First week and Miscellaneous thoughts

Twitter

I’ve been seeing so many unusual things, and having so many unique experiences that I’ve decided to finally take to twitter so I can quickly record and share my thoughts without having to put together a blog post.

Here’s a link if you’d like to follow along with it: http://twitter.com/#!/Sahil1224

Send me your twitter names so I can follow along with your lives as well!

Miscellaneous thoughts on Filipino life

Well, now that I’ve more or less caught up on the blog with the basics of my life over here figured it wouldn’t be a bad idea to maintain some sort of momentum so I don’t find myself falling too far behind again.

My first week living here has been quite the experience. I’ve pretty much finished all of my kitchen training at Outback, with Monday being my last day in there. My families owned restaurants pretty much my entire life, and for the last 4 years or so I’ve always worked on the floor and pretty much know how things operate on that side, but had never worked in a kitchen before. Really provided me some insight and perspective with how things work on the inside of restaurants, and believe I’ll be able to apply a great deal of the things I learned over here back home at our restaurants!

I literally did everything in the kitchen, from peeling and chopping carrots and cucumbers, to manning the grill and making some delicious steaks on the grill. In the last year or two, I had started cooking for myself and really enjoyed doing so. With that said, I had never really learned how to cook. I would always just sort of do it. Was really cool being taught how to do everything properly, and learning all of these random, interesting things about food. The week only solidified my passion for making delicious food, and really looking forward to getting back to that when I get back home to our new house in College park!

As crazy as it was working in a kitchen, I think the crazier part was getting to know the people I was working with. Since I’m over here alone, it really has been a straight up cultural immersion. I was having this discussion earlier at dinner this evening, and I was induced in what I’m going to dub as “the Filipino fakeout.” The fakeout being that upon coming to this area, and interacting with Filipino’s over here for the first time, everything seems to be rather Americanized as they all speak English and the area in Makati looks somewhat modern. You quickly realize that is only a façade to some extent, as the people and their culture is so completely different than our own. It’s been very interesting getting to hear about these people’s life stories and the backgrounds from which they hail. It really is a 3rd world country, and the way the people think, behave, eat, and interact is so different than what I am familiar with.

From my experience so far, the Filipinos have all been extremely friendly, hospitable and humble people. Along with that, they all seem like very intelligent people, and it pains me to think about what all of these great people would be able to accomplish given the proper education and resources. Although I consider myself to be friends with the workers, i have an unusual relationship with my co-workers to some extent. The strangeness is caused by many factors, including that I am younger than all of them, am from America and am being trained as a manager, and eat meals at the Outback in which the servers wait upon me and call me sir all the time. It’s created an interesting dynamic where they all respect me and call me sir, but I feel so weird about it because I consider them friends and am actually younger than them.

The country is like 20 years behind the US, well at least musically. I’ve been resident DJ in the kitchen, and after hearing them blast all the old jams from the early 90s my first couple days in the kitchen I decided to follow suit. They go wild when I put on stuff like Sugar Ray, Ace of Base, and any boy band you can think of. I don’t think theres any way I’ll be able to forget dancing to “Sweet dreams are made of this” by the grill with my Filipino friends. After all these years, seems like the gaylist I created in high school (A compilation of some of the “gayest” and most fun songs to dance to fromyesteryear) is finally paying off haha.

Call me opinionated if you’d like, but I think the Filipino food that i have tried so far has not been nearly as good as advertised. The cuisine revolves around pork (Which I’m not a huge fan of) and after seeing that pig’s head, I’m unsure of whether I would ever like to resume eating pork anyhow haha. Along with that, being that i have over deceloped taste buds and only like food when it is lathered in sriracha or some other form of spicy foods, i have found the few dishes i’ve tried severely lacking in flavor and spice, and as a generalization just haven’t been a fan. This is proving to be a serious problem while at work, as the staff makes like 3 different Filipino meals a day for themselves. Naturally, being the warm, hospitable people Filipinos are, they one by one try and get me to try EVERY single one of these dishes. I do not want to offend my co-workers by not trying the meals, and they seem to take pride in the dishes so it is rather awkward that i have not been jumping to try them. I’m rapidly running out of excuses, and at some point they’re probably going to realize that I just don’t like there cuisine, but don’t think they’ve caught on just yet haha so we’ll see what happens. Currently, they’re working on getting me to try this extremely popular dish called Balut, which is basically an egg, that actually has the dead baby chicken inside soo we’ll see how that one goes as well haha.

As I’m the only one over here, opposed to me being able to share my shock at some of things I’m seeing (See pig head in post below), the Filipino’s actually look at me like I’m the strange one for not eating pigs heads on a regular basis and things of that nature haha. They also gossip soo much at the restaurant, and I’m asked about 4 times a day if I have a girlfriend. Then, I’m asked about 10 times why I don’t have a girlfriend as people are shocked and don’t believe me.

