Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Dragging myself to the gym

I had one of those everything not going right days. It culminated with the 30 minute wait to pick up Hiroshi's suit at the dry cleaners - there were four people in front of me who had each brought their entire freaking closet to be drycleaned. I kid you not. All of them had bills over US$200!

It took time for the one clerk to record and tag all the clothing. The clerk in back obviously had more important things to do than wait on customers because she never came out to help and the first clerk never called for assistance either (despite another four people who also had their full closet to be drycleaned standing behind me). The seasons have officially changed here so everyone is changing to their summer wardrobe I guess - that much drycleaning is not normal.

Needless to say, by the time I got home I was in no mood to go back out again to the gym. I did haul my butt down there though and had a good swim and was happy I went... that is until I stepped on the scale which happily told me I have gained a kg despite eating well recently and going to the gym. Grrr.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Visit to Yasukuni Shrine

After going swimming today, Hiroshi and I went to Yasukuni Shrine. This is the shrine that people from other Asian countries are all up in arms against because there are 14 war criminals buried there. (The fact that there are 2.5 million war casualties burired there is apparently irrelevant to them when they protest government visits to the shrine).

Anyway, the shrine itself is nothing special if you don't know its purpose (a memorial to those who have died in wars since the Meiji era). I do like the architecture though - the buildings have great sweeping eaves, which is what I like. It s sort of majestic architecture. A little bit different from the normal understated design you see at shrines and temples. So I enjoyed walking around for that reason. Politically and culturally it didn't do anything for me - just another shrine really. Amazing that there is so much fuss about it.

There is also a museum on site. We just wandered around the free exhibits on the first floor. There was a zero fighter and a howlitzer (big gun). On the way out, we wandered by a Noh stage and the surprise discovery - a dove coop. There were only a few wandering in and out of the coop, but you could hear them all cooing inside. Very cool.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Fun non-words

Found this link while surfing about non-words. Some of them are pretty funny.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Thai food dinner

Tonight Hiroshi's friend Yosuke came over so I made dinner for us. I got out some of the curries and things that I had bought in Thailand and cooked up a storm. I made green curry, tom yam gai (chicken coconut soup) and spring rolls. Everything was spicy, but good. I love that totally relaxed tingly feeling I get in my body after eating spicy food.

After dinner we had the cake from my students. Oh my - heaven in a box that was. I tried to steal the pieces I shared with Hiroshi and Yosuke back. They didn't buy into the "this cake is aweful, I can't let you eat it" gambit. Very, very good chocolate.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Happy Birthday to me

I had a really great birthday today - this oddly being the first year I didn't care. I got a call this morning from my office saying that one of my students had sent me flowers. Then in my last class this evening, my students grouped together and bought me a cake from Wittamer.

Then I got home and I got a beautiful pearl necklace from Hiroshi as my present (total surprise haha - I picked it out on Sunday) and we had cake from the yummy cake shop near our house. We can eat the one from my students tomorrow. He also got a nice bottle of wine, but we were both tired (I got home quite late) and decided to save it for another day. Wine and cake don't go so well together.

Overall, I had a great birthday... and yes, I'm 29... still.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Hit the gym today and went swimming. It is an entirely new experience now that I can see. Before I didn't have my glasses (no breakable things) so I couldn't see much of anything. Now I can see the clock, other people, what's going on at the other side of the pool (i.e. I can spy on aqua classes to see if they are any good) and, not so excitingly, the gunge floating in the pool. Maybe it was better when I couldn't see floating bandaids, hair, etc. Yuck.

I did have a good swim though. My endurance sucks though. Gotta work on being able to do more continuous laps.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

For those who like cats...

You can rate how cute different cats are atkittenwar.com.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Monday - super busy day

I hate Mondays. I didn't sleep well last night so I'm tired today, and Mondays my schedule is aweful. I pretty much teach all day long. It's tiring. So, off to bed early tonight.

