Friday, October 29, 2010

Everybody, welcome my new Gadget Baby, Mr. Lenovo Ideapad Z460, the latest addition to my gadget addiction. I think his foster siblings, iPod Touch, Sony Cybercam and Samsung Ultratouch mobile will not be pleased. Definitely, this is the apple of my eye at the moment. But despite the sibling rivalry, I expect them to work harmoniously together.

We were supposed to buy this model's smaller 13.3", Intel Core i3, non-video card sister (Z360) but due to their less than 2k price difference and my surprising savings on software installation, we decided to go for the big brother.
IdeaPad Z460 Specifications

Intel® Core™ i5 Processor 460M
(2.53GHz up to 2.8GHz / 1066 MHz / 3MB L3 Cache)
Operating system
2048MB (1x2048) DDR3
Hard drive
Optical device
DVD SuperMulti
Nvidia GeForce 310M DDR3 1G
Display type
LAN,Lenovo b/g/n,Bluetooth,HDMI
Integrated Camera
1.3MP Camera
2.0 Dolby
Veriface (Face Recognition Technology), One Key Rescue System
Media card reader
5-in-1 card reader
6 cell
1 Year Parts & Labour

Right now, I am loving the chiclet keyboard. It's so easy to type in and I did notice a significant increase in my speed. Makes me want to write more blog posts, stories et. al. just to be able to type on it. I also adore Windows 7. After almost a decade on XP, I am ready for a change.

As for the things that did not come with the notebook, I bought a cheap mouse and this pretty circular mouse pad I saw on Electronics Boutique. If you can't figure it out from the picture, it has words on it like Create, Begin, Think, Dream and I thought how fitting it was since I plan to use the laptop for precisely just that. And, not to mention, how my Lenovo is aptly named IDEApad. Chills.

Honestly, one of the main reasons why I've always wanted to have a laptop is to be able to write, surf the web and just do my business without somebody breathing over my neck and looking at the screen, which proved impossible with a family shared desktop computer. I don't really need great specs for office applications but it sure doesn't hurt to have them, especially if I plan to use and love this laptop for a long while.

See, I do love gadgets and buy rather brand consciously but I do take care of them and rarely, if ever, abandon them. I actually develop a kind of fondness over my electronic companions and am not the kind of person who changes phones every year just to get the newest release.

That said, I feel so content right now, like I have everything I ever wanted (object-wise) I have nothing to wish for this Christmas except love and peace and safety and good health and all those cliches. Wow, thank you for this wonderful life. :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

There is something about amusement parks that just make me forget that I'm 20-year-old something registered nurse who is supposed to be concerned with serious career enhancing stuff and the impact of nurse migration to the state of our country's health care system. One look at the extravagant, set designs and that larger than life foggy globe thing and, once again, I was like a chocolate lover in Johnny Depp's midget-operated factory.

The trip to Universal Studios was supposed to be on the 2nd day of our vacation in Singapore but due to unplanned events, it was moved to the 2nd to the last day. Which, now, I think happened for a reason, especially if you believe in popular notion of saving the best for last.

We arrived at Resorts World Sentosa early in the morning, before the actual theme park has opened. We made use of the time by taking pictures in every map, pole, fountain, stuffed toys, ginormous candy bars and Hershey's syrups as fast as humanely possible.

We then fell in line at the entrance gates of the park, claimed our S$5 meal and souvenir vouchers and had great fun. Let me sum it up for you.

Top 5 Things I Loved in USS:

5. It was hot and sunny as hell. I got to use my sunglasses for probably the first time in my life without feeling overdressed or out of place. See, I refuse to wear it here in normal sun-filled occasions in fear of looking like, a) a fly b) a blind beggar and c) Randy Santiago.

4. Everywhere you look, there is an amazing photo backdrop. Just stop and smile (provided that someone is there to take photos of you).

3. Waterworld, Shrek 4D and Steven Spielberg's Lights, Camera, Action. Three fantastic 'shows' we've had the pleasure of watching. Wanted to ride roller coasters and thrilling rides more but being with people with generalized anxiety disorder and a 7-year-old kid made it impossible.

