Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Heat Is On!


OMG!!! It is getting really HOT over at
Emila's blog! If you don't already know, Jean and I have been competing like mad to make it as Emila's Top Commentator this month. Why? Because we are trying our best to bring home this adorable Tee she is giving away to her Top Commentator this month, and right now both Jean and I are in the running to WIN! :)

It has been a tough fight between Jean and me! Both of us are fighting hard to win and we've been hanging out at Emila's a lot lately to comment, chat, have fun, laugh and cry, all the while trying our best to secure the top spot! If you read all the silly conversations that we have going on there, you'd be entertained too! I've been having a lot of fun with Emila and Jean in our chat sessions. I think all of us discovered new things about ourselves that we never knew until we were there every night, gossiping and chatting the night away, all the time trying to maintain our top spots, just so one of us could bring this tee home LOL! Love you ladies, thanks for such a great week of commenting! :)

And now the competition is ending, tomorrow midnight to be exact and it feels kind of sad. I am however, excited to see who will win tomorrow. Currently there's Jean, Dookie and me who are in the running to WIN this Tee. We are all thrilled at the thought of having a huge showdown tomorrow night! Don't forget to stop by Emila's Illustrated Blog tomorrow to catch Jean and me in action as we race the night away (until midnight!) to be the winner in Emila's Giveaway! I'm hoping it will be ME but I'd be happy if Jean or Dookie wins it too. Both of them have been such sporting competitors and they really mean business, that's for sure! When they want something, there's no stopping them!

So come over to
Emila's blog tomorrow and show us some support! I'm all ready to fight this one till the end, fully armed with speedy connection (hopefully it'll remain speedy tomorrow) and the Magic Lamp for extra luck! Leave a comment or two for us to respond to at Emila's blog, that will really help get the comment chat going. Oh and wish me luck! ;)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Weekend in Bandung

When B told me that he had two tickets to Bandung and he was whisking me off for a shopping and dining vacation in exactly one week, I was more worried rather than happy! I was in the midst of a huge translation job, which was still ongoing at the time B surprised me with this trip. Despite working on it for the past two weeks, I was still nowhere near done, and with my client bugging me about it practically every day, I did not feel like it was the perfect vacation moment for me; I'd be too distracted thinking about unfinished business at home.

I was reluctant to leave my home office unattended but B assured me that a weekend of shopping and dining was exactly what we needed to get our mind of things after all that has happened to us this year. Moreover, he too needed to release some steam after working so hard himself and so, that was how we ended up in Bandung one fine weekend! We figured we'd turn it into a typical weekend of shopping and dining, which is how we usually spend our weekend here. The only difference was that we had to take a plane to get to our shopping destination! ;)

The day before our flight, I started feeling sick. I had a headache, my nose was acting up even worse than usual and I was feeling cold throughout the day, despite the sun shining brightly outside. The fact that I was working until the very last minute didn't help either. We still had to pack and send our kitties to the Pet Hotel so I got through the day by popping Panadols, which worked but was not enough to help me regain my strength fully. I didn't sleep the night before for fear of missing our flight which was at 9.50am so after I finally finished packing, I took an early shower at 6am and got ready for our trip!

It was my first Air Asia flight, so I was quite apprehensive at what to expect. Fortunately, everything turned out okay but I had a very uncomfortable flight due to my cold, and though it was a mere two hours to reach our destination, I felt like it was more than that. By the time we reached Bandung, I was feeling really sick and all I wanted to do was to get to our hotel and take a nice hot bath before I could even think of doing any exploring.

We got a cab at the airport to take us to the Grand Preanger Hotel and were told that it would cost us 40,000 Rupiah (Rp). I was glad to finally reach our hotel but had a complete change of mood when the cab driver shortchanged us of 5,000 Rp for this journey. Taking it as a one-off "oversight" by the cab driver, we decided not to make a fuss. I was also sneezing non-stop by then so there was no time to argue with the cab driver. Since we arrived at the hotel 1 1/2 hours before check-in time, we were told that we had to wait for our room, which did not bode well with me at all. I was already very grumpy (sorry love!) from my uncomfortable flight, my non-stop sneezing and from being cheated by the cab driver and was about to resign myself to a miserable wait when B told me that he somehow managed to get a room for us earlier and within 15 minutes we were escorted to our room.

