Hightlights from our first week

posted by saltybug.com 09/03/2015 6 Comments

When I have been communicating with friends and family back home, and telling them of the week I’ve just had, I hear a lot of ‘oh that is just so hard/challenging/frustrating, you poor things’. The funny thing is that despite feeling the odd bit of frustration, I don’t actually have that ‘OMG this is SO hard’ thing going on. It’s kind of like I expected it, so I’m okay with how things are working out. What is hard is the physical and mental exhaustion I am feeling and I know SB is feeling too.  This however, is manageable. It is about how much I want to push myself to get things sorted. For SB he has just survived his first week in his new role, in a new country, whilst trying to move and deal with all the stuff I’m dealing with. He has a very good reason to be exhausted.

Things could be a whole lot worse. The ex-pat community here is big and supportive. I have only slightly scratched the surface of it too. So I’m not feeling lonely, isolated, scared, worried, or like it’s too hard. I sit in the car as it drives along these complex streets and go ‘wow’. I think as long as I can still do that after a week like our first week, I will be ok.


Here are some highlights from our fist week (gosh it feels a whole lot longer).


The children have dubbed our condo our ‘New Smelly Special Home’. The hotel has been our ‘special home’ since our first visit. Our condo became our ‘new special home’ and it has been unused for some time so on arrival it smelt mildewy. Hence the new name. Today on a visit, FB claimed in delight ‘It doesn’t smell anymore mummy!!‘. To which I just laughed.
BB and FB were given Indian food tonight to try. BB loved it and said it was his favourite and he loved the ‘nana bread’. Watching SB trying to teach BB how to say ‘naan’ was hysterical.
During the week I was walking through a department store. It was night time and I was out on my own without the kids. I was near the music section and there was a really great pop song on the speakers. I was really enjoying it, the singer sounded amazing and I wondered if this was one of the local rock stars here. I turned the corner and found the source of the music. It was the karaoke machine and one of the employees was singing.


He finished the very cool pop song and mentioned it as a Justin Beiber song (show’s my age when I just do not know what that Beiber person sings). This is one of the hilarious elements here. The ones that just keep you interested. In stores that sell electronics, it is common that the employees will sing and dance with the karaoke machines. The first few times as a Westerner from a conservative country, I looked and though ‘wow, I don’t know what to make of that’. Then I got used to it and thought ‘you know, it is kinda cool that people here accept this kind of thing, and feel free enough to do it’. Because, the singing over here is pretty awesome. Filipino’s can sing. Beautiful, stunning, extraordinary voices ring out through stores and it is most often the employees.

Life IS amazing

When I was shopping I found this wonderful quote. I plan on hanging somewhere I can see it every day.

Shangri-La Plaza Mall

 I did a bit of shopping this week. A highlight was exploring the Shangri-La Plaza Mall. This is a swanky new mall, catering to the very very rich. I felt a little out of place sitting in the café. I was surrounded by the very wealthy dripping in all things that scream ‘I’m super rich – Look at me!’. I was in grotty clothes because our laundry wasn’t back yet and I had the children with me. A noticeable absence in the mall were signs of children (lots of kids clothing stores though)…until I was leaving, then I spotted one child and a little baby….

The meal I had at this café was the best meal I’ve had so far. It was home made pasta and the children had toasted ham, cheese and truffle sandwiches on home made bread. The coffee was stunning and the kids drank fresh juice. It was so refreshing. The children loved the red lanterns and gold decorations hanging from tree’s and the ceiling, to celebrate Chinese New Year.

Look what I found!

My new friend here has been showing me around. She introduced me to Santis Delicatessen. I was so excited to find my Twining’s Tea amongst other things. I did a quiet squeal in delight when I found our beloved Vegemite! 

Bluey & Pinky

Another wonderful friend lent us his car and driver for a few days. The children were delighted when they got to see their favourite dash dogs again – Bluey and Pinky. So named when we first met them before Christmas on our scoping trip here. The children would cuddle, kiss and give gentle pats to these furry friends as we drove along the streets.

