Thursday, June 25, 2009


Pictures from our trip have been posted! I'm still working on entries, which I'll backdate, but then post about at the top.


I didn't leave the apartment at all on Tuesday, but was forced out on Wednesday in order to go to the gym (still sore!) and then to dinner at Umami Burger which has risen to the Best Burger In LA According to Carmen (even though their sides leave something to be desired). Really good. In fact, kind of craving one today...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

River Kwai and POW Museum

Showering on a train - not that bad. It helps that there are handrails all over to grab on to when the train jerks to a sudden stop, or moves forward really quickly all of a sudden.

They came over the loudspeaker to tell us to meet at the center of the train to disembark for the River Kwai station. From there, we took a barge down the river to a Chinese temple, and loaded busses to take us to the POW Museum and cemetary.

our train on the bridge over the River Kwai

The river was scenic, and there were all kinds of houses along it. While we were on the barge, one of the founders of the museum spoke to us about the history of the bridge and the events leading up to it. It was pretty fascinating.

The museum was really interesting, but also really depressing. They had displays about the POWs and the situations they lived and worked in. Most were Australian, British, and Dutch, but there were also a few Americans, and a large number of Asian workers that were not POWs but lived in similar (and often worse, because they didn't have a military hierarchy to help develop a structure) conditions.

The cemetary was huge, and, of course, a bit depressing. There were flowers that had been placed in our room the night before, and we brought them with us to place on the graves.

POW Cemetary

After the cemetary we boarded the train again, and finished up our Malaysia and Singapore paperwork so that we could pass them and our passports to our Steward for border issues. I'm apparently a bit of a control freak, because I wasn't thrilled with the idea of giving the passports to someone else, but we went ahead and did it. And then I napped, as it is a favorite passtime of mine.

Lunch, again, was amazing, and then we went to the bar car for a tropical fruit exhibition. I always thought I wasn't a big fruit person, but apparently I make exceptions for South East Asian fruit, because it was all pretty amazing.

lunch menu

We got afternoon tea served in our cabin, and are now just lounging around, reading and typing up entries on Defiant (the name of our laptop, which I have nicknamed Little D), while observing the awesome Thai countryside. Will's doing his nap now, since we have another 9:15 call time for dinner, and have been told that this meal we'll be seated with another couple (we were alone again for lunch), so we need to make sure we're awake enough to be *on*!

Morning on the Train...

We woke up early this morning because we're traveling over this rocky and mountainous bridge thing, and we wanted to see it. Well, that's not entirely true. We planned to wake up early this morning in order to see the scenery, but we actually woke up about an hour before we planned because the train did one of those jerky moves that it does every once in a while.

I once again proved that I am blessed with the ability to sleep anywhere, and Will once again proved that he is not (poor thing). He woke up a number of times, but I only did a couple, until the 5am train-jerking that had us open the windows and peek outside.

When we went to sleep we were still pretty much in the city, or at least the equivalent to the suburbs, but this morning we're definitely not. There's a lot more open space, and we see the occasional villiage, but overal, it's pretty empty.

Our steward, Chiang, knocked on our door at 6am as we'd requested in order to wake us up so that we could get dressed and make our way to the observation car to see the cliff-traversing the train was going to do.

The observation car was already pretty crowded but we got a spot near the front, right behind the locomotive, which they attached so that we could go the opposite direction. We started moving again around 6:40 and soon we were hugging the edge of a cliff, overlooking a river and riding over pretty much nothing. It was definitely cool.

Our next stop today is the River Kwai, so it's time to actually get ready (and try showering on a train for the first time!) so that we can disembark and do some site-seeing!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Train Trip Day 1!

So Peter picked us up around 3, and we headed over to the train station, where we went to this fancy-schmancy air conditioned waiting room and checked in. We did the regular checkin stuff and then proceeded to another table where they took our preferences for dinner - we said we wanted the late seating (9:15 rather than 6) and that we were open to sitting with another couple.

We'd gotten there about 2 hours early, so we said our goodbyes to Peter and then sat around and people-watched. There were a lot of British couples there, and the two couples sitting right near us were talking about how it was impossible to understand Americans, how we had no sense of humor, and for some reason had this really strong dislike for the Carolinas because they kept bashing them. We dubbed them "the Monty Python Group."

