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.

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How is it like to be an Expat?

Expatriates. Abroad. Different Culture. New Language. Away from home. Far from family and/or friends.

These are just some of the issues that expats around the globe are currently experiencing.

I know it because I am an expat myself. Actually, I have been an expat since 2016. Kinda long now and to tell you the truth, my journey has not been so smooth and easy.

The beginning of my expat life was difficult, especially in terms of language barrier and socialization. When I was still in Hong Kong, I found Cantonese and Mandarin so difficult, that I gave up the thought of learning them someday. Going to local restaurants and buying some stuffs in the wet market, dispensaries or some local shops gave me a hard time because of the language barrier.

I tried to buy fresh goods from two Hong Kong wet markets, but talking to the salespersons there was not that easy for me. They seldom spoke English and for me, that’s one hard thing to deal with. I ended buying a bulk, instead of only pieces because of the language barrier. It also happened to me in some dispensaries and supermarkets in Hong Kong. There were a few times that my fellowmen would save me from talking to the locals and explained to me what the salespersons wanted to tell me.

Not only Cantonese and Mandarin were difficult, but also German language, however, unlike the first two languages, I had the guts and time to study the latter. I spent hours at home and in school just to learn it. (Why? Because my husband is a German-speaker! Hahaha)

Aside from the language problem, I also had an issue with socializaton. I longed for moments like bonding with my dearest family, going out with friends, and spending time with colleagues and former students.

Most of the time, I was only with my husband and two Pinoy friends. Very seldom that I socialized with my husbands’ colleagues. Well, drinking and going to bars were not really my cup of tea; so, I declined the invitation. Not to mention my pregnancy which made me vulnerable during those times.

I also experienced some down and difficult moments like homesickness, boredom, and culture shock. Every time I saw photos of my friends’ families on Facebook and other social media, and whenever I saw families at the park or in the mall in Hong Kong, I got sad and felt the dreaded homesickness. Truly, it’s sad and a little boring to be away from home, but the fact that me having my own family gave me hope and happiness as well.

Facing a new set of rules, a different lifestyle, and a totally divergent culture almost made me rather weary and a bit shocked. I could still remember my first two months in Hong Kong and first month in Central Europe. Encountering some people who looked down on me, or scrutinized me just because I’ve got different color and nationality. Waaah, this I hated!

But I did not give up. It’s not because I had no other choices. It’s because I began to realize that I was actually blessed to be in different countries in the span of three years. I started to be positive, embraced the fact that I was not alone, and of course, adapted to changes around me.

Yes, expat life is difficult, but if I start thinking of those people wanting to be in my shoes, I just feel blessed. I have traveled and experienced a lot since 2016–going to Europe twice a year, visiting my family three or four times a year, having some Macau trips, and living in Hong Kong for three years to name a few. Wew! Not bragging though.

Here I am now, enjoying my life as an expat and a stay-at-home wife and mom. Thanks to my very supportive and loving husband. He and our kids serve as my inspiration for defying the challenges and solving the issues in my expat life.

And of course, thank you to Facebook, Messenger, Whatsapp and Twitter for connecting me to my loved ones and friends in the Philippines.

Above all, thank You, dearest Lord, for giving me this one great chance of traveling some parts of the world, and for entrusting me this expat life I have now.

.

Learning German in Hong Kong

Deutsch ist meine dritte Sprache.

German is my third language.

Ang Aleman ay aking pangatlong lenggwahe.

Learning German has never appeared in my thoughts before. But friends, I can speak German now, not that fluent but at least, conversational.

Why learning German?

Well, my husband’s mother tongue is Deutsch/German. Of course, I should learn his language as well. But this I have to tell you, it’s never an easy language. In fact, I find it hard to listen to German speakers especially when they talk fast.

Grrrrrr…….

and studying grammar is another hard task for me. It’s different from what I used to teach in school. Mixing English and German grammar rules makes it more complicated.

Why learning German?

Visa. Visa. Visa.

