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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Covid 19 US Visa Medical Experience at St. Lukes Medical Center Extension Clinic

 Hi everyone,

As you all know I'm finally with my husband and migrating to the US very soon. I just wanted to share with you how the US visa medical went.


First of all, once you get an interview scheduled you need to set an appointment online with St. Lukes Extension Clinic (SLMCEC). Do remember that there are two, Manila and BGC. I went to the one in Manila as thats whats indicated on the embassy email. 

The email that you will receive will have a link to the website where you can schedule an appointment. I got my appointment email October 29 and on the same day I scheduled the medical exam for October 30. I was in a hurry because my interview date was set November 5 so I have to get moving and have the tests done. 

I was able to get a confirmation email in less than an hour and i was set. 

Here are the things that you need before going to the medical appointment:

  • US visa compliant photos
  • Passport
  • SLMCEC appointment letter
  • Embassy appointment email
  • Copy of Bio Page on your passport
  • DS-260 confirmation

Depending on your age, the cost of the medical exam differs
15 y/o and older  -         Php 17,025
younger than 15 y/o-     Php   9,583

They accept cash and major credit cards (visa and mastercard)

For more detailed information you can visit St Luke's Medical Center Extension Clinic Website

To be specific Im going to the US on a Immigrant visa (CR1) it was the same test as everyone else going to the US. Please refer to the flow charts below 

photos from st lukes website

So heres how it went:

I arrived reasonably early around 5:30 am on the day of the exam (Oct 30), the line was long already. Before you stay in line go to the security guard and ask for a number and they will then ask you for what country (I was going to the US and then i said that), they will then provide you a number and you have to fill out a health declaration form. The security guard will then scan the documents you have and assemble it for you before entry. I had an online scheduled appointment so I dont need to fill out a physical form. They allowed us in before the counters even open, the time i entered there was already around 30 people inside sitting. There was also a lady calling in the numbers for photos for the medicals, they call using the name of the country and number, i was US 10 so they called numbers that way. Be very aware as sometimes they skip your number. They do other countries to so be aware when they skipped your number to ask the lady nicely and tell them your number. (it was all jumbled up countries so no wonder that this happens at times).

After your photo was taken, you will be asked to wait for your number to be called on the counter, they still use country + number code. I was called and the documents were taken and verified, you will be given a paper and then also your passport to go to 5th floor to pay. I used the elevator since its 5th floor and i was on 1st floor. There was only one window for the cashier, and thankfully there wasnt any line. 

I have to give my papers to the receiving area every single counter that you go to. You basically have to move your papers along after you are done on one station to another. This is a very common scenario in the clinic. And make sure you give it to the correct counter, as there are multiple countries and if you mix it up it will delay your progress.

Next was taking vitals, height, weight, blood pressure, pulse rate and vision. As for the vision part make sure that you have your glasses or contacts with you and tell them if you are wearing any.
I was then instructed to go for the Xray on the 3rd floor. I have to leave my papers on the reception area on that floor and then wait for my name to be called, once called you will be instructed as to what room you are supposed to go. Males and female rooms are separated and there is a changing room that is free for all. Yup there is one changing room and you have to leave your clothes there and things. You will be asked to wear a hospital gown with no bras (for girls) also you need to keep your hair all tied up and not obstructing the Xrays. once you are done dress up and leave the lab gown outside on the dedicated basket. 
You will be handed your papers again and will be asked to go to laboratory. (im already using the stairs at this point going up and down as the elevators are always full and i dont have time for delays.) Same thing, leave the papers and wait for name to be called. At this phase blood work was taken from me (yes i hate needles and it freaks me out whenever im poked with it intentionally) and urine sample was taken (to save a lot of time, i drank a lot of water on my way to the clinic and hold it in). 
There was also a point where there was a questionnaire where there is a medical checklist and for girls its important to know when you had your last period (LMP on the form) and also your last sexual contact.  
I was then asked to go to to an interview with the doctor about my medical history, like measles or if i already had chicken pox (which i had when i was a kid but i didnt get any scars from it) and other medical stuff. I suggest ask your guardians, parents for info as much as possible before going and also ask for immunization records (we call that Bakuna in the Philippines) as its gonna be of great help. I was then asked to take remove clothing and have a physical exam (yes my doctor is a female). I was asked to turn around etc, there was also a stomach exam where they press on your stomach gently on different areas (maybe to check if there is an anomaly in your body i guess).
After the laboratory bloodletting, you will be asked to go to radiology again for releasing of the xray- this was  a bit confusing as i didnt really get any physical copies of my xray. I asked what time will it be released, they said i need to wait til 10:30 (it was around 9 or so) so i went out to get something to eat and kill the time. Upon return i was told that i was on the clear and i can go to immunization, I left my papers on the reception on that department and then i was called after around 2 hours at the most. And i was in for a treat, I was given a waiver to sign with all the adverse effects of the vaccines and that SLMC is not liable if it goes wrong, and yes i was slightly interviewed and then the vials came in, i realized whats gonna happen and its not a fun experience for me. Mostly because im scared of injections, i was able to tough it out and 3 injections were given to me at that point, MMR, Tdap(tetanus) and varicella. 
After I felt like a human pin cushion i was led out, feeling successful as i was able to not lose my mind during the whole injection ordeal. I brought with me some band aids so i used that before going home. 

