about Hongkong is the authentic milk tea which you can buy anywhere in the city. This delicious drink is really a must-try once you set your feet in the Fragrant Harbour of Asia. Its fragrant aroma, distinct taste and smooth, creamy texture will definitely make you crave for it more and more (like what happened to me lol).

Milk tea is already part of Hongkong’s cuisine and culture. Like what Bernice Chan, a senior writer of South China Morning Post, has said–“Milk tea is uniquely Hongkong.” Indeed. The Asia’s World City is undeniably famous not only because of its sprawling skyscrapers, huge business hubs and the magical Disneyland, but also because of MILK TEA.

Hmmm, sorry, coffeeholics, you have to admit that milk tea is getting more attention now than ever before. Thanks to Hongkongers and the milk tea lovers out there (I’m raising my hand as well!) It’s the number one competitor of coffee in Asia, I guess. Nevertheless, milk tea is still as popular as Jackie Chan, the international superstar who happens to be a Hongkonger himself.

Ah………. missing Hongkong so much and craving for milk tea hahhahha. Anyway, this shall pass. I mean the craving. Why? Because I am going to make my own version of Hongkong milk tea soon. Thanks to this great site . I have finally found the simple recipe of my favorite drink (uh oh caramel macchiato, please don’t be jealous haha). To all my readers and followers, please do check it and you’ll be happy to know that wherever you are at the moment, you can actually make your own milk tea. Nice, isn’t it?

Enough of the cravings. I have to sleep soon, so I will have the energy tomorrow to do household chores, to run some errands, and yeah, to make my very first Hongkong style MILK TEA. I will update you about the success or (fail) of my first attempt soon. Please stay tuned.

P.S. The above photo was taken by yours truly. If you want to use it in your website or blog, kindly put some credits. Thanks!

xoxo

JL