Sunday, December 30

plans sorted (finally!)

Can't recall when I last wrote or what I said, so forgive me if I repeat myself or if I've left out a few days. But my next few days plans are well sorted out now, which makes me very happy b/c like my father I don't like all this unknown, in particular when travelling!!

So tonight is dinner at dad's with 10 people, yes that's correct TEN! to any of you who know dad's house you'll know it's gonna be a tight squeeze! Dad, Patty, Matt, Louise, Jeremy, Mom, Cousin Tim (up from Brooklyn), Kate (Tim's gf), Joyce (dad's neighbour), and me. We're having turkey soup a la dad style (mom got a "sneak preview" of it the other day & she said it's the best she's ever had, which is a VERY BIG compliment since she's such a good cook herself.

Tomorrow mom & I are heading to the big city (LOL) actually just to Glens Falls to return the rental car and go shopping. Dad's heading to Montreal. Patty & Matt will probably relax & watch movies & Louise & Jeremy might snow shoe or watch movies ) P,M,J, and L are all out sledding at the mo - I had to stay in to do some US paper work with dad. Tomorrow night we'll all go to my aunt's house where Tim & Kate are having a NYEve party.

Tuesday morning we'll all head to CT. Louise & Jeremy will get a bus or train back to NYC, Matt & Patty will go to her condo, Mom, Quid (her dog) and I will head to the hotel. That night we'll go to Aunt Pat & Diane's house for dinner.

Wednesday P&M will fly back to TN. Mom & I will go visit Kevin, Sylwia, Owen, Maya, and Grace for the day then have dinner over at Anne & John's house.

Thursday mom will head back to NY & I'll stay at Anne & John's house.

Friday my best mate since 3rd grade violin class (Kristen) will pick me up & bring me to her house in Yonkers, NY, where I'll kip till my plane on Monday morning - of course we'll chat a lot & eat good food as well - that goes without say!!

I'm hoping to meet up with my good mate Susan as well, but I'm not sure about her schedule yet. I'm just glad I've got a pretty good plan of attack so far!!

I'd like to make a mini shout out to my dear mate Amanda who's birthday it was yesterday & who called me at just the right moment last night when I was having a melt down (she must have just known!!)

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all of you!!!!!!!!!


Thursday, December 27

Holiday Update

Well it's snowing outside as I type this we've probably gotten about a half inch so far today & there was a foot on the ground when we arrived.

Been busy busy busy!! Landed at JFK, passed through customs & immigration in an hour, found Patty, Louise & Jeremy among the crowds. Out to the car & we started the drive north. At 2.10am we arrived home with only 1 stop of food / toilet break.

Breakfast the next morning at the Adirondack General Store where Patty's car got backed into by a hit & run driver. I can't recall the exact next few hours, but I do know that L,J&I went to my mum's house & helped her move furniture around & got our Christmas tree (luckily I know the owner of the tree farm so he'd found me a REALLY nice 8' tall one for just $40 - pays to know people in high places :)

Again lost track of days, but I know we went snow shoeing on Christmas afternoon for about 2 miles around dad's property line. Another day we drove to Glens Falls for food shopping & pick up a rental car (since Patty's is in the shop). Another day we drove to Burlington & walked around Church Street & then took the ferry to Plattsburgh & had sushi for dinner.

Future plans are to go to Saranac Lake / Lake Placid / Willmington (where Whiteface is located) for the day and possibly skiing, but if not for sure some more snow shoeing.

Off to buy food for tonight's combine Open House (for mom) / Birthday Party (for me & Louise) with a few few people from town.

On 1 Jan, we all head to CT for a few days, but that's ages away & I can't think that far in advance, since I clearly have no clue what day it is or what I'm doing tomorrow - LOL

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Thursday, December 20

1 day, 5 hrs, 2 mins

until my flight leaves & I STILL have not packed!! I know I know, for those of you who know me this is no big surprise, but I really thought this time I'd be better. Luckily I don't have to come into work tomorrow at all so I can get all of my last minute packing sorted then!

I have however gotten my laundry done this week :) the last bits & bobs are drying as we speak. I just have to figure out which items to put into my suitcase.

My flight is at 16.00GMT tomorrow, I'll need to arrive at least 2.5 hours before hand, and I have to leave at least 1.5 hours to get out to Heathrow (via Picadilly line cause I'm cheap & don't wanna pay £15 one way to go on the Heathrow Express) so I guess I should leave my flat at the latest at noon. Leaving me a few hours in the morning to pack (if I don't get it all sorted tonight).

I'm so excited to see me mum & lil sis, I haven't seen them in a year, since last Christmas (well actually I saw Patty in February, but only briefly). I'm also excited to see my dad, Louise & Jeremy, who I last saw this fall.

