Entries from February 2009 ↓

(Slowly) Back Into The SH Groove

Yeah, I know I’ve been quiet since I’ve landed back in SH, but I’ve just been doing my best trying to reconnect my mind and body as it appears that I had left my head in Thailand… namely on the islandssss, but anyhoots, I’m here — finally had a couple of productive days with the kiddos. It’s been SUCH a STRUGGLE trying to get refocused, but I’m slowly getting back to being my “passionate teacher” self… already hitting my little ones with their first test of the semester on Irregular Verbs, this coming Tuesday. Mind you, I JUST taught  tthem this ummm… 2 weeks ago when the semester started; Yeah, I’m hardcore like that.

I hope ya’ll have been enjoying the flicks because it takes me forrrrevvveer to post them up. The internet connection (when it comes to uploading pics) here is temperamental in that one day it can be kool and kosher and the next, slow ass mo’lass… (Just add this to the list of frustrations.)  But there are PLENTY PICS TO COME…. All of my Malaysia rendevouses anddddd I’m saving the best for last: Koh Lipe!!!  Hopefully, I’ll get them all up within the next month time frame. HA!  (Those on Facebook can see full albums, but friggin Facebook is even more temperamental when it comes to uploading albums at times…. It is a very Grrrrrrrr’ing experience.)

As for this weekend, I’m making a rather spontaneous outing to Nanjing with a couple friends who had earlier this week asked me to join. Who was I to say no? …especially since I’ve still got the travel bug in me. This will be a nice, little 1-night, 2-day getaway… Then, on Sunday evening a little blast from SH Summer ’08 Past, Eugen will be making his return with one of his buds for a week’s worth of ‘Hai life jolt. Should be fun!

Okie dokes, I’m outtie… Malaysia, Koh Lipe and now Nanjing pics to come! Stay tuned…

. . don’t burn the day. .

SINGAPORE & SENTOSA ISLAND

Here we go!! I added a few captions, but for full stories: Singapore: First Impressions, Kissed by a Pink Dolphin! and Singapore > I came, I saw, I conquered.

After check in at Hang Out @ Mt. Emily…

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Hit some eats down the hill, around the corner towards the end of MacKenzie Street!…. chicken rice (as recommended by my NYC holmes, Khairi!)… Mmmmmmmmm….. I miss it!

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Ahhhhh just like my Pops!! :-)

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Flicks while riding on the Sentosa Express….

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Underwater World… Pshhhh!! (15 Minutes! I was in there for a total of FIFTEEN MINUTES!!)

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Check out these shark embryos!!!

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PINK DOLPHIN TIME!!!!….. WHOOO HOOOOO!

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Here I am making a fool out of myself alongside two other audience members…

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AWESOME! AWESOME! AWESOME!!……I got to get up close and personal with “Splash”….. It was meant to be, afterall! :-)

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Sealed with a kiss! :-)

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Here I am getting my photo taken with my Pink Phlipper…. As you can see in the 2nd photo, they had to drag me out!!.. LOL…

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Watch my speedy phinned phriends in action!!

Palawan Beach (one of several man-made beaches on the island…)

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The flock of kids below made me miss my own littles (for a hot minute or two)….

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Singapore Sky Tower and Singapore’s mascott, the Merlion (replica).

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Cable Car Riiiiide……

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Nasi Lemak… OMG…… soooooooo yummmmy!!!! with fresh Asian Pear juice!!

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Singapore’s Chinatown…..This was the first time I had ever seen red pineapples…

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And these red fruits — I had never seen before… so I picked one up.. it is sorta like a white plum..

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Had to try one of these Durian Pancakes… was tasty!

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Don’t the following look kinda “Hollywood set’ish”????…..

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Most certainly IS  a FINE city….

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THE Merlion, on guard of the city….

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St. Andrew’s Cathedral was so perrrrrrrty at night!

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I like this poster; and I’d like it more to have it translated in Chinese to be hung around Shanghai… Oops! Did I say that??!

