Monday, June 6, 2016

My Funny Friend and Me:)

Do you have moments when something prompts you to remember funny experiences while traveling? I was finishing a post about two days ago when I had that kind of moment. I had been to a few places and there were a lot of those hilarious situations which involved me and my friends. I decided to immortalize them.

I am still laughing at those encounters. It is always fun to reminisce and talk about the past times. Hope you guys find them amusing too.

Here we go. Drum roll please...



The Chinese and Their Tea


How do you like your tea?


We were in Shenzhen, China for a half-day tour only. It was dinnertime and we were walking around the night market near an MRT station. I can't exactly remember the name of the station. We were a bit tired of walking and when our friend, who can speak Mandarin, has finally found a restaurant where we can eat, we were relieved. Phew, we can all sit down and take a deep breath.

You know the Chinese are famous for their teas, right? Being in Hong Kong for the past day, we have been getting used to being served complimentary teas when dining. So, we sat down at our assigned table and got ourselves comfortable. The waitress then approached and put down the tea, plates, chopsticks and all the works. Our Chinese-speaking friend then proceeded to order for us. One of my friends, tried the tea to quench her thirst and to keep the hunger at bay while waiting for our food. After about three cups, the waitress then went back to our table and washed the plates and all other eating implements...using the tea my friend just enjoyed. We all looked at each other. Our eyes saying something and betraying our friend. Our tea-loving friend shrugged her shoulders and said, it tasted really good. It didn't taste like cleaning tea. We then all released the laughter we've been trying to hold.


Being Kids in Hong Kong Ocean Park


HK Ocean Park entrance. 

Since, I have talked about our experience in Shenzhen, then let me continue with the rest of the events after that. So, we were back in Hong Kong. We were in Ocean Park, late in the afternoon. The park was about to close and we've had our fun. We were on our way to line up for the cable car ride. One friend was a fast walker so she went ahead. I was right behind her and way behind me were two other friends. Yes, there were four of us on that trip. Then suddenly, we heard the people queuing for the cable ride getting excited. I wondered what the raucous was about. One girl was even trying to tell me something. She was pointing to a bottled water that rolled down the inclined path. I then looked back and saw my friend on one knee holding on to my other friend for dear life. And my other friend was laughing her head off. She was oblivious of the situation until she felt a hand grab her left arm. My friend was on bended-knee because she slipped and she almost rolled down the pavement if she had not held on to my other friend. The scene before me was so ridiculously hilarious that I could not help but laugh too. My embarrassed friend was also laughing at her self at the awkwardness of the situation she was in. Our other friend who was way ahead of us, came back to ask why we were delayed. When she found us, she joined in the mirth too. We then helped our friend up and checked for injuries. Yes, we  had a good laugh first, before we came to our senses and rescued our friend. She scraped her knee and lost the red color on her two toenails. Other than a red face due to embarrassment, she was alright. She was more worried of her bald toenails than her knee. While we were trying to calm and comfort her, a guy was poking my arm to get my attention. When I turned to him, he handed me a bottled water. I waved him off and thanked him for his concern for my friend. The guy did not leave, he kept handing me the water and I told him once again politely, that my friend is alright, "thank you for the water". He then told me that the water was my friend's. It rolled down when my friend fell and he picked it up. Oh! (Imagine me red-faced) We then continued our way and made sure our friend was within reach just in case another bout of clumsiness would befall her. We cracked up more and were bent holding our bellies, when I recounted the story of the bottled water. No, we didn't stop laughing our hearts out at the final doze of amusement we had in the amusement park.


My Nephew in Singapore


The famous Merlion Statue at Marina Bay, Singapore.

It was my two nephews' second summer in Singapore to visit their Tatay (Filipino word for father) who worked there. The older nephew was tall for a 10-year old. There were instances wherein he was mistaken for a local. Not once but three times. We find it interesting, because the first time we were there, there was nothing like that. Well, there's always a first time for everything.

