29 December 2009

T&T visit

We are spending the Christmas season with Ed's family in Trinidad. The last time Ed spent Christmas here, he was still a teenager. Of course, the main focus is to spend time with his immediate and extended family. The next thing on the list is to eat as much local food as we can. Authentic Trini food is hard to find in Vancouver.

The weather is very warm but there is a nice breeze that makes the heat tolerable. Air conditioning is everywhere and that helps, too. Our first few days here, we hung out with family. This week, we started doing touristy things. Last Monday, we went on a tour of Caroni swamp and saw the scarlet ibis, blue heron, osprey, a crocodile, and other interesting creatures. We've visited two shopping malls so far. We also spent a day at Pigeon Point, a beach in Tobago which is a 20 min plane ride from Trinidad. Tomorrow, we're going to Maracas, a popular beach in Trinidad.

It's been a relaxing trip and our weight gain is proof enough! The days are going by so quickly, though. I'm not really looking forward to being back in cold weather again.

26 November 2009

This time last year...

...we were in Pergamon, Turkey. Ed and Julie was befriending the local animals. :)

The animals loved Ed

Julie and the donkey

12 November 2009

Little lady

I visited a refinery yesterday, to interview users of the system we are hoping to replace. These users work at the docks, inspecting cargoes being loaded or discharged to and from the refinery. They've been doing this job for over 30 years. As we were leaving, I shook hands with one of the men. With his Texan drawl, he said, "So long, little lady." Hahaha. So politically incorrect but I thought it was charming!

2 November 2009

Baby pics

My aunt, who is visiting from TO, dug up some pictures of me and my siblings when we were children. I have to say, I was a cute kid! :)

This is me at 11 months old with my mom and brother:
Mama, me, and my bro

I was celebrating my 3rd birthday. My birthday cake always had to have Christmas trees on it.
Happy 3rd birthday!

I was 4 years old, with my siblings and mom:
Me with my mom and siblings

28 October 2009

Pig Tail Gallery?

A Flickr user just added a photo of me and my pig tails to Peter's Pig Tail Gallery. Weird!

Tired of pony tails

17 October 2009

Surf ski clinic

On Oct 11, I went to beautiful Deep Cove in North Vancouver to participate in a surf ski clinic. The air was chilly (we need wet suits to keep us from freezing) but the sun was shining. It was a fantastic day to be out on the water and learn how to paddle in a surf ski.

It was my first time on a surf ski and I was nervous about flipping the boat and falling in the water. The water is cold and it is a very tippy boat. I picked a surf ski for beginners, which means it is relatively more stable. I learned how to get in the boat and how to get out. My balance was very shaky at first, mainly because I was so tense. The instructor told me to not be so stiff. It’s tricky because I had to keep my core very steady to balance myself but stay relaxed at the same time. He also made me rock the boat from side to side to show me that even if the boat goes on its side a little bit, it’s easy to correct it and recover. At first I was barely moving the boat side to side and he was like “Come on, you can do better than that!”. So I took a deep breath and forced my tense shoulders to relax. I figured that the worse thing that can happen is I fall in the water and I get wet. I have a wet suit on so I won’t freeze anyway. So, whatever, I told myself. Just move those hips, Liezel! And he was right. When the boat rolls to the side, there is a point where the boat settles and stops rolling. The boat is like 45deg with the water but if I just keep my shoulders parallel with the water, the boat doesn’t flip over. But I can only keep my shoulders parallel with the water and my hips 45deg with the water if I am relaxed!

The paddling stroke is exactly like what I learned in my kayak lessons a couple of years ago and it was good to have a refresher. I haven’t really practiced paddling in a kayak and I found that I have forgotten a lot of things about the stroke. I paddled round and round near the dock in Deep Cove and gradually felt more and more comfortable. We also learned how to get back into the boat in the event that we do fall in. With that knowlegde and feeling more confident about my balance, my circles got bigger and farther away from shore as the morning went by. It was so much fun! Definitely have to take a surf ski out again but I’ll wait until spring when it’s warmer. I’m so glad I signed up for the clinic. Paddling in Deep Cove is such a wonderful way to spend a morning.

(Thanks to Adrienne for the photo.)

13 October 2009

Dubrovnik sunset

Dubrovnik Old Town and sunset

I was in a moving bus and after a lot of blurry shots, I captured a good one. This is sunset in Dubrovnik. Sigh, wish I were still there...

Our Croatia pictures are now in our Flickr site. I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I enjoyed taking them.

5 October 2009

Vancouver sunset

I went OC6 paddling tonight and the sunset was spectacular. It looked like the sky was on fire. On nights like this, I feel so lucky to be living in Vancouver. Well, I always feel lucky to be living in Vancouver, but especially on nights like tonight.

Too bad I didn’t have my camera but it looked like this.

30 September 2009

Czech Republic photos uploaded

I love taking photographs. It's something I really enjoy. The result is I end up with LOTS of photos that need to be sorted and organized before I can upload them for sharing with others. I'm happy to report that I have uploaded our Czech Republic photos. Whew! The pictures are organized by location and I hope you'll enjoy viewing them.

One country down, three more to go.

Flickr link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/liezel/collections/72157622326115549/

29 September 2009

Philippine tragedy

Last weekend, a typhoon dumped a lot of rain on Manila and caused major flooding. Hundreds of thousands of people have been affected and so far, over 200 people have died. The photos of people struggling in the flood waters are heartbreaking. My sister Leslie lives in Manila and thankfully, they live in an area not affected by the flood.

I donated to the Red Cross right away, feeling like that was really the only thing I could do from where I am. I phoned my other sister who lives in Richmond, BC and asked her if she had donated. She said no because the last time there was a calamity in the Philippines, it was revealed later on that a lot of the donations from overseas were pocketed by corrupt government officials and never reached the people who really needed the help. How anybody can stomach doing such a thing is beyond me. I am now hoping that my donation will actually make a difference, reach the people they are meant for, and not end up in someone’s Swiss bank account.

Which is the bigger tragedy - that thousands of people have lost their homes or that the trust we have in our own brethren has been lost?

20 September 2009

The good, the bad, and the ugly - part 3

- The food! Everywhere we ate in Bari, Naples and Rome, the food was super delicious! The pizza in Naples deserves special mention.
- The history lesson, live. Very cool to learn about history while being in the actual place where it happened.
- The Amalfi coast. Stunning.
- The friendly train conductor who didn't charge us 50 Euro for not validating our ticket, the friendly Naples bus driver who let us on the bus without a ticket, the friendly pastry shop owner who warned us to hold on tightly to our bags and camera while walking around Spaccanapoli, and the friendly pizza chef who told me to put my watch away because I might get mugged wearing it in Naples. We found Italians to be quite helpful, friendly and patient with us tourists.

- The Metro construction in Naples turned many of the city's piazzas into construction sites. Too bad.
- People who insist on taking photos in museums and churches when the signs clearly say taking photos is not allowed.

