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New Zealand Update (4)!

Ok, I know I’ve been slacking on the blog tip, but I just spent a long ass time on this computer and slow ass connection.. only for my post to not save and have the computer shut down on me.. ugh!!

So, let me try to remember it all and pick up from the last post:

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

  • Drove from Wanaka up the west coast for our 3pm Half-Day Hike excursion of Franz Josef Glaciers. (Drive was approx. 5 hours or so)
  • About the glaciers: The Franz Josef (Ka Roimata o Hinehukatere in Maori is a 12 km long glacier, located in Westland National Park on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Together with the Fox Glacier 20 km to the south, it is unique in descending from the Southern Alps to less than 300 metres above sea level, amidst the greenery and lushness of a temperate rainforest.
  • We got a lil giddy as we neared Glacier country with some sprinkles falling from the sky, thinking that perhaps the hike would be cancelled and we can use the day to rest from our previous adventures. So, I used the handy mobile phone provided by our campervan hire, and phoned the Glacier folks…. only to be told, “honey, it rains 200 days of the year over here, so yes, the hike is still on.” Sigh and Doh!
  • We parked our camper at 2:45pm, just in time for check-in, and get our gear on: rainjacket, waterproof over pants, socks, hiking boots and a fanny pack filled with spikes – specifically for ice climbs.
  • And onward we were! After a short bus ride to the glacier valley.. we walked through the valley under conditions of cold winds and rain spittings….
  • Some parts of the glacier were rather steep, and I had many a times asked myself, “why? why do i get myself into these things? whyyyy??”
  • But with a lil’ push (literally) here and there by Lundy, I made my way up to our finish point.
  • I only wished conditions weren’t so wet, so that camera footage could’ve been used more,,,, but ahh well.. our pics look like we’re meterologists on site!
  • The glaciers were def a cool (literally and figuratively) experience!  You gotta be in decent and agile shape for this one!
  • Tired and spent after the hike, we parked our camper at the nearby Holiday Park and cooked ourselves a fabulous glazed lamb chop + pesto fettucine meal! SOOO YUMMY!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

  • Woke and continued on with our Round Two of lamb chop + fettucine pesto for breakfast…. Delicious AGAIN!
  • Eventually started our drive up the west coast towards Hoktika and then eastward via the infamously roller-coaster, twisty turvy Arthur’s Pass, to bring us back to Christchurch at approximately 7pm. (The drive took about a good 6 hours with a necessary one hour nap somewhere in the middle of that drive.)
  • Lundy’s good eye on the road even found “Saigon Star Restaurant” and I happily agreed to switch things up a bit for a lil’ home-cooking esque meal of vietnamese food..I opted for the simple pork and vermicelli while Lundy went for the special that included pork, beef, egg roll and sugarcane/shrimp with vermicelli…and of course, we ordered some egg rolls for apps!
  • We took the food to-go.. or as “take away” as they say here and in the ‘Hai.
  • We checked ourselves in back at the So Hotel, dropped off our stuff in the room, loaded laundry, and head back downstairs to bring the campervan to a nearby park for drop off, where our renters would pick up. Just as easy as that!
  • After a short walk from the park to our hotel, we devoured our meal and settled in for the night with internet/laundry etc.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

