Saturday, September 29, 2012

Howdy y'all

It is good to set foot on Texas soil again.  I lucked out with an empty seat next to me on the plane ride home, which means everything on a fifteen hour flight.  Definitely getting a travel routine down for those long trips.  I still can't put into words all of my emotions about being back…it feels as if we never left, though I know we have missed so many little details in everyones lives that are too hard to explain (and vice versa).  And checking into a hotel a half mile away from your old apartment will take some getting used to.  Gathering my suitcases and seeing my sister standing there for the first time in three months gave me butterflies!  And there we were, back to our old goofy selves like nothing had changed.  
The life of a traveler…multiple currencies, passport stamps, and views from the window.  What a beautiful spring morning in Sydney on my way out!
What a special greeting…my favorite Ft. Worth cookies from my sister upon arrival, Tiff's treats warm cookies waiting for us in the hotel room from a  friend, and a precious koala picture colored by my sweet boys!
We didn't waste much time before diving into some margaritas and chips and queso over a dinner with loved ones.

Looking forward to the many things planned in the week ahead!  Meanwhile, back in Aussie Land, Teddy remains in quarantine.  The poor puppa only has ten days left…woohoo!!  The worst is behind us.  We will be picking him up on our anniversary, the day after we get back from Dallas.  We are beyond excited thinking about having him with us so very soon in a new place.  He is still getting the royal treatment with our dog walking and companion service visiting every other day.  We have gotten a kick out of the pictures they send after every visit.  It seems that with each day, he is enjoying himself a little bit more. 
Exhibit A:
The most pitiful and scared puppy I have ever seen.  So sad.  When we got this picture, I think you could say that we felt officially horrible for putting him through the move.
Can you tell that we are progressing?  It is nice to see Teddy running and being playful again.  

Maybe we aren't such terrible puppy parents after all?  Im sure he has forgotten about us by now..enjoying his concrete floor over the down comforter and open air breeze over the air conditioning.  I love when you can tell that dogs are actually smiling and happy in pictures.  They have feelings, ok?! 

All for now!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Travelog: Phuket, Thailand - Phuket Paradise

After getting the most out of city life in Singapore, it was time to head to the beach and soak up island life.  And that we did.  To make the most of our nine days in Phuket, we hopped around the island to three different resorts, each offering us different beaches and activities to do in that particular area.  While it was a little exhausting packing up every few days (and with bags getting heavier from collecting goods), we enjoyed how each part of the island is unique.  Including Singapore, we stayed at six places in total! Wow, that's gotta be a record.

Phuket was one of the most exotic and beautiful places I have ever been.  What a wonderful way to celebrate two years of wedded bliss hard earned work together! Haha only kidding…ok, maybe not.  I just always got a kick out of the married veterans who "lectured" R and I about tying the knot.  "You two are so young...its going to be hard work!'s not always going to be the "honeymoon phase".  Blah blah blah.  Not saying they weren't supportive of us, as it was everything but that.  But, they were right after all.  Being married is hard work, but who ever said that hard work couldn't be wildly fun, madly entertaining, and downright satisfying?!  And, it certainly helps spending your days on a tropical island sipping mojitos.

Take a look at how we spent our time on the island…
Hotel hopping
 First stop, private two story villa tucked away in the trees.  You sure can get a lot for your money here! A nice change from Sydney.
Second stop, simple hotel room overlooking the Andaman sea on the edge of the main tourist beach.
Third and final, villa situated in the hilltops on the most secluded part of the island.
Enjoying the variety of pools haha..happy hours and napping in lounge chairs are the best.
 Late night dinner after our flight landed.  So much food!
 Kata beach. Our favorite spot of the trip.
Beach food!  Oversized Singah beer served in giant koozies and fruity drinks served in fresh coconuts. And don't forget the fresh grilled corn, R's favorite!
 Always a great treat to watch the sun set over the water after a long day at the beach.
 Sunset view from our room.  Good excuse to order room service on the patio!
Traditional thai cuisine.  Detoxing off noodles and mango sticky rice for a while now. It sure was delicious though!
 Our ride of choice, a "tuk tuk" as they call it.  Cheaper than a taxi and way more fun!  They all have colored lights and gaudy stereo systems, pumping out Katy Perry and Flo Rida tunes.  The rest of transportation is made up of mainly motorbikes.  Don't worry, we saw up to three children and an infant piled onto one while others are converted into moving restaurants hanging off the side, complete with a stove top and shelving for food.  It is quite creative and intriguing to see one blow past you!
One of the activities I was most looking forward to…an elephant trek through the rainforest! I will say, I felt a little guilty about "riding" this precious animal and was worried that they treated them poorly like circus animals.  Luckily, I was wrong.  The elephants were in a natural habitat with acres and acres to roam the lush property.  