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Long Bar @ Raffles Hotel.. PSHHHH!!! Waste of 23 Singapore Dolla Hollas…

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Bugis…..

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Arab Street…

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All sorts of randomness!! Who buys these things???!!

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Mustufa Centre SELLS ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING you can ever imagine!!! Just floors of alllllllllllll sorts from electronics to clothes…..

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Now this was also a great Indian meal!!!… Mmmmm Mango Lassi!!

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I told ya’ll I conquered. :-)

. . don’t burn the day. .

THAILAND: Bangkok

(In the voice of Andre 3000)…

“Alright, alright, alright, alright
Alright, alright, alright, alright
Alright, alright, alright, alright
Alright, alright, Ok now people, (YEAH!)”

Here are the flicks from my 3 nights in Bangkok…. and the world was my oyster….

First order of business = An absolutely delicious and cheap meal down the street from my guesthouse on Sukhumvit, Soi 1…. chicken rice with soup and pepsi for 40 baht.. that’s like umm $1usd!! Then, off to pong show

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Next morning, we decided to take on the river taxi; Here we are, all confused….

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The Grand Palace at last!….

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I had to rent out a skirt and top to cover up my legs and arms…..

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Freshly made on the spot papaya salad and the best massage place in the world!!!

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Another tasty and inexpensive meal around the corner….

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Muay Thai Boxing!…..

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Here’s a vid clip…

Just had to check out the renowned restaurant, Cabbages & Condoms, conveniently close by to our guesthouse… I’ll admit, even after reading Lonely Planet’s description of the place, I was prepping for a hole in the wall.. Much to my surprise, this was farrrr from any hole….. Very nice set up and most certainly, fantastic food….

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We just had to… (as if you wouldn’t?!)….

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Next stop: Khao San Road where I took pleasure in people watching with my Chang Beer in hand; this could very well be my most favorite beer in the world (and I’m not even a hugggge fan of beer, but I drink it anyway..) But yeah, Chang Beer is tasty!

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And O’ cOurse :-)

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. . don’t burn the day. .

Eat, Drink & Be Merry: I Turn “21″ in Shanghai

So it’s been a rough week of sorts: Realizing I’m back in SH; 6-day work week (Sunday afternoon for all teachers to “prep for the week” aka basically go in and share travel/vacation stories), and just ALL AROUND UNFOCUSNESS amongst all of us — I was a HUGE VICTIM OF THIS, sleeping passed alarms and awaking in mid-dreams, brushing off my sides, under the real impression that I was underwater snorkeling with friends of Nemo… HOT MESS, I TELL YA!!  And I initially wasn’t really planning for much for (belated) birthday celebrations in the ‘Hai….. as since I enjoyed myself soooooo much in my 4-weeks skipping about in South East Asia, I figured that was really the mega gift of all gifts. But!! Of course under a bit of some peer pressure, I gave in to calling a few chosen ones to congregate under the influence of good eats and hard drinks to commemorate my born day. So I passed on the coordinating duties to some trusty folks and here’s what we got…..

What was supposed to be just a chill celebratory evening… turned into chill and lethal affair …..innumerable bottles of Mr. Belvedere, peach flavored shisha, peanuts and our very own personal heavy-handed bartender were culprits.

Dinner at 1001 Nights… Mmmmm Mediterranean food….. and Belly Dancers as live entertainment. The restaurant was packed with all sorts of ethnicities; I didn’t even feel like I was in Shanghai! And food was DEEELISH!

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Then off to Barbarossa

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Anddddd congratulations to Chris & Becky – the just engaged!

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And, sooo coming home, I somehow managed to change into pjs….. upon undressing… Surprise! These peanuts fell…Thank you Minh for throwing them down my dress (obviously unbeknownst to me) throughout the night!!…and a Happy Belated Birthday to me!

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. . don’t burn the day. .