Grand Preanger Hotel

We didn't do much on our first day in Bandung. After we freshened up in our hotel room, we had our welcome drink at the hotel lounge before taking a cab from the hotel to visit several factory outlets. I was excited to see just how much shopping I'd end up with but was surprised to find myself not shopping till I drop! Perhaps it was my cold and the lack of sleep, but I was in no mood for shopping that first day.

Bandung weather was surprisingly cooler compared to KL so walking the streets of Bandung was a delight. I didn't have much appetite to eat however, and though B got a taste of the durian ice-cream which seemed to be in abundance everywhere, my blocked nose did not permit me to
really savour the yummy ice-cream! :(

Durian ice-cream

Paintings sold on the streets of Bandung

Factory Outlets we visited on Day 1

We returned to our hotel early and after a simple dinner, fell asleep at 6.30pm! I guess all the traveling and my lack of sleep days before the trip finally took its toll on me. This actually turned out great, because the next day I was up and dressed for breakfast by 8am, a major accomplishment for me. I was feeling much better than yesterday and though still feverish, I was not going to let my cold keep me back from rocking the streets of Bandung! ;)

The early bird all ready for breakfast!

A little chess before we head out shopping

Finally, we're good to go...waiting for our ride to take us on our shopping spree!

Our ride for the day

We decided to hire a driver to take us to all the places we wanted to go. It cost us 50,000 Rp to get to our first destination and following that, we would be charged an hourly rate. Our driver was friendly and extremely polite. He took us to wherever we wanted to go and suggested famous local attractions to visit. Our first stop was a Batik boutique but we did not buy anything much there as the prices were rather high in this particular home boutique he took us to. Plus, both B and I are not huge batik fans.

The rest of the day was spent shopping at the remaining Factory Outlets on our list, while our driver waited for us outside. He'd pounce on us as soon as he sees us coming out, immediately taking our shopping bags from us to put inside the car. At one of our stops, he had to wait for almost 2 hours in the hot sun while we did our shopping! He was paid handsomely for his services though and by the time he sent us back to the hotel he was 450,000 Rp richer! :)

Told ya I didn't shop much!

Stocking up on the famous Bandung Brownies

Later, B and I both agreed that our favourite shopping spot in Bandung was the Cihampalas Walk and Rumah Mode. I think I did most of my shopping there where I found several favourite brands like Esprit, Zara, Calvin Klein and Guess at great low prices. I was however, disappointed that I did not find any Victoria's Secret items for sale in any of the Factory Outlets we visited. Before my trip, I had made a mental note to myself to check out Farah's Bandung post to find out where she got her Victoria's Secret stuff from, but it was a hectic week for me and in my haste, completely forgot to do so. I remembered Farah mentioning that she had a blast grabbing all the VS stuff she could find in her size but unfortunately, there was no grabbing for me that day! :(

Restaurants and shops at Cihampalas Walk

Soto Madura, a Bandung speciality

Taking a break after shopping at Rumah Mode

On our last night in Bandung we had a relaxing cosy buffet dinner in the hotel, served al fresco on the terrace, with a band for entertainment. Though her vocal prowess did not impress me much, the singer did sing some of my favourite Indonesian songs so that was cool. The food was just okay but once again, I have to blame my lack of appetite in Bandung on my not being 100% well!