I did make a couple of phone calls when I got home though. I forgot it was a holiday in Canada, so when I called my parents I actually reached my dad. That was nice, because he is usually out when I call, so it was nice to chat with him for a while. I also called my sister Jen (the one who is getting married) and chatted with her. Their offer on a house was accepted, so she's pretty excited about moving to a new place and the wedding plans seem to be pretty much on track.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Birthday shopping

I had good intentions of going to the gym today, and walked all the way down there only to find it was closed. Today is the one day a month that they close for the day. Shoot. Oh well.

So, I came back home to drop off my stuff and headed out to Ginza with Hiroshi. We went to Mikimoto because I want jewellery for my birthday (this week - May 26). I thought I wanted earrings but after looking around, I found a necklace that I liked better. So, that's the present that I got - but, I don't know that yet. It is supposed to be a surprise. LOL But, yippee! I have pearls... er, one pearl LOL.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Outback dinner

Tonight I went out to dinner with Cal and Mike. The service was a bit slow at Outback - why is it that Saturday's are always aweful? The worst was when Mike unfortunately found a hair in his drink (well, two actually) - at least they gave him a new one and comped all of our drinks for us. We stuffed ourselves silly and even tried to make a dent in the massive piece of cake called "Chocolate Tower". The thing is easily a dessert for 4 people. Then I waddled home and crashed.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Visit from Tokyo Gas

The gas man came today to check... something. Not sure what, I just knew that I had to be here. Apparently everything is ok, and we have no need to worry about dying from a gas leak or blowing ourselves up. I asked him about the funny smell that comes from our heater sometimes and he indicated it was probably just because it got hot inside. We're supposed to call if we get the weird smell again - when we use it again next winter I guess.

I was quite pleased with myself actually, because I understood what he said to me. This is good. I was petrified about not being able to understand something important.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Robot cat anyone?

Robot cat? Yes, you can see it here (you'll need Quicktime to view it). Is it me, or is this just freaky?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Northwest - opinion revised

All I can say is wow. I wrote Northwest customer service an e-mail the other day about the poor service I received from their US customer service center. I didn't expect to hear anything back from them. Well, I was mistaken. Today I received an apology e-mail from them as well as an airmileage credit that I am more than happy with. This was a very nice gesture on their part because the miles were a significant amount. So, I take back my Northworst comment. They have addressed my concerns and providing I don't get rude people on the phone in the future, I am once again a happy customer.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

One month until I go home!

After several hassles with Northwest aka Northworst, I finally have my tickets booked home for next month. Yippee! I haven't been home in three years, so I'm looking forward to it.

I must say that Northwest has absolutely horrible customer service - I either get very rude or very incompetent people. One guy cut me off in mid-sentence and transferred me to the wrong department (a completely telephone automated one - read cannot get a real person) and some woman tried to tell me I could not use my airmiles to upgrade a US domestic flight. Ummm, yes, I can. The website tells me so. Then she said no flights were available for upgrading. Ummm, yes there are, I just checked. Unfortunately the Japanese website does not let you do upgrades online like the US one does (you can only use the US one if you have a US-addressed credit card).

Anyway, very, very sad service. I have booked airmile rewards on Air Canada and I have never, ever had a problem. They are courteous, helpful and pleasant. Guess that tells me who I should deal with in the future.

Monday, May 16, 2005

What's wrong with people

The big news in Japan today is that some guy kidnapped a 17 year old girl/woman and kept her in his house for 3 weeks (handcuffed). Apparently they met on a mobile phone dating service. Interestingly, he lived with his mother and brother... who apparently didn't notice anything suspicious?? Yeah, right. I hope they get charged to. This is right on the heels of some other guy who kidnapped a 19 year old woman last week - he kept her hostage for several weeks as well.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Sunday - another day of sleep

Another relaxing Sunday for me. Woke up this morning and called home. Talked to my dad for a while which was nice because I haven't for a while. Then I watched the last episode of Amazing Race again with Hiroshi (he hadn't seen it yet). Being lazy, after the show, we ordered sushi for lunch. I love the sushi delivery.

