Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My links

Some of you may have noticed that I have a few more "Li'l B" blog pages in my favorites on Facebook. A few weeks ago I got bored during the hours stuck in a tin can and decided to explore the web and get a jump on my writing career. Most of you know I plan to be a proffessional novelist when I can switch jobs. I realized that being oncall 24/7 for systemproblems left me with a lot of free time. Why wait for three years to enter the writing community and get friends that know the industry? That in mind I started a few more blogs and have more plans. With all this going on I figured it would be nice to tell you all about my different sites.

Li'l B's Ramblings is this blog. (obviously :) ) It is designed to tell my family and friends (the ones who know me from my life before the writing) about what is going on in my life, where I visit, and what I do with my various hobbies.

Li'l B's Writing Journey is a blog for writers by a writer. Though it may talk about publishing industry news or internet marketing news or facts, it is more designed to help improve story writer's latest works. I'm currently writing a series on how to create characters, things to keep in mind about their past. My next series will be about things to think about while world building for sci-fi writers.

Li'l B's Reviews for Writers is my newest blog and doesn't have a post yet. I'm planning to review things like the books to improve my writing that I read anyway and to analyze movies I feel useful to writers for whatever purpose. Again, this is a blog based for writers by a writer. It is also my main "moneymaker". I'm looking into internet marketing and plan to test out different ideas on this site whereas my travel blog won't have advertising (at least for now) and Writing Journey is based more towards facts than advertising money.

SC's Discoveries is a story I need to restart. It was an idea for a writing outlet before I did enough research to really make a writing home anywhere. It was also meant to be like a blog with me coming up with a weeks worth of blogs at a time and not really thinking beyond that. I have since realized that way is horrible for writing a good story. Without knowing where I want each character to end up, it's kind of hard to write a coherent story. Now I'm trying to figure out a rough but more detailed outline for the story before continuing. Unfortunately I get distracted easily and am having trouble just sitting down and doing the work.

My profile on Writing.com is a more up-to-date place for my writings. I currently have two short stories up there and am working on two more right now. These stories are what I believe is called "flash fiction" which means really short and often written in a very short time. My current idea is to keep all my stories under or around two thousand words, which is only about two pages typed at size twelve font. Many of my stories right now are background for characters that will meet for a book or series on a space station. I plan to have background stories on about twenty characters and keep in mind each of their stories throughout the work or series. It sounds like a challenge but those are fun and a writer is always looking to grow. However, I still have little more than a few characters and a few random ideas for the story so it's a while off still. However, I'm always loking for feedback so feel free to stop by and let me know what you think.

That's all I have up for now. Soon I plan to put up a profile on Squidoo.com that I'll keep up to date as well as starting a jewelry line/site for my jewelry line which I'm thinking of naming LRuth Designs. However, that site is a while off. I need to finish the two projects I'm currently working on and my focus is more on my writing than on my beading. One of my New Years Resolutions (or close enough) was to send a book out to publishers by the end of the year. I'm done with the first draft and realized I now need to completely rewrite it. Iforgot to show the main character has emotions!! Stupid me, oh well, it goes with the learning part of writing. Anyways, I adjusted the plan to having the rewrite and another draft done by New Years and send out the query letter by the end of January. The general rule for writing a a query letter is not to send it out until your work is perfect but the examples say that just getting a reply can take months. By then I'll have had at least another month to do another draft and see how it is.
Well, that's all for now. Feel free to stop by anywhere and let me know what you think. For now this is Li'l B signing off and hoping you all a lovely week.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A different type of barbeque



