Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Hiroshi locked me out of the house today >:-( I came home around 2 to get some food and pick up materials for my next class, and I opened the door only to have it bang really loudly and start large steel door reverberations up and down the hall. Neighbours were less than happy I am sure. The chain was on the door. Next came the joyous task of trying to wake Hiroshi up - he worked night shift last night so was dead to the world. Finally he let me in. Geesh. That's the third time this week he's done that! I mean, maybe it's a sign. He claims he is subconsciously punishing me for stepping on his feet when I walk over the futon to go to the washroom in the middle of the night though.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Ok, I'm supposed to be eating six small meals a day, but I don't think that is going to happen.... I know I'm going to sleep in late. So here's eating plan based on what I know is reality. No sense planning two morning meals I won't eat cuz I'll be snoozing.
Planned Meals 9/29
10:45 apple and cottage cheese
1:30 tandoori chicken with pear on salad with a bit of yogurt and basil dressing
4:00 protein pancakes
6:30 protein pancakes
9:00 TO THE GYM! (yes, I'm yelling at myself)
10:30 not sure - probably salmon, brown rice and a veggie. Or maybe a potato :) Might be protein pancakes or a shake if I can't bring myself to cook.

If I do happen to get up early, all of my meals will shift and I'll add in a shake in the evening for meal 5. My self-promise for tomorrow is: I will follow my eating plan and not cheat!
I love CostCo! Went out there today with the Watanabe's. I bought a bunch of meat and also found some perfectly fist-sized potatos. Whehoo! If only I had an oven to bake them in! I'd kill to do baked potatos at home. I'm not paying to do them in a toaster oven though (electricity is too expensive). Oh well. I like grating them up and 'frying' them in my t-fal (no oil). Very yummy. I also got some raspberries for my protein pancakes and some yogurt.

Hiroshi got danishes, giant bag of Doritos, bread, instant mashed potatos, sliced ham, bean salad (free day stuff for me unless I rinse the sugar/vinegar dressing off), and nutella. That should fix his junk cravings for the next while.

We also picked up our x-mas cards. I got a gigantic box for 50 yen per card which is great. They cost about 300 yen each to buy them in a normal Japanese department store. I had to try to remain calm and stay away from all the x-mas decorations. Hiroshi got his first glimpse of what a decorating nut I am at x-mas time. I was trying to convince him we need a 7' tree. The argument about where we would put the tree won out. *sigh* Can't wait until we move to Canada (sometime in the future) so I can go nutso over the xmas decorations again.

The Watanabe's (Yasu, Eriko and Kai) found some good priced baby stuff. I played with Kai all day. We tried to teach Hiroshi to feed him, but it wasn't too successful. Hiroshi looked at odds. That's ok - that meant *I* got to feed him. He is such a total cutie. I got some good pics of him today that I'll put up in the photoblog as soon as I finish with my Look Up / Look Down series. The feeding thing was kinda funny - Hiroshi has never fed a baby before. I'm training him you see *heheh* I'm hoping men have a biological clock too. And Kai is the perfect baby because he never cries! He just smiles all day long. We actually had him 'talking' and laughing today. Cute cute cute! I want one. But gotta get my body in shape first. So, gotta plan my meals and will post them later tonight!
Earthquake Hazards Program: NEIC: Worldwide Earthquake Activity in the Last Seven Days
Here's a neat link to put in your favourites list (for my family who might be worried about me). It tells you about earthquakes all over the world. Actually, I like looking at the list cuz it is really intersting. Amazing how frequent they are. Hokkaido has been just nailed in the last few days - lots of aftershocks I guess.
Well I finally got around to updating my Photoblog today. I have been creative lately. I'm doing what I call "Look up / Look down". So for the next while I'll be posting shots of what I see when I look down and when I look up. Actually the looking up ones are a bit challenging - basically everyone walks around Tokyo with their eyes glued downward. I like the down pics much better, although I'm starting to find some cool geometric designs now for the up pics too. Anyway, check them out - click on the link to the right.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

The Japan Times Online
The big news of the day is the Earthquake... and yes mom, I'm fine! This one appears to have hit all the major papers worldwide... well, it would seeing as it was a 8.0 one. Some of my coworkers claimed to have felt it this morning here in Tokyo, which is about 900 km away. There were also quite a few minor tremblers today in the Tokyo area - nothing compared to the 7 and 6 magnitude aftershocks felt up in Hokkaido. I was shocked at how little damage was caused - Kobe is The Earthquake on record. It was only a 7.3 and the damage was incredible. The 1923 earthquake in Tokyo killed 140,000 people - and that was also only in the 7's in terms of magnitude. That of course is mildly misleading - apparently most of those people were killed by the subsequent fires that broke out, and quick spread throughout the city.

Anyway, today I have been learning about tsunami. I've always thought that tsumani were giant 1 mile high waves that came crashing miles inland. I was reading the news reports about 1 meter high tsunami, thinking "uh... so what??" Well those suckers are fast! They have had some really interesting footage on tv. One clip showed a pier basically being submerged in less than a minute as the water rose shortly after the quake. There was another clip of the tsunami moving up a river - basically flowing backwards. And the one that really gave an indication of how strong they are was a boat that was churning up water it was powering the engines so much, and yet it appeared to not be moving. It was going into the tsunami.

So, thank heavens there was only 1 death and mostly minor injuries. And another day has passed in Japan, and I have yet again learned something new and had my perceptions alterred. A mile high wave would be kinda cool to see though.

