Life in a Suitcase

Posted by Analyse at 9:20 AM

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Long overdue. Started writing during my work travel in Milan last March 17-20 till today.

I’m pretty much appreciating this short work travel as I left cold and rainy Dijon to switch to 14°C sunny Milan. I was preparing my stuffs last Sunday night and I realized how packing my luggage became close to ordinary. That is to say, it only took me less than 10 minutes to stuff my bag with all the essentials that I need for a week.

What’s the secret of my *ehem* efficiency? Simple. I have my toilet set and phone charger permanently residing in my suitcase. Yes, I have 2 toothbrushes, 2 sets of shampoos, conditioners, creams and what-have-yous – one at home, another in my suitcase. So, in fact, I only pack clothes.

Travelling has been and will always be a part of my job (unless I change of course). Best bars and restaurants in town, mileage accounts, hotel tales, plane misadventures or even best bargains are regular topics in my entourage.

In my domain, dealing with men is nothing but ordinary. I was trained during my Mapua days where almost 90% of the student population ticked M on the gender case. I’m in my best form when I’m wearing jeans. I only wear high-heeled shoes on special occasions. I can handle very dirty jokes. I can drink beer and not visit the toilet every single minute.

This work travel in Milan is somewhat new to me – different from my normal travels where I go to our production plants and work with my co-employees. Here, I deal with suppliers who have their specific budget to please customers. I think I loved Milan because of that. I was able to eat in great restaurants and taste the best gelatos and espressos in town without swiping my American Express. Anyway, our travel officer won’t appreciate a bill of 90€/person for one meal.

Milan is the biggest industrial zone in Europe and apparently the biggest port in Italy. Funny when you know that the sea is still miles away. In fact, all fresh sea foods arrive first-hand in Milan. Once they’ve chosen what’s best, the rest would finally be delivered to the rest of Italy. Well, that’s what the Milanese claim, lol.

Most hotels in Milan (or probably the whole of Italy??) are coupled with motels. In the hotel where I stayed, a 4-hour stay in the motel costs 40€. Now I understand why I didn’t sleep well. I thought the couple next door were simply on honeymoon. Now I know, Italians are simply hot, lol.

Life on work travel is longer. Errr, I mean, I work longer hours. So I don’t really visit. It’s far from being a tourist. So don’t blame me if I visit but bars. But lately, I was just contenting myself with glasses of non-alcoholic beverages and a drop of red or white wine. Boring.

When I arrived back in my office the week after, I finally announced my pregnancy to my boss and my colleagues. My boss, after scratching his head and forcing himself to be happy for me, asked me his most delicate question of the day: Until when will you be able to travel?

Probably until my 5th - 6th months of pregnancy, depending on my condition.

That said (I was just being polite, lol), I think I'll arrange my suitcase at the most inaccessible part of my closet for the moment...

Frozen Babies

Posted by Analyse at 9:38 PM

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I was again shocked to hear that a body of a dead baby, enveloped in a plastic bag, was found in a freezer of a young couple living somewhere in the north of France. After the autopsy, the baby apparently had bruises around his neck. It wasn't a natural death. And it's the 4th incident in 2 years in France!

Psychologists could explain all they want, but my little brain just wouldn't cooperate. This news just goes beyond my comprehension.

All kinds of birth controls are available in France, and they are mostly covered by social security at a good rate. Abortion is legal, and again, covered by social security. If they don't want the baby, they could leave him in some institutions which would take care of possible adoption. Solution is not a problem. So really, I don't understand.

Louna wants to tell you something..

Posted by Analyse at 4:40 PM

Monday, March 24, 2008

Find out here.

Blogging, My Reliable Friend

Posted by Analyse at 6:34 PM

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Does that sound sad? Probably..

I have been contemplating last night and finally came to a realization that well, I have no friend here. I mean, somebody I could call and meet up at a café in 5 minutes. Really. Of course I have my colleagues at work but well, it's as if, I didn't get out of my office, right? We will surely talk about our jobs and criticize big bosses non-stop.

