A very quiet shift today so I have free time for a blog post. Yay! It was a busy start of 2016... I had my Taiwan trip while also finalizing itineraries and requirements for my UK and Schengen tourist visa. I was stressed as I miscalculated the month which I could start applying for my EU visas. I thought I could only start applying by January, but it was only when my friend pointed out that I realized I could already apply by December. Furthermore, I had couple of trips in January so I should carefully plan out how to apply in between the trips.
Anywayz, I had my Taiwan trip last January 9 and I fell in love with the place! I didn't know Taiwan has lots of beautiful places. I also enjoyed the food! No wonder, my Singaporean and Chinese colleagues consider Taiwan as one of their fave places to visit. My manager was even shocked that I will only stay there for 4 days. She told me they usually stay a minimum of one week, as some must-see places are outside Taipei. Hearing that, I'm sooo tempted to ask her to extend my leave but I didn't want to push my luck. :D
UK & Schengen Visa
I'll blog about my Taiwan trip after I'm done editing the pics. After Taiwan, I'm back preparing for my Europe trip this coming March. I spent the whole December planning the trip. Finally, I am scheduled for my Schengen visa application on Jan 14. I was so prepared with my documents, I even had colorful labels on them. I went to the Visa Application Center (VFS Italy) as Italy is where I will stay the longest. They cross-checked everything from hotel accommodations, train/flight bookings, insurance, etc. After they're done cross-checking, I was so proud of myself for being so organized and well-prepared that everything seemed settled... until they asked for my UK visa. My exact reaction at that moment: O_O!!!
I didnt have a UK visa! I was meaning to apply for it after I got my Schengen. I was speechless for a while until I muttered, "I thought I could apply either of them since they are not dependent of each other." The Italian officer then said in her Italian accent " Noh. We need your UK visa since you're entering UK first." I was mesmerized by her accent for a moment but it quickly dawned on me that I need to apply for a UK visa asap. They returned to me all my documents and advised to reschedule once I have my UK visa. They also said my docs were ok already, except for one cross-country train booking I need to provide.
I left the VFS Italy Center very anxious as I have an upcoming trip to the Philippines in Jan 23. I've read the UK visa processing may take up to 15 business days, so my passport wont be back until they're done with the visa process. I decided to take deep breaths, cut my loses and think of my next action plan. I checked UK visa appointment schedule and luckily they still have slots the next day. I booked it right away since I already had most of the documents. Fortunately, they have the same requirements with Schengen visa. I only need to get a bank certificate addressed to the UK embassy. I instantly googled for a POSB/DBS bank nearby to request for a bank certificate. Luckily, there is one in Tanjong Pagar Plaza which is just a short walk from the Vfs Center. I was able to request one and was happy to know I can pickup the certificate the next morning before my UK appointment schedule. The UK Visa application center is also nearby so a bit convenient for me.
So, Jan 15, I applied for my UK visa. I was contemplating whether to rebook my flight to Iloilo but I decided to wait and see. Most forumers say, actual timetable is around 2 weeks since the the docs are sent to Manila UK Embassy for processing. I was hoping for a miracle! I kept checking emails and messages to see if there are updates. I was ecstatic when Jan 21, I received an email that a decision has been made and my documents are being returned to the Visa Processing Center here in Singapore. I began reading forums again and one Pinoy from Malaysia posted of receiving the same email and able to receive his documents the next day. I was hopeful! The next day, Jan 22, I was restless. I kept checking my emails and SMS. Finally, I got SMS that my documents were already received by the Visa processing center here in SG. I kept waiting for another confirmation that I can collect my documents but I received none. I decided to just go to the center and check if I will be able to collect my passport. I was so glad they released my passport and with the UK visa stamped on it! I can finally go home to Phils that night!Furthermore, its one down and one more to go for my Visas! It was definitely a buzzerbeater moment for me.
My Schengen Visa application was a quicker process compared with the UK. The entire process was fast and painless. I only had a minor hassle of forgetting to bring cash, so I had to go down and building and look for an atm. Luckily there is one nearby. I personally think its inconvenient that they only accept cash for all the payments. Nevertheless, I'm still glad no other requirements were asked. I'm happy to say that my Schengen visa was approved as well, in just 3 days! I'm all set for EU and I'm sooo excited!
My trip to Iloilo coincides with the city's yearly festivities called "Dinagyang". I was not in the mood to celebrate as I was tired and sleepy from my flight. I just wanna sleep that day, being my original plan was to rest for the whole week. Unfortunately, my "jetsetter" mom wants us to process her passport renewal along with my daughter's so the next few days were suddenly hectic days for me. So all days of the week, I woke up early to drop Baby JJ to school, I then went with my mom for errands/processing, went back to school during lunch time to bring my daughter her lunch, then off to more errands. At 3PM, I fetched my daughter from school and we spent time malling, visiting relatives, watching movies or having our Harry potter marathon. I wasn't able to meet friends and I only managed to visit my aunts on my Dad's side. I was happy though that I was able to visit my Dad and my Aunt's grave. It's one of the reasons why I so wanted to go back home. It was also very happy moment being with my daughter. She is so funny and adorable! I know every Mom would say that of her children but seriously, my Baby JJ really has this effortless humor. I think she got it from my Dad. She's very talkative and can converse like an adult, which sometimes leave me speechless and in awe. She never fails to make me laugh! :D
Anywayz, it was a busy trip full of errands but its great to be back home! I miss my family and all the food in my hometown! I really gained a lot of weight from that trip. I'm still struggling to lose even just an ounce of it... I have a hard time fitting into my pants every morning now! I hope my Europe "Amazing Race" trip would make me shed a few pounds off. *crossing fingers**
I am a Filipina, formerly based in Singapore and is now living permanently in Melbourne. Yet, I am really a global citizen at heart. :)