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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Actual Monkeys in Thailand! Lop Buri and Ayutthaya Tour Day (Day 3)

So I booked two different tour days for us to see as much as we possibly could while in Thailand.  I already knew I wanted to go see the ruins of Ayutthaya because they looked amazing in pictures, and Mortal Combat 2 was filmed at one of the temples.  Okay, the fact that Mortal Combat 2 was filmed there actually didn't cross my mind, our tour guide told us.  :)  Anyway, I had been searching around online to figure out how we wanted to do the tours and I ended up booking our tours through a company called Bangkok Day Tours, and it was great.  We ended up paying more than we would with other tour companies but these guys have their act together and in the end I was so happy we booked with them.

The morning of the tour, we got up at 5:45am because we had a pick up time of 7am and I wanted to eat breakfast before we left.  The ruins were 2 hours away from the hotel so I didn't want my stomach to rumble on the way.  It was rough getting up that first morning, but we ended up having a wonderful day.

We were picked up in a really nice SUV with our own driver and separate tour guide who spoke great english.  It was really swanky.  I felt pretty important.  Our guide, Morgan told us about Bangkok and it's full name which is actually a poem.  It's seriously long.  And then he told us about the places we were going and gave us a little back ground information about the places.  For instance, did you know that the king in the musical "The King and I" was the King of Siam who had the main temples in Ayutthaya built?  Neither did I.  AND that he had them built after he'd been to Angkor Wat in Cambodia because he wanted to move Angkor Wat to Thailand but that would have been way too hard.  AND the story that's carved on the outside of Angkor Wat is painted on the interior walls of the Grand Palace in Bangkok.  So pretty much, Thailand stole everything from Cambodia.  :)

We went to Lop Buri first, which ruins wise turned out to be a little disappointing because it's really just one ruins area in the middle of a little town.  We mostly went there because I'd read about the......monkeys!  There are monkeys all over the place up there!  There's fencing across people's windows and rooftops to keep the monkeys out and every year there's a monkey festival. If you look at the pictures Bob took while we were there you will see that he cared nothing for the ruins and only loved the monkeys.  I'm sure you've all seen the pictures but I ended up with 6 of the monkeys on me.  They tried to take my earrings and sunglasses.




We didn't spend too long at Lop Buri, but it was fun to see and play with the monkeys.  After that we headed towards some of the smaller temples of Ayutthaya and to see the reclining Buddha, which is huge!

A smaller temple:


Reclining Buddha:


Bob bought us an offering to give to the Buddha:


I'm showing you where I rubbed the gold foil on the Buddha:


We saw a bunch of different smaller temples around the area, and you can check out all my pictures in the Lop Buri and Ayutthaya Album on my Facebook page or in my Flickr account.  There are just way too many to put in the blog.  I was taking pictures of everything.

At about noon Morgan, our guide took us to a local restaurant before we hit the big temple area of Ayutthaya.  The restaurant was right on the river and it was pretty good.  We had told Morgan we liked spicy and it was good.  We had a collection of different Thai dishes with rice and enjoyed some lemonade as we looked out at the water.  We were really hungry by then so it was a good thing it was time for lunch.  Morgan and the driver ate at another table and when we were ready we continued on our adventure.  We went directly to the big ruins area, which his really impressive, go here if you go to Thailand, you'll be blown away.





We then headed off to a temple area that had been partially reconstructed to show people what the ruins would have looked like before being burned and attacked.




And to a more modern temple next to a little market area.



At the end of the day we had local Thai iced coffee and were interviewed by a group of girls who are studying tourism.  They were really nice, but super shy.



We then hopped back in our swanky car and headed back on the 2 hour journey to Bangkok.  We were tired and I did the head nod the entire way.  We got back around 3pm and promptly hopped in the shower because we were really gross.  I then took a little nap while Bob worked :)  and then we prepared to head out for the evening.

