Archive for April, 2013

Chiang Mai Tuesday!

April 30, 2013

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope you are well. Today was really awesome. 20130430_122719I worked and had a great meeting in the morning. After the meeting, I went to hang out with some tigers! That was pretty interesting and cool. They are enormous. After the tigers, we went to an orchid and butterfly farm.

I say “we” because the taxi driver had his daughter with him, and I hung out with her for an hour in the orchid farm. Gai is her name and she’s six. We didn’t speak a word of the same language, but definitely became friends. We ran around the orchid farm and chased each other around for about an hour. We also took a lot of pictures. I thought she was super cute taking pictures of all the orchids with her phone.

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She showed me some other pictures she had taken in the past. We also took a few self shots together, some goofy ones and some serious ones. In the car ride back she sat with me in the back seat and we played more. It was pretty sad to leave them and we hugged goodbye.

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In the later afternoon, I hung out at the pool and swam and ate lunch and read a magazine. I was doing a treading water thing with no hands (just honing my survival skills) and a guy who was sitting on some foam tubes told me that he would drown if he tried that. So that sparked a conversation. This guy is Mark and he is from Australia. Probably in his 50s.

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He was with a woman (his “Misses”) and they are thinking of retiring and moving to Chiang Mai. We had a great conversation about the housing market here – this is something I could talk about with some confidence because i’m doing research on just that.

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And then we talked about other travel related things, and the conversation was going great until he told me that he liked watching me by the pool and some other things about my body. He said “i’m a bit of a perv, I can’t help it”. I was like, yeah, okay. And I was a little creeped out and got out of the pool.

20130430_211156After that, I had a work out and then took a walk to dinner. I ate at a place Riverside Cafe. They had an outside balcony area over the Ping River and it was really crowded, but in a good way. I got a fried fish with chili and basil sauce. It took a long time but was very delicious and crispy. I walked back to the hotel and got a massage on the way back that cost me about 7 dollars and fourteen cents (including a generous tip). Tomorrow I’m going to do some work and then take a long walk to a trendy district of the city.

Love, Annie

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Hi Chiang Mai!

April 29, 2013

Dear Family and Friends,

I’ve arrived Safely in Chiang Mai and it’s awesome.

20130428_210959Yesterday, I ate Thai food for brunch, drove to Bangkok International (sat in traffic for a while), and took the flight to Chiang Mai. Even though it was just an hour in length, the flight was Huge, tons of people heading to Chiang Mai. Waiting in line to board, I met a woman and a man from Boston. Coincidentally, the woman works at Tufts University and recognized my face from my old job! We worked in the same building. Weird! 20130428_211952We chatted a bit on the plane ride and it was really fun. Bubbie is right, always behave because you never know who you’re going to run in to.

I arrived in Chiang Mai and the drive from the airport to the hotel was short. The hotel is fabulous. For dinner, I went to the Sunday Market because that’s what the hotel receptionists suggested. It’s bigger and better than the normal night market, apparently. The market experience was totally overwhelming in the best way. I bargained for and purchased a few gifts, and then went to get dinner. 20130428_213446 (1)I saw some amazing things to eat and settled on pad thai in a temple courtyard with a ton of other people. Great food, great atmosphere.

This morning, I had two meetings and then went to the hotel pool. It’s a really nice pool, and enormous. When I got there, they handed me a towel “would you like to sit in the sun or the shade?” I chose a bed/ chair thing that was both sunny and shady.

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Then I jumped in the pool. It’s 2.5 meters deep at one end. When I got out, a pitcher of ice lemon water was waiting for me with some cut up fruit. Hooray! I also ate some spicy papaya salad with a whole softshell crab in it (like, it was not cut up into pieces). So I just ate the crab bite by bite and it was pretty good but kind of weird to eat as I’m not used to eating whole animals.

