Loving My BlackBerry

On the the first day of 2011, Jed and I headed out to buy our Blackberry. I ticked off one item from my 2011 wishlist. Jed and I each bought our own BlackBerry.

Working for the Canadian Embassy's Trade section for eleven years, I witnessed how the Canadian company RIM (Research in Motion) entered the Philippine market. Everyone was excited about it. My bosses were ecstatic to be one of the very few to use BlackBerry in the Philippines.

It did not made any impact on me. I see Blackberry then as this tool which would make you work 24/7. The officers at our department dreaded the thought of being assigned a BlackBerry.

A few years after I left my job at the Embassy, I found myself wanting to own one. My girlfriends had been pushing me to get one. At that time, I didn't see the need for it. I barely use my mobile phones then except to ensure I am in constant communication with my family.

A few days before leaving Manila, I tried BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) through my brother's BlackBerry. I thought it was very easy to use and convenient. I learned that even if I am here in Bangkok, I could be in touch with family and friends who have BlackBerry. For some reason, I found it easier to use than my husband's iPhone. I detest the iPhone. I can't get any characters right. I decided then that I would convince Jed to get BlackBerry as our phones in Bangkok.

The timing couldn't be more perfect. We purchased it from Jed's very first paycheck here. BB Prices here in Thailand are reasonable. I got the cheapest one, a Curve 8520. There is no need for the top of the line more expensive ones. I do not work. My main objective is to use BBM.

You'll know you bought your BB in Thailand when it has Thai characters on it

I was also surprised that mobile phone rates and packages in Bangkok are cheaper compared to the Philippines. My plan of 700 baht includes 200 minutes of talk time, 50 SMS, 20 international SMS, and unlimited BBM and social networking apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo! Messenger.

Two weeks into my BlackBerry, and I couldn't be happier. I love it!! I am staying in touch with the people that matters to me in BBM, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo Messenger. And since it's a mobile phone, I can reply anywhere and anytime. It's like having a Sun line in the Philippines but much better. I was delighted that I can send photos from time to time. Well, most of the time. I "spam" my brother's and Javi godmothers' phone with Javi's photos. It definitely cured being homesick.

Being an organized nut, I now use my BlackBerry to manage our schedules, grocery lists, track our to-do's, and so much. I used to own PDA before and I'm very happy that the BlackBerry also serve the same purpose.

I have to yet to learn all about the other great applications, but right now one of my favorite is the Bible by YouVersion. A free application that contains different versions of the Bible. I can easily shift to a different version when I read out to Javi. It also has reading plans. I started with Every Nation's One to One reading plan. Right now, I'm using the notes for my Prayer and Fasting thoughts. Excellent application.

I now wish that all the people I want to stay in touch would get to own a BlackBerry.

New Year in a New City

We welcomed 2011 while watching the magnificent fireworks display along Chao Praya River. And I think we have one the best seats in the house. It's a blessing that we are still staying at the hotel on New Year's eve. New Year's was so much better than Christmas.

New Year's Eve (2011) Fireworks at Chao Praya River from Irma Arricivita on Vimeo.

There was not one photo of the fireworks in my Facebook album and my friends have been asking about it. Sadly, my camera is not good enough to take a nice photo of the fireworks so we, instead, took a video of it. The fireworks display started at exactly 12 midnight and it went on for half an hour. Javi was scared. He was crying that I took pity on him and brought him inside the room.

The first week of the year marks our one month here in Bangkok. And we are still here in the hotel. There had been some delay with the shipment of our stuff. Well, we haven't chosen a place to live yet. We have found the "right" apartment yet - the right unit, location, and price.

So far, this is the longest that I've stayed in a hotel. While I enjoy the hotel's facilities, food and service, I cannot wait to move into our own place with our own things. I probably have memorized the In-Room Dining menu by now. It was funny that on New Year's morning, we made our way to McDonald's for breakfast. Our palates were craving for something new.

So what's different about Bangkok?

Bangkok may be the top city for expats however the city itself is not baby-friendly. It proves a challenge riding the skytrain to go to the mall with little boy. I can no longer carry him on the sling because he has gotten heavier. Imagine carrying a baby in your left arm while your right arm has the bag and a stroller and you need to go up the stairs to go the train station. I am hoping that this routine would be some sort of exercise and I would shed pounds. I have never encountered a restaurant outside the Shangri-la that has a baby chair for Javi (well, there was this one time at McDonald's). Jed and I had been lucky a few times because Javi was napping in his stroller. Other than that it would be disaster like spilled soup.

