Kiko’s Kitchen is now open…

Wow, another post before 2009 comes to an end..Well, what a great way to start the New Year with the opening of Kiko’s Kitchen my 2nd blog which is basically a food blog. Lately, I’ve been trying to prepare foods I’ve never cooked before be it Pinoy recipe or even Thai foods. With the opening of Kiko’s Kitchen, I will be able to share it with you through my blog posts.

Have you seen the logo of Kiko’s Kitchen? Cool isn’t it? I’m proud to create it myself..I have not used Photoshop for such a long time and I think whatever skills I have (if there is!) is almost rusting now…so it’s about time to refresh my photoshop

In Kiko’s Kitchen, you will be virtually served foods I personally prepare which sometime I may be able to share with my friends for Lunch or Dinner. Moreover, suggestions are welcome as to what foods you, my good (and considerate) readers would like to see and i’ll try my very best to prepare it as soon as I can. Better yet, generosity is always welcome if someone can send ingredients to the food I’m about to cook. He he he!

The good thing about Kiko’s Kitchen is that it’s open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The bad side is that you are not able to taste it for real but just salivate seeing the pictures..(am I being rude here?). LOL. But seriously, if you happen to be in Bangkok, I’d be glad to offer you a serving or two. 🙂

So all you food lovers out there, please take a chance to visit Kiko’s Kitchen. Surely, I will always have a seat available for you!

Putting up the pieces together

Last night, I invited 2 of my friends to have dinner at my house cos I cooked Caldereta, a sumptuous beef recipe with thick sauce made from tomatoes and some carrots and potatoes. I bought some fried chicken as well to combine with this dish. After dinner, on a regular hang-out session, either we watch some DVD movie, eat some more, have a bit of drinking session or rent a computer altogether and play endless Facebook Apps.

Last night was different. Since I bought some puzzles in a local fair near my place, I encouraged them to help me build the puzzle pieces together. The picture is that of various Coke bottles and cans which I’ve posted here. Finally, after 3 hours of struggling to make all ends meet, we are able to create a masterpiece!

Life is like puzzle pieces. Sometimes, it is difficult to find the right match. You keep on searching where you will fit in. Be it about job, friendship, relationship or even personal satisfaction. At the end, we can find where we belong.

However, building a life is not as easy as making the puzzle. Sometimes, no matter how hard we tried to fit in, we really cannot push ourselves to be in that group, place  or situation. I just wish there is a formula that can build a good life in 3 hours time…

On a positive note, as we are looking forward to a new year in a few hours time, let us put the broken pieces together again. What we can repair let us try to fix for once. Let us leave all the bad memories of this year be left behind.

Personally, I’ve had a lot of ups and downs this 2009. I’ve gained some and along the way, I lost some as well. I’m wishing I can look forward to a better year ahead.

May all of us have a blessed and bountiful New Year! Be safe while we celebrate the coming year.

God bless us all!

Facebook Resolution for New Year

In a few days (or should I say hours), we will be celebrating the New Year and bade 2009 goodbye. 2009 has been very challenging for many with lots of natural disasters, economic problems, health risks and the like. Since 2009 was also the year I got hooked up in Facebook, I will be posting my Facebook Resolution for the incoming year. No pun intended, and just enjoy reading. 🙂

Funny and apps-related resolutions:
1. I will help my Mafia win wars as often as I can and rally for help every time I participate even if the opponent is level 1 Mafia. 🙂
2. I will not expect to get hired to harvest or plow if I cannot reciprocate the job in Farm Town and I expect the same thing from my neighbors.
3. I will take good care of my close Mafia by giving them Energy packs and gifts often. But please be considerate and reciprocate the generosity..
4. I will not let my customers feel bored with my cafe for I will continuously have variety in my menu and not only 1 dish.
5. I will give excitement to the visitors of my Roller Coaster Theme Park with various rides to choose from.
6. If I steal some crops in Barn Buddy, I will replace it with Bugs and Weeds as long as the dog won’t bite me so my neighbor can have coins or chance for level up.