I waited a bit to get my papers from them expecting that it might be an envelop and such, but they just returned my passport with a stamp and some numbers and signature, they mentioned that they do it online at this point and no papers are needed, the stamp represents that im good for interview and should be able to go to the embassy without hiccups on the medical end. 

For people who have something going on with their xrays they need to wait 2 month for the culture sample to check for tuberculosis.

on a side note, i spent half a day for my medicals to my own surprise, it was fast and well organized. you just need to go up and down the stairs a lot, mostly because of the socially distanced elevator situation. the nurses that administered the vaccines was actually fast and not fumbling around, the blood letting was also pretty fast. (i pinched myself pretty hard during all of those times). Everyone wear masks and face shields, social distancing was somewhat followed as some floors tend to be more crowded than others. 

Photos are not allowed inside the establishment and i cant put the stamp that st lukes put on my passport as they have personal info on them. 

Anyway, I hope you find this helpful and remember to keep safe!


Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Top 5 Things to do in the Ancient City of Pingyao

Pingyao Ancient City is one of the best spots I have visited so far in China. Its small and not too busy on a regular weekend. Its an ideal spot for a weekend getaway and just to chill and unwind. Since its a historical site that retains the Ming and Qing feel to it, it does make us want to go there to see for ourselves how we like it.

Since this place is very accessible to our city we just need to hop on a bullet train and go there. The trip took us at less than an hour from our city to the nearest train station. You can check my train ride HERE

Disclaimer: This is just for a trip inside the walled city only.

Without further ado here are my top things to do in Pingyao

The City Tower along the Ancient Street

See the Tourist Sites

Well, Like other tourist destination its a must to visit the sites. Since this is a pretty small area, they sell a joint ticket for the site at the ticketing office near the entrance to climb up to the wall. It is very convenient because the sites do have a scanner for the tickets and you dont need to keep on dipping into your purse to get money to pay for separate tickets.

Eat Pingyao Beef and the Local Delicacies

Pingyao is known for Pingyao beef and we had it the first day we are there and it was amazing. Its tender, flavorful and has that roast beef feel to it but looks like a big hunk of corned beef that wasnt shredded yet. There are a lot of local restaurants lining the streets from noodles to vegan friendly options. Also if you are a drinker local beer is being served everywhere and if you want a margarita that is good and reasonably priced you can head on to Cozy Bar.

 Braised Eggplant and Stir Fried String Beans
Some potato dish with egg and Pingyao beef in Curry sauce

Walk along the ancient Ming and Qing streets

This is an activity on its own and you should not miss doing it at night when the lanterns are on.
Its also cool in the evenings so we really did enjoy walking around the area and also shop around.
There are a lot of antique stores lining the streets and they have really cool vintage items.