The first incident was when we were on the Choa Chu Kang MRT Station. He was asked by an old lady, of course in Chinese, probably about directions as we were in the train station. My nephew was surprised and just shook his head and waved his hand to refuse the lady. Even if he understood her, he would not be able to provide her directions since we are just visiting and my brother-in-law has moved to a new flat. We were not in the same neighborhood the previous time we were there. 

The second time was inside the train. Being an almost teen, he would usually find his own spot on the train, a few steps away from us. An old couple then approached him and asked him something. He replied saying "sorry, no Chinese". The couple then asked him... "alone?" The couple were concerned. They thought he was too young to be traveling on his own.

The third time was in the Merlion Statue in Marina Bay. A young couple called him and asked him to do something. Again, my nephew delivered his line that he can't understand them. He then realized that the couple was actually asking him to take their picture. He remembered the guy was holding a camera.

Every time we remember those times, my nephew would just smile. And we often tease him that he can actually pass for a Singaporean or Chinese.


Where's the Restroom?


Signs at the MTR station.

We were in St. Louis, Missouri for a process training for a new job in Manila. It was a weekend. With two of my very close friends (We call ourselves the Mean Girls. No we are not really mean.), we decided to go downtown to Galleria Mall. The hotel service van took us to the train station which is right beside Lambert Airport. While we were on the train, about halfway to our destination, my friend said that she needed to pee. We decided to alight on the next station to use the restroom. Unfortunately, they do not have restrooms for each station or on any stations at all. We had stopped at two different stations when this reality hit us. We had to get back on the train and try to think of any place where we can find a restroom. I suggested, we stop at Delmar Loop and walk to find one. Probably, one of the establishments there would let us use a restroom. It's kind of an emergency. We could not go on to the mall as we need to walk about 10-15 minutes from the station before we get to the mall. My friend could not make it that far. My friend was trying very hard to keep her mind off her bladder. Told us to not laugh or else she would wet herself.  We decided that it might be too risky to stop at Delmar and walk. My suffering friend said, she's not sure if she can walk about a block or two when her bladder is about to betray her. We tried to think of something else. In the end, as a last resort, we agreed to go all the way back to the airport. She said she can dash to the comfort room just in time to relieve herself. So we did. We were quiet the whole time. Praying our friend would make it through her ordeal. Once the train stopped at the Lambert station, she ran as fast as her feet could take her. And it was a success!


The St. Louis Arch, the gateway to the west. Famous landmark in Missouri.



As Sweet as Honey in Chicago


The Millennium Park.

As mentioned in the earlier stories, we were in St. Louis and it is near Chicago, about a 6-hour Amtrak train ride. On one of the weekends, we decided to go there. Fortunately, our American bosses volunteered to pay for our fare and hotel stay. It was our first time to be on an Amtrak train since it was also the first time for most of us to be in the US. The trip was slow and noisy. You can hear the chugging of the train while it goes through the tracks. And because it was quite a long ride, we decided to explore other parts of the train to pass the time. We checked their canteen and bought dinner then tried to sleep the rest of the way. We arrived at Union Station in Chicago. It was winter and being in the Windy City makes it more freezing. We grouped ourselves and flagged down taxis to get to Palmer House Hilton. It was a very posh and upscale hotel. Thanks to our sponsors who were very generous. There were around 20 of us who trooped to Chicago. We were so tired with our journey so we slept when we got to our rooms, which was around past midnight already. The next  morning, all dressed up and ready to face the chilling winds, we started to explore. As it turned out, there was no planned itinerary. We split into two groups. One group went out a different way and we decided to start at the Millennium Park which was just about two blocks from the hotel. We took pictures of The Bean and the other attractions in the park. As we were taking pictures and as we were a big group, all wacky and noisy, we caught the attention of one lady. She approached us and started asking questions like where we're from, what were we doing in the US. The woman was amused with the us and we invited her to join our group picture. We asked her also some questions which directed the conversation to the person she was with. She said she was with her husband and started looking for him. He has walked ahead of her and didn't realize that his wife has not followed him. She called for her husband but he didn't hear her. So, we decided to help her out. The group, all ten people, including our manager from Europe, shouted "Honey", as that was what she called her husband. Of course, with our loud, "Honey",  the husband turned with raised eyebrows. He saw us all with wide grins in the company of his wife. He was so surprised and slowly approached the group. His wife then explained our part in the whole "honey fiasco". His wife was so amused with the whole thing. When they left, we bade them, "goodbye honey", in unison.