The "keepers" live in shacks on the property and it is amazing to see the bond between the two, man and elephant.  Not only was it a new experience resting my feet on their rough skin, but they were roaming freely without fences to block us from one other.  Very cool, but don't you know I kept my distance when their trunks got a little too close!
The ride didn't disappoint!  What's next, a camel maybe?!
The cheesy self pics along the way...
At the top of my list was this day, a boat trip to the nearby Phi Phi Islands.  Some of you may now know it as the beach where Leonardo DiCaprio spent his time in the movie, The Beach.  Do you see the narrow stairs up the rocks in the top right picture?  R and I snorkeled off the boat and climbed up these steps to set foot on the uninhabited island.  Unfortunately, we couldn't bring our camera along. I think the memories in our head will last us forever, though.  As we were walking to the other side where the beautiful bay is, rain started to pour down in typical Thailand fashion.  While most tourists took cover under the trees, we took it as an opportunity to enjoy the beach all to ourselves!  Well, not all to ourselves, but you get the idea!
Our first dive trip since getting certified!  As my diving instructor and R say, I am what they call a "princess diver".  I enjoy being under the water, but not so much the prepping and heavy equipment stuff.  So, I thought I would like the ease of just strapping my equipment on and jumping off the boat…but one small problem.  This has never happened to me, but I got sea sick on our two hour ride out to the dive site.  No fun!  Don't worry, after a couple of dramamine pills and such, I was ready to roll.  The water was especially rough that day, though, so I hope this doesn't become a recurring theme.  
And off we go!  
Finding nemo..and a school of fish..and an eel!  No touching, R.
Some of the wonderful marine life we came across.
Our first time exploring a ship wreck.  The toilet was a nice touch.  There were about ten clown fish surrounding this space.  
Celebrating our last night in Thailand with royal thai cuisine by candlelight and a calming sunset.  So romantic.

I will say, we were excited about getting back to Sydney before our time in Dallas.  Well, that didn't last long.  R is already back up in the air after a 30 hour jet lagged whirlwind.  He should be halfway to Dallas now..and I will be joining him in a couple of days!  I am trying to enjoy these days alone to catch up.  In fact, I just had a yummy Greek dinner with friends! Feels good to be back in the city. 

We are both looking forward to our "old life" with family and friends..and will do our best to see everyone!!  We sure do have a busy week ahead!  It could be worse :) 


Friday, September 14, 2012

Travelog: Singapore - Singapore Snapshot

Our time in Singapore has come to an end.  Per usual, we are wasting time at the airport waiting to board the hour and a half flight to Phuket…over two hours early!!!  That would be my OCD husbands doing.  Currently, he has left me with the bags and is pacing the airport trying to find out if our flight is indeed delayed another fifty minutes like the screen shows.  Gotta love him!

Our adventures in a snapshot…
 Public transport is no fun with two huge suitcases..we learned our lesson.
Lucked out with extra leg room…economy class perks hehe.
Chinatown madness!
Everything from dried mushrooms to shoe repair to fish spas all in one place! Appetizing?!

Have you ever seen this?! Our friends in Sydney told us that we should try this foot fish spa thing where you dip your feet in a tank and the "doctor fish" nibble and feed off of the dead skin... and needless to say we were skeptical.  Can you tell that I was a little a lot freaked out?!  Such a weird feeling!  After doing more research, looks like these "spas"can be dangerous and 14 states in U.S. have banned them.  Glad we didn't find out until afterwards!  O well, it was quite an experience and had R and I laughing hysterically.
 The colorful Clarke Quay along Singapore River.
 Jurong bird park.  
Best penguin exhibit I have ever seen. We caught them right at feeding time, which was fun to see.  
 Wouldn't be complete without some bridge pics..
The world famous Raffles Hotel. 
Lavish grounds and home to the Long Bar, where the Singapore Sling was invented.  Of course, we had to test out this sweet concoction. Also, stories suggest that this was the place where the sole surviving wild tiger in SG was shot and made extinct.
Little India.  
Patterns, fabrics, scents, and spices.  We toured a Hindu temple, Sri Veeramakaliamman, as well. 
Arab street Market.
Walked away with a handmade rug.  I proved myself as the ultimate bargainer on this is kinda fun that they underestimate little old me.  My parents taught me well as a young girl on the beaches of Mexico I guess lol.  R was impressed.  Once again, such a trooper.  Now, the rug is all folded up into the blue and pink package seen in the photo on right and R has to carry it along our journey.  Hey, it's worth saving a few $$ on shipping fees!
Sentosa Island.  
A small resort island only a quarter of a mile away from SG.  A place that R remembers visiting as a child.  Lots of attractions, resorts, and restaurants.  We enjoyed the luge ride, which took us up a gondola and then down on a part go-cart, part toboggan.  
 We spent a night on the island and enjoyed the pool, peacocks, and an authentic Hainanese chicken rice dish.  
 Sentosa even had a Universal Studios!  
It was fun to spend a day walking through New York, Egypt, Jurassic Park, and the land of Far Far Away.  
Night safari!
I wasn't able to take pictures along the trail, but you can imagine..
Such a unique way to see the nocturnal animals in open habitats.   

