Netherlands

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Note : Check out the other Europe trip related articles:

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Nearly seven (7) years ago,  a scholarship from the Netherlands Fellowship Program paved the way for me to travel to Netherlands (a.k.a. Holland) for free (see travel for “free” article for more details)!:D  It never occurred to me that I will be able to follow my father’s footsteps because he also went to Netherlands through scholarship when I was a baby. Is it fate? Hmmm…

I must admit, it’s one of the defining moments of my life.  Meeting and gaining friends from all over the world helped me see and understand things in a broader perspective.  🙂

AfroCarribean Party

with Khinna

See below for more unforgettable and silly moments :

EurAsia Party

with my Dutch Sis 🙂

winning team 😀

dancing or giggling?

Filipino & Dutch connection

Freedom Party

Grace (in red shirt) Birthday Party

Flower Auction

My Bhutanese’ Bodyguards. 🙂

Goofing around before Graduation.

I can’t wait to visit Netherlands again (this time, I vow to visit one of the “coffee” shops!) and other Euro Countries in the near future.

P.S.
Mommy Lenah this is for you 🙂 :

denied

I feel down today but not devastated. My US Visa application got denied. Although I got so distracted because the interviewer’s eyes kept twitching while asking questions, I knew in my heart that I answered the questions satisfactorily. Nevertheless, my confidence crashed when he told me his decision and the logic behind it.

The main reason that I was given was, I’ve only been in North America for less than six months.  That is fairly acceptable reason…. however, I cannot fathom why they did not indicate that in their website. I could have save time, MONEY, and effort. Maybe the officer was just being polite? Hmmm… From what I’ve heard, US Consulate officials are known to be forthright. Hence, politeness is out of the question (?).

denied!

The US Visa application fee, airfare, hotel accommodation, and one day wasted vacation leave instantly flashed into my mind when I learned about the result.  A considerable amount of  dollars vanished in a thin air just like that! I could have added some few hundred bucks to that and got myself a second hand car. Or I could have bought a new pricey watch. Or I could have send the money to the Philippines. It’s so frustrating! Sigh.

I was even looking forward to visiting my cousins in Virginia but I guess, it’s not yet the right time. Now, I’m wondering where to go and how will I spend my vacation leave. Asia is too far. California is cheap but then again… I don’t have that freakin’ visa! Argh!

Hmmm… How about a cruise eh? Or travel to  Europe perhaps? I got a Schengen Visa before and my record is quite good… maybe… just maybe.. they will  issue me again a Schengen Visa? I’m just thinking out loud. :p

Now what?
First, I got denied of a credit card.
Second, I got denied with a domain name application because my (Philippine) credit card’s address does not match my current address.
Third, I got denied of a US Visa.

Whaaaaat’s neeeeeext? -_- Oh well, it’s not the end of the world. You win some, you lose some. As they say, there’s a rainbow after the “rain”…  perhaps I will get a “rainbow” next time?

“And I start singing, my my… my American Pie” or is it “bye bye… my American Pie”? :p

P.S. I decided to intentionally miss my flight tonight, hence, my return ticket is wasted. I would like to emphasize,it’s not because of depression or something. I met up with my cousin and her family and we will gallivant until Sunday! Ha! Life must go on! Aja!

at a glance

I bet you’re curious on who thecuriousme is? Get to know me at a glance… Read on!

I’m blessed with a very complicated name… to the point that I have to spell it all the time in order for people to understand it. What can I say, it’s a lifetime battle. 😉

I’m the kind of person who loves to smile and laugh. I enjoy hanging out with energetic and crazy people.  I’m addicted to Korean and Taiwanese Comedy TV Series.  Writing is one of my passions and it serves as an outlet for venting out my curtailed emotions.

My unending thirst for learning has driven me to take up and finish several courses. These are: BS Computer Science in Lorma Colleges (Philippines); MA in Technological Education at Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University (Philippines); through a scholarship grant given by Netherlands Fellowship Program, a Post Graduate Diploma in Managerial Control and Management Information System in Maastricht School of Management (The Netherlands); and a 10-week London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Level 1 Bookkeeping course in Uptrend Business School (Singapore).

Education, work experience and traveling helped me a great deal to become a well-rounded individual. Teaching at the age of 20 helped me become more flexible, open minded and extremely patient. While in HSBC, I learned to become an effective team player. Dealing with irate clients can be irksome but it’s absolutely fulfilling when they end up being happy and satisfied on how their concerns were handled. Whereas, working in Singapore and studying in Netherlands ignited my interest in learning other cultures and languages.

One last note, I’m a self-confessed nomad. So far, I have travelled few countries in Asia, Europe and North America. I still have four (4) more continents and several countries to go. The three (3) other things that I want to do in this lifetime are: to sing one song without a glitch, become a DJ for a day, and get drunk like there’s no tomorrow.

a gift from Big Sis & Manager

planning

One thing that doesn’t apply to me is planning my life. Whenever I intend to aim for something, it will automatically become elusive. After doing several attempts, I finally accepted the fact that planning doesn’t work for me.