Real resolutions:
7. I will not overly publish activities in my wall just to gain attention. In short, I will avoid SPAMMING.
8. I will not flood my friends with numerous requests like neighbor request, group add request, hug request, cool pet request. Their interest may be different from me and vice-versa so I will be considerate.
9. I will not let Facebook control my activities or schedule especially even at night or during weekends. There will not be an incident that I worry that my crops will be gone to waste while watching a movie or dining out with friends.
10. I will not tag a picture of a friend if they will be in trouble or put on the spot.
11. I will not be engaged or hooked in some more apps. I had enough this year.
12. Lastly but probably the most difficult, I will limit my Facebook usage per day to 2 hours!

Enjoy the New Year ahead!

Book it up: John Grisham’s “The Client”

As 2009 is about to close, allow me to have another topic in my blog- that is my own book review.  I am a bookworm and despite my busy schedule, I try to read as many interesting books as I can. Since now I am hooked up with Facebook and blogging, I had to squeeze an hour or so reading a book mostly at night or should I say early morning (cos I usually sleep after midnight), before I go to bed.

For the first book I would like to share in my blog, I’ve chosen the book I just finished last night, John Grisham’s The Client.

The story is about 11 year old Mark Sway and his little brother Ricky, witnessing a suicide of a distressed lawyer, Jerome “Romey” Clifford, the legal counsel of a Mafia by the name of Barry Muldanno. You may think why the lawyer committed suicide? You see, a Senator from Louisiana by the name of Boyd Boyette had been missing and many has speculated that he was murdered though his body has not been found even after 8 months of extensive searching.

Apparently, the time Romey had a holiday is the same time that Boyette was murdered by Muldanno. Barry buried him in Romey’s garage and informed the lawyer as soon as everything is settled and the temporary grave is hard with the concrete poured in it.

This made Romey became berserk and finally made a move to kill himself. He drove all the way to Memphis, which is the place he grew up. How Mark and Ricky became involved in this story is purely coincidental. The brothers went to the woods to play. Young as he is, Mark has been secretly smoking cigarette and that day, Ricky got curious and the big brother taught him how to become an “adult”. It was almost dark and they are about to finish smoking when they heard a car approaching which is very unlikely because the place is very secluded. They hid and saw a man trying to put a hose in the car’s exhaust pipe and putting the other end inside the car so he can smell it and die soon. This bothered them. Mark attempted to remove it several times before he was caught by Romey who got irritated with Mark’s snooping.  He pulled the boy inside the car so they both can die while Ricky was still outside hiding and listening to all that’s happening in the car. Moving forward, Romey killed himself but before doing it, he told Mark a detailed story of Boyette’s murder and where his body is hidden. Mark almost died in this process but was still lucky.

The brothers run back home but the incident especially witnessing that his brother almost died made Ricky become shocked and curled himself in bed, suck his thumb and never moved or talked since then. Mark tried going back to the car just to be sure that the police will find the car and just conclude it to be a plain suicide. Unfortunately, he was caught hiding and got questioned. It soon became apparent that he was inside the car when Romey killed himself and they became suspicious that Mark knew something which he did not want to reveal.

Ricky was sent to the hospital to be observed and treated. The family had enough on that day and what made it worse is that Diane, their mom lost her job because she cannot work to be with Ricky. While all of these were happening, Mark sneaked out of the hospital and tried to find the office of a lawyer he saw in a television commercial in the hospital for fear that he needed one because he is in trouble. The lawyer cannot be reached and before he decided to move back to the hospital, Mark saw a small law office with the name, Reggie Love etched in front. He went inside and everything was history. He met Reggie and hired her with the retainer fee of 1 Dollar. Reggie’s been handling a lot of Juvenile cases and this could have been a simple case until Mark informed her of the murder of the Senator which made it a lot complicated, if not too risky.