- The graffiti and litter strewn all over Naples turned a city with the potential to be a beautiful city into an ugly one.

19 September 2009

Last stop, Rome

Rome. A bit bittersweet being in Rome. We're here for only a few days and it is also the last stop of our little tour. But going to Rome is on my life's to-do list and I'm so excited to have the chance to visit. We spent our first day walking and walking and walking. We started our walk in Trastevere, where we were staying, and made our way to Piazza del Popolo. We wanted to shop for Ed's suit and were advised to go to Via del Corso. Along the way, we stumbled upon Campo de Fiori and Piazza Navona and lots of churches and beautiful buildings. We rested in Piazza del Popolo for a bit before heading down Via del Corso. The shops got more high-end as we got closer to the Spanish steps. We walked into one store where the price tag said 3,000 Euro for a suit. Yeah, we exited that store pretty quickly.

Our second day in Rome was all about the Vatican Museum, St. Peter's Square, and St. Peter's Basilica. We slept in a little because we were exhausted from all the walking we did the previous day. We agreed that we would use the bus and metro more. The Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel were amazing. The grandeur of the rooms struck me - how could a church that asked its priests and nuns for a vow of poverty have such opulence? But then again, the church ruled just as kings did at one point in history, and so a lavish palace would have been in order. I am glad that past popes had the foresight to collect and safeguard the works of art from the past which we now get to enjoy and appreciate with our own eyes. I wish I could be in the Sistine Chapel alone. Just me and the wonderful frescos that adorn it. Ok, Ed can be there, too. Instead, there were hundreds of people there with us, plus all these annoying people who insisted on taking photos in spite of the large signs that showed a big red X over a camera and the chapel police saying "no foto" every two minutes. Grrrr...

Our third day, we explored the old Rome area - the Colosseum, Forum, and Pantheon. I imagined the Colosseum packed with cheering spectators as the gladiators battled each other. These spectators from 2000 years ago walked on the same ground that I just walked on. Our audio guide said to look around and imagine the present-day tourists wearing togas instead. That's what it would have looked like in the past. After lunch, we walked to the Trevi Fountain and then took the bus to the National Museum of Rome. The museum was the most quiet place we've been to since we got to Rome and it was a nice break from the crowds. Our time in Rome was too short and we'd really like to come back and spend more time in this beautiful city.

And just like that, our vacation was over. We had an early morning flight out of Rome and had a full day of travel back to Vancouver (via Frankfurt and Toronto). I was glad to be going home (I really missed my cats) but was also sad that our little travel adventure was done. We had a really great time!

I'll be uploading our pics to Flickr very soon. Stay tuned...

16 September 2009

Napoli, etc.

Ed and I are in Naples' central train station waiting for our train to Rome. We spent three days exploring Naples and the surrounding areas. On our first afternoon here, we walked around Spaccanapoli, an area of narrow streets, churches, and monuments. Naples is where pizza was invented so having one (or two) during our stay was a priority. The pizza was delicious! After a bit of siesta, we headed to Galleria Umberto I, a shopping mall built in the late 1800's. The galleria was ornate and impressive. They just don't make shopping malls like that anymore!

Our second day was all about Pompei and the Archaeological Museum. Most of the artifacts discovered in Pompei were hauled off to the museum where they are now on display. Sculptures, paintings, coin collections, etc. provide a glimpse into what life was like in Pompei when Mt. Vesuvius erupted. We then went to Pompei and walked around the ancient city. It was very interesting and you could almost picture people going about their lives back in 62 A.D. There were temples, palazzos, simple houses, baths, a market, a brothel, theatres, a basilica, and so on. The ruins of a whole city preserved for us to explore. It was a neat experience.

We spent our third day exploring Capri island, Positano on the Amalfi coast, and Sorrento which is on the other end of the Bay of Naples. Capri is a ritzy little island full of designer shops and beautiful mansions. I took away a small souvenir from Capri - a pair of Maui Jim sunglasses. :)

From Capri, we took a ferry to the little town of Positano. We almost missed the boat, literally stepping on the gangway as it was already being pulled up from the dock. Whew! When we arrived in Positano, it started to rain quite hard so we seeked shelter in a caffe bar. We sat back, enjoyed our caffe, and watched the rain and lightning. Finally, the rain eased up and we walked around the town. Positano is a village that goes vertical. The houses hug the mountain and they look like they are on top of each other. Very picturesque town.

Our next adventure was the Amalfi drive from Positano to Sorrento. The bus was standing-room only and we had to hang on tight as the road twisted and turned along the Amalfi coast. And the bus driver was not in any mood to slow down for the turns, just honking the horn to warn oncoming traffic that our bus was coming. The road was like a ribbon weaving its way on the mountain side. One thing is for sure - Gravol is highly recommended!

Sorrento was very pretty and much cleaner than Naples. We walked around the market area and I bought a scarf for 3 Euro. We enjoyed a delicious dinner near the main square and then took the Circumvesuviana train back to Naples. It was a long day but truly a great one.

Our visit to Naples and the surrounding areas went by way too quickly. Naples is an interesting place - busy, dirty, and crowded. Stark contrast to the glitz of Capri and the postcard-like beauty of Positano and Sorrento.

Our next (and last) stop is Rome, a destination I am very excitwd about. Hard to believe we're going home in a few days!

13 September 2009

Wows and whoas

Wow: When we were clamoring and Googling away in the lobby of our Prague hotel looking for a way to get to Split because SkyEurope went bust, Ed's teammate Ron took a picture of us hunkered in front of laptops. Ron posted the picture to his Twitter with the caption "stuck in Prague". Less than ten minutes later, another hotel guest approached us with his iPhone in hand and said "Are you these guys?" and showed us the picture from Ron's twitter displayed on his phone. He said he recognized the sofas in the picture since he was sitting on an identical one a few metres from us. Is that crazy or what? Turns out he was a jilted SkyEurope passenger too.

Whoa: At Zlatni Rat beach, Kevin says to me, "I think that dude is wearing a woman's bottom". I looked over and saw the guy with short graying hair, his back towards us. He was on the heavier side, a little fleshy around the midsection and his speedo did look like it had small ruffles. Right at that moment, the dude turned around and we saw boobs. The dude was actually a topless older lady. Too funny.

12 September 2009

Dubrovnik and Montenegro

Ed and I spent four nights in Dubrovnik which is an amazing place. There is something magical about the imposing city wall, red-tiled roofs, and marble streets. We stayed in the Old Town, the walled city that is the historic centre of Dubrovnik. We walked the city wall one morning with an audio guide. The walk is about 2 km long and it took us over 3.5 hours to complete our tour and I took a gazillion pictures. It was just so beautiful. I'm glad we stayed within the city walls because we felt part of the place as I scoot over to the bakery to buy some bread or the store to buy a bottle of wine. The best time to walk around Old Town is either early in the morning or late at night when the throng of tour groups are gone. On our third day in Dubrovnik, we went on an excursion to the Elafiti islands just off the Dubrovnik coast The boat took us to three islands and we got some beach time in two of them. The other one was where we stopped for lunch. The last stop brought us to Lopud island where Sunj beach is. Boasted as the best beach in Dubrovnik, it did not disappoint. (Zlatni Rat in Bol is still the best beach we visited in Croatia.) The grilled fish we were served for lunch was very delicious.