We were going to go to Pepper Lunch, this awesome Japanese chain that Bob really likes but the traffic was horrendous and the cab driver we got suggested he take us some place else, which turned out to be some of the best food we ate in Thailand.  I'm so glad we listened to him.  We ate at the New CosmoThai Seafood restaurant and it was really good.  The TomYum soup was extra spicy with really good shrimp and peppers in it.  We also ordered more morning glory because Jason got us hooked, and a couple of other dishes.  (There will be a write up in the food blog.)  It was really really good.

After dinner we walked across the street to a night market to check out the goods and we got some fun things.  Just a couple of t-shirts and some earrings.  It was mostly fun just to look around.  We headed back to the hotel exhausted from our long day and ready for bed.

Stay tuned for day 4!

xoxo-Margaret and Bob

Monkeys and Tigers and Thailand, oh my! (Thailand Day 1 and 2)

OMG, I loved Bangkok.  Bob and I have already decided we must go back.  We had such a wonderful time, saw beautiful places and ate amazingly delicious food.  We're already talking about when we could go back and check out the beach because this trip was entirely a city trip.  I had thought about splitting our time between the city and one of beaches but decided that because we'd never been to Bangkok before that we should just do the city.  I found a nice hotel called "Dream Bangkok" which had great reviews and was very reasonably priced so we stayed there the entire time.  The hotel was very boutique frou-frou.  There was neon blue lighting everywhere and weird mirror collages, along with fun fountains and some traditional Thai decor.  As much as I liked our hotel I would stay closer to the big malls in the city, or in the financial district area in the future just because it seemed a little more exciting and accessible.

Our hotel room:


The awesome statue in our hotel room:


We got to ride in a bright pink taxi to the hotel.  There are some crazy colors on the road, and there are a bunch of pink taxis.  I know I was quite excited about this.


Our first night in Bangkok we checked into the hotel and then went for a little walk to find dinner.  We ended up eating some really good vegetarian Indian food at a place called the Dosa King.  I'd actually never had a dosa before so I had no idea what it was but figured it would be delish because most Indian food is.  We ordered way to much food but it was all really good and spicy.  After dinner we did a little wandering around and then headed back to the hotel to finish settling in.

This is what a dosa looks like:



The next day we did some wandering.  We knew there was a big shopping area down the street from our hotel, we just didn't realize how far down the street it was.  It ended up being quite a ways away from us.  We started walking in that general directions and stopped at a little mall to get something to drink because we were melting our faces off, and ended up finding the world's (yes, the world's) most amazing grocery store.  I kid you not, this was like the ultimate grocery shopping experience.  Imagine if Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and whatever grocery store you like the best merged together to create the ultimate shopping experience, well this would be it.  They had an olive oil sections where there were casks of olive oil you could choose from and they'd fill pretty little bottles for you.  There were all kinds of cheeses, and a ridiculous assortment of fruits from everywhere.  We were blown away, we could have lived in that grocery store.  AND to top it off there was a food court area, but all the food was prepared fresh right there for you.  While we didn't eat any real food there, we did have some really delicious frozen yogurt.  This isn't the frozen yogurt you get in the states, nope not this. This was truly yogurt that was frozen.  The place is called Buddhi Belly and we instantly fell in love with it.  We liked it so much that we sought it out a second time during the trip.  (I love the logo.)




After our yummy treat we continued our walking adventure and while getting ready to cross a street, I made the mistake of pulling out my map.  I knew where we were but I wanted to check to see how many more streets we would be crossing to get to our destination.  While standing there with my map a nice Thai gentleman came over to help us, because he assumed we were lost.  As I was holding the map, he reach out to hold the map with me, and then he wouldn't let go.  Even after he showed us where we were, and I thanked him and tugged on the map a little he would not let go.  Instead, we got his life story and his brother's life story.  He's a high school teacher in Bangkok, and he's enjoying the holiday (it was a water god holiday) and his brother was really smart and the government had paid for his brother to go to college in California, but now his brother is retired, but he use to be a teacher too.  See, I told you, life story.  Anyway, we also found out from him that there was a place having a huge sale on jewelry.  He made it sound like a market, and I love markets so Bob and I decided to go.  We hopped in a Tuk-Tuk (a little open air cad, kind of like a golf cart with a driver) and headed over to where the gentleman said the sale was.  Sadly it was just a store full of old woman jewelry so we didn't buy anything.