Friday, September 26, 2003

I'm so proud of myself - for the first time in a very, very long time, I have actually followed my diet and had a perfect eating day. Planned vs. actual below:
9/25 Meals
7:00 Japanese pear and cottage cheese - check
10:00 protein pancakes - check (but only 80% of them)
1:00 protein pancakes - check
3:30 tandoori chicken, shredded cabbage salad, and some carb (yogurt?) - tandoori chicken, 1 whole tomato, 2 extra thin slices whole wheat bread
6:00 protein shake - check
9:00 WORKOUT - missed
10:30 salad and fake blueberry frozen yogurt - 9:30 salad with Japanese pear and tandoori chicken with a couple tbsp of lf yogurt and a sprinkle of basil (this was really good!!)
12:00 fake blueberry frozen yogurt

I needed to add in the yogurt thing to get my calories up enough for the day. Total cals for the day - just under 1700, which is pretty strict calories for me. (My PFA score was A- or 91.6%). I was over on sodium, under on potassium and over on sugar. What else is new. Sodium I'm down to 120% of daily intake (from over 700%!), and sugar is improving - I like fruit too much! I forget about the fruit in the protein pancakes. As for potassium, donno what to eat so I can get more. Have to research that one. Bananas - but they will boost my sugars even higher.

Anyway, the plan for tomorrow...

9/26 Meal Plan
7:30 apple and cottage cheese
10:30 protein pancakes
1:30 protein pancakes
4:00 protein shake
6:30 tandoori chicken, cabbage salad, potato
9:00 workout
10:30 ?? not sure!

My brain is broken at the moment so I can't decide on a sixth meal. Argh. Perhaps salmon and brown rice. Depends on how motivated I am to cook. Might be chicken again too. I'll think about it tomorrow.
Now I'm off to bed. Why is it I can never get to bed before 1 am???

Thursday, September 25, 2003

So here it is, almost 2am and I am still awake. I suddenly remembered my chicken had been marinating for more than 1 day - almost 2 and that if I didn't cook it today, it would be iffy. So now the kitchen has the heavenly scent of tandoori. I'm drooling. I want to eat it! But I have to haul my butt to bed. Tandoori chicken will have to wait until tomorrow. *sigh*

9/25 Meal Plan
7:00 Japanese pear and cottage cheese
10:00 protein pancakes
1:00 protein pancakes
3:30 tandoori chicken, shredded cabbage salad, and some carb (yogurt?)
6:00 protein shake
10:30 salad and fake blueberry frozen yogurt
Jehovah Witnesses are everywhere. I'm walking down the street today and there are these two sweet little old western ladies dressed in mauve suits standing by the bus-stop. As I walk past, one of them comes up to me and says "Would you like one of our magazines?" Unsuspecting I took one... only to find that it is a JW religious publication. Go figure.
I must say I like the tactics of 'here, take a free English magazine' over the follow you thru the train station tactics that some other religion (not sure which) uses here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Went to see my good friend Yasu and his wife Eriko today... and of course their little one Kai. Kai is now 5 months old and as adorable as ever. I haven't seen him in over two months, and holy cats he's growing like mad! He's about 30% longer than he was last time I saw him and now weighs 7kg (that's about 15lbs to you non-metric folks). We arrived at their place around 2 and sat around playing with Kai for a while, then went for a walk to Ameyoko - which is a big shopping area near Ueno in Tokyo. It took about 30 minutes to walk there, and it was nice. We finally parted at around 8, and during that time Kai didn't cry once. Didn't even fuss! I'm amazed. He's just happy and smiley and oh so cute.

At first Hiroshi held him and didn't quite know what to do. He had that deer in headlights look. He was quite comfortable by the end of the visit though. I think we're going to have to visit them more often. ;) That biological clock is ticking you know. We're all going to head out to CostCo on the weekend, so I'll get to make stupid faces and do silly things all day. Gotta love it!

The walk tonight was really nice. The weather in Tokyo is totally whacked - one day it is 30C and the next it is 15C. What's up with that??!! I like this temperature though, so I'm a happy camper. This is great fall walking weather. I love not sweating to death.

Monday, September 22, 2003

I'm back on my diet again and will be posting my meals here daily. Here's the plan for tomorrow:
9/21 Meals - Plan
1. 1 cup cottage cheese and 1 asian pear
2. pumpkin protein pancakes
3. 5 oz tandoori chicken, 250g sweet potato, 3/4 cup shredded cabbage with 3 cherry tomatos, 1 tbsp non-oil dressing
4. whole wheat tortilla, tuna, 3/4 tbsp homemade mayo
5. 5 white and 1 egg omelette with shiitake mushrooms and salsa, oats with 1/4 cup of milk, dash of cinnamon
Vitamins: B Complex, C, calcium, folic acid

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Mainichi Interactive - Top News

Oooh, yippeee, another typhoon. I keep hoping it will be big and exciting, but all that ever happens is a ton of rain falls. oh well. Maybe my weather girls umbrella will turn inside out! That'd be cool!
Had a great time last week doing my intensive training course. It was draining but fun. Great group of students. Now it is back into the swing of things. Tomorrow I'll be cooking up a storm - starting my diet again on Monday. Will hit the gym tomorrow on my way to the grocery store. Time to get serious again about losing weight.

Had a big earthquake today - 5.5. It was scary cuz it was an up and down one. The side to side ones are ok. It's the up and down ones that cause massive damage. There was supposed to be a huge 7+ one in Kawasaki last week (where I was) but it never happened. (They had measured things in the atmosphere to predict it - I don't quite understand) When this one started I was worried it would be a huge one. But it just rattled the dishes and shook the shelves. All was fine. I was getting ready to dash under the kitchen table though.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

I'll be back next week - will be offline until Saturday.
I love days off. I wish all my Saturday classes would change their minds and reschedule them for sometime during the week. Only having 1 day off a week really bites. Slept in this morning. Woke up and bummed around on the net for a bit and then went to give Hiroshi a cuddle (he was still sleeping). Heard someone slide something into the door mailslot. I'm expecting a package, so went to check, and sure enough it had been the delivery guy. He didn't knock!! Duh! How'm I supposed to answer the door to take the package if you don't knock???!!! Geesh. He's supposed to come back later today. Hope so. I want to bring some shakes with me next week when I'm doing that intensive course.

After lazing around a bit more, Hiroshi and I went to go to Franklin's for lunch. It is a gourmet hamburger place. There was a huge lineup though! There must have been a feature on it in a magazine or something. So we decided to return the movie we rented last week and go to the Hawaiin burger place instead. Ugh, I'm stuffed. There is so much food. Hiroshi was in heaven though - he's been dying for burgers for a while. I doubt I'll eat anything else today.

