Wednesday, May 21, 2014

French/Schengen Visit Visa for Spouse of French Citizen

My family and I are planning to have a three-week holiday in France and visit some Schengen Countries at the same time a few months from now. Since my Titre de séjour has already expired late last year, I now have to get a visit visa from the French Embassy here in Singapore. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered how fast and easy it is now for me to get one, being a spouse of a French citizen.

Here are the procedures:

First, you prepare the requirements listed in the downloadable document that contains the list of the required documents you need to furnish the embassy: passport (orig and photocopy), IC (orig and photocopy), re-entry permit, passport-size photo, your spouse's passport or ID card, your spouse's birth certificate and livret de famille.

Fortunately, we already have all the required documents since they were also needed when I applied for the Titre de sejour while I was in France.

Then you need to fill-in the application form which can also be downloaded from the web site.

Next, you schedule for an appointment, which can also be done online. You have to remember that the appointment slots are quick to be taken. When I logged on to the web site in April, the next available slot was already for the month of May.

You go to the embassy on the date of your appointment and at the time that you have chosen.

They will then take your fingerprints and take a photo of you for the visa, after which, they will give you a receipt and a claim stub where the date and time when you can claim your passport with the visa is written. Mine was after four working days! I couldn't believe how fast it is! This is quite extraordinary for the French Embassy!

And the best part of it all is that it's valid for FOUR years and it's FREE! :)

Monday, May 5, 2014

An Evening With John Cleese

i've been a big fan of Monty Python ever since i was introduced to this movie, with this favorite scene:


what's so funny about it is the silliness of the dialogue and behavior of the characters, bordering on cartoon-ish. it reminds me so much of the times i was watching silly Bugs Bunny cartoons when i was a kid.

we felt a bit scammed when we realized this  row of seating is the most uncomfortable and awkward in the theater, despite being so near the stage, and not to mention, expensive!

last night, i had the luckiest time of my life to be able to see John Cleese perform live here in Singapore. he talked briefly about his early life, family and a lot of funny anecdotes in the span of his works and career.


some random fan

he mentioned that his early inspiration for writing comedy are children's programs. in fact, some of the members of the Monty Python were writing for a children's TV show before they started collaborating together. i guess that is why their type of humor appeals to the silly and those with an overindulgent sense of the ridiculous.

the show was delightfully entertaining. i was on the edge of my seat the whole time. literally (due to the awkward seating placements of the theater) and figuratively. people were laughing from the very first line, and it didn't feel at all like two hours had passed when he said his last.

Friday, April 11, 2014

My Moalboal Part 2: Montaneza Waterfalls and Mainit Hot Spring

As mentioned in Part 1 of this travel post, I initially intended to go canyoning, but I had the misfortune of getting sick on the day of my travel and so figured I should postpone it til next time when I come back with my family, since hubby is also interested to do it.

I settled for a short guided hike to Montaneza waterfalls, organized by Blue Orchid Resort manager, Melissa Watkins, together with Wolfgang from Cyan Adventures.

I told them, I feel really funny being toured around Cebu by a couple of foreigners, as if I'm not local. Although, come to think of it, I have been living outside The Philippines for almost ten years now, so I'm not really that much of a local anymore.


Climbing inside the canyons makes me feel like a troglodyte

It was a very short walk from Mainit hot spring, going to Montaneza waterfalls. I was a bit disappointed because I really felt like walking some more despite my predisposition.

Steep climb

Although, climbing in and out of the canyon was quite tiring, you only really get to feel the real tiredness a day or so after.

Isn't this just beautiful?

It was even more challenging going against the cascades to climb up and go behind the waterfall... I should do wall climbing again. I'm so out of shape.

Going against the powerful cascades

The pool of water right below is quite shallow. Although, there are areas deep enough to allow you to jump into it from a certain height without breaking your legs when you fall into the waters.


Refreshing swim

That big rock in front of the cascades fell there during a recent earthquake

On the way down, I was unceremoniously told that we were going to do a couple of jumps from the cascades. Say what, now?! I wasn't really expecting to do some jumping. For one, I'm not a very good swimmer; two, we were not wearing life vests; and three, I didn't have a helmet and I could just as easily and clumsily bump my head on a piece of protruding rock. But I held my panic in check.


Melissa was very much prepared for the jump

I jumped anyway because I didn't want to look so lame and be such a total killjoy. Especially since there were small kids queuing behind me on the first jump. The second jump though, was too high for kids.

but as a result of the three worrying items I have mentioned above, echoing inside my head, my jump shots looked really weird, like most pictures of people looking shocked and bewildered for being caught unprepared. I didn't post the pics here so as not to embarrass us all. :D


Soaking in the heat at Mainit Hot Spring

Dipping into the hot spring after all the climbing and jumping was such a welcomed treat! This pool of hot spring water is tolerably hot. There is another pool, a few meters away, where it's 40+ degrees Celsius. It reminded me so much of the Onsen in Japan. You'd get cooked in a few minutes in there.