After swimming, I went for a workout. After the workout, I worked a little more and then went to dinner at a Thai and Indian restaurant called Whole Earth. 20130429_204744It specializes in vegetarian, indian, and thai food. I ate the masaman chicken curry, a specialty. Yum, I kind of want to go back there again. After dinner I walked around the regular night market (which was, indeed, less impressive than the Sunday market). Sometimes things on survey are so good that it makes me really sad I don’t have anyone to share them with. Tonight I felt that way. Tomorrow is another working day and I’m excited for it.

Love, Annie

Bye Pattaya!

April 27, 2013

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope you are doing well! Today was a great day, and tomorrow I head to Chiang Mai. This city has definitely grown on me, but I’m still excited to head out.

20130426_163841One of the things that has been really cool about Pattaya is how easy it is to get places. If you want to go somewhere within the city or the nearby suburbs, you can just jump on a pickup-truck bus (a “local taxi”) and push a buzzer and get off when you want. It costs either 10 or 20 THB, which is less than a dollar. One dollar = approximately 28 Baht. Other things that are cool about Pattaya are the super nice people and massages.

Yesterday I worked all day, and in the evening, went to a very interesting show, during which a woman smoked a cigarette, but not with her mouth.

20130426_233102Today, I was a little lazier because I could be. I got out of bed late, worked for the rest of the morning, and then went to lunch. I had Indian food and it was better than expected. After lunch and a little more work, I went to get a Thai style massage. It was Awesome.

I slept on my neck funny last night so I couldn’t move it to the left. After the massage, I had more mobility. I thought of my mom during the massage because she would have loved it. The masseuse, her name was Eat, walked on my back. We used to walk on my mom’s back when we were little! Probably not as well though. Also, for a little lotion they use a combination of Tiger balm and lotion. Feels awesome.

20130426_233848After the massage, some more work. I had to find the Shell station to get some prices there but it was not where I thought it would be. So I asked some taxi drivers. I told this guy “Shell” and I didn’t think he understood me (he did, he just pronounced it differently). So I drew the logo for the station and he was like “yeah, i know!” and he and his friend laughed at me. They were like, why do you want to go there, you don’t have a car!

The station was a little further away from the main part of town but when I was finished there I walked back because it was cooling down outside. On the way I passed a cool ceramics shop and then a store advertised as “The Biggest Jewelry Shop In The World” so obviously I had to go in and check it out. It was very big and had a lot of nice things in it. I’m not sure if it was the biggest one in the world, though. 

20130426_120031Then I got some bubble milk tea and went back to get another massage. With a generous tip, each massage only came out to 11 dollars each so why not. I’m now a little sore from the massages.

Then I had my fourth and last dinner at Benihanna (don’t judge…) Tonight I got soba noodles soup. For desert I had mochi and ice cream, green tea flavor for both. I love how when you eat mochi it kind expands and fills your whole mouth with deliciousness. The best mochi experience I had ever was in Shenzhen – it was a mochi filled with durian ball. Im pretty sure I wrote about it. The guys at Benihanna were sad to see me go, and we chatted for a little before I left. 

After learning a few Thai phrases from the ladies at the front desk of the hotel, I’m back in my room and looking forward to watching Shark Tank before bed. See you from Chiang Mai! 

Love, Annie

 

Thursday in Pattaya

April 25, 2013

Dear Family and Friends,

Today was a productive day in Pattaya. I worked all day, and then worked out in the late afternoon.

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When I visited the gym yesterday, I didn’t see all the cardio machines so I thought there were no treadmills. But turns out there are some sweet treadmills so that was a nice surprise. Wahoo! Yesterday this doggy looked up at me with lovey eyes. I didn’t touch him even though I really wanted to give him a hug.

After all that I went to dinner at a Japanese restaurant in the mall attached to my hotel. I know, it’s a boring thing to do for dinner, but it’s easy and air conditioned.