We walked around for a bit more and saw some people playing a sport that looks like volleyball but with your feet, called Sepak Takraw, it was really bizarre.  And we were harassed by about a million Tuk-Tuk drivers who wanted to give us a ride.  Thailand is all about the hard sale, they will follow you for blocks.  I did get an awesome picture of a line of Tuk-Tuks though.

Aren't they cute?


We eventually took the sky train back to the hotel to cool down and freshen up before meeting up with our new friend Jason for dinner.  Jason was introduced to Bob via Twitter.  Jason has lived in Bangkok for eight years and currently works for CouchOne.  We'd never met him before but he was super awesome!  He took us to this local place on the outskirts of Bangkok and we had TomYum soup, and this great fried chicken, and steamed morning glory, which is delicious by the way.  And because it was the water god holiday there were people out all over the city sending paper lanterns up into the sky, it was pretty cool.  Unfortunately there aren't any pictures because it was so dark, but it was really neat.  We had a wonderful meal and then Jason helped us get back to our hotel so we could get to bed early because we had a tour booked the next day.

More to come, stay tuned!

xoxo-Margaret and Bob



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

All We Do Is Eat!

Like I've mentioned in my food blog, I've started going into the office three times a week so I can focus more on week, because even though I love working from home, it's good to be in the office with other people.  I head into work in time to meet up with Bob and Eric for lunch, and I've insisted on us checking out all the places we can eat in the local food plaza area.  We've been doing a pretty good job, but I've insisted at eating at what I've come to call my favorite place, Master Kong's, every Monday.  Anyway on to the updates.

Last Wednesday (November-I can't believe it's already November-10th) we tried out this really yummy Korean fast food joint.  I'm not sure about what the name of the place was because the restaurant name was only in Korean but it had a really cute little logo of a bowl with a smilely face.  We had bibimbop, and for more information about the food you can check out my food blog here. (Click on the link and you'll go to BiCoastalBites.)  The food court is super convenient because it's right across the street from the Shanda Games Office, so we can hop over real fast and then get back to work.  Sometimes though, we work from the Shanda Online Office, which isn't as convenient but has a nicer office.  (Aka - If you have to use the bathroom you don't have to go outside and freeze your butt off.)

Oh but on the way to the office I discovered our building has a gym on the third floor.  Who knew?!  I certainly didn't.  It's a little tiny gym, and while it's unlikely that I'll actually use it, it's nice to know it's there.  It makes me wonder if we have a hidden pool in the building, which would be great.  I'll have to do some more exploring.


Back to work...I think people are getting crazy.  I had a gazillion support emails the other day, it turned out something was broken but still, people were up in arms like you would not believe.  We spent most of the day on work, because Bob also had a lot of stuff to do and he was helping me with the thing that was broken.  We ordered in from Boxing Cat Brewery and it was delish, pulled pork quesadillas are wonderful.  And I tried a salad with fried feta balls, it was really good.  After all the work that day we said "enough!" and called it a day.

The next day was a stay at home day for me, I try to get all our laundry done on my stay at home days.  I got online and started working on things and then I got....the black screen of death!  I was horrified!  I told Bob and he said that it was likely just a "kernel" issue, whatever that means, but told me I should back everything up.  So then I was horrified because I had recently changed all my passwords for extra protection and have been using a program called 1password to organize my passwords which means I can't remember half of them.  So I was trying to figure out how I'd remember all my passwords and then I had to worry about all my music and my pictures.  I'm still not done saving everything, but hopefully that'll be done soon.  It was scary though, here's what the black screen of death looks like on a Mac:


After all my worrying I decided I needed some air so I decided I'd walk down to my favorite burger place and enjoy the walk.  I also thought I'd use the opportunity to look for "natural arrows" because I told my friend Amanda that I'd help with this. And you would not believe how hard it is to find natural arrows, I though it would be easy, but unfortunately I didn't see a single arrow on the way to lunch, but here are some lovely pictures:




I enjoyed a lovely lunch on the patio of Gourmet Cafe and took Bob's ipad, which I have now made my ipad, so I could read my book.  He downloaded "The Chronicles of Solomon Kane" for me, and it's been pretty good so far.  The weather was perfect to sit out on the patio and enjoy an awesome burger.  Unfortunately the service was terrible but the food at Gourmet Cafe is always worth it.  (Check out the review at BiCoastalBites.)  After my yummy lunch I headed over to the mall to pick up a couple of things, I was particularly pleased to pick up a new pen holder for my desk, and a penguin shaped ice cube tray.


