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Friday, December 17, 2010

I should be working....

I'm sitting in our guest room/my office looking out the window (because as my dad would tell you I'm a window blocker) because my desk is pressed right up against the window so I can look out, and the day is gross and dreary and just makes me want to climb back into bed and snuggle with my teddy bear.  I can see about three streets away but then everything disappears into fog/smog and it's raining.  I hate going out when it's raining, mostly because of people who like to stand in the middle of the sidewalk with their umbrellas.  I have an umbrella but I like using my rain jacket instead because then I can "swim" through the sea of people with umbrellas, and push little old ladies out of my way.  Okay, so I don't push old ladies but I do push people, mostly because that's the culture here.

Anyway, I'm sitting here and I should be working on support, but I need a break because people are extra crazy and ridiculous today, so I'm taking a break and updating our lives.  We'll go back a week, as today is Monday  (December 13th) for me, and we have a new and exciting Pub Quiz tonight!  We love Pub Quiz night.

Okay, so back to last Monday....we had a yummy dinner at Zapata's because I was craving some Mexican food, and their enchiladas are decent, plus it's a


block away from the Bulldog Pub where the quiz is held.  We've been to Zapata's a few times but I don't want to over do it because I know it's not real Mexican and will just make me sad that I can't have a smothered burrito from La Puente in Salt Lake.  As usual it was good, not amazing but it was what I wanted.  We headed over to the Bulldog to take our regular table that we've claimed as our own for Pub Quiz.  We seem to always be some of the first people there, which is okay with me, but it's weird that it takes people so long to show up.  We discovered that the Pub Quiz was rated highly just recently by one of the Ex-Pat magazines so there are a bunch of extra teams that showed up, which is kind of annoying.  We've made friends with some people off of some of the other teams and we always chit chat with them to see what's up.  We thought we were doing pretty awesome on the Pub Quiz until we had to name flags, we're really bad at that game.  Really really bad. You'd think I'd be better but I'm not.  We did enjoy a new category that the Quizmaster started called "The Pyramid," which is just random questions but the 1st question has 6 answer, 2nd question has 5 answer, etc.  I was really pleased because the 3rd question was "Name the four US Presidents who were assassinated."  I was excited because I knew them all!  I had wished he'd also asked us who killed them because I know that too!  I felt quite pleased, mostly because I owe it all to the musical "Assassins," which if you aren't familiar with is pretty awesome, and educational.  (Lincoln, McKinley, Garfield and Kennedy were the Presidents, just in case you didn't know.)

We also failed miserably with the complete the lyrics round as they were all Spice Girl's songs.  :P  And I was amazing again with the Guess Who/What category, and if Bob would just let me guess sometimes I think it would be better, but I understand his hesitation as we didn't know for sure.  The person was Darwin, and I guessed on the 3rd or 4th clue, but we didn't turn it in until the 6th when we were positive.  We should have learned our lesson from when I was right about the Rosetta Stone.  The final jeopardy round of the night was a sports question, it was "Who did Muhammad Ali fight in the Thriller in Manilla?" Unfortunately I only know he fought George Forman in the "Rumble in the Jungle."  So we missed that.  Oh well, we're still holding strong in 4th place thanks to Jay starting us off!  And our friends are on the lead team so if they win we still get to go to a Christmas Party!

After the Quiz was over we hung out with the Quiz Master and our new friends until way to early in the morning, and we drank more than we should have for a Monday night.  I'm pretty sure when I got up the next morning I was still tipsy.


The next day I went to the grocery store and stocked up on stuff to make dinner at home and let me tell you I did some awesome cooking this last week.  I was quite pleased with how everything turned out.  On Tuesday night I made a Thai Stir-Fry (click on the link to go to the Food Blog)with Shrimp, zucchini, yellow squash, red/yellow peppers, carrots, snap peas, spicy peppers, mushrooms, garlic and onions.  It was soooo good.

I don't remember why I didn't go into the office on Wednesday....I was going to, but I think maybe I was cleaning?  It seems possible, although looking at the house now I'm not positive that was the reason.  Our house is continually disorganized.  I blame the lack of closets where I could hide things.  Anyway, typical work day, and for dinner I made delicious Mexican Stir-Fry, yes that's right, and it was delicious!  I haven't done a write up for it yet, but it also was a one wok dish and I'll put up pictures and instructions for recreating this yumminess on the Food Blog soon.  SOOOON.  Okay, probably after I'm done with this post.