Then we watched a movie and afterwards had a nap. During the movie a big thunderstorm came in - surprising because it hardly ever thunders in Tokyo. And there was a minor earthquake too. Just a bit of a jolt and that was it. I didn't wake up from my nap until after 9pm. Yikes! Another day wasted with sleep. For some reason I'm really tired though. Maybe because I've been using my eye a lot over the last couple days. Basically the only things I managed to do today were put my suitcase away, throw in a load of laundry and do the dishes. Rather unproductive.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Mmm, chicken on a stick

This morning my student cancelled so I was able to spend that time figuring out my flights home to Canada. I think I have something worked out. Will know on Monday if I got seats or not. Then I had one class and my Japanese lesson. I didn't have time to study this week, so I sucked. Hopefully with a lighter work schedule now, I can spend more time on that.

Tonight I met up with Cal and we headed to Yurakucho for dinner. There are several restaurants under the tracks (I was thinking of a Thai place that a student had recommended). We ended up at a yakitori (grilled chicken) place that Cal knew about. It was good. Lots of chicken and a couple beers. Of course the second beer hit me on the way home and I had trouble walking straight. That was weird because usually two beers are not a problem. Tired maybe. Donno.

At home Hiroshi and I watched the second last episode of Amazing Race - he's behind. I've seen the ending, but it is interesting to go back and rewatch the episodes.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Dead tired

Just finsihed the second day of a two day seminar and I am zonked. Can I go on vacation again? :) Gotta work tomorrow, so guess I should head off to bed early.

Oh, and happy Friday 13th. Didn't even realize it until my colleague mentioned it today.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Eye chart conversion

No one uses the Snellen chart (20/20) in Japan for vision measurement. So, no one knows what I am talking about when I say I have 20/20 vision now. Well, I searched for a conversion chart and found one online. So basically, I went from 20/100 in my right eye and 20/63 in my left eye to 20/20. In Japanese terms, that is .2 right, .3 right and 1.0 final.

Interestingly enough, based on an eye chart that Hiroshi has on the fridge for doing eye exercises and soem online eye tests, I can see the 1.2 level which is 20/16. My left eye is still stronger and sharper than my right. Maybe because it is 20/16 and the right is 20/20 I am noticing the difference more. Who knows.

Anyway, at least I can speak in Japanese terms now when people ask how much my eyes have improved... and I won't get blank looks!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

AR7 - final episode

This episode was awesome! I was on the edge of my chair yelling at the show for the whole thing. I'm glad Uchenna and Joyce won - they seem like awesome people. The plane thing was interesting. There is a lot of talk on the discussion boards about whether that was fixed or not. Very odd for the gangway to be moved back into place though. So, who knows. It was good tv though.

Apparently the next show will be the family version. That is why teams have 4 people. Not sure if that will be good or not. Do I really want to hear kids whining and parents yelling at them? I don't think so.

Monday, May 09, 2005

You look sooo different

Everyone I saw today was taken aback by how different I apparently look. I look the same to me LOL. I guess it is like when someone takes off their glasses and they look different... it takes a bit to get used to them without them I suppose. Everyone says I look good though, so that is nice.

Today was my first day back at work. I don't want to be working. I want to be doing more relaxing! It always sucks coming back from vacation. Need to think of a way to be on vacation all the time!

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Thailand photos

If you want to see a few of my photos from Thailand, click here.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Back home

I had to get up way too early this morning. I was actually a bit late because I hit the snooze button one too many times. I had a quick shower and got ready to go. The porter came up to get my stuff and I went down and paid my bill. I picked up my tailoring from the concierge (it had arrived at like 2am or something) and then jumped into the car to go to the airport. Ahhh, transport in style – I got a Benz.

At the airport a porter from the hotel came over and took my bags from the driver. He then sent me to wait in the check-in line while he took my bags thru the x-ray machine. He then escorted me to the place where you pay airport tax and then as far as he could go in the airport. Ummm, can I take you with me? I swear I was made for this life of luxury. A personal porter? This is awesome! Oh, I hope I win the lottery soon, because I want to live like this forever!

The only problem with a personal porter, and having your bags delivered to your waiting car, is that you have no idea how heavy they are. That is until you suddenly have to carry them, and you are like, what the heck??! One of the problems was that I had to carry the present for my parents – I refused to check it because it was breakable. So I had this big bulky box. The lounge was also way down at the far end of the airport, so I had to lug it all the way down there. The lounge itself was totally disappointing too. No snacks, very limited drink selection, and no toilet! You had to go across and down the hall to go to the public one. Ok, I know I’m spoiled.