 1, 2 ,3 say Honey.


Rolling in the Deep


When you are with kids, you are often forced to act like one, in the interest of not disappointing them or for the sake of being cool. We were in a saltwater pool two days before as a last salute to the hot summer. My three nephews and one niece love swimming a lot, as most kids do. They played and swam in the pool and I was to be the designated lifeguard to make sure they are safe. The kids know how to swim and are very careful so I need not worry so much. After awhile, one of my nephews started doing a back flip in the pool. This was by lying in the water, bracing the two feet on the wall and use it to push yourself and turnover. They call it a back flip so let's just do that. No need to start an argument. So, the two older boys (ages 12 and 11) started doing the back flips and repeated it. The girl (10) wanted to do one too. Her older brother ( who is 11) helped her but still she can't do it on her own. They then told me that they are doing back flips and even demonstrated for my behalf. The girl wanted me to help her and asked if I could do one for her too. So, in the interest of being a role-model, if it ever applies, I tried one. And I did it. Only, it felt like I was disoriented for a second and did not know which way was up or down. I had to remember that I was in the water and since I am a floater, the water would buoy me up to the surface. I swallowed some water and had to cough them out when I came up for air. I then asked if they have seen it. Well, guess what? They didn't, so I had to do it again. And this time it was a lot better than the first. I felt proud that I have learned a new skill (wish I could include it in my resume) and tried it a few times more. My niece, to her disappointment, still could not do a proper one without our help. A few minutes later, she showed me and it was okay but not a very clean execution. I gave her a thumbs-up and told her to practice more. Congratulations to me and my niece for learning to do back flips while in the pool. 50 bonus points for me:)



Yey, we love summer!


The Labrador was Afraid of the Dogs


This is an experience of a very close friend in Manila. I worked in Manila for more than 6 years. I am originally from Cebu City. Anyway, back to the story. It was around 6 am. My friend went out to buy bread, specifically pan de sal (salt bread or bread of salt). They are like dinner rolls and the favorite breakfast and snacks of most Filipinos. The bakery selling these very tasty and hot pan de sal is about a block from the apartment. While she was on her way to the bakery, she heard barking and saw about 5 dogs snarling at each other. They started barking very loudly and chased each other. I am not sure what prompted whole thing. Most of the time dogs fight over a bitch or I guess the dogs were just being dogs, they love to bark and run. It was chaos. They were blocking my friend's path. My friend's dilemma then was to go on with her errand which involves getting passed the angry dogs or go back her way and try the long route to the bakery. While she was contemplating this, the dogs were coming towards her. In her fright, she  turned quickly, slipped on the sidewalk and scraped her knees. In pain and with blood oozing from her wounded knee, she went back to the apartment and forgot about the pan de sal. When she got to their room, her roommate (who was also a close friend of mine) was startled to see her back so soon. She even lauded my friend for being so fast. Then she asked where the bread were? My friend answered in a shaking voice, with misty eyes that were about to cry, that there was no pan de sal. She was scared off by the fighting dogs. She even slipped and got injured. My other friend laugh at the hilarity of the situation. She told her that she is so clumsy she can't get as far as a block without hurting herself. My scared friend has pouted in reply.


In memory of Sparky, who has gone to heaven yesterday. So long Sparky, please give our love to Daisy.



School Kids and Their Backpacks



It has always been more comfortable to carry laptops in a backpack, right? I don't know why when you get one, they always come with a messenger bag instead of the backpack. So, it was the start of spring, in St. Louis and we have just finished our training for the day. The hotel shuttle that was supposed to pick us up was delayed. We decided to walk back to the hotel. The hotel is just about a 5-minute walk from the office. It was a sunny day and it was nice to enjoy the weather after that really bone-chilling winter. We started walking. To our surprise and horror, there were no sidewalks in Earth City, as most people have their own cars. You can't see anyone walking. It was just the highway and right beside the road is a ditch where the power lines, water and communication wires are buried. We had to make sure we keep to the very edge of the streets so we will not be hit by passing cars or make a wrong step and fall into the ditch. The ditch was water less but there is danger in touching the wires. The ditch has colored flags stuck in it. This is to indicate what kind of wires are under it. Each wire is designated a flag color, like red for power lines. We were nearing a crossing and it was a red light, one guy on a car asked if we were just out from school and where we were going. He thought we were kids because of our backpacks and maybe because most of us are the average height of most Filipinos. We were flattered to be called school kids and took it to mean that we look young. 