So Thursday was going to be awesome because our Pub Quiz friends had told us that the Sushi Place near the pub was celebrating their 4th Birthday that night and they were doing a special where you could pay 100RMB ($16USD) for all you could eat and drink.  Ah, that's what I was doing on Wednesday.  Now I remember I had to go pick up our tickets, and had lunch down town out on a nice patio, it was lovely.  Anyway, we were a little late getting to Haiku (the sushi place) and there was a huge line.  We stood in line for an hour and then someone from the restaurant came out and said they would only be able to let 50 more people in, even though we probably would have gotten in, we gave up and got a refund and headed over to the Pub for dinner instead and to check out the Thursday night quiz.


I'm actually glad we ended up at the Pub because we had really good gorgonzola schnitzel with spinach spatzle.  It was really good, and our Pub Friends showed up afterward because Mark, one of our friends, had seen us outside.  They'd gotten to Haiku earlier and were able to enjoy the stuff.  We combined our teams and had a good time with the Thursday pub quiz.  It was terrible, especially in comparison to the Monday night quiz.  We know better than to participate again.

Friday Bob had a lunch meeting so I again stayed home but for dinner we had a delicious one wok curry dish with chicken.  Yes, I cooked three times this week.  :)  I feel quite pleased.  I just realized that all the pictures in this post so far are of food.  I think I might be obsessed.

We stayed in on Friday night because Bob had to finish up his talk for his presentation the next day at Top Geek!  He was presenting the story of Mochi, which I was pretty excited about.  He was up until 6am-ish which is horrible, especially when he got up at 9am to finish working.  While he was working I went out and picked up coffee and snacks.  Luckily the conference was just around the corner from our place so it was easy to get to.  Bob was also the first to speak which was awesome.  His talk was lots of fun and completely different from the tech talks he gives.

We were lazy on Sunday because Bob was still recovering from all the fun and excitement of the day before, so we ordered in a pizza for dinner and had a nice warm night at home.



Saturday, December 11, 2010

Last Day in Siem Reap, off to Phnom Penh and then Back to Shanghai (The End of the Thanksgiving Adventure)

So on our last day in Siem Reap we got up early once more, and enjoyed the breakfast buffet the hotel had to offer and then were off on the go with Mr. Dina to see the Tomb Raider 2 Temple, and the Floating Village.  We stopped at a little road side place where there was a family cooking sweet coconut sticky rice.  They cut chunks of bamboo and clean out the inside of the stick and shave off a lot of the exterior and then fill the interior with sticky rice mixed with coconut and red bean and then place the bamboo on hot coles to roast the bamboo and everything inside.  After everything has cooked (about an hour) they pull the bamboo off the fire, shave off the burn bamboo and cut open the shoot to eat the yummy rice treat inside.  Mr. Dina said that a lot of Cambodians will eat just this for lunch, it was pretty good.  Sweet but not too sweet.




After our treat we continued on towards the last temple we would visit, the Tomb Raider 2 Temple.  It's about an hour outside of Siem Reap so not as many people go there, but it was completely worth the trip.  I would say that this was by far our favorite place.  It's been abandoned for over 1,000 years and it's just falling apart but it's like an adult jungle gym, you can climb on everything.  It was going great until I followed Bob into a hole and turned around and couldn't find him anymore and then ended up in what would have been the moat (it was dry) and couldn't figure out how to get back in to where everyone was.  I climbed up on top of the interior wall of the structure and could look down into where people were and say Bob, threatened to kill him, and then two little Cambodian boys helped me get back in.  We gave them each a dollar.










We climbed on everything!  And this isn't like when you go places and they've marked off spots that could potentially kill you.  Sometimes I'd step down and the rock would move.  We even had to lie down and squeeze ourselves through one spot.  It was crazy but super fun.  And we were really gross at the end.

After the Temple we drove toward the Floating Village.  We didn't really know a lot about it, and in retrospect I might have skipped it but we had a nice boat ride.  There's a village that has houses built high up on stilts because of when it rains and floods everywhere, because we were there during the dry season we could see more of the stilts parts of the houses and usual.  It's pretty neat.  We had our very own speed boat (which seemed like such a waste when we would have been happy to share.) and road all the way through the village.  You can transfer into smaller boats to ride through the marshy jungle but we didn't really have time.