It was really a fun trip. It made me feel like a kid all over again. Given the chance to do it all over again, I would try to remember more about the kid I was, who liked to jump into the waters and had fun climbing rocks and trees. And also, will do my best not to look so fearful and crazy scared during the jump shots for the sake of better-looking pictures to post here.

The best part about this trip is not the pictures, though. It was the experience and having a day of fun that calls to mind long-gone carefree days back in my old province -- frolicking amongst endless rice fields, climbing trees and enjoying the view of the mountainous silhouette against beautiful sunsets... and what's more, I didn't even have to pay for this hiking trip because I was treated by a very generous soul. ;)

That's all for now!.. til the next adventure! Have a great weekend and thanks for reading. :)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My Moalboal Part 1: White Beach

I had been searching the internet for a mini-break by the beach when I chanced upon SilkAir's Sale for flights going to Kalibo, Cebu and Davao earlier this March. It was a perfect opportunity for me. my first option was Boracay via Kalibo. But I wanted to go at such short notice that it was impossible for me to find a decent lodging at a decent price. And so, I opted for Cebu instead.


The shore at Blue Orchid Resort, facing west, directly in front of Negros Island, this area is also a perfect spot for stargazing at night


along the road, i passed by these Lolas weaving hats from buli plant

My first ever trip on the plane was ten years ago and it was bound for Cebu. I toured around the city and then went to Bohol. I never really got to visit the island's best beaches. Malapascua was the first choice, but I read in the reviews that it takes six hours from the airport to get there. Moalboal takes half the time, and is therefore, the next best option.

My favorite spot at the resort, just right in front of my bedroom, which is right at the end of the resort, giving me all the peace and quiet I needed

Just the perfect spot for reading too

Although, Moalboal is mainly for divers, I discovered that it has other options to offer. I initially wanted to do the canyoning at Montaneza, but I had the misfortune of being sick during my travel, so I opted not to do the whole canyoning tour, instead my trip was spent dong some relaxed snorkeling and a bit of hiking and sunset watching.


This is the sunset that welcomed me on my first day... the place has a forlorn air about it that just makes you want to stay more to somehow ease its loneliness... waxing all poetic here... :p


The view early in the morning at low tide... you can literally hear the diverse marine life breathing...

I found this really nice hotel called Blue Orchid Resort, which ranks no 1of 6 hotels in Moalboal. The place looked really charming, both in photos and in person. Although, I was quite disappointed with the bare minimum bedroom and not-so-creative meals offered at the resort, I was nevertheless, very impressed with the natural charm and tranquility of the surroundings.


Each day, I would have this for breakfast... and I was so happy! :)

Giant pink gumamela (hibiscus)

I didn't like seeing this bird in the cage so much... when I got closer, it came towards me and there was a sign that says it loves to be petted on the neck... cute! but I still don't like caged animals...

The owner of the resort is a very friendly German guy. He told me that my favorite reading and sunset-watching spot at the resort was his late mother's favorite spot too. It gave me the creeps a bit, imagining the ghost of some old person sitting there just outside my room... but the creepy feeling went away quickly as I got more and more relaxed and used to the quiet surroundings, with nothing but the sound of the crickets and wildlife at night to lull you to sleep.

While having breakfast, the owner showed me this kingfisher that flew inside his bedroom... he said he will free it after taking a pic

what a lovely relaxing spot...

On my second day, I took a snorkeling trip with the divers at Pescador Island. Apparently, this dive site has a cathedral right below the island/rock. Unfortunately, I forgot to insert the disk in the waterproof camera to take pics. Although, it was not really worth taking pictures since the waters were murky with too much plankton. I also had to rent a wet suit and booties for protection against jellyfish, which were abundant in the area. I had to get back into the boat quickly when i saw lots of them, especially when I saw this type that looked like a giant flatworm, as it could just wrap around my unprotected face so very easily.


White Beach... mouais...

Late afternoon on day two, I walked a bit towards the sandy area of White Beach. I wanted to do a bit of snorkeling at first but I forgot to bring my mask. So I just lied down and watched the bustle of activity around me. Still, it was not very crowded, despite the presence of souvenir shops and restaurants. I liked that it was not very touristy.

My shadow along the steps, framed by the shadow of trees and shrubbery

This blue starfish was just right next to the shore and it stayed there the whole time I was at the resort, keeping me company :)

Day three was spent hiking in the canyons and waterfalls of Montaneza and then dipping into Mainit (literally means "hot") Hot Spring, all arranged by the very friendly and helpful manager, Melissa Watkins... which I will have to write in the second part...

