Saturday, October 31, 2009

busy day...

Happy Pride!!!!

Happy Halloween!!

Goooooo Dawgs!!!!

we wish we were there to celebrate and enjoy the festivities with all of you...miss you guys!

Friday, October 30, 2009

top 5's

things i am loving about puerto rico...

1. no math- no metric system, no celsius and no foreign currency!!!!
2. brands/products i recognize- jiff peanut butter, baked lays, activia yogurt!
3. tv- abc, nbc, cbs and all in time for november sweeps!!
4. same time zone- i can finally talk to my friends in the same day!
5. no math- see #1.

things i am not loving about puerto rico...

1. no apartment after all :(
2. not a ton of affordable weekend travel :|
3. my old favorite gay beach bar no longer has fun sunday tea parties :{
4. our hotel is going to make us pack up and check out every single weekend :[
5. no apartment after all :(


Due to the extreme jet lag, which seems to be more powerful than any venti iced latte the sweet little barista here can concoct, this is not going to be a very detailed account of our weekend in Thailand. But, hey, aren’t you tired of the details? It seems we get fewer and fewer readers these days and as I read back through I can understand why…how many weekend itineraries can you stand before enough is just enough??

So, for your sake and mine…

Despite the smothering heat and humidity that seemed to truly suck the life out of you within minutes of stepping outside, we really had a great weekend in Bangkok. We did a full day tour of the Grand Palace, a few city sites and some temples. In short, cause that is how we’re going to do things for a while, the Grand Palace was mind-boggling. So beautiful and ornate that we really walked around with our mouths gaping open for the majority of our time there. The temples were serene and exquisite and the city bustling and diverse. Our guide, Molly, was delightful and it really was an awesome day…

A few other CAD folks were in town that weekend and we hung out with them in the evenings grabbing drinks, dinners and more drinks. Our trip into the Pad Pong area on Saturday night was an in-your-face look at the sleazy side of the city. When I say “sleazy” I mean that in the most grotesque way you can imagine…actually I don’t think you could even imagine some of the stuff and if you can then maybe we shouldn’t be friends. Seriously, that would be a deal breaker if ever there was one.

Even though we never stepped inside the bars it was impossible for me not to be revolted and saddened all at the same time. The “people watching” was at its best though and after the lonesome and random teacup poodle determinedly walked past in a striped tank top, I couldn’t help but be amused.

We spent Sunday at the Chatuchak weekend market. Shopping in Bangkok is unbelievable but it seems that my shopping bug dies when said shopping is on the surface of the sun. We picked up a few small things but on our next trip there I’m getting one of those personal cooler collar thingies or maybe a jacket made of ice so I can really take advantage.

I completely forgot to charge the point and shoot’s battery so for now there are only pics from our day tour…more to come once I wrangle them from the others.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

that time again

normally when we come to the end of the audit i'm amazed at how quickly time has flown by. is it really time to pack up and build a new nest somewhere else?? this time however, i'm in awe of how long it took to get here.

our time in cebu was cut short by a week of vacation but, it still seemed the only time that didn't drag by was when pablo came to visit. i guess that's why islanders have such a slow way of life. their whole world is in a time warp.

don't get me wrong, cebu and our hotel setting was really very lovely. the people could not have been more kind or cheerful and the beach and grounds were beautiful to say the least. i think some people are made for the beach life, the wife included. but, unfortunately, i'm not one of them. i love a good beach vacation but week after week of your daily options consisting of 1. lay out at the beach or 2. lay by pool gets very old, very quickly.

i had originally thought how lucky we were to be in cebu as opposed to manila. i think this was because manila is consistently at the top of "most dreaded locations" list with other people in the department.

now that we're in manila i regret so much that we were shipped off to cebu. of course, right off the bat the apartment compared to the tiny hotel room in cebu gives manila a huge leg up. but, the location in manila is also so much better than i had expected. granted it is one mega mall after the next but at least you can get out and walk around...go to a movie, browse a bookstore, go out to bars, grab a cup of coffee, eat somewhere other than krua thai*, etc.

fingers crossed that when we undoubtedly return next year the wife gets assigned to the manila team.

we're headed to bangkok this weekend before our long journey to puerto rico. funny to think in a short few days we'll be back in the western world, albeit the latin portion. we're looking forward to unpacking every single thing out of our suitcases in our apartment, all the visitors that are coming (yay!), and most of all having a little bit of space and normalcy before heading home for the holidays.

*for the record krua thai was awesome. it was delicious thai food and cheap as dirt but, wow, 2 to 3 times a week for 6 weeks can really make a girl cringe at the thought of green curry.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

missing you already :(

the only way our life could be any better is if best friends were covered under the travel policies.

thank you so much for coming to visit pablo! we truly LOVED having you and are looking forward to more adventures next year. love you!!

hong kong!

We left for Hong Kong late Friday evening and arrived just after 11pm. Word to the wise if you arrive somewhere close to midnight- keep an eye on your cab driver! Ours literally fell asleep while in the tunnel to Hong Kong Island!! Luckily I spotted her nodding off in the rearview mirror so we kept her awake with incessant questions until we arrived at our hotel. Thanks to Cloris’ recommendation we chose to stay at the Shangri La Island and found it to be both beautiful and luxurious, even by Hong Kong standards …which are pretty high.

We set off early Saturday morning for a city tour in hopes of catching some of the top sights and to get our bearings. Our first stop was Man Mo Temple, a Taoist temple built in the 19th century. It was under a major renovation but even with dodging the wet paint it was still fascinating. Our guide was obviously a Taoist and he gave us a great glimpse into the religion.

Our next stop was Victoria Peak. After taking the world’s steepest tram up we got to enjoy amazing views of the harbor...

