Archive for February, 2008

8 Suave Tips for the Big Date

Okay, so you blew it.

Valentine’s, that lunch, that little coffee break. It doesn’t matter — there may be at least one point in your life that you’ve totally freaked out a date by your … manners. Or, say, you won an epicurean delight adventure thing, and don’t want to make a fool of yourself.  I mean, if that’s how you eat ‘round your buddies, it shouldn’t matter to her, right? Wrong. Having good manners while dining doesn’t necessarily equate to showing off. Manners are supposed to stem from home, meaning, when you pig out in public, did you learn that at home? Here are a couple of tips for when you’re on a date.

  1. Basic proper hygiene. A meal only happens once in your life. You have to make each one special. Clip your fingernails, comb your hair, dress in clean clothes and wash your hands before eating. (And, after using the facilities)
  2. Never spring for a restaurant’s most expensive meal on the get-go. Chances are, these don’t get ordered too often, and would just hassle the chefs. Ask what their specialty is, and get that. If you’ve been to THAT particular restaurant before, you’ll be in-the-know of what the best meal is to get.
  3. Address your waiter/waitress by name. They should have nametags on ‘em, or, you could ask. It adds a personal touch to your meal when you know who to thank for serving you. Plus, if you return to that restaurant, they will remember you.
  4. Utensil use. Don’t be confused if you don’t spot a spoon by your dish. Simplicity: if there’s a fork, then that will be your food-shovel. If there’s a knife, then that’s what will saw down the meat, while the shovel’s holding it down of course.
  5. Napkin use. There are cloth and paper napkins. You may keep the cloth one on your lap, to avoid spills, then wiping your mouth in-between bites, or you could wear it like a bib. The paper ones are useful — you can wrap them around your glass, and you may use them to wipe your mouth as well. NEVER crumple your napkins. If you need to wipe and there’s stuff on your napkin, fold it in half, then use that side to wipe. Place them neatly at the side of your plate after use. Not only will your post-meal-plate look good, the service staff will thank you as well.
  6. Don’t take calls or messages while eating. I personally find it very rude when someone I’m in conversation with pulls out a phone and starts texting away, even while I’m still eating. You shouldn’t do the same as well. If your date starts doing it, say you aren’t comfortable with it and you find it rude. If your date, however, really needs to take a call (a parent asking where her daughter is, stuff like that) ask her to make the call away from the table.
  7. As an add-on to the last rule, constant watch-checking is really annoying. Your date notices it, I notice it — does the other person REALLY have some other place she’d rather be? A date’s a date, meaning, you set aside other things lined up in your schedule to make it. There’s no sense in not following your own schedule.
  8. Tip well. Even if the food was lousy, leave a tip. (Just don’t return to that particular restaurant) Hey, you’re already addressing the person serving you by name, the least you could do is return the courtesy and hospitality he’s showing you. Plus, this will definitely make you remembered by the staff. 12-15% tips are good. When a waiter does something terribly nice for you, (and wasn’t expecting a tip) build him up in front of his manager, then do that slick, “faux-handshake-money-pass” move.

February 22, 2008 at 10:57 am 3 comments

How to Travel Safely: What Your Hotel Wouldn’t Want You to Know

I thought that I travel safely for most of my pleasurable jaunts around the globe. That was until a close family friend of ours told me this information about what hotels are really like from the “inside.”I still remember our friendly conversation (of course, who wouldn’t when this just happened last week).

“You don’t want to know this.” That’s the first thing that was said to me when a friend of mine told me something rather unsettling.

I said “C’mon, you have to tell me. I hate secrets. You know that.”

“Yeah, but this will change your traveling life FOREVER.” That last sentence felt like I was in a comical suspense thriller clip, like a child wrapped up in a cozy blanket, getting ready to cover himself or scream out loud when the action or suspense arises.

And, if you know me, you could’ve imagined that piqued my interest even more.

When my friend finally told me the shocking news, I heaved a sigh and thought about my (initial) suspicions about hotels ever since I started my traveling life.

The news?

Well, let me ask you a question. How DIRTY do you think hotels are?

You would probably say no, hotels aren’t that dingy at all.

Well, most of the hotels are. Even those which are five-star hotels. It’s true.

And, if, like me, you probably missed the Internet information that has made many travelers quickly grabbing for their bottled waters in a tight grip to feel safer, here’s an official link which proves it.

Just key in the keywords “hotel videos” to see the list. The first one you should see is the video entitled Online Hazards in Hotels.

That’s not all.