A re-enactment parade we glanced upon

Relax and take a break and do people watching

Its a fun activity for someone like me who wants to enjoy life at a slow pace. After a whole morning of walking its great to sit down and relax. You can also have a massage for 30 Rmb ( around $5) we had one and it was pretty relaxing after walking a lot.

Here are just some of the things you can do in Pingyao and it didn't really cost much for a weekend trip. We will definitely come back and visit this place again. Not only its a historical place, there are only a handful of places like this in China that still remain intact and retained its ancient architecture and charm. It can get quite touristy during holidays, so its best to go there during a regular weekend and enjoy the scenery.

I will add some more links to this post in a few days.

If you are in China and going to Xian from Beijing this is a great place to visit and enjoy. Definitely worth your time.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Yingze Park

Yingze Park is one of the popular parks in Taiyuan, Shanxi. Its a huge park that covers 63.28 hectares and 20 of that is by the lake. The construction started 1954 and it was opened 1957 it contains 10 gardens with a large variety of plants. There are also a lot of things to do inside the park for all ages.

There are parts of the park that are well shaded than others, The most prominent tree around are willow trees and the place is a great place to do exercise and walk. During our visit there are a lot of people hanging out because its the week end. 

Since there a lot of things to do in Yingze Park i filmed some of the highlights of our visit and you can check the video below!

Since the park is massive it gets really tiresome and we actually spent half a day just walking around. Since it was spring time during our visit it tended to get hot too. There a lot of snack stalls in this area that sells local snack food like Chinese hotdog and fish balls. Activities such as boat riding and some rides for the children are available. There are a lot of gazebo and there is actually a museum that you can go in for free. 

Here is a map that shows the scope of the place.

Address: China, Shanxi Sheng, Taiyuan Shi, Yingze Qu, 迎泽大街218号 邮政编码: 030001
Phone:+86 351 202 2622
Entrance is for free but if you want to do activities inside most likely its not free unless its educational like the merchant museum.

The place is nice if you like to walk and just hang out. When we visited it was a pretty clear day and the smog is not that bad. The free exhibit is rather nice too. I wasn't very excited with the animal enclosure because I personally didn't like their situation. But over all it was okay. 

Thats it for this post. I hope you guys find it helpful. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Shanxi Museum

Shanxi Museum is one of the best museums I have been so far. Its organized, well lit and packed with artifacts from Ancient China. Considering that we live in Taiyuan at the present time we decided to visit this museum and see what it can offer. 

Shanxi Museum houses a total of 200,000 cultural relics and its all in display. The theme of the museum is "Jin Soul" and with it are 7 displays on history and 5 on arts which follows a historical route, and focuses on civilizations and the 5000 years of history and arts.

Here are the 12 Displays: 

  • The Cradle of Civilization- Displays the cultural relics from the Neolithic and Paleolithic ages that exhibits the local history and the ancient men and the start of civilization and state.
  • The Traces of the Xia and Shang Dynasties- This exhibit shows Shanxi during the two the dynasties that spanned almost a thousand years. You can see here the civilization of the Central Plains and grassland cultures of different states in Northern China.
  • The Achievements of the Jin Kingdom- Shows the history from the beggining via subinfeudation up to the splitting to three vassal states and also amazing bronze art of the age.
  • The Melting Pot of Different NationalitiesFocuses on arts produces during the mixture of cultures from the Han up to the Sui Dynasties.
  • The Relics of Buddhism- shows the development of Buddhisim in 1500 years from the Northern Qi Dynasty to the Ming and Qing dynasties. The artworks are witnesses to the development and also the aesthetic pursuits of ancient artists.  
  • The Hometown of Operas- local operas and brick carvings are the focal point of this display. It shows traditional developement of the art of opera form the Warring States to the Ming and Qing dynasties and highlights the contribution and status of Shanxi in the Chinese opera history.
  • Shanxi Merchants- tells the history of the merchants in the Ming and Qing dynasties that established that first Draft Bank (Piaohao) that opened the financial field in China. 