The Floating Village was very interesting and perhaps had we not had to eventually get back to shower and then get ready for our flight we might have enjoyed it more, but it was nice to have a little peek.

We headed straight back to the hotel to finish packing and shower to get ready for our flight to Phnom Penh.  We had a wonderful lunch and then Mr. Dina recommended a nice place for lunch, and finally we were on our way.

And then we arrived in Phnom Penh....and well, there's not anything uplifting to see in Phnom Penh.  All the tourist attractions are about death and killing, and the city itself is falling apart.  I know we were in Cambodia but it was really not at all what I had expected.  We stayed at Raffels Hotel, which was nice, but it just wasn't as welcoming as the place we had stayed in Siem Reap.  We got some work done and then went looking for food and ended up at a little place in a back alley eating spicy Cambodian food while a couple of guys tried to talk to us.  We were exhausted and didn't really want to talk but we were nice.  We called it a night and the next day we slept in, for the first time in a while, and then called my friend Ryan, who lives in Phnom Penh, who suggested we have lunch at the FCC (Foreign Correspondents Club).  We did enjoy some pretty good food and a nice view of the river and then things went down hill.  Let's start with....Bob and I were wearing the last of our clean clothes and figured we'd be okay because we had rinsed out some clothes that morning and they'd be dry by the next day when we were ready to check out.  Anyway, we left the FCC, and on the way down the stairs, I slipped and fell down the last three steps, don't worry, my butt broke my fall, along with my left hand which hurt a lot.  I scared some poor Asian tourists at the bottom of the stairs.  I'm tough, so we decided to continue wandering around and checking out the area...

Unfortunately it started to rain, and we were on a street that didn't have anywhere for us to go inside and we were soaked completely through.  I made the call to go back to the hotel and we hung out in our pjs for most of the rest of the day.  I had been wearing a pair of green pants that I bought in Siem Reap, and they had bled all over my legs, so my legs were dyed green, it was kind of gross.  Later at night we dried Bob's clothes completely with the hair dryer, and I put on my swimsuit and another pair of pants I bought in Thailand, and met up with my friend Ryan at the Cadillac Bar and Grill.  Yes, that was the name of it, and to be honest it had some really good food.  It was wonderful to see Ryan, he's really enjoying Cambodia and I was excited for Bob and Ryan to meet.  :)  We had a wonderful night!  We were out until late and headed back for bed.

The next day was a long one for us because our flight was at 11:55pm.  I'm not sure what I was thinking exactly, it had made sense in my mind when I originally booked the flight.  We were able to get a late check out from the hotel and checked out at 1:30pm, left our bags with the concierge and went to lunch.  We had lunch along the river again, at a place called Le Croisette, which was a cute little Italian place, it was pretty good.  We played some games on the ipad and then went to the Russian Market where I was able to spend money on more things I don't need.  We spent the rest of the afternoon there and I wandered about and left Bob to enjoy coffee and work on some things at a little coffee shop.  Really what we did all day was be lazy and shop and snack, we're really good at that.  We ended up at the FCC again, mostly so I could thieve some good free internet and enjoy a nice breeze and some drinks on the balcony.  I worked for a while and then we headed back to the hotel for our last 2 hours of waiting.

Finally it was time for the airport, we hopped in a cab and were on our way.  Everything was going great, we boarded the plane, we had a little snack and then I settled in for a nap.  And then something horrible happened, we were suppose to land in Shanghai at 4:30am, but at 3am we were told we had to land in Guangzhou because there was no visibility to land in Shanghai. We sat in the plane on the tarmac for about 6 and a half hours.  Yes, 2 hours longer than our flight was originally going to be.  We got home at 12:30pm and wanted to die.  We managed to stay awake and re-register with the police.  (We have to register every time we enter China.)

And that was the end of our adventure.  We were really happy to finally be home.

Loves and kisses,

Margaret (and Bob)




Saturday, December 4, 2010

Siem Reap! (That's Cambodia)

I didn't want to get out of bed the next morning, but knew that we were in for a day of ruins wandering and picture taking, so I dragged myself out of bed.  We promptly left the hotel at 7:30am.  Mr. Dina had suggested we leave early in the morning to avoid some of the larger tourist groups, and I do think this made a big difference at the beginning of day.  Later in the day it really didn't matter, but we seemed to have the morning ruins mostly to ourselves.  It's $20 USD to get in and see all the ruins in the main area, which is quite a deal considering there are so many.  (On a side note, while Cambodia does have their own currency, they use USD mostly and when they do use their currency it's to represent cents.)  We got our day passes and headed in to see everything we could.