Also, very strange eating meals by yourself, but I’ve gotten rather used to it and now find them to be somewhat peaceful. On that same note, I’m so glad that I’ve been able to get free meals at the restaurant, as that has allowed me to save so much money as I really haven’t spent anything so far over here. Very good news, as I’m completely broke as of this moment.

The week was actually rather tiring, as I’m working 6 days a week, pretty much from 10am to around 9:30 pm with one small break in between. By the end of the week, the work in the kitchen had gotten rather repetitive, and the hours rather long. Since the only places that I saw were the ones I passed on my walk home from work and the very same walk back to work, I found myself in this constant state of boredom.

Usually upon completing a shift at work at home, I’m excited to get off and see friends or family, but over here I‘ve just been hanging out with my laptop for the most part so I didn’t really have anything I was excited about, and found myself becoming rather frustrated and feeling weird. I concluded the strange feelings must have been the symptoms of being homesick a bit for the first time in my life, and during this long travel journey I’ve been on lately.

I had been constantly telling myself that I was ridiculous to not be enjoying every moment over here, and it seems that the positive self-psychology, aided by some great skype talks with Kevin, Caitlin and the familia, along with an extremely relaxing, and much needed day off did the trick as I’m feeling fantastic once more.

Much needed day off and some Fascinating new friends!

I had a lovely time kicking back and relaxing today, and thoroughly enjoyed my off day. Despite being awoken at 9am for breakfast, and then once more at 11am by housekeeping (Really should have put up that damn do not disturb sign) I managed to get some solid sleep in. Skyped with the padres, and lazed around all day before finally heading out around 5pm. Explored the lovely Greenbelt shopping centre area in which I live a bit, and then decided to grab dinner at a thai restaurant. I had eaten at outback literally every other meal, so this was a welcome change.

As per usual, I was sitting to eat by myself at a table. Two gentleman were seated at the table to my left a few moments after I had been seated, and I struck up a conversation. We began talking, and hit it off immediately. I ended up talking to them for nearly two hours and it was great to finally have some solid dinnertime conversation. More importantly, they were both fascinating people.

There’s so much more to it, but in summary:

One gentleman, Marty, was an American who had been working in the Philippines for a couple years working with the central bank, and has traveled to 112 countries!

The other gentleman, Joel, was a Canadian consultant who was teaching people how to teach central banks how to run their countries more effectively or something ridiculously impressive along those lines. They asked me if I would like to join them for drinks after dinner, and so grabbed a beer with them at the outdoor café next door.

We traded stories, and I feel like I learned so much from just being in their presence and hearing about their travels and the nuggets of wisdom they continually imparted on me. Already on this trip, I’ve met so many fascinating people and believe that these experiences, and the lessons I will learn from them will prove to be invaluable to me in the future.

The day off was exactly what I needed, and can’t wait to see where the rest of this journey shall take me. Shit, how do these posts keep getting so damn long?! Apologies, I’ll work on keeping em shorter.

Anyways, Cheers!

-Sahil

My life in the Philippines

My life in the Philippines

My life has been rather ridiculous over the last few months, and that hasn’t changed a bit since i’ve arrived in the Philippines. Upon landing, i took a cab over to the Outback Steakhouse in Makati City, Philippines which is a really nice area right outside of Manila, which is the capital city. To be honest, I didn’t know anything about Filipino culture coming into this trip and so the last few days have been a crazy crash course.

I met with the Operating Partner Rommel at the store location, and after grabbing some lunch together he showed me to my accommodations for the next couple weeks.

I’m staying at a relatively nice hotel in a really nice area known as Greenbelt, right on the edge of Makati City. It is about a 10-15 minute walk to the Outback store. To get there, i pass through gorgeous malls which contain about every brand name that you can think of from Starbucks to Gucci.
Hotel has a guard that opens the door for me and says hello, sir everytime i walk in which is nice.

I’m staying in a pretty solid hotel room on the 26th floor. It’s a double twin bed room, complete with a kitchenette and a nice view.

View. Unfortunately i can’t get onto the balcony as they have it locked.

On my way to work i have to walk through this super nice area in Greenbelt!

First day of Work, just like everything else on this trip, my first day of work was just crazy. My training began at 10am, and i was to be given comprehensive outback training, which means that i would learn the restaurant inside out, starting with the kitchen. To that end, i spent my first day chopping lettuce, celery, prepping ribs, bagging food as if i were in Manna Food Center, and much more. I had never worked in a kitchen before, and it was fascinating work and in just that one day learned so much!

Was really interesting to see how Outback produces their food, and as a whole i have been thoroughly impressed with everything the company has done to date, from product quality to company culture. Really like everyone i’m working with, and it has been a blast diving completely into Filipino culture, and learning about the people i work with’s lives and backgrounds.

The native language in Manila is Tagalo, and although nearly everyone speaks pretty solid english really wish i knew some of the language!