Now when I'm sitting at my desk at home I can look at my cute little pen holder pig and smile.  :)

More to come!

Loves and kisses,



Fire in Shanghai

For those of you who haven't heard, although I'm sure most of you have, there was a large fire in Shanghai on Monday November 14th.  This fire was in an apartment building 3 blocks from our place and we could see the smoke and everything from our balcony and kitchen window.


I didn't know about the fire until we were on our way home and all the streets near our building were blocked off.  There were crowds and crowds of people standing around watching the firefighters put out the fire.  By the time we got home it looked that they had contained the flames but the building was still smoldering.

Today, as I walked to the subway to head into work I could see the building down the block, I didn't venture further because there were so many people still out on the street just watching things.  I took a picture, as you can see below, even though it's not very good, but you can see the scorch marks on the building.  The building to the left of it is what the apartment building originally looked like.


Here's an updated article from CNN about the whole thing:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pub Quiz!

Before I get to Pub Quiz.....I've taken to going into the office in the afternoon on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  I show up at lunch time and we get a bite to eat and then I go into the office for the rest of the day.  It's nice because I definitely am better about working at the office than I am at home, but I don't have to get up early :)  We've designated Mondays as "Master Kong" Day.  It's an excellent noodle bar, and we order the spiciest dish, although this week we branched out and tried something new...but it wasn't as good.  It wasn't bad, but I think we'll stick with #116, it's delicious.

This is what it looks like when I ride the metro into work:


I was able to work pretty swiftly through the support queue, and had time to mess around and play some games.  I went in search of educational games, sadly most of the ones submitted to the system that are called educational are actually coloring games.  I did find a typing game I liked as well as a math game, but that was pretty much it.  And then, time flew by and it was time to go home and get ready for.....dinner and Pub Quiz!!!!

We went to a Teppanyaki place just around the corner from the Pub, called Natural Point, and it was very good.  We did set courses because we'd never been before but I think we're going to go back and order whatever we want off the menu next time.   We mostly don't want to do the set again because there are things we could do with out, everything was good, but some things are always better than others, for instance....I didn't really need miso soup or a small dinner salad.  We at a lot of food, I got mushroom and asparagus beef wraps, and Bob had two different kinds of steak, one with bone still attached and the other delicious, yes that means that the bone in weren't as good.  :)  There was a small sushi plate, and it was good, it had some salmon, tuna and I'm not sure what the third was, but it was lemony and good.

Our Chef:


The sushi plate:


My yummy beef rolls, with garlic covered bok choy..mmmmm garlic bok choy:


Dinner was really filling and pretty cheap considering how much food we had.  It worked out being about $20USD a piece and we each had: a dinner salad, miso soup, a sushi plate, a main course with veggies, and fried rice plus a beer and green tea.  And the portions were excellent, we'll definitely be going back.  We thought about having dessert, but were too full to even consider it, so we headed off to the Pub to grab a good table for the quiz.

The run-down on the quiz -

We have "our" table at Bulldog now for Pub Quiz, it's in a pretty good spot so we can see everything easily.  I call it our table because we've sat at it every time for the last 4 Pub Quizzes.  So, Monday was the first time in a while that Bob and I had been on our own at Pub Quiz and we really wanted to do Jay proud so we'd actually read through CNN earlier that day at work so we could catch up on the news.  Sadly, that did not help us with the current affairs section of the Quiz.  Did you know that in Mumbai, India they removed all the coconuts from the tress for Obama's visit?  Neither did I, and if you did know that, why?  We apparently suck at getting updated when it comes to current affairs.