The next time I went out in town in Korea was with my coworkers. One of them had found a nice authentic Korean barbeque place and he insisted we go there every time we get here. Unlike the place in International Market, this one we sat on the floor on pillows and cooked our own meat on an actual grill instead of on a platter on a grill. Also at this store the vegetables were on the side, as were the sauces, instead of getting cooked with the meat and boiling off the sauce. They brought out hot coals to cook the meat over and leaves (basil and lettuce) to make a wrap out of the cooked meat and any sides we may want. The meat were pork and steak while the sides were rice, soup, kimchi, kimchi cakes, radish slices, sprouts, various sauces, and a few other things I really didn’t use with the meat. It was awesome by itself.
After we finished the meal half of us headed back with a side trip to ice cream and the other half went to International Market for Krispy Crème donuts. After donuts L and I went to the DVD store. She was looking for another CD and I was just looking while she shopped. The American CDs were a rather well represented although I listen to country and it’s not as popular overseas. I wound up buying two old movies and a new one for about ten dollars all together. Not bad considering that The Three Faces of Eve has been on my list to watch for a while. It’s the only movie I know of based around a girl with multipersonality disorder and it earned an Oscar for best actress. Other than that, I really haven’t done anything interesting in Korea yet. So this is Li’l B signing off and wishing you all a lovely day.

Korea version 2 part 1



My first day in Korea was marked by fog. We couldn’t pull in because of the fog so we wound up sitting out in the sea for hours waiting to be able to see anything. I left with a friend, I’ll call her L, mid-morning and we went to what we call International Market. (I’m not sure what the real name is but that term fits.) The place is one of the typical places we can get buses to so whenever we stop here the market is an awesome place to get anything from designer clothes to vendor clothes sold in street stands to cheap jewelry to expensive jewelry to household goods to lighting fixtures. We got to the market by 11 and decided lunch was first on the menu so we found a Korean barbeque place. Now that probably brings to mind the sauce many Americans put on their grilling and call “bbq”. Not so with the Korean style. Korean barbeque is really food brought to the table uncooked and put on a stovetop put in the table. Many Koreans cook the food themselves but the restaurant we went to wouldn’t let us cook ours. They monitored the time and came back to stir our dish of meat, bean sprouts, and tofu pieces until they decided it was okay for us to start eating the dish. (That may have had something to do with the fact that we had a small squid uncut cooking under there to begin with. After it had cooked some they cut the squid into bite sized pieces and mixed it in to cook with the rest.) The food was good (the squid a little chewy but good) although I did learn something about the sauce. The longer it sits on the heated pan, the more liquid evaporates therefore turning a moderately spicy dish into an eye watering dish. (Mental note to self: stirring can be bad after letting it sit a while.) After we got done eating we went wandering around the market some. She was looking for clothes and a specific CD of a Korean band and I was looking at clothes, jewelry, souvenirs… Unfortunately the gloomy day didn’t help our mood. Neither of us were quite in the mood to buy anything. After about an hour of mindless wandering we finally walked to a Lotte Center which is like the Dias in Japan: a large department store that is more like a mall with all the separate designers having separate areas to sell things in. L figured it would be a good place to find a CD store or clothes she may like. Yeah, didn’t happen. There were no CDs or DVDs and the clothes were too expensive. ($130 for a pair of Levis? Not quite my cup of tea.) We wandered up six floors of the place before giving up and deciding to take the train to another Lotte Center this one was connected to a Lotte Hotel with a casino inside. After wandering for about an hour in the Center (she bought a jacket and I got a shake so we were happier) I commented that I’d never been to a casino. We were barely halfway through the afternoon so we went to the casino. It was small and barely occupied. Two of the four poker tables were being played, the roulette tables were closed, and only five to eight of the maybe forty slots were in use. There is a reason for that as it’s illegal for Koreans to gamble. The only reason they allow the casino is attached to an international hotel for tourists. I spent maybe twenty dollars and won at least half that back and lost it again before we left after another hour.
However, L got the directions to a CD store in walking distance and we headed out. We walked in to a book store thinking that was it. Nope, just a few levels of Korean books. We walked out the store on the second floor…right across from an art store. Yeah, we both got lost in there. She found special pens for drawing cartoons and bought them. She explained in the US they get bought for about $10 a pen, in the store they sold for about $4. Not bad. She bought 24. Combined with notebooks, cool Asian papers, lots of stickers and a few random things, she spent about $200 there. I managed to find thick gauge wire in black, green, and blue that I bought. Eventually I’ll make them into awesome chain maille jewelry or wire wrapped pendants. I’ve been keeping my eyes out for good gauge colored wire and decided to buy a lot since on thick gauges you get less length. Combined with some notebooks to organize my writings and stuff needed to organize study for work, my stuff came out to under fifty bucks. Much more conservative than my friend’s. However, the stuff she got was much less expensive there and she was happy with all her buys. (I’ve seen some of her art by her new pens and they do look pretty cool. Now if only I could draw beyond stick figures…) After that we went downstairs and she bought her CD and I found a set of ten female Disney movies for about twelve dollars so we left the building happy.
By then it was almost supper time so we decided to call it a day and went to Mr. Pizza for supper. Their motto is “Mr. Pizza Love for Women.” I know that because she had been saying that phase all week in her cute Korean voice. Luckily she didn’t say it so much that it lost the humor so going there for super was good. The point of that store is Korean pizza. That means corn on most of the pizzas which wasn’t too odd. The sweet potato filling instead of cheese in the crust was odd but not bad. We got a 4 in1 pizza that had their main four pizzas mixed on one pizza, two pieces per type. I must say that though it definitely wasn’t American, the meal was still pretty good.
All in all we had a good day out in Korea and I’m glad I went out. Until next time, this is Li’l B signing out and wishing you all a lovely week.

