Wednesday, September 8, 2010

B**** Didn't Give Us Welcome Cookies & Tea

Upon arriving in Kerry, Ireland, we ran into problems due to our severe Americaness of not being able to drive stick. A taxi car ride later, we arrive at the B&B and greeted by a not so friendly owner. We then settle in and head out to procure "dinner" which ended up being baguette and cheese from the local convienent store. Back in the room while we are eating, mom mentions that the lady will probably be mad for the mess we are making. I go on to say, in my usual colorful way, "b**** should have brought us welcome cookies and tea".
The highlight of this story is that I got my mom to agree to this AND start complaining as well about the lack of hospitality we would expect from B&B establishments. This went on until my sister pointed out that my mom doesn't eat cookies nor drink tea.
We then realized all those years as kids when she would ask "if the other kids jumped off a bridge, would you?", her answer would have been "yes".

London: Beer, Crisps and Pies.

Coming soon

Bayen Nicht Deutschland

Coming soon

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Are You A Teacher?


When you're white and in South Korea, chances are you're a teacher. Which is why more than once I got asked "Are you a teacher?" especially when I was in Samcheok.

Samcheok was a wonderful little city with not a whole lot to do but enough for a long weekend or in my case a few days mid-week.

The buses are one of the most notable things of the trip. This considering the many bus trips we took from Ho Chi Minh to Bangkok. The seats were large. Only three across and included a foot rest you could put up. It was like being in first class. Koreans know how to travel.

Samcheok sits on the beach being historically a fishing village with a very sexual past (Penis park) and is also known as "Cave City". Just outside Samcheok is one of the largest caves in Asia. Although slightly cheesey in the Asian fashion with colored, string lights and lame names like "Bridge of Love", the massive cave was amazing. The cave has a metal pathway that winds through out various section of the cave which takes a leisurely 1.5 hrs. Although I'm sure if you were like the other Asian tourist booking it through you could do it in the recommended 1 hr allotment.

I Want That Fish, But I Want Him Dead


Jennie and Kwang took me to the fish market in Seoul. What I was not expecting was that much of the selection was still alive and sometimes well in the tanks including octopus. What I was expecting even more was what happens after you pick out your fish. They pull it out, put it on the scale still flapping, throw it onto the ground still flapping and BAM! whack it in the head. In the video is the 2nd fish's demise. The first not caught on tape was met with a loud, hallow whack followed by it bursting its mouth open as seen in the front. Warning: don't watch if you are the least bit senstive. seriously.

In positive fishy news, I was also taken to Dr. Fish in the Insect Exhibit in one of Seoul's beautiful parks. Luckily, they day was very rainy and no one was around and I got to enjoy having my feet eaten by the tiny fish. They did a fantastic job!

video

Saturday, August 28, 2010

What Up Kim Jong Il


Upon booking my trip to South Korea, I added the DMZ to the list of places to visit. So the day after I landed, I board the bus and headed up to the heavily guarded border. Passports & clothes were checked at two different check points (can't look like slobs to the North Koreans and lose face) and the rules of no pointing, photos in most areas and drinking were explained. This photo is of one of the South Korean guards. Most are university age as all men are required to serve for two years. I think they post the ones that look most menacing at the DMZ. They stand in ready position and look totally bad ass. The mics on the table is the division line between the two countries. South Korea on the left and North Korea on the right. This is capitalism at its best.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

One more coupon store..... Death Star!


Today was an interesting day around Bangkok. We managed to get around for about 2$ all day which was a lot of places but it came at a price.
The morning started with a lovely lady helping us find our way to the bus, which turns out we took the wrong way but the point is that after we mentioned we had been to Phuket, she asked me why I wasnt tan. What the lady didnt realize is I am tan and that I can be a whole lot whiter.
The next was our score of a tuk tuk. 40 baht all day for all the places we want. But turns out that required us stopping at tourist trap stores and spending time walking around so he could get his coupon. By the last store, they kicked us out. Guess it was obvious we had no interest in buying suits or dresses. Who would have thunk.
Our day also consisted of visiting loads of Temples. Yup more of them. I am offically on a temple boycott.
The final part of the day included a trip to the night market. After unsuccessfully trying to find the knock-off wallet I wanted, I scored something I didn't want in the first place. A ninja star! I was laughing and he offered me a price, then a better price, then I realized I could get it for next to nothing. I won. For 3$, I am the proud owner of a ninja star. Just need the ninja outfit to go with it. What am I going to do with a ninja star you ask. Well 1) pray it doesnt get taken from my checked luggage (althought TSA did let me through with cuticle and childrens safety scissors) and 2) do something awesome with it! Maybe I need to be a ninja for Halloween.....