  • We woke for a 8:45am Super Shuttle pick to the airport for our 10:15am flight to the North Island; first destination: Rotorua.
  • We arrived at Rotorua on time at 11:55am and swiftly got our bags and checked in with the Car Rental Booths… only to learn that due to high season, all cars had been rented and all that was left were larger vans ..that were uber expensive for our short stay.
  • Thus, we headed to the Super Shuttle outside and had him lead us to a rather dandy and nice hostel, YHA Treks. (YHA and BASE are the two major hostel chains throughout NZ.. and I highly recommend.. clean and good space..and CLEAN!)
  • We checked in and headed out to purchase our bus ticket for Manukau City (just outside of Auckland) as since this would be our next destination for the day after… to visit some of Lundy’s distant relatives. After which, we settled at Art Cafe for some grilled sandwiches. I had the egg and bacon, while Lundy opted for the mushroom, advocado and cheese. YUM!
  • After a quick internet run, we grabbed some popsicles on this sweltering day and chilled on the park benches of the nearby park … with surrounding geysers and mudpools! The sulfur is FOR REAL here! But pretty nifty to see!
  • At 7pm, we were picked up to attend a Maori Culture excursion.
  • About Maori: The Māori (commonly pronounced /ˈmɑaɔri/ or /ˈmaʊri/) are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand (Aotearoa). They probably arrived in southwestern Polynesia in several waves at some time before year 1300,[6] settled and developed a distinct culture. Māori society was destabilised from the late 18th century by the weapons and diseases introduced by Europeans, and after 1840 they lost an increasing amount of their land, and went into a cultural and numerical decline. However their population began to increase again from the late 19th century, and a marked Māori cultural revival began in the 1960s and continues.
  • We were introduced to the whole Maori Heritage via our enthusiastic bus driver lady, who picked a gray-haired man (after no one volunteered), named “Herb” from Texas (in the chocolate business) to be our chief. Herb would be our representative for the evening… along with 2 other chiefs from 2 other busses.
  • After a ritual introduction ceremony consisting of some chant and spear moves by Maori warriors, we were invited to enter in the village where various “ways of life” things were taught.. including participation in some Maori games. Lundy was bold enough to partake in one of the games..and well rather than explain now, I’ll post the video some other time. (Lundy truly believes he was a Maori warrior in his previous life…and ya know what? I think he might be right! All signs make sense afterall!)
  • Next up, was a very entertaining show of story-telling, song and dance.
  • Then finally, an all-you-can-eat  Hangi Meal aka “Thanksgiving-esque” buffet was had by all…. turkey, roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, veggies, fish, mussels etc..!!! and yummy dessert!
  • Overall, GREAT TIME with the Maori… thoroughly entertained and well-fed.. I can’t complain! Definitely a must-do in Rotorua!

. . don’t burn the day. .

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Sooooo I’ve for surely taken full advantage of my newfound recreational time: gym, occasional ultimate frisbee, weekly new restaurant discoveries with my SH Fam, Sunday Brunch deal finds, the arts, movies, live music (I really wanna build on this, this year: I saw a pretty cool Swiss/Chinese Mash Jazz band the other night, called Sonic Calligraphy: Thumbs Up esp since they performed one of my faves, “Summertime” by George Gershwin…. ) and …… reading!

Nate the Roomie (avid reader) and I have agreed upon a 2-person book club! …and it’s the coolest, most freshest 2-person book club ever!! (ha!)

Book One = EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE by Jonathan Safran Foer

Nate had first read this and suggested the book to me, despite admitting to how depressing and sad the story is. Yeah, go figure. But the premise of the story intrigued me enough:

Nine-year old, Oskar has a wonderful relationship with his father; one of their favorite games was a sort’ve scavenger/treasure hunt where the father would leave clues around for Oskar to detect and eventually unfold it’s mysterious treasure. One day, the father reveals a new kind of scavenger hunt in which he leaves no clues, though “no” clues could still be a clue; this of course, leaves little Oskar bewildered not knowing if anything was a clue or not.. and only receiving a shoulder shrug + smile combo from his father whenever he questioned if a certain something was a clue or not. Then…………. his father passed in the 9/11 WTC Attack, leaving Oskar devastated and also relentless in uncovering what this last treasure could be. One evening, Oskar finds a beautifully shaped blue vase on top of father’s closet in father’s room. Inside its vase is a plain envelope with the word, “BLACK” written on its outside, and an odd-looking key inside. Oskar racks his brain and decides that this key could belong to someone by the last name of “Black,” thereby, uncovering its treasure. He then, takes out a NYC phone book and starts to track down each and every “Black” in the NYC area from A to Z…….. knocking on each person’s door…….. and ………. the story unfolds magnificently ….. where you’re guaranteed to find it hard to put the book down! (I did!)

.. Letter Writing
.. I Love You’s

. . don’t burn the day. .


Hey New York, New York! FREE DMC is back at it again, inviting the cool kids (you, by association with moi, of course) to meet some other cool peeps, kick off new fall beginnings…. and cool off w/some Remy in the system… @ FREE Fall!

930 Invitation

FREE Fall @ Bubble Lounge
228 West Broadway
(btw. North Moore & Franklin)
New York, NY

Wednesday, September 30th
6:30pm – 9:30pm

Complimentary Cocktails provided by:
Remy Martin & Piper Heidsieck


. . don’t burn the day. .

Cultural Revelations

OK, it’s been a while since I’ve typed a real post on my ‘Hai Life Observations, and I do apologize – but it’s kinda hard to live it in full and type it at the same time. (no snip there, i’m just sayin!)