In order for me to obtain the National Visa or Visa D and Residence Permit, I needed to have a proof of my basic knowledge of German language. And how to have this proof? There’s only one way to get it, and that’s through passing the examination conducted by the Goethe Institut Hong Kong. Luckily, I passed the Start Deutsch 1 with 81 points (means good).

After passing the exam, I got my Goethe-Zertifikat A1 which, along with other necessary documents, was submitted to my husband’s consulate for visa application.

Before I was able to pass the exam, I had to do research, watched Youtube videos of Start Deutsch 1 exam, German speakers and teachers, installed and paid for language applications, and yes, I studied in a German school in Hong Kong. That’s every Sunday by the way. It took me six months to reach A2. A lot of work indeed. With a bunny to take care of, a husband to feed, and household chores to do and maintain, it’s a struggle.

Learning German was my first step to achieve what I’d longed for– a residence in my husband’s hometown. Now, I’m here living with my own family.

It’s worth all the effort, money and sacrifice.

Lastly, why learning German?

German is very important to learn because everyone around me speaks this language. Communication is essential, and the only way to communicate well is through this language. Every document, every post or mail, each recipe, each news, all road signs, all bank transactions and the like are written and spoken in German. Do I need to say more? I have already stated the obvious, I guess.

On my next blog, I will tackle the tips on how to learn German language. Please stay tuned.

Danke sehr. Thank you very much. Maraming salamat.

Auf Wiedersehen. Tschüss. Bye. Paalam.

-JL

Five Tourist Spots in Hong Kong with no Entrance Fee

You want to add Hong Kong in your bucket list of countries to visit this year, but hotel and accommodation plus the ticket are obviously expensive. Not to mention the tourist spot fees, and food and transportation allowances. Indeed, Hong kong is never cheap and a trip there means getting a huge amount of money from your pocket.

But to tell you honestly, you don’t have to shell out all your money just for the sake of your dream destination. You can actually travel to Hong Kong on a budget, and have fun visiting some famous places without even paying any cent.

To help you with your budget-friendly trip to Fragrant Harbour of Asia, I have compiled a list of five tourist spots in Hong Kong with no entrance fee.

1. Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery (Sha Tin, New Territories)

This is definitely a must-visit spot in New Territories, Hong Kong, plus the fact that this costs nothing. You just have to hike the 431-steep steps and presto, you will get to see the magnificent Buddhist monastery which houses more than ten thousand Buddha statues.

Aside from those Buddha statues, there are also other statues in the pavillion which you can visit and pay respect. In addition to that, the breathtaking nine-storey Pagoda outside the Temple is a sight to behold for local and international tourists. Lastly, the galleries and chambers for burial urns, offering and worship are also worth your visit.

Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery is indeed a tourist spot in Hong Kong that you should not miss. Just remember that taking photos inside the Main Temple is strictly prohibited, and wearing shorts and sexy top while visiting the temple is discouraged.

2. Symphony of Lights at the harbour (Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon)

Strolling along the waterfront is free and watching the spectacular multimedia show called Symphony of Lights is surely a good choice for you and your friends.

Symphony of Lights captures the hearts of the tourists by showing vibrant lights and playing wonderful soundtrack every night. This fantastic extravaganza is performed near the Hong Kong Cultural Centre and Clock Tower (other tourist spots) in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon at 8 o’clock in the evening .

If you want to watch such great spectacle, make sure that you are there early enough, because a huge crowd is already waiting for the elaborate light show. Also, bring your patience with you, aside from a bottle of water, some crackers and umbrella (just in case it rains).

3. Lion Rock (Wong Tai Sin, Kowloon)

If you are into hiking, then Lion Rock is for you. You don’t need entrance fee there; only your strength, stamina and determination are necessary to reach the famous peak.

Once you have that clear sky and a nice weather, please do the Lion Rock hike from Wong Tain Sin or Kowloon Tong and experience a great view of Hong Kong skyline during the day.