On our second day, we did a day trip to Montenegro which is the country just south of Croatia. It was part of the former Yugaslavia like Croatia was. The tour was okay; Montenegro was beautiful. Going on the tour reminded me why I don't like going on them - a big group being sherperded around and being told we have 1 hour to look around. But if we didn't go with a tour group, it would have cost us a lot more to go and probably wouldn't have covered as much ground. Oh well. Okay, back to Montenegro. We drove to the Bay of Kotor and stopped at the town of Kotor. The have an Old Town, too, but not as impressive as Dubrovnik's. It reminded me of Trogir in Croatia. The bay was very picturesque. Then we took this crazy road with tons of hairpin turns up the mountain to the town of Njegusi where stopped for a quick lunch. We then went to the Museum of King Nicola which is his residence that has been converted to a musuem of his stuff. Afterward, we went to the town of Budva which is the touristy beach resort town in Montenegro. You can tell there have been lots of development in recent years as the buildings all look quite new. Budva,too, had an old walled city that is now, like all the other walled cities we've gone to, a shopping area.

Now, Ed and I are on a ferry en route from Dubrovnik to Bari, Itally. The crossing takes 8 hours which seems short now after enduring a 22-hour train ride. I've been sitting on the deck enjoying the sun all day.

We really liked the Adriatic coast of Croatia. There is a laid-back atmosphere here that was very relaxing. The ocean breeze and the sound of waves are never far away. We'll add Croatia to our list of places to (hopefully) visit again.

9 September 2009

The good, the bad, and the ugly - part 2

The good:
- Getting beach time and beach weather to go with it. Zlatni Rat has been the best beach so far.
- The seafood, especially mussels and squid, have been awesome.
- Dubrovnik's city wall and old town. Definitely makes the 22-hour train ride to Croatia worth it.
- The Adriatic coast. Rugged and beautiful.
- Traveling and hanging out with Eugene, Kevin, Brian and Vivian was really fun.

The bad:
- Food is more expensive than we anticipated. Prague is definitely cheaper than Split, Bol, and Dubrovnik.

The ugly:
- SkyEurope flights getting cancelled the day before our flight. That's plain ugly.
- People who really should not be wearing speedos or going topless but still insist on wearing speedos or going topless.

6 September 2009

Split and Bol

Ed and I have been in Croatia the last six days. Getting here from Prague was an adventure in itself. We had booked a Sept 1 flight with SkyEurope but on Aug 31 the airline was booted out of airports for failing to pay their airport fees. We found out about it a few hours before our flight so we decided to go by train. Fortunately, there is a direct train from Prague to Split. Unfortunately, the trip takes 21 hours.

Four of our friends were also on the same flight so the six of us booked a couchette on the sleeper train and made the trip together. We were like sardines in a can. But we enjoyed each other's company and laughed a whole lot. Made our time on the train go a lot quicker.

Our apartment in Split was very cozy and it was perfect for me and Ed. Our friends also had an apartment nearby and we just hung out and chilled. Split's main attraction is the Diocletian Palace which is now one big bazaar of shops and cafes. The best time to visit it is actually at night when the throng of shoppers are gone and the main square is lit up. We also went to a couple of beaches - Bene which was so-so and Bacvice which was a nice one. We did a day excursion to the town of Trogir which is a UNESCO heritage site.

From Split we took the ferry to a town called Bol on Brac island. The main attraction in Bol is the beach called Zlatni Rat (which means Golden Cape). We woke up to gray skies and strong winds. The rain started to pour while we were having breakfast and so the morning was spent playing cards. The sky cleared up by 1pm and we headed Zlatni Rat. The beach is awesome. It is a pebble beach and the water is so clear. There were also lots of things on the beach that entertained us. This is Europe after all and nudity is not a big deal. Men in Speedos, topless women and people changing out of their swimsuits without covering up was not uncommon.

Eugene, Kevin, Brian, and Vivian left this morning for Split where they will catch their flights to Frankfurt, then to Vancouver. We had so much fun traveling with them and will terribly miss their company. Tomorrow, Ed and I head to Dubrovnik. But right now, I am enjoying Zlatni Rat, the ocean breeze and the clear blue sea.

3 September 2009

Exploring Prague

Exploring Prague is very easy. The transit system is quite good and makes it easy to get around. Walking around the different neighbourhoods is also easy. The main areas for tourists are Hradcany (where Prague castle is), Mala Strana (where Charles bridge is), and Nove Mesto (where Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square are). We spent many hours walking through the narrow cobbled lanes from one area to the next. I really enjoyed seeing these sites at night when they were lit up. So beautiful.

We also did a day excursion to Kutna Hora, an hour by train east of Prague. We visited the Bones Church - a church decorated with human bones. Very creepy but interesting at the same time.

By sticking with the recommendations in the Lonely Planet book, we managed to have some delicious meals while in Prague. It is also inexpensive to dine out if you avoid the restaurants right in the touristy areas. A half litre glass of beer cost anywhere from $1.50 to $4.00, depending on where you go. And the beer was good!

We enjoyed our stay in Prague. Would I go back? I don't think so. A few days is all you need to see the main sites. I am glad to have visited. Thanks, Ed, for making the team and giving me the chance to go.

1 September 2009

Go Canada!

The dragon boat world championships wrapped up last Sunday and the Canadian contingent did really well. It's fun to hear the anthem play during the medal ceremonies. There were so many fast teams which made the races quite exciting to watch as many of the race times were within hundredths of a second of each other. Ed's team competed very hard. They placed fourth in the 2000 m, fourth in the 1000 m, first in the mixed 500 m, and seventh in the mens 500 m.

The fun part for many were the trading of race jerseys with other countries. It was like a market place with people negotiating for jerseys back and forth. I was tasked with trading Ed's jerseys and I got jerseys from Macau and Ukaraine. Ed was able to trade for jerseys from Poland and Czech Rep. I traded my Canada jersey for a Philippines one. Fun stuff.

With the racing done, our vacation officially starts now. I quite enjoyed Prague and was able to explore quite a bit. Next stop, Croatia.

27 August 2009

After 2 days of racing

The dragon boat world championship has been very exciting so far. The team from Vancouver is competing in the Premier Mixed and the Mens divisions. Canada is being represented in the other divisions - womens, juniors, seniorsn etc. - by teams from Montreal and Toronto.