Monday, August 23, 2010

Can I Get A New Page Please!

Today we crossed back into Thailand. The last stop on the southern asia tour. On foot. After losing my paper clip, I have not been able to force the border officials to stamp the pages I want. And instead, the countries are piling up on one page. I think they do it on purpose. Anyways, after, we picked up another bus which drove us down the road where we were forced to stop at places that offered 10+$ lunches before cramming into a van and driving onto Bangkok.

Ruins, Ruins and more Ruins




Day starting at 4:30 to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat. Worth it to miss the crowds. We rented a tuk tuk for the day and even went far up to Kbal Spean to go for a hike and see the waterfall. The rest of the time was ruins. Lots of ruins. But at least the scenery was beautiful.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Genocide and Dress-Up




The trip across the border to Cambodia was a harrowing experience. There was nothing resembling a queue and instead were just masses of people waiting around waiting for their name to be called.
Touring around Phnom Penh. We visited the killing fields were many were buried into mass graves. The most amazing thing is how much they want to preserve everything and keep alive the memory. They even have a bin for clothes that continue to surface.


We also toured the National Museum and got to play dress up.
Also USD is accepted everywhere. The ATM machines even dispense it. Although unlike Vietnam who only worked in hole dollars, they actually give change....in Cambodian Riel.





Thursday, August 19, 2010

And they shot the pots and pans




Cu Chi Tunnels. Just outside of Ho Chi Minh were the pride of the Vietnamese and most likely the bain of the Americans during the war. These complex and narrow tunnels provided shelter to the Vietnamese from the "crazy, killing Americans". They shot "the women, they shot the children, they shot the ducks, they shot the pots and pans, they shot the chicken and they shot the Buddha." Aside from being able to crawl through these tunnels which are severely small even though they have since been widened, we got to see the destroyed US tank and the boobie traps they used. The informational video proudly talked about the Vietnamese man and woman who received medals of honor for killing Americans and destroying their tanks. Overall, I think it's fair to say, unlike most Americans, they have not forgotten about the war.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Try and Beat It

In Ho Chi Minh. $3 for a mani/pedi. I dare someone to beat that. Although we still have Cambodia next.....

The Spotless City


Singapore. The city that is also the name of the country that is very well off for such a tiny island.

While we did not go to any beaches, there was plenty to do around the city. We visited museums which explained why "Raffles" is in many names and meandered through tropical parks. All of which were surprisingly but nicely quiet and unpoulated. Perhaps this was in preparation of the next day of the Youth Olympics. These are the mascots. Lyo and Merly. They are lions. Who are based off the famous Merlion and well lion is in the name of the country Singapura.

Lastly, the subways were immaculate like the rest of the city. Take a note Philly. They were spotless, didn't smell like piss and actually went places.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Asia: Building Replica Landmarks From Around the World





In traveling through Asia, more than once we have come upon some familiar sights visited in past travels in other countries. It turns out Asia does more than knock off designer clothing and accessories.
Japan: The Eiffel Tower....Tokyo Tower
Malaysia: Seattle Space Needle....Kuala Lumpur Tower
Stone Hedge......Acutal Replica of Stone Hedge
Even the large, solar clocks from Jaipur were spotted.

A Time Machine to India's Future

Kuala Lumpur. That would be in the very under-rated and little talked about Asian country of Malaysia. This major city was a complete surprise for this traveler. While my expectations and thoughts were about zero because of my severe lack of knowledge of this country, I have been blown away by the thriving city and strong population of Indians and muslims residing in this beautiful country which has left the country with an Indian/Asian mix of culture. It feels like a cleaner, more developed India. The kind of India that Americans want to experience without the hassle of maneuvering and smelling the third world. While I'm sure the economic success of KL is not a complete indicator of the country's prosperity, the wealth of the city was such a surprise. If Malaysia has the population count to compete with China, they could give China "a run for money"!
Day one of traveling, we explored the city via a "hop-on, hop-off bus" which was a life saver for us to fully capitalize on our two days here.
Soon enough we will be boarding a train for Singapore. Can't wait. Choo! Choo!

Monday, August 9, 2010

What's with the random dead sea animals?