On the plane, I just conked out and fell asleep for the whole time. I didn’t even eat I was so tired. That was the meal I was looking forward to as well. I woke up briefly during dessert and thought about asking for the sorbet, but couldn’t muster the energy and fell back asleep again.

Before I knew it, we had landed in Taipei and I had to transfer. I swear my bags got heavier in the time that we flew from Bangkok to Taipei! At least the lounge in Taipei is nicer. I went to the gate early and asked for a seat change. They had me on the upper deck, and it was quite difficult to carry everything up the stairs, so I asked for a seat on the main level. I should have stayed where I was. They put me in the last row right beside the washroom. The seat next to me was empty, which was good, but the washroom smelled and people were constantly coming and going. Not fun when you are in the middle of eating. Yuck. The meal itself was only ok too (the one on the first flight sounded so much better!). It was beef that was rather chewy. There was pineapple cheesecake for dessert, but even that was mediocre. Oh well.

We landed at Narita and then had to wait 30 minutes on the tarmac for a gate to open for us. So we ended up arriving a bit late. As usual, it was no problem getting through customs. I wrestled my luggage onto the Narita Express – where is my porter? I had a terrible time getting my bags on by myself. Luckily Hiroshi said he could come and meet me at my stop, so that was good.

The train ride itself was a rude end to my vacation. There were two screaming children that everyone was giving dirty looks to. Well, actually they were giving dirty looks to the father who was yelling louder than the children were. This went on for the whole train ride. You know, there is something to be said about a swift smack on the bottom. Those kids were a nightmare.

Finally, I arrived at my stop and met my honey :) I missed him. We grabbed a cab home – yikes! Price shock. Here you pay US$6 for 2 km. After dropping all of my stuff in the middle of the kitchen, we went out and had noodles for dinner. Then it was home to unpack. Now I’m just thinking about going back to work on Monday. Can you hear the loud sigh I am making? Being on vacation was so much fun. I definitely do not want to go back to work!

Friday, May 06, 2005

I feel like Julia Roberts

Got up this morning and had a great breakfast. It was just like the standard 5-star buffet, but it had more deluxe foods. Things like smoked salmon. Yum! Then it was off to the lasik center for my one week check-up.

I took a taxi because the public transit system is unfamiliar and there were too many transfers that I would need to make. Taxi’s are easier! We hit a bit of traffic though. It took about half an hour just to cross the river. I ended up being about five minutes late for my appointment. As such, I went right into the exam room. I had some trouble reading the eye chart, but am still 20/20 apparently. The guy who was examining me tried to improve my sight with lenses (for nearsightedness and astigmatism) but nothing improved, so they say it is mostly due to the fact that my pupils hadn’t had a chance to get used to the dimmer light inside. I hope so. Overall my vision is a bit blurry today, but that comes and goes. It also might be because I didn’t sleep well last night and I am tired. I did ask the doctor about it when I saw her though. My left eye seems perfect, but she said the right eye would take longer to adjust because there was more correction in that eye.

So, with my check-up completed, I was off to go shopping! I had made plans to meet up with Barb (who I met in Phuket) at Big C near MBK, which is a huge mall in Bangkok. At first I thought the taxi driver was going the wrong way, but it ended up ok. I arrived a bit early, so I went to the pharmacy (Watson’s – like a Boots) to see if they had birth control pills. Last night I had looked up my pills active ingredients and wrote them down. Glad I did – my pills are branded differently here. And… oh my god! They are so cheap! Only 63B a pack! That’s less than US$2! Yes women in first world countries, you are totally being ripped off. Needless to say, I cleared the store out – I bought every pack that was on the shelf. (Yes, I did check the expiry dates). I also picked up some eye drops. Unfortunately, those weren’t quite as cheap. I hope they were they same price as what I’d pay in Japan, because they were about US$10 for a pack of them. Yikes!