This guy (Mano i believe) told me he was great at singing in English, and everyone told me he was “American Idol” jokingly, and then he sang for me.. was too funny haha

Got back and had to throw up the NO8DO sign to make it feel a bit more like home

Put up my tapestry as well

Get breakfast delivered to my room every morning! Some days it’s edible, some days it’s not. Bringing me to my next point about Filipino food..

This afternoon at work, one of my co-workers asked me to come take a look at something. He pulled open a bag to reveal this, and i jumped back and nearly had a heart attack haha. Filipino’s love their pork, possibly even more than the Spanish love their ham. ALl of their food revolves around meat and pork in particular, and i don’t think vegetarians have any shot over here. Not a huge pork fan, so haven’t really been trying too much food, but have been dissapointed and at times ( look below ) disgusted by their offerings. The employees had devoured the pig head by the next time i walked past where it used to be

Strange Pig head

I love everyone i’m working with, and it’s been great getting to know the kitchen staff. They have all taught me so much about cooking, their country, and without realizing it many things about people and the world, and for that i am forever grateful. They have a small music player at work in the kitchen, and they are always blasting 90s music. I decided to put on my Gaylist (A playlist i made loaded with 90s favorites) and they all loved it! We’ve literally just danced in the kitchen for two days straight since i brought out my Ipod, and it’s been a blast hanging with the guys!

Work has been really intense over here, as i’m basically working all day from 10am to 10pm with a break in between, and lunch and dinner. I’ve been systematically working my way through the Outback menu, which has made my wallet rather happy as i’m not spending any money. On the other hand, it’s a good thing i’m working and eating at a steakhouse daily, just days after finding out i have high cholesterol haha.

Since i’m working such long hours, i haven’t really had a chance to explore any of Makati city beyond my hotel room, the outback, and the malls which connect those locations.

My Filipino Family

You can call me Chef Sahil!

It’s real strange living in a hotel room by yourself, especially in a foreign country. Was especially weird the first couple nights, but getting used to life over here, and am loving spending time at work with all the cool people i’m getting an opportunity to meet.

At times i wish i had someone to share these memories with, but with the same token it has been a cool experience completely diving in and traveling the world solo. As i mentioned earlier, can’t get over the fact that it’s been just one short week since i landed in Hong Kong. Gets me so excited to think that i’ve still got over 6 weeks here to continue growing, learning, and exploring Southeast Asia!

Hope everyone is doing well, Keep in touch!

Cheers,

-Sahil

Tiresome Travels

This is a relatively long, uninformative post in regards to one of the craziest travel experiences of my life.

Travel Troubles..

I finally arrived in the Philippines a few days ago, after a hellish day at the airport. I arrived at the Singapore airport, excited to get to the Philippines and finally stay in one place for more than a couple nights. The Philippines was going to be my 3rd country in 5 days, so my head had been spinning a bit. I went to check in with the discount airline I was flying, Cebu-Pacific and the madness began.

After taking my ticket and passport, the check-in lady asked me where my ticket out of the Philippines was. The country was worried about people staying illegally in the country for over the allowed 21 days or whatever, and so they needed to see exit tickets. Of course, I didn’t have one booked yet. I had just found out my crazy schedule the night before, and had never even heard of such a requirement before, so as a result I hadn’t even thought about needing my other ticket already. My phone wasn’t working, and so I had to awkwardly borrow a phone from a friendly Filipino couple in the airport. After unsuccessfully calling the 5 numbers I had from Singapore, my boss Prashant fortunately finally answered just as I was about to give up. He said that he was going to e-mail me the ticket, which I believe based on the time that it took him to e-mail me, was purchased as soon as we got off the phone haha. Following that, I had to run into the Cebu-Pacific office to log into my e-mail to print off my departure ticket, and managed to check in about 10 minutes before check-in ended for the flight.

The nightmare didn’t end there. Since it was a discount airline, I was informed that you were only allowed to have one checked bag (That was only 20kg, not the reg. 23kg) and one handbag + Backpack. Since the checked bag had to be 20, I threw a bunch of shit into my handbag at the check in counter, and then ran over to security. As I was approaching security, a guard asked me to put my handbag on the scale, and it was 15kg. He proceeded to inform me that the limit was 7kg for handbags, and it was 20 bucks per KG over. I ran back out to try and check my bag in again, and was frustrated once again to find that you couldn’t check a second bag with sucky cebu. Fortunately, the check-in lady sympathized with me and gave me this sticker, which meant they would just check the bag in, and through it all I somehow managed to get that bag checked on the plane for free.

To add to my issues, as I was going through security the guy asked me for my immigration document that I had submitted upon entering the country. Apparently, you were supposed to hold onto a receipt of that document (First time I’ve ever heard of that) and show it upon leaving the country. I had to go to the customs place and explain myself, and only had a few minutes to catch my flight. To shorten this already too long story, I finally managed to get past security and literally had to run to my gate as they were calling my name on the intercom for the flight, and was off to the Philippines!