Monday, August 9, 2010

My thoughts on Manila

What do I think of Manila? It is definitely dirtier than the US or Japan, it looks a lot more gritty with more littering. Also there are a number of people who were really thin, especially in the inner city. However, my idea or a poor country was obviously created by those “sponsor a kid” commercials I used to see on television. Seeing a kid in the neighborhood H4H set up walking around with an IPod and hearing a number of radios in that community surprised me, as did the fact that all the people who got houses in the community were expected to pay back the $3000 dollars it took to build the houses in three years. Granted, that’s still really cheap and easily done in a few months by most families in the US, but it changed my view of a “poor” country some. I’m glad the kids there all have clothes to wear and food to eat, mostly (there was a comment made that some people can only afford one meal a day in some places in the Philippines). It just changed my view of a poor country from a super-poor country to a moderately poor country. That whole “dollar a day” thing wouldn’t have been much good for the kids of the community we worked in, though maybe in more rural communities. Oh well, I guess that’s why we travel to these countries: to see what life really is like instead of believing what the television tells us.
I apologize if these posts weren’t as interesting as usual. The days I was out I would much rather have been sleeping so I didn’t get to excited or adventurist while out. I guess I would recommend visiting Manila as long as you have a friend that can get you around safely and ignore the litter on the streets and the poor architecture lining most streets of family shops and homes. The city is designed for tourism and there are many interesting shops and amusements around the city.
That's all for this trip so this is Li'l B signing off and wishing you all a lovely week.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