On day 1, it was the 2000 metre races. Ed competed in the Premier Mixed division and his team placed fourth out of 14 teams. They missed the bronze medal by .5 of a second! So close! They were pleased with how they paddled and quite excited about racing against the best in the world.

Today, it was the 1000 metre races for the mens division. Most of these guys are huge! And so many fast teams, that each race is very important. Only the top two teams frrom each heat advance. Ed's team did well in their heats and made it to the finals (top 6 teams). The race was so close and for the second day in a row, they finished fourth with a time of 4 mins 9 secs. And just .4 of a second behind third. This is the best placing the mens team have had in a long time and everyone was pretty pumped about that race. Slovakia was 1st, US 2nd, and Germany 3rd.

Tomorrow will be the 200 metre races. Paddles up!

26 August 2009

Cesky Krumlov

On day 3, I went on a day excursion to a town called Cesky Krumlov, which is a UNESCO heritage site. It is a 3-hour bus ride from Prague so I set off early to catch the 8am bus. I wish I could upload my pictures because words - beautiful, amazing, breath-taking - just would not do it justice. Google it and you'll see. It is a medieval town that is very well-preserved since it was spared from WWII bombings and skirmishes. I rented the audio guide for the town tour and it took me over three hours to do the tour, which was very interesting. Cesky Krumlov is a photographer's dream! Everywhere you looked, there was something to photograph. My time there went by too quickly as I had to catch the 5:15 pm bus back to Prague. But it surely was worth the trip!
After this day, it will be all about watching and cheering for Ed and his teammates. Let's go, Team Canada!

25 August 2009

The good, the bad, and the ugly - part 1


- The architecture! Baroque, Gothic, Renaissance, Cubism - they are all here, coexisting beautifully.

- Interesting history. From nobility rule to communism to a republic.

- The beer! Very yummy.


- Our hotel (where the team is staying) is not in the city centre. Hardly anything close by so not very interesting or convenient.

- The food has generally not been great. Lots of meat and a little hard to find veggie dishes.


- The service. Servers can be quite abrupt in tone and are not very friendly. A very few have been nice but most have a permanent scowl on their faces.

Prague - days 1 and 2

I've spent my first and second days in Prague visiting the main attractions. First up, Prague Castle which was amazing. It is a big complex and you'd need a whole day to see most of it. I visited the Old Royal Palace, St. Vitus Cathedral, St. George Basilica, and wandered through the courtyards and streets of the castle. Then I followed the walking tour around the castle area that's in my Lonely Planet book. One of the stops on the tour was the Strahov Monestary and Library. The library and the monestary church were so beautiful. Then I made my way down to the river and found Charles Bridge. Unfortunately, the bridge is undergoing some restoration work and it is so crowded with tourists, buskers, and vendors that it is hard to really enjoy walking along this beautiful bridge.
The team dinner that night was a fiasco. Maybe the restaurant wasn't used to having such a big group because it took two hours for some people's meals to arrive. Half the group was done eating before some people got their food.
On day 2, I walked along Wenceslas Square and hung out in the Old Town Sqaure. Then Ed joined me (the team's practice ended early today) and we finally got to be tourists together. We did another walking tour from the LP book. Then we sat at a cafe by the Vltava river and enjoyed some beer. It was a perfect way to end a day of sightseeing.

22 August 2009

When in Rome (airport)...

Been almost 24 hrs since I left my house and now I'm in the airport in Rome waiting for my flight to Prague to start boarding. I'm going with SkyEurope, a Slovakian low-cost airline. I wonder if they'll charge me to use the washroom in the plane. I was so relieved to find SkyEurope's check-in counter. The airline is having money problems so I was nervous about them suddenly stopping operations or cancelling my flight. But they checked me in and so far, things seem to be in order.

Rome's airport is looking a little old. It makes me realize how beautiful the Vancouver airport is! Also, I have spotted three nuns in the last hour. Last time that's happened to me, I think I was still in high school! Lastly, people here stand really close to you in line ups. My personal space is feeling so invaded.

19 August 2009

European vacation

Hopefully, our vacation won’t be anything like in the film! Ed’s currently on his way to Prague and I follow in a couple of days. The world championships for dragon boat is being held in Racice, CZ (about 50km north of Prague) and Ed is part of Team Canada. I’m so proud of him! I’m sure the team is going to kick ass!

We will be in Prague until the end of August, then we fly to Split, Croatia for an 11-day stay along the Adriatic coast. In addition to Split, we will also be visiting Bol (on Brac island) and Dubrovnik. We are also planning to do a day trip to Montenegro, the country just south of Croatia. From Dubrovnik, we take the ferry over to Bari, Italy where we will stay for a night. From there, we will head to Naples for 3 days, then to Rome for another 3 days.

Ed’s been focused on training for the worlds so I’ve been the trip planner. As long as he brings home a medal, that will be fine with me. Go, Team Canada!

18 August 2009


How long does Ed and Liezel let their folded clean laundry sit in the laundry basket before putting the clothes in their closet? This time, it was twelve days. That’s how long our point-and-shoot camera has been missing. I looked all over the house for it, and even looked in that laundry basket. Of course, I was too lazy to put the clothes away! But tucked under the clothes was the camera.

This means my pictures from Seattle and NY were also found. Yay! I haven’t uploaded the Seattle pics but the NY ones are now in Flickr. Check them out!

17 August 2009

Run around

I’d lost my invoice for my hotel stay for my trip to London last month and I had already deleted the confirmation email. Our accountant at work said I need to submit the invoice for it, so I called the hotel to get a copy. I was told that I had booked the room through Expedia, hence, they do not have a copy of my invoice and I will have to phone Expedia. I actually don’t remember booking in through Expedia but okay, I phoned Expedia.ca. Almost 30 mins on hold and finally, a voice on the other end. He kept asking me which account I booked it under. I kept saying I don’t remember being asked to login to book the hotel. I did a google search, found what I needed, then booked it. He can see my booking info but I had to provide the account information. I was put on hold while he figured it out. Finally, he said I should phone Expedia.com because I may have booked it there. So I phone Expedia.com. (Was on-hold again for a bit.) Again, which account did I book it under? Again, I said I don’t remember. Then, after a bit of looking through my booking info, she said I must have booked it using hotels.com and that I should phone them. I was ready to give up! But okay, I phoned the number she gave me. Hotels.com did sound familiar. I got through to someone fairly quickly and I was not asked about which account I booked it under. She got my name, verified the dates I stayed in the hotel and emailed me a copy of the confirmation notice. I told her “You have no idea how relieved I am to find you!”. The lesson is... hang on to your invoices!

10 August 2009

Driving me crazy

I can’t remember where I put my point-and-shoot camera! It’s driving me crazy! I know I brought it back with me from NY. It was sitting on my bed and night table the weekend after coming back from my trip. But now, I can’t find it anywhere. Very annoying!