On the strange, and small Cebu flight. They played a weird game halfway through, in which if you guessed a countries currency correctly they gave you a box. Yes, a collapsable box.

I was one of very few non-filipino’s on the flight, and was sitting next to a Filipino dude a few years older than myself who happened to be a marine engineer, who traveled around the world on a boat and had some helpful tips in regards to the country I was soon to be living in. Cebu Pacific is an Asian discount airline, and is clearly designed for Asians. I’m 5 ft. 9in. and my knees were up against the seat in front of me, never been in such a small seat before. Was clearly a sign of things to come, as in what has proved to be a pleasant surprise, I am one of the larger people in the Phillipines haha.

Anyways, after my interesting day of travel I finally landed in my 3rd country in 5 days; eager to see where my new adventure in the Philippines was to take me. My first destination was the Outback Steakhouse in Makati City, Philippines!

Landed in the Philippines! The rain was a sign of things to come, as it’s rain season and all it does is rain nowadays.

More to come on my life in the Philippines soon. Here’s to hoping the rest of my travels (There’s a bunch to come) will be far less stressful than this last one..
Hope everyone is doing well!

Cheers,

Sahil

Singapore for a second and summer plans!

I would have posted this earlier, but theres a typhoon going on outside and so as a result haven’t had internet connection for a while.

Singapore for a second!

My flight from Hong Kong to the Philippines took off around 8pm on the night of the 18th. Interestingly enough, the couple I was sitting next to on my flight were actually from Germantown, MD which is a town literally 10 minutes from my house…talk about a small world!

Anyways, I read some of the Alchemist (excellent, inspiring book that Naomi gifted to me) and then passed out for the rest of the flight. Flight landed in Singapore at around 11:30pm my time, and I was so happy to just get into the country,as they nearly didn’t let me in. Literally.

I got to the immigration gate, and handed the guy my immigration document. On my document, I had left the area for “where will you be staying in the country” blank, as I honestly had no idea. The immigrations officer asked me where I was staying, and I told him that I wasn’t sure as my boss was coming to pick me up and had not informed me of where I would be staying yet. Saying the word boss was a mistake. He then started asking me if I was working in the country, and I said yes. Then he asked me if I had my work forms ( which I didn’t ) and this is when I started to get worried. I had to make up some story about how I wasn’t actually working in Singapore and that I was just coming here to find out what I was doing (Which turned out to be partially true) and after a few minutes I fortunately managed to make it through.

As I walked to the arrivals area, there was an Indian kid about my age waiting to pick me up. Throughout the trip, it’s been amusing to see people’s reactions upon first seeing me and hearing how young I am, and this instance was no different. Got a good kick out of him telling me about which nationalities hookers were better and worse, and which roads were filled with them. We hopped in a cab, and went off to Hotel 81 in Little India, which was where I was staying for the next couple nights.

I was starving after my flight, so headed down the road to get some delicious chicken rice to go, and then called it a night.

My room happened to be number 523, which is my little sisters birthday and a number she never fails to point out at any given opportunity haha.
Just for you Saba!

Day 1

The next day, I was scheduled to meet with my soon to be boss at 5pm. As a result, I had some time to kill so I walked around the little india neighborhood where I was staying and checked the area out.

I’m in Singapore!…awkward tourist solo pic #543

Grabbed a delicious Indian lunch at a place down the street.

Was blown to see that Singapore’s taxi’s were the same car as mine at home, but cooler because they had the lion king on them haha

As i was wandering around, i ran into a Buddhist temple!

Naturally, i had to go inside and check it out so i bought some incense candles from one of these umbrella stands and headed on in

Wasn’t a tourist spot at all, so no one could understand why i wanted a picture in front of it haha

When i got inside, everyone was doing all these different, seemingly random things. I asked a helpful girl about our age what was going on, and she explained that they were all partaking in a cool tradition that i’ll try and explain below.

She told me that people go to this temple when they are going through troubled times or need advice.

What you are supposed to do is grab a box filled with what must have been 65+ chopstick sized sticks that all had different numbers on them in Chinese. You were also supposed to pick up these two banana shaped pieces of red plastic that were flat on only one side. Once you gather those things, you go to the praying mat, and touch your head to the ground in prayer. Following that, you shake your box with the pencil like sticks, and pick one out of the box. Then you basically roll the dice, in that you drop your two plastic pieces on the ground. If one is face down, and the other is face up you continue with the number on your stick, but if they’re both down or up you have to do it all over again.

Once you get your one up, one down and have your number set; you pick up a book of buddhist preachings. Then you find your corresponding number in the book, and it will offer you advice about your current situation.