The average age was probably 15ish years older than us, but there were a few other couples around our age, one of who had a guy who I decided must be line to the throne (British, of cousre) so I dubbed him and his wife The Duke and Dutchess.

I am totally clever with naming, right?

We boarded around 5:30, and went to our cabin, which was the third in car A (cleverly named 3A). We had a middle-sized cabin, but it was still pretty snug. The daytime configuration is a little couch-thingie, a comfy chair-thingie, a table, and a moveable chair. We've got an ensuite bathroom, and in the main room there are shelves at the top of the cabin where we pseudo-unpacked our things to.

We headed to the observation car at the end of the train for when we pulled out, and waved wildly at people who probably didn't really care, but indulged us and waved back. Then Will and I headed back to our cabin to settle in and view the countryside from our window.

we got champagne for our second anniversary - which
is the excuse we used for going on the trip

We headed to the observation car again a bit later and chatted up one of the stewards there, who has been working for the company for 17 years. After a little bit we headed back to the cabin to dress for dinner.

(Okay, we just went through a tunnel. It was kind of creepy.)

The dress code for the train is "smart casual" during the day, which we've taken to mean nice shorts/pants/skirts and non t-shirt tops. For dinner, however, guys are supposed to wear jackets and ties and girls are supposed to wear the equivalent. However, there are totally some people who ramp it up a bit, because we saw a guy with a tux, and girls with pretty fancy dresses. It was totally the perfect opportunity for Will to wear one of his new suits from Bangkok, and for me to wear my new sapphire necklace!

will's stylin' new suit

We headed to the bar car for a drink before dinner, where there was a pianist playing showtunes and other songs and a few couples either having a drink before the late seating, or after the early seating. They announced the start of our dinner, and we went to the restaurant cabin. Even though we'd asked to sit with another couple, they sat us at a fourtop, but alone, which was actually kind of nice because (a) we got a lot of extra space, (b) we were exhausted and this way we didn't have to be *on* for other people and (c) we didn't have to sit with people who hated the Carolinas.

Dinner was kind of amazing.

the menu for the first night

We, however, were kind of pooped. It was all we could do to make it back to our cabin, which had been made up to the night setup, and promptly collapsed into our beds.

nighttime setup

Sunday, June 14, 2009

We're in Bangkok!

I added a couple of pictures to previous posts, so check that out if you're interested!

So we're in Bangkok, a fact that has not yet sunk in entirely, based on the fact that every fifteen minutes or so I tell Will "Hey, guess what. We're in Bangkok!"

We survived the 7 hour layover and the following 2 1/2 hour flight, sleeping the majority of the flight, and arrived at Bangkok rather refreshed and awake, which I think was a pretty big deal considering the fact that it was after 26+ hours of traveling. We were picked up by Peter, who will be our guide on Monday through the tour company, and a driver, who took us to our hotel, which was about 45 minutes away from the airport. On the way he talked to us about the city a little bit, and also found out what we were interested in doing while we were here. We decide on a plan for tomorrow which is the flower market, the Grand Palace, and the Wat Phra Kaew, also known as the Temple of the Golden Buddha, the only place in Bangkok that can be found in Unforgettable Places To See Before You Die, which is a book that I have the goal of seeing all the places there. Will also mentions that he's interested in tailoring, because a friend of his that is Thai suggested getting suits made while we're there. So Peter tells us that he'll have a ride from a tailor pick us up around 2.

lots and lots of fabricr

So the next thing I know, we're not only in Bangkok, but we're at a tailor shop, being talked into buying suites. And apparently there's something about South East Asia that makes me less of a penny pincher, because not only is Will getting two suits and a shirt, but I'm getting a pinstripe suit with pants and a pencil skirt, and a silk shirt. Tomorrow at 2 they're doing our final fitting, and the suits will be delivered to our hotel tomorrow night.

will getting fitted

thai beer!


Afterwards we can have the tailor drop us off wherever we want, and we mention the place that Peter had suggested to us, but the guy we've been working with (who is the master jacket-maker) tells us we should go to the Sunday market, becuase it's only open on Sundays, and this is the one Sunday that we'll be here. So we roll with the punches and decide to go there.

