It’s been a quiet week on my blog since I was out of the country for 7 days. Spent 3 days in my province with family and 4 days in Manila to take care of “business.” Yes, there was internet in both locations (We own an internet cafe in the province for heaven’s sake!) but I wanted to make the most of the trip by spending time with family and my best friends because I don’t know when I’ll be back to see them again.
Despite our resolve to make sure this trip was a relaxed semi-vacation, it was exhausting. For all you diplos and expats out there, do you ever notice that a “vacation” back home is more tiring than relaxing? For me it always is, because I wanna see so many people (family and friends), get so much done (like see all my doctors), and buy so much (the Philippines is definitely much cheaper shopping and has more of the “western” stuff that I’m used to than Jakarta)!
This time around my husband and I resolved to only see family and our best friends, to have fewer things on our agenda, and if we didn’t get to do everything then we wouldn’t stress about it.
The 3 days in the province was purely for family.
- Spend time with my Dad, Step-mom, siblings and Grandma
- Visit my Aunt’s Bakeshop at 3pm to enjoy some hot-off-the-oven bread while catching-up, and ask for her yummy secret recipes
- Eat loads of seafood
- Have The Best Tapa EVER at Oroham for lunch at the airport before departing for Manila
And the 4 days in Manila looked like this:
TDW (The Diplomatic Wife)
- Take care of “business.” This is serious, mind you, and so important that it was our reason for going home.
- See my best friends. I didn’t really have time to meet up with everyone, so we brought a lechon from my province and had a small dinner with my best friends. Thanks so much for coming Sarah, Mariel, Maryam, Laura, Grace, Tala and Erikka. And I’m glad I got to meet up with Jenn and Tin separately, since they couldn’t make it to the dinner. Kath and Carmen, we missed you!
- See my dermatologist, Dra. Pastorfide, who is the very best in the land, to get a leg and bikini laser. (She’s the President of the Dermatologists Association of the Philippines) *Note: it’s very expensive to get a wax in Jakarta. A quality bikini wax session here is 5 times more expensive than in Manila. I could just add 40 USD more and I’d have a laser session which is a more permanent solution, and ensure less pain in the future. Sigh, the pains of being a woman.
- Get my hair cut and colored. My hair is so thick and unruly that I need a GREAT stylist to tame it into submission. That stylists is Stefan Wilczynski of Basement Salon in Shangri-la. He is also reputed to be the best colorist in town. I haven’t made an effort to find a stylist in Jakarta because I heard that a great haircut here is about 50 USD and that’s pretty steep for me! Also I noticed that coloring is not as popular here as in the Philippines and that the very few Indonesians I’ve seen with colored hair, have it in ONE COLOR. (Gasp!) I don’t want to rely on an unpracticed hand for my high-lights and low-lights. So I always wait till I go to Manila to have it done.
- Beauty Bar for my must-have skin-care and make-up products
- Kamiseta for super cute shorts
- Bayo for cute loose tops
- Bench for great fitting jeans
- Tyler for a statement dress
- Healthy Options for natural vitamins and meds
- True Value for useful products for the home which cannot be found in Jakarta for low prices, if we can find them at all.
I’ve never appreciated our local brands and stores as much as I do now. My problem with shopping in Jakarta is finding great quality at low prices. Perhaps I am still not in the know, or it just doesn’t exist! There are no SMs/Landmarks/Crossings type departments stores here where you can get nice things for cheap. So I sorta go crazy whenever I go home. Oh and for someone like me with a curvy figure, it’s hard for me to find a perfect fit in Jakarta. I think it’s also because of the different body type of women here.
TD (The Diplomat)
- Bring lechon from Iligan to Manila and EAT it
- Go to the DFA to catch up with his colleagues
- Catch up with his best buds
- Shopping: Tyler for pants, Bench for PNoy shirts, Grocery for dried mangoes (the mangoes in Jakarta are not sweet like the ones from the Philippines, they are like our Indian Mangoes)
Despite the supposedly shorter list (last time, aside from the above-mentioned, I tried to see as many friends as possible plus 6 more doctors), the connecting flights, lack of sleep (Jakarta-Manila flights are usually at midnight) and going out for drinks to catch up with friends has taken it’s toll. I’ve been having bouts of vertigo (which I NEVER experience before) daily and have to stay in bed because of exhaustion, which I hope doesn’t lead to flu. Again. Wish me luck and good health!
Time to catch up on TV and blogging while I’m at it.
Yes, going home is always more of a huge tiring task than a vacation. But we go because we miss everybody so much, and that is worth all the effort. I’m glad you had a great time, I am so jealous right now.
I also have the same problem here, most of the stuff we need and are used to back home are either hard to find, are too expensive, or is not existent at all. And I do miss the ease our malls bring, you know how everything is one place?
Sweety! I totally can relate – I can’t understand how things can be super cheap in Manila! In Colombo, things are quite expensive… Lucky you it’s a shorter ride home.
We are so spoiled with shopping in Manila! So many nice things for cheap. Sometimes here, I’ll find the exact same item (made in China) and it’s 5 times more expensive!!! And it’s exactly the same thing! Can you imagine I used some fake grass in decorating our flat in manila. 1 bunch is 25 pesos. Here that EXACT SAME product is 150 pesos per bunch!!! It’s so crazy!
You’re totally right… we’re very lucky it’s a shorter ride home. I get to go visit and shop! I make sure to bring my luggage weighing gadget so as not to go overboard. (I usually fail.) Also I try my best to charm my way through some extra weight. Current record is 13Kg! LOL!
Yes we are very lucky that we get to go home often. It’s sad though that it’s never enough time to see everyone, but better some than none at all right?
You read my mind! Hubby and I were just talking about how here, despite how big, modern and luxurious their malls are, you will never find everything in one location! It baffles my mind! We are so lucky in the Philippines, shopping is so convenient! We’re more american like that.
HUGS! It was great seeing you…
And I think you’ve convinced Gil that Jakarta should be on our travel list… so, see you soon over there!
Hey Tin, it was great catching up and I’m looking forward to your visit! Will help you plan it out! Btw, my eyes felt irritated the day after I saw you and I got so paranoid it was sore eyes! LOL. I kept on wiping my phone and hands with alcohol and kept washing my hands! False alarm – my eyes were just getting dry! Thank God!