I decided to try it out, and as i was fumbling around a bit confused with everything, an extremely friendly lady named Judy who was sitting next to me helped me out. She started talking to me for a good bit, and was fortunate enough to hear a fascinating story about buddhist philosophies, and how the world works that more or less i couldn’t help but agree with. It was sort of a surreal experience, and ever since i have been fascinated and intrigued by buddhism and am seriously considering exploring it further.

At the temple!

After leaving the temple, i stumbled into a market.

Found some sweet Iverson shorts!

After exploring for a bit longer, i headed back to the hotel to get ready for my meeting with my new bosses and to learn about what i would be doing this summer!

My Summer Plans!

Heading off to Asia, i went in relatively blind in terms of what i would be up to this summer. I knew that i would be working in the hospitality industry with Outback Steakhouse, but wasn’t sure of much more beyond that till that afternoon.

My boss, Prashant, who is a recent UPenn Grad met up with me at my hotel, and we hopped on the Metro over to the companies headquarters in Millenia. We hit it off immediately, and he began to tell me all about the company, and their plans for me over the summer. I met with the head of marketing, Dilip, and the CEO of the Hospitality division and we headed off to talk about my plans at Outback.

The four of us outside Outback!

I found out that i would actually be leaving for the Philippines the very next day, meaning my 3rd country in 5 days. I would be there for 2 weeks (Where i currently am) and would be training there. The training program is pretty comprehensive, and is interesting because instead of just working on the floor, also getting the opportunity to work in the kitchen and learn how to cook as well as how to run a kitchen from an operational standpoint.

Following my two weeks in the Philippines, on July 6th, i will be heading off to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for another two weeks till July 20th. The company is closing down one of its locations in the Philippines, and wants me to act similar to a manager and inform guests of the locations forecoming closure, recommend that they visit us at our other location, and come up with creative marketing solutions to entice them to do so. They are also planning a launch event at the other existing location, and so will be working with them on that as well.

Following my two week stint in Malaysia, I’ll be heading over to Jakarta, Indonesia for 2 weeks near the end of my trip. The company just launched a new menu all over their Southeast Asia division. As a result, they want me to analyze the data, and speak with customers to gain and understanding of how the changes have impacted the bottom line and their customers experiences. I’ll also be looking into things like positioning of items on the menu, and other marketing related issues.

Finally, i’ll wrap up my internship back in Singapore where i will present my findings and experiences working with USEL the companies top brass.

After talking with the CEO and the other guys at the restaurant for a while, i was extremely excited about the work i was going to be doing and the opportunity to travel and live in so many different places.

We grabbed some Margaritas at the restaurant, and then went to grab dinner in this really nice area called Clarke Quay, at a mexican joint called Iguana.

Clarke Quay!

Had some delicious food, and a couple more pitchers of margaritas at Cafe Iguana.

After dinner, we walked around the Clarke Quay area a bit, and grabbed some more drinks at another restaurant right in the middle of the area.

Soo tight!

Walked past this awesome bar called the Clinic. The chairs were wheelchairs, and the drinks were served out of IV’s!

After the second spot, we hopped in cabs and headed back to our respective residences. Had a great time going out with those guys, and getting to know them beyond their titles within the company. Spending all day talking with them about the internship got me super excited about what the next couple months have in store for me!

Cheers!

Sahil

Hong Kong in a Hurry!

One week!

Honestly can’t believe it’s only been a week since I left the US. Hong Kong feels like forever ago! Every day has been an adventure, and in the short span of just a week, I’ve learned and seen so many interesting new things. I’m definitely missing everyone a bunch already as I’m over here by myself, but getting to know some really interesting Filipino’s at work and been having a blast with them.

I’m literally working from 10am to 10pm everyday, so apologies for not being able to keep up with the blog and with everyone over the past week. I get home with every intention of writing stuff, and then just end up passing out from exhaustion, but have learnt a bunch of cool things and about Filipino culture in just the past couple days!

Also, now that I have somewhat of a set schedule I’ve figured out when I can skype with people! Should be online after work, from around 10-12am America time, and also in the morning when I get up for a bit form around 8-9:15 PM US time so let me see your beautiful faces please. I’ve also recently taken a liking to twitter in the past week or so, as it allows me to write down the million and one thoughts that have been floating through my head in the past week. Not quite sure how the whole # thing and all works yet, but you can look at that if you want to hear some random thoughts about the Philippines and my new asian life!

http://twitter.com/#!/Sahil1224

Took a bunch of video footage in hong kong, so whenever I get a chance I’ll try and throw a video together about my trip. Since I keep falling behind in the uphill, losing battle that has been writing this damn thing, the posts will probably be a little bit shorter and less detailed as I try to stay somewhat on top of it.

Hong Kong!

Hong kong was absolutely gorgeous, and an amazing, fun experience! It was the first time i had ever traveled abroad solo, and i met some great people and learned a great deal about the city and myself! I was only in the city for a couple days, but am happy to say i think i made the most of my time there.