27 July 2009

Seattle with the Abellanosa family

I drove to Seattle last July 25 to spend the day a friend of mine from high school, Christmas. She was having a family holiday with her husband Albert and daughter Mikey. The last time I saw them was in 2001 when I went to Long Beach for work. Christmas and I have known each other since grade school. When we were in high school, I rode to and from school with Christmas and her sisters. I can’t remember how that arrangement all started. Anyway, I got to know their whole family pretty well since I was at their house five days a week.

I arrived in Seattle at around noon and met up with them at their hotel. The thing with childhood friends is even if you don’t see each other for years, when you do see them, you just pick up where you left off. We settled into conversation with such ease and comfort. It was such a gift.

Chris and I spent the day catching up on each other’s lives. What touched me most was how loving their family was. Chris and Albert have been married for many years and they are still very sweet to each other. And Mikey is a confident young lady with a good head on her shoulders. And she has a great relationship with her parents. It was really nice to be around them.

The day went by so quickly. We had a very delicious dinner (best steak ever!) at Metropolitan Grill, then it was time for me to drive back to Vancouver. It was great to meet up with them, even for just a day. Hopefully, it won’t take another 8 years before we meet up again.

21 July 2009


Last July 19, I went to see Hamlet at the Wyndham’s Theatre in London’s West End. Jude Law starred as Hamlet and the other cast members (Kevin R. McNally, Penelope Wilton, and Peter Eyre) were very experienced actors, too. I enjoyed the show very much and for most of it, I even forgot that I was watching Jude Law. I just got pulled into the story of Hamlet avenging his father’s murder. Jude Law is a charismatic actor who also happens to be very easy on the eyes. He and the rest of the cast did a fine job and I’m very glad I got to see the show.

19 July 2009

Slum lords

Ed and I have a new role - slum lords. We bought a condo in Vancouver last June. It’s an investment property and the intent is to rent it out and hopefully, the property value will appreciate as the years go by. It’s our first investment property and we are understandably nervous about the whole thing. But we figured that if we are able to rent out the condo, we’ll be okay. On June 10, our offer for this condo was accepted by the seller and we got the keys to the place on June 30. We tried to get it rented out for July 1 but we had no takers. So we lowered the rent a bit and opened it up to owners of a small pet. We had more people show interest and finally, on July 13, we had four couples fill out the application to rent the apartment. I was getting stressed out about it because if the condo isn’t rented, it means that we’re paying for the mortgage for that month. We did the reference and credit checks for the applicants and decided to rent to a young couple who are looking to move in on Aug 1. They seem very nice and quiet, and their references had very good things to say about them. I’m really, really hoping that they turn out to be good tenants and that their cat doesn’t destroy the place.

Here are a couple of pictures of the apartment:

18 July 2009

Back in London

Been here since noon on Wednesday and I fly home on Monday. I had meetings with a Navarik client on Thursday and Friday. I’m spending the weekend here so that I can go watch Jude Law be Hamlet. Late afternoon last Wednesday, I went to Portobello Road in Notting Hill. I worked for a bit after I checked in at the hotel then needed to move around so I could stay awake for a little longer. Jet lag is a tricky thing. Portobello Road was interesting with lots of shops. Since it was late on a Wed afternoon, it wasn’t the bustling Portobello Market that it is known for. But I’m still glad I went because it would have been crowded and busy on a weekend. Friday night, I went with Bill to see a musical in East London. I enjoyed the show very much. I love musicals. Today, I walked around the Seven Dials area in Covent Garden. Went into the Camper store and spent money on shoes. I did the same thing last year, too. Does that make it a tradition??? New Campers in July. I like that tradition! Tomorrow, finally, I have my date with Jude Law. I’m excited to see him and to see a Shakespeare play here in London. I may go visit the Science Museum in the morning. Should be interesting.

8 July 2009

Friends come to visit

The gang at second beach
Originally uploaded by Liezel&Ed
Last week, my friends Lizza, Pat, Deb, and Dave paid us a visit. We all met up in Victoria on Thursday, then headed to Vancouver on Saturday. This was taken at Second Beach in Stanley Park.

24 June 2009

A date with Jude Law

In July of last year, I was in London for work and I bought a ticket for a show that I wanted to see that weekend. It was for Hamlet, starring Jude Law. I bought the ticket through lastminute.com, for what I thought was the matinee show in two days. I realized the next day that I misread the date. I was a year off! I thought I was buying a ticket for a show on July 19, 2008 but the show is actually on July 19, 2009. Yes, it was a major Doh! moment. I guess lastminute.com is not so lastminute after all.

I had planned on giving the ticket to Bill, my colleague who lives in London. At least someone will get to enjoy Hamlet and the ticket won’t go to waste! But I found out this morning that I will be going to London for meetings on July 16 and 17. How opportune is that?!? My lucky stars are smiling down on me today. My date with Jude Law is still on!

18 June 2009

Comfy sleep

I’ve been wanting to replace the mattress in our guest bedroom for a while now. I feel bad for our guests because you can feel the springs when you lay down on that mattress. We finally made the purchase a couple of weeks ago and we now have a new mattress. We moved our very comfy Obus Forme mattress from our bedroom to the guest bedroom and the new one is now in our bedroom. The new mattress, though, is higher than the Obus Forme one. Worse, the new boxspring is also taller than the old one. So now, Ed and I feel a little too close to the ceiling! Thankfully, The Bay is exchanging the boxspring with a “low profile” one, free of charge. So that will lower the whole thing by a few inches. Also, we will have to buy sheets with a deeper fit than the ones we have. The new mattress is 17 inches high because of the Euro-top thingy. So far, the new mattress has been very comfortable to sleep on. My back is happy. And our guests will be, too.

8 June 2009

Europe 2009

Ed made it to the dragon boat team that will compete at the World Championships in Prague this August. He gets to be in Team Canada! Congratulations, babe! Well done! Ed’s been working so hard to qualify and I’m really happy that all that work has paid off.

The good news for me is I get to go to Prague, too! As a cheerleader, this time, not as a paddler. It’ll be a lot of fun watching the top teams in the world compete against each other. After the races are done, Ed and I will travel for another three weeks. We know that we will end the trip in Rome since that is where we are flying home from. But we haven’t decided exactly where we will go in between Prague and Rome. A month in Europe! I’m so excited!

6 June 2009


On June 2, I went to watch a Vancouver Whitecaps game at Swanguard stadium in Burnaby. It was my first time watching a professional soccer league game. The Whitecaps played against the team from Toronto and they won the game, 2-0. It was a good game; quite entertaining. The only thing missing were the replays of the goals. They need to put a big screen in that stadium where replays can be shown!

5 June 2009

OC time trial

Last night, I did my first time trial for this year. A 5km loop from Alder Bay to Science World and back using an OC1. Did it in 33mins 19secs. Whew! That's not bad for a first time. But now, I just have to get faster...