The second round was a little better, it was all about famous horses.  Everyone will be pleased to know that we were able to identify Mr. Ed, however, that was the only one, so we 1 of 6 points in that round.  Terrible, I know.  We did get a little better in the next round.  The Quiz Master would show us a picture from a movie and we had to say who the movie star was, the artist they were portraying and the name of the film.  We were able to get most of those, thank goodness I like movies and art.

And then we sucked terribly with the next category, we officially cannot identify the flags of Central America to save our lives.  We didn't get a single one right. But we made up for it in the next round when we had to identify mythical creatures.  Thank you Mamacita and my recent reading of The Percy Jackson Series.  (Which I highly recommend by the way if you haven't read it.)

The next section kicked our butt's hard!  It was "Political Leaders."  We had to name the leader and the country they were from, and we were terrible at this.  We got the guy from Mexico right because Bob recognized the flag, and Daddy, you'll be so proud because I got Mugabe from Zimbabwe right!  To be completely fair and not at all politically correct, I figured it was worth guessing Mugabe and Zimbabwe because I didn't know anyone else.  But hey, that was 2 points for us!  WOO-HOO!

And I totally rocked the "Guess Who/What I Am,"  even Bob was impressed with my deductive reasoning.  So the first clue was "I was re-discovered in 1799 by a frenchman." (We had no idea what it was at this point.)  The second clue was, "I'm displayed at the British Museum."  (I thought, okay, statue or something.)  Third clue was, "I'm carved out of black granite, (and then there were it's dimensions)." And I said, Rosetta Stone!  But Bob made me wait for the next clue which was about Egypt.  :)  So we got 6 points, but 1 point wouldn't have made much of a difference, but I did feel like a genius.

We did okay on the usual Film Quote rounds, and the finish the lyrics rounds, and then the music round kicked our butts.  It was very sad.  Finally we got to the jeopardy round where we could bet points and we bet all our points except one, just in case everyone did the same and we all got it wrong.  The category for the evening was "Fashion and History."  The question was " Which Fashion and Lifestyle House created the Nazi uniforms?"  We had no idea, but we will now never forget that it was Hugo Boss.  In the end we ranked 5th place out of 9 teams.  Sad for us, but there's always next week!

We're getting smarter every time we attend Pub Quiz!  Woot!

Loves and kisses,

Margaret and Bob


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Date Night (To be followed by the post about Pub Quiz)

On Saturday (November 6th) Bob took me out for date night.  There's a place down the street that I'd been wanting to try.  It's called, Yakexi, and I had thought from the exterior decor that it was an Indian restaurant.  It looks like a mini Taj Mahal, and there's always yummy things being cooked out front over a little burner.  It turns out it's really a Xinjiang cuisine, which is a regional thing, like Shanghai-nese, Hunan, or Sichuan.  It was really good, we're definitely going back.  We had yummy lamb in curry spices with toasted chunks of bread, it was definitely our favorite dish.  We've also discovered a wonderful dish that we love soooo much, it's a potato dish that's comprised of shredded potatoes in a kind of vinegar and chili sauce.  We could eat it for every meal.  We also had an awesome caramelized banana dish at the end of the meal, and it was sooo yummy, it would have been even better if there had been ice cream.  :)

Lamb Curry Dish:


The inside of the restaurant:


Yummy Potato Dish:


The Delicious Caramelized Banana Dish:


After dinner we walked to a Pirate Bar I'd read about.  It's called Rhumerie Bounty, and it was opened by some French guys this summer and is a Nautical/Pirate Themed Bar.  It's pretty rad, it's like walking into an old ship, and all the drinks are rum based, there was even one called  Bobojito, sadly we didn't try it.  I did have a really great cocktail called a Shanghai Breeze, and Bob tried a couple of the coffee and rum concoctions they have.  We'll definitely be going back because it's so close to the house and reasonably price, plus, it's a pirate bar!