My last day in Manila






The second full day started much the same as the first with me not willing to get out of bed. However, I had set up a tour for the day, the second one I’d been on since getting on this ship, and couldn’t stay in bed. We met on the pier about 8:30 am and got in a truck, three people from the ship and me. The tour guide said it was too early for the museums to be open so had we eaten breakfast? We all had so we stopped at Starbuck’s for a snack and then went to an ATM. After that one of the girls wanted to see the Church of San Augustine so that was next. Apparently the church is one of three Basque churches in the Philippines and is on an endangered church list because the neighborhood can no longer maintain it. Most of the church, minus the sanctuary of course, is now a museum of Catholic history in the Philippines. It was interesting, although I’m not Catholic so I thought there was too much of it and the paintings were obviously not done by Western painters. However, the ceiling of the sanctuary was amazing. I took a few pictures to put up later but the ceiling looks like it’s intricately carved. The amazing part is that it is pure painting and shading to give that impression. Well done paint job. The next place we went was Fort Santiago. It was once the entrance point of the Walled City, or their old capital. At one point the capital was a large walled triangle with Fort Santiago as the seaside point. Now the area is a number of buildings in various states of disrepair. I took pictures but it was hot and I chose to sit in the shade rather than explore too much. After the fort we crossed the street to a store that sold native crafts and jewelry. Apparently pearls are very common here and rather inexpensive. After the store we got back in the truck and went to the Oceanarium for lunch and a trip through the aquarium. I had a spaghetti with chicken on top but the sauce was a native green thing, kind of spicy but not really hot and watermelon juice (hm, heaven). It was a good meal although maybe I should have gotten an appetizer like my companions. After that was the trip through the exhibits which were cool. I was starting to tire and after being at the aquarium under Mall of America and the aquarium at Monterey, this one wasn’t amazing, although the shark tank was cool.
Our last stop was the Mall of Asia. The type of stores were similar to Mall of America, as in designer names and more expensive than usual, but it was nice. The mall has a theater with about six or seven screens, an ice rink about the size of one at a park back home, and an open air center for concerts of such. I was there during a competition for martial arts involving sticks and only the one person, not an opponent. Interesting but not in my mood and with my lack of knowledge. One thing I should mention is that at least a fourth of the mall is outdoors. I ate at a popular fast food place called Chowking which served a mix of Chinese food and Filipino food. I had a mix plate that was rather good. When we were dropped off the tour guide gave us a balut to try and the others opted out so I got to try one. A balut is a chicken or duck egg fertilized and let to grow for a few days before being boiled. Luckily my egg hadn’t formed the fetus yet but the white stuff was definitely harder than the usual egg. Um, yeah, not trying that again.
That's all for today, come back tomorrow for my impressions of Manila. Until then: this is Li'l B signing off and wishing you all a lovely day.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

First full day in Manila

One of the first things I should mention when starting this day was one of the first things my friends told me: traffic rules in the Philippines are mere suggestions. People merge left and right with no signals, they make lanes wherever there’s room, despite the street markings, and motorcycles and what they call tricycles travel between cars as if they are always seen, darting here and darting there. Because of this the coordinators decided we needed protection so the two buses, one for our group and one for a group of Filipinos, were sandwiched between a squad car in front and a SWAT car in back as well as a few cars from the Embassy since they had set it up. On the way I took a number of pictures of the poor conditions: the shacks the people live in, a pile if trash that almost looks like the recycle bin somewhere, people on bikes, people in jeepayes, some pictures of their tricycles, an interesting picture of a billboard for corned tuna… I’ll put those up soon as we hit home port again. Jeepayes are cars that lo k kinda like pickups but have a cover with open sides and benches inside. They seem to serve as the main city buses here, traveling a specified route but without marked stops anywhere. Thy see, to be privately owned as each one is decorated differently though many are merely “decorated” with brand names and advertisements. The tricycles are pedal bikes or motor bikes connected to a seat with a cover that rolled next to it. The tricycles seem to be the poor man’s taxis as there are actual car taxis around too.
I guess the project is actually a community H4H has basically built from the squatters up to actual cement homes. Apparently landowners get annoyed at squatters (people who live and work the land but don’t pay rents or such) when the land is doing bad and they need more land so they kick the squatters off. The H4H group in Manila got a large donation of land from a church and decided to build a community for those squatters. By the time we got there, over a hundred houses had been built in over twenty years by H4H and other houses had probably been built by the inhabitants. It was a nice community even if it was really poor. Most of the houses were one story and maybe ten by ten or fifteen by fifteen for an entire family. The project we were to work on was the daycare/preschool for the community. Some of the guys worked on shoveling rocks into the mixer while others passed the buckets of cement up to the second floor to lay it out and the rest of us painted black metal pieces red. It was an interesting morning. Did you know Tagalog is the main language of Manila (behind English) but that it’s not quite the main native language? If I understood the guy right, each province has its own dialect that is basically a different language. I hadn’t known that. Anyways, they brought lunch for us all and it was donated by McDonalds, the main pizza place in the area, and KFC as well as we were given samples of strawberry Oreos. (for the record, the Oreos were not disgusting. The strawberry filling was rather tasty and the cookie was the regular Oreo cookie, but they were not good mixed.) The food was delicious but I had been hoping for local cuisine. Oh well, it was what it was. Unfortunately I had two cups of soda. I had meant to only have one but didn’t want to be rude a decline another. Yeah, hot day, burning sun, and I always have trouble getting enough water. The soda was not a good idea. When I went back to painting it was to dizziness every time I straightened up. Luckily I only had two more pieces to paint to we got o sit down (the painters) and watch while the community kids finished a game. Then the other painters joined a game until it started raining and we dashed to the community center to avoid the downpour. Fortunately for the community the rain held off until a few minutes after the cement layers had finished so everything that was supposed to get done that day got done.
We ran for the community center as the guy in charge from our ship had a plaque to give the community members. Yeah, big group, small area, everyone talking over the pelting rain on the metal roof, people trying to get my email and while away the time talking. Forcing smiles gets really annoying after a while. Eventually I realized the bus was open and a few people were already in there so I made a dash. Hmm, silence, or at least order. Not long after that we headed out and made it back in time for me to get chow, do some work, and do my laundry.
Well, that's all for the second day so I'll sign out now and wish you all a lovely day until tomorrow.