I ended up finding Barb pretty easily, and we started wandering around. I bought a leather wallet, and a cotton towel because I was sweating to death (and had forgotten to bring one). I also spent a good thirty minutes bargaining for a present for my parents – which I can’t go into details about because they read this… and then it won’t be a surprise :)

We ended up at a pizza place for lunch. I couldn’t deal with anything too spicy because my stomach was a bit upset. It ended up being great because we both like root beer and pineapple on our pizza! I usually have to fight people for pineapple. Our pizza had shrimp and pineapple – it was pretty good.

After lunch, it was off to the shoe store. Compared to other places, it was expensive; however, the quality was excellent and overall the shoes were well worth the price. Everything I saw in other stores afterwards looked like total crap. I ended up getting a nice pair of strappy sandles to wear at my sister’s wedding, as well as a pair for my mom.

From there, we went down the street a bit to the underground market. I was a bit concerned about my suitcase popping open again, and I was also buying things that would definitely not fit in it, so I ended up bargaining for a new one. After much bargaining, I got a hard case, largish suitcase (one size down from the massive one I already own) for about US$50. Pretty good.

Barb’s tailor was in the same market, so we stopped in there. I ended up getting two suit jackets and one pair of pants made. I had hoped to get some jackets in bright colours, but they didn’t have any material like that. So, instead, I just got two that matched my grey pants. Since I buy my jackets separate, nothing ever really matches. They are going to deliver them to my hotel sometime in the wee hours this morning – since I am leaving tomorrow! Barb has dealt with them for years, so I trust them to deliver my stuff. I just hope everything fits, because I don’t have time for the second fitting.

From there it was time to bargain for bags! I found this beautiful leather bag. The shop clerk was one of the lady-boys. Apparently, he was wearing a bikini top yesterday. He pranced around and did the stereotypical hand flinging and hip wagging. I just joined right in and did it back to him. We had a great old time. It was the most fun I have ever had bargaining. In the end he had to go and get approval for the final price, so I know it was as low as I could get the price. All up, US$50 for a giant, leather bag. Love it.

From the underground market, we took a cab to Barb’s hotel. We, er I, had too many bags to carry! What with the suitcase and the big box that was the present for my parents, I had no arms left. And they were heavy! So, we had a drink and some hors d’oeuvres and relaxed for a bit before we headed out again.

Next on the shopping itinerary was MBK. This place is huge! We got Barb a wheel chair because her leg was swelling up (she’s not supposed to be walking on it anyway with the cast). At this point I was just looking. I did have to buy souvenirs for everyone back in Japan, but they were easy enough. I also stocked up on curries and stuff. So cheap! They only cost like 20 yen here. In Japan they are like 400 yen. Needless to say I bought enough curry to last the next year. Other than that we just went into several shoe stores. I couldn’t find any that I really liked. Nothing comfortable enough to walk around in for several hours (which I need for work), so that was the end of the shopping spree.

So, we went back to Barb’s hotel to pick up my stuff. We had to wait for about half an hour in the taxi queue to get a cab. We asked the driver to wait for me when we got to the hotel, so he could take me on to mine. I ran up and got my stuff and made my good byes. I must say that I had a really fun day. I normally do not like shopping, but with Barb it is a lot of fun – mainly because she knows where all the good stuff is!

The taxi driver took me back to my hotel. I tipped him very well – I was feeling generous. He was also young and said he was saving to go to school. A worthy endeavor, so I gave him double the fare to contribute to that, and thank him for waiting. The whole fare was only 100B so all up I paid him 200B – US$6 for an hour of driving around and waiting. He was clearly surprised and thanked me profusely.

At the hotel, the doorman opened the taxi door for me, and started to pull out my bags. He said, “I’ll have the porter bring these to your room”. Man, I love this place. I then stopped by the concierge before going up to my room. I wanted to tell them about the delivery of my tailoring. While I was there they remembered that I had ordered a car for the morning, so they reconfirmed the time. Then it was back up to my room for my last night in Bangkok. Sadness :( I want to stay here longer. I love the Peninsula. After packing and organizing all my stuff and talking to Hiroshi, I didn’t have time for one last bath either. Oh well. Guess I’ll just have to come back some time! You won't have to twist my arm either!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Luxury at the Peninsula

Back to Bangkok today - *sigh* I want to relax on the beach some more! I booked a late morning flight though so I could take advantage of the included breakfast. Good bye beautiful view!