Dinner on our last night in Bandung

Our last cab ride back to the airport was smooth and speedy but we were upset once again when the cab driver demanded 100,000 Rp for the ride instead of the 40,000 Rp initially quoted. It was a good thing we still had some Rupiah with us and since we didn't want to leave on a bad note, we paid the driver and proceeded to check-in our luggage, where we discovered we had to pay more service charge. By the time we paid all the stuff needed paying, we were down to about 75,000 Rp. While discussing what to do with the remaining cash, an air stewardess came running up to us, asking if we'd prefer to sit in the Executive Lounge while waiting for our flight. It would cost us 30,000 Rp per person but we would be seated in a comfy room with free food and drinks to snack on instead of being stuck in the noisy, crowded airport. You could also get a foot massage if you like, for an additional cost of course! It sounded like a pretty good deal so that's where we were until boarding time. :)

Despite my cold while in Bandung, we tried to make the best of our trip. Though exhausted from our shopping weekend, we were nonetheless happy that we got to experience the better part of Bandung before we flew back home. To my Bandung friends Trinity and MXY, I'm sorry our paths did not cross during this vacation, but I am sure there will be another opportunity for us to visit Bandung again. Until then, thank you for having us in your lovely city. I had a blast and Mariuca will definitely be back! :)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mariuca Has a Winner!

Hola, I am back from my vacation and the first thing I did on my way home from the airport, was to check my email using my phone. I was so excited to see who my winner was LOL! And I'm happy to say that we already have a winner so YAY! It was really hard to keep this little secret from my closest friends while I was planning this vacation but it wouldn't be a surprise contest if I had told anybody would it?

Thank you very much for your enthusiastic participation this time around, I really did have
so much fun with you guys this contest! Everyone was so cool, and I tried to make it as easy as possible with those hints. So I'm really happy to see most of you got the answer right, which is BANDUNG, Indonesia by the way! I also had the best time reading your comments and it was totally awesome to see Emila, LJ, Jean, Rizal, Sushi, Roxy, Nick & ECL trying their luck at both Mariuca and MPG ha ha ha! That was so cute of you guys LOL!

I'll write a separate post on my trip, this post is to announce my winner for my contest, so are you ready? Here goes ... my winner for the Where is Mariuca? Contest is none other than my Top Mariucan for June - LadyJava! I guess all that commenting and being first to comment really paid off so congrats to LJ for winning one of my contests for the first time LOL! You will be receiving a special souvenir all the way from Bandung, Indonesia, enjoy your win! :)

AND there's more! I've decided to throw in a little something, a consolation prize if you will, for the runner-up of this contest - the second person to leave a comment with the right answer and that person is ... Emila! So you will be getting a little something from Mariuca too, congrats! For those of you who did not win, don't forget how much I love having my contests, so there will be more goodies coming your way. Thank you again to everyone who participated in my contest. I had a blast and hope you did too!

I also thought it would be fun to see how many different responses I received for this question, so let's check out the breakdown below, shall we?

Bandung, Indonesia (22)
A pat on the back for LJ, Emila, Bono, Jean, Sushi, Nihal, Mantiz, Maiylah, Jennifer,
Nick, Rizal, Debbie, Roxy, Farah (no way you could get this one wrong!), Pink Lemonade, Tammy, Daisy, Filipino in Canada, Sheila, Tina, Adrian & Ruby for getting the answer absolutely right!

Thailand (1)

Singapore (2)

Vietnam (2)
Bobby & Bokjae

Hong Kong (1)

Guangzhou (1)
Kim (
Very interesting choice he he!)

Hawaii (1)
Cindi (Awesome destination, anyone care to sponsor me a trip there?)

Didn't win the Where Is Mariuca? contest here? Check to see if you're a winner over at Mariuca's Perfume Gallery! ;)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Where is Mariuca?

As you are reading this, B & I are happily on board a plane, heading for our much-needed vacation! YAY!! Are you wondering if we scored some awesome New York deals for ourselves? Well, you have to read on to find out!

Finally, I am going to get away for a while and leave behind all the worries
and work stress that have been plaguing me these last few weeks! My bags are packed, my kitties sent to the Pet Hotel during our absence and all I want to do right now is indulge in some major shopping & dining at this destination we are headed for.

I'll miss all of you during my vacation and hope you will be thinking of me too. To my regulars, do take care of Mariuca during my absence. Keep them spic and span and sweet-smelling always okay?