Here is a description of my trip there through pictures:

After my ridiculously long 15 hour flight from O’hare, i finally arrived in Hong Kong! I took an airport bus to get from the airport to my hostel, i was staying at an affordable place called the Yesinn.

Happened to be sitting next to some newlyweds from Mainland, China who were celebrating their honeymoon in Hong Kong!

After my long day of travel (Over 20 hours total) i finally arrived in my hostel. I was too tired to go out on the town or explore the city, so decided to just grab dinner and call it a night so i could be well rested for the next morning. I met a cool dude named Jeff, who was working with Samsung, and visiting HK after a Samsung employee celebration event in Seoul. We grabbed dinner at this local restaurant down the road!

My new texan friend Jeff!

I had delicious chicken curry for dinner!

Day 1

On my first day in Hong Kong, i woke up with a ridiculous amount of things i wanted to see, and not nearly enough time. I only had all day friday, and then the afternoon saturday, so i prioritized what i really wanted to see in the city and set off to explore the island!

Started the day off by grabbing some breakfast with jeff at the local bakery.

Bought an all day metro pass, and felt like i rode the metro a million times in the short 2 day span.

Jeff and i decided to visit one of HK’s main attractions that morning, Victoria’s peak!

On the way up to the top of the mountain on the Victoria Peak Tram!

Absolutely unreal view on top of Victoria’s Peak!

Couldn’t believe i was there!

Felt like i was at the end of the world, or on some sort of crazy movie set

We took this really cheap bus back down to the city.

Jeff and i split up, and i set off to explore the city!

Soo many umbrellas!

Saw an H&M, naturally i had to stop by and check it out. Was surprised to see that they had the exact same offerings as the US and Spain, and the prices were actually comparable as well.

Went to see the Man Mo Temple!

Inside the Man Mo Temple, soo cool!

Went to the Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical gardens in central!

Garden Entrance!

All the Avian flu signs everywhere were rather unnerving and amusing at the same time

Random group of 5 Filipino women stopped me and asked if i would take their picture. One proceeded to ask if she could take a picture with me haha

Sweet looking birds, they had flamingos there too!

Found some tai chi wheels and played with them. Must have looked a bit crazy spinning those things by myself haha

Craziest monkey i’ve ever seen, he was swinging all around the cage with baby in hand for forever. Awesome to watch.

After i had finished up exploring the Gardens, i decided that i wanted to head off to Hong Kong Park, as i had heard good things about it. Unfortunately, i was so far into the gardens that i had no idea where i was or how to get back to the main entrance so i got out at the first exit i could find. After getting out at the exit, i legit had no idea where i was. I walked around for a bit, till i decided i was completely lost. I asked this friendly 60 year or so old lady, and she was like “Oh, that’s so far away!”. I was blown, as i had been real close to them earlier. As we were speaking, she flagged down a cab, said she would take me there and instructed me to get in so i did and went on a wild ride with this cool old lady. Had no idea where this lady or the cabbie were taking me as they were speaking in Cantonese, so i jumped out at the first spot i recognized in fear of getting lost in the middle of HK. She was well intentioned, and i was appreciative for the free cab ride and friendly sentiment. As a generalization, everyone i met in China was extremely friendly, and HK gave me a positive impression of the Chinese!

Finally arrived in HK Park, and went to this amazing Aviary!

There were birds flying around all over the place, and thought some of them were going to take off my head based on how close they would fly next to you. Bird eating fruit below.

At this point, i had been walking around for about 7 hours straight, so decided to go back to the hostel for a quick nap to recharge my batteries for the evening. After struggling to get back up after my nap, i headed off to the Temple Street Market which i had heard so much about. It was a traditional crazy market, where you could get pretty much anything you wanted for super cheap. To my surprise and dissapointment, they weren’t nearly as willing to negotiate as what i had seen in other markets around the world.

Temple Street Market!

Was doing my best to do HK on the cheap, and to that end grabbed a McChicken at mickie D’s for dinner haha. They are literally in every single country, ever.

After dinner, i hopped on the metro and headed off for the Avenue of the stars to see the beautiful HK skyline at night for a second!

After that, i hopped back on to the MTR and went to Lan Kwai Fong! Every person i had talked to about HK told me that i had to go check out the wild night life scene there, and despite the fact that i was flying solo i figured it would be an interesting site to see and check out. After awkwardly meandering around with a tsinga in hand for a while, I managed to meet some cool girls from Delaware and hung out with them for a majority of the evening. We bar hopped for a bit, and then went to a Hard Rock cafe where listened to a terrible music and i paid far too much for a mediocre rum and coke. It was my first time ever going out Solo, and although it was pretty strange at first i’m really glad i did as i got to see the HK nightlife at it’s best!

Lan Kwai Fong!

That friday was one of the craziest of my life, and don’t think i’ve ever walked around that much ever before.