That about sums up our time here.  A great first introduction to Asia for me.  Looking forward to the next..


p.s. keep reading on to the newest post to explore our time in Phuket!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Travelog: Singapore - Double Date With Will and Kate

Ok, I lied.  The title really should be "Chasing Will and Kate like crazy paparazzi while they remain poised and classy not caring about the 'commoner folk' sweating like pigs on the side".  Not that they were rude, but due to the nature of the site, it was disrespectful to greet their fans (us) in a celebrity fashion.

Y'all, they were lovely.  You could just feel the excitement and royalty in the air!  Very hot and humid air I might add…and Kate can keep her hair so perfect while the rest of us look a hot mess.  R and I started our day very early to make the sighting happen…an hour train ride to Kranji War Memorial on the North side of the island to be exact.  As we were walking up, they were closing the gates to start the ceremony.  Naturally, we both looked at each other panicked and ran like obsessive crazy people just in time!  (We were the last ones in haha).  With our late arrival and all, we thought that there would be too many rows of people in front of us that we wouldn't stand a chance at a sighting.  Luckily, that wasn't the case.

We ended up with good spots behind a few rows of people, which gave us plenty of room to run back and forth as they made their way down the memorial.  At one point, only four rows of people between Kate and I.  R was amazing and such a trooper!!  With his tall viewpoint (even more so since we are in Asia) and competitive spirit, he made for the perfect picture taker!  Enjoy a few snapshots that he captured…
 First glimpses walking up the memorial.  See the crowd and our open territory.
 First face: "OMG, they are right behind us!"
Second face: "O hey, made it in the same frame as Kate (see her white umbrella in the distance)."
Third face: "What a whirlwind..sweaty and shaky."
Chatting with local dignitaries and then wandering the rows of graves as we intensely look on.
 My personal photographer! Towering above the other fans...
The Kranji Memorial situated on a hill overlooking the city.  
The wreath was laid by the royal couple on behalf of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip.

Such a great morning and one we will never forget!  Just had to share…more on Singapore tomorrow!


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Travelog: Singapore - Walk Down Memory Lane

Another dream of mine has been fulfilled….getting to see where my husband was raised through elementary school.  Singapore is the place that R moved to halfway through our kindergarten year with Ms. Smedley.  It wouldn't be until five years later that our worlds would re-collide in Texas..and well, the rest is history I guess.

We were warned that R might not recognize the city he grew up to love, as Singapore is ever changing and westernizing.  Wow, was that an understatement. High rises upon buildings upon shopping malls…being torn down for new.  Luckily, there were a few important places that he definitely remembered.

Lets take a walk down memory lane, shall we?!
 First place of residence, a high rise condo.  Equipped with guards, lush gardens, and pool area. 
 Lets not get started with the guards.  First, they thought we were weird for wanting to see the place..then, they wouldn't let us roam the property without an escort..and get ready, kicked us out when they realized I was snapping a few pics inside the courtyard!  They insisted I delete every picture I took on the property in front of her to witness.  Instead, (knowing how precious pictures are to me) I grabbed R and we briskly walked out!  Not gonna lie and say we didn't peek over our shoulders for the next half mile making sure no one was following us.  More on strict government laws later...
 The beloved Singapore American School where R attended K thru 4th grade.  The way school should be…a higher standard of excellence and pride in education.  Since security is so tight (see top left pic), we made sure to call ahead and warn the guards of our arrival.  After going through three security checkpoints, we were greeted by the alumni and admissions team as if we were celebrities!  It was a wonderful experience.  And the joy on R's face as we walked down the open air hallways with children in uniform passing by…through the cafeteria with the same chef, Mr. Ho, cooking up authentic dishes… and to the baseball fields where most of his fondest memories were spent.    
 Second place of residency, within walking distance from SAS.  Across the street, we braved our way through the hawker stalls (aka food court, but all authentic asian dishes).  The only thing we could find recognizable was chicken fried rice if that tells you anything.  Definitely a great (and cheap) experience!  
Final stop of the day, The American Club.  They have it all…from bowling to swimming to handball to gambling to nice restaurants.  R remembers going to the club every Friday night after school to swim and eat pizza while the moms "chatted" poolside.  He had to make sure the pizza was just as good still….I think the nostalgia won him over.  

The couple we are staying with for a few nights here were gracious enough to show us around the club, as it is strictly members only.  They are family friends from SAS and over the years R's mom has kept in touch with them.  We were sure lucky to have them around!  And they were such gracious hosts.  As they say, they are still on their two year international assignment….twenty years later!!  

A few days left in Singapore before we head to Thailand, so I will be sure to share more pictures of our adventures through Little India, Chinatown, etc.  Our dear friends, Will and Kate, are stopping by for a visit on their Jubilee tour today and tomorrow!!  I hope we can catch a glimpse of them in the gardens tomorrow.  Well, all for now!