Soooo, ya’ll know my love for intellectual discourse especially when it comes to, exchange of cultural perceptions et al. And ya’ll know of my likes and gripes about the ‘Hai…. but in all honesty, Shanghai is oddly, both an easy and tough place to live. Easy because well there’s not much to worry about. You go about your day and no one really bothers you (aside from metro riders who rub up against you) – and crime is seemingly non-existent. However, tough, resulting from the misunderstandings that come from culture clash, and of course language barrier.

I do feel bad that I’ve sort’ve depicted this Lord of the Flies-esque picture in the minds of you readers out there, because it’s really not ALL bad here. (Yeah, I know I’m trying to do some damage control here, but hey, I’ve been abroad for one year and I guess been feenin’ for an America-fix.) What it comes down to is gaining understanding of their innerworkings – the how’s and why’s of the things they say/do. Think about it, this country has been held in isolation from the rest of the world and has only in recent decades, open its’ tight and still-monitored doors… Thus, understandably, Shanghai and well, China as a whole has come and still coming a LONG way from its’ revolutionary times and this city is seriously gaining ground on the international playing field. (I’m learning by the day here…)

For one thing, The World Expo will be hosted in Shanghai from May through October, 2010 and is expected to welcome approx. 70 million visitors – the largest number in the history of the world’s fairs!! The thought of cramming MORE people in this city is NUTZO! Here’s a little excerpt:

World Expositions are galleries of human inspirations and thoughts. Since 1851 when the Great Exhibition of Industries of All Nations was held in London, the World Expositions have attained increasing prominence as grand events for economic, scientific, technological and cultural exchanges, serving as an important platform for displaying historical experience, exchanging innovative ideas, demonstrating esprit de corps and looking to the future…

Expo 2010 Shanghai China will also be a grand international gathering. On the one hand, we shall endeavor to attract about 200 nations and international organisations to take part in the exhibition as well as 70 million visitors from home and abroad, ensuring the widest possible participation in the history of the World Expositions. On the other hand, we will put Expo 2010 Shanghai China in a global perspective and do our best to encourage the participation and gain the understanding and support of various countries and peoples, in order to turn Expo 2010 Shanghai China into a happy reunion of people from all over the world.

Saying this reminds me of a recent convo I had with some fellow expat friends here – it comes back to ones’ mindset when making a conscious decision to experience life abroad. I wish I could be quick to agree with those who say, “Well if you don’t like it here, then go home!”  Because some days I see it this way and others, not so much. Why must it be “Be or Bust?”  It’s only NATURAL to seek (and sometimes, long for) a little bit o’ home comforts when you’re thousands and thousands of miles away from home. So why should I be reprimanded just because I whole heartedly miss the people and places that I’ve fostered such great relations with?

Secondly, I had a great dinner a few weeks back, with my local lawyer couple-friends (who I befriended upon arrival via another friend – networking skills blah blah); You’ll remember Jeffrey and Hua helped me out tremendously (ie. dealing with the shady sheisters of my pickpocket episode and assisting with the apartment hunt etc). Anyhoots, lovely, worldly, open-minded folks they are, we got into great discussions on certain cultural differences between the East and West. Everyday things that happen were explained:


For instance, “maybe/about.” I’ve noticed that the Chinese hardly ever give a definitive answer to anything that you may ask them. Instead, “maybe, about….” is more like it. “I think… maybe….”  “I think….it will be about….”  Depending on the circumstance, I admit, these responses have aggravated some nerves of mine. But now, with Jeffrey and Hua’s explanations, I totally “get it.”  You see, back in the day when emperors took reign, the lay people were just that – lay and afraid of being “wrong.” This also explains the big thing about “saving face” here – The worst thing that you can do to a Chinese here is embarass them / call them out for being incorrect aka make them “lose face” in front of others. So back in the day when an emperor asked for an opinion by a lay, the lay would reply something along the lines of, “Well your highness, I think we should turn left, but then again, maybe the right side might be ok too. Maybe.”  To that, the emperor may respond, “Really? Well I think there is no question for the fact that we should most certainly turn right.”  The lay would then cover up out of fear of being be-headed (or equivalent), “Well sir, but I did say that maybe the right would be ok too.” Ta-Da!