I guess that is the extent of my day off. Still have to pack, but I think I'm going to go and have a little nap now. Or just curl up in bed with my book for a while. I love laying in bed with a good book. Speaking of books, I definitely have to make a trip to the used book store - my pile of finished books is falling over. Need to make room. And then I can get credit to get more books. I still have a ton to read, but there are a few I want to get. I'm working my way thru Sue Grafton's alphabet murder series. They are great train reading. It doesn't matter if you skip a paragraph. Also wanted to see if there were any more titles by Cathy Kelly. She writes women stories. Kinda romancy, and the characters are really good. Quite easy to identify with them. It is nice to be reading again - I hadn't been for a long time. Hopefully it will help me keep my English vocabulary up to speed. I swear I'm becoming more brain dead with the English language every day.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

It feels like summer here still... well, not still, now. It is really hot! I hate 30 C. Well, if I were still on the beach I'd love it, but when you're running around in dress clothes it sucks.

The vacation glow is starting to wear off. I had an absolutely horrid day today - mainly due to work related muck-ups caused by coworkers. My stress levels went thru the roof. And I could feel myself turning grumpy and it was aweful. I wanted to just slow down and take my time walking so I could regain some non-stressed composure, but I was late, so had to run like a maniac. Argh.

Met Hiroshi after work though and we went to the cheap Italian place for dinner. After getting food in to me I felt much better. The salad was wonderful. Then we had a small pizza with a bit of cheese, lots of mushroms, some squid and ricola (which is an herb, and I'm not sure what the English name is). Hiroshi ordered spaghetti with squid ink - which is disgusting. It is black and icky. I have tasted it once where it was ok, but it tastes like melted Crayola crayons. The two mini-pieces of pizza were enough for me though. Don't know why I wasn't starving. Probably the darn heat.

Ah well, tomorrow I can relax and do nothing with Hiroshi all day. Well, I have to pack for an intensive course I'm doing and go over those materials, but other than that I am free to sit on my butt all day. Hallelujah!

Thursday, September 11, 2003

I forgot to talk about Mars and the moon. Well I think it was Mars. I was coming home from work the other day and all these people are looking at the moon, which seemed kinda silly. I mean it was full (or alsmost full) but what's the big deal. People were taking pictures. Then I realized that there was an airplane that appeared to be just underneath it... only it wasn't moving. Aha! A very bright star is beside the moon. One of my colleagues later told me it was Mars. And I didn't whip out my camera. Man. And it has been overcast the last few days, so I haven't had a second chance. Oh well. It was pretty cool though. Knowing nothing about astronomy, I have no idea if North Americans got the same view or not.

And, whatdya think about my weather girl? I think she's great, although the platform shoes she wears in the evening are a bit strange. Might change her to the kimono weather girl, but this one has more outfits. That means she's more fun to look at... and I have a feeling most of you can't tell the difference between the different kimonos. All I know was that today was way too bloody hot for September. Give me fall!! I want to bypass summer all together. That's what vacation is for!

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

I'm peeling like crazy, which means I am losing my tan, which sucks. Or maybe it means I just need to go on another vacation ;) Went to the gym tonight for the first time in ages and it felt great. I did some laps and aquawalking in the pool. Tomorrow I'll do some weights. Other than that, nothing is new. Just work *sigh* When can I go back to some place tropical?

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Ok, I finally got blogger back up and working. What a royal pain in the butt - I haven't been able to post since Thursday, and now my fingers are sore from typing :) Lots of reading material for you all.

On the weekend Hiroshi and I just relaxed... well the weekend being Sunday for us. We both worked on Saturday. We went for a nice flipflop walk together. I miss my flipflops from vacation. Wearing them makes me relaxed. We took a leisurely stroll down to Gyu-kaku which is the yaki-niku restaurant (korean barbeque). We had a very yummy dinner which included scallops (very yum) and satsuma imo (sweet potato). The potato was scrumtious - we ordered more. Then we continued on to the game center so Hiroshi could play Gundam for a while and then went to the video store.

We rented Bowling for Columbine which was just released on video here. All I can say is WOW! What an exceptional movie - well, documentary. Hiroshi was also amazed (and yes mom, he's more amenable to coming to Windsor permanently now that he's seen how safe Canada is, and no we never want to live in the States). If you haven't seen this already, get yourself to the video store.
Phuket - Day 5
Well it was our last day of our honeymoon, and our first holiday together. (I don't count going to Canada as holidays - there is too much running around involved). We were up dark and early - the sun wasn't even up yet. Got all our things together and headed out to the airport. On the way there we saw lots of monks in their orange robes walking along the road. They were about the only people out!

We arrived at the airport and checked in. A woman escorted us to customs and then to the business lounge. Luckily there was a shop that sold stamps and had a mail basket. I don't know if those postcards will arrive at their destinations or not. Oh well. Not much shopping though. We just hung out in the lounge and had breakfast - fruit and sandwiches with coffee. Then we got on the plan for a quick jaunt to Bangkok. Of course we got champagne before we took off... just enough to make us promptly fall asleep after breakfast. I can't believe they served breakfast on a 1 hour flight!

Now I thought that the flight was just stopping in Bangkok - but we actually had to change planes! It was the same flight number, but we had to change planes. Weird. The transfer in Bangkok wa an absolute nightmare. Why didn't they have someone to escort us there? Anyone can make their way to the customes counter. When we got off the bus (bus takes you from the plane to the terminal), there were 400 people looking at one small TV telling us which gate to go to. There wer no personnel around giving directions. I asked someone and she replied quite snarkily back. Then tehre was about a one km hike to the gate. Wish I knew this before - I had trouble walking, and my feet even in flipflops weren't happy (sunburn was bad there). We went to the wrong business lounge and the lady at the reception desk yelled at us. We finally got to the right one, and asked where to put the trolley which had our carry-on and the receptionist replied very snottily "out in the hallway". Well, duh! But where? I was not happy. I grabbed a customer feedback form and filled it out on the spot. Not happy. But, after some coffee in the lunge and some yummy quiche things I felt better.