In other news, those of you who were privy to the "Jim & Sara not speaking issue" will be happy to hear, we're resolved our issues. We met up last night at the pub in Kings Cross station and were able to sort it all out - yeah!


Tuesday, December 18

2 days, 22 hrs, 26 mins

until I leave London headed for New York :)

Just been busy filling out forms for the CDC inspection coming up on 7 Jan 2008 so I have nuttin exciting to report.

Had our Department Christmas party last night & goes to show what too much alcohol does to a bunch of scientists, I left early!

Got Kirsty's leaving do tonight (boo, I actually like her!), Karen's tomorrow (yeah!) and Chris' on Thursay (boo again)

Monday, December 17

no ny resolution after all that

so apparently the beginners course is only offered starting in the fall, this course being offered isn't actually beginner (why they call it that is beyond me!!!) so no new years resolution.

4 days, 5 hrs, 36 mins till I fly :)

Friday, December 14

7 days, 5 hrs, 22 mins until I leave for NY!


Wednesday, December 12

just 1 new years resolution

don't normally make new years resolutions but this year I've decided make JUST one . . . can you guess what it is?

Probably not since it's not like the normal ones of join a gym, lose weight, change jobs, move house, stop biting nails, be nicer to co-worker, or the like . . . it's to start to learn a new language - now can you guess which one?

NO, not French, that would be sorta cheating since I did take it for many years when growing up . . . NO, not Spanish, too confusing with the little French that is still in my head. I'm going for a totally different one, I'm going to attempt Thai at SOAS (School of Oriental & African Studies - part of the University of London). They have a 10 week beginners course starting in January & I figured what the heck, give it a go, I mean worse comes to worse, I only learn 10 words & loose £250.

So what do you think????

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Tuesday, December 11

confused on time zones

I'm still not sure what time it is where I am & am a bit worried I might be getting a cold, but then again that might still just be my body being confused about what time it is. But I'm off home now, fingers crossed I'll get another good nights sleep & wake up tomorrow feeling much better. Sorry to all of you who have called & gotten my voicemail, I've been keeping my phone off to help with getting uninterrupted sleep :)
In the mean time you can laugh at me with my poster in Khon Kaen, Thailand at the World Meloidosis Congress:

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Monday, December 10

arrival at Heathrow 06.37

safely back in the UK & thanks to getting a few hours kip on the plane I'm semi-awake (17.49) and at work since about noon. Off home in a bit, but wanted to check in so you didn't worry (as if you would, LOL)


Wednesday, December 5

vientiene, laos

after a lazy day of tubing down the river yesterday we boarded our mini bus minus 3 passengers who were late so we left without them & drove for 3 hours through the laos mountains & made our way to vientiene, the capital of laos. we showered & went to dinner then to a local bar to listen to some music.

today we had a lie in, breakfast, dropped off laundry, and now at the internet cafe. we're meeting up at 1pm to figure out what we want to do this afternoon - I reckon the girls will want to go to the market for a bit of shopping & the boys will probably end up going to the beer laos factory.

i've met the most awesome people on this trip & it will be sad on sunday to say goodbye. tim & kate will continue on to china, australia, new zealand, fuji, LA, Canada, NY and then back to home to england after their year around the world tour. kris & lawerence will hang in vietnam, then cross cambodia en route back to bangkok. dee will join another trip & go to china. scott & alicia and mark will head back to oz. jon & jake will join the trip to china & then head back to england. harley i think is going to travel a bit then meet up with kris & lawrence in bangkok before heading back home to oz. while i'm just heading straight back to london to go to work :( course i can't complain as i'm only back from 10 working days then off to new york for christmas!!!!!

much warmer here in vientiene which is nice. tubing down the river yesterday was fantastic!! it was 5km long trip with 8 bars along the way - if you bought a drink you could jump off the high jump or zip-line swing thing for free. my fear of heights kept me as the photographer, but I did get some awesome shots and a bit of colours :)

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Monday, December 3

long bus ride

safely in vang viengn (sp?) going tubbing down the river tomorrow with some of the girls on the trip. spent most of the day on the bus (6 hours) going through the laos mountains - beautiful with lots of limestone.

tomorrow afternoon we're off to vientienne (capital of laos), rather knackered so don't have much to say at the mo, speak soon, xx

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Sunday, December 2

photos 1

I think the photos have uploaded, but without any captions, attempt to see here

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in luang prabang for 3 days

since i last wrote we spent 2 days on the rather cold windy river after crossing the border into laos. we visited 2 hill villages along the way & got to interact with the locals. we stayed in yet another hill village where there was generator power from 7-10pm only, no hot water, etc. we had to wake up at 6am to go to the local market to get food - saw buffalo, chicken, ducks, birds off all shapes, sizes & colours for sale. we bought banana flowers, pears, buffalo meat, and assorted other veggies, along with eggs to make our lunch on the boat.

arrived in luang prabang last night around 5pm, had our first hot shower in 3 days & dinner at a restaurant along the mekong river. went to the royal palace museum & had a massage (1 hr = $4)this morning, now just wondering around the town looking for cheapest place to get laundry done.

we're at this guest house for 2 more nights, then off again, can't recall where . . .