2. Souvenirs! With the S$5 gift certificate, we made sure we take the opportunity to 'claim' our 'free' stuff. Normally, I would've been aghast by the prices of simple things like key chains and paperweights but with the added discount, I felt compelled to buy something. And they all look so pretty it was so hard to choose. In the end, I bought a key chain and a white t-shirt as things to remember this amazing day by.

1. Having completed my childish dream of being in the two most well-known theme parks in the world, Disneyland and Universal Studios. Although I've only been to the Asian version of the famous franchises, being able to visit someplace outside my own country is unbelievable enough and it is an experience I would never take for granted.

Then, just like that, our vacation was already nearing its end. Armed with loaded USS Store plastic bags and a full camera memory card, I was ready to go back home.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Started the day eating as much as we could, as fast as we could on the buffet line.

Tour guide arrived right on time.

Boarded a tour bus reminiscent of the one in the Quirino Grandstand hostage taking. Almost expected SPO2 Rolando Mendoza to come strutting inside the vehicle armed with guns and deadly explosives.

Went to a few more hotels to pick up other tourists. Bus full of Gerias. I would've thought that there was a nursing home field trip if I didn't know better.

Passed by the Singapore Flyer and picked up more people.

Met irate and impatient tour guide for the first time.

Headed to the cable cars lift off station.

Rode a cable car to Sentosa with 7 other people. Mom and aunt almost fainted in terror. Was trying hard not to move while taking pictures of the scenery and oneself.

Landed in Sentosa in one piece.

Was given tickets to the Singapore Museum after being told repeatedly that the bus will leave if we did not come back on time.

Took lots of pictures. Didn't want to go in but we did anyway, was treated to a visually appetizing show about Singapore's history (together with students who, most likely, were on their field trip) and 10 minutes later, we were desperately looking for a way to get out of the building so as not to waste our precious time left.

30 minutes left, we decided to hunt for the elusive Merlion. Found it and took more pictures. Now we really have a proof that we went to Singapore.

Fell in line to board a free shuttle to Underwater World. I guess buses other than the Sentosa line is not allowed in the island. Shame. I thought being a part of a tour group means having a bus of our own to take us to places.

Arrived at Underwater World.  Was given tickets and was warned again of being left behind. Met fishes and other amazing creatures. But really, Manila Ocean Park did it better. (So I am told. Haven't been there yet.)

Fell in line again to board the Sentosa bus to the Beach Station where we will be watching Songs of the Sea. Pushed our way inside the crammed vehicle. (Standing room only.) Breathed as shallowly as possible.

Arrived at Beach Station. Was again given tickets for the show. In hindsight, it would've been nice to have more time to go around the place before or after the show rather than heading straight to the stands to get a seat then rushing back in order to not get left behind. 

Got seats on the far left side of the 'stage'. Chatted with other Filipinos on our group.

Show started. Some kids were singing a song I could not understand nor appreciate. Did we really pay S$10 for this?

Fountain visual effects started. Whoa, cool.

More effects with light and fire. Beautiful!

Honestly, the story was crap, the script was childish and the 'actors' were mediocre but what set the show apart was the dazzling array of lights and sounds that was right in front of our faces. Truly a memorable part of our vacation.

Rushed our way to the meeting point in fear of having to go back to our hotel by ourselves. Met with other tourists in our group and together we hiked about a football stadium's length to the parking lot. Was tired and hungry by the time we got to the bus.

Orchard Parade never looked as beautiful when we arrived. Decided to 'take-away' (also known as to go or take-out) food from the nearest fast food in the vicinity.

Watched CNN (the men inside the wrecked Chile's mine site were being rescued) while having dinner.

Slept. Universal Studios was waiting for us and our camera. Could not wait for the next day. :)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Our second day was supposed to be spent getting our inner kids on at Universal Studios Singapore. But due to passport mishaps, we were still waiting for the arrival of my aunt. Hence, our free day (which was supposed to be our last day so we can shop for souvenirs and other things to take back home) was moved on this day. So due to the pretty pictures in the brochure, we went to Marina Bay Sands Shoppes to see what the fuss was all about.

After looking like an idiot in front of the MRT machines and then listening to a very helpful guide who probably saw us looking abnormally confused, we took the train to Marina Bay station where we rode a bus to get to the next stop in front of this magnificent structure.