While I'm away, I'll be leaving you with a little something to have fun with. Just guess where Mariuca is headed for her vacation this time and you will WIN a souvenir from the destination I am headed for! I don't know what is it yet since I'll have to scout around for it during my vacation, but it will be a great reminder of me and my vacation!

Leave a comment here with your guess on my travel location. International entries are allowed. You can guess as many times as you like but the first person to get it right
WINS! Easy yeah? So have some fun here while I'm away. I'll be back on Sunday night and hopefully, we'll have a winner by then! I'll be having this same contest at MPG as well so that means I'll have 2 different winners and you will get more chances to win! Here are some hints for you to ponder upon, good luck!

1. My vacation spot is located in South East Asia.
2. The city I'm headed for is nicknamed
"Kota Kembang" or "Flower City", which refers not to the plants but rather the women here, claimed as the most beautiful around.

3. I have never been to this destination before so I have not mentioned it in any of my travel posts here.
4. Another nickname for this city is "Tourist Shopping City".
5. This city is famous for its Factory Outlets.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Wishing on a Falling Star Gets Honoured!

Whether it's simply a phase I am currently going through or the fact that my birthday is coming up and I'm feeling the extra year prematurely, I am more sensitive than usual nowadays. It does not take much to get me started regardless if it's a sad or happy moment! Watching TV is a drag right now as even happy endings can make go awwwww how nice, followed by a tear or two! ;)

When Matthew told me he had a surprise for me at his blog, I was immediately intrigued. He was going away for a vacation and left me a note, reminding me to check his blog during his absence as a surprise will be waiting for me within the next few days. I was wondering what my surprise was
and waited patiently for it to appear on his blog. All sorts of funny thoughts were going through my mind while waiting and I even anticipated a fluffy cat or a genie to pop up from his blog yelling SURPRISE! LOL!

I finally saw the surprise
Matt had for me at his blog on Monday, and needless to say I was all sentimental and teary after reading his post on Honoring Wishing On A Falling Star. I've received several reviews and mini mentions on Mariuca before, but this one takes the cake! Matt's review on my blogs made all the effort and time I've put into my blogs worthwhile. His sincere words made my blogs feel extremely appreciated and loved, unlike any other way before. The way he captured the essence of my blogs was near perfection and it was so beautifully worded, it moved me to tears!

So I'd like to thank Matthew for this wonderful MTMD Blog Award of Excellence, which was created to honour not only the excellence of a blog, but the excellence of the blogger
. I am truly and deeply honoured by this award and the high recognition you have placed upon my blogs. That was a wonderful surprise indeed and it totally made my week! This award will encourage me to strive further in making Mariuca and Mariuca's Perfume Gallery a better read and community hangout for all my blog friends and fellow Mariucans, so THANK YOU again. :)

In his blog today, Matt also made some excellent points on commenting. His post on Commenting Best Practices is a must read, especially for Entrecard droppers. In his post, Matt was discussing Where Entrecard went wrong with SezWho and the three major errors with this partnership. According to Matt, "The intent of EntreCard's partnership with SezWho was to incorporate a rating system into participating bloggers' comments sections to increase the quality and relevance of comments, provide an incentive to make quality and relevant comments, and thus by simply engaging bloggers with each other to drive more traffic to participating blogger's blogs. In theory, it sounds brilliant. But the discussions that have taken place, especially on Mama Flo's and The Monkey's blogs, and even EntreCard's own blog have been telling..." You can read the rest of the post here.