The said hike is moderately difficult, because the terrain is not always smooth and flat. There are steps that are really steep and that makes the hiking taxing and longer, to be honest. You might be exhausted and thirsty, but it’s ok, just take your time and hike slowly. Promise, the view on and from the top is totally astounding.

Hiking on the Lion Rock is undeniably a must-do for hiker-travelers. Just don’t forget to bring your hydration pack or bottled water, some snacks, a cap, shades and sunscreen for protection.

4. Victoria Peak (The Peak, Hong Kong Island)

Going to Victoria Peak is always included in the list of many travelers. Why not? This is anyway the most famous peak in Hong Kong where you can marvel at the beautiful panoramic view of Hong Kong skyscrapers during the day or in the night.

Either you go there via the Peak Tram, the most popular and most scenic way of getting into Victoria Peak, or via Bus No. 15 which is not expensive compared to Urban Taxi around the area.

The stunning view of the harbour and the city entices the people at the Peak. Truly, your Hong Kong trip is never complete without visiting the ever famous tourist spot in the metropolis. Make sure to take that epic photo on top, but be aware of the crowd. You have to wait a little longer before you can find the perfect spot for your Instagrammable photo, without photobombers of course.

5. Hong Kong Park (Central, Hong Kong Island)

Considered as one of the most prominent parks in the metropolis, Hong Kong Park enthralls the local and international visitors through its huge aviary, beautiful waterfall, nice playground, and its awesome landscape. In addition to these, you can also see the famous Cotton Tree Drive Marriage Registry and the classic Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware at Hong Kong Park.

You can sit and relax on the benches while enjoying the serenity of the place. For sure, it’s a pleasant feeling to be in one of the city’s well-loved park. No stress bothering you and most of all, no single penny to shell out for this city spot.

Only a friendly reminder: Please keep the park clean and peaceful.

Now that you have this short list of Hong Kong tourist spots with no entrance fee, I am sure that you can enjoy your stay in the Asia’s World City even with limited budget on hand. Remember, visiting Hong Kong does not need to be very expensive and luxurious, so better plan your trip now before it’s too late.

Have a happy trip!

-JL

Pray for Hong Kong

Praying for Hong Kong, my beloved country of residence for three years..

I hope that there will be no more uproar and violence in Asia’s World City these coming days.

To all Hongkongers who still believe in Freedom and Democracy, please be strong. Stand firm and be united especially in this time of trial. God bless!

Together Again

Hello, friends and readers!

After a few days of being silent on social media and WordPress, here I am now, making a short update about the happenings in my life.

My husband is finally back in Europe as his work contract in Hongkong has just ended. We are together again. No more long distance. No more timezone problem. No more worries. Thank God!

My parents-and-law and I fetched him from Switzerland because we’re near the Swiss airport. We did not have to wait for him longer because he’s already at the arrival area 10 minutes after we had arrived. Then, exchanges of kisses and hugs. Indeed, a happy wife. 😁

Now, we are a little busy having family bonding because next week will be the start of his work here in Europe. We are now making the most of our time because it is so fleeting, right? The day after tomorrow is already June. OMG!

Anyway, I am definitely happy and thankful that hubby is with us now. I can’t wait to make beautiful moments with him in his home country. More beautiful than what we have had in Hongkong. Hopefully.

That's it. Just a short update. Hope you'll continue supporting my blog despite my not-so-frequent posting.

Have a nice weekend ahead. God bless!

Regards,

JL

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

Doner kebab please..

HERE I am again, craving for food in the middle of the night. How unlucky huh!

Hearing the grumbling of my stomach, I decided to stop my Google search for noodles and kebab. Why? Obviously, the photos of yummy noodles like ramen and pho, and of mouthwatering kebabs such as Doner kebab, mixed kebab, and chicken tikka kebab just made me hungry.

I remember……

When I was still in Hongkong, my husband used to order food via the Foodpanda. We had food order almost every week, especially Sunday. One thing we liked to order was the kebab from Ebenezeer’s Kebabs and Pizzeria and from Tasty Bites.