Proof? Here you go:

Lovelife. I wanted to get married by year 2000 but it did not happen. I thought, it maybe too early so I extended it to 2005. It “almost” happened. However, some obscure phenomenon hindered it. Thus, this stage is still UNDER CONSTRUCTION. :p

Habitat.   Initially, I intended to work in Qatar but I wound up working in Singapore. I planned to settle in Europe for good but I ended up migrating in North America. I’m still in limbo with this turn of events. Maybe fate brought me here? Whatever it is. I’m here to stay.

Work. My goal is to follow my late mother’s wish which is to keep away from the teaching force and my ultimate dream after graduation is to become a Programmer (aka Software Developer or Software Engineer). Yet, I ended up teaching for almost 8 years and did several other jobs but never as a Software Developer.

The above-mentioned are some of the instances which made me stopped outlining my goals and just go with the flow. It`s kinda weird because when I stopped planning my life,  things started to fall into place.

Let’s wait and see. Aja!

thecuriousme

Korean Aficionado

First things first.
I’m not a Korean.

I’m a true blooded Filipino who was born and raised in the Philippines. I stayed momentarily in Europe and Singapore then eventually migrated somewhere in North America. Moreover, I’ve never been to Korea… and nobody paid me to write this. :p  However, if Koreans would like to treat me with an all expense paid trip to Korea… that would be awesome!  If given the chance, I want to see the Jeju Island, Seoul and the Namsan Tower.

Korean Hanbok

I can’t really understand why am I so hooked with Korean TV Series.. maybe because it’s an excellent stress reliever? Koreans make simple stories into a great feel good and charming series. I’ve finished watching five (5) series plus one (1) in progress. Every episode lasts for an hour and the usual series have 17 to 25 episodes.

Only Hearts of 19 has 160+ episodes. I’m now in the 95th episode but currently I stopped watching so that I can focus in writing entries for my blog site and at the same time, live my life like normal human being should do. :p

Until next time!  Aja!

snow!

It’s always been my childhood dream to see a real snow and experience the four seasons (Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall).  I lived most of my life in the Philippines and few years in Singapore wherein it’s summer most of the time!

Winter just ended when I went to Europe but I did experience Spring for three months. So, I still have Winter and Fall in my bucket list. Also, I promised myself that when I see a real snow, I will definitely take a pinch and savor the taste. Ha! Pardon my naivety. I am what I am. 😉

Following Big Bro’s master plan, I quietly migrated to North America during Winter time!  It was crazy in a way because there were different timezones in every airport I went to for my connecting flights. Thus, my body clock was in a total chaos and I reached my destination absolutely stressed out… for a moment. :p

Stress was replaced with unconcealed childlike grin and excitement! My cousin picked me up at the airport together with her family. She told me that my “Matrix” coat is for Spring and is not thick enough for the Winter. My “Matrix” look had to wait (sorry Majestic Mom!). 😉

When we arrived at their house, I took a pinch of snow on top of her other car and tasted it. It reminded me of the ice in Chowking’s halo halo (Filipino dessert).  It’s absolutely delicious and refreshing! Wohooo!

snow… in front of the house…

Previously, I never bothered to do it because the season was either sunny or rainy, warm or cold. I always bring small umbrella anyway. That would suffice back then. 😀 In a four season country, I learned that it’s a must to know the weather forecast so that you will know how to plan your outfit (how many layers), what jacket to wear (how thick or thin it is), if you will need mittens, etc.

Time flies… Spring is just around the corner and it will be Summer soon! I’ve noticed that a lot of locals love summer! However, for me, I anticipate Fall, Winter and Spring rather than the Summer.  I’ve had my fair share of Summer in this lifetime, I think. -_-  I was told that I will change my mind in a year or two. We’ll see.

Next winter, I will definitely make my own snow angel and snowman. Yabadabadoo!!!!

luggage

… and here’s what happened at the airport…
(lost? check out the article, “flying” for a preview :p)

The rigid baggage check at the airport entrance made me scramble towards the first check in counter that I saw. When I regained my composure, I  double checked from the airport official if I was on the right lane… and I was not.  -_-  Apparently, the lane that I was in was for China Airlines and I was supposed to board the Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM).

The long queue on the Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) lane did not dampen my excitement. Before reaching the check in counter, the luggage needs to be weighed and I was totally shocked when the officer told me that the check in luggage should be 20 kilos and the hand carry should be 10 kilos!

(Note: The school (Maastricht School of Management) in Netherlands booked my flight. I unwittingly asked the luggage details (30 kilos for check in and 10 kilos for hand carry) from my friend but I did not bother to read through the notes on the travel itinerary. Later on, I learned that my friend travels first/business class most of the time and I was on the economy flight. -_-  Silly me… I should have known better. As they say, there’s always a first time. Ha!)

My original plan was to place all heavy stuff in my check in luggage and have my hand carry (sling bag) contain all important documents. However, my check in luggage weighed nearly 45 kilos. Ha! I was so embarrassed! I quickly left the line and went to a corner to remove some of the contents of my luggage.

