Sunday, January 31, 2010

february 1

here we are singapore airport enroute to bangkok. the good times are over. now i can't even brush my teeth with anything but bottled water. my salad days are on hold, but to be honest there is no shortage of food anywhere around these parts.
singapore is a truly amazing place. it is so perfect that it is surreal. people are kind and friendly and everyone gets along. there is no garbage anywhere, the public transit system is fast, efficient, user friendly, and cheap and it appears that there are two major pastimes...eating and shopping.
d and j live in a lovely home in a great location with easy access to the whole city. they are superlative hosts, bailey the dog is tons of fun and with help from Ria d doesn't need to stress too much about cleaning. what a great life.

i am not sure what kind of internet acces i will have in the next little while, but i will do my best.
happy shovelling.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

sunday january 31

thaipasum needed to be seen to be believed. devotees gather at the temple with their family and friends. a small altar is set up by each group and a set of ritual prayers performed. then the devotee, usually a young man who has been fasting in preparation, is pierced. three piercings are made through his forehead, and then many spikes are pierced just under the skin. the final and most invasive is a skewer through the mouth from cheek to cheek, and then one from the top lip, through the tongue, and out the bottom lip. then these skewers are decorated. finally, a very tall basket that has been highly decorated is placed on the man's head. this thing looks stinking heavy. after a series of prayers in the temple, the devotee and his followers set off and join the 4 kilometre parade route in the heat with bare feet, carrying this load. look it up on the internet to get some pictures. i am just not doing it justice.
it was dinner out with d and j. a good time was had by all. the only minor glich was d sambucca which turned ou to be water. the problem was rectified after she complained. i guess so.
today we are off to a baby birthday party for some friends of d a j, and then tomorrow we pick up our vietnamese visas and head off to Thailand. good-bye good life, hello reality.

Friday, January 29, 2010

saturday january 30

the singapore zoo is something to see. they have done an amazing job. the night zoo, though a bit gimmicy is lots of fun as well. you get a chance to see the nocturnal guys that are always asleep every other time that you go to the zoo. like every other place in singapore there is good eating. no mcdonalds at this this zoo..fabulous local food.
yesterday we decided to book Chiang Mai before we headed out for the day. not much selection at the hostels, things are busy in this neck of the woods. it was the changi museum yesterday, a very interesting history of the japanese occupation during the second world ward, then back to chinatown and a visit to the buddhist temple and museum. fascinating stuff. today it will be off to the hindu temple for thaipassan, a festival where young men get piercings through their body, and then carry goods on the sticks that are pierced through the body, for 4 kilometres. i am not sure of the signifigance, but will find out more today. d is preparing breakfast as i write. every morning it is a plate of fresh fruit, passionfruit yoghurt with homemade granola, and toast. great coffee and great conversation. better than the fairmont i am sure. i will let you know about today's festivities.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

thursday january 28

yesterday was a big fun day in singapore. we started with an indian breakfast of idli's and dosa's and then had a tour of little italy. the highlight was definitely the hindu temple with all it's small colourful god stations with different ceremonies going on in each. the temple is a cocophony of colour and smell. we still don't know the sisnifigance of the people who colour their hair yellow with what appears to be a chalk. from there it was off to the famous raffles hotel, a beautiful place, and no we, did not have a thirty dollar singapore sling. from there it was down to the waterfront where tons of construction is going on. they are building a huge casino complex with a hotel that is something to behold. also down there is their very lovely theatre. back to diana and jims for a swim and dinner.
this morning diana is off to her opainting class and we are going to bike over to the reservoir jungle for another big long walk in the hopes of seeing the monkeys again. later today we will go to the regular zoo and the night zoo. endless fun.

Monday, January 25, 2010

tuesday january 26

yesterday was off to the vietnamese embassy to get our visas. they will be ready to be picked up on monday, so d and j are stuck with us a little bit longer. we will head right from there to Bangkok. next stop was an ex-pat area similar to the Danforth where we stopped for some absolutely delicious lime juice and then hopped on a bus downtown to the museum. after the museum it was lunch in a "food court" teppenyakki...delicious. i had oysters that were fresh,creamy and perfectly cooked. the malls here are something to behold. there are three louis vuitton stores on the one stretch and they are all busy. people shop like i have never seen. back to d and j's for dinner.
this morning we went for a nature walk in this gargantuan park smack dab in the centre of Singapore. there were monkeys along the path so close that we could have touched them. the babies were playing all around. it was amazing and oh so cute. there was also a canopy walk. lunch was "chicken rice" a singapore specialty. it was ok, but there is just so much better food all around. i am shocked that the people here are all so tiny. the food is fabulous, and people seem to be eating all the time. all the best. will talk soon.
well, off to the pool for a swim. it is hot and humid. above thirty everyday with no rain.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