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I ended up sitting next to this guy Arturo because we were both alone so the hosts put us together. Arturo is from Mexico and lives in Shanghai. He works for GM and travels a whole lot too. It was nice to have company and interesting conversation although I wasn’t really in the mood to chat with anyone I didn’t know.

Now I’m back in my room and very happy. I had another nice video chat and feel warm and not lonely at all. Tomorrow I’ll get up early for a meeting.

Love, Annie

Hi Pattaya!

April 24, 2013

Dear Family and Friends, 

I finished up work this morning in Bangkok and in the afternoon took a taxi to Pattaya. 20130423_101733This first picture is of my breakfast yesterday. 

It took two and a half hours to get here. We were stuck in traffic for a while. On the way I was able to see some pretty green landscape and a lot of trucks and cargo boxes. The hotel in Pattaya is nice and the air conditioning in the room is outstanding. The rest of the city is interesting. 20130424_193102I walked around a bit in the evening around “Walking Street” which is known for sex tourism. I plan to go back there later in the night one night and will report more on it then. The second picture is of some boxing I encountered during my walk. These guys were kicking the shit out of each other. Tomorrow will be another working day, and I’m excited for it.  

Love, Annie

Tuesday in Bangkok

April 23, 2013

Dear Family and Friends,

Hope you are well. Sorry there are no pictures today, they are not loading.

Today was a pretty uneventful day. I felt kind of blah all day. I woke up early and worked. Breakfast was spicy chicken and noodles soup with lots of Thai basil. After work, in the afternoon, I went to the pool. My work out clothes were in the laundry but my swimsuit was not! There was a couple swimming and they were being very kissy. That was a little annoying because it made me a little jealous. The pool wasn’t very good for laps but it was pretty big, and I played in the water until my fingers became prunes.

After that, I headed by sky train to my favorite store Muji. Muji is a Japanese store kind of like the Container Store and J Crew combined but way more awesome than that. They have great pens there and other things. There are many locations around Asia and I first encountered the store during my previous trips. There isn’t a store in Boston, or anywhere else on this trip aside from the Hong Kong airport, so I wanted to stock up.

For dinner I had thai food at a nearby restaurant. I think the street food is more delicious than the restaurant food. Tomorrow I’ll finish work here and head to Pattaya in the evening.

Love, Annie

Monday in Bangkok

April 22, 2013

Dear Family and Friends,

Today was a productive working day. I woke up early, had two meetings, and collected a bunch of prices. 20130422_114233For lunch, I ate some lettuce wraps from a stand on the street and a sour mango with spices on it. Both dishes were very tasty. I had a sweaty workout at the gym and then went out for dinner with some of the people I went out with the other day. We went to a Thai restaurant near my hotel. There were four of us at the table, all from different countries: Greece, Hungary, Italy, and USA. That was pretty cool. My favorite dish of the meal was a fried fish dish in a spicy sauce. Hope you have a happy Monday 🙂 Tomorrow I’ll work some more.

Love, Annie

Hello Bangkok!

April 21, 2013

Hi Family and Friends,

I hope everyone is safe and happy. I’ve had an awesome first couple of days in Bangkok.

20130420_121807Those who know me well know that I have a problem with spilling wine, and the plane ride from Narita  was no exception. I got some red wine to drink and had about two sips and then dozed off. Then I had a nightmare in which I reacted to something (I forget what it was about) and woke up, kicking tray table with the wine on it, spilling some on myself and one or two splashes on the guy next to me.

20130420_121438This guy’s name was Irvin, and was pretty cool about the wine situation. It was just a few drops I swear. We had a laugh about it especially after I started cracking up because I thought how funny will this be when I tell my parents I spilled more wine?

Irvin told me that when he meets people, he tells them his name is Jamal because he thinks it’s funny when people react like “oh, figures” because he’s black.

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He was taking his brother on vacation, they just came from a few days in Hawaii. Awesome. I slept in a little on Saturday. It was a recovery day, so I used it to do some sightseeing and headed by taxi to the old town area where there are some Wats.