Day 2

The next day, my friend Joeri from Amsterdam, who i had met in the hostel and i decided to check out the Tsim Sha Tsui area and the dragon boat carnival! We grabbed lunch at a chinese place, and then went to see the races!

By the Victoria Harbour!

I was fortunate enough to be in HK during the Dragon Boat Carnival, which is an annual festival held in the summer time in which teams from around the world compete in dragon boat races on the harbour! It is a huge event locally, and one of the cooler things i’ve ever had a chance to be a part of. On top of that, we had perfect weather on our last day!

Dragon Boat Carnival!

Fans packed the stands!

Decided to enter the races, and won first place! Like Rory McIlroy, i beat the competition so badly that they decided to not even show up to the trophy stand out of embarrassment..

The race is on!

Joeri and I grabbed some local brews at the beer garden set up for the event, and had an awesome afternoon together. I was glad to have a friend to explore with on my last day, and was pleasantly surprised to see how two people from such different backgrounds could hit it off so quickly, and relate to each other on so many different levels despite our geographical differences.

Joeri and i!

Saw some kids making the dragon dance!

Took the Star Ferry back over to Hong Kong Island, as i had an 8pm flight to catch so needed to grab my bags from the hostel. The ferry crossed the harbour, was incrdibly cheap, and provided some fantastic views of the skyline!

Onboard the star ferry

I picked up my bags from the Yesinn, and hopped on the airport bus to go back to the airport to catch my flight to Singapore that evening. The airport buses were super nice, cheap, and even had free wi-fi on them! When i got to the airport, i was amused to see that there was a line of what must have been 50 Africans (male and female), with at least 4 GIANT sketchy looking bags each. Naturally, i had to inquire what was going on and they said they were taking things to Ethiopia (god know’s what) and they wouldn’t specify what it was when i probed further. Was a really funny site to see, and in hindsight wish i had snapped a pic of it. I boarded my plane, and took off for Singapore to begin my internship in Southeast Asia!

Hong kong was an incredible city, and an unforgettable experience. It was the first time i have ever traveled to a foreign country by myself, and i had a fantastic experience. Hong Kong is a beautiful, bustling city and if you ever have the opportunity to visit, i would recommend doing so!

Cheers,

Sahil

Flying halfway around the world!

Early on the 15th morning, woke up after a 2-hour catnap around 5am to finish packing my bags and got ready to head off to the airport. Had literally started packing the night before my trip, and Naomi and Ozzie came over in the middle of it so the procrastination only continued.

I tried to sneak Naomi on-board with me, but she wouldn’t fit in the suitcase!

Got to the airport, said goodbye to the familia, and it was off to Asia! Was traveling alone for the first time, and to Asia of all places which was a first as well. The plan was to stay in Hong Kong by myself for a couple nights, and then head over to Singapore to begin my internship, which i had only a vague idea about. Was literally going to be flying halfway around the world, as Hong Kong is 12 hours ahead of the US!

My flight stopped in O’Hare first for a couple hours, and met a really interesting international business teacher from Goucher College who was also going to Hong Kong. We bonded over the fact that we were quite possibly the only two non-Chinese people on our packed 370 person flight. I quickly found out that was not the case, as I met a fascinating American named Robert Reiner, who may have actually been one of the most interesting people I’ve ever met.

Adios again America

O’hare airport!

Befriended a dinosaur in Chicago

We met standing in line to board the plane and hit it off immediately as we joked about how the line forming was similar to a Chinese fire drill. To our surprise, as we boarded the plane we realized that we were actually sitting next to each other in row 47. It seemed like every time he opened his mouth, he shared some sort of ridiculous and fascinating story, or insight about the world or some random industry. He went to Dartmouth, and while in the Military serving in Korea he hosted a radio show and started his own Korean newspaper. He helped develop the legitimate US casino industry in Atlantic City and Vegas as he was the General Council Of Caesar’s Hotel and Casino’s for like 15 years. Oh, did I mention that he owns his own casino and restaurant consulting company, and is an extremely successful lawyer who is currently suing Donald Trump in a huge case..

I couldn’t have thought of a more interesting person to sit next to on a 15-hour flight, and his presence balanced out the fact that the awkward 50+-year-old Chinese lady from Kentucky in the window seats seemed to have to go to the bathroom every time I began to fall into deep sleep. Also, had a giant douche Chinese dude sitting in front of me who reclined his chair for most of the flight, resulting in his seat being literally on top of my knees the entire flight. This was a major problem as I was trying to catch up on the blog on the flight, and my computer screen was literally closed because his seat was reclined, and the dick wouldn’t move his chair up even after I asked politely multiple times.

That brings me to my next point, United Airlines Blows! They didn’t even have individual TVs on the seats, and the movies they were playing on the tiny overhead screens were terrible. Also, the seats had absolutely no legroom, and if I were even a bit taller I would have been absolutely miserable the whole flight, and the flight attends were little bitches. Don’t mean to whine too much, but if you have a choice DON’T fly with United…Good thing I only have one more 15 hour flight back home with them haha.