THAILAND: Chiang Mai > Video Clips

“Ask and I Shall Receive” — While in anticipation for my long-awaited elephant ride, I was hoping to get a lil Baby Dumbo…..and drum roll……psyched that I actually got him!! Whooo!

Now, these clips are undeniable classics!  DO turn up your volume… because honestly, stuff like this just can NOT be scripted!! Enjoy!! :-D

Setting: Maetamann Elephant Camp in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Ridin’ Dumbo: Welcome to Chiang Mai (Part 1 of 5)

Ridin’ Dumbo: Tap That or Smack That?! (Part 2 of 5) —

This one is by farrrrrr my favorite!! If you are on the go, and only have time for one clip, I HIGHLY recommend this one! :-)

Ridin’ Dumbo: Ridin’ Dirty in Deep Waters (Part 3 of 5)

Ridin’ Dumbo: Makin’ It Last Forever (Part 4 of 5)

Bamboo River Rafting

. . don’t burn the day. .

THAILAND: Chiang Mai > Flicks

Here ye, here ye are my flicks from Chiang Mai. (Though I started off my holiday in Hong Kong, I didn’t really take many photos there as since I was under the condition of an unflavored fever and mainly getting some home remedies (aka pampering) from my aunt… plus, I already did a write-up of HK from my August ’08 trip.)

Sooo Chiang Mai: If ya’ll will recall, this was my first taste of solo travel...and I gotta say, it was a fUntastic intro!  Sure, I thought of folks back at home who would’ve enjoyed what I saw/was doing etc., and that’s natural… but after I got into a swing of things of doing whatever I wanted/when I wanted/how I wanted…. I was feeling all good in the hood. Plus! Chiang Mai is a small enough city/town to give a big city girl a sense of “I got this!” Plus (again)!… I met some real cool, fun lovin’ folk from all corners of the world, leaving me even more places to visit and people to see…including Slovenia!!! (Prior to this vacation, I had never even given Slovenia ANY thought! But not anymore! – More on that in my soon to come Koh Lipe flicks)….and not to mention, my facebook network has most definitely expanded. Ha!  I’m beginning to be  absolutely certain that I really AM a cool-magnet.. LOL  :-)  Kidding, sorta, but ya’ll know I’m right! :-P

OK, so without further ado, here are some flick selects ….. And I’m wayyyy tooo lazy to type up a caption for each flick, so ya’ll will have to piece it together with my previous re-cap. And finally, last but not least, stay tuned for the following post where I will be sharing some classic video clips from my Dumbo Ride at Maetamann Elephant Camp!! – Enjoy!!

Day 1: Temples, Streets and Eats

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Day 2: Elephant Riding, Ox Cart Riding, Bamboo River Rafting, Lisu Tribe, Karen Long Neck Tribe, Butterfly & Orchid Park,  Paper Making with Elephant Dung, Pat Klangviang, 150 Baht Buffet, Moon Muang Rooftop Bar, Club Bubbles and Spicy Debauchery

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PS. Thank you shout outs go to Shelley, Lundy and Aou for a memorable time in the CM! … I heart, I heart… :-)

. . don’t burn the day. .

One Day It’ll All Make Sense

I keep telling myself this, and I think I’m getting closer…. as I sit here, a day after landing back to my current homebase of Shanghai. Still quite weird for me to think that this is “home sweet home” to me, but it has been for the last 7 months and will continue to be so for another 5 (at least) … Uploading pictures, re-watching the videos taken throughout my recent super stupendous tour of South East Asia – just reliving the incredible experiences I’ve been fortunate enough to partake in, plus moments spent with some pleasant folks whom I met along the way… puts a stamp for the primary reason for me taking leave from the good ol; US of A: Travel and Exposure.

I really am, just so damn lucky. There is not a day that passes that I don’t give thanks to the Higher Being out there who has blessed me so well with all things beautiful in life. (Sure, I’ve got my gray days…but those do eventually pass… “Gray skies are gonna clear up, put on a happy face….” is the tune that interjects on those down days.)