23 May 2009

Happy birthday, Lizza

Lizza and I have been friends since the seventh grade. For her birthday this year, I surprised her by driving to Spokane and spending the weekend with her and Pat, her hubby. I had emailed Pat in April to ask him about gift ideas for Lizza. He replied with “the best gift would be if you and Ed attend her big birthday bash on May 16”. Ed wasn’t free to go that weekend but I was! It helped that it was a long weekend (Victoria Day) in Canada. So on Friday, May 15, I set out for the 7.5-hour drive from Vancouver to Spokane. I had my tunes and great weather and all was good!

Pat met me outside their house when I got there. I asked if he was able to keep my visit a surprise and he said yes. I stood outside their front door and Pat called out, “Lizza, come to the door. Someone’s here and they want to talk to you.” Lizza thought it was the landscaper who had been around the previous day, looking for work. So she came marching to the front door with an “I mean business” look on her face. But it quickly changed to a look of shock as I shouted “surprise!” and gave her a hug. Lizza just looked at me for a few minutes in disbelief. I think Pat and I executed that surprise very well!

The weekend was a lot of fun. We prepared for the party on Saturday and guests started arriving at around 4pm. Deb and Cara, Lizza’s friends, did a fantastic job planning the party and the menu, decorating the house, and getting everything ready. Lizza got to celebrate her birthday surrounded by her good friends and everybody had a great time. On Sunday, we went to their friend’s place by a lake and just hung out. We even went for a boat ride around the lake.

Sadly, Monday came so quickly and it was time to head back to Vancouver. I did stop in Bellevue for a bit of shopping (Nordstrom Rack!) and the border crossing took 90 minutes. Overall, it was an excellent roadtrip.

To my BFF, happy birthday!

14 May 2009

Running again, gradually

I’m still doing my physio exercises every night to work on my hip muscles and IT band. In addition, Patrick, my physiotherapist, has given me the green light to start running again. One minute run, one minute walk and I get to start with 7 sets, for a total of 14 minutes. If my knee feels just fine the following day, I do the run/walk again two days later and I add 2 sets every time. I’ve gone twice already and so far, so good. Yay.

4 May 2009

Vroom, vroom...

Last Saturday, Ed and I pushed our motorcycles out of our basement and into our garage. Ed's bike is a Ninja ZX-6R and mine is a Suzuki GS500, and they've been parked in the basement for three years. Shame! The goal this past weekend was to get them up and running again. I was nervous that they won't even start after sitting for that long. But after a few tries, the Ninja started up. Ed took it for short ride around the block and the look of joy on his face was priceless. I had to buy a new battery so I couldn't get mine started up until Sunday. It took a few tries and Ed's lucky touch before my bike finally roared to life. Whew!

My riding skills are soooo rusty! I need a parking lot session to get the kinks out but am looking forward to riding Suzy (that's my bike's name) around town again. Maybe even go on a road trip this summer. So exciting!

30 April 2009

Weak hips

Apparently, my left hip is weak and my left IT band is tight. This was the physiotherapist’s diagnosis as the causes for the pain in my left knee when I run. He gave me a bunch of exercises to do everyday to strengthen my hip muscles to keep my hip stable when I run. I’ve also had to stretch my IT band by rolling on it. And Patrick, my physio guy, has been massaging it too during our sessions and holy cow, it hurts!!!

But it’s all good. I look forward to the day when I can run and not worry about my knee hurting. Oh, the other assignment Patrick gave me was to replace my running shoes which are now over a year old. Did you know that you’re supposed to replace your running shoes every 600 - 800km? I thought at first that that was a lot but when I calculated that I could run about 18km to 25km a week, that would be 45 weeks max to reach 800km. That’s not even a whole year. Anyway, I decided on the Mizuno Wave Creation 10 which feel sublime on my feet. I’m excited to get them out on the road when Patrick gives me the go-ahead to run again.

20 April 2009

A newborn baby

In the evening of April 12, one of my closest friends, Yvette, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl Avery. Since Brian, her husband, had to look after Avery’s big bro Joshua, I volunteered to sleep at the hospital on the Monday night and stay with Yvette. The “problem” was I have never carried a newborn baby. I usually wait until the baby is 3 or 4 months old and can hold up their head. But for me to be any help to Yvette that night, I had to carry the baby. I was awkward and nervous but I’m glad to report that I didn’t drop or hurt the baby in any way. Whew!

Congratulations to Yvette, Bri, and Joshie! And thanks for letting me be part of her arrival into this world.

9 April 2009

Holy week and Easter

I was raised in the Catholic faith. My mom was very devout and made sure her children went to church regularly. I also went to a Catholic school (honestly, I think all the schools in Manila were Catholic anyway) where I learned all about the religion. Lenten season is observed - no meat on Fridays, practice sacrifice, do penance for your sins, etc. Holy Week is a huge deal in the Philippines. People usually travel to their home towns and spend Holy Week and Easter with their extended family. There are lots of religious ceremonies throughout the week, the most hard core one involving actually nailing individuals (usually men but I don’t think women are prohibited) to a cross. Some people walk on their knees from the door of the church to the altar while praying. Lots of prayers and processions. Then on Easter Sunday, the somberness is replaced with rejoicing and celebration.

I used to give up junk food during Lent. As someone who loves junk food, I viewed this as the ultimate sacrifice. No chips and cheezies for 40 days! I don’t practice the ceremonies and observances of the religion anymore but i still always think of junk food when Easter comes around.

8 April 2009

Not bustling

For lunch today, I went to The Butler Did It, a nearby eatery. This place is usually bustling during lunch hour. But today, there were lots of empty tables and the place was just not busy. I’ll have to go back in a few days to see if today was an anomaly or if this is the way it is now with the recession. I have been packing left-overs for my lunch, mainly to watch my spending in these uncertain times. Based on the lack of customers at the Butler today, I think lots of other people are doing the same.

2 April 2009

Happy anniversary

Ed and I went to Guu in Gastown last Tuesday night to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We had a very enjoyable evening and are looking forward to our seventh year together. It's been a very good ride, so far. We have our ups and downs but overall, I think we're doing quite well. Here are some photos from our wedding day...

During the photo shoot, early in the morning. I think that was my breakfast (congee) that I was carrying in the bag. And my shoes.

Signing the registry. I really dig that feather pen!

Done deal; Ed and I walk down the aisle after the ceremony.

22 March 2009

New helmet

For several years now, when I buy my ski pass, I think “I should get a helmet this year”. And I decide to wait til the spring when the ski gear go on sale. But when spring comes, I forget to go shop for a helmet. Then winter comes round again and I think “I really should get a helmet”.

The death of Natasha Richardson from what seemed like an innocent fall on a beginner hill prompted me to finally get my ass into a store and buy a helmet. And being spring, helmets were 40% off which made me pretty happy. So, next time I go skiing, I’ll have a little bit more protection than I used to. And that’s a good thing.