Until next time! Have a good week! :)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pidgin Bar and Restaurant

last December, we've taken our visiting in-laws to the Pidgin Bar and Restaurant at Dempsey Hill for lunch. the place has a lot of rave reviews all over the internet. so we decided to give it a try.


first impression: the ambience was very relaxing amid the surrounding greenery. and i just love the colonial architecture that gives an old-world charm to the place.



they also have very interesting dishes on the menu. as mentioned in the reviews, the place offers a refreshing fusion of local and western dishes.

some finger food for appetizers

we were not disappointed with the appetizers either. they all tasted as good as they looked.

something mighty meaty for hubby

salmon confit for me

frog legs!

the mains were all superb too.

free dessert for everyone to share... i was already full but i still managed to sample this one too. very delish!

luscious chocolate ice cream

i don't really remember what this is. some berry-flavored gelatin, i guess.

crème brulée

even the desserts were heavenly.

the service was excellent and the price was reasonable and fitting for the well above average dishes, and excellent service that the restaurant offers. the staff were very friendly and we never had to wait too long for the dishes to arrive. we're definitely going back for more.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tiramisu fait-maison

during the holidays, i had quite a lot of energy for cooking and baking and so i decided to make some Tiramisu out of the blue.

cream and vanilla extract

all whipped up to the right consistency

add the mascarpone into the batter with eggs, sugar and cooked milk which had been refrigerated for at least an hour

i didn't realize though, that it was quite a complicated recipe. but i was really into doing it so i decided to get on with it anyway, despite the hard work.

they call these Lady Fingers in the English-speaking world

layer with the biscuits dipped in coffee, then the whipped cream and batter, then repeat

i had to improvise with the scotch since i didn't have rhum in the kitchen

Tiramisu is originally from Italy and it literally means "pick me up". i guess it got the name from the ingredients -- rhum and coffee, which will literally pick your spirits up when you are feeling a bit less hyper and in need of waking up.

dip the biscuits in brewed coffee, be careful not to dip them too much or they will break

et voila! now it's ready to be covered with unsweetened cocoa powder

i found the recipe here, if you're interested to try it out for yourself.


i wanted to put some raspberries on top, but i couldn't find any at the grocery, so i just made do with some apricots.

i hope you all have a great Chinese New Year holiday... and Gong Xi Fa Cai to all of you who celebrate the Lunar New Year!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Qunci Villas

While searching for a place to go to for our family's Christmas Holiday, I chanced upon this beautiful resort called Qunci Villas in Lombok, Indonesia from a friend's facebook photo. and I was mesmerized with the beauty of the place.

Arriving at the place, I did not feel disappointed seeing how beautiful the hotel surroundings are. I immediately fell in-love with the open shower in our room. You can see the tree tops outside while you take the shower because half of the shower area is roofless. It reminded me so much of the batalan in the Philippine provinces. :)

The beautiful bathroom with the shower's roofing half exposed to the elements :)

All the art works in the resort are created by a collaboration of french and local artists. I super love them. We tried to visit the gallery where the art works came from but they close really early and they only sell huge wood carvings.

Hubby says the woman in the painting looks like me.

Our bedroom with comfy window seats :)


That's our room as seen from one of the restaurants

Our bedroom directly opens into a view of one of the swimming pools right in front of the sea. That huge mountain from across is in Bali. It's quite famous and I had a pic with the view of it when I visited Bali but I forgot the mountain's name.

One of the three gorgeous infinity pools facing the sea towards Bali
They actually have three gorgeous infinity pools with salt in them, not chlorine, which is quite fortunate since I have just had my hair colored for the first time.


Beautiful and serene setting

They also have two restaurants which serve really good food for quite a reasonable price.

Breakfast by the sea... super loved it!

The Christmas Dinner, though, was a bit of a scam. It was more expensive than usual but there was nothing so special about menu.

They also have a bar, which we would always visit before having dinner at the restaurant.

Sipping some frozen cocktail while enjoying the view of the sunset

You could also order room service and dine in at your very own balcony, if you're feeling lazy to go out.

Lovely christmas treat waiting for us in the balcony on Christmas morning
The ambience is just so relaxing. They have lots of chaise lounges by the pool and even some beds to nap on while watching the huge waves from the sea. And also these bed areas can be converted into cozy nooks like this for romantic dinner dates:


Hubby notes that only cheesy Asian people like this romantic stuff (i.e. people like moi)

And to complete the relaxation, they also have a spa. I had the facial and the full body massage.

Nothing like a good old spa! :)


The spa room

Here are some more beautiful captures from around the resort:

Enjoying the view with my baby

Hubby and baby
I have totally enjoyed my Christmas Holiday, hope you all did too! :)