Monday, October 5, 2009

I'm quite delinquent here aren't I?

I spent weeks in Singapore this summer and I never posted an update or pic's out here. I did however put them all on facebook. I think a lot of you track my trips out there, but just in case here is a link for you.

In short review... Singapore is one of my favorite places to visit so far. The food is lovely, the people are lovely, and city is so easy to navigate. Some day I'd like to get to some other of the South East Asia countries for a visit (Bali or Thailand anyone?).

This week I leave for what I'm calling the Central and South America Whirlwind tour! Four countries in 2 1/2 weeks. Guadalajara Mexico, Santiago Chile, Buenos Aires Argentina and finally Sao Paulo Brazil. I'll post more this time I swear!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Next up... Singapore!

After some scary months here at work and a freeze on spending I'll be back in the saddle again in July. I'm off to Singapore for close to three weeks for training. Since I've been to Singapore before it won't be such an adventure, but hopefully I'll get some good insights and pictures to post from the trip. I'm excited to be flying Singapore Air again. Yippee!

My new role at work now covers also South America and in a year South Africa (after World Cup) along with the Asia Pac countries (Korea, South East Asia, India and Pacific). So we'll see if I get to travel to some more places in the coming year. I'm hoping to do a tour of the South American countries because they are new to my job and I'd still love to find a reason to get to Australia. I'm just happy to still have a job, and travel to boot!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thoughts on China

It is surreal sometimes being in Shanghai. Its obviously China but right now I'm sipping a Starbucks latte, eating a french pastry (NOT on the diet plan) and watching Nacho Libre on T.V. So for your viewing pleasure here are a few more observations I've made on this trip...

Trip Stats:
Airline: United- Certainly not the best business class I've flown. So far the airline rankings are 1- Singapore Air 2- Lufthansa (good movies!) 3- NW Airlines (better chairs, movies just ok) and last... United (the worst chairs and movie selection). Am I becoming an airline snob? Maybe.
Hotel: Portman Ritz Carlton- I cannot sing the praises enough for this hotel. They pick you up in a beautiful Audi from the airport, then when you arrive they are waiting for you (know your name) and take you straight up to your room. The bed is amazing, the bathroom is a dream bathroom, and the gym is very nice. Staying here is not a chore.
Movies Watched: Harry Poole is Here, Wall-E
Books Read: Eat, Pray, Love


  1. On the top deck of the plane where my seat was you can see into the pilot's cockpit occasionally. There were at least 4-5 guys manning the plane. I'm guessing they were pilots, co-pilots and navigators. Probably due to the long flight they have to do shifts. If they want to go to the bathroom the stewardess has to go close a security gate of sorts (which I have to say didn't look too difficult to figure out how to break through) and then the pilots can come out of their secure zone and go potty. Seriously... How annoying. They should just put a bathroom in the pilot's area. But I've got to say I watched this whole process as closely as I watched my in flight movies. Fascinating!
  2. I saw a swastika symbol on a buddha in a documentary. Strange... I did some reading and apparently its a common symbol in Buddhism and Hinduism which the Nazi's basically twisted and turned into their symbol.
  3. Cheesy American Muzak is played in the Immigration hall of the Shanghai airport. Are we all supposed to like this stuff?
  4. My business class seat reminds me a lot of the hover chairs in Wall-E... I hope I'm not that fat and lazy looking, but I do like the reclining chairs.
  5. It is best not to watch the driver while taking a car here. I find ignorance is bliss and I somehow still arrive at my destination. I did notice that flashing your lights at the other cars means any of the following: "Hey you, I'm coming your way", "Hey get out of my way" or "You @$#^*&*!!!!".
  6. Soup with chicken feet is surprisingly tasty. Just try not to focus on the foot in your bowl. I was told that new mothers eat this soup because its full of nutrients.
  7. You can buy a decongestant here (with some help from the pharmacy tech) but then you won't be able to read the box. Hope there's nothing important on that box I need to know about.
  8. A pair of Levi's here costs $1400 RMB that's about $200 USD! Yet there are a billion high end stores here. Who can afford this stuff? Its honestly cheaper to have your clothes tailor made from scratch than to buy a name brand item that was probably still manufactured in China.
  9. They sing the Happy Birthday song in English... really! I was at a big birthday celebration for the staff and everyone spoke Chinese all over but as soon as it was time to sing there was the traditional birthday cake and song. I asked why and I was told it was translated to Chinese but everyone just sings it in English. Mostly this has become a trend for the younger generations in the past 20 years, the Chinese wouldn't have traditionally done birthdays like this unless it was a birthday ending in a big number like 9 (39, 49, 69 etc...).
  10. Again I'm surprised that there is no issue with picking your nose or hocking a big loogie in a meeting.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ciao Italia