Views from the Streets

I love taking in everything I can see as we drive along. Through the grime, dirt and not so pleasant aspects, I find beauty. The Street Sellers face tells a wonderful story of his life, the bright blue wheel burrow and simple broom look so pretty under that tree, and the cracks in the pavement create patterns and add detail to an already complex scene.

Taxi Dash Board

Every time we get into a taxi I check out the dashboard to see what treasures I can find. This is one of the best.

One of my favourite roads is EDSA Avenue. It is a busy highway and it has these beautiful murals painted along a section of it. Every time we go past I try to get decent photo’s of them all.

These murals form part of an art project completed back in 2013. The project was called Lakbay para sa Kapayapaan sa EDSA or A Journey of Peace in EDSA and was a series of peace murals. The aim was to be the longest peace mural in Asia, possibly the world. Murals of different styles and images line this Avenue for 3.8km, and was completed by 1500 volunteers. It is a unified message of peace.  


The location of EDSA was used due to its symbolic history as a place for peaceful social change. This project was a collaboration between a number of official organisations including the Government and Military. There are so many murals to see, but these tree’s are by far my favourites.

Manila Bay

Finally, last night we went to the Philippine International Pyromusical Competition. This is a week long, annual event where two countries a night perform and a winner is declared at the end. It started in 2005 and is held on Manila Bay, outside of the SM Mall of Asia. The participants load up barges with their fireworks which are set off just out on the water, which means people can sit right at the waters edge and watch. Last night we watched the UK battle with Canada. They were both great, but I did feel the UK was best. The music selection was great and the timing of the works was beautifully choreographed.

SB & BB enjoying the fire works

They did a set to Coldplay’s ‘I Will Miss You’ and it was so unbelievably moving and stunning I had tears in my eyes and was fighting back the desire to just cry. Canada’s finale was stunning. I only had my iPhone so my pics weren’t great so I created a collage to hide that fact for you to see. We had the most wonderful night. It was so great to get out and just have a bit of fun with new friends, after such a busy and complicated week.

Philippine International Pyromusical Competition

I hope you enjoy this sensory overload. I thought I’d share my view…

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mackenzieglanville 09/03/2015 at 12:37 pm

That's it I want to be there!!!! Sounds amazing, wish I could meet you for coffee in that cafe! Glad you are feeling positive, good on you!!!!

SaltyBug 09/03/2015 at 9:21 pm

Thanks MG. We had progress today. We had our bed mattress delivered, the stove delivered but not installed, the air con finished – although one of the remotes isn't working, the TV turned up while the cable guy was there so he sorted the TV for me. Oh and I got my first milk delivery. Half my kitchen is unpacked and washed. The kids got to swim in the pool for the first time. So a day packed full of small wins. We still have NO idea where the children's bed is….I think a trip back to Shangri-la is definitely in order. I will meet you there. 😉 xxx

Joy Page Manuel 10/03/2015 at 4:41 am

OMG Sarah, this is amazing! You made me miss home and at the same time, reading your blog is an interesting experience for me since I'm getting the perspective of the expat/ the foreigner in my home country. So…..yes, enjoy the malls. There's a ton of them there, right? Shangri-La is great, but yes, expensive. And you do have to get used to all the food and everything revolving around food and songs. As they say, it appears that every Filipino is a singer. 😉 Hope you are soaking it all in and will find the transition manageable, to say the least. Filipinos are very friendly, esp. to foreigners. Everyone speaks the language so I think that will make a huge difference in your adjustment. Good luck!

Muriel 11/03/2015 at 12:52 am

It all sounds very new…and very exciting. The Philippines look like an amazing place to live, and I can't wait to hear more from you…

SaltyBug 11/03/2015 at 11:38 pm

Thanks Joy, that is such lovely feedback. I'm a bit over the malls now, but I'm still shopping for stuff for our new home so I'm trying to get around to different places. People here are friendly and helpful and that is always going to make a transition little less bumpy. xxx

SaltyBug 11/03/2015 at 11:44 pm

Hi Muriel, thank you for taking the time to read my post. We feel privileged to have this opportunity to explore a new country, and I'm glad my writing has connected with you. I look forward to continuing this journey with you along for the ride! SaltyBug


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