Phuket, Thailand.
The beaches are beautiful here and catered to the tourist. For 100 baht or about 3$ you can rent a comfortable beach lounger for the day and have vendors parade around food, clothing, accessories, bags, ice cream and aloe rub downs all day. And even the food is not ridiculously priced. 1$ for an ice cream. what a steal!
Aside from the beautiful beaches, this trip seems to be plagued with random dead sea animals washed up on shore. This time was a very bloated puffer fish washed up. Thankfully no disection this time.
Thailand also has a distrubing amount of 7-11s. At one point, I saw two across the street from each other followed by one every block there after.
The restaurants boast a lot of foreign food. Burgers and fries seems to be more common than Thai food; a sad bi-product of a very tourist area. Even the Thai food is nothing special and the good stuff as usual is found in the little hole-in-the-wall places.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Babbling Brook While You Pee

My trip here in Japan would not be complete without a write-up on the toilets. The other day I finally got up the nerve to press the many buttons on the toilet at school out of curiosity. And yes, the toilet cleans sprays your tush clean with water. No manual hose like India. And it even dries your tush too! In some bathrooms, sounds are played to simulate a babbling brook to help either mask your toilet noises or help inspire you to go. I'm not entirely sure which one.

The school portion of my trip is done and tomorrow i head from the confusing, non-grid, non-named streets of Japan to the beautiful beaches of Phuket. 5 Months of vacation is starting and I am very excited.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Is that a dead sea turtle?







Yes. That is a very large and very dead sea turtle on the beach in Kamakura. One guy, who was apparently called in to deal with it, dug a hole and then proceed to dissect the entire turtle and then bury the pieces of it in a very shallow grave on the beach. It was a very long process involving two very large knives and took place while we ate dinner. All we wanted was an ocean view and we got a "show" with it.
Besides stumbling upon something you would never even imagine witnessing in life, the day proved to be very fruitful. With in 30 minutes and at one location, I was able to not only finally find postcards in Japan, but also find something that cost under 1$!. For 25 cents, I was able to go inside a very large budda. Even though the inside was not much of anything, I would have paid it just to stand at the door because I finally found something cheap.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sake: The Wine of Japan


We were provided a Sake tasting at school. While it was certainly weird to drink at school and not have to hide it in water bottles and the like, it was a lot of fun. We got to try lots of different sakes, from the highest grade to the one that comes in a milk carton. We even got to try pairing it with cheese and dried squid. The dried squid won.

Fun fact about sake: It's distillation process is longer and more complex than wine.

We also got sushi with it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Japanese Baseball Fans Are Better

Last night we went to a baseball game at Tokyo Stadium. The Giants vs the Swallows.... While the teams were not as good as what you see back home, the fans are diehard. The constant chanting, cheering and coordination of the entire stadium as well as matching props and outfits was amazing. Section leaders at home should be ashamed of the limited and short rallying they can get the fans to do. Here. One guy starts one cheer, choreographed hand movements included, and everyone goes for it. And not just for a minute. For an inning. Video of this will come soon. While I may think twice about attending a game back home, you won't have to ask me twice here. Sakamoto!!!
video

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A McDonald's Cheeseburger is better in Tokyo

While fastfood is not something I eat, i am drawn to such establishments for their very refreshing chocolate milkshakes. A quilty pleasure of mine. After 3+ weeks of traveling in heat, I broke down and went to the McDonald's where only in Tokyo could you spend $10 on a cheeseburger, small fries and a small milkshake. It was worth it to find out that the cheeseburgers are indeed better here. The last time I had a McDonalds cheeseburger was about 2 years ago in upstate ny on one of my many long drives home from VT. That burger was an instant regret and quite possibly one of the worst non-burger tasting things ive ever had. But here in Tokyo, it seems their meat may not be quite as processed and lo and behold, was that a little bit of pink in my burger! Yes, here they are not cooked super well done but somewhere about medium well which is just find by me. The burgers are still dainty in size and carry loads of ketchup and mustard to make up for it as well as the very small one pickle which makes you wonder as to why they ever bother putting it on there but at least they are edible. If it weren't for my shame of portraying the stereotyped fat, fast-food eating american and hefty price, I may consider stopping by again.

Shanghai

Beijing

Seattle

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Randomness of Friday Travels

Driving down the highway, against the median, there was a feather duster. No wait, that was a dead chicken. Dinner anyone?

Driving in north of the parkway, i passed a guy standing out on his stoop. Playing the guitar. Wearing a mascot bear head. I wish i had stopped for a picture.