Regardless, was very exhausted and excited to get off my plane and to Hong Kong, which was an unforgettable trip! I’ll write about that in my next blog post, which will hopefully be sooner than later..

Hope everyone is doing well!

-Sahil

My US Vacation!

Hello there,

After an impossible day of running around like a chicken with a head cut off in the airport, (i literally ran onto my flight) I finally made it over to the Philippines this afternoon! My neighborhood is super nice, staying in a pretty solid hotel, and i got to meet the GM at the Outback location i’ll be working at. First day of work is tomorrow morning, intrigued to see how it goes!

Here’s a blog post about my brief, but terrific 3 week trip back home to the US.

My US Vacation!

I got back to the United States after my 5 month stint abroad on the night of May 26th, and it was great to get back home and see everyone. Dad picked me up from the airport, and Saba had decorated the house with a welcome home banner and even made me my favorite type of cake, funfetti! Mom and Mama had made me a delicious home-cooked meal (something I had been craving since I left) and there was nothing like seeing my best friend and dog Romeo after such a long time apart.

Since i’m in Asia now, I was only in the US for about 3 weeks after my semester abroad and as a result, it actually felt like a vacation to the US. It was real strange, because the first week i spent just like sleeping and learning how to become a real person again. Then i was trying to catch up with as many people as i could, work all the time as i’m broke as a joke, and getting re-adjusted to life in the US again. Then, finally as i got settled in back home i took off again so was a pretty crazy few weeks, but really feel like i made the most of em!


Welcome Home Party
A couple days later, i decided to throw myself a welcome home party as an excuse to get everyone over to the house so i could see all the lovely faces i hadn’t seen in far too long.

With the two best momma’s ever at the party!

College Park!

After getting back, i decided to head up to College Park a few times to see the one place i really missed while abroad! Here are some of the highlights of my visits back home to CP!

Drove by and creeped on our soon to be new house, starting August 1st!

Went to the mall and hung out with Tequila later on!

Old Roomies Reunited!

Got to check out the epic view from my old Apt. one last time!

Mike and I headed over to CP one night after work, and we made friends with two of the tallest girls i’ve ever met haha (UMD basketball players)

Passed out on Katie’s couch multiple times as i was homeless, and died of laughter watching her search like a maniac looking for her phone. This is her celebration after finding it haha

This isn’t really significant at all, i just found it amusing. CSTONE with the dancing grads!

Our good friend, Colleen, from Study abroad came to College Park to visit us!

Met the infamous Shanesaw!

We celebrated the coolest grandpa ever’s 92nd bday!

Saba made him a dessert platter that he probably shouldn’t have been eating haha

Playdate #1 in America with Helen!

One of my best friends from Sevilla, Casey, and i had promised each other that we were going to continue our ridiculuos playdates when we got back home as she lives nearby in Alexandria. Proud to say we followed through on it and had an epic day hanging out together!
Being that we’re both a couple little kids that are starting to look like grown ups now, we figured it would only be appropriate to go to the National Zoo and check out some animals!

Haathi Meri Saathi

Dunno if i will ever get over how funny it is to watch parents literally walking their children on leashes hahah

Lion Cubs!

Helen and I at the zoo!

Went to get Margaritas!

Concluded our playdate with dinner at dad’s restaurant in DC!

Was so glad we actually met up, and it was great seeing such a good friend from abroad at home! Gave me hope that there is a shot of maintaining our close friendships from abroad back stateside!

Tosh’s Grad Party!

Nanu and I before Tosh’s party

Saba in front of the mansion the grad party was at

Fantastic video that Anand Uncle and Tosh put together for everyone!

Mongolian BBQ and a Batmitzvah

Went and grabbed some grub at Mongolian BBQ and caught up with some buds. Then worked a wild, unforgettable batmitzvah at Indique Heights.
delicioso

Buena Gente

Batmitzvah

That night at the restaurant, we were working a Batmitzvah, and man can Jews can get down. Those little kids were partying non-stop for like 5 hours haha

Potential future Carroll Hall residents getting down

Adorable kiddo

Met a fascinating lady named anya, who i wrote about in the previos blog post. Definitely a story worth reading!

Rio Grande w/ Devon
Went back to Rio to see mah homegurl Devon

Rathi’s Grad Party!

Congrats Rat, CP’s gonna be hilarious with you in it next year haha

DJ Tech-neek was in the house

Amigos 4 life

Had a family photoshoot after lunch the day before i left

My 3 weeks in the US were great, and it was so good to see everyone again. Was more stressful than relaxing as i was running around meeting up with people, and preparing for Asia, but it actually felt nice having some sense of responsibility after havnig absolutely zero in Spain haha.

Cheers,

Sahil