The abovementioned restaurants really delivered us what we liked—- DELICIOUS KEBABS!

To be honest, two of my favorites are the pho and Doner kebab, but let me focus first on the latter. I would dedicate another blog post for Pho. And that’s a promise, ladies and gents!

So, going back to kebabs, I really liked the taste of the Doner kebab of Ebenezeer’s and mixed kebab of Tasty Bites. Whenever my husband asked me which kebab I would take, of course I picked my perfect choice — Doner kebab.

Doner kebab. Photo credits to Ebeneezer’s Kebab and Pizzeria

I missed the distinct taste of the roasted lamb meat in Lebanese pita bread adorned with tasty spices. It’s perfect! (a little exaggeration won’t hurt, right? Haha)

Anway, I couldn’t believe that I almost drooled just the thought of my favorite kebab. Another exaggeration, of course. 😀

Empty stomach could surely make you nuts. Sad but true. Right?

But seriously, I’m hungryyyyyyyyyyyyy!

I wanted to search for Doner kebab near me……….. but hey, it’s almost midnight here in Central Europe and it’s Sunday tomorrow. It would just frustrate me more. No, thanks!

Maybe, oh just maybe, when my dearest husband is here, we can go to a Kebab restaurant nearby. Keeping my fingers crossed again.

Hmmm, eleven more days to go.

Ja… Schnell, Schnell, schnell!

Wait, I have to end this hopeless thought and finish my blog entry before I lose my wits (hahah just kidding). Time to go to bed, peeps.

Gute Nacht. Bis Morgen.

JL

From The PEAK: What a sight to behold!

My dearest husband took this photo of Hongkong’s spectacular skyline from the Sky Terrace 428 on Victoria Peak.

Beautiful, isn’t it? What a wonderful photo to look at! Thanks to my baby blue eyes.

If you want to see the amazing panoramic view of Hongkong in the night, go to Victoria Peak via the Peak Tram, urban taxi, Bus 15 or 15B, mini bus 1, or your own private car. Once you’re at the Peak, you can try the Sky Terrace 428, the 360 degree-viewing deck of the Peak Tower where you can marvel at the impressive sea of Hongkong’s skyscrapers and the wonderful Victoria Harbour.

I suggest that you go there around late afternoon, have some coffee moments at Pacific Coffee or eat some burgers and fries at Burger King, or spend an hour shopping at different stores like Crocs, Giordano, Swarovski, Swatch, and others.

After having some coffee, you can approach the Sky Terrace 428 receptionist to buy the entrance ticket which costs 52.00 hkd for Adults and 26.00 hkd for Children aged 3-11, Seniors and PWD.

Actually, you can also avail a combo ticket of Peak Tram and Sky Terrace 428 which costs 99.00 hkd for Adults and 47.00 hkd for Children aged 3-11, Seniors and PWD (roundtrip); or 84.00 for Adults and 38.00 hkd for Children, Seniors and PWD (one-way only).

Spending an hour or two at the Sky Terrace 428 while gazing at the stunning view of Hongkong is definitely an enjoyable experience for locals and international tourists.

When you’re done admiring the scenic view from above, you can check out some restaurants to dine in the lower levels (e.g. Wildfire, Fujiyama Mama, Mimi Desserts, and Hongkong Day).

Wildfire Pizzabar and Grill is our top choice for dine-in restaurant at the Peak. It offers Western cuisine, so if you’re a fan of Western food, go there and enjoy their sumptuous dishes.

My favorite food to order there is the Supreme Pizza, but of course, they have various options to choose from. Their mini sliders, fish taco, caesar salad, chicken kebab, and banana split are also delicious. Ohh, I’m getting hungry while writing this blog entry haha.

If you’re a seafood lover, they also have many seafood dishes there. Now, if you’re a steak afficionado like my hubby, why not order the Wildfire’s U.S. T-bone Steak or U.S. Beef Hanger Steak? “Mouthwatering!” My husband says.