My bags were all packed, I checked out without a problem and the car took me to the airport. I was able to upgrade to business class for a minimal fee. It was much more comfortable! The breakfast wasn’t so great – it gave me heartburn for the rest of the day (was an omelet type thing with fake crab in it). I did manage to have a little cat nap though.

At the airport I just went right over to the airport limousine counter. I still don’t understand why people queue for over an hour to save a couple dollars. I lucked out with my car too – I got the British cab! It was cool! I’ve never been in one before, so it was a novelty. It took about 40 minutes or so to get to the hotel. I have been really looking forward to this because the Peninsula is supposed to be the best hotel in Asia.

I arrived at the hotel and checked in. My bags were delivered to my room on the 22nd floor. All I can say is that my room is awesome! It has a great view of the river, and everything is done top notch. The bathroom is absolutely huge – and yes, there is a tv to watch in the tub! The glasses are crystal, the bed is like a feather pillow, the couch has down cushions, and there are electronics out the wazoo including free internet. Yippee! Of course, based on how much I spent on internet at the Banyan Tree, I could have stayed here. Shoot! This hotel is awesome!

After exploring the room, I wandered over to the Grand Palace. Unfortunately, today is Coronation Day (I forgot) so it is closed! I’m too lazy to get up really early tomorrow to come and see it too. So I went to Wat Pho instead, which is just down the street. It has the giant reclining Buddha. All I can say is that Bangkok is hot! The sun is merciless. I was only out for a bit and I could feel myself burning. I took tons of pics at Wat Pho though. Funny, because when I was in Bangkok several years ago, Wat Pho was only so-so (although the massages were amazing). Of course, this was because we had gone after we had seen the Grand Palace, which is just stunning. Well, not having the comparison this time, I can say that Wat Pho is also beautiful.

I briefly thought about going to Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn), which is directly across the river, but it was just too hot. And I didn’t want to end up with a sunburn. As it is, I have fifty million freckles on my face now. So I just wandered back to the hotel and went for high tea. I was a bit disappointed though. The one in Hong Kong was just so much better. This one didn’t match it. It was still nice, but not over the top like in Hong Kong.

Back in the room I jumped into the tub and watched tv for a while. It was wonderful. I should note that this is the first time I have ever liked the shampoo and soap at a hotel. Usually they leave my hair bristly and my skin dry. The ones at the Peninsula were really nice. And then the towels. The towels were giant, fluffy beach-sized things. Oh, please can I stay longer just so I can enjoy bathing?

After drying my hair I went down to have dinner at Thiptara, which is the riverside restaurant at the hotel. It is right beside the river (I got a table right there too!) and there are torches lit for light. It was very nice and scenic. I had a delicious green curry for dinner – you can even specify how spicy you want it. I was also surprised that you could choose brown rice. I’m not one for white rice, so this was good. I also ordered the hotel’s special drink, but it was too strong and I didn’t really like it. Oh well. The food was delicious though.

Sated, it was back to the hotel and off to bed. I did read a bit on the couch. All I can say is that down cushions are a fabulous idea. I melted into that couch. Makes you not want to leave your room! The last thing I did though before hopping into bed was put my shoes into the cubby hole so they could be shined for me for tomorrow. Ahh, what service!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Good company

I met Barb down at breakfast this morning, so we had breakfast together. We decided to go to Phuket Town this afternoon. There is a relatively cheap shuttle from the hotel that drops you off and picks you up a few hours later.

So we wandered off to Robinsons to go shopping, and I tried to find shoes to wear at my sister’s wedding. In the end I only found souvenirs. I also bought another pair of sunglasses – these ones are polarized, so are better for my eyes I imagine. Didn’t find much else. Tried to find birth control in some pharmacies – it is rumoured to be cheap here. No luck on that front. Couldn’t find decent shoes either. Everything was either cheap but poorly made, or expensive PVC. No thanks.

We met the shuttle and came back to the hotel around 5ish. Then we sat in the open air lounge and had a couple beers and chatted away. Such a nice lady. She has offered to show me where to shop in Bangkok! So we’ll meet up in a couple days. That will be great because I hate shopping – especially if I don’t know where to go to get things.