Behind the Bar at Rhumerie:


The next day we slept in, because it was Sunday, and that's what we do :P  and headed off to the Boxing Cat Brewery for brunch.  We had thought that because Boxing Cat has such an excellent dinner menu, and the food is so good that their brunch would be the same.  Sadly, we were mistaken and brunch was only okay.  Bob had the eggs benedict and I had the breakfast burrito, both were only so-so.  We'd really gotten our hopes up about how awesome it was going to be, so it was sad that it was no where near what we'd been expecting.  We did enjoy a lovely walk towards home afterward, which is where I got this excellent picture of Bob:


And a picture of me conquering a small fountain area:


We stopped by the big Jing'An mall area on the way home for groceries, and banking fun, and then spent the rest of the day lounging about and taking care of some work.  For some reason I had a terrible headache so I really did some lounging.  Bob was awesome and eventually ordered us a yummy dinner.  He takes excellent care of me when I don't feel good. :)  We went to bed pretty early because the next day we knew we'd be up late for....Pub Quiz!!!!  Yes, even though Jay departed we are still participating in Pub Quiz, we have to keep the dream alive.

Pub Quiz Night Post Coming Soon!!!

Loves and kisses,



Sunday, November 7, 2010

The rest of October was a blur...

After our trip to Beijing, Staci had to abandon us for lovely San Francisco.  I tried to convince her to stay and be my professional best friend here, but alas she had to go home.  We still had a lot of fun, but I think it would have been even more fun had she been able to stay the whole time Jay was here.  (Not to say that I didn't love having Jay, because I did.)

Anyway, we started off right by winning the Pub Quiz at our new favorite English Pub, The BullDog.  We rocked it and won 1,000RMB worth of drink tickets.  Sadly our luck didn't keep up and we progressively got worse on the following Mondays.  I need to read the news more, maybe that would help.


There was a lot of eating and drinking and staying up for all hours of the night.  We hit our main favorite places:  Gourmet Cafe, Pizza Marzano, Nepali Kitchen, 131, Boxing Cat, and even had a chance to check out New Heights.  I'd been wanting to check out New Heights for dinner because we always take people there for drinks and a beautiful view of the city.  The food was good but the service was crap, so we will likely not go back.  I guess we'll have to try one of the other restaurants in the Bund.  I was going to post about it on the food blog, but it just wasn't worth a write up, but I'm going to try to get back into updating the food blog and linking it here.  :)

We did have a couple of stand out nights.  We went to Muse on the Park, which is a club located in the middle of a park, to see the fake Lady GaGa show.  I got all dolled up in my best crazy lady outfit that I could put together which was more rock-a-billy than anything else.  I even bought the weird giant doll eyes contact lenses, which are crazy awesome!  I don't wear contacts so it was awkward putting them in, but I managed it.  I ended up not wearing the doll contacts to the show because I was afraid my eyes would be sad the next day.  The show itself was only so-so, not nearly what I had been expecting but I still had a good time.  We played some liar's dice, and ordered a bunch of whiskey and green tea, and danced our butts off.  That night ended at 4:30am, and then Bob and Jay stayed up to watch the sun come up on the balcony while I went to bed.  They're so in love.

Here's a close up of the crazy contacts:


And my rock-a-billy hair:


The other night that stands out in my mind was when we all went out to KTV with Patrick, Yoko, Key, Agnes, Eric and Sean.  KTV is the karaoke place, it's actually called CashBox/PartyWorld and we had our own room and sang our butts off.  I have videos of the evening; however, I've been threatened with death if I post them.  Here are a couple of pictures of the night though.



That evening ended at about 4am as well, when we were asked to leave because they were closing for the night.  Here's the damage we inflicted:


Sadly we didn't dress up for Halloween.  Bob and Jay will tell you they both told me they'd dress up but I had to get costumes, and to be honest that's not as fun.  I wanted them to be more excited about Halloween.  We ended up just having a lazy day instead because the night before had been the karaoke crazy night.  There's always next year I guess.

We had Jay for the rest of the week and we'd started to slow down on our nights out because we were exhausted.  Having Jay, and Staci was awesome because we just kept going and going and trying new things, plus I think Bob has more fun when his boyfriend is in town. :)