There I found out that the Shoppes were located in front of the hotel (those 3 enormous structures), and not exactly inside it. Also, we have to pay S$20 to be able to go up the famed Sky Park (the boat shaped thing on top of the 3 towers). We debated on whether to go up already, wait for my aunt who was going to arrive later that afternoon or just leave and look for another place to take pictures in. I didn't want to go up because it was still hot outside but I also didn't want to have to go back the second time just to go up the park because we were already there.

Marina Bay Sands Shoppes Venetian-looking river.
Needless to say, we ended our discussion with the famous 'bahala na' expression and found ourselves a bus that will take us to Bugis Street where we were planning to buy keychains and stuff to give to relatives and friends expectantly waiting back home.

It was everything I thought it would be. A shopping section where everything was cheap and without signature brand tags. Amazingly, even with the market-like surroundings, it was still surprisingly clean. Divisoria meets MMDA, my kind of place.

We bought key chains and hair trinkets for 3 for S$10. Still pricey for Php standards. I bought a bag for myself for S$10 (Php 330) then, after coming back here, thought I would not spend P250 on a same looking hand bag. It turned out, everything was more expensive in Singapore. Or maybe it's just everything is unknowingly cheap here. I'm not sure.

After roaming around for more than an hour, I got a text from my aunt saying she was already boarding the plane and will arrive after 3 hours. My mom decided to head back to our hotel so she can rest (again) before we head back out again, hopefully reunited with my aunt.

5 hours later after a slight confusion about flight numbers and airline schedules, we were back at Marina Bay Sands, this time with one added family member. The hotel interior was breathtaking by the way. We had to pass by the grand lobby to get to the ticketing office for the Sky Park. There we paid S$20 (roughly Php600) to ride an elevator to the topmost floor where we were greeted with the marvelous view of Singapore. 

Of us 4, I was the only one sane enough to approach the outer railings of the ship-like structure. Obviously, it was perfectly safe, but for some reason, the geriatric half of our group developed a case of wobbly knees. I had stomach aches laughing at them and they had fun laughing at themselves. Those tickets were definitely worth the money.

On top of Marina Bay Sands (SkyPark)
Infinity Pool for hotel guests only.
After countless picture takings, including in front of the infinity pool to die for, we went back down, had our dinner then head back to our hotel. Our 3rd day will include the Sentosa tour. Hmm, how to bring home a Merlion?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

We arrived at Singapore after 3 hours of an are-we-gonna-die turbulent plane ride. Thank you Cebu Pacific for not providing any meals, nor anything else for that matter that we can have without paying for it. No middle-of-the-flight updates on where the heck are we nor free earphones or newspapers to blast away the boredom. What you get for taking a 50% off promo ticket fare.

We arrived at Orchard Parade Hotel at Tanglin Road at the end of Orchard Road. The building looks tired but our room was surprisingly spacious. Last year at Mexan Harbour Hotel in Hong Kong, there was barely any space left to roam around and an ancient television with *gasp* no cable, but now, we even have a huge flat screen TV with some cable channels and a balcony to look out on.

As I am traveling with my mother and little sister, everything was rated PG and toned down a bit. After having our lunch, the second thing we did in Singapore was sleep. Yes, sleep. How fun.

View from our hotel room's balcony
We did stroll the squeaky clean sidewalks of Orchard Road in the afternoon. We loved how our hotel was just a few minute's walk to the shopping malls in the vicinity and even the Orchard MRT station. From there, you can go to about anywhere else in the one-city country. It was hilarious how we were so afraid to cross roads and accidentally litter. We wouldn't want to be fined for anything in a foreign country, especially one which is known for fining residents and tourists alike for a myriad of petty crimes. Although, I don't blame them. Those laws probably helped made this country as beautiful and safe as it is right now.

One thing I've noticed is that everyone speaks English, which is absolutely fantastic since we were bound to ask for directions sooner or later. I thought we'll have problems conversing with people because of language barriers like we did in Hong Kong. Another is that there are more Indians living in Singapore than I expected. I was not aware that they have such close ties with the Indian community.

Outside Orchard Station, to ION Mall
All in all, our first half day there was pretty uneventful. Which was understandable since we're still getting the feel of the place. It was great that our itinerary for our vacation wasn't as hectic as our trip last year. After walking up to the ION Orchard Mall, we decided to go grocery shopping then head back to our hotel.

