May 31, 2006

Goodbye London, Hello Singapore & Thailand

London
I left London almost two weeks ago; it was such a bittersweet goodbye. On the one hand, I was fed up with work and the transport system. Buses were slow and half of the tube lines weren't working; they're actually closing down the Charing Cross branch of the Northern Line for the entire summer, can you believe it?! I seriously don't know what's going to happen in 2012 when London hosts the Olympics, they can't even handle the traffic now! On the other hand, it was sad to say goodbye to my home for the past two years and the good friends I had made. I miss the theatre, west end and fringe, musicals and plays. I miss the restaurants I had grown to love. I couldn't stay there forever, but a little longer would've been nice.

Packing was such a pain, I threw out garbage bagfuls of stuff and donated what I could. I had a goodbye dinner with my flatmates which was nice, and on the last night I went out with my closest friends for dinner and some comedy. The last act was actually a Canadian which was kinda funny.

Singapore
So I hopped on a plane and 13 hours later, I landed in Singapore! It's so hot and humid here, I think I would die without A/C. Since we've been here many times before, we didn't really do anything touristy. I actually celebrated my first birthday here, many years ago. My aunt has a maid and I have to say it's been kinda nice being pampered haha. She irons all our clothes, I have to say this is the first time I've had my underwear pressed! The only thing we did besides shop (the Great Singapore Sale is on right now) was visit Sentosa. There's a lot of construction going on; apparently they're planning on building a casino there and they've almost completed the monorail. We went up the new rotating tower which gave a rather nice view of the island. The water was so clean compared to Thailand. Then we went luging, and watched the new '4D' film. It was really just 3D with special effects, like water, wind etc. We ate a lot of Singaporean food...a lot of seafood...and drank Singaporean tea (condensed milk is added instead of milk and sugar).

Thailand
My parents and I flew to Thailand last week. Our trip started out a bit rocky as there were some miscommunication regarding our tour, but once our guide was sorted it was smooth sailing from there. He was really nice, he'd pick us up at 8 in the morning and stay with us until 10 or so if we decided to watch a show or go shopping in the markets. We saw all the main sites in Bangkok I'd say. The Grand Palace was gorgeous, it was ALL glitter and gold. There, we saw the Emerald Buddha in Wat Phra Kaew. Wat is Temple in Thai and we saw a few others; Wat Arun was quite interesting, we saw the Golden Buddha (don't remember what it's called) and Wat Po which was probably my favourite. The reclining Buddha was huge and quite impressive. My guide told us that different poses represent different days of the week. We saw one with serpants above the Buddha's head, I can't remember if that one was Saturday or Tuesday though... We took a boat ride down the Chao Phraya River and in the little canals where people lived, it was really nice.

On the way to Pattaya we stopped at the Sriracha Tiger Zoo where we saw a Tiger show. I kinda felt sorry for them, it reminded me of the movie Two Brothers which I recently saw. We also saw people sticking their heads into a crocodile's mouth as well as an elephant show. Elephants are so cute! We saw another elephant show at the Nong Nooch Garden which was also near Pattaya. I don't know how they were trained, but they could play basketball, soccer, throw darts, ride bikes, paint and dance! It was quite unbelievable...I got picked up by one with its trunk! Pattaya was nice though there's a lot of prostitution. We went to see Tiffany's which is a transvestite cabaret show. It was um interesting haha. We also took a boat out to Coral Island but it was not nice at all; the beach coast of Pattaya seemed much nicer.

Shopping in Thailand was pretty cheap, I didn't buy too much though cos the clothes I thought 'looked' cheap as well. We went to the Suan Lum Night Bazaar in Bangkok which was huge! Too bad we weren't there for the Weekend Market cos that's supposed to be awesome too. The food was quite good, and I had so many coconuts haha. They're only 20 Bahts each which is like 30p?!

Tomorrow we're flying to Taiwan. Supposedly it's even hotter there!

May 08, 2006

Flat

My flat has a rota for cleaning, and it was my turn this week. I zoomed around with the hoover and mop...wiped all the dirty surfaces...some which seemed suspiciously dirty for cleaning to have taken place just last Wednesday...hmm... Anyway I am done! Last time I will ever have to clean this flat.

My flatmates have already found someone to replace me...some aussie apparently. We already had two British in the house so they said no more...any other nationalities were welcome...and they wanted another girl to keep the balance as 3 girls-2 guys. They had quite a few people come see my room, cos in one of my flatmate's words, they didn't want to 'make the same mistake again'. Mistake meaning the One Who Lives Upstairs, henceforward who will be referred to as OWLU. OWLU moved in last fall bright eyed and bushy tailed...way too eager. He proceeded to get on everyone's nerves...perhaps it was the way he would try to crack jokes that just weren't funny...or the way he would say everything with an Italian accent cos he was there for a year...