This totally dinged in my head and explained for why I am hardly ever given an exact answer! For instance, while negotiating a new contract, I kept pushing for an EXACT number of classes that would be required of me. However, the interviewer would only respond, “I can only tell you the maximum that we maybe require you to teach, but can’t give you the exact yet. But it will be about X number, something like that.” I was growing dizzy. I kept pressing for exact and he kept not giving it. Finally, the interviewer said, “I think this is a different culture thing.” GO FIGURE! Why can’t I get an exact number of classes, so that I KNOW what I’m getting myself into and what is required of me??!!  But sigh…its maybe/about…. At last, Jeffrey and Hua Chen spoke: “We think Westerners are INflexible in this way. They always want a rigid answer.” Hmmmmmmmm… (Mind you, they both work in international law. In fact, Jeffrey works for a firm with Spaniards, so they are just as confused/frustrated at times when collaborating work with westerners.)

As a piggyback story, ya’ll know how crazy detailed I am when it comes to contracts and notes, with the little bit o lawyer in me that comes prepped with my red pen and highlighters. Going back and forth on every friggin detail, I was having him edit the contract before signage, when it finally came to a point where he had it and explained that I would have “his word.”  Aye!  Being the jaded Westerner I am, I wanted everything to be in writing!!  But again, this was another “cultural difference” battle: Word vs. Writing. Apparently, “word is bond” here. SIGH. I mean, I do recall my current boss mentioning a couple times to me, “Mimi, you have my word here” and in the end, I did have her word. SIGH. Have I become this jaded Westerner where I can’t even TRUST a person’s spoken promise?!?!— Though, at the same time the Chinese can be shady, lying sheisters too.. Le Sigh…..can’t win.

Hmmmm, now let’s see what’s next.


Oh this is a goodie. It’s AMAZING how limited number of accidents happen in this city because drivers are all MANIACS on the road!!! Speeding, weaving, cutting off, brushing pedestrians – you name it, they do it! With that said though, they can be categorized as rather good drivers for being able to weave out of NEAR DEATH accidents of all sorts here!  Sitting in the front seat of cabs is guaranteed to give you multiple heart attacks, and the freedom of honking is taken to a whole different level over here. See, in the West, we tend to honk when we’re pissed off at someone for cutting us off, etc… but here…. it’s more of a sign of “being polite.” Yup, ass backwards if you ask me. But here’s their logic: They honk incessantly to let the other car know that they are riding up from behind and/or about to pass them and/or at people to say, “moooooooooove bitch! get the way!”  Generally speaking, cars DO NOT slow down for pedestrians here; nope, but just the opposite. This goes back to the reason being that there are just sooooo many damn people in this country — there is NO acknowledgement of personal space here! NONE! So yeah, honking is there way of saying, “excuse me… i’m coming in!!!”


Now, if I were to publish this post any time prior to last night as I had originally planned to, I would not have needed to put “assault in public” as a category. However, as my FB Status Message indicated 22 hours ago:

just witnessed ridonkulousness! – upon return to ‘hai, off the metro… saw some chic on the ground in the middle of the street, bent over as if she’s been hit by car. NOPE! some dude is kicking her, pulling her by her hair to stand up, then lands a punch in her face!! a crowd grows and NO ONE does/says a damn thing! i had thought of crossing the street to say/do…but then again.. i’d be just a crazy “lao wai”

This was soooooooo ridiculous!!  I woke up this morning, still in awe; this also prompted quite a few remarks from friends on the IM, email and post comments section. Of course as Westerners, we know this ‘ish would NOT be tolerated on our public streets, and are immediately appalled that this would happen with little/no interjection. But this is when we must stop and look at things from the locals’ perspectives. This country is rooted in a sort’ve “selfishness” and being territorial when it comes to family and close friends. Strangers — they don’t have the time of day for… well not so much in Shanghai it  seems at times. Countryside, perhaps. But Shanghai is a beast of a city in its own right. As much as I try to wrap my finger around it, it doesn’t matter because it’d be like me making up excuses for the masses here. Now granted this particular incident was of SUPER RARITY (first that I’ve been here), we also have to admit, it’s not like ‘ish like this doesn’t go down on our Western soil. I’ve got a good friend who once worked at a shelter for battered women in LA….. one woman’s husband was an LAPD-wife beater. So yeah, let’s not go there right now. Either way, it’s bad and shouldn’t happen….and people shouldn’t just stand and watch. I know, I did …but really… I would’ve been easily been taken in cuffs to a prison and without a translator. Frankly, that’s not my cup of tea.  I’m not even a fan of some public bathrooms, let alone a jail cell over here.