So about 30 minutes later we got on the plane that continued to Tokyo. Got champagne once again. This plane had nicer seats and better TVs than the one on the way there. Not like that mattered. Well, the seats did. Both of us slept almost the whole way back. It was amazing! I've never been able to sleep on a plane. Lunch on the flight back was delicious too. The main entree again was dry and bland. I had shrimp and rice. Not so great. But the rest was amazing. I wasn't that hungry anyway (darn baby quiches in the lounge!). The appetizer was smoked salmon with dill, and there was a nice salad, and lots of whole grain rolls again. After the meal there was a wonderful fruit and cheese tray that they rolllled down the aisle. There was a canteloupe that was carved into a big flower - very pretty. I just had some melon and a thimble sized glass of port - which conked me out for the rest of the flight. Donno what dessert was.

Hiroshi didn't get to eat. He boarded the plane and almost immediately felt nauseous. The flight attendant was really nice though and brought some medicine for him. They even offered to keep his meal warm for later and checked to make sure he was ok every once and a while. He slept all the way home and felt much better by the time we arrived (I didn't get sick until we got home).

Our luggage was first off the plane again, and we got thru customs very quickly. We slowly walked to get the train home. Then we arrived in Tokyo station and shock set in. Oh god, not all the people rushing everywhere. We made a point of slowly walking to our platform. Then we slowly walked home wishing we were still on the beach. And that was the end of the vacation. Well except for the sunburn lotion which exploded in the luggage and Hiroshi had a fit over (he says I should wrap everything in plastic bags - why bother. It's washable. Maybe I'm just lazy?). I got him to calm down - don't want to get all stressed again two hours after getting back in the country!

Anyway, it was an absolutely wonderful holiday and I couldn't have imagined a better honeymoon. I was always kinda sad that we didn't go right away, but now I'm glad we waited. One of the couples in the hotel were newlyweds (they had just had the ceremony the day before they arrived) and the guy was out doing things and we never saw the wife. *shrug* That'd be upsetting I think. As it was, we both are comfortable with each other, know that each other snores, know we have bad gas sometimes (Thai food *wink*) and if one person is tired we just change the plans. There was no tension. I did everything I wanted to do. I think Hiroshi did everything he wanted to do (ok, maybe he didn't want to buy jewellery, but I'm sure he enjoys seeing how happy I am wearing it... until his visa bill comes that is ;) nah, he should be happy). We both had fun, and I think we grew a lot closer. And of course, we're still being sillily romantic (I know, sillily is probably not a word). So now I'm glad we waited. And of can't wait to use that free ticket to go back again next year!!

Monday, September 08, 2003

Phuket - Day 4
Our last day in Phuket =( We woke up to no power! Apparently the whole island's power was out. There was no running water either... cuz it runs on a pump. So we decided to see if there was any breakfast. Luckily there were some of those great croissants and watermelon. After that we just went back to the room, opened up all the windows, and popped open our bottle of champagne. It was a lovely way to spend the morning! The lady from the spa saw I was in pain with the sunburn and made that rosemary ice water thing again and brought it down to our villa. So I sat there ooo'ing and ahhh'ing from the relief. Hiroshi said I was spoiling the romance. *lol*

The power eventually came back on and we wandered over to get some lunch. We decided to try some different dishes. We had a spicy/sour vermicelli salad that was absolutely delicious. Then there was an oyster beer stir fry which was so-so. The chicken coconut soup was good and the fried rice was bland. But the soup and the noodles were fabulous.

After lunch we headed back to the spa for facials. Mmm, relaxation! We also got manicures and pedicures. They did Hiroshi's manicure well, but I don't know what they were thinking of for me. Instead of shaping what nails I had, she cut them all off! And then didn't polish them or anything. Not too happy, but didn't want to complain cuz the sunburn stuff was free, and I'd've paid an arm and a leg for that! The pedicure was good though. It was quite funny cuz I got a brownish pink colour on them - and it was the same colour as my feet were in their sunburned state!

After the spa session we went back to our room and found that the maid had folder all of our disarray of clothing which had been left all over the place. That was a nice, if not embarrassing, surprise.

That evening we went out to a nice restaurant for a romantic dinner. We hired a car to take us. It cost aobut $20US for a drop off and pickup - and each was was about 30 minutes. I thought that was quite reasonable considering we were in a new, leather interior car. Much better than the rundown Thai taxis (think Toronto taxis, but in slightly worse condition and with maniac drivers). It was a very relaxing drive and the driver pointed out the different beaches to us. I got a change to see where other hotels were located, and I'm really glad we chose the one we stayed at. The other hotels are in their own complexes as well, but you step outside and you are in tourist hell. The exact opposite of relaxing. The Mangosteen Resort was wonderful - quite, secluded, not many guests. Seeing the other places served to reaffirm that it was a good choice.

We got to the restaurant (Baan Rim Pa) a bit early for our reservation but they had our table ready. We had wonderful views of the ocean. Unfortunately the day was rainy, so there was no sun. I had been looking forward to having a romantic sunset dinner. The sky still went thru some nice shades of blue though, and it was great to hear the surf while we ate.

The food was beautifully presented. We had shrimp wrapped in filo dough which was heavenly. Hiroshi said it was taseless, but I thought it was the best shrimp I have ever had. Then came fried vermicelli -which is exactly what it says. We were hoping for something a bit more. Next came the coconut soup with chicken and shrimp held in a real coconut. This was lovely. The best dish of the meal.

After that came the lobster and fish with mango sauce. Now, I should know better with the lobster. The baby lobster dish on the way over on the plane should have been a hint. But Hirohsi and I both though "Lobster!" and got a 1 kg honking big one... without asking the price. Duh! $65US is too much for something that doesn't have any taste. We should have got a bottle of wine instead. It looked really nice though. The fish with mango sauce didn't appear to have any mango sauce on it actually, and it had a funny taste. I ate a fair bit more of it than Hiroshi did... and I'm convinced that this is what made us very sick the next day.