Reggie is very compassionate and unfazed by risks only if it is for the good of her clients. She treat her kid clients as her children and even send them home to taste the good food of her mom, Momma Love. Mark was not an exception. They became closer and Mark had a special place in her heart ever since. Reggie had to admit to herself that Mark is very exceptional for his age. He is street smart and very independent. The fact that he can think of hiring a lawyer for himself is something unusual. Mark has been watching re-runs of American series in TV and his favorite is about law series.  Moreover, Mark is very tough. If Ricky has been so affected by the incident which made him shocked, Mark seemed not moved at all.

The FBI became involved and because they suspected Mark has a valuable information about the Senator’s death,  they wanted Mark to speak. They wanted the Juvenile court to subpoena Mark so he can speak under oath. They tried proposing for Mark and his family to be put in a witness protection program but he is not convinced. Apparently even under oath, Mark did not talk for fear of his and his family’s life if he spilled the beans. This put him in contempt and has been detained in the Juvenile Center. He made a stunt by acting shocked himself while confined in the “jail”. When he was about to be transferred to the same hospital his brother Ricky is staying, he made the stunt and escaped. He contacted Reggie and the two of them drive all the way to New Orleans to be sure that Romey is not lying and indeed the body of the Senator is in the garage.

The news broke that Mark had escaped and he may be with his lawyer. This made the mobster panicked and moved to retrieve the body and transfer to another place. This is the same time that Mark and Reggie tried going to Romey’s house to see for themselves the corpse. Lady luck is still on their side that night because they have escaped being seen by the gunmen while they were hiding. Moreover, they even scared the Mob when Romey’s neighbor heard some commotion and fired a gun. Later, they saw the decomposing body of the Senator. This made Mark changed his mind and agreed to be placed under witness protection.

After all the arrangements were made and the family is ready to fly to their new destination with a new persona and the like, Mark realized that they are leaving Reggie behind. Because he will have a new personality and may not be able to see Reggie again, he became totally sad with the realization that he put Reggie’s life at risk and she has to experience all of these because of him. Reggie assured him that she will be ok. She is just a plain lawyer and the mob will not be interested with her. Moreover, she said if Mark did not involved her, she will not be able to meet and know him personally.

One day in our lives we may be in a very uncompromising situation. On another end, we may meet someone who may become an instrument for a life-changing action. Whatever it is, as long as we trust the person who care for us and love us the most, then life will be better soon.

John Grisham has successfully put the readers hooked to the book and not want to drop it because the way he told the story is done very simply even for a fact that there are a lot of legal aspects injected in the storyline. What I liked about his style is that his main character in his books were always smart and cocky and know their laws..As they say, “Ignorance of the law excuses no one”…

My dream is to become a chef..reading Grisham’s book made me think I also want to be a lawyer..well, not too far-fetched as I remembered my former boss used to call me Attorney cos I always draft our contracts in the office. There were even instances when we show the draft to the lawyer, the draft was well-written and covers everything as the lawyer claimed. Enough of the braggart me..LOL.

So there…if you happened to drop by in a bookstore please consider taking “The Client” to the counter and bring home for a worthwhile reading. As for me, there are 2 other Grisham books in my shelf and a couple of Bob Ong books my friend lend me…so it will be a busy New Year for me.

Book it up guys!

Merry Christmas to all!

Yesterday, the world celebrated Christmas Day- Christiamdom’s biggest and happiest celebration of all. Filipinos traditionally celebrate it the longest, generally starting when the calendar announced the coming of the BER month (September, October, November then finally December).  Many houses starts putting decor like Christmas Tree, Lanterns and Christmas lights as early as September. Kids starts singing Christmas carols in the street when December comes. Truly, it is such a joyous season.

It is just too bad that I am unable to attend the Christmas Eve or Christmas Day mass here in Bangkok because the English mass is too limited and the timing doesn’t match. You see, I had to work on Christmas Day because it is not considered a holiday in Thailand.

Last Christmas Eve, we trooped to one of my friends’ Condo to celebrate the day and have Noche Buena with friends. We decided to do pot-luck instead of just one or two persons cooking the food. I think it is better since we are able to taste the specialty recipe of each. I decided to share Spaghetti and Beef steak. We prepared our favorite foods like Kare-Kare, Adobo, Grilled Pork, Grilled Squid, Fried Chicken, Macaroni Salad and a secret recipe of spicy squid from one of them.