We started off at the South Gate Entrance of the walled area of Wat Thom.  There's a magnificent temple with 56 spires that have four faces, one for each direction, on them.  It's pretty amazing that people carved all those faces and they all look so similar.





After that temple we wandered through the main area of Wat Thom, which is huge, there are small ruins all over the place and then larger more intricate walk ways.  I was really impressed by all the carvings along the walls of some of the walk ways.



After we walked through the giant Wat Thom area, which took us about an hour and a half we went to what the locals call the Tomb Raider 1 Temple.  I guess that the second Tomb Raider movie was filmed here and at a second temple that we will eventually get to (in the next blog post).  The Tomb Raider Temple was mostly neat because of all the giant trees growing all over the place, most of the things were in a more ruiny form than what we'd seen so the detail wasn't as visible, and they're doing a restoration project right now so there's a lot of work going on.




After the Tomb Raider Temple, we went to a smaller temple that was dedicated to women.  It's kind of like a miniature of the other temples and it's a completely different color, kind of a pink red.  I thought this one was nice because all the detailing was more precise.



There was also a little market down the road from the lady's temple and I bought some local currency there that's in great condition.  I'm going to have it framed, yes, I know I'm a weirdo.  But it's really pretty money.  After our market adventure and the lady's temple Mr. Dina suggested a place for lunch and it was delish.  We had a really good yellow curry with shrimp served in a coconut, and a sweet/sour beef salad and a pork dish that was really spicy.  We were thus far quite pleased with Mr. Dina's suggestions and he was taking excellent care of us.  After lunch we headed on to another temple, I'm sorry to say I cannot remember the name of it for the life of me, but Mr. Dina said it was one of the smaller not was well known temples, and it was here that I was scammed by a little Cambodian boy.   There I was telling this nice boy that I did not want to buy anything from him and when I turn to walk into the ruins he grabs my hand and puts a bracelet in it and says, "This is a gift for you."  I try to give the bracelet back, I thank him, I say that's so nice of him to give me a gift but that I really don't need it. He tells me it's a gift and he will not take it back.  I should have just thanked him and walked away, that would teach him not to do this to people in the future, but I buckled and I said, "Okay, I want to buy 1 bracelet like this one."  And he says, "No, you have to buy them as a set."  As in, a set of 5.  Sneaky bastard.  I repetedly tell him I only want one, and he keeps telling me I have to buy the bundle because it's to "help his business, it's good for you good for me."  I bought 5 bracelets for about $1.25USD it wasn't the cost, it was the not wanting the bracelets in the first place that annoyed me.  The kid was a born salesman.



And then, we went to Angkor Wat.  The place we had actually come to see in Cambodia.  Mr. Dina dropped us off behind the temple and we got to walk down this nice road of trees and then suddenly there it was.  With monkeys.






After Angkor Wat we, well I was exhausted and it was so hot.  We were disgusting, but Mr. Dina had one more place to take us.  There's a place on top of a hill top where people like to hike up to it and watch the sun set, it's got a nice 360 degree view, and even though we were gross Bob made me walk to the top.  And then he made me climb to the top of the ruins which had tiny steps.  I thought the Great Wall was perilous, but these were even scarier, check out me walking down the steps:



That's Bob at the bottom of the stairs looking up at me.  The steps were crazy!  We hiked to the top, and were disappointed to discover that there were elephants that we could have ridden to the top.  Damn, we'll have to save that for next time.  We ended up not staying until sunset because we would have had to wait for an hour and we needed a break.  So we headed back to the hotel and took a dip in the pool which was very nice and then Mr. Dina picked us up for dinner later that evening.  We ate at another really cute little place and again had delicious food.



We ate good food, took a nice little rid in the tuk-tuk around town and went to bed thoroughly exhausted and ready to play the next day.

More to come, stay tuned for the last of the trip!


Margaret and Bob









Friday, December 3, 2010

Last Day in Bangkok and off to Siem Reap!