The Best Mascot Lives in Philly

Coming soon.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Day That Eventually Worked Out

Friday was quite the day of ups and downs.
Left at 5am to drive into the city. Got in a car accident, the first in 9 years, the first I've ever caused, by backing into my parents car. So not really a car accident but still.
Arrived in the city before dawn and found a free, awesome parking space.
Went to NYC, had a good meeting with EMC client.
Getting home from NYC, it was like I had never been to NYC. Memory you have failed me.
Arrived at PA just in time to catch the last bus for the next hour and a half.
Went to the wrong gate
Got pissed at myself because I have taken this bus a zillion times.
Had to run.
Had a stranger help me as I ran for my departing bus
Caught the bus just in time.
Sat on the bus in traffic and arrived close to an hour late
Smashed my leg trying to get through the turnstile on a rejected token
Missed the subway train that had just pulled up.
Arrived for my dinner plans and got a great hug.
At dinner, waitress knocked over wine cooler stand.
Got free glass of wine from manager.
Chase got fixed and is no longer a padiddle.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

I'm Dropping Out of Grad School to Join the NASCAR Circuit


One of the days during my spring break vacation was spent down in Daytona and the raceway museum and family fun center. It was filled with NASCAR history, IMAX movies, simulators, test crew pits and other random items that rednecks and NASCAR junkies would just love.
Not being a redneck or NASCAR enthusiast, I was very grateful that the place was not packed when I was there. I am sure I would have died. The trip was entertaining and I got to race in my first NASCAR race. I came in first place!!! I was a natural on the track, weaving and dodging cars, vying for position. Well not really, I stayed in front the entire race and didn't come up to anyone until I lapped them. But there was one terrifying moment when a car in front of me crashed and burned on the track. Now if only I could drive stick.....

Monday, March 8, 2010

DQ hates me and chocolate soft serve


This story actually begins last year in which attempts were made to purchase chocolate soft serve from 3 different locations. I-95 in Georgia, I-95 south of St Augustine and A1A St Augustine, Florida. At every location, chocolate soft serve was not to be found. I even got a "it was contaminated" reason as well. Well, on our drive down from Jax, Renee and I stopped to get some ice cream at the DQ on A1A in St Augustine. I recalled my ordeal from the year before and prayed that one year later they would have chocolate soft serve back in stock. Well they did not. DQ is a disgrace to soft serve ice cream.

Passenger to Jacksonville; Last name.....laura

At the butt crack of dawn, I headed to the airport to begin my yearly pilgrimage to Florida. After checking in, I had to wait for a long time for them to tag my luggage. Apparently 6am is a busy time for US Airways and is made even worse by the slow moving, inadequately staffed personnel who are in desperate need of coffee. Eventually, someone comes to take care of the long queue filled with checked-in passengers awaiting to hand-off their luggage. Being one of the last to check-in, I prayed I wasn't the last to be assisted. Luckily I wasn't as the last but instead the first as she called out "Passenger to Jacksonville; Last name....................laura."
Upon arriving in Florida, I discovered a new drinking game as Renee drove me toward the city. Drink every time you saw someone with a large sign dancing on the side of the road.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Tea Time for Charity

My old dance school had their annual charity tea party for the Susan B. Komen. We got to dress up in pretty outfits, drink tea and win raffle prizes (well some of us). I didn't win anything because I put my tickets in things people actually wanted. My sister put her tickets in the things in which she would be uncontested. Therefore, she won three prizes.

The Taj Mahal Is Built of Flowers



After finding out that the Philadelphia Flower show had lots of wine tasting, I wanted to go. I didn't expect much of the flower portion and it turns out my expectations of both the wine and the flowers were wrong. The flowers were amazing. There were some amazingly creative installations which were beautiful and inspirational. The wine, while it tasted good, the set-up was less to be desired. It was like moving from isle to isle in Costco trying different samples.
The theme of the flower show was around the world. There was even a display on India. While looking at it, a lady behind me exclaims "It's just like being at the Taj Mahal!" I turned around and gave her a face like "Are you kidding me? It's nothing like that" Cause it's not. Not even close.
Jodie and I also had lunch first at Garce Trading Co. The food was so good and channel 6 was there filming as well. We were also seated by a crazy , old, one-armed veteran who told channel 6 they aren't allowed to film him without his permission.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Spring Break!!

Why Did I Even Bother Leaving Vermont



So one of the reasons I left Vermont was to get away from the cold, snow and long winters.  Well it seems the snow has followed me.  As 3 snowstorms have dumped massive amounts of snow in Philly breaking all snowfall records.  Two storms days apart dumped feet on an unprepared area, crippling the city and shutting down schools.  I had a snow day for the first time in years.  You would have thought will all the feet of snow we get in Vermont, work would have shut down at least once, but I never had a single one.  Now I've had a few.
In my days off, I stayed inside with the exception of one venture outside to play.  I built a snowman.  It was awesome.