That night, we spread out the maps of the city we got from the airport and planned which places we should visit the next day because, due to passport mishaps and change of schedules, we have no idea where to go.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

10. 60 patients in the ward versus 1 staff nurse and 1 trainee is considered a benign shift.

9. "Not seen during rounds." Trodat. is an accepted Nurse's Notes' charting.

8. Ampicillin, Ketorolac and Nalbuphine are best of friends. Sometimes, they also hang-out with buddies Gentamycin and Metronidazole.

7. Some patients never buy medicines. They just collect Rxs and irritate the medication nurse.

6. Medication x 100, IV insertion, carrying out orders, extraction, MgSO4, handling patients numerous enough to build an army etc. (Okay, halfway there. I felt compelled to put in something semi-serious for everyone else's sanity)

5. Patients panic once their IV bottles are empty or they see blood in their IV line like they're going to have a cardiac arrest because of it. Re-hook new one immediately or flush mentioned blood. Or else, relative will follow you around the ward and watch everything that you do.

4. The smell of disinfectant and lochia combined will haunt you on your way home.

3. There's nothing awkward about asking somebody you barely know (in front of other people): "Naka-utot na ba kayo?"

2. It is possible to fit 6 mothers and 6 babies in a single-sized bed.

...and the No.1 thing I learned from my 2-month stay at the OB Ward:

1. The location of Lying-In and how to get there. "Sir, sa Lying-In po yan, diretso sa dulong-dulo tapos kaliwa."

 And we're off to the city of water-vomiting-dragons.

Funny how fast time flies. It feels like it was just yesterday that we read in a newspaper that Cebu Pacific was holding a 50% off discount on international flights for the months of October and November. Like always, we were the last to know and we found out on the last day of the promo. Hence, this weird middle-of-the-month vacation (because all the good dates were already fully booked). Still, I am not complaining. Any chance that I get to travel and go to places I've never been is considered as great news.

However, I have this funny feeling that whenever we try to enjoy ourselves, something bad in return happens. I pray to Obama it's all in my mind, but just two weeks after we went to Hong Kong and Macau last year, the Ondoy fiasco happened, which flooded our house and washed out some of our accounts.

Then, today, our driver decided it was a great night to ram our car into a wooden pedestal while parking, resulting in a massive dent in the passenger side of our 1-year-old vehicle. How unbelievably unfortunate (and infuriating).

Still, nothing can stop me having fun on this vacation. Like all tourists, we plan to visit Universal Studios Singapore and take pictures in Sentosa with that vomiting dragon fountain thing. I am excited, but not jumping-on-couch-like-Tom-Cruise-on-Oprah thrilled. Maybe if it was Universal Studios in Orlando, I'll be having seizures in anticipation because of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

I'll get there soon enough. ;)

So, join me in a silent vigil to keep the bad vibes away. I'll definitely come back with stories, and definitely more pictures you can care to look at.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Blame me for being liberal minded and anti wrinkled perspective. I will be surely going to hell in the afterlife, (by Roman Catholic standards) but I cannot, for the love of everything sacred and political, understand the Church's opposition to the RH Bill. I cannot comprehend how such useful and relevant future laws be regarded as unacceptable by the Roman Catholic church as if it is Satan's plot for world annihilation.

Tell me, what is wrong with informed decision making regarding such an important issue such as family planning? Why do the church insist of keeping parents in the dark and stuck in ancient ways? Natural family planning methods are, in my opinion, not only ineffective, but also hard to follow. Mothers are busy enough as it is, and you expect them to keep notes, take their temperature daily and notice slight increments signifying that they are indeed fertile? How about the Calendar method where the woman counts 14 days backwards from their expected date of menstruation? The method is confusing enough as it is when we were nursing students, what more if you have kids to take care of and probably a job to attend to? What if the woman is irregular? As for abstinence, I think one is demented to expect millions of people to abstain from a physiologic need.

The Catholic Church promotes only natural family planning and is opposed to the use of artificial birth control methods such as condoms and birth-control pills, saying these could lead to promiscuity and a rise in abortion cases.
With all due respect to our bishops, I think they have it backwards. There won't be a rise in abortion cases because contraceptives will prevent pregnancy in the first place. I believe it will actually decrease such moral crimes and as the cliche goes, make this world a better, more responsible place.