Among others, Matt also mentioned his thoughts on how the blogosphere is wide enough to hold both relevant and non-relevant comments for your blog posts, which is something that I totally agree with. Like I told Matt, sometimes you get a reader leaving a comment on your post simply to say hello or to leave you a tag, or ask you a question about your blog template, or even a direct advertiser showing interest in placing their ad on your blog. For me, I appreciate that - having readers, new and old alike, going out of their way to stop by my blog and leave a comment for me. It shows me they're interested in my blog, or they care and have me in mind enough for them to say HOLA! :)

I love my relevant comments just as much. To me, they signify the fact that my readers actually take time to READ my post and when they have something to say about it, my post gets some love. Either way, the most important thing is to appreciate your readers, whether they drop off relevant or non-relevant comments or hellos, simply because they are the ones that bring your blog to life! For me, they're one of the main reasons behind the success of any blog. And on that note, I'd like to invite all my friends and readers to stop by Meltwater.Torrents.Meanderings.Delta. and check out Matthew's blog. Show Matt some comment love the way we Mariucans know best - both relevant and non-relevant! :)

PS. Matt, I love the Wishing On A Falling Star picture so much, so I had to have it here, thank you! :)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Top 10 Mariucans for June

Hola! I've had such a busy week working on my latest translation job, visiting all my new friends who joined the Magic Lamp of Luck meme and giving MPG a makeover with LJ's help, all the while trying to maintain my 300 a day EC drop routine! So I really didn't have much time left to update my blog but I'm back now, so forgive me? ;)

If you remember, in one of my previous posts, I wrote about how excited I was to finally find a Top Commentators Widget for my blog. I used it for several months and it worked great. The one thing missing however, was that it did not link back to my Top Commentators' blogs. Instead, it linked back to the last post commented on by the commentator. Recently I found an improved version of the Top Commentators widget over at Mxyzplk Money Maker. Actually, Mxyzplk approached me with this newly improved widget, which goes a step further and allows you to give backlinks to your Top Commentators! I decided to give it a try and so far, I am totally loving this new widget because finally, my Top 10 Mariucans will receive the much-deserved linky love they work so hard for so YAY! :)

I'm really happy with this widget and if you like to get one for yourself, just click here and you too will be on your way to showing some linky love appreciation for your readers! Speaking of readers, I know I'm way behind in posting this but I sincerely hope it's not too late for me to say THANK YOU to my Top 10 Mariucans for the month of June!

THANK YOU so much for all your visits and comments here. I feel much love when you show your appreciation for my posts and my blog by taking the time to leave a comment or two at my site. I had a blast answering your comments and chatting with you here, so let's make July a totally rocking month shall we? :)

1. LadyJava of LadyJava's Lounge
2. Roxy
3. ECL
4. Debbie
5. Sushi
6. Jean
7. Tina

8. Emila
9. Adrian
10. NAFASg

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Fire! Fire! Fire!

If it's not a guy falling down 16 floors to his death, it's a fire breaking out in my building! Yup, just when I thought things were settling back to almost normal, I received another shocker! :(

It was around 7.45pm and I was vacuuming in my bedroom. I was already exhausted from cleaning the whole afternoon and the bedroom was the last place left to clean. B was not back from work yet and I was rushing to finish vacuuming before he arrived home. I switched off the vacuum cleaner to take a short break and was wiping the sweat that was trickling furiously down my forehead when I heard some loud voices outside my front door. I could also hear people running outside and as I ventured nearer to open th
e door, I heard the words "Fire! Fire! Get out of the building"!

Panicking, I frantically searched for my HP to call B and let him know what was going on. In my panic, I dialled the wrong number and was about to start all over again when my phone rang and it was B on the other end! Apparently, my neighbour DD had tried calling me on my HP but the noisy sound of my vacuum cleaner drowned out her call! So she called B and he told her that he was outside but I'm stuck at home. Being the wonderful caring friend that she is, DD told B not to worry and she would get me out of my unit!

My thoughts immediately turned to my 3 kitty cats, whatever will I do with them? Do I bring them out with me? I have three cats and Benji isn't exactly light in weight. Could I manage
on my own? I instantly remembered confidently telling LJ when she faced a similar incident that if a fire ever breaks out in my building, I'd be able to easily save my cats by throwing them down the balcony since we're on the first floor. That was NOT going to happen of course, there was simply no time and besides, who was going to catch them from down below? DD was already banging on my door so I rushed to open it. I could see smoke wafting through the hallway and DD was with her maid and baby Ali. She told me to hurry and get out, there's a fire ON MY FLOOR!! Now that was new info but it did nothing to assuage my fears!