Italy... Its so hard to wrap up all my experiences in the last two weeks in a post. I journaled while I was there some thoughts and observations. I had an amazing time. The most wonderful part of course was traveling with two of my dearest friends. I am so blessed that my relationships with these women continue to stay strong and a huge influence in my life. So here are a few pictures and highlights to start with. My observations are going to follow. Follow the dropshots link on the right and you can view the rest of the pictures.
The crazy streets and narrow canals were fun to explore. I just loved people watching and seeing the architecture of this city built on the water in the middle ages. What would it have been like to live there? I would go stir crazy without green grass and trees. Still it's beautiful in a very unique way. The Island of Murano where they blow the Venetian glass was one of my favorites because it was more like a village and less crowded.

The highlight of Florence was having Jaelyn come join us for a few days. It was so fun to just wander the city and shop together. I negotiated a good price on a fabulous leather jacket and purse. We had amorous Italian men in the market get a bit to friendly for our tastes, but it was memorable. I saw the most amazing scuplture in the world up close... The David. Now that is the perfect man. Seriously you can see the veins and sinews in the muscles in the scuplture. It was breathtaking. I caught a nasty cold that stayed with me into Cinque Terre and went to the Farmacia three times. I also saw the lovely Birth of Venus and Spring (Primavera) by Botticelli. I'm now a big fan of Bottecelli.

Cinque Terre:
The highlight was most definitely the place we stayed, Eremo Sul Mare. If you ever go you need to stay here. It's a hike up the hill but then you are in a secluded villa overlooking the Meditteranean Sea. It was so peaceful and relaxing. A good end to our trip. We wandered the little coastal towns built into the hills, sat enjoying the ocean and food. Oh and the sweet cats that roam wild in the towns were so great. I'm cuddled up with one of the four that lived at our B&B permanently. He was a sweetie. Don't go to Cinque Terre if you don't like cats. It used to be the "undiscovered" vacation area in Italy's Riviera but from the number of American's and Cruise ship tour groups we saw its no longer the undiscovered country.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

This time its for ME!!!

I'm off to Germany tomorrow to meet up with Laurel and then we both head to Italy for about 2 weeks of much needed vacation! I am so ready for this. Today I sat out by the lake at work for a meeting and I just stared at the water thinking soon I'll be staring at the water in Italy and doing whatever I want!

I probably won't be able to blog while I'm gone because neither of us are lugging laptops around on our trip, which is probably best for both of us to get a real break. I may update facebook while I'm there, but no promises.

We will stay in Vicenza (outside of Venice) for a few days. Laurel used to work here and we get to stay in the house and take the train into Venice. Then after a few days we are off to Florence where we will meet up with Jaelyn who's coming down from Scotland. I can't wait to shop in Italy and see the amazing art in Florence. Then Jae leaves and Laurel and I head to Vernazza part of the Cinque Terre (five lovely little Italian villages on the Italian Riviera). Here I hope to just chill out and relax before we head back to Germany and I head home.

I'll of course post pictures and thoughts when I return. Until then ciao!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Final Leg/Straw

Well all went great on my last day in China, but the trip home ran into a few snags. First my trip was to be just one layover in Tokyo and direct into Portland. I got to Shanghai's Pudong airport in plenty of time and it was no big deal. Its actually a fairly new and nice airport. After I boarded my flight we sat at the gate for about 30 or more minutes until the captain came on saying they were waiting for clearance from Air Traffic Control. After another 15 minutes we were still waiting. I don't know what the issue was but finally we started taxiing from the gate. Hooray! I might still have a 15-20 minute layover in Tokyo and maybe I could make my flight. No luck though, because once we got closer to the runway we sat again for what seemed like an eternity. I started thinking we'd never get out of there.