At this point we were getting disappionted with the meal - it had started off so wondefully. Then the Pad Thai came, and the noodles were soggy, and it tasted like the sauce was ketchup. *sigh* Oh well. We moved on to dessert, which was coconut ice cream. That was good - it had a very strong coconut taste. At this point the jazz pianist started playing, so the romantic factor quadrupled... and the taste of the food wasn't so important. We ordered some port (Harveys Bristol Creme) which was marvelous and just sat and listened to the music, and looked into each others eyes and did that romantic stuff :) It was really nice. Well worth the ambiance. I would go again, but would be a bit more careful in choosing the dishes (i.e. no lobster and not going for Pad Thai which is what every foreigner probably orders). And, I'd time it for a little later so we could spend more time listening to the pianist.

After dinner we took a tuk-tuk down to Patong beach. A tuk-tuk is a small truck with bench seats in the back. (In Bangkok tuk-tuk's are three wheeled motorcycles). Patong beach is the main tourist area. I got the driver to drop us off at a jewellery shop. (Hiroshi forgot our anniversary on the 17th so I told him he had to buy me 'make-up jewellery' when we were in Thailand). I was looking for a ruby necklace but there weren't any. Then debated back and forth between emerald (my birthstone) and sapphire earrings. I ended up going with the sapphire cuz I wear a lot of blue. I was going to be nice to him and get the cheaper pair, but then decided I really liked the more expensive ones. So I told Hiroshi to get his credit card out ;) And now I have a lovely pair of earrings. At first I was thinking it would've been nice to have a necklace, but then I realized I have never owned a really good pair of earrings. So, these are more special. And 18K gold posts don't irritate my ears! Usually I can only wear earrings for a couple hours and my ears start to hurt. I've been wearing them every day with no problem. I love my new earrings!

After the important jewellery purchase we wandered thru the streets looking for souvenirs. If people weren't accosting us every second with "want a tuk-tuk", "Thai silk!", "cheap!", "good price for you!", "come and look", "we have the best t-shirts!", "tuk-tuk?", it might have been a nice shopping experience. Too much going on. I found a nice table cloth (well, it is a large piece of material that I'm going to use as a table cloth) and didn't bargain very hard and that was it for the shopping. I decided not to bargain because a couple bucks just wasn't worth it. So we went to McDonald's and had a coffee (yes, they're everywhere!) while we waited for our ride to come back.

So after a wonderful evening, we went back to the hotel, settled our bill (cuz we were leaving very early) and then had a jacuzzi. I couldn't get out! My sunburn seized up and I couldn't move! I tried to move my arms back, but the skin was tight from the burn and was tearing, and I couldn't have any water in the tub, cuz my feet were in agony (I jacuzzi'd with my feet hanging over the side), otherwise I could have used the bouyancy of the water to help me up. Keep in mind that the bathtub and shower are outside, and at 1am we were trying to be really, really quiet! Eventually I got out though. It would have been a good excuse to stay for a few more days though... I got stuck in the jacuzzi in my hotel room, so I won't be into work. *lol*

Anyway, then we had to pack everything up and get ready to leave. It was kinda sad, cuz we had had such a wonderful trip
Phuket - Day 3
After a restful sleep, we were up bright and early - just missed the sunrise. The sky was beautiful, but didn't get a picture because it was too foggy. We were up so darn early because we were going on out boat tour to Pi Pi Island. Our wake up call was about 30 minutes late, so we were also running late. Luckily the guy who came to pick us up, didn't have any other people to get, so he waited while Hiroshi and I had a quick breakfast. We had some of those delicious croissants and watermelon.

On the way to the dock, Hiroshi fell asleep and missed all the morning activity. Lots of food stalls being set up at that time and traffic was quite heavy. Talk about crazy drivers. Safety in Thailand is non-existant I think. Basically you've got people riding motorcycles in shorts, maybe a t-shirt, no helmut and flipflops. Oh, and don't forget the three family members sitting on the bike with them... and yes, this would be a normal motorcycle. We're not talking Harley sized. Unbelievable.

We arrived at the dock and there were people working. The dock area was quite smelly actually - I'm not sure what it smelled of, but it was rather unpleasant. We met the owner of the tour company and he was quite nice. We got some coffee and picked out our flippers and then waited to board. Once everyone was on board the speed boat (there were about 20 people total in the group), we headed out for the 45 minute ride to Pi Pi.

Pi Pi is actually two islands - a smaller uninhabited one, and a larger one that has a small village on it. At first we went around the smaller island into all the bays. The bays were stunning. The water was so clear and the most beautiful aquamarine colour. And the limestone cliffs were beautiful as well. I got quite a few nice shots of rock formations. At one point we went into a small bay and it was littered with plastic bottles and other garbage. It was so sad. The place is gorgeous - I can't imagine how anyone could be so insensitive as to dump things there. I mean, it could have been blown in from the sea, but somehow, I don't think so.

Eventually we arrived at Monkey Bay, which is named such because of the monkeys that hang out there. We were lucky because they were there for us to see. Apparently they aren't always there. In this bay we did our Powersnorkelling. Powersnorkelling is like snorkelling except you have a scuba regulator in your mouth which is connected by hose to a pump on the surface. This allows you to go hang out on the bottom of the ocean. Other than your mask and fins, the only other gear you need is a weight belt. I had quite a bit of difficulty with this. I kept getting clausterphobic almost and kinda panicky. I also couldn't go down very far without my ears crushing in - even blowing them out didn't help all that much. Hiroshi, however, loved it, and was able to swim right down to the reef. When we went to leave the tour guides had fun trying to untether the boat. They had to fight off screeching monkeys with flippers to get to the anchor on the shore, while the monkeys in the upper branches of the vegetation on the cliff were 'voicing' their discontent by shitting all over them. The guides didn't mind though - I'm sure they are used to it, and true to Thai good nature, they were joking about it.