First, though, it was time for some food. I wandered around and found a cool market that smelled Incredible, of chili peppers and ginger.

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That first picture is buckets of ginger. I got some iced coffee at a stand and it tasted like coffee ice cream. It was delicious. I normally don’t sweeten my coffee at all so it was a real treat. The search for food continued until I found a great little stand on the side of the road. I had chicken and vegetables and rice. Uncomplicated, spicy, and delicious.

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After eating I took a very inexpensive tuktuk ride all over the city to see a bunch of stuff. I tipped heavily and still a three hour journey cost under three dollars.

On the way the driver took me to a tailor and a jewelry store. I realized that he gets a fee for just taking people to the stores. I didn’t care because I can take five minutes and look at pretty silks and gemstones if it helps him out.

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I didn’t even feel pressure to buy anything. Just as I arrived at one of the temples, a ceremony started. A monk was praying with some flowers, and then all of a sudden, the monk began throwing money and little flowers made from ribbons to the people watching the ceremony. It was pretty crazy. People were trying to pick up as many flowers and money as possible.

20130420_140436I didn’t pick anything up because I didn’t think that was appropriate for me to pick them up as I didn’t know what the whole thing was about, but then some people walked over and handed me these flowers made of ribbons and told me to keep them in my purse. I did.

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In the afternoon, I snacked on some papaya salad and then had a nice work out. The gym has some really cool treadmills that have programs where you can run through places all over the world. I ran through some parks in New Zealand.

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In the evening, I went out with a former colleague of mine who worked at my company in our Brussels office (I never met him before) and now lives in Bangkok! We went out to dinner, drank some beer, and he showed me around some of the cool streets in. Then we met up with some of his friends. It was a fun night.

20130421_144852After I got back, I had a wonderful time google hangout-ing with a friend. I’m new to google hangout and I really like it. Today I woke up really late and worked for a few hours. To get to the mall, I took the sky train, which was great.

20130421_165222For lunch I got a smoothie. In it were a bunch of berries, some I had never heard of before. On the walk back to the hotel, I came across a Bangkok earthday fest. I got a sample of some chocolate soy milk that was quite delicious and walked around the park.

In the evening, I got a massage. It was pretty awesome. I also got a hot oil head thing where they drip hot oil on your head for 20 minutes. It’s supposed to be good for your hair. They use coconut oil. Even though I showered I still smell like coconut oil but I like it. I ate some pad thai on the street, and now I’m ready for bed.

Love, Annie

Hi from NRT!

April 19, 2013

Hi Family and Friends,

I’m back on survey again, currently hanging out at the airport in Tokyo. Only three more hours to go before the flight to Bangkok. In a bit I’m going to find some noodles to eat. They have nice and fast fee wireless here. The 11 hour flight from San Francisco didn’t have personal TVs … grrr.

Sailing

It was an old 747. Hopefully the flight back home will be on a more modern plane. I shouldn’t complain too much, though, because I got to stretch out across three seats and sleep (kind of).

This trip is to Thailand, Myanmar, and Vietnam. The specific cities are  Bangkok, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Yangon, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Vung Tau.

I’ve had a awesome in-between-trips time. The first picture is from sailing on the Charles River with a friend a few weeks ago. We did some very informal racing which was exciting and not too intense. I had never been in a sailboat race before! The boat was small-ish, only 19 feet, and it was pretty windy. 20130413_185048I thought we were going to go swimming a few times in the Charles (we did not).

I also went on a great “spooky” walking tour of Boston. It took place in the north end. The second picture is of that tour. That’s me and and friends Alex and Suzanne. We learned about the questionable activities that happened on Ann Street, the Molasses incident, and Goody Glover (and more things, of course). We had a few drinks before the tour, and it was all around great fun.

I hope that everyone in Boston is safe. I just learned there were just some more violent incidents. Also, Bubbia, I hope you are feeling better, I love you very much!

Annie