On arrival in Tokyo of course I got the lovely news that my flight had left without me and 5-6 other people on my original flight. I go to the re-booking area and thankfully NW had early notice we'd be late and had already re-booked many of us on alternate flights. Of course not one was direct like my original booking. So instead I rushed to make a Seattle flight just in time. Then that flight was delayed 30 minutes.

I get to Seattle and Customs clearance is required on your first stop/entry into the USA even if you have connections. I dutifully pre-fill my form out on the plane... Nothing to declare really. I get in the right line (US Citizens) and then I proceed to wait. And wait, and wait, and wait. The staffing for Customs in Seattle was ridiculous. They had one person for each line of at least 50 people or more waiting. I mean in China I was through Customs in about 10 minutes! It took at least 3x that in Seattle. Then you have to get your bag and take it through a security check. The bags didn't come for at least another 15 minutes. Then we watched numerous bags go around that weren't ours. I finally get my bag and get through security, but by then of course my connection in Seattle to Portland had already left (again).

I kept telling myself through each step, no point in getting upset. There's nothing I can do when this happens and eventually I'll get home. So I booked myself on the next available flight to Portland at 1pm. By they way I was originally scheduled to be home at 9 am in Portland. I get on the Portland leg and rejoice that I'm so close to being home. I get down to baggage claim and of course... No bag. Seriously, it was such a comedy of errors. Luckily I waited a bit longer and my bag arrived on the next flight in. Thank goodness Horizon flies into Portland so frequently. Even though it is literally a bus in the sky.

And that was my lovely end to the trip. I think I'm getting over jet lag. I think coming home is the worst in that regard. Ironically it helped to be forced to stay up most of the day switching planes so when I finally went to bed Saturday night I was exhausted. Problem is I still can't sleep fully at night. I'm getting more and more exhausted because I'm working so much right now and closing on my house. What insanity. I think I'll go to bed soon... Its 8:40.

Friday, July 25, 2008


That is thank you in Chinese. My trip here has been a great first visit! I know already I will be back for work probably a few times this year and already I have my favorites and lists of what to do when I return. Not to mention where I can eat (Element Fresh was an awesome tip from Callie!). Not too mention California Pizza Kitchen and the great little french cafe chain Paul that I found.

No surprise but I will definitely be shopping more now that I know where to focus! Usually by the end of a trip I realize I should have saved my money in the beginning of the trip for the treasures that inevitably surface the farther you get in to your trip. It is so hard to pass things up though because of the fear that you might not be back to the same store or area before you leave. I MUST resist next time... Still I bought some wonderful cheap souvenirs this week and most of it was Chinese silk or tea related. I practiced bartering and "negotiating" on prices and learned the key is to half the price they first offer you at least or more and then always walk away. If the vendor really want to sell it to you they will stop you and take your "final price". Most prices are negotiated on calculators, so keep one handy in case their English is not so good. Also it helped today to have my Chinese coworker with me to know if I was being ripped off or not.

Top on my list of places is the fabric market we visited yesterday. Three floors of stalls where you can have clothing tailor made for you at amazing prices. We looked at cashmere coats that would be cut to fit you (and this is a huge when you are my size jacket sleeves in stores are much too long) for only $50 USD and you could probably negotiate more! I can't wait to go back when I have a little more time to wait for the finished products. How awesome to have anything tailor made any more. I am starting a list... Coat, Dress, PJ's and more will come to me I'm sure. Also I look forward to buying beautiful wall hangings, chop sticks and decorations to fit my new house.

I also can't wait to venture farther out of the city to see some more traditional areas of China. Also Beijing or Peking is high on my list. Its the home of the forbidden city and close to the great wall. I look forward to exploring it some day in the future. It is not so nearly overwhelming to think of traveling farther in China again now that I have been here and had a great starter course.