After we Powersnorkelled for about 30 minutes, we went to the big island for lunch. After lunch I hit a pharmacy and got some aloe lotion for my sunburn lotion. I was in agony. Despite staying out of the sun and wearing a t-shirt to combat reflective rays, I was still getting worse. Both Hiroshi and I were very diligent about the suntan lotion. Walking back to the boat we hit a few shops for some postcards and then we got to go sea kayaking in the bay. This was fun! There were people parasailing and quite a few boats in the bay though, so we didn't venture too far.

Our next stop was a big coral reef between the two islands. This was amazing! We got to use a power scooter thing here - basically the lazy man's way to snorkel *lol* Essentially it is a motorized thing that pulls you thru the water. You can go underwater and have it pull you, but I was content to stay on the surface. Hiroshi had trouble with this part and had to get a life jacket. I had trouble with the regulator, and he had trouble with the snorkel. The life jacket helped him though and we went exploring the reef.

We saw so many fish! It has been a dream of mine forever to go and see tropical fish in the ocean. This of course also being a trip to conquer my fears. First the fear of water on my face (that might have been why I was panicky with the Powersnorkelling) and second the fear of fish biting me. I know, that is a ridiculous fear, but I have it. At one point someone threw some toast in the water to feed the fish (they like that for some reason). All of a sudden the fish came darting out from all over the place like piranha! This was amusing when I was on the boat, but not when I was in the water and the dingbat threw the toast about two feet away from me. I freaked. There were all these fish around me, and I wasn't too comfortable to begin with whenever a school of fish went by, but to have a hord of hungry fish chasing by me... not happy. And, yes one DID bite me! Only they don't have teeth, so it didn't hurt. So maybe that was a good thing, that it happened and I didn't die or whatever, but it was a highly stressful moment! Ok, stop laughing at me now please.

Anyway, while we were exploring we saw a ton on gorgeous coral - stag, brain and a kind that was like layered shelves. Lots of fish - blue and yellow, white with tiny black spots, bright blue, orange and white striped, a few angel fish, bright yellow, a bunch of small boring ones, sea urchin, and things moving in the sand. It was great! I tried to find tropical fish pictures to show you all the fish I saw, but I haven't been able to see any. However, if you go to my photoblog and look at the Sony aquarium pics from a few weeks ago, those are the fish I saw!

After we finished snorkelling, we had a very bumpy ride to a small island. The island was wonderful, but I think it is the tourist trap part of the tour. Basically you are put on the island, and there is nothing to do except rent a beach chair for an hour - at 150B (about $5 which is expensive for Thailand). I was unimpressed at this point due to flaming sunburn pain, and a sore backside from all the bumps on the way there. Actually Hiroshi and I were both stiff in the lower back for two days afterwards. The island was nice, but not worth the hassle getting there. That was the only part of the day that I wasn't thrilled about. Otherwise it was wonderful.

After that we went back to the dock. We were wiped out after an early start and a day in the sun. We had a little nap on the 40 minute drive back to the hotel. Then had fruit drinks and some appetizers at the restaurant while we watched the sunset (which is where all the sunset pics came from). We only had appetizers because we wanted to go to a restaurant called Don's for dinner.

Later that night we headed out to Don's. They actually came and got us. It is an open air restaurant and the mosquitos were out with a vengence. Luckily they thought Hiroshi tasted better than I did ;) We had a very filling, very cheap meal! We shared a beer and had tortilla chips (made fresh) and garlic bread to start. Then Hiroshi had beef bourginion (sp?) and I had spare ribs. Mmmmm good! And all of this for 450B! That's like $12 US!! Total! Wish we had found that restaurant sooner! The restaurant at the hotel is nice, but expensive in comparison. This one is just down the road. So next time we go, we'll take a ride down to Don's. Oh, and the pickup was free!

So after getting dropped off back at the hotel, we walked back to our room to go to sleep. Well, Hiroshi walked, I waddled. I couldn't bend my knees at this point which made going down steps rather hilarious. =) Despite the aching sunburn though, it was a fabulous

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Phuket - Day 2
After a refreshing nights sleep we got up pretty early. Actually I was surprised I slept so well - it usually takes a while to get used to a bed again (I love my futon). We decided to have a pre-breakfast swim in the pool which was fun. Hiroshi was wimping about it being cold, but it was perfect. We had fun splashing each other and holding hands while we walked around the the outer water channel. I know, I know - we're sickeningly romantic. Then we got dressed and went for breakfast. Lots of choice. There were fresh baked croissants that were incredibly yummy. Also had bacon and eggs, yogurt, juice and watermelon cut into little hearts. Hiroshi also had some kind of cereal that looked weird but tasted pretty good. At breakfast we met a couple from Calgary who were travelling thru Asia with their two children. They were really nice and we ended up going down to the beach together.

The beach was wonderful. I never thought of myself as a beach person - I also thought the beach was boring. Well, I now know what the problem was. I'm used to grabbing a towel and hitting the beach on the lake. You lay the towel out on the sand where it gets all sandy, and you get sand all over you, and after an hour you're hot, sweaty and uncomfortable. Well, when you have a lounge and a beach umbrella it is a totally different experience! The beach itself was gorgeous with hardly any people. Very clean, nice view, beautiful colour to the water, and water temperature around 80 degrees. There was a nice breeze coming off the ocean too. I brought a book with me but only read about 10 pages the entire trip... it was lovely just watching the waves.

Hiroshi and I took a walk down the bay first thing. There were a couple stores and I needed to get some flip flops. My sandles have seen better days and were garbage. Got some flip flops, and then walked back very slowly just enjoying the view. Then we went in the water. I have only been in the ocean twice. The first time was in California in February and needless to say I stuck my feet in for about two seconds and then ran out again. Maybe it was even only one foot. The second time was last time I was in Thailand on Ko Samui (island on the opposite side of the peninsula), but that was also a quick in out because it started to thunder and lightening. When we went to another island, the sea was too rough to swim in. So this was my first real experience in the ocean.