Having worked in the OB Ward of a government hospital for quite some time, I was exposed to this problem first hand. I must have handled thousands of newborns and mothers during my stay there. And let me tell you, the length of my stay was not that long. 

Maybe the Pope is in Vatican with his incense and entourage of bishops and the priests here in the country is secluded in seminaries and churches that they don't realize how big the overpopulation problem really is. Maybe they should open their eyes a little wider to let in at least a grain of truth that is already staring at their faces. I advise that they start from observing how many babies and little children they see during their Sunday masses. I bet they won't be able to count them all for it'll be like counting stars in the midnight sky. Too many and too scattered for the human mind to fully comprehend.

I am not against religion, and most importantly, I am not against morality. But I do frown upon hypocrisy. I don't feel comfortable on how the church is portraying itself, not just the voice of God, but as God himself, meddling with state affairs, now with threats of civil disobedience and even excommunication on the president if he approves something that they don't. It doesn't sit well with me how they shun people who are not at par with the kind of principles that they believe in. 

I don't think that is something Jesus would do.

And don't even get me started with the countless Catholic sex abuse cases that both the congregation and its flock have turned a blind eye on. That is another story.

I am not an atheist, I am a big fan of god and, most importantly, freedom of choice. Let the people have theirs. We are not forcing anyone to do anything, just educating the public on options and alternatives.

Since when did that become so morbidly immoral?


The traveling nurse is back. After months of floods, holidays, exams, work and trainings, we've come to the special part of the year where I'll be bombarding you reluctant readers with nauseating excitement for future trips complete with too detailed stories and amateur snapshots of random places from our last vacation. Here we go.

Spent a day in Macau last year and it's just now that I'm regretting that I did not get to do a lengthy post about our stay there. I'm not pointing fingers but it really was Ondoy's fault. Just two weeks after our arrival from Hong Kong, he decided to gleefully shower the metropolis with rain and destruction. I bet you know what happened next.

We took a ferry from Hong Kong to Macau and participated in a day tour of the city. Our first stop was the Macau Tower. Took pictures and watched bungee jumpers jump off the building. Took more pictures. Honestly, I would not dare travel without a camera.

Our next stop was far from the city and it involves a Buddhist Temple and a Portugese Church. Sorry for religion fanatics but those simply weren't the best part of the tour for us. They were simply not interesting enough. We also went to a riverside place with ethnic looking houses on the bay and a sort of commercial area with a number of restaurants and shops. Those stopovers made me realize that Macau's tourism strength is quite reliant on their casinos and extravagant hotels.

Thankfully, the day just got better with our stopover at Museu de Macau and  Ruins of St. Paul. We rushed through the first part because we were itching to get out of the museum and head on to the great architectural feat that is the church's facade. There is literally nothing inside it except open space, not even a roof, but for some reason, the front stood strong despite the decades of typhoons and there we marveled at an ancient masterpiece.

The thing I certainly did not appreciate about the day tour is the unbelievable time constraint that we were put under. Only 45 minutes to enjoy this, 20 minutes there. It's like touring ala The Amazing Race. Except  it wasn't a competition and there wasn't a million dollars at the end of the line.

Another was the Filipino-owned souvenir shop near the Ruins. At first we were ecstatic to see a face with the same features as ours. We even conversed in Tagalog. But when the time came that we were buying stuff from their store together with the other tourist from our group, they blatantly ignored our inquiries on prices and T-shirt sizes and focused their attention on the ones from Malaysia and Thailand. Not only were we majorly disappointed with their service but felt rather betrayed by our own race.

The last part of the tour was in the heart of the metropolis. We toured the inside of Casino Lisboa and even got a complementary membership card, sort of. Honestly, I don't know what it was for, just that it's shiny and it's pretty cool to find inside a wallet.

We were introduced to the lifestyle of the filthy rich which I must admit is pretty sparkly and full of 24-carat gold floors, but then I had realized that we we were pretty well-off enough to begin with, compared to the thousands of Filipinos making up the C and D class of the demographic. And that is definitely something to be thankful of.

So before this post start to become a weird lovechild of travel and societal injustices, let me wrap this up by reiterating my goal ,which is to step foot in all 7 continents of the world. (Okay, so maybe except Antartica). After all, the world is too small to let a few hundred miles get in the way of absolute world domination. In a Lonely Planet-ish kind of way, at least.
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