Travel: Hauling a 2- and 4-year old through 6 countries in 8 weeks

As we were leaving the region to move back home, I did a consultancy that took me to several capital cities to review national health programs. It was a great opportunity for all of us to say goodbye to friends, colleagues and places we've frequented over the past decade. So we packed up the house and shipped, sold or gave away our belongings, and took the kids on a two month journey through Southeast Asia. … [Read more...]

Maternity package rates at Bumrungrad (Bangkok) and St Luke’s hospital (Manila)

As of this writing, the exchange rate is 30 Baht=US $1. So a normal delivery package at Bumgrungrad is US $1,196, while a C-section birth is US $3100. I was quite impressed with my experience at Samitivej hospital for our first child's birth in 2011. I imagine the facilities in Bumrungrad, which is considered a higher-class (5star) facility, must be better. In comparison, when we had our daughter in March this year in St Luke's Hospital (Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, Manila) the quote for a C-section delivery is PHP155,000-185,000 (US $3789-$4512) for 4-5 days' hospitalization including delivery, recovery and nursery room charges, medicines and supplies used in the delivery room, hospitalization expenses (private room) and professional … [Read more...]

Filipino food: Buko Pandan

As with any recipe, there are so many creative ways to have this dessert. It can be a drink or a thick creamy dessert. I first had it at Nathaniel's Bakeshop on Timog Ave in Manila. (If you are in Manila, you have got to make a stop at this shop to try all manner of Filipino desserts and food. It's on a foodie strip, so there are other restaurants and chains on the same road). Again, I haven't the foggiest clue how to make this since Openg our helper in Manila whipped it up often while I was busy with a newborn. So here again is a recipe straight from Jun-Blog, below. His pictures look more like the creamy dessert than a drink. Check out his range of Filipino food recipes. I think I can spend hours drooling over his pictures. [Click! Add … [Read more...]

Filipino food: Sago at gulaman

While in Manila I became a huge fan of these coolers. Depending on the amount of syrup it can be sinfully sweet, but that can be adjusted. It's refreshing and perfect for those hot Manila days (which was everyday)! Once I found out our incredible friend and helper, Openg, can make them I asked her to make it quite often. As I have no cooking skills whatsoever, I copy a recipe below in entirety from Jun-blog, a Filipino food blog. You must check out his post on sago and gulaman coolers for great pics. His recipe below looks like what Openg made, with some adjustments. She put pandan leaves in the water when simmering the sago pearls. And she added coconut milk to the drink. The batches are stored in separate containers in the … [Read more...]

Having a baby in Manila vs. Having a baby in Bangkok (for expatriates)

... continued from Part I. Our first child was born in Bangkok’s Samitivej Hospital in January 2011, which I wrote about here. Our second was born in St Luke's Medical Center, Taguig, Manila, in March 2013. Below is our experience in both countries. As I mentioned in an earlier post, airlines restrict travel at 35 weeks 1 day gestation. Living costs have to be calculated from five weeks before the estimated due date, through the birth, and the time it takes to finalize the paperwork to clear you for exiting the country with the baby. Bureaucratic coordination is a tremendous help to medical tourists - particularly for births. Our overall experience: Bangkok's medical tourism industry is exceptionally efficient. Bureaucratic … [Read more...]

Giving birth in Manila vs Giving birth in Bangkok (for expatriates)

As many of you know, most foreigners working in Cambodia and its neighboring countries fly to Bangkok for medical procedures. We chose to have our baby in Bangkok, Thailand, in January 2011, which I wrote about here on resources for foreigners. Due to airline policies we flew to Bangkok at 35 weeks gestation (they don't want women having a baby while on board). This is a substantial amount of time away from work, so a speedy return back after the birth is ideal. Thanks to the extremely efficient medical tourism industry, we were able to leave Thailand with the baby an astonishing 10 days after birth. The official birth certificate, US passport, and exit clearance were all secured very quickly and painlessly. All engagement with government … [Read more...]

Filipino food: Arce Dairy has got the BEST tropical ice cream flavors

I love ice cream. One of the things I was looking forward to most when I went back to Manila after being away for over 20 years is  the ice cream. Mango, ube (purple yam), macapuno (a type of mutant coconut with soft meat inside instead of water), atis (sugar apple), nanca (jackfruit), pinipig (pounded glutinous rice) - just to name a few of the more interesting tropical flavors. Back when I was a kid there the brand to get was Magnolia, but the line seems to have faded a bit. Towards the end of our stay in Manila I had to binge on this one premium brand, Arce Dairy. It's less sweet but packs a denser taste than other brands cuz (or so I'm told) it's made with carabao milk and more natural ingredients.   … [Read more...]

a new baby

Mum and Papa are in love. Her Kuya is not. He's less than thrilled with the little bundle, but he's resigned himself to the fact that she's sticking around so he finds ways to bond with her... :-) … [Read more...]