I can't believe I'm leaving next Friday! So many things to sort through and pack... this will be the 8th time I'ved moved in 6 years.

May 04, 2006

Switzerland = Gorgeous

To go from the impossibly turquoise waters which run through Switzerland to the brown murky waters of the Thames was just so…sad. Truly, I did not want to come back.

We arrived in Geneva Friday at noon, dropped off our luggage, and proceeded to meander through the old town. We stopped for some much needed coffee before visiting the oldest house in the city: Maison Tavel. We walked past the Hotel de Ville where the Geneva Convention was signed many years ago, climbed up the tower in Cathedrale St-Pierre, and then went down to the water where Jet d'Eau, the largest fountain in Europe and the emblem of Geneva, was not on. We had dinner at Chez Ma Cousine On y Mange du Poulet which translates to: At my cousin's house we eat chicken.

I just had to take this picture...check out the local police car...

The next day we went to Palais des Nations - it used to be the League of Nations headquarters and now holds lots of conferences - as well as Musee International de la Croix-Rouge (Red Cross and Red Crescent). They were both quite interesting. I attended Model United Nations and Red Cross Symposiums in high school and uni. We made our way down to Pleinpalais where a not so cool Flea market was going on…so we ditched it and decided to do a whirlwind tour of Musee d'Art et d'Histoire. After a short nap, we had dinner at Café De Paris where the menu consisted of just one dish: entrecote with a special buttery sauce. Chris was flabbergasted that a restaurant could get away with serving just one dish. No vegetarian menu haha.

Us at the UN...Bill Clinton and Fidel Castro both attended a conference in this room back in the late '90s, though they did not meet.

The next day, we caught a train to Montreux and walked to Chateau de Chillon. It was so lovely…different blooming flowers along the way.

The castle itself was awesome; for its age, it was very well preserved. We got to see a lot of it too.

After dinner, we hopped back onto the train and continued on our journey to Interlaken. The path we took was part of the Golden Pass, and a few of the trains had huge panoramic windows. The scenery was incredible. Little wooden lodges dotted randomly in green patches between mountains.

Sunday night was an early night cos we had to get up ridiculously early the next morning to catch the Jungfraujoch, up to the top of Europe (3454 m above sea level). We didn't realize how cold it would be (doh!)…dressed only in a jumper (Chris) and fleece (Sherry) we turned into icicles up in the eternal snow where it was minus 10.

I wanted to go dog sledding but that apparently only took place in the summer months…as did skiing/snowboarding…cos you know they are really summer sports. We got to see the three mountains - the Eiger, the Monch and the Jungfrau - up close and slid around in the Ice palace. Me sitting on an ice chair:

On the way back down we stopped at Grindelwald, a nice little village. We had fondue, ribs and chicken wings for dinner…yum yum.

The next morning, after checking out and locking up our luggage, we went paragliding! You can't go to Interlaken and not do an extreme sport. The drop was very gradual so it really wasn't that scary. Sometimes we'd float upwards if we came across thermal air. The view was fantastic! You could see the two lakes which Interlaken sits between. I got to steer for a bit and at the end the guy did some really sharp spins which felt like a rollercoaster. I got a bit nauseous but only after we landed. A pic of me in the air:

After lunch, we took the train to Bern and spent a couple of hours in the city centre. The cobbled streets and colourful water fountains were quaint. We didn't think we'd see bears on this trip but we did! There was a bear pit by one of the bridges.

We had spent all our swiss francs and had a plane to catch…it was time for us to go home. What a fabulous trip!

Bored at Work

There’s only so much monotonous work one can do before the brain gets frazzled. It’s such a beautiful day! I sat on a bench by the Thames during lunch, it was so lovely. Looking forward to tonight…Karen and I are going to Ping Pong for some Dim Sum before heading over to the Playhouse to see My Name is Rachel Corrie.

I took yesterday off to apply for my Chinese tourist visa; BUT the embassy was closed, which I didn’t find out until I got there. Most annoying. I took a rain check on meeting up with Sarah yesterday because I was in a rush getting to the embassy. I rescheduled coffee with my manager from yesterday morning because I thought I would be meeting Sarah and getting my visa. Sigh, it was such an unproductive morning. So I made my way over to Leather Lane and had my happy meal: orange/carrot/ginger juice with thai green curry. It cheered me up a bit.