That’s just the beginning of what I want to share with you.

What about pests that you think the pest control team in hotels usually take care of to ensure a good sleep to hotel patrons like you?

Well, these creepy crawlies are sometimes the first to go into your room before you do, and they make it as a sort of breeding haven for their own pest families.

And you thought you were safe, clean, and pest-free – having the time of your life living like a king or queen in those hotels.

(Please refer back to the link I suggested on seeing, and, this time, look for the video bearing the title, Hidden Hotel Room Dangers).

So much for the safety and cleanliness you wished you are being given in these vacation dwellings.

What should you do, then?

I have a few suggestions.

First, bring your own bottled water (if you can). Or, bring a dishwashing soap (with a particular germ-killing disinfectant) with you, and wash the things you are to use in these hotels before you even use them.

Second, check the hotel’s reputation and its take on health and safety for travelers like you. You may do a search on the health bureau about this.

Third, dust off your bed before you even lie down or sit on it.

Fourth, wear shoes, socks, or flipflops while walking on the carpeted floor of the hotels.

Fifth, don’t assume that everything is clean once you step in a room for the first time in a particular hotel. Double check your things and the things in your room, or clean them yourself.

I wonder… with all this information, shall you still stay and have a good night’s rest in these hotels? Or, will you rather opt to stay at a relative’s home instead?

For me, I’ll still want to stay in hotels. It’s a convenience since I travel a lot. But, I’ll just have to be more observant and particular when it comes to making me feel cleaner.

February 19, 2008 at 8:01 pm 2 comments

Kiss and Make Up, or Hit the Road, Pal!

It seems like all the flurry of the month has gotten into my traveling buddies.

I point to something of interest (in the hopes that they would see that a particular architecture, painting, or scenery is majestically divine). I show them the latest traveler deals that I’ve managed to get my hands into (thinking that they might find the information helpful to them).

But, it seems futile.


Mainly because they see RED everywhere.

Meaning, they notice that there are actually lots of vendors selling bunches of RED roses. They see numerous cakes and other sweet stuff which are mainly adorned with RED decorations instead of noticing the other delicacies. To them, everything else seems to surround our world with this color.

They say that love is everywhere.

Well, I see RED, too.

But, in a different way.

I see the chaos of the world, and I wonder when this will ever end. (Mind you, I’m not trying to put up a peace crusade or something.) The world that I’m referring to is at one’s humble dwellings, or in one’s love life.

Thing is, it’s funny when females have this sort of PMS’s when it’s one of the most romantic months in the calendar.

Just when men feel a rush of those hormones, or they would like to touch their sensitive side and be as thoughtful as they can be, females like to declare war. And they think that they have every right to do so since the RED flag is up.

Makes me wonder if one would still like to pursue things because of that. Or, would it be better to have a peace treaty for awhile, or seek for personal refuge?

February 15, 2008 at 9:08 am Leave a comment

Give the gift she’ll never forget: The Art of Blitz-Gift-Giving

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the art of gift-giving, 3 times out of 5, the best gifts I’ve ever given are the ones that took effort to make, or orchestrate. In the art of gift-giving, it’s not enough to know what someone wants, it’s what you do with that information.

For preparing gifts for that special someone, we only have to have 2 things in our checklist.

  • First, basic knowledge of the other person. This could be knowing her favorite piece of art, favorite song, or even an inside joke that only the two of you know.
  • Second, be discrete. She doesn’t need to know that you’re cooking up something. When a birthday is coming up, these things are obvious: constant absence, taking private phone calls, (to conspire, of course) and her friends being weird. You don’t need that, she’d start feeling alienated or she’d think you were having an affair or something. Plan your gifts or schemes months in advance, and only let tight-lipped friends (a mix of yours and hers) know if you need their help. Now that we’re all set, here are a couple of sweet, creative ways to show your appreciation!

The bottle
– (a bottle, a ton of m&m’s) So your honey’s having a hard time at work or she’s been ill recently — this is the perfect gift to give! Take a bottle of her (or your) favorite sports drink, empty it, peel off the labels, wash it thoroughly and leave it to dry. Then, carefully open a pack of m&m’s and pick out her favorite color from the bunch and start filling up the bottle. As much as possible, do this in an airconditioned room, and use a utensil to separate the colors. You don’t want the candy shell melting now, would you? As an added twist, get a nice ribbon around the bottleneck, or insert a nice little message in between the m&m’s that she’d have to look out bowl

The fishbowl – (a small fishbowl, or, if this isn’t possible, a small box may suffice, a ton of paper) Having words of encouragement from a loved one is always nice for that natural high — the fishbowl is something that would take a lot of knowledge to make, and it is also a really sweet gift. Cut out a lot of strips of paper, this could be assorted, made from different colors or materials and could be just about any size. Write down sweet little encouragements on the strips of paper, or quotes from her favorite author, throw in a little picture of you, or you both, add some confetti, then dump them all in the fishbowl. Now when she needs to feel good about herself and you’re not in the vicinity, she could just pull out a folded or rolled strip from the fishbowl!