We started dinner early, around 8:30 PM then we had Karaoke and sang to our heart’s content while sharing a glass of liquor.

It was a truly enjoyable night….

When the clock ticked midnight, we greeted each other Merry Christmas and exchanged gifts then continued eating, singing, drinking and chatting..the party lasted till the wee hours of the morning.

Finally, I arrived home quarter before 6AM. After 2 hours of sleep, rushed to work. What a memorable day it really was! Surely, I missed home cos this is the 2nd year I am celebrating Christmas and New Year away from them but I was able to call them early on before the network gets busy that day so it’s good enough for now.

We haven’t finalized our New Year’s Eve plans as there are many propositions. Hopefully soon we are able to decide the right venue and activity for that day.

I am sharing the pictures of our food taken during Christmas Eve. Sorry, I had to skip our own face pictures cos it will be very evident that we eat a lot! Ha ha ha! I think I am able to post our latest pictures after the holidays when the big eating is over..LOL.

A Blessed Christmas and bountiful New Year to all. May the season bring us peace, good health and contentment. Let us not forget the reason for the season..our Lord Almighty!

Simbang Gabi, a unique Philippine Christmas Tradition.

Today, December 16 marks the start of Simbang Gabi or Mass at Dawn. This is the longest and arguably most popular Philippine tradition and held nationwide and in other places worldwide wherein a good number of Filipinos are living or working. This unique Philippine tradition traces its roots in Mexico in 1587 when the Pope granted the petition of Fray Diego de Soria to hold Christmas mass outdoors because the Church could not accommodate the huge number of people attending the evening mass. What makes Simbang Gabi a very significant tradition for Catholics is that it not only builds stronger bonds between family members because in most cases every member of the family go to mass altogether to experience the Dawn mass. Moreover, the faithful feels the presence of the Lord even stronger because it is our preparation for Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas carols are sang before, during and after the mass to celebrate this season. Everyone is in a jolly mood even though they have to wake up early so as not to be late for the mass. Many people believe that if you are able to complete the 9 days of Simbang Gabi, your wish no matter how difficult- will come true.

After mass, most of the church goer will partake various local delicacies like Puto Bumbong, Bibingka, Salabat and many others. This is a most enjoyable activity because these foods are usually served or sold during the Christmas season and very rare to be found during a normal day.

It is so fortunate for me to be able to experience Simbang Gabi even when I’m overseas. Filipinos in Bangkok are not as many as other countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, Saudi or even the US but luckily the tradition of Simbang Gabi remains. What made me even luckier is that the Holy Redeemer Church which is one of the biggest Catholic Church in Bangkok (and there are not too many Catholic Churches here being a predominantly Buddhist nation) is very accessible from my place (around 5 mins. drive in the early morning). Thus, it will not be difficult for me to celebrate this tradition.

I attended the mass today with few of my friends and approximately over 90% of the church goers are Filipinos. Surprisingly, there are some westerners and I saw an Indian Family attending the mass too. After the celebration, the popular Christmas Carol “Ang Pasko ay Sumapit” (Christmas has arrived) was sung. In addition, free breakfast is served at the back of the Church sponsored by various Philippine Groups or Organizations in Thailand which is really an enjoyable sight as you get to mingle with your fellow Filipinos while enjoying a sumptuous food and a cup of hot coffee.

Indeed it is such a good feeling to at least have a share of sacrifice during this time of the year by making an effort to wake up very early to attend the mass. Moreover, it is a time to remember and Celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, the reason why we are called Christians.

The start of Simbang Gabi signals a bigger celebration as part of the annual Christmas festivities.