Friday, August 6, 2010

My first night in the Phillipines

Okay, first day out:
Actually it was the night. We pulled in and the week had been stressful and the day chaotic. I had planned a night to rest and reboot. Instead my friend decided she wanted to go out and asked me. In all honesty, I just wanted to sleep, I was really dragging. However, I said yes and we went to a mall called Glorietta Mall. It turned out to be five separate buildings in one area. Section one was the cheapest, it had the movie theater and fast food places as well as the cheaper boutiques and the Asian version of Snyders. There I picked up three different packs of American candy (Gobstoppers, Pixie Sticks, and Runts) that should last me a while. They are excellent ways to stay awake, much like chewing gum but my jaws complain when I chew too much gum. We also found a store called Tickles that was just a random collage of useful or amusing things. My friend bought a lighter that looks like a light bulb (and glows too) as well as a lighter nearly six inches tall. I picked up a screwdriver with seven different tips and looked at a case with a fork, a spoon, and chopsticks you twist together so four pieces make two. It was an interesting store. We travelled through all but one of the buildings and wound up having Bubba Gump for supper. I know I’ve complained about going overseas and eating American food but when we saw Bubba Gump on the menu we didn’t really look at anything else. Sometimes good old American food just hits the spot. However, if you want food from every nationality to choose from, go to Glorietta mall. I saw a lot of Italian places, a number of local chains, and Bubba Gump was next to a “modern Filipino” restaurant and across from an Arabic/Persian/Indian place. Quite a lot for diversity. However, we were barely done with supper about 7 pm when I apologized but told her I was done for the night. I needed to get to bed so I could get up regular time to work on the Habitat for Humanity project I had signed up for the next day. We wound up waiting for the bus for about a half hour in which it was raining. The thing about many of these island countries is that it rains without warning and rains hard. We were lucky that the hotel behind the bus stop had a covered entrance so we stood there. We still didn’t get back until about 8:30 and then decided to take a quick look through the venders set up on the pier for us. Neither of us planned to buy anything. However, she got a house in a bottle and I bought a mother of pearl heart pendant and a large amber pendant for about twenty dollars together. Not a bad deal.
Well, that was my first experience in Manila, Philippines and this is me signing off and wishing you all a lovely night.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Palau