This section shows the outstanding product craftsmanship and artistic qualities of Chinese Art.
  • Ancient Chinese Painting and Calligraphy 
  • Ancient Chinese Porcelain
  • Ancient Chinese Currency 
  • Jades
  • Chinese Architecture

For more images during my visit check out my Facebook page albums
(its just too much to be put in one post)

Opening Hours: 
  • 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM (no admission after 4:00 PM)
  • Museum is closed during Mondays, New Year's Eve and the First Day of Chinese Lunar Calendar (days may vary)
Contact Information:
  • Address: 13 Binhe Xilu Beiduan, Taiyuan, Shanxi, PRC
  • Postal code: 030024
  • Telephone: 86-351-8789188 8789555
  • Fax: 86-351-8789221
  • Website:
Visiting Information:
  • Tickets are for free (locals present a valid ID and tourists need to present your passport) just go to the ticketing office located at the right side of the museum block.
  • Admission is only valid for tickets that are issued the same day,
  • Touching of relics is prohibited
  • Flash lights and Tripods are not allowed
  • Food and drinks are not allowed.
  • Shanxi Museum offers services for councel, data, speaking guide, audio guide, baggage counter, strollers, wheel chairs and catering etc. 
  • For group tours, reservations in advance is advised (Tel: 86-351-8789555)
Personal Thoughts:

The museum is quite modern considering that its housed in a very nice building following Chinese Feng Shui. There are 4 levels in this building and the bottom is just basically dedicated for admissions and if you want to get an audio guide or a speaking guide you can. Im not aware on the cost since when we visited we just took a free visitors guide (some info and map provided) they have it in both Chinese and English and is available at the information desk at the middle of the 1st floor. 

There are a wide array of artifacts to be seen and they are displayed properly and is well lit. The building is air-conditioned and there are only a handful of foreign tourists around and 99% of the people visiting there are locals. A tea house is located at the 2nd level of the museum.

The displays are great and I did enjoy everything. If you love art then you must visit this if ever you are in Shanxi. I highly recommend it and will definitely visit again in the future.

Time spent in museum : 3-4 hours (its not small and if you take a lot of photos it might take longer and its a lot of walking)

There are toilets per level and they have both the squat and the western toilets. And they are clean. (I deem this necessary and if I can I try to check it)

There are random seating spots near the octagon center of each level. The escalators are off during our visit but the elevators are working properly. There are a lot of stairs too if you prefer walking. 

Thats it for this post and I hope you find this helpful. If you have any questions feel free to post a comment or send me an email :)


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Novotel Peace Beijing

This is such a long overdue review for the hotel we stayed at for a week during our Beijing visit.

Novotel Peace Beijing is perfectly situated near Wangfujing Street. Its just a few minutes walk to the shopping street that is packed with tourists. The location makes it perfect since you can easily say the street and the cab drivers will not get lost.

Lobby area

Okay so we stayed i think at the old wing of the hotel so its not really a super scenic spot to begin with so lets go straight to the room we stayed in.

Our super cozy bed

We have a very spacious closet with lights, drawer and safe.
The room is very spacious and you have a lot of space to move around in.

The bathroom is very nice and we love it! They are also very generous with the soft towels!

They have a gym, pool, spa and a souvenir shop

The buffet breakfast is really good we always make sure we have a heavy meal before heading out so its nice they have a very good selection of western and local chinese food.
 Photo on the right is the bar and we loved the margaritas (did it during happy hour!)

Why I recommend Novotel Peace Beijing?

Location is just perfect. Its just 5 minutes walk from Wangfujing Shopping street and its very easy to find. They also have a grocery store next to them and its open really late so you can get drinks and other things you might need from there. You can check out my Wangfujing Experience Here. Oh by the way, even if you dont talk chinese and get in a cab and say Wangfujing they will drop you at the street and then you can walk a bit and you are at the hotel! (We did that a few times)

The rooms are cozy and clean. If you havent been to china before they sleep on a HARD bed. Here its moderately hard and they can add cozy blankets and sheets and extra pillows if you want for free! The toilet is very clean and they have a generous amount of towels and toiletries. you can have your cleaned everyday during your stay. You need to be specific though because they might just make your bed up like what we had the 1st night of our stay. They have unlimited hot water showers. They give you complementary tea, coffee etc in your own room and they refill it as well. They got robes, slippers, laundry bags etc. 