I asked DD about her cats and she said they were all in her unit. I had no time to waste so I grabbed Phoebe who was the only one on the loose (Benji and Chubbs were already inside their "condo") and quickly pushed her inside to be with her brothers. I switched off the nearest lights and electrical appliances, then rushed out the door with DD! We ran back up to her floor, which is directly above mine, trying to look for her hubby Helmy who by then, had gone MIA. We heard more commotion going on downstairs so we decided to head out ourselves. We ran down two flights of stairs, out the emergency door and into the pool garden, where many people had already gathered. Everyone was in panic, waiting for the firemen to arrive and I could see people asking one another what had happened.

Apparently the fire broke out in a unit facing one that belongs to a mutual friend of DD and me. So she was also downstairs and her husband was MIA too. We figured both DD's hubby and hers were still upstairs, helping control the fire before help arrived. A lady had her kitty cat in a carrier and that reminded me of my 3 cats inside my home. Were they afraid? Did they know what was going on? Will the fire spread to my unit? All sorts of crazy thoughts were running through my mind and I was also so very thirsty from the vacuuming and the burning heat outside. In my hurry to leave my unit, I even forgot to grab my handbag, which had my wallet inside, so I could not even buy a drink! :(

There was really nothing much we could do but wait around downstairs, watching the smoke coming out from the first floor balcony of the unfortunate unit. The only thing I had with me was my HP which I used to take some pictures of the fire. Unfortunately it was dark outside and the pictures turned out terrible. This is the only one I could salvage and it came from DD's phone.

From mingling with strangers and neighbours, who in a moment of emergency, had come together to offer support by talking and sharing information, we found out that the family whose unit was on fire, had just moved in several weeks back. They even had an interior decorator come over to decorate their new home, only to have this happened!

B had arrived by then and according to him, when he first saw me in the crowd, I was happily smiling and taking pictures! LOL! It's not that I was happily taking pictures, I was merely capturing the moment, which I'm sure he would appreciate later when he looks back at the pictures after the smoke clears up, pun intended! ;)

The firemen arrived almost 15 minutes after the fire broke out and Helmy found us a few minutes later. Poor Ali was already sleeping in his mommy's arms, unperturbed at the chaos surrounding us. We were right about Helmy's whereabouts; he was one of the men helping to control the fire before the firemen arrived. He told us the unit was totally drenched and smoky and apparently the fire started from a leaky gas tank or hose connected to the gas stove. Mr. Fireman later confirmed this for us. Apparently, one of the house occupants was cooking when the fire broke out and she immediately ran out for help. The fire must have spread quite fast too since smoke could be seen and smelled throughout my entire floor.

By the time the firemen had things under control, it was almost 10pm. B and I went back upstairs to our unit once it was safe to go back inside. We stopped over the now burnt unit to check out the damage and were horrified to see the living room all black and wet. There was still a little bit of smoke in the corridor, which was also wet and dirty with debris. We slowly made our way back to our unit, a little shaken but glad that nobody was harmed in this incident. My kitties were safe and sound as well and I immediately let them out from their "condo" and comforted them with fresh food and water.

I'm just glad the fire didn't spread elsewhere and no fatality occurred. I'd also like to take this post to thank DD and Helmy for being such great friends and neighbours to B and me! Thank you for always looking out for us, yours truly especially. You guys always have us in mind in good times and in bad times. Even though she didn't have to, DD went out of her way to come and get me since she knew I was home alone. If it weren't for her, I'd still be panicking inside my unit not knowing what to do! So thank you dear, we love you guys! :)

Well, that was another "exciting" episode from the diary of Mariuca. Although I am currently swamped with work, I've decided to put off everything for tonight.
All we want to do right now is forget all the bad incidents that have somehow managed to creep their way into our much sheltered life for the past few weeks and just sit back, relax and spend some time with each other. Thank you for reading peeps and good night!

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