The Sunday Market is the world's largest fleamarket and was pretty awesome, but soon we're getting tired and hot because it's all outside and crowded and under tents, so we decide to head to another place closer to the hotel. The guy at the tailor had told us that we could just take the Skytrain (a monorail) back, but after walking around for about an hour we'd passed the subway station twice, but not seen the Skytrain at all. So we considered what our guide, Peter, told us about the subway (don't take it, it's too confusing) and we decided that we were tired of walking, but not about to take a cab, so we were going to do the subway!

The subway wasn't all that confusing - the only part that threw us off was the fact that they gave us what looked like a little token, but you don't put the token anywhere when you're entering - you just put it on this pad and it reads it or something, and let you through. We took the subway one stop - to where it met up with the Skytrain station - and then hopped on that until we got to the transfer station. Will was incredibly excited to see an advertisement with a football (soccer) player he is a fan of (because he's a football (soccer) nerd like that). We decided to look around near the transfer station and saw that it was right by a big mall, which we entered in order to find some water, and ended up drooling over some donuts that they had with random toppings, like white chocolate and cheddar, and caramel.

Cesc Fabregas pimping Pepsi

We got back on the subway and headed to our stop on the river, so that we could catch a water taxi back to our hotel. Right when we got to the pier, the sky opened up into a torrential downpour. It was covered, luckily, because it was really kind of insane how intensely the rain was coming down, and how it came out of nowhere. Or maybe I'm just saying that because I've gotten spoiled from living in LA, and had I been living in Texas for the past two years, I'd be thinking it was no big. But anyways, it was pretty intense for us. It let up just a bit after a few minutes, and our taxi came up, so we hopped on and crossed the river, mid-downpour. Pretty fun!

the rain was significantly more downpoury than it appears here

We got back to the room and changed out of wet clothes, then headed downstairs for dinner. One of the restaurants at the hotel has really good Thai food, so we went there, and ordered a 3 course pre-fixe menu that looked good.

Unfortunately, about 3 minutes after we ordered the food, we began to crash, hard. We lost our appetites and just wanted to sleep, because we're pretty sure our bodies were telling us "Ummmm, it's 5am. Why are you trying to feed us instead of letting us sleep?" We did the best we could eating the food (which was pretty awesome, so it was a shame that our appetites weren't cooperating) and then went upstairs to crash, around 8:30. My goal had been to stay up until at least 8pm, so I figured the fact that we lasted an extra 30 minutes was pretty impressive. (Will was saying that 8pm was going to be no problem, and though I was silly for thinking we'd be tired so early, so I guess I showed him!)

All in all a very fun, succesful day in Bangkok!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Singapore Airport Con't

We just walked by a bar that had two monitors with sports playing - table tennis and EPL soccer. I think Will is considering moving here.


So we've safely landed in Singapore, and are now just waiting for the 7 hours of our layover to pass so that we can hop on our plane to Bangkok. Unfortunately, all the official sleeping places in the airport are booked up, (probably because it's 2am local time) but we found a lounge that has semi-comfy chairs, free food and drinks, and (most importantly) free wi-fi, so we're hanging out here for a bit. Will is passed out in a chair, but I'm up because I slept on both legs of our previous flight, so I'm not particularly sleepy at the moment.

doesn't he look comfy?

The LAX to Tokyo leg was pretty uneventful. We got bulkhead seats, which was pretty awesome because we had mad legroom, and the other guy in the section of our row was from Conroe, Texas. He works on oil rigs and his last stop is Indonesia. He's been all over the world - he said that he rarely works in the Gulf of Mexico, but instead spends a lot of time in Brazil and West Africa, as well as time in other places. Like Indonesia.

us in tokyo. do we look like we've been on a plane for 12 hours?

While we were waiting to check in they had those big screens with their advertisement pictures, and of course showed all the business and first class seats - recliners and little cabins that turn into beds and stuff like that. There was only one picture of coach, which we thought was pretty funny, since that's what we were obviosuly going on. The plane was pretty intense - we didn't do the A380, but it was still a 747 with personal monitors where 100+ movies and tv shows were on demand. So we entertained ourselves with that, and the food was pretty decent also. They only had two selections if you didn't pre-order (International and Japanese) but you could pre-order with a kind of ridiculous specificity. The people in the middle section of our row had gotten what I'm pretty sure was the vegitarian Indian, and it smelled amazing.