OHHHHHHHH so many observations on the daily and soo little time to capture them all in writing…. but in all seriousness… this city is amazing in its land mass size and astonishing on how relatively, well things run here — given its size and population.

The METRO SYSTEM alone is about to turn impressive overnight.. I see it with the construction everywhere!!! – as close as my neighborhood corner!! Check these stats:

Shanghai will boost the number of Metro trains 150 percent by 2010 to handle the expected 70 million visitors to the city during World Expo.

The city will have about 200 more Metro trains within this year.

During the Expo, Shanghai will have 200,000 more visitors per day and 400,000 on the busiest days. The subway system will be expanded to 400 kilometers by that time and will shoulder nearly half of the flow.

The Shanghai government invested 30 billion yuan (US$4.22 billion) in Metro line construction each year. The Metro will consist of 35 to 40 percent of the city’s transportation annually once fully developed.


Similar to the Great NYC, Shanghai has its pockets of “neighborhoods” that make life for an expat a relatively easy adjustment. The bohemian/artsy, East Village-esque, “Taikang Lu” is one of my fave chill spots; then you’ve got the plentiful international cuisines and night spots in the “French Concession” and European-esque, “Xintiandi”; cool uptown, “American Concession”-in the making where my friend Sean runs, AWESOMELY DOPE creative complex, comprised of fusion restaurant, recording studio, art gallery and film forum called,  The Factory definitely reminds me of home – sucha great hang-out spot… vibe is correct on all accounts here!!


There’s PLENTY AROUND!  I just wish I had more time to explore and delve into them. Looking forward to more free time to do this next year.


I can grab dinner on my corner for 60cents usd! Stir-fried noodles, fried rice… kebobs etc.


Umm I have a maid, tailor and Mandarin tutor. Maid comes once a week for $4.40 usd. (My share is just a tad over $1usd) and 90min with a tutor costs me $10usd.

FOREIGN FACE – having one gives you some perks at times. But of course, other times, you get ripped off. But isn’t that the way it is in most foreign lands?

FREEDOM - I know this is a puzzling one. But in some respects, some would argue living in China has granted them more “freedom” for the reason of being able to do whatever they want, whenever they want. Folks walk out into the streets in their pajamas, scream, shout…and no one cares/dares to stop you. Surely, you may get stared at as a foreigner doing “local things”… but you’ll eventually get a cracked smile as warm welcome gesture. And again, with a foreign face.. they definitely don’t want to stand in your way. Reason? I don’t quite know just yet.

So there ya have it. I know I was all over the place and you may still be left scratching your head…(probably my least organized entry)  but just hear me out…and/or wait till we speak in person in the summer. I just needed to post something up…and this type post was long over due.  :-)

. . don’t burn the day. .

Spotlight on Shanghai


A few days ago, New York Times featured Shanghai as the “Next…”

NOW that the Beijing Olympics are but a memory, the spotlight in China is moving to Shanghai as that city gears up to host the 2010 World Expo. With an anticipated 70 million visitors and 200 participating countries, the six-month World’s Fair will be enormous by any measure — not that Shanghai has ever needed an excuse to party. While the global economic slowdown has had its impact, Beijing’s naughty sister is still up to her tricks: from the flashing neon signs and light-bedazzled skyscrapers to the throbbing clubs and houses from the foreign-concession era hiding their decadent secrets. But beyond the clichés, mainland China’s most cosmopolitan city still offers a breadth of experiences.

Read the full article here, detailing the must see and do’s if all you had were 36 hours in the ‘Hai.

Interestingly enough, after reading highlighted suggestions, I can quite confidently say that I can check off Shanghai off my list, in addition to remixing the list for the real must sees and do’s.  :-) So who wants to come, to give it a go?

PS. Photo Credit goes to Cinderz’ view from The Rad + Article Credit goes to Sharon for passing it along to my inbox. :-)

. . don’t burn the day. .

Living In THIS Moment

I just had myself a terrrrrrrrrific day here in Shanghai. Went out last nite for a friend’s bday celebration…… woke up at about 11am…and score! The sun was out! The sun was SHINING! I thought and exclaimed, “About damn time!!! I’m sick of this gray, cold and rain!!!!!” (I’m a weather-person; my mood is greatly affected by the temps and % of sunshine.) So already, it was a great start…

Skipped downtown a bit with Lisa for an interview with another school. Longer story, but I’ve been checking into other options for the following year… inclusive of Thailand :-D   But! Unfortunately, in two instances of Thailand interviews, their school year starts in May and runs till March…so logistically doesn’t really fall in my favor..but we shall see. (and YES, I believe I do plan on another year of Asia…. mmm hmmm.. I, myself am shocked. But the traveling perks and the not-so-hott-States-right-now is making it make sense.)