I find the weather extremely hot that I end up with a migraine every time we were out most of the day.

It's interesting that there is no distilled water. Isopropyl alcohol may be purchased in small Chinese drugstore. I dared not ask if they have ethyl alcohol. Other than that, I enjoy grocery shopping and trying out new products and see what would work for us.

I know Thais probably mean well and they can't resist Javi's charming smiles but I was surprised how most of them would actually like to carry my little boy. Even total strangers - at the lobby of the hotel, by the supermarket cashier, inside the train. Javi is just more than eager to go with anyone who wants to carry him. Well, this is terrifying for a mother. Jed and I decided Javi cannot be carried by anybody else and I'd have to say "no" with a smile. I also needed to be reminded that Thais are a delicate race and I might offend them easily.

I seriously miss Cebu where it only takes 10 minutes to go to anywhere in the city. Bangkok is the opposite as it is obviously bigger. I still have no idea how to get to the Every Nation church in Bangkok. I heard it'll take us more than an hour on a Sunday afternoon.

Not knowing the local language has its usual disadvantages - not being able to communicate well. For me, it also has its advantages, there is no need for small talk, and no talkative taxi drivers, nail technicians and masseuse.

I am curious to find out what my tone will be a few months from now. I am sure I will a little adjusted by then and would know my way around. I am aiming to share as much as I can of my experiences and discoveries in Siam country.

My Game Plan for 2011

2011 is here! And there's no stopping it.

Lesson learned from last night, make attainable goals. So I've stopped listing down my goals for this year. Goals sound so serious.

I like what my friend Sam did, she made a to-do list for 2011. And that's the road I'm likely to take.

I had the inspiration to "write down" in Word document what I'd to happen in 2011. I was going to fill in my new Belle de Jour planner then I figured I had so many thoughts on my mind, I opened MS Word instead and typed away.

Talk about the perfect timing, it's the new year and we are in a new city. I can really start fresh. New mobile number. New church. New friends. New environment.

I am aiming this year to become a BETTER wife, mother, follower of Christ, homemaker, home manager, woman, blogger, daughter, sister, friend. I want to be a BETTER me.

On the top of my head, here are the things I want to do:

Introduce date nights. Jed and I badly need it. Think it's time to scout around for a babysitter when we have to go out on dates.

Really celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and other special occasions.

Join this group
BAMBI (Bangkok Mothers and Babies International). I would need playgroups for my little boy. And it's good to meet other mommies raising their kids in Bangkok.

Enroll the little boy in swimming class, and play gyms. Yes, we plan to be busy here.

Save, save, save AGAIN
Hopefully, in US dollars. Saving never goes out of style.

Simplify my life
- one journal, one credit card, one mobile phone.

Learn how to groom my own eyebrows.
Heaven knows how I pay someone to groom my eyebrows back home. I think it's time to do it on my own.

Blog regularly about my experiences here in Thailand.
I will make a career out of blogging. I enjoy doing this. Not necessarily being paid to write. Just to write more and share and hopefully inspire my audience.

Eat more fruits and vegetables.
Gosh, the Thais are so skinny. Maybe it's time to shift to their diet.

Travel to Phuket or Chiang Mai or Siem Reap this year. One of those places will do.

Never forget birthdays of people I love.
I have to send something, even a birthday card.

Go on a Prayer and Fasting. It's my second year. I want to find out what God's plan is for my life this year.

This year, I also want to introduce something new -- I want to start good habits. I got the idea from Belle de Jour planner. So for every month this year, I will start a good habit and hopefully keep on doing it, not only for 21 days, but for the entire month. Then I get a material reward after like a dress, or shoes. It sounds fun. Eventually, these good habits will be second nature to me.

Some of the good habits I thought of are:

drinking more water and cutting down on sugary beverages

dessert once-a-week

pray before going to sleep every single day

date nights

serve two servings of veggies and fruits every day

I need to think of seven more. Then I get a grand price by end of the year if I successfully finished all habits every month.

Let's start the year right. God gave us this new year to start anew.

Let us all work on making this year a better one.
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