Minsk, Belarus

I was MIA for a couple of weeks because of work. We were busy preparing for our visit to Minsk, Belarus- making sure we have all documents needed for our landing visa, securing visa support, our arrangements with our local counterpart, and all coordination with the delegates. It was so tiring that I had a very bad migraine while on my way to the airport. I slept through the flight, but woke up with a throbbing head for breakfast. I popped another painkiller when we reached Frankfurt for our layover, and was fine for the rest of the day until my boss arrived from a different flight, met us in the hotel lobby and announced that we are having vodka for dinner with his friends. Well, not his exact words but that's what happened. He was drunk after his 8th shot and kept on babbling nonsense. I wanted to go back to the hotel but I had to endure the whole ordeal.

We had our meetings early the next day starting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Belarus, followed by sessions with the local chamber. The following day was for another round of visits to organizations, with the most fun part reserved in the afternoon- the city tour. I managed to go around the city on my own during a two-hour break on our first day, but I learned so much from our second day tour. Our guide shared her life during the Soviet Union, how they lived with meal coupons and endless queues to get food and purchase personal items, and how religion played (and still plays) an important role in their lives. In 1992, Belarus finally gained its independence and started working to develop its economy and rebuild their society.

Minsk, the capital, was unexpectedly beautiful! Here are some photos I took during our short visit. I'm still a little jet-lagged so more on my reflections next time!

Independence Square

Cathedral of the Holy Spirit

Old City of Minsk

National Library of Belarus

Belarusian meal: Potato pancakes with caviar

Friday's 10 Happy Things 1

I'm joining Helga Weber's Friday's 10 Happy Things where bloggers list ten things that made them smile this week, so we can start the weekend on a more positive note. Here are my 10 happy things, in no particular order :) Thank you Helga for hosting this!

1. Home early after work. I was on a self-imposed house arrest this week. I walked home straight after clocking out, prepared (or bought) and ate supper, cleaned up, ironed clothes (while on Face Time with mother), took a nice warm bath and caught up on my reading. I only went out last Wednesday to go to the Filipino grocery store to buy some stuff I need for Saturday cooking.

2. Longest Skype session.  2 hours 36 minutes. The longest Skype sesh I've ever had with anyone. I scheduled an 'online meeting' with Joy and Kaymee because we badly needed to talk about things. So it took 2 hours, and then some 30 minutes. I love you, girls!

3. Trip to my favorite night market. The Filipino grocery store is located close to my favorite night market- Qing Guang Food Street (see photo above). I decided to stop by to get something to eat. I was feeling a bit nostalgic because the place was my home for a little over 3 years, during the time I was working with the paper. My then colleagues and I would buy takeaways from the stalls and eat them at our desks. I bought my favorite fresh spring roll and four seasons bubble tea.

4. Thank you message from Peter. My churchmate Peter, left Taiwan last Monday to start a new life in Japan. My goddaughters Emi and Lisa, and their mom Agnes will be flying two weeks later. He sent us a heartwarming 'thank you' message in our Line group.

5. Reading "All the Light We Cannot See". I'm not yet half-way through the book but the author's writing is impeccable. I can't wait to finish this. This is totally different from my light and hilarious reads Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend.

6. Ocular inspection- Taipei Guest House. Spent my Tuesday morning at the Taipei Guest House, which will be the venue for our November conference's welcome reception. It's not open to the public- heard it will soon be! The place is just too grand, I cant imagine how the events group will transform it into a little Taiwanese village.

7. Green tea with salted cream. My pick-me-upper. The creamy and salty combination is just perfect with green tea... and perfect for my moodswings! :)

8. Finding a baked embutido and lasagna roll-ups recipe. I cannot wait to cook this Saturday! I hope they turn out really nice, or it'll be a total waste of time, effort and money.

9. Finishing our monthly publications. My eyes have been twitching for several weeks now because of my constant PC use. I'm glad I don't have to edit stuff for the next few days and give my eyes a break.

10. Sinigang night tonight. Sinigang is my ultimate comfort food, best eaten when it's raining outside. Well it's not pouring today, but we scheduled a Sinigang night at Kuya Ronald's place. Excited to stuff my face with 'sinabawang kanin' (literally translates to soup rice) hahaha!

Ditz Revolution

August in Bullets

Weeeee! Happy first day of September! (Before anything else, congratulations to Rea and Charm for winning my giveaway! I'm sending your gifts through my friend who's flying to Manila in October. Hopefully you can get them by mid October or November.) 

That's a double rainbow I snapped on my way home from work last week. There are so many things going on recently that I have forgotten to keep track or write about. Maybe I'm just lazy to sit down and type my thoughts away. Some nights I busy myself with house work, I go for an after-dinner walk, do a midweek grocery run, or join friends for a quick catch up and break our monotonous routine. There are however, three things that are worth remembering this month.

(1) Paying my credit card bill in full- Woohoo finally!!! This is what happens when PAL goes on a crazy sale. My bad. It won't happen again. I just could not let go of the sale because it will save me a whole lot of money than booking a regular-priced ticket for next year. I promise I need to stash some cash into my now-empty travel fund before I book another trip. Having 0 credit card utang feels soooo liberating.

(2) Kim visiting with her friends- Kim is my classmate in all school levels from elementary, high school to college (not blockmate, but we were in the same Genders and Filipi class). We've been friends for a really long time, that's why when she sent me an email saying she'd be visiting Taipei with her friends, I had to mark my calendar. I played tour guide the whole weekend- exhausting but fun because Kim brought so much chikas about our 'favorite' high school people.

(3) Our dearest Kobayashi family moving to Japan- Peter and Agnes informed me several months ago of their plan to move to Japan. As godmother to their daughters, Agnes said I have the right to know of their plans firsthand. I'm sad to see them go, but I know it is for the two girls' future. Our church gave them a surprise sendoff party last Sunday, together with another church mate Michael who's leaving Taiwan for good.  Our church mates asked me to speak on behalf of the youth group being led by Peter. I was apprehensive because I hate speaking in front of people, but since I'm really close to them and I love the girls so much, I decided to write a short (medyo pambata) poem for the Kobayashi family (a longer piece will make me cry!).

The story begins with a beautiful couple
They are warm and loving, both enjoy a chuckle
God loves them so much, He said they deserve the very best
Their faith is unwavering, with two princesses they are blessed

They are Emi and Lisa, Eugenie is their second name
Both adorable, playful and smart, watching over them is not an easy game
On Sundays, mom and dad get a little break
They play with aunties and uncles, sometimes help ninang bake a cake

But the next Sundays and the future ones will be a little different
No Emi and Lisa running around, being persistent
They are soon off to Japan, the land of Sanrio
We ought to say thank you, and we hate to see you go

The story does not end here
For you will always be near
We will see you in every prayer
Maybe on Line, Facebook, and don't forget Viber

Peter and Agnes, you are one Holy Family ---- (our church's name is Holy Family Church)
You will always be in our hearts, together with Lisa and Emi

On a lighter note, I'm sharing with you my latest beauty discovery from Korean brand Etude House. I noticed my hair is becoming dry and needs some life. I passed by Etude House in Gongguan and checked out their items. I saw these nicely-packaged hair packs and serum which were on sale so I decided to grab three different "flavors." I used the avocado variant last Saturday, massaged it and left it for a good 30 minutes while watching an episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (my ultimate stress-buster!!!). After washing, I applied the serum and let my hair air-dry. I'm just amazed that my hair's still soft today and it's been three days! And less hairfall too! I sound like an ad, but if you have dry hair, you may want to give these a try :)  Have a great September! :)