Okay, so our last full day in Bangkok was Thursday, November 25th, aka Thanksgiving!  We got up and had some yummy buffet breakfast and then got a bunch of work done, I know so exciting, but it still has to be done.  We worked all morning and then were getting hungry again, and I need to find some specific things I was looking for, for certain people, wink wink, nudge nudge.  We did some wandering and shopping and then had a really delish lunch down a back alley street.  That's right, we like to walk down back alleys, cause that's how we roll.  We ate lunch at Madame Suan.

That's Bob's feed me face:


Me in front of the the restaurant, in my new hammer pants:


Check out the sexy sandals I'm wearing, I bought them at the floating market and they're super awesome.  And I'd taken to wearing my hammer pants at this time because I'd run out of real clothes to wear.  They're really comfy, I may live in them forever.  So we did some wandering about and shopping for the afternoon and then we had to work some more, sad.  We worked for the afternoon and then decided we should check out the night market that our new friend Jason had told us about, and the plan was to meet up with him.  So we had an adventure on the Thai metro to get to the market....check out the subway token:


The token makes me think of an old game called.....I don't remember but I'll think about it and get back to it later.  We got on the subway and while getting ready to leave the building we decided we were really 13 which is why we took the below picture:


Hehehe, "Bang Sue," hehehe, we would be heading to ....Bang the end of the night.  Yes, we're that ridiculous.  We took this picture for Jay, we know he'll love it.

Okay, enough of the nonsense, we made it to the night market which was nice.  It's so much nicer to walk around and look at things when it's cooler outside.  The market is pretty impressive and there's a gigantic food court area to the side of it, that shares all kinds of awesome food.  We looked at about a million different stalls, poor Bob was very patient.  And then we found the most amazing thing ever!  We found a Fish Massage place!  There are these little fish called Doctor Fish that eat dead skin off of you, so we got a 15 minute Fish Foot Massage.




It was pretty rad.  After our fish massage we met up with Jason and went to dinner.  We were going to check out a place that Jason's wife had suggested but it was closed :( so we walked up another alley!  As we were sitting there I asked Jason if we were in the "Gay" Area of the city, and it dawned on him that there was indeed a "Gay" street in that area but he'd never been to it, and then as he looked around, and we all looked around all the tables were of couple's of men sitting together.  Hehehe, it was awesome.  And after...we ping pong show.  Yes, that's right, we celebrated Thanksgiving by going to a Ping Pong Show!  We walked into a place just right off the main street and low and behold there were girl's doing things with ping pong balls that I've never seen before.  It was like watching a wreck, we couldn't look away.  I will share details with anyone who contacts me, otherwise it's probably not for everyone.  I'll just say that we washed ourselves very well at the end of the night.  We had a great Thanksgiving.

The next day we got all our stuff together and had to head to the airport.  We ran into an interesting situation on the way, when we realized that we were short what we would need to pay the cab driver.  Luckily Bob convinced him to take RMB from us, whew, that was scary.  Anyway, we made our flight and we were on our way to Cambodia!

So another funny story.  When I booked our flight original it went like this (all direct flights) Shanghai to Bangkok to Phnom Penh to Shanghai.  I had looked at a map and thought that Siem Reap was much closer to Phnom Penh than it actually is, so I ended up booking a completely different round trip flight from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and back, the only problem was that we had 1 hour to deplane in Phnom Penh, go through immigration, and get visas and then go back through security to get on our domestic flight.  We did it!  And we had time to have a coffee.  That's right, we are rockstars.

We made it to Siem Reap, and our cab driver was awesome!  Mr. Dina, as we were told to call him offered to drive us all over to all the ruins for $25USD a day.  Yes, you read that right, we had a personal driver for $25 a day.  It was rad.  He dropped us off at Le Meridien in Siem Reap, that's right, we stayed in style and then picked us up later and recommended a place to eat.  It was great, we got to watch live Thai dancing.  He drove us around in a tuk-tuk at night and showed us a bunch of different local areas.  We agreed that Mr. Dina would pick us up at 7:30am, so we didn't stay out all night.

Our awesome hotel room, there was a window into the bathroom:


The restaurant:


Angkor Beer, that's right, Cambodia has a beer:




The outside of our hotel, awesome:



Stay tuned  for even more excitement about Angkor Wat, and all the fun ruins.  Wait for it, wait for it!

Loves and kisses,