monday january 25

yesterday started with a leisurely breakfast then off to get our visa pictures done. it was hilarious. she handed gerry a comb, then asked him if he would like to put on a jacket. she made me take down and comb my hair, then stopped the pictures to flatten out some flyaway hairs, and finally told me where to put my hands "to make my shoulders appear smaller." at the end she photoshopped out all the redness and sent us on our way.
next it was off to the arabic area to see the mosque and all the great little shops.i will definitely go back there before i return home. great batik inn beautiful colours of provence. d and j had a wedding to attend so gerry and i spent some time on the computer figuring out our next move. looks like the weather in north vietnam is not great so we think that we will strart in Thailand. we wandered up to the local strip plaza to grab some dinner. pad thai, red curry, rice and a tofu hot plate with vegetables...yum and only 20 sing dollars...about 14 or 15 canadian.
we are going to head out shortly to the vietnamese embassy to see if we can get our visas organized, then off to the museum. another fun day ahead.
this skype stuff that they have here is amazing. i have spoken to more people at home from here than i do at home. ah technology.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

sunday january 24

fun day yesterday. we walked through d and j neighgourhood enroute to the botanical gardens. stopped by a beautiful chinese antique store located in a fabulous residence. the gardens are large, lush, full of families and beautiful. then it was off to Orchard Rd. and a visit to a brand new mall. one of many here in Singapore. they are full of high-end stores...think Harry Winston, Coach, Louis Vuitton, get the idea...but the amazing thing is that people are actually buying. we had lunch in the food court. no fast food here.a fabulous malaysian meal for about three bucks. on the way back we stopped at pierre's, the wine purveyor, who imports only from France. He opens and talks about the wine, we sip, and then we make our purchase. No magnotta here unfortunately. then home for a gand t and a swim.
in the evening it was off to chinatown for the start of chinese new year. all the lights were on, the streets were packed, fireworks were roaring, and a good time was being had by all. next stop, the riverfront. this is the entertainment district on the river. it is stunning.we stopped by a cuban club for the very best mojita i have ever tasted, with a live cuban band, and the occasional se asian couple trying their hand at the tango. the execution was good, but the latin passion, not so. finished off with a glass of wine by the river, and home to bed. what a lifestyle.

Friday, January 22, 2010

saturday january 23

we are in singapore. arrived yesterday at 3;30. singapore is lush, green and hot compared to hong kong. diana made a fabulous dinner. today we are off to the botanical gardens and then will head out to chinatown tonight for the lighting of the new year lanterns. their home is fabulous, and the pets are well. some fun days ahead.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

friday january 22

we are at the coffee shop and will leave shortly to cath the bus to the airport and off to singapore. hello diana and jim.
some musings on HK. there are public toilets everywhere that are clean, well stocked and attendant free. there is either little crime or drugs or both. there are mcdonalds and starbucks on every corner. the prices at the mcdonalds are so much lower than at home. in no time this slim nation will all be looking like us westerners. i am not sure how the cost of living compares, but the subway is 80 cents, the tram 30 and the ferry 25. getting around is cheap. we were in the ladies market and a fellow approached us when he heard us szpeaking english.turns out he is from newmarket. go figure. then we were walking upto peak tram and we ran onto a german woman from the camino who is a mid-wife here to deliver a friends baby. small world.
can't say i'm sorry to leave the hostel. it was so damp my washed underwear haven'tdried in two days.
oh well, onward and upward. from singapore next time.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

thursday january21

we are here in hong kong!!!
i amtrying to post this from a public computer andthe spacebar is jammed. there are no internet cafes around. i guess everyone is wired up at home.
we made it in good time to the airport, in fact we had our own private limo/gobus. everything went smoothly, but asusual they suspected that i was a terrorist. they made me standon the rubber mat holdingup the whole line until they could get an available female to check my chest and my hair. Please. Anyone can tell bylooking atmethat there is no bomb on my chest, and absolutely no where to hide one. the flight was long but went by amazingly quickly with good inflight entertainment. i played who wants to be a millionare butcame out broke.
we arrived at 5 in the morning, went to our very sparse and heldtogether with duct tape hostel, and because the room wasn't ready, struck out on a walking tour of Kowloon.Think of a gigantic Spadina and Dundas, and you have the picture. People everywhere..but a surprising lackof cars and almost zero bikes and motorcycles. We fell into bed at 6 so exhaustedthat we couldn't speak. The rock hard mattress didn't even bother me, although I could have used a softer pillow.
we are off to hongkong island after this coffee for another fullday of sightseeing.
food is a bit off a probem. but yesyerday morning, starving, i just pointed to whatthe other lady was eating and it worked out fine.
we are off. will write soon.

Monday, January 18, 2010

monday january 18

here we go again. the plane leaves at just after midnight tonight and gets us to hong kong wednesday at 5 am. i was hoping that my typing skills would have improved before i started to blog again. i down-loaded mavis beacon, but it was only a two day trial, so i didn't get much beyond fff fff ddd ddd,so for the sake of time, i am going to leave out the capitals and see if that speeds up my output even a bit. no secretarial job for me when i return.
thank you for all the "driving to the airport offers." in keeping with the style of travel we will try the viva and go bus again. this time i leave the timeline to gerry as you all know the outcome from the last trip. running down yonge street, paniced, trying to hail a cab.
it is my understanding that internet cafes are plentiful and cheap and so i will do my best to stay up-dated.
the next entry, if everything runs according to plan, will be from hong kong. see you all there