April 2013: Pre Departure
The last few days were truly memorable. At this point, I have made a romantic love affair with Starbucks and has become my sole refuge when nothing made sense at the office. A cup of hot cappuccino was enough to lift my spirit. Sadly I had to say adieu.
I am also honored to be re-united with 'gwajangnim' who came to KSA to attend the university fair. It was back in 2007 when I last saw him so I was truly happy even if it was just a full day of walking at Faisaliyah Mall.
And of course, this was also the time of weddings of some my other colleagues which I covered.
Realizations : At 27, I started to think how some people decide to get married and how some prefer to stay single. Either way, our status in life does not define us. Getting married doesn't guarantee a 'happy ever after' ending, in as much as being single does not mean 'solitude'. Our happiness is relative and whatever makes us happy should be the sole basis and not some pre-defined social codes.
It has been two years and like what I always say, it was a roller coaster ride for me.
I vividly remember that very first day of arrival in KSA. We were stuck in KSA Airport from 10pm to 6am. It was torture. But what made matters almost horrible was when the immigration officer held my passport simply because I was holding a Muslim name albeit my Catholic religion. In the end all I could do was use my wit and charm, and pray to the heavens that it doesn't end up negatively. Luckily, I was released after an hour.
And the office experience was a monumental feat. Certain codes like- you can only enter your American boss's office three times in a day (more than that and you'll get a sizzling holler!), read the queues of your boss if she needs you to come to the closed door office, brace yourself for early morning calls for issues to be resolved within the day, etc.
When I think about them now, it just amazes me how I was able to survive. All I had in mind was to do my job- as best as I could, finish my contract and go home. Fortunately things came into place.
Realizations : One of the important lessons that my boss taught me was to keep my writing style KISS- Keep It Simple & Stupid. I am a verbose writer up to now. But I try to keep in mind my boss's advice. Less is more & safer.
Okay, let me just say that I was a bit overexcited returning to the Philippines, that I forgot to completely plan the details of my travel. I ended up spending 10,000 PhP on my first three days. Partly because of my negligence. I should have remembered not to trust anybody when in Manila, especially taxi drivers. Why?
Let me tell you what happened. Upon arrival at the dingy and tacky NAIA Terminal 1, I hailed an airport taxi which charges twice the normal rate. I asked to be dropped off to the nearest cheap hotel but he brought me to an expensive one and because we had to round the metro looking for a more reasonable one, I had no choice but to stay in this overpriced 3* hotel + taxi fare. I swore I will be smarter the next time I go back home.
Anyway, the next few days were catching up time with family and friends. I still consider myself lucky to be home safe but more importantly, I thank God for keeping my family and friends safe and healthy. These small blessing are more important to me than what Bill Gates could ever own in his bank account.
Realizations : Two things- when going home, remember to send stuff through package and do not bring too many bags. It is so uncomfortable to travel with much luggage. Second, remember to plan the arrival and look up for the cheapest rates online for hotel.
Opening Video at Farewell Party
The Final Farewell Video