The staff are nice. They have great staff and are very helpful. They are also not stingy with ice i mean if you ask for ice they will give you a very big bowl of ice

The breakfast buffet is great! Real western breakfast is available. They serve it hot and they have great selections available. 

They have very reasonable price. Considering for what you are getting its a great deal! They got a pool, breakfast buffet, a gym and many more amenities and the location. Its a great place to stay at.

Will I come back and stay here again? YES and I highly recommend it to everyone!

And just to clarify, this is not a sponsored review :) 

Thats it for this post you can check out their website for complete info. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Wangfujing Street and Donghuamen Night Market

Wangfujing Street is one of the known tourist location when you are in Beijing. The locations is just a few blocks away from Forbidden City and is at the east side. Its actually a pretty long street but a section of it is just for walking starts from Dongdan 3rd alley ( the corner where Wangfujin Book Store is located) and ends in Dong'anmen (donghuamen food street)

Its a very busy place with lots of shopping and eating establishments. Below are some western eating establishments:
McDonalds- 2 branches just along the closed section of wangfujin one adjacent from wangfujin bookstore.
Baskin Robbins- Loc. Basement of wangfujin bookstore (food court)
Subways(sandwiches) beside baskin robbins- its adjacent to each other
KFC- i think we saw 2 branches on the street boths left and right side
Pizza Hut- there are also 2 branches  (if i remember it correctly)

Since we stayed in NOVOTEL Beijing Peace which is just like 5 mins away from Donghuamen and Wangfujing Streets its very convenient for us to get around the place. During our visit we are able to look around and the place is packed with name brands like PRADA and other fancy brands! Its really a shopping street.

The only place I enjoyed is the Wangfujing Book Store and Donghuamen Food Street! During our visit we also entered Wangfujin Food Street its at the left side if you are from Dongdan 3rd alley.
Many people mistake Donghuamen as Wangfujin food street. They are two different things. The Wangfujin Food street is packed with locals and tourists alike and during our visit they have weird food there( I MEAN BUGS!) but at Donghuamen they have normal food!!!

There are many things that you can enjoy in Wangfujing since there is something for everybody. This is definitely a must visit, but be aware that the place is extra crowded during Chinese holidays. 

Thats it for this post i will update this if i have any other thoughts to add here. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Xilinmen Hot Pot Restaurant

Xilinmen Hot Pot is a chain restaurant all over Shanxi, China, We recently visited one that is just two kilometers away from our apartment and decided to have lunch there. I had hotpot before at Taiyuan Food Street but thats for another post. We ordered hotpot that is good for 3-4 people. Check out more info after the images :)

Hot Pot broth (Spicy and plain)

(Left) Condiments Corner (Right) Plain Broth



Food: We got the 3-4 person set that includes the following:
  • noodles: sweet potato noodles, lotus noodles, tofu noodle and freshly made noodles 
  • meats: pork, beef, lamb and something on a stick (im sure its pork), crabsticks
  • veggies: sweet potato, shitake mushrooms, 2 kinds of lettuce, corn in a cob.
  • dessert: chinese donuts with condensed milk dip
  • drinks: Tea, Hot water, juice fountain (orange,grape and mango) are all bottomless. Sodas and alcohol can be purchased as well
  • condiments: sesame sauce, sesame oil, hot oil, chinese black vinegar, black beans, some flavoring powder, chinese light soy sauce, fermented tofu, cilantro, chives, picked garlic, picked vegetables, some oily beef, and others

  • Its affordable since its just 150Rmb ($25) for the whole meal.
  • The place is very easy to locate (considering its along the highway).
  • The food is great (this is my second hot pot place).
  • Staff is very helpful and attentive to our needs. They served the food fast.
  • You can pay in cash or online.
  • The interior is very ornate and clean. The seats are cozy (we got the booth).
  • Toilet is clean with running water, soap and paper towels.

Address: Shengli St, Xinghualing, Taiyuan, Shanxi, China

Overall this is a very good place to have hotpot. Since its all over Shanxi, China you may be able to visit one near your place. I will definitely come back here in the future.