Next up was Aberdeen Fishing Village where we took a short boat ride on a sampan. Aberdeen is one of the few surviving fishing villages in Hong Kong. There are still older generations of the Hoklo ethnic group living in the village on their junks (boats) still fishing and laboring as their ancestors did. Our guide said they refer to them as the last of the boat people because once this generation passes this tradition will die with them.

Afterwards we drove through the pricey neighborhood of Repulse Bay and around Deep Water Lookout on our way to Stanley Market. We did a little shopping and then made our way back to the hotel.

We had a late lunch where we enjoyed some traditional and extremely spicy Chinese fare before heading up to freshen up after a long and hot day.

We took the Star Ferry over to the Kowloon side to enjoy the laser light show that night. First, let me say that Hong Kong’s skyline is amazing and at night it only gets better. The show itself was not that spectacular but it’s still incredibly impressive to have 40 skyscrapers participating in a choreographed light show so I’m glad we saw it.

We walked down to the ladies’ night market afterward but none of us where in the mood for knockoffs so after a few blocks we veered off, found some dinner and eventually made our way back to the island.

We had planned to go to see the Big Buddha on Sunday but since we awoke to rain and an overcast sky we decided to go to the Wong Tai Sin temple and Hong Kong History Museum instead. Of course by the time we got to the temple the sun was shining. But, we had made our choice and there was no way to fit the 3 hour trek back and forth to the Buddha at that point. I guess it is always good to leave behind an excuse to come back.

The temple was extremely busy and we witnessed what I likened to “fast food religion”. They had rows and rows of railing to handle the crowds and it seemed that people did not have enough time to do much more than speed pray as we were herded through the different temples. The Taoist burn incense sticks for each prayer in the hope that the scent will reach the heavens. A lot of people and a lot of prayers means a lot of incense…there were literally times I could not breath and we were outside!

We had a quick lunch over before heading back to check out of the hotel. We ended our day with a trip to the history museum which I highly recommend, especially if you’re like us and didn’t do any research on the history of Hong Kong before coming ;)

We had dinner at the airport before having to part ways…us back to Cebu and Paul setting of on his odyssey back to Atlanta.

Saying goodbye was the only bad part of our trip. Hong Kong is a beautiful city. It is modern and green and has by far the easiest train system we’ve ever encountered! Being able to navigate a new city with ease really makes such a difference when you’re there for such a short period of time.

We had a great time and hope Paul did too as he ended his Asian vacation. This weekend we’re on our way to Manila for the last week of the audit.

Monday, October 12, 2009

2 cents- spend them as you like

i learned of obama's nobel peace prize win from pablo as he perused his iphone that saturday morning. i thought he had seen a post on facebook and truly thought it was a joke. it literally took me a few minutes to even believe it.

since we were in hong kong and without my laptop i decided to hold full judgement until i could actually read about the committee's decision.

i've spent the morning reading news articles from all angles...unbiased, conservative and liberal. heck, i even read the philippine newspaper's article on it. i've read what some bloggers have to say both political and nonpolitical and even some posts from friends who blog. i've even caught up on all the facebook status updates.

so...what do i think????

i think we have a great president. i think obama's campaign was well run. i think he did incite hope not only in our nation but around the world. hope that we could get on a better path for a better tomorrow. i've met people from all over the world this year who when i tell them where i'm from say "obama!!". i have seen first hand how far his message has spread. the thing is, i do not disagree with anything the nobel committee cited him with doing.

i like our president. i respect him immensely. i voted for him and i support his decisions on many things. but, when i thought about him winning this award i couldn't help but make the comparison to his message for equal rights. our president swooned the gay community during his campaign with hope for equality. his speeches and interviews gave us a hope that we'd not even been able to dream of in prior 8 years.

as of yet, we've seen no real progress towards these promises of equality. and yes, i'm a skeptical person. but, i truly want to believe the day will come when he decides to use some of his ever dwindling political capital to make these hopes a reality. until then do i think he deserves an award for civil rights? i'm afraid not.

listen, in no way do i mean to downplay our president's ability to move and inspire. he is an incredibly intelligent and talented leader. one who i believe will have an extremely long list of achievements under his belt when he leaves office.

i think the real question is do you think the nobel peace prize is something that should honor accomplishments in peacemaking or encourage a message of peace?

gandhi, who although nominated numerous times but was never awarded the nobel peace prize said:

"every worthwhile accomplishment, big or little, has its stages of drudgery and triumph; a beginning, a struggle and a victory."

although i think obama is off to a great beginning, i, personally, believe it is the struggle and the victory that should be commended by this great honor.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Happy Birthday L!!!

Hope your birthday is as much fun as it was last year...not more though...that could be dangerous!

Love and miss you!!!

Sunny Typhoon Weekend

Pablo got here on Thursday morning...very early Thursday morning. Not that it mattered to him. After 36+ hours of multiple plane rides, layovers, airports, and time zones he didn't have a clue as to what time it really was anyway.

We had planned to go to Hong Kong Friday evening but mother nature and the Sponsor had other plans. Since yet another typhoon was headed for Manila we had the choice to either get out on Friday morning or stay in Cebu. There were no flights out of Cebu that early so we hunkered down for what turned out to be a sunny and wonderful weekend. We expected nothing more than a few rain showers but we didn't even get that.

Our weekend in Cebu was great. We spent loads of time enjoying our beautiful beach on Friday and Saturady. Then on Sunday we took in the sights of the island with Cloris and her friend in town from China.

We've ate, drank and had a very merry weekend. It is always so great to have our friends with us to share experiences.

We were of course a little disappointed with having to cancel Hong Kong, but, not to fear we've rescheduled for this weekend!