18 March 2009

Next up... retainers

Yesterday, my dentist finally took off the bumps on my teeth. These bumps were for my Invisalign treatment (i.e. plastic braces). And I am officially done with my braces and moving on to wearing retainers when I go to sleep. Yay! I first got my Invisaligns in Jan 2008 and 14 months later, my teeth are fairly straight. See how much they’ve moved from Week 1 to Week 61:

My smile before:

And now:

3 March 2009

Silver Star

Ed's colleague, Scott, invited us to join him and his family for a couple of days of skiing at Silver Star resort in Vernon,, BC. We decided to make the 5-hour drive after work on Thursday so that we'll have Friday and Saturday to ski. Then Sunday will be a leisurely day to make our way back to Vancouver. Thanks to Scott and Colleen for being such gracious hosts!

I have to say that skiing is one of my favourite activities. Scott said every time I got back to the lift after a run, I had a wide, beaming smile on my face. I just love being on the mountain, facing the challenge of the run head-on, and enjoying the beautiful scenery around me. I love the feel of the wind against my face, the crunch of the snow underneath my skis, the adrenalin rush as I make my way down the run.

I like Silver Star! We did about 10 runs on Friday and 14 runs on Saturday. My legs held up better than I expected. I've only been skiing once this year for a couple of hours after work so doing two full days was pretty ambitious. The hot tub after certainly helped with all the achy muscles.

On Sunday, before leaving the resort, Ed and I decided to go ice skating. They have an outdoor rink at Silver Star. I have never skated outdoors before and I was so excited. But I haven't skated in over two years so I was also a little anxious about being on skates again. Plus, having played ice hockey for several years, I am only comfortable skating when I have all my gear on. Without them, I feel vulnerable. Falling hurts and not much fun! But we did have lots of fun skating on the frozen pond. We were both pretty rusty so we just took it easy. It was just such a treat to be on the ice again and be outdoors. It made me realize how much I miss skating and hockey!

I forgot to bring our little point-and-shoot camera so we have no pictures while skiing. Which was too bad because the sky was so blue and clear. The view from the top of the lifts were fantastic!

Here I am showing off my stop for the camera. Unfortunately, the pressure of having to perform got the better of me - I caught an edge and got off-balanced...

Demoing how to stop - 1Demoing how to stop - 2Demoing how to stop - oopsDemoing how to stop - hahaha

17 February 2009

Playing with the XSi

Bob has become my model as I learn how to use the XSi properly. I got these two shots as Bob curled up on our bed last weekend.

16 February 2009

Valentine's day

On Valentine’s day, Ed and I went to see a chick flick (Confessions of a Shopaholic) in the afternoon, and then Ed cooked a very delicious dinner for me. We had red pepper soup, eggplant timbale, and rack of lamb. For dessert, there was creme brulee, cheesecake, and tiramisu. Everything was so scrumptious and tasty. Thanks for such a wonderful treat, Ed! Love you.

Eggplant Timbale
Rack of LambTiramisu

13 February 2009

Team Navarik - Curling

Yesterday afternoon, a bunch of us left work a little early to go curling at the Marpole Curling Club. So much fun! Things are a little stressful at work so it was a real treat to hang out with my colleagues, throw some rocks around, and just have a great time. Our team (the Reds) was down 3-0 heading into the last end but we managed to tie it up! Very exciting.

11 February 2009

Back on the water

Last Monday, I attended OC6 practice with the FCRCC women. It was a light practice - 10 min segments - which was perfect for my first time out. The last time I paddled was last September for the Day of the Long Boat race. For this practice, we paddled around False Creek for about 50 mins. It was not too cold; the water was calm and there was a full moon. A beautiful night for paddling.

Two days later, my back is still feeling sore and stiff. But I’m happy to be paddling again. The first time out is always the hardest but now that that’s over with, I can just keep going.

29 January 2009

The view from a car

I visited NLNG’s office this afternoon. It is a 5 minute walk from the hotel but they insisted that we get driven there. I asked if we can walk and the answer was no. The drive took about 15 minutes due to a circuitous route (streets are one-way) and the traffic congestion. There are cars everywhere, parked at the side of the road and jampacked into the road lanes. Motorcycles make their way in between the cars stuck in traffic. Motorcyclists are required to wear helmets but I guess the rule is not clear on what type of helmet since some people were wearing bicycle helmets and construction hats. The sound of car horns fill the air. There are vendors on and at the side of the road. They sell candies, clothes hangers, fashion magazines, bread, headache medicine, and a bunch of other stuff. There are many people standing about - drivers waiting for their employers, security guards outside buildings, people with nothing else to do but sit and chat. Everywhere you look, there are cars and people.

The view from the GM’s office in NLNG.

A street vendor's array of candies

A lady selling bread

28 January 2009

It's been a busy few days

First up, my adorable cat Bob. He had a bout of FLUTD (feline lower urinary tract disease) which required a two-day hospital stay. He finally came home on Saturday morning and when we got home, Neo and Bob started hissing at each other. Neo was NOT a happy camper. He kept hissing and growling at Bob. I kept Bob in the laundry room for the afternoon. Poor cat kept peeing every five minutes. I hope he was not in pain. I finally let him out and the two cats were very wary of each other. Bob learned to just ignore Neo’s hissing after a while. We theorized that Bob picked up all sorts of strange smells at the vet's and Neo was freaking out because Bob smelled like other animals. Finally, on Sunday night, Ed and I bathed Bob to get him to smell like shampoo instead. He was really good about being bathed, which was a unexpected. He usually freaks out when we do any kind of grooming for him but in the bathtub, he just stayed still. It almost seemed like he was enjoying the bath. He was really cute.

Then on Monday morning, I was off to Lagos, Nigeria. It took 27 hours from the time I left our house to the time I walked in to my hotel room in Lagos. Very long day. Lagos is a crazy place! My colleague Bill had some issues with his visa and sure enough, it took a lot of dollars to sort everything out. "Is there anything you can do for us" is the key phrase from the immigration officers. Then there was the situation with my luggage which was not in the pile of luggage from our flight. So I proceeded to report it lost. When I said that I had flown business class, their attitude changed and less than two minutes later, my luggage appeared. I was just so relieved to see it! I thanked everybody at the counter, grabbed my luggage and went to find Bill who was still sorting things out (i.e. handing over currencies) with the immigration folks. And all this within an hour of arriving in this city. Welcome to Nigeria.

Then there was the ride from the airport to the hotel. Our client had arranged for us to be picked up and driven to our hotel. What we didn't know and expect was that there would be armed security people in trucks driving in front of and behind our van! A fully armed security escort through the city. It was pretty surreal. And they drove so fast. Apparently, to deter the carjackers from targetting you, you just have to drive faster than them. The traffic and the way people drive here are also pretty crazy. I guess when you have 15 million people in a city, that tends to happen.