The sexy kidnap – (cooperative friends, a consent for leave, a surprise getaway) There’s nothing sweeter than playing hooky with your loved one. This one needs an elaborate plan to orchestrate. (Failing to plan = planning to fail) You may need to enlist the help of your friends, her closest friends, her boss (for consent) and a lot of ingenuity.

First off, ask her boss if it would be okay to drop by her office at some time during midday, plus if he’s fine with her leaving early. (proceed to A1) If a boss isn’t as nice or understanding, you could wait for her to get off work, or leave a note for her. (Done by copy-pasting different font letters to make up the message, kidnapper style. Proceed to A2)

  • A1: If her boss is okay with it, enlist her friends to wearing some silly disguises like fake mustaches then have them gesture pointy-fingers, (because toy guns, even fake-looking ones, are frowned upon in most buildings) make them go to her office at a specified time, “kidnap” your loved one (she’ll know it’s her friends anyway), blindfold her to take her to an unspecified location. (This could be the airport of your place.)
  • A2: An option would be to leave a note wherever she keeps her toothbrush that says, “I’ve kidnapped your toothbrush, a special getaway would be accepted for ransom.” She’ll be more than willing to pay that ransom.

February 13, 2008 at 12:45 am Leave a comment

Mr. Jones-ish Adventures

So our favorite archaeologist/adventurer’s making a comeback this May, and if you think about it, are there any more adventure movies being made? If you were to star in your own adventure film, would it involve: a.) the raiding of tombs of any sort, b.) being chased by boulders in narrow passages c.) having to deal with wild animals like snakes d.) train cab chase scenes e.) taking various artifacts and taking them home as souvenir?



What of the adventures that Indy himself hasn’t covered in the films? (It’s actually hard thinking about this one.) Today, when life experiences can be virtual, there are still those who indulge in activities like wallclimbing to recapture some of that lost magic. I can’t think of any better way to re-live adventures than by doing them yourself, Indy or no Indy, you are, after all, not a fictional character who goes off to fictional adventures. Think of it like this, you’re in a reality tv show, and you’re the star! (Well, minus the tv and show really, just reality, where you could get hurt, but the triumphs are that much greater.)

Raiders of the Last Reserve

Safari – Has Indy ever been in Kenya? You could throw on a pair of khaki shorts and a pith helmet (a la Hunter S. Thompson) and ride around jeeps in the desert. Throw in a pair of binoculars to spot those critters. Optional to going on safaris is doing some big-game hunting. (Take note, not all places allow the hunting of certain animals. I think the Mkuze Falls Private Reserve allows this.) If you’re in Africa, there’s the Big Five, the five most elusive animals to hunt on safaris, which include the lion, the African elephant, the African buffalo, the black rhinoceros and the Leopard. Of course if you’re not into that sort of thing, you could opt to just watching a tiger try his luck at catching some lunch.

The City of Doom

Nothing says adventure like throwing yourself into a random flight into random city and walking around. When you throw yourself in situations outside your comfort zone, you tend to find out quite a bit about yourself, plus, there’s the added factor of the language barrier and potential street scams on every corner. Why not ask friends to set some GPS-blessed scavenger hunt? Eat food you’ve never tried before, walk around brand new towns to check out the architecture and whatnot. Pack a bull whip, of course, to fend off potential trouble – just don’t whip it out at random and people might mistake you for trouble.

The Underwater Crusade

Scuba diving – Yes, the geek that I am, I know that there’s an Atlantis-themed Indiana Jones game, but that doesn’t count as canon. Has Indy ever donned some scuba gear? There’re tons of beautiful places to go to for some underwater adventure, and I’m thinking for a twist, why not dive into a shipwreck? See if there’re any remnants of treasure (good luck) that treasure hunters haven’t chanced upon yet. Or, better yet, try going face to face with whale sharks, giant squids or giant jelly fish, if you happen to chance by one.

February 5, 2008 at 4:11 am 2 comments



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