Now, naturally as an Aquarian, my mind governs a lot of my decisions. However, it was a conversation with a good friend, Marcus back in August of 2004 at Old Homestead Steakhouse in the Chelsea area of NYC, that taught me a memorable lesson. Philosophical Sag himself, we got into a discussion over matters of the “mind versus heart.” I won’t get into the nitty gritty details because frankly, my cobwebs are a bit too tangled for that; however, the upshot of convo was that we both had something to learn from one another that evening — He learned of reacting less to impulse/heart when it came to decision-making, and I on the other hand, came out learning how to listen to my heart and follow my gut. Sounds easy, but when you’re built in a way where one naturally overpowers the other…. it’s not easy AT ALL. It takes awareness, a good pause and healthy conditioning to allow for the proper balance; It really was an awakening on my part to realize that I wasn’t allowing my gut to guide me as much as my analytics. Since that convo though, I’ve made a conscious effort to allow for the dichotomy between mind and heart to work synergistically….

Since that realization, I’ve had tremendous successes in arenas that I love… from continuing on with music to now, travel. And all I gotta say is: It’s a marvelous thing!!

To think, a year ago at this time, I was mentally and emotionally a hot mess with my last minute run around and goodbyes - packing up my apartment in the East Village, leaving all that I had worked up to be – a taste of being an independent consultant with various ad agencies, leaving family and friends and EVERYTHING that was common to me…. for a life of teaching English in China. How NUTS is that??!! Talk about life changing!

Now a year later, I can say that I’ve knocked off: Shanghai, Shenzen, Ningbo, Hong Kong, Macau, Inner Mongolia, Gobi Desert, Saigon, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia…..and there’s more to come!

Absolutely incredible!  At times, I question if I’m living a LIFE or a DREAM; the line is just too blurry to decipher.

But yeah, “one day it’ll all make sense.”  I think that day is drawing closer…. Just as Marcus and I shared perspectives in ’04, his reaction to me after I told him of my plans to up and leave music and marketing for teaching abroad was ala…. “That is pretty crazy, but of all people… that is right up your alley and, ….. it’s crazy, but makes perfect sense for you…”

I mean, Shanghai is NOT the easiest place to live as a westerner; Major cultural differences all around on the 24/7 timetable. (Not to mention, my curse count has gone way up, out and off the meters since landing here.) But this experience too, has its full share of lessons learned (ie. a huge appreciation for common courtesy!!! hehehe and other stuff that I won’t get into now). But with the daily frustrations, it’s made me question from time to time that there’s gotta be a light in all of this…. And my recent, one month -paid- holiday in South East Asia sealed the deal for me! It all made sense. It all made perfect sense.

PS. Thank you Marcus! Miss ya homie! :-)

I now leave ya’ll with a Common chorus…

I’ve lived and I’ve learned
I have taken and I’ve earned
I have laughed, I’ve cried
I have failed and I have tried
Sunshine, pouring rain
I found joy through all my pain
I just wanna be happy with being me

“G.O.D. (Gaining One’s Definition)” from album, One Day It’ll All Make Sense by Common  (09.30.07)


. . don’t burn the day. .

Grrrr…… SH

This place has it in for me… Since landing here last June, I’ve already had a trip to the police station, hospital and now a little hiccup at the airport. In all of my jet setting in the last month, I’ve had no problemo…. till I arrive back in the ‘Hai.  I was one of the first to step off the plane, and scooted my way up in the front to be one of the first thru immigration, then, one of the first at baggage claim. Already running thru my head.. “Ugh.. I’m back…and the shoving begins!  I gotta revert back to my linebacker skills and toss in some ‘bows along the way.”  Hoping to just grab my one backpack and bounce, I waited and waited and waited till the last suitcase dropped onto the belt. “Where is my backpack??!!” I skipped over to the service counter and showed her my baggage claim tag, chic punched in some numbers into the computer and told me, “Oh! Sorry, your bag is on the next flight coming in, so we will deliver your bag when it arrives.”  >>>> UGHHHHHHHHHHH!! WHY???? It is just ONE backpack!!  But dude next to me retrieved 2 out of 3 of his bags and he was in the same boat.  A bit annoying, but I guess it better happen in Shanghai/”homebase” than during my travels…So let’s all cross our fingers and hope I get a speedy delivery tomorrow!