Thank You for Wearing Deodorant.


The last day of orientation, we hopped the school bus! to the Philadelphia Rock gym for some team building exercises and rock climbing.  
The team building exercises were a lot of fun even if I never thought I would be that physically close with my classmates.  Just when you thought you couldn't get any closer, there was another activity that required you to gather even closer.  At one point all 15 us were gathered in a circle that had to be about 3' in diameter.  
After the exercises were over, we got to the rock climbing.  After my try in high school and my severe physical inability, I figured I wouldn't get more than 5 feet off the ground.  Well once again I surprised my out-of-shape ass and climbed to the top....twice.  boo-ya touchdown.
Some of my classmates were more daring and went blindfolded.  I did not attempt such feats although I did find it quite difficult to scale the wall when I had to guide someone who was blind-folded.  The whole propelling yourself through the tough spots just really wasn't an option.
Lesson learned:  Even though you're insides are of a 300lb person, it's amazing what physical feats you can accomplish.  Maybe I'll run a marathon.  Haha just kidding.   

My Feet Felt Like They Were Bleeding, but It Was Worth It


So I have been very lax in keeping up with the blogs.  Ok. So lax is a severe understatement but nonetheless, the blogs are resuming, first with some catch-up.  

Day 3 of orientation was a city wide scavenger hunt.  Our team won the game and the most creative photo.  I also won foot pain and toes I swore were bleeding.  Not to mention, the last 10 minutes of it, I felt like I was on The Amazing Race as we ran down the streets of Philly to hand in our stuff on time.  Any fitness I gained from Nepal was no longer and my performance was shameful to say the least.  
One of the things we had to get a picture of was eating a dumpling.  I think the picture explains the logic.  And bonus for us for winning the game, we won a 50$ gift card to B&N each.  Which seemed wonderful at the time being in college and needing books, but so far, has remained unused cause I am too broke to afford books full price.  Perhaps I'll buy the fashion grading book I've been eyeing.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mumbai Flashbacks Come In Threes


Today was the first day of orientation and before I even got on the train to go to school, memories of Mumbai flashed back, first bringing the feeling of confusion and then I began to miss the warm, chaotic city of Mumbai. The first memory happened with a girl was playing her ipod for all to hear. At first she was listening to some popular club/radio songs and then it happened. She switched to the song for the White Beauty commercial where the artist has to keep repainting the woman's face because she uses the cream and her skin becomes lighter. After a few more Bollywood songs, she switches to the BSB. The first album. For those of you who don't understand how this could possibly refere to India, not only did I have a BSB poster hanging above my bed, but I also had a school folder with them on it. The last flash back happened while waiting out,on the platform, the final minutes for the train to arrive. I just happened to over hear some people talking german. Awwww roomie.
First day of orientation was good. The end.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Play times Over.




Today is the last day of doing nothing. I have been enjoying the do-whatever-I-want-to-do days and am going to miss having time-freedom as tomorrow starts the spring semester at Temple and for the first time, after being a Temple student for six months, I will step foot on campus. Which reminds me I need to find a map.... This week is filled with orientation and even some team building exercises (not tonight!...) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhN93rFZuJs

Just a quick recap of the move back to philly. Arrived in DC with a connecting flight to Philly. Flight got cancelled then spent hours trying to retrieve my luggage and then 6 hours driving, in above snow storm, home, arriving at 5am. By the way, arriving home from 88 degrees and sunny to freezing and a snow storm was way not cool.

Luckily, didn't feel jetlag very much; however, the food took some getting used to. Meats in particular just don't seem to get along. Adjusting back to life in the states was a bit difficult for the first couple weeks especially the cold. I hate the cold. A lot.

Lots of friends and family including going to the old, drexel hangout New Deck, Fuchs Family Game Night & picking up random guys walking who are walking home in sandals with a pizza. Seeing people, unpacking my stuff from the VT move (most of Mumbai is still in the basement), and avoiding doing stuff have kept me quite busy over break.

Now I am living at home and starting tomorrow will be commuting to school via the Regional Rails. Choo Choo! I must say, I am pretty excited to get my very first train pass. While I am sure the trains will not be as interesting as Mumbai, I am hoping they will be colorful enough to provide some stories.

Business hours are over.