The hotel where we are staying is very posh. And we haven't left it since arriving. The meetings with our client are taking place at a conference room here at the hotel and they are discouraging us from leaving the hotel compound (it's all fenced in with armed guards at the gate). Tomorrow, we get to go to their office which is a five-minute walk from here. But I think they've arranged for a security convoy to take us there. I really would prefer to just walk and see a bit of what's outside the walls of this compound.

The people we've met have been very friendly. Tonight, I met a couple of guys from India who do business here and they said that Nigeria is the land of opportunity and lots of money can be made here. All other markets are saturated but Africa is not, and Nigeria is the place to be.

At our hotel, it is not cheap. I had a cocktail before dinner tonight and it cost $22. That's for one drink. It is a luxury hotel, I suppose. The guys from India said that a bottle of Star beer (that's the Nigerian beer) in the hotel is 650 naira but outside, you can get it for 150 naira. I wish I could wander outside of the hotel and see the other parts of Lagos. That would be so interesting.

27 January 2009

Bob and Nigeria

Writing about two different things in one post...

After two days in the hospital, Bob was discharged on Saturday morning. He needs to eat special food for six weeks and is taking antibiotics for two weeks. I’m just glad he is going to be okay.

However, when we got home, Neo and Bob started hissing at each other. Neo was NOT a happy camper. He kept hissing and growling at Bob. I kept Bob in the laundry room for the afternoon. WhenI finally let him out and the two cats were very wary of each other. Bob learned to just ignore Neo’s hissing after a while. Finally, on Sunday night, Ed and I bathed Bob. The theory is he picked up all these strange smells from the vet’s and Neo was freaking out because Bob smelled like other animals. So we bathed Bob in order to get the strange smell off him.

He was really good during bath time. He didn’t flail around or get violent. He just stayed still, almost like he enjoyed it. He was really cute.

Hopefully, the bath will help and the two cats can live peacefully together again. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

I'm posting this from Frankfurt airport. I'm on my way to Lagos, Nigeria. I've been on the road for 16.5 hours already and I still have another 9 hours of travel to go. It's been a long day.

I barely made it to my connecting flight in Calgary since my flight was delayed out of YVR. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my luggage made it on the plane, too. The Calgary to Frankfurt flight was pretty good in terms of the food. I had wine and port and tuna appetizer and arctic char and cheeses and some pie. That was dinner. I did manage to sleep a bit during the flight. I also started reading the Jane Austen book I borrowed, Persuasion. I also listened to some music, watched a couple of The Hour podcast episodes, and listened to a couple of BBC documentaries. The in-flight entertainment system was not working so we’re going to get airmiles instead. That happened during the flight from Paris to Montreal, too, last July. What’s up with the entertainment systems? Thank goodness for the iPod!

17 January 2009


Darren drew an avatar for me a few months ago...

I think it's pretty cool. Does it look like me?

12 January 2009

No more 20/20

I had my eyes checked just before Christmas and it confirmed what I had suspected for months - that my eyesight is finally no longer 20/20.

I picked up my reading glasses today. I am kind of glad I have them. I was cutting the cats’ nails last night and realized I’ve been struggling with it for a while. I'm sure my cats will be glad to know that I can now see their little nails clearly.

However, it is a sign of aging. And for that, I am not too thrilled about them.

Impulse purchase (sort of)

When Ed and I visited my brother in Edmonton last March, I got to play around with his Nikon D80 SLR camera. So beautiful and I immediately wanted one for myself. I thought the D80 was too big for my hands but there are smaller ones that I was sure would fit me quite nicely. Then my friend, Jay, told me to wait for the Canon EOS 450D that was coming out around May or June. In Canada, it is marketed as the Canon Rebel XSi. I went to dpreview.com to read about the camera and when I went to the mall, I would always check it out in the camera shop. But the cost was stopping me from buying it and I have a perfectly good camera, a Canon Powershot S3, that made me feel guilty about buying another camera.

When we were in Turkey, I got frustrated with the S3 for various reasons. At one point, I told Ed that I finally got it why people spend thousands on their cameras. It isn’t just about the pictures you end up with. It is equally about the experience of taking those photos. And during one of my frustrated moments, I blurted out “That’s it! I’m buying an SLR”.

Yesterday, Ed and I went to Future Shop to buy an HDMI cable for our TV. We walked out of Future Shop with the HDMI cable and a new Canon Rebel XSi. The XSi kit (the camera body and a 18-55mm lens) was on sale for $699.99. I have never seen it at that price! It was around $1200 last June and I just could not let this good deal pass me by. So, totally unbudgeted, I bought it. I do feel buyer’s remorse but it was such a good price. I’m sure it will be $500 by this summer and I’d feel like a fool. But then again, after taking a few pictures last night, it’s hard not to fall in love with it and feel happy that it’s in my hands now.

Now I need to learn how to actually use it properly!

2 January 2009

Finally, pictures from Turkey

Ok, I don't usually take this long to post pictures from a trip. But, I took over 1800 pictures in Turkey and it took a while to sift through them and select just the very best to upload to Flickr. Plus there's the "enhance photo" step that need to be taken for some. Anyway, no more excuses... It's done! Please visit our Flickr site to see them.

Turkey was a fascinating place. I felt like I was on a 2-week history class and it was great. I learned so much about Anatolian history and the empires that ruled over it through the centuries.

The main reason I chose Turkey as our destination was the Blue Mosque. I wanted to walk into the mosque and admire its beauty with my own eyes. And when I did, it was a wonderful moment.

I found Cappadocia to be the most interesting place. The landscape and cave dwellings were unlike anything I've seen before. And going on the hot air balloon ride (our first time ever) to enjoy the fascinating scenery was definitely a highlight.

The most impressive Roman theatre we visited was Aspendos in Perge. It is so well-preserved and the acoustics were amazing. And I bravely (and proudly) sang O Canada there. I couldn't believe I was singing in a theatre built almost 2000 years ago.

The ancient cities we visited were Perge, Phaselis, Hierapolis, Aphrodisias, Ephesus, Pergamom, Asclepion, and Troy. I really enjoyed Hierapolis in Pamukkale, with its many tombs and impressive theatre. Although the walk down the travertines barefoot was a little too painful for my liking.

I can't say enough about how good the food is in Turkey. The kebab, kofte, fish, Turkish pizza, Turkish ravioli, salad, and bread were always sooo delicious. I loved eating the food there. The Turkish delight and rice pudding were great, too. And I loved the apple tea they have there. It was always a good way to end the meal, with some tea or apple tea. And the Mediterranean diet is so healthy.

It was a great visit. Our tour guide, Ergun, and driver, Ekram, really helped make the trip very, very enjoyable. And our tour group was a fun bunch that just added a whole lot of positive energy to the trip.

So, if you have a chance to go to Turkey, go! Definitely a great travel destination.