Anyhoots.. so Lisa and I took this interview; it was my second time meeting with them, but Lisa’s first….so we tag-teamed on the case. At one point, we mentioned that we had a decent network of interested teachers that we would be able to assist in recruiting.. to help build upon their school’s International Department-in-infancy-stage…and the administrators spoke to each other in Mandarin along the lines of “Well I don’t mind hiring these two, but I wonder if their friends are also going to be of Asian decent or are can we get white? I mean, Mimi looks foreign, but Lisa looks Chinese.”  Ahhh Hahaha HA!! —— (I only knew of this because when we left, Lisa aka “mySpy” – who understands Mandarin basics – caught them remarking on this, and told me everything they were saying to one another.)    Ohhh China – Hilarity! However, I’m glad during the interview, I did lay down as a “tip” (because, honestly they had NO IDEA what they were doing with this “newly developing” International Division) — for them to interview and LISTEN to their prospective English teachers… just ’cause they’ve got a White Face does NOT mean they are going to be great, or even good teachers… andddddd their accents could be too thick or difficult for the students to understand!!  (Some of ya’ll may recall me battling this issue when I started my search to leave the States and land in Shanghai….  and was solely in email communication with IGNORANT recruiters in Shanghai.)  But for real, even in my current school now…there is a HUGE problem with a particular foreign colleague who has a very thick accent…and it causes just soo much drama and stress with complaints from parents and students. So…. white isn’t always right!!

But anyway, so after that episode, we rewarded ourselves with some hotdogs and ice cream from IKEA. Random, for sure! But it’s not everyday that we’re in the area of IKEA….and most certainly not everyday we get real hotdogs and ice cream combo!

Then after that, I marched up towards my massage spot…only to find that it was crazily busy and I’d have to kill 2 hours till I could be taken for an appointment. I should’ve called ahead, but it was all good. I popped around the corner to the dvd spot and picked up 11 gems..all for only 104rmb = $15usd!!!!  That’s about 73 cents each disc!! and these are high DVD-9 qualities!! Soooooooooo sweeeeet!! One being something that I’ve been ON THE LOOK for! JT @ MSG.. Whoo!! and some other quality classic flicks!! YAY!! Then, I walked down HuaHai Road (aka ‘Hai’s 5th Avenue) and for the first time admitted to myself, “Shanghai isn’t soooo bad after all. I still hate the pushing the shoving on the trains and the people and the.. etc. etc. etc… but it’s not soooo sooo bad after all… “  So for the first time, I think I really “accepted” this crazy city for what it is. There were lil’ boutiques, shops, cafes much like NYC…and I actually saw and felt this city’s push to top the International Cities Scale. (Remember, the World Expo will be taking place in Shanghai in 2010. I see the construction site in my morning commute everyday!)

So now, while I was coming to inner peace with this city, I started to think about my expat friends here, and their choices and really, more like, confusion, as to what to do with regards to next year/next steps. I mean, we’re all on similar boats here. Return to states? Stay in ‘Hai? Pick another country? Go back to ‘real world’ -whatever that is, etc etc. This mega question hovers over us and many times, pushes its weight down on us so much, that we forget to enjoy the moment of living and experiencing life as an expat. We forget that we’re living unconventially — in a way that many out there — wish that they could do the same. We forget that we chose to be out here, so why not be a little more open to the “outside world.” Frankly, I’ve never been one to put societal norms in high regard, often finding those that follow, boring, anyway. (I’ll prolly post more on that another time.) Just do what feels right and everything else will find its way to work with YOU.

With that said, I leave with words via reverting to The DBTD Mantra, with hopes that “stresses of the future” and “life fulfillments” will let live via being happy with what is NOW and simply living in THIS moment….

Is this not enough
This blessed sip of life
Is it not enough
Staring down at the ground
Oh then complain and pray
more from above
Greedy little pig

. . don’t burn the day. .

“God Put A Smile Upon My Face”

Coldplay comes to mind as I type this entry overlooking the breathtaking, clear aquamarine green Andaman Sea, off of the (relatively) undiscovered island of Koh Lipe in Satun, Thailand… Thailand Paradiso, really!!!