I've met some Filipinas who live in this same city. But like a school girl who attended class in the middle of the school year, these ladies already formed a circle of their own. They tried to welcome me but I was probably too young for them, too formal, not always available.. well, I had this impression that I gave them a hard-to-reach aura. I don't know why. Probably because of the two Filipino gatherings I attended, I brought a bottle of wine while the rest of the girls brought pansit, ginataang bilo-bilo, adobong manok.. (I just arrived from a work travel for that two times I met them!). While they talked about how they learn French and how scarce job is in France, I hesitantly and timidly talked about my job while fighting a jetlag. They probably thought I was too boring. I thought they were too Frenched. Inspite the adobo, the ambiance lacked pinoyness. Or simply because we weren't at all at the same wavelength. Ewan. I'm tempted to send a message to one of them but I'm afraid of refusal. Communication after that was exceptionally rare. But well, in France, not sending a message for more than a month even to their closest friend is not anormal.

The pinoys I've met whom I totally appreciate are unfortunately living too far from Dijon. Not a 5-minute drive anyway. Occassional phone calls and once-in-a-blue-moon interrupted chats (between cooking and tending to our kids) keep me going.

Yahoo group email is great. My highschool friends started one. We exchanged stories, experiences.. my, we've gone a long way. We had very seldom meet-ups simply because we're scattered in the 4 corners of the globe. But lovely at it may seem, busy lives has got over it nonetheless. Now, it looks like it's slowly succumbing into a natural death. Physical contact is all that's missing.

Friendster is a great social network. I found long lost friends (or rather, they found me)! I sent a message to one of them, informing her that Hey, I'm just around the corner. We could probably meet up. and Know what, we will be around your area this coming spring. Care for a coffee somewhere? I didn't get any response and I know, she logged-in several times after my message. I thought, it would have been better if she didn't find me. At least, I wouldn't know she would ignore my messages.

Am I scaring / intimidating everybody? Honestly, what (first) impression do I leave you ?

Since nobody wanted to sip a good coffee with me while chit-chatting with what's happening around the world, I end up writing my thoughts through this blog. And honestly, I get more comments here than all my friends and family combined. Just a thought, when I was in NY last year, I met a HS friend and a blogger friend. Now that I think about it, I'm sure I knew more about my blogger friend's life than my HS friend's. That's what blogging could do.

Before I end my rants, if you don't want to drink coffee with me, I could also go with beer, wine, rhum, different cocktails, martinis, tequilas, whatever. Tea? Pwede rin. Do I sound desperada? Medyo hehe.

Egypt: The Pharaonic Experience II

Posted by Analyse at 3:00 PM

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Visiting Egypt had been in Frenchguy's wish list eversince. He wanted to experience hiking and camping with the camels in the middle of the Sahara desert, let alone the excruciating heat. I was reluctant. I can't support 40°C. I would literally melt down.

Then the idea of Egypt came back again this year. We wanted something different. I thought, why not. I checked Egypt climate and it said 25°C average on the month of February during daytime. That's end of winter in Egypt. Perfect for me.

So I packed light clothes. Finally, I could show more skin. But why the heck were we on winter jackets?

The Travel

Luxor, the world's greatest open air museum, is just a 5-hour plane ride from Paris. The travel with our active toddler was a breeze. She had her own seat, knew how to buckle up her seat belt, and was relatively calm for the whole duration of the flight. She was always looking out the window and was raising her hand to tell us, we're still là haut, up there.

We were welcomed by French-speaking guides who worked on the visas and informed us which bus to take. There were 3 flights from Paris to Luxor that morning, equaled by a long line of buses in Luxor. That was a clear picture of mass tourism.

The bus took us to our cruise ship which became our itinerant residence for a week.

Life on a Cruise Ship

We arrived at a port where cruise liners were parked one after another. Each of them displayed a banner of travel organizers, as if I just googled for Egypt travel and there popped up the list - live. We crossed 2 ships before arriving on our resident. Our cruise ship catered exclusively to French tourists so crews mostly spoke French and menus were close to French cuisine.

We had a suite with two bathrooms, one with a tub, another with a shower. Though the ship was visibly old, we nevertheless had all the comfort we needed - rooms made up twice a day, friendly crews, bar, swimming pool to chill out. They even have this way of transforming the towels into crocodiles or ducks which added to the fun.

We even had animated soirées, with crews who transformed themselves into singers and dancers, and Louna who actively participated all throughout the evening. That was a lot of pure fun.

The first navigation was done during daytime which was cool as we had the opportunity to marvel at the landscape along the Nile River and at the same time observe its people. Otherwise, the rest of the navigations were done mostly in the evening.

Left to right, top to bottom: A man praying after a day's work, fishing, the dromedary camels, typical houses.