Yep, Palau was our first stop on our short voyage around the Pacific. Unfortunately I had spent so much money on uniforms and stuff for the trip that I only had about $70 to spend. Luckily for me, the downtown area was only about half a mile along one road so there wasn't much to spend money on. With its gorgeous beaches, amazingly wooded shoreline, and clear waters, the island is a photographer's dream. With the reef nearby, steep cliffs for diving, and many resorts, it is also a tourist's dream. However, the downtown of Koror had a few souvenir shops, a few burger joints with outside seating, two grocery stores, and two malls that were two stories tall. Not much for spending a day in the downtown area, especailly on a rainy day. We rode a speed boat into the small harbor that didn't cater to anything bigger and decided to ignore the nice smelling bar to find food in town. We'd barely left the parking lot when it started to downpour. When we got off the bus it was barely misting. A minute later it was downpouring. I had brought an umbrella and we were dressed for the rain so we kept walking. Ten minutes we were walking back to try the other direction and my thin capris were soaked and my foot was slpping out of one sandal. We kept walking about a block and a half to an international cafe I'd seen on the way in to find it was closed for renovations so we headed back to the bus for the bar on the pier. We stopped quick at a souvenir shop for a few pieces then hurried to the bus. Including the wait, we spent maybe an hour downtown and were soaked through. The thing about the rain was that it didn't stop but it went from mist to downpour to pelting rain to mist to start again in anything from five to twenty minute cycles. Not good for aimless wandering, especailly when the food joints were few and had no real variety on the menu.
Finally we got to the bar and she ordered a cheeseburger and I got a seafood noodle dish and we shared a fried calamari appetizer. We were nearly finished with our food when two of the three guys we'd hung out with in Russia showed up and we invited them to pull up chairs. All night the service was really slow but they likely weren't used to such crowds on the small island, especailly ordering food. However, the four of us spent the next three hours asking each other random questions and drinking when stuff showed up. I definitely got some off the wall stories to remember (some may show up in a story some day...) and laughed most the night. All in all it wasn't a bad night and I still have twenty dollars left for my next port.
Well, that's all for now, this is Li'l B wishing you all a lovely week and signing off for now.