Well, the waves were pretty big and there was quite a pull. I was unprepared for one and got slammed down and then couldn't get back up again. Inhaling salt water is not fun. It is gross. I'm sure this looked really attractive, but I was constantly spitting water off my lips - I had no idea ocean water was so salty. After sputtering for a bit after being half drowned a meter off shore, Hiroshi and I had fun jumping in the waves. We just laughed our heads off and had a great time. I went back to lay under the umbrella cuz I didn't want to be in the sun too long and Hiroshi stayed out there for another hour or so. I think it is a cruel trick of nature that I ended up with a wicked sunburn and he didn't even look like he got any sun! It is kinda funny. Guess that's what I get for shunning the sun for about 15 years, hunh?

Around mid-afternoon we walked over to the restaurants off the beach for lunch. We ordered up a storm again - we had stir fried veggies, stir fried shark and veggies, and stir fried cashews and squid which was delicious! The shark was just so-so. Luckily the waitress forgot the noodles that we had ordered! We were stuffed! We shared a bottle of beer with lunch and both had a coconut shake as well. Then the waitress brought us a huge plate of complimentary fresh fruit. We couldn't finish it. And the whole meal only cost us 480 Baht! (which is about $11.75 US)

After lunch we went back to the beach for a bit and relaxed and then took one last swim and jumped waves some more. Because the tide was out, the undertow wasn't as strong, and it was much easier getting back on the beach. Wanted to stay longer but we had a spa appointment. So we got the hotel truck (basically it is a pickup truck that has benches in the bed and is covered with a canopy - common transportation in Thailand) back to the hotel, and showered and got ready for the spa.

Hiroshi has never been to a spa so he was a bit surprised when they told us to strip and put on a towel... especially cuz it was two women. He was like, "everything?". First we had a salt and sandlewood scrub. This actually hurt a bit - I'm sure it did wonderful things for our skin, but both Hiroshi and I weren't too thrilled with it. Next came the massage which was heavenly. Hiroshi actually fell asleep which was really funny cuz he kept snoring. He doesn't remember any of it *lol* Then we had a facial which was so relaxing! This was even better than the massage. At one point Hiroshi rolled over to curl up in a better sleeping position. It was pretty funny. Obviously it really relaxed him :D I was just in relaxation la-la land.

During the massage the esthetician prepared ice water with rosemary oil and something else in it for my sunburn. It was shockingly cold, but felt oh so good. Basically she wet a towel in the water and put it on my shoulders, arms and back. This cooled my skin down enough for her to massage those areas. This remedy is amazing, I wish I knew what else went in it. And it smelled heavenly. I want to get some rosemary oil for the apartment now.

After the our spa session was finished we groggily wandered over to the restaurant. I was craving a hamburger for some reason, so we had that and those yummy spring rolls and lots of juice. Then we stumbled back to our room in a state of post-spa and post-dinner lethargy and jumped in the jacuzzi. It was great. Japanese bathtubs are wonderfully deep (the water comes to your neck) but they are very short. So essentially only one person fits. Hiroshi and I have tried both of us in the one at home, but it is really uncomfortable and there is always the worry we'll get stuck. So this was fabulous because we could both stretch out and relax.

So that was day two. Wonderful relaxing day and beautiful weather. Hiroshi asked me at dinner if I was sure it was rainy season in Thailand. We couldn't have asked for a more perfect day.
Phuket - Day 1
After having the Phuket countdown for weeks, it was finally the day to leave! Our train to the airport left at 7am, and I had plans of leaving at 6am from home - with a 15 minute leeway for Hiroshi's perpetual lateness. Oh the error of my ways. I should've had a 30 minute leeway. Because Hiroshi was coming off night shift, he was all turned around time wise, and didn't actually get to bed until like 4am or something ridiculous. This meant he wasn't too keen on getting out of bed at 5:30 and was incredibly grumpy. So finally we get out the door at twenty after six, only to discover it was pouring rain. So we decided to hail a cab - which took 5 minutes. Meanwhile, I'm freaking a bit about being late. I tell Hiroshi that we may have to run when we get to Tokyo to get the train, and then he gets in a super grump about how I don't tell him anything (which, I'd like to interject, is a load of crap).

We did get our train ok, but Hiroshi was still in a bad mood and was snarky all the way there. Right before the airport counter we ended up having a fight. The check-in staff were staring at us. So far the honeymoon is going great right? At which point I said, "This is silly. Let's start over. We're supposed to be on vacation, not stressing ourselves out". And things got better. We made it thru customs, discovered we needed to take a shuttle cuz our gate was in the satellite terminal, and I went to duty free to get champagne. I left Hiroshi by a pillar (cuz the store was nuts) and said I'd be right back... only to find no husband when I returned. So I start searching, and hysteria starts mounting as the thought "Maybe he got in a snit and left" started going thru my mind. I finally find him hanging out in a lounge watching TV - misunderstanding. He thought we'd meet back at the pillar rather than I wanted him to wait there.

So, happy that I had found my husband, and that he hadn't left me to honeymoon alone, we boarded the shuttle and made our way to the business class lounge. Business class lounges are wonderful! Man, there were comfy chairs, nice decor and free snacks. There were pastires, danishes, donuts, sandwiches, crackers and cheese. Then you had your choice of juices, coffee (including espresso etc), teas, and beer, wine and other alcohol. 9am is a bit early for alcohol though. So we just hung out there eating breakfast and relaxing until our flight boarded.