Waaah, enough of these free advertisements hahaha I wonder if Wildfire and Sky Terrace 428 will give me some freebies with all the recommendations and praises I’ve given them. Uh oh, just kidding!

Whatever you want to do at the Peak, it’s your choice, but please, please, please.. Try to experience what we have experienced before and that is to see the outstanding Hongkong skyline, whether it’s in the morning, afternoon or evening. It’s worth the price and the waiting time. Promise.

I miss you, Hongkong. See you in the future.

Gute Nacht. Ciao.

J.L.

Visit Macau!

Living in Hongkong SAR (Special Administrative Region of China) for three years gave me a few chances to visit Macau as well. Yes. I did visit Macau in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

My husband and I went to China Ferry Terminal to board the TurboJet Ferry. We bought two Super Class ferry tickets before boarding. It cost between 330-360 hkd, depending on your travel time. The Super Class cabin was not crowded; that’s why we chose that over the Economy Class down. There was free merienda or dinner on board via the Super Class. It took us an hour before we reached the Macau Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal.

Macau, a former Portuguese colony and another SAR, has lots of magnificent hotels and casinos. The architectural designs of the hotels like The Venetian Macau, The Parisian Macau, City of Dreams, Conrad Hotel, MGM Macau, Wynn Hotel and others are truly breathtaking.

We went to Venetian and Parisian Hotels in 2016 and 2018 and to City of Dreams in 2017 and 2018. These hotels were really elegantly constructed. The facades and interior designs were different from one another, and the smell.. ohhh! The smell inside the hotels and casinos enthralled us. The distinct fragrance in every corner was so appealing to our senses.

I could not forget the ceiling of The Venetian Hotel. I was in awe to be honest! I’ve never seen such a lovely ceiling. Good thing I had my Samsung Note 8 and Sony camera haha. Capturing the beauty of its ceiling was mission accomplished for me.

And yes, the totally striking water-based stage production called The House of Dancing Water in the City of Dreams gave us goosebumps. It was a superb show showcasing great talents, lovely water effects, and powerful acts and/or stunts. Really. It’s a one-of-a-kind performance that gave us a lot to remember.

Another tourist spot we visited in Macau was the Ruins of St. Paul’s , one of Macau’s famous landmarks and once acclaimed as the ‘Vatican of the Far East’. The old beautiful church was full of tourists when we went there. Many came from Asia but there were also plenty of Western people coming to see the said landmark.

I was lucky to visit the church and the little museum down the ruins twice, in winter and in autumn. What a historical place to see and visit!

Macau Museum, adjacent to Ruins of St. Paul’s, was also a must-see in Santo Antonio, Macau. I went there with my parents-in-law and our helper last year. We were fascinated with the cool items we saw in there. As usual, a lot of photos were again taken for the sake of souvenir lol.

Aside from the hotels, musuem, and the Ruins of St. Paul’s, we also had a nice time unwinding at Guia Fortress. There we saw the Guia Chapel and Guia Lighthouse. We also walked around the area, and took some photos there when I was still pregnant with our first born.

By the way, most of the signs in Macau were written in Portuguese and Cantonese, whereas in Hongkong, it’s more of English and Cantonese. The taxi fare was also cheaper than in Hongkong. You could see a lot of motorbikes along and on the roads.

These were some of the differences of Macau, dubbed as the Las Vegas of Asia, from Hongkong, the Fragrant Harbour of Asia

Did I enjoy my Macau trip? Of course I did. It was a memorable experience for me especially the time when I was with my beloved husband.

I wish to go there again after a few years, with our whole family. Who knows, right? Everything is possible. All I have to do is to wait and be patient.

Anyway, it’s kinda late here. Bye for now. Till my next blog entry, ok? Thanks a lot.

P.S. The above photo was taken by my dear mother-in-law. Credits to her.

Ciao.

JL