Where I left off….

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I ended up out with the boys and girls from the spot I was staying at in KL. I swear, they are like my family as well. Kept harassing my arse to go out with them…and even waited for me to get all my jungle’ness outta me and island planning etc. (I felt special, ha!) Ended up at Gypsy Bar at first.. (characters: Hady, Nilly, Asad, Shayan, Patrick, Phil and some other dude I can’t remember..) then crossed over to Twenty-One Lounge/Club where we met one of their local friends, Mirza. Just another night of pranks and drinks… the fellas kept having this dare game that us all entertained for the majority of the night.. though, I was hitting my sleepies especially since I had to be up for a 5:45AM taxi pickup for the airport… But of course… we ended up back at Equator nearing 4ish.. which meant… I wasn’t about to get any sleep. Stayed up chit chatting and dosing off with Asad and next thing I know.. taxi was there to pick me up…and I was Langkawi-bound!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Arrived in Langkawi, checked-in and headed my way out for a 3min walk to the main beach: Pentai Cengang. First Impressions: “Ahhhh a beach at last!! and everyone here is sooooo chilled out!!” But then as I checked the water, it wasn’t as nice and lovely I had hoped for….but was content I was at the beach. (The nicer spots are up north, but didn’t have time with my one day-stop before I hit Thailand sands.) The pictures are beautious and definitely nice… butttttttt I’m a bit of a beach connoiseur and this wasn’t the best beach I’ve been to. Sands are nice, but the water could be clearer. But again, I wasn’t about to be too picky; I was without any sleep the night before and was just happy to be outta the wildnerness and city. Ended up passing out the majority of the time on the beach anyway… but most definitely caught the sunset for some flicks to share… Then of course some dude, Vishal was his name, decided to make his way over and chit chat. Though I was still mentally in my “regain my peace of mind” mode… I entertained the convo and we ended up going out for dinner. (My appetite tends to be even greater after a hard day on the beach.) After which, met up with his friends at this reggae bar called Babylon, that I had laid myself out for the majority of the day (for tune relief: btw, they LOVE their Norah Jones, Jason Mraz and Jack Johnson here in Southeast Asia!).  His friends were talking some inhebriated chics from Wales…and I got my cue for my exit when I heard them talk about “their plans for their upcoming 21st birthday……”

Friday, January 30, 2009

8AM taxi pick-up to the speed boat for Koh Lipe, Thailand! My Thai local, Nilly from the Equator gave me the inside scoop on this 45min ferry ride from Langkawi to Paradise….and I took her word for it! And SOOO GLADDDD I DID. My mouth went on auto-pilot smile as we approached the coast….. ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS! NOW THIS WAS A BEACH!!!!!!  Clean, clear … waters…. greens and blues… white, powdery soft sands… I love Thailand!!

I had met some folks on the boat ride, Nina and Matic (Slovenia) and Suzanne (UK). We’ve been a crew since then..

I found myself a room, checked-in and got into my beach gear for some eats and much needed chillax…. Of course, I had to get myself an oil massage on the beach as well. Ahhh, did I mention I love Thailand???!!

Dinner with the characters above at Bundhaya Resort where majority of wait staff were lady boys (def back in Thailand now)  and made our way to cool, chill out spot called “Peace and Love” Bar. Very nice… carpets laid out on beach… bright starry night.. I saw a shooting star! :-) Ahhhhhh  love, love!!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Went with the above crew for a day of snorkeling! I got my lessons in primary colors again with all the colorful fishes!  “Millions of fishes… fishes for me” was the tune remixed for that part of the excursion. I was on a quest to find Nemo…. but sadly… did not find him.  :-(   No Flounder nor Sabastian either, but I believe I did see Dori.) Anyhoots, I totally wished I had stolen Lisa’s underwater camera… but ahh well.. I’ll have the images stored in my memory chips and you all with just have to imagine! But for real… we island-hopped a bit for the snorkeling and checked out beach monkeys; of course I was the only one who got a few nicks from the coral and slightly stung by a jellyfish.. .. but  oh my God, the last stop was the topper! (I can’t remember the name off the top of my head.)  Absolutely Breathtaking!! There was no way for me to take a bad picture there!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

My last full day on the beach… soooo I’mma dip out and enjoy it!!