That evening, the hotel had a cocktail party for long-term (ie more than 3 days) guests. We went down and met Don and Theresa, who are from Ireland. We chatted to them for a while. After the cocktail party, they invited us to join them for dinner, which was nice. I had sea bass at Don’s recommendation, and it was just lovely. Very delicious. We had a great dinner, with lots of conversation over good wine. We even met another Irish couple, but they didn’t join us. Apparently the woman is a famous folk singer that is known all over Europe and her husband was a famous radio announcer from before I was born. So I could flaunt having met famous people, but I forget their names. Haha.

After dinner it was back to my room to pack. I’m sad to go. I was having such a nice time. And I have met some really nice people. I'd like one more day so I can go and sit on the beach again. Can’t this vacation go on forever?

Packing my suitcase, nothing seemed to fit in. I can’t have more stuff. I only bought one small bag of souvenirs and that fits into my purse. I just squashed it all in and am praying it won’t pop open again on my way to Bangkok tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Dentist - go often, there's a reason

I looked at the clock this morning at 10:00 am and rolled over and went back to sleep. I would miss breakfast, but I was tired. I was up late last night chatting with mom and Hiroshi. So, instead, I grabbed my book and went down to the restaurant for lunch. Another sailboat arrived in the bay today, so now there are two I can look at.

When I came back, they were cleaning my room. Housekeeping finally left my “daily” fruit (if daily means on the third day, we’re in doing ok). It was a huge basket with grapes, bananas, mangosteens, a giant mango and a fruit called shampoo in Thai (don't know the English name). Excellent! So, this must be like three days rolled into one. I just laid outside on the balcony and read my book while they cleaned.

Later in the afternoon, I headed out for my dentist appointment. I took one of the price gouging taxis just outside the hotel (they are the only transportation, so they pretty much charge what they want). The driver took me to the wrong dentist too! Luckily there was a woman who spoke English at this office and she helped me. She even let me use her cell phone to call Joy and straighten things out about where I was supposed to be. So I walked a half a kilometer to the real dentist… and then had to apologize profusely for being late. The guy had come in especially for me. I had gone to a satellite office – normally he works at his office in Phuket Town.

Anyway, I haven’t had my teeth cleaned in 3 years. Yes, I know that is bad. At first the doctor said he’d check my teeth and see because getting a cleaning too often was bad for your teeth. He took one look and said, “You need a cleaning”. Umm, ok, I knew that, but when you put it like that, it sounds so much worse.

Well, I now understand why people hate the dentist and why you should go every year for a cleaning. Drills. He used a drill instead of those metal picks to clean my teeth. My teeth are sensitive too, so I was wincing and tensing about every five seconds. After the cleaning was finished he did some work on a sensitive area I had pointed out near my gum line. He said the enamel was eroding (hard bristled tooth brush damage, not a cavity), so he put on some ceramic filling for me so it wouldn't be sensitive anymore. Cool.

So all up, the whole thing ended up costing 2500 baht (about US$70)… and that included the overpriced toothbrush and sensitive teeth toothpaste. (I think they added up to about 500 baht!). I must say the toothbrush is really nice and worth a bit extra cost. The bristles clean well, but are not hard. That’s the problem I have with soft bristled brushes – my teeth have never felt clean. Anyway, my own fault for not thinking about the exchange properly – he told me the prices, and I didn’t convert them into dollars or yen. A few hundred baht for toothpaste sounded cheap at the time. I did get a nice toothbrush out of the deal though.

Back at the hotel, I went down for dinner a while later. Earlier in the day I met a woman named Barb. She broke her leg on her fist day here! I invited her to join me for dinner as we were both traveling alone. She has had an amazing life. She gave me all kinds of tips on where to shop and we ended up gabbing for five hours! Very interesting lady – she’s 68 years old, and this is her 69th time to Thailand. It is nice to meet someone to gab to while I am here.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Relaxation - Day 2 and Irrational Fears

As usual, woke up and enjoyed the breakfast (mmm fresh fruit and real bacon). Then I went down to the beach for a bit. I couldn’t resist going in the water even though I am not supposed to get my eyes wet. So I waded in up to my chest. The water was still calm, so I didn’t have to worry about waves, and the beach was quiet, so I was able to get far away from any possibility of splashing people.