Bangkok is an Expat’s Paradise…

Compared to many world capitals, Bangkok is one of the cheapest in terms of cost of living. When I say cheap, it doesn’t mean the quality is compromised because most of the time, I find the quality of food and products in Bangkok (or Thailand) to be acceptable. In fact, I consider Bangkok to be an Expat’s paradise. Of course, being an expat entails a lot of responsibilities or expectations. Otherwise, why will your company hire you if you cannot deliver. So this makes stress and time for relaxation and all those related activities a must in an Expat’s schedule.

In Bangkok, you can enjoy branded (or copy) designer labels at highly discounted price. Malls are literally on sale year-round. You just have to be patient and have a keen eye in finding the best bargain or sale price all over town. Copy goods are also A quality that’s why a lot of foreign tourists troop to Bangkok to buy these goods.

Last Saturday, my friends and I trooped to the annual ICC Fair. This fair has been attracting hundreds if not thousands of Thais for quite sometime because in here, you can buy hugely discounted designer brands like Lacoste, Nike, Adidas, Guy Laroche among others. Of course the most visited area is the Lacoste sale wherein discounts of up to 70% can be availed. Since this is my fave brand, I wasted no time to go to the venue and I was able to buy a pair of shoes, a bag and 2 caps. Unfortunately, the shirts left when we arrived are all L or XL American Sizes so I wasn’t able to buy 1 for me. Only thing when going thru this kind of fair compared to the usual Mall sale is that it is doubly hard for me cos not only should I brave the battalions of shoppers to get to the counter and ask for my size but also I had to attempt speaking in Thai so the sellers can understand me..It was a bit frustrating that after finally reaching the counter after “wrestling” it out with fellow shoppers is that the size I want is already “No Have” or they cannot understand what I’m trying to say…Damn, I really have to improve my Thai language skills. Please allow me to brag about my shoe in this blog..hehehe.

Another factor why I consider Bangkok to be a paradise for an Expat like me is because you can enjoy a wide variety of food at a cheap price. Take for instance a set of meal in popular Japanese Restaurant like Fuji or Zen. A normal bento set range approx. 150-250 per set which includes Soup and Salad. During lunch, the set includes hot coffee or tea even! In Manila, if you eat in similar restaurant, you probably would pay min. 250 Pesos to almost 400 Pesos per set. That is precisely the reason why I can only often eat in Komorosoba (SM Megamall) or Tokyo Tokyo and rarely in Saisaki. LOL.

I also find Apartment or Condo rental cheaper if compared to Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai and other cities. A normal studio type apartment would cost between 5,000-8,000 baht and would slightly go higher if the condo has swimming pool or other facilities. Of course it depends on the location. A typical apartment in Sukhumvit or Silom area would be much more expensive but still cheaper if compared to other cities I previously mentioned. I heard that if you rent apartment near the outskirts of Bangkok, studio units would even be less than 3,000 baht. Only thing is that you have to travel farther going to and from the office. It can even be less if you share the room with another person. All Filipinos that I know who are working in Bangkok are either staying alone or sharing with 1 or 2 (maybe max. 3 persons) per unit. This is definitely better than fellow Filipinos working in Singapore or Middle East wherein they have to share the flat with up to 10 persons.

Domestic travel is also not a pain in one’s budget. Few months ago, me and a few of my colleagues went to Cha-Am and Hua Hin which is a popular weekend destination for Bangkokians due to its proximity to the city (approx. 2 hours from Bangkok). We actually maximized that 2 Days/1 Night trip. We left Bangkok very early in the morning, went to a local market to buy food and dessert, eat Buffet lunch then head to the Resort. At night, we went to Hua Hin market for some more shopping and eating. The following day, after checking out of the hotel, we had a very big Buffet Seafood lunch then do some more shopping of sweets and some souvenir along the way. In total since we shared cost, I only spend not more than 2,000 Baht including all the food, sweets, transportation and hotel accommodation. This is similar to other cities the reason why many backpackers from Europe or US just fly to Thailand without any pre-arranged tours or accommodation and they just stay in guest houses, ride local transport and eat local food in the roadside.