PS. I’ve been mistaken for Thai and Malaysian here soo many times, I can not even count. Ie. Yesterday — local dude here asked me, “Where are you from?” I responded, “America.” He stutters a bit and says..”but you look …. you look… ahh same-same..” To which  smiled and said, “ahhh but I’m different.” :-)

OK.. kids… love ya’ll…. and love Thailand! I’m off for another wonderful day on paradise island and to break some more hearts on this local front. Current count of Thai boyfriends here on this island: 3 and 1 Italian but currently Thai resident. If only I had the time to type up those stories!!  Let’s just say Nina, Matic and Suzanne have had plenty of hearty chuckles at the expense of my embarassment. They’ve become my “messengers” of crush notes from these gents here. And now I’m known throughout the island as “The American Girl.”  Hilarity…

“God Put A Smile Upon Your Face” from album, A Rush of Blood to the Head by Coldplay (08.27.02)

. . don’t burn the day. .

OBAMA’guration 2009… Happened in Bangkok, too!

Ugh…. I told ya’ll about my Lil’ Jon - ”Whatttt??!!”  moments with these damn accents in this Bangkok guesthouse…and then, come to find out I was only 1 of 2 Americans that were present in the lobby of a good 12 or so to witness OBAMA’guration 2009. After a some snide and snarky remarks from the non-Americans in the audience, the flat screen was eventually switched to channel: Bloomberg.   And goodness, Bloomberg – must you commentate over parts of the actual ceremony?? I mean really. I need not hear what you think about who’s on screen but would rather want to HEAR who’s on screen first.. then mayyyyybee I’ll be interested in your commentary. Sheeeeesh!

But eventually….. I got to witness history once again. I saw THE MAN  be sworn in and heard THE MAN speak. PROGRESS, ladies and gentlemen. PROGRESS.

Overall, though – folks from every country that ‘ve met all  share the same HOPE, JOY and a real sigh of relief to have the O-man in the big seat! :-)

Oh and speaking of progress… I gotta keep this one short… since I gotta catch some snooze to catch my flight to Singapore in the early AM… Now THAT, too, is PROGRESS! :-)

. . don’t burn the day. .

I See Sounds

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a nerd (in a cool way of course) and that I love my fellow nerd-friends (again, cool ones of course). I also really love a little group comprised of some dudes named Pharrell Williams, Chad Hugo and Shay Haley – collectively known as N.E.R.D.

These dudes get paid big bucks for a reason; they quite confidently explore and push musical boundaries to the point of defining no limit. (Did I mention I love ‘em!!??!!) From their debut album in 2002 (ahem.back when I wasn’t jaded, but rather “teal” as my friend, Ant, who was then “green,” calls me.ahem) entitled In Search Of, to their sophomore follow-up in 2004, Fly or Die, to their upcoming release, Seeing Sounds (title inspired by a neurological disorder called Synesthesia, that causes people to experience sounds as colors or as objects in their minds)…. these dudes never cease to amaze me with their growth in production experimentation!! In stores this coming Tuesday, June 10th – do yourself a favor (and your gym regimen a favor) and PICK UP THIS ALBUM! If you love the first two albums like I do (different sonic directions and all)… I guarantee you will not be disappointed with this third addition. In its gloriously retro, yet electronically futuristic, hip-rock, chugging riffs, driving bass, frenetic rhythms and so many more adjectives along the way, Seeing Sounds provides an audibly pleasurable fusion of its predecessors.

And though I’m probably the only one on Earth that is “ehhhh” on their first single, “Everyone Nose,” here’s a clip of their recent wildin’ performance on Jay Leno: (ps. the rest of the album is wayyy better, but energy level stays on a relentless high track….. this album moves quick ya’ll!)

“Happy” from album, Seeing Sounds by N.E.R.D. (06.10.08)

. . don’t burn the day. .

Fun Facts on April 28th

Exactly two years ago – I was deep in the concerts and events/music world; and I mean DEEP.

Exactly one year ago – I was miserably toiling away in the advertising world.

Exactly two months ago – I officially left New York. WOW! This is the longest I’ve been away from the big city! (and they said I wouldn’t last….)

Exactly one month ago – I left Boston for Miami.

“Time is free, but priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.” – H. Mackay


Approximately one month from today, I will be giving it a another last-hurrah in the big city.

Approximately two months from today, I will be aboard a Shanghai-bound plane.

andddd lastly, bday shout-out to my bro, J today!!

. . don’t burn the day. .