Now, you know why were called school kids.

We were also mistaken as backpacking students in New York because we only carried backpacks when we visited the city or because we just look naturally young (coughs). We stayed in a dormitory and we met European students who were on a school break and were backpacking in America. One girl from Austria said she'd been everywhere in the US. One time she meet people in one of her travels and was asked if she wanted to join them going to another state. She readily agreed and hopped on their car. Going back to our pack backs, we did not have padlocks for the lockers so we can't leave our bags in the dorm. You can't be too careful in New York, so we just carried them around while we were exploring the city. We were there for just the weekend so we did not have much stuff in them. We looked like teenage mutant ninja turtles lost in New York. We didn't mind  though, we were too mesmerized by sights and sounds that we had no time to worry about our baggage.

First picture was taken in Broadway. Second is while we were resting our tired feet after some shopping.


ID Please.


I love watching movies. While we were in the US, watching movies was one of the things that helped us manage our homesickness. We have found out that when you go to the cinema before 5:30 PM you would pay for the ticket at a discounted price of $5.25. After 5:30 PM it would be $2 more. Hence, we often try to go directly to the mall right after office if we want to watch a movie. Then, we go around the mall afterwards. The mall, which was a factory outlet mall, has a policy of not letting minors in the main mall during weekends after 8pm. The cinema has a separate access. Teenagers can stay there but they can't go into the mall if they are not accompanied by an adult. We just got out of the movies and we decided to check the shops while waiting for the shuttle back to the hotel. We usually call the shuttle to pick us up and it would take around 30 minutes or more for the van to arrive. The van had to pick other hotel guests also. We were going into the main mall when we were stopped by the guard and asked for ID's. I always carry my passport whenever I am out of the country for security and for identification. My friend did not bring her passport so I took out mine. When the guard saw my personal data on the passport, he was like "Oh, never mind, go in." He thought we were teenagers. 


The cinemas are closed guys. You need to go home.



Parental Guidance


We were in Hanoi, Vietnam. We were on a Halong Bay cruise. We were on the floating pearl farm which was one of the attractions on the cruise. We were about to board back the junk (means boat). While waiting for our crew to be ready to get us in, we took pictures and started chatting with some of our companions on the boat. We meet a family from Malaysia. A mom and two kids. The kids were both tall, way taller than most of us. The boy was thirteen years old boy and the girl was eleven. My friend told them that they were tall for their age. I seconded that I was thirteen too. Then, the girl asked who was with us. We told her that it was just the four of us. Friends going on a trip. The girl, in her innocence, then asked her mom why we were allowed by our parents to travel alone, meaning without adults. We smiled and told her that we were just kidding. We were not in our teens. We are "the adults". Her mom just smiled also in amusement as she already knew that we were just humoring her.

Welcome to Halong Bay.

These are just some of the funny and amusing stories. I think there are more and I started remembering them while writing this post. There were also a lot of awkward situations we encountered while we were traveling. There were scary ones too, but I think they are good for another post or else this one will turn into a long boring novel. The above stories are just the most memorable ones and I can't help but grin and even laugh when I recall those times. I hope that you also found entertainment in them. I am sure you do have bloopers and I would want to hear them too.

You can narrate them in the comments section so I can share in the merriment.

To my immediate circle of friends, you need not worry. I did not name anyone here so you are safe. I do not intend to embarrass you but I would just like to share the mirth and the belly aches we got during those priceless times. Thank you for the many years of great friendships and looking forward to our golden years together, walking our dogs and doing the running man. Cheers!