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en route to Laos

since my last post, we left Bangkok via 13 hour over night train - the food was good & we played cards during the daytime which was fun, but then the sleeping part came which would have been fine if the train wasn't so crap at stopping & so throughout the night we were jerked to a stop which banged your head on the wall (we were in a sleeper carriage). Arriving early in the morning we dropped our bags at the guest house and nibbled on some breakfast & off to ride elephants we went. after that we went on to bamboo raft riding down the river then back to the city center for a wee wonder before going to a wot on the top of the hill (name I'm not going to attempt to spell) at sunset & watched the light change around the gold along with being blessed by a monk before he & other monks & nuns chanted for a bit. Back into city center for dinner together at the night market, followed by shopping (yes even I spent a few bhaat (Thai currency)). this morning we had breakfast, drove 3 hours to a wot all in white (REALLY COOL), in chaing rai where we had lunch at cabbage & condoms (restaurant promoting safer sex & HIV/AIDS awareness - they've been able to reduce the average children per family from 7 down to 2 in just 30 years. an hour more driving & we got to help the rice farmers cut down the rice. 45 more minutes drive & we're in chaing khong a border town between Thailand & Laos. tomorrow we're on the boat for 2 days down the Mekong river (which btw is just outside my guesthouse door).

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en route to Chaing Mai

Leaving Bangkok in about an hour via a night train to Chaing Mai. It's been a lovely 3 days in Bangkok, where it is flippin hot, especially in the sun!!!

Brief update:

Saturday after arriving in Bangkok, Anna & I walked from our hotel to what we thought was the grand palace, turned out to be wat po where the 2nd largest reclining Buddha is (largest is only 1m longer), then we came back to the hotel for a wee nap whilst waiting for Tash's boyfriend Rob to arrive. After he'd showered we went up to the 24th floor sky lounge to see the sky lit up & the full moon. Nute (Dave M's host child about 10 years ago) picked us up there with her fiance Charlie & took us to the locals celebration of Lai Kutung festival on the river - we took a boat over the river after watching the beautiful boat parade, then eat some wonderful food & hiked up the pagoda, made wishes on our kutungs before placing them in the water, then back to the hotel to get Anna to the airport, where upon we headed to the tourist strip (name of which evades me now).

Sunday morning Rob & I walked to the Grand Palace, toured around there, went to the BMK mall where we grabbed some food, then onto the sky train up to the weekend market, then back to the hotel for my group meeting. After that the group had dinner together in china town.

This morning - dressed in yellow (since Monday is yellow for the king day, pink is Tuesday for the queen) we headed to the pier to pick up our long boat for a tour of the river & canals, from there a detailed tour of wat po (where Anna & I had been on Saturday) then lunch near the naval base, then free afternoon. One of the girls on the trip is feeling a bit weird, so I went to the chemist to get her some paracetamol & motion sickness pills . . . amasing thing I learned you can buy anything you want without a prescription - including rather strong drugs!

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on way to bangkok

leaving khon kaen today for bangkok & not sure when i'll have email access again, so wish me luck on my adventures . . . don't fret i will take LOTS of photos!!!


Khon Kaen

Safely here in Khon Kaen . . . hope everyone else is doing well. Took us 26 hours to get here, lots of time in airports, planes & crap airline movies & food, but well worth the journey!


Saturday, December 1


Knowing I'll be away, I've pre-written 2 weeks worth of posts . . . hope that's okay with everyone (this post will stay on top while I'm gone so you will know to keep searching through the month of November archieves (click on Nov on the right side bar) so you don't miss any of the exciting differences between the UK & US or my sorry attempt at poetry.


Power UK Style

And even though this is not posted in Nov for NaBloPoMo, in continuing with my theme of differences between the UK & US the electric sockets over here are bigger and have 3 prongs of which one is plastic & only used for protection to open the covers over the "live" prongs (no need to have those baby proof covers like we have in the US). Another difference is that each socket has an individual on & off switch - ruddy annoying when you first live here & are always wondering why the power won't work, before you realise it's just a matter of flipping a switch.