Upon getting settled in our seats, we were given hot towels and champagne. Very cool. I love business class. The seats are roomy and there is so much space! I could put my feet straight out in front of me. Usually my knees bang into the seat in front. The plane was a bit old (common criticism of Thai Airways), but there were individual TVs. Of course, this turned out to have been a useless worry on my part - I didn't even watch the darn thing. We both slept almost the whole way there! We just woke up for food =)

The food was great ... with the exception of the main course which was bland and dry. We had the steamed baby lobster. This should have reminded me about how I am always disappointed with lobster (which would have come in handy later in the trip too). Hot hors d'oevres were served first. Then we were given table clothes and linen napkins and silver cutlery, including a real knife! No crappy plastic ones. The appetizer was sushi and an avocado filled with shrimp salad. There was also a nice garden salad, although the tomatos were a bit tasteless, and garlic bread or whole grain rolls (which they were very good about offering more of). Then the main course came. Baby lobsters -no kidding! They were like shrimp! *lol* The rice was quite dry and there was only a bit of sauce in the dish, so it wasn't so great. But the rest of the food was more than filling. Dessert was a cheese mousse which was to die for, and then they came by with the fruit and cheese and dessert wines. Ahhh heaven. I'm sure the alcohol we consumed with the meal helped us promptly fall back asleep again.

About an hour before we landed they held a draw - Thai Airways has a promotion right now where 1 person on every flight (of those that fill out the entry form) wins a free return ticket. Well, Hiroshi won!! He got a free return business class ticket from Tokyo to Phuket to use next year. He didn't quite understand until later that he'd won a huge prize, and then I think he was a bit unbelieving. He got a funky flashing button, and had to fill out some forms. When we got off the plane, they had a big banner and took pictures of us. Then we were escorted to a special customs booth so we didn't have to wait in line. Very nice. And of course our luggage was right there when we got to the baggage area - the economy class passengers were still waiting.

We actually arrived in Phuket about 40 minutes early, so we had to hang out for a bit until our ride came. I had arranged for the hotel to pick us up so we didn't have to deal with scam artists. So we just relaxed until our ride came. Then we had about a 40 minute ride to the hotel. The airport is at the north end of the island, and our hotel is at the southern tip. Thailand is Thailand in Phuket too. Hiroshi was a bit worried I think. Basically everything is kinda shabby and there are lots of roadside stalls that could double as garbage heaps - cuz that is essentially what they are made of, old throwaway boards and stuff. Lots of rusted tin roofs, and al fresco dining but in the primitive sense. But that's just Thailand. The island is quite hilly and lush and the roads are curvy - this doesn't prevent everyone from driving like maniacs though. It was a nice drive to the hotel and the roadside stands and people driving with no regard to safety reminded me of my last trip to Thailand 4 years ago with Sharyn (miss you Shar!). At this point I was also in vacation mode and didn't have a care in the world.

When we got to the hotel, it wasn't quite what I expected. Right now is its "soft opening". It just opened in May actually. I assumed they'd just be decorating the inside of deluxe villas that weren't ready yet. Well, there was actual construction going on, so I was a bit disappointed. Nothing major, but a lot of the villas just had the shells up - they still needed windows and doors and stuff. However, my disappointment soon melted away. The views from the hotel were wonderful - you could see ocean all around and there were tons of trees in between. The villas were quaint and the staff really friendly. The room turned out to look exactly like the picture on the website which was good. And it was easy to ignore the buildings that aren't completed yet.

After we got settled in we went to have a nice dinner in the restaurant. The restaurant is open air dining which affords fantastic views of the ocean, an island off the coast, the boats anchored off-shore and the changing colours of the sky at sunset. This was the most expensive dinner we had at the hotel - probably because we had a bottle of wine, but also because we had no idea how much food this actually was when we ordered. We had Tom Yang Kung soup (spicy shrimp soup), spring rolls which were delicious (we actually ordered these almost every meal), veggie stir fry, cashews and shrimp stir fry, and Pad Thai (Thai noodles with a sweet sauce, peanuts, tofu, pork and some other things). All of it was very good - except the wine was a bit green.... or maybe we were just spoiled with the superior wines in business class *lol*. For dessert we couldn't decide so we had both the jasmin flavoured creme brulee which was amazing and a scoop of coconut ice cream.

After dinner we just went to bed - cuz the next day was the beach! But before going to our room, we booked a session at the spa for the next evening.
For those of you who have no idea where Thailand, let alone Phuket, is (I know North Americans suck at Asian geography), click here. Click on the map to enlarge it. Phuket is on the west coast, in the peninsula part. Phuket Maps : Thailand and South East Asia
Well, I've put up quite a few pics for your viewing pleasure in my photoblog. Check them out! I've still got quite a few more that I'll post over the next week. Can you tell I'm anal about posting something every day?

My sunburn is a disaster right now. Skin is peeling to reveal raw skin underneath. So the part that isn't peeling is scabbing. Ok, that's probably TMI. It still hurts like the dickens on my shoulders, but at least it is bearable now. I'm moisturizing like crazy, but it doesn't appear to be doing much of anything.

I'm going to start writing up my journals of my trip. I might get one or two up tonight. I don't have to work until tomorrow evening, so I can laze around in bed tomorrow morning. Ah, bliss.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Ok, I've got the "photos from the plane" up on the photoblog. I'm just teasing you all. ;) Actually, I have to go thru and group things into themes so there is some kind of order. I also have to weed thru the 50 beach pictures and the 100 pictures from Pi Pi Island and just get the best ones. Next installment, the room at the hotel, is scheduled to be up tomorrow.

Today I'm suffering thru some stomach thing that I picked up in Thailand. Between running to the washroom and extremely painful stomach cramps, I'm not in good shape. I spent most of the night in bed - which is why I am up at 3 am. If it doesn't clear up tomorrow I think I have to head off to the doctor. =( My tummy is not happy.

On a good note my sunburn is finally starting to go into peeling mode. I'm flaking everywhere *lol* At least it isn't painful to put socks on now. And I am looking suave and tanned as opposed to red and lobster-ish. I'm also staying in mellow mode by recalling the beach - the ocean breeze, the sound of the waves, the bright blue sky. Mmmm... how soon can I go back?!

Monday, September 01, 2003

Well, I'm back in Tokyo after a wonderful vacation! I definitely wanted to stay in Thailand. Work will be hard tomorrow! I'll post pics and an update over the next few days! I'm off to bed to get a good nights sleep before work tomorrow.