There are definitely more factors why Bangkok is an Expat’s paradise over the examples I’ve written above. This could be the reason why the number of Expatriates in Thailand is increasing year by year. Of course the number is not as high as that of Singapore or Dubai wherein a big chunk of their workforce are foreigners. However, I’ll not be surprised if soon more and more Expatriates will consider working here…

My Lopburi Monkey Festival, Thailand experience

Last Sunday, November 29, me and a bunch of friends went to Lopburi, a province in Central Thailand located 150 km. Northeast of Bangkok to experience the annual Monkey Festival, a unique event especially created for the Macaque monkeys held every November. It is believed by local folks that if they feed the monkeys, it will give them good luck throughout the year. Apparently, for one of my friends, her luck is not present that day because just minutes since we arrived in the area, she sprained her ankle in an uneven road pavement so throughout the festival and in other places that we visited, she was in pain and can barely walk.

The festivity of the Monkey Festival is concentrated in an old Khmer temple, Prang Sam Yot. In here, hundreds of monkeys young and old alike wander around the area which is surrounded by a steel fence. Locals say the fence is actually like a border delineating the territory between the “good monkeys” and the “bad monkeys”. They say those outsiders (bad monkeys) try to steal food from inside the temple grounds but many of the so-called monkey guards from the inside try to protect their territory from the “invaders”. While we happily take pictures with the now hyper-active monkeys because they eat a lot of sweets and colas, we heard two monkey’s squeal. When we look further, we found out that these 2 monkeys are actually in a fighting mode. The guard monkey tries to prevent the invader from getting any food inside or even step within their territory. At the end he was successful.

Along the street and some short distance from the temple you can see monkeys in the electric post climbing, crossing the road through the electric or telephone lines, or trying to grab food or drinks from unwary tourist or pedestrian. We wonder how often the telephone or electric companies replace their lines because of this.

Since we arrived in the area around 10 am and after watching the monkeys eat the food being served and taking a lot of pictures, we decided to head for lunch. We went to Big-C Supercentre and eat a tasty and spicy chicken meal in KFC. After lunch, we wonder where our next stop is. Since the sun is shining intensely, we almost hesitate to go somewhere riding at the back of the pick-up but at the end, we decided to move. We went to another old temple ruins but decided not to enter because there is an entrance fee of Baht 150 per person. However, the scenery is almost the same as outside so we just spend sometime outside the temple grounds and drink a refreshing iced coffee while taking random pictures.

After that, we headed to a Sunflower farm in Saraburi Province which is almost an hour ride on the way back to Bangkok. The sunflowers are so beautiful in full bloom. Since we arrived in the area almost at dusk so many of the flowers seem bowing down as expected. Still, we managed to take excellent pictures and bought pure Honey for only Baht 100 for a tall long neck bottle.

Next, we decided to go to Pasak Jolasit Dam also in Lopburi Province. This dam is smaller than the previous one that we visited in Nakhon Nayok Province but is also an ideal place for relaxation and recreation. We see many families do picnic or engage in many recreational activities along the dam. The dam is teeming with live fish. Moreover, the landscape is very nice for picture-taking because of the good cloud formation and very calm looking backdrop.

After the visit to the dam, we decided to call it a day and head back to Bangkok since we have work the following day. Along the road within the Bangkapi area of Bangkok, we saw the local Thai Buffet style BBQ restaurant called Mukata. Price per person is only Bath 109 excluding drinks which is actually value for money if you love eating. There is a wide selection of raw food you can cook in a charcoal heated Barbecue dish. You can pick Barbecue pork or chicken, prawns, squid, chicken or fish balls, fresh vegetable and noodles and a variety of finger foods, appetizer and desserts. It was such a big big dinner that we finished after 2 hours of non-stop eating.
Finally, I arrived in my room around 11:30. It was a very tiring day but definitely worth it. At first, I am quite hesitant since it is a Sunday and next day we have to work. Moreover, I’m not a big fan of monkeys because I know that at times they get so unruly and try to grab anything that caught their fancy. However, I decided to go cos it’s a new experience for me. Luckily, I joined and definitely not regret doing so. It was such a fun traveling with lots of friends and we are in fact discussing when and where will our next trip be.