(Will is totally snoring)

When we got to Tokyo we originally thought we could stay on the plane but then they told us that we couldn't. Which caused momentary panic because neither of us could find our stubs of our boarding passes, since we'd not put them in a special place, because we were originally told we could stay on the plane. But we went through transit security and showing them our baggage claim ticket was enough, and then I found my stub and they just wrote Will out a new one. So that was pretty painless.

(Actually, it's the guy behind Will that's snoring, not Will)

The second leg was pretty easy as well - we had the same neighbor, and we both slept for a good portion of it. Now we're in Singapore, just waiting for our Bangkok flight. I kind of can't believe that it's 2am on Sunday morning, but I suppose that's the international date line for you.

Yay to the first part of the first leg of our trip being over!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Travel Prep

Okay, so in 2 days we leave for our summer adventure in Bangkok, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Amount of packing done? None. However, I called our credit card companies yesterday to tell them that we'd be abroad so that they wouldn't shut our cards down when we used them while we were over there. And it seems like we're going to be using them a lot, since at the moment it seems like our plan is to just bring nothing and buy everything while we're over there.

The dollar is strong right now, right?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

#38 - Volunteer at the Bread and Roses Cafe

So this morning I went to the Bread and Roses cafe in Venice to volunteer with some of my coworkers, and it was a really great experience!

Bread and Roses provides food for the poor and homeless, but does it in a restaurant/diner type setting, rather than a soup kitchen format. Patrons need to call and make reservations ahead of time, and there are three seatings: 9:30, 10:30, and 11:30. Volunteers help with food prep or serve food to the people.

Today the meal was fajitas, and I helped with some of the food prep, as well as serving some of the food onto the plates. It was a lot of fun, and I got to chop cilantro, which I totally love. Also, it put me in the mood for fajitas, so that was what we had for dinner.

Also, when I was at the grocery store I saw that they had a sale for yogurt, so I decided to try all those crazy flavors that I've seen commercials for. So far I've tried the Chocolate Mouse Whips and the Strawberry Shortcake - loved the first, and the second was just okay. I got 8 different flavors so it'll be something fun to work my way through over the next few days!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Hump Day

Monday has been my most productive day this week. I cooked yesterday, and did some cleaning around the apartment, which was good, and I'm off to the gym this afternoon, but nothing as good as Monday was. Does downloading the first 5 episodes of Australia's Next Top Model count as being productive? Oh, and I've tweeted more today than I have any other day, I think.

I did get Will to compliment me on my doing nothing productive yesterday. I told him that I'd considered lying and saying that I'd done out of the apartment things, since he wouldn't know the difference, but that I decided not to. So that's how you get a compliment for doing nothing!

It thundered this afternoon, which was really weird as I don't think I've heard thunder here since I moved to California. Some rain, but nothing torrential like I'd like, but I'll take the thunder if that's all Mother Nature's going to give me.

Oh, and props to New Hampshire lawmakers for passing same sex marriage. Still disappointed in the decision that Cali made in November.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Salt Lick

I suddenly have a craving for Salt Lick brisket. Which is weird, because my favorite things there are the sausage and ribs.

SO GRUMPY that the grocery store near us that used to sell their barbecue sauce stopped selling it. And I find it very unlikely that I'm going to be able to find another place in LA that does.

Monday, Monday...

Yesterday I attended my first yoga class, and in doing so gained a greater respect for my sister who does this sort of thing regularly, for fun. There were various parts throughout the class where I was shaking from having to hold a pose, and though I didn't get as dizzy as I thought I was going to, it was just not an overall pleasant experience. I'm going to try to keep it up throughout the summer, but I don't see it becoming a regular thing.

I also went to the nearby branch of the Los Angeles library and got a library card! I haven't had one since maybe high school, when I had one for Austin, so I figured 10 years was a long enough break. I want to read more this summer since I don't really get to during the year, and time spent away from the computer and breaking that habit is a good thing.

Today I'm scheduled for day 2 of running in the couch to 5k program, but I'm still really sore so it's going to take some effort to get it done. I also need to do my apartment cleaning, since I didn't get to it yesterday, and a few other tasky items around the apartment and the building. Oh, and I want to swim laps at some point, but the weather has been all gray and overcast (June gloom) so it hasn't happened yet. It's a heated pool, but getting up the effort to go swimming is hard enough, much less when it's all icky outside!
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