Now I am always a bit freaked out about going into the ocean. I’m paranoid that fish will bite me. Yes, I know this is weird. I kept on the look out for fish but didn’t see any. Later in the day, people told me I had to go further out by a set or rocks – but the water over there was too deep for me to go in without endangering my eyes. Anyway, the water was clear and as warm as the air. It was unbelievable. Actually, I would have liked it a bit colder because then it would have been refreshing. However, in terms of temperature for water activities (where you’d be in it for a while) it was great. I did get to see crabs running across the ocean floor though (little tiny ones). They were also hiding out in crevices on a big rock near the shore.

I didn’t stay in too long. Mainly because I was starting to get sun already, and having suffered a horrible sunburn there three years ago, I didn’t want to repeat that. Also, I realized I have another irrational fear to worry about – body parts. I was constantly looking at the ocean floor as I was “swimming” for fear of stepping on a femur or something. In my mind this is not irrational – the ocean will probably be spitting up bones for years. At least at this point they should be devoid of any flesh. However, it is a bit too freaky, not to mention sad, to think about that.

Anyway, I went back to my room and had a very quick shower to wash off the ocean salt and changed into my shorts. It was off to the spa! All I can say is I forgot how much waxing hurt. I waxed my lower legs, and they were like virgin skin because I haven’t waxed them in about 6 years. Pain. Over and over and over again. After all that stress, I of course needed a massage to relax. I had a nice body wrap to make my skin soft and then a good massage. I’ve decided that the pressure I like for massages is almost the same as the pressure they use to apply body wraps, so in future, I’ll just get the wrap done.

After my treatments I was chatting with the receptionist Joy and she recommended a dentist. She even said she would set up an appointment for me for tomorrow. Great! Then I went back to my room and relaxed for a bit before going out for dinner. The tsunami wiped out all of the restaurants along the beach near the hotel; however, they have rebuilt. And they have rebuilt in much nicer facilities. There is also a huge extension to this little shopping arcade. When finished, it will be a bout three times the size it was before.

The restaurant just outside the hotel was where I had dinner. The food is much more reasonably priced than inside the hotel. Well, it didn’t agree with my stomach and I spent the rest of the evening close to the toilet. So, I’ve decided, no more outside restaurants. The food in the hotel restaurant is expensive but it tastes a lot better, has beautiful presentation and I know it is prepared properly (ie I shouldn’t get sick from it).

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Relaxation - Day 1

I woke up early this morning to see the sunrise, but it had already risen! So much for sunrise times. So I went back to bed to sleep some more, seeing as I didn’t sleep so well last night (bug fear), but got up shortly thereafter. Wow, up around 8 even though I’m on vacation!

After a wonderful breakfast of bacon, a small omelet and tons of fruit, I asked the front desk if I could change rooms. This morning I found another problem – through no fault of the hotel. I was in one of the newly remodeled rooms, and as part of the renovations, they outfitted all the showers with rain shower heads. I can’t get water in my eyes, and with a rain shower that is darn near impossible. So I needed to change rooms if I wanted to bathe sometime this week.

Anyway, they did find another room for me and I actually ended up in an upgraded room! Cool! More balcony space! Unfortunately, I lost my good view, but I now have a couch that I can laze around and read on. That will be nice. The shower is a normal type one with a removable handheld nozzle, so I won’t smell at least.

After getting myself resettled, I hit the restaurant for lunch with my book. I had a nice leisurely lunch watching the ocean and reading a little bit. After that, it was off to the spa to book waxing and a massage for tomorrow. Then back to my room where I watched Two Towers on HBO. Whehoo! English movies. That’s pretty much all I did for the whole day. Since I had a late lunch, I skipped dinner and just relaxed in my room.

As for my eyes, I think they are evening out. The right eye is still a bit hazy, but it seems better. The left eye has a slight halo around lights, but I had that before. So no worries there. All in all, the eyes are still great!