I opted to leave some of my clothes as well as the heavy souvenirs and dumped it temporarily on the vacant chair. I felt helpless because I don’t have extra suitcase to put in the excess and  there’s no shop nearby that sells a bag or a paper bag. One pregnant airport staff offered  assistance by giving me a big SM (ShoeMart) plastic bag and proposing that some of the heavy personal belongings should be placed inside the plastic bag to lighten up my check in luggage.

similar to this but bigger

She kindly watched the excess things that I placed on the empty chair as I went to queue again for the second time. Sadly, my luggage was few kilos more than the allowed weight. I don’t have budget to pay the excess kilos so I went to the same corner to remove some more “junk”. The pregnant airport staff advised me to add the other heavy things in the big plastic bag and asked me to leave the big plastic bag with her together with the excess stuff.

For the third time, with my luggage and sling bag in tow, I went to queue again. I was apprehensive when it was my turn to weigh because I don’t want to go through the whole process of removing junk again. Fortunately, I passed the weighing “test” this time. Whew! Finally, I was able to check in my luggage and get my boarding pass.

I took the excess stuff and gave it to my family. Good thing my father, stepmother and younger sister were still outside waiting for me to board the plane. The pregnant airport staff was patiently waiting for me in my little corner. I took the heavy big plastic bag and gave her a lunch money as a small token.  It’s truly heartwarming to see angels everywhere… 🙂

The immigration officer looked at my “hand carry” then asked if I can manage. I gave a sweet smile and told him that its light but the truth was, it weighed more than 10 kilos. O_O  I passed through the immigration and boarded the plane without a fuss. Indeed, the big green SM plastic bag accompanied me to Europe…

Lesson Learned:
Carefully go through the luggage details.
Weigh the luggage before going to the airport.
Bring extra bags. 😀

Belgium

One of the favorite destination of our group during the weekend was Belgium. Liege, Belgium is a convenient place to visit since it’s just a 45-minute travel via train from Maastricht (Netherlands) where we were based. We all have soft spot for Liege because it’s the place where we spent our first weekend in Europe.

We like to roam around the place without map, check out shops, and take photos. Whenever we couldn’t find our way, we ask for directions from the youngsters because majority of the old folks only speak French.

Our second travel to Belgium was a work visit (a combination of “work” and pleasure). Our lecturer served as our guide and the transportation was provided by Maastricht School of Management. We get to visit a factory, shops and not to forget the red light district. The factory stopover provided a great insight on how the internal procedure work and among other things.

Although Belgium shops have somewhat similar structure with Netherlands, they have a greater selection of items being sold.

Also, it’s in Belgium where I tasted the best chocolate ever! Both the dark and milk chocolate are incredibly delectable! It’s thin, not too soft and not too hard. I’ve been looking for those type of chocolate for ages yet it’s super elusive… maybe, it’s only available in Belgium. Sigh. Anyway, I’m not a fan of fries and waffles however, Belgian fries and waffles are incredibly irresistible and savory! It turns out, fries and waffles originated in Belgium. It’s a good to know information eh? :p

A “tour” to the red light district (a.k.a. prostitution den) culminates our trip to Belgium. To be clear, we were not suppose to go there but the guys in the group practically begged our lecturers to bring us there. After several discussions and “negotiations”, they reluctantly gave in. 😀

We went around the red light district as a group so NO hanky panky. It’s my first time to visit such place and my heart bleeds when I saw a pregnant girl, putting up a strong front and still working. She’s with the other ladies standing in a display window wearing seductive attire (mostly flimsy underwear). The display window is similar to the area where mannequins are placed in front of a shop. It would be great to listen to their stories and know the reason why they chose that path. Hmmmm…

On a lighter note, I was looking for European gigolos in a display window for my to feast eyes on but they’re nowhere to be found! -_- I was totally disappointed! If guys have the opportunity to stare at ladies, ladies should also be given a chance to stare at guys. :p

With all the bantering and teasing, the trip ended on a happy note…

Next stop, Brussels. 😀

Dutch angels

It’s the day of our Paris trip and we need to leave the hotel at 4a.m. in order to be at the pick up point on time. Boy, waking up at 3 a.m. and taking off at 4 a.m. during Spring is really tough (I wonder how it feels during the winter? brrrr!).

When we reached the train station, we had a problem getting the ticket from the ticketing machine. The machine requires card or coins and we only have paper bills. We cannot get it from the ticketing office either because it’s still closed.

We asked a Dutch couple (DC) if they have coins to change our paper bill and unfortunately, they don’t have. The DC were terribly concern but they were in a hurry because the wife, who happens to be a flight attendant, needs to catch her flight.

While the DC were waiting for the train, the husband, who is a lawyer, saw the train ticket inspector and discuss our plight with him. He explained that we cannot buy the tickets from the machine and we need to catch our trip to Paris.

Good thing the inspector understood our situation and allowed us to board the train without tickets. He said we’ll get the tickets in our destination. Normally, if you get caught without a ticket you will be fined or even worst, you will be put into jail. I guess, the inspector is a bit lenient to us because we were foreigners as well as students in Maastricht School of Management (MSM).

Bedankt (thanks) to our Dutch angels (DC and the inspector), we were able to reach the pick up point earlier than we have expected. It gave us time to take photos and grab a bite.:)

Next stop… the Eiffel Tower.