The Temples

We had our first stop at the Edfu Temple of Horus - the major Ptolemaic temple, built between 237 BCE to 57 BCE, into the reign of Cleopatra VII.

Next was the Temple of Kom Ombo, dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek, god of fertility and creator of the world and to the falcon god Haroeris, also known as Horus the Elder.

Then we visited the grandiose Abu Simbel (picture above), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, built during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II in the 13th century BC, as a lasting monument to himself and his queen Nefertari, to commemorate his alleged victory at the Battle of Kadesh, and to intimidate his Nubian neighbors.

Back to Luxor, we visited the Temple of Karnak, a vast open-air museum and the largest ancient religious site in the world.

Then the Luxor Temple, made particularly popular because of its appearance at the movie Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie.

One of my favorite stop was at the Valley of the Kings (pictures not allowed) where 63 tombs had already been discovered (and some still hiding!). In modern times the valley has become famous for the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun (with its rumours of the Curse of the Pharaohs), and is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world.

Other stops were at Deir el-Madinah, an ancient Egyptian village which was home to the artisans who built the temples and tombs ordered by the Pharaohs and other dignitaries in the Valley of the Kings during the New Kingdom period (18th to 20th dynasties) and Medinet Habu or the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III.

Are you still with me? I know, that's much of an adventure already but the best is yet to come.

Egypt Profonde

A day with the Nubian population of Egypt was the cherry on the cake. We started the day with an hour ride on the dromedary camel which took us to the Nubian village. There, we were served with local delicacies and allowed to visit local houses and schools.
Louna with the kids at the pre-school, local products on sale in the middle of the desert, Louna taking a bite of the local delicacies (honey made from sugar cane), Frenchguy and Louna on the camel.

Le Souk

The commercial quarter in an Arab city, the Aladdin's cave where local produce could be bought - from different spices, to Hibiscus tea, to papyrus artworks, to belly dancing costumes to different souvenirs. Though I'm quite used to local markets from the different countries I've visited, I find vendors here a little too aggresive. The approach makes tourists run away from them. To the point that I refused to look at their products because a glance could fire up a long negotiation.

The systematic asking for 1 euro started to fed me up too. Even the teacher who played with Louna at the pre-school we've visited even ask us for euros! But well, that's part of tourism, right?

Frenchguy and Louna, pretending to listen to the tourist guide. Even listening started to be tiring at the end of the week, lol.

More pictures here. I added more pictures. Be sure to click on Diaporama for better view.

*Citations about Egyptian temples from Wikipedia.

8 Facts About Louna

Posted by Analyse at 7:31 PM

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Deye just tagged Louna to reveal 8 facts about her. I think these two girls know each other pretty well, not physically, but through their respective blogs. But we will nevertheless join the fun. Here we go:

1. She slept through the night at 3 weeks old. Mellow and easy. She would then wake up with an angel smile.

2. She was never a cry-baby. She would throw tantrums every now and then but not the typical toddler who would cry out loud, kicking and biting all people around him, throwing toys at his parents and all those full action drama. She's the kind who would sulk for minutes. If you try to approach her, she would suddenly turn limp voluntarily and we end up finding our daughter lying on the floor. Not a sound. Not a look. Her I-dont-exist attitude. Then, after several minutes and after saying us sorry to her, and her sorry to us, everything goes back to normal. She only cries when she's being scolded and she knows that she did something bad.

Continue reading here.

Egypt: The Pharaonic Experience

Posted by Analyse at 8:17 PM

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

There's too much to say about Egypt that I don't even know where to start. I'm speechless. I won't bore you about Egyptology or ancient civilization - I'm not an expert and you could google it up anyway. I would rather share pictures and talk about the travel and the experience that goes with it.

The travel package I bought from the internet was a steal. I couldn't have appreciated the Nile River Cruise if I had to plan and negociate prices all the time. Everything was organized, from plane ticket to different transfers - from buses to the boat where we stayed for a week. Visits to important sites from historic Luxor to Aswan were also included in the package. And I tell you, they're affordable. Site visits (without the guides of course) ranges from 3€ (185 PHP) to 8.4€ (518 PHP) - for that price, you could already visit the tomb of the legend Rameses II!

More interesting stories next time. I'm still working on our pictures. Here's some of them (click on the album below).. Pictures are more on Egypt's lanscape and its people. Temples coming next. Yours truly is dead tired and needs to sleep. Enjoy viewing..