On the other hand, I’ve arrived safe and all in one piece, minus a few coral scratches…

Next Episode:

While walking out to grab a cab, I  practiced reciting my address in Mandarin.. It’s been so long! Of course, as I walk out, all the taxi drivers are staring and hooting and hollering. I get to the front and driver asked me in broken English where my destination was and I responded quite FLUENTLY in Mandarin my address… All the drivers were blown away! (And really, I would be too!) But I was just saying to myself, “That’s it! Don’t ask/say anything else to me, because I’d have NOOOO CLUE what you’re trying to say to me.” But for once in all the months I’ve resided here, I got a really nice taxi driver. He spoke a little English and I actually tried my best to speak in Mandarin while throwing in some Cantonese here and there. Asking me the usual questions of where did I fly from, where am I from originally, what do I do etc etc. Then it got a bit more comical when he asked if I would tutor him English… then asked if I needed a ride tomorrow to work… which later escalated to him asking me if I like “Shanghai boys.”  I busted out in loud laughter and responded that I have an American boyfriend…. then rolled down the window a bit, because it was getting a little hard to breathe in there.  Curious though, I asked him why he had posed such a question and he responded using broken English, Mandarin and hand charades, “Shanghai boys are good! They cook, clean and wash clothes very good!”  Ummmmmmmmm……. “just what I’m looking for??!!”

PS. I’ll be working on getting flicks from my South East Asia Tour up soon, so hold your ponies!!!

. . don’t burn the day. .

I Don’t Know How I Do It Either…

I got a chuckle from this lil note the other day from a dear, dear “mother figure” / former high school teacher and most definitely, life-long friend:

Mimi,
 
You exhaust me!  The show  “24″ should have been named after you. I don’t know anyone who squeezes more into a day and then has time to journal it all, facebook everyone, and answer e-mails!
 
I did not know that I missed your b’day…so belated ‘b’day!!
How come you don’t age? I think I know…you are traveling faster than time.
 
Love you!
JM

To be honest, I have NO IDEA how I do it either; but I am glad I do, do it.  I wouldn’t be here without the support and encouragement of an incredible family and great friends…. Upkeeping communication lines is not so difficult as it sounds; Yeah, everyone is “soooooooooo busy”…. but if you care enough, you’ll find a way to put in the effort, to keep in touch…

If you’re reading this, obviously you’re cared for. :-)

OK, I gotta hop in a taxi to be whisked away by Cathay Pacific and Dragon Air back to Shanghai… will catch up with ya’ll then…

Till then though, I’ll be listening to Soul II Soul, “Keep On Movin” while ridin’ high … to the ‘Hai! ….  Here’s the vid, enjoy!! :-)

 

PS. – Love you too, Janice!! ~ your adopted daughter.

. . don’t burn the day. .

Besos y Amor!!

Just a quick little note of thanks, appreciation and love to all who’ve sent birthday wishes my way. I apologize for the mass-thank you, but in between all my travels… I hope/think ya’ll understand my “on the fly-ness.” 

You know, it’s definitely an atypical birthday as since I don’t have anyone who is near and dear to me alongside, however… as (relatively) “alone” as I am now, I don’t feel at all lonely. I’ve met some good folk in my travels, but more importantly: Trust me when I say, that any note from anyone of you – no matter how short or long – truly brightens up my day. Love you all and really do miss you all! (I’ll be on video chat from Shanghai this weekend if anyone wants to make an appointment.. lol)

Besos y Amor!!

. . don’t burn the day. .