Trip home

Ah, home sweet home, how I wish I had seen more of you. This past July I took a trip home to Minneapolis, Minnesota for two weeks. I got on a plane in the Narita airport in Yokyo and got back to the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport about 7 pm on the second. There I was met by my parents and a strange bald guy that stood up with them. It took me a moment to realize the guy was my now bald older brother who was home for the summer from school. I hadn't seen him in person since at least the july before, probably the christmas of '08. I hadn't expected him to come with so it really did take me a moment to recognize him. Well, after that surprise we headed to Davanni's, the main pizza place on my list to visit while home. Hmm...Divanni's pizza. There just aren't any good pizza joints out here in Asia, at least not American pizza. one place makes the crust too thick so it's more bread than pizza and another always burns the cheese so it's all brown and rather crunchy by the time I get it. And Japanese piza just is not the same thing as good old American pizza. The next day we headed out to the Mall of America to look for shoes for the coming wedding, accessories, and I wanted to hit a few specific stores and the bead store for a bead book. (It's kinda hard for me to read the ones they sell in Japan or anywhere in Asia as they tend to be in the local language. :) ) I picked up some hair stuff, though the one product I was actually lookinf for, the Clipdini, I'll have to buy online. I loaned it to my friend for clubbing in Tokyo on my birthday and she lost it. It was one of my favorites and I was not happy but I found where to order it so I'll do that soon. I also found my sandals for the wedding and some earings as well as a pretty flower for my hair and we got Arby's for lunch before we left. My mom was having trouble walking that day and I was still suffering from jetlag so we only stayed there about two hours but we got all we wanted. The next day was church and Sonic for lunch (Hmm...) and we went out to Rosedale to watch the fireworks. It's always fun to sit somewhere in the relative darkness with misqitoes biting you and see fireworks from all directions before the ones shot off by where you are go off. It was also fun watching the kids. one mom behind us had brought her daughter who was around one or two that did not want to sit still while a couple in front of us had brough sparklers for their granddaughters who were about four and five or six. The next day I spent unpacking my monster suitcase, going through the stuff my sister had put in the attic, especailly pulling down all my old stories I DID NOT want up there (grumble, grumble), and packing for the coming trip. However, I got to spend a few hours with one of my highschool friends and her family and adorable son. It was nice I managed to see her, I had forgotten how much fun it is to just sit and talk to someone my age with the same background as me. I don't have that out in Japan as I am likely the most sheltered person on my boat.
Anyways, the next day we headed up to Manitowok, Wisconsin (I think I spelled that right...) so my dad could do the lighting on my sister's play of Willie Wonka. We got there Tuesday night, the first play was on Thursday night and we had to be in Tomah, Wisconsin by noon Friday so the guys could pick up tuxes for my brother's wedding on Saturday. While in my sister's town I helped paint some blacklight paint that showed during on of the scenes, fetched a number of last minute things from the house to the attached exchurh/theater, went to Bernstein's for delicious chocolate and a sandwich, and thumbed through the dvd collection my sister and her husband have acquired. I also saw the dress rehearsals on Wednesday night, the one for the kids fourth grade and under and the one for the kids fourth grade and older. Both were pretty good but I realized I am far too spoiled on Hollywood acting and effects that I was a horrible judge of real life stuff. Anyways, I never did see the first performance of the older kids show on Thursday, though I heard it was awesome, because I opted to take the silent house as my chance to finally write in my story. I knew that it probably hurt or offended my sister that I wasn't there but the only real plan I had for that two week trip was to finish my story, which at that point only had three rather large scenes left and I only had until Sunday night. So I missed the play but got where I wanted to be done by that night. After the play we went out to eat at a good restaurant and I got some sleep.
The next day my parents, my brother, and I headed down to Tomah, getting there about ten to fifteen minutes late but the group of my oldest brother, his best man, the bride, and her family had waited for them so we checked into the room, they drove up to where the tux shop was and me and my mom went to Perkins for brunch before returning to the hotel for a nap and more story writing. That night was the wedding rehearsal where we saw more of her family and a cousin of ours that was an usher and my last brother showed up. After that was the rehearsal dinner and the brothers went off to the bar attached to the hotel for a "bachelor party" (it doesn't quite work well when the groom refuses more than five drinks but the bride was also there so it may be excused...) and my parents and I headed up to watch some tv and go to bed. The next day was the wedding and I went for an Asian theme. I had bought an outfit in Vietnam that looked like a floor length dress with a tightskirt and the typical Asian collar. In reality it was clth that made the skirt but had slits up both sides nearly to the bottom rib and pants that are worn under it. With it I wore my new sandals, some twisted earrings I noticed were similar to the bride's, my hair in a bun under an Asian hair assessory, and a flower pinned above the bun. The hair assessory is very common in Asia, one I picked up in Singapore and the rest I picked up in a Claire's inn Hakata, Japan. It is made of two combs connected decoatively by seed beads on elastic string. The vendor in Singapore gave a dvd on different uses of the piece which I finally watched Saturday morning so I can finally use them with comfort.
Well, we got to the church in time to see the wedding pictures and stand in for some of them. The bride and her bride's maids looked gorgeous and though the groom looked dashing in his tux, my bald brother said it was a once in a lifetime event to see him in a tux, it would never happen again. We'll see about that... Anyway, the wedding was gorgeous and every sibling of my mother's was represented: two of her sister's came, one with her family, one of her brother's came with his wife, son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter,and the other two brothers each had a kid there. Not bad for how spread out that family is. The reseption was fun, no one seemed to notice that I slipped from my "glass slippers" into not nearly as fancy flipflops. I got to hold my cousin's baby a while as they sat next to me, I got to talk to almost all my cousins for a long time as well as the aunts and uncles there, I got to dance with two of my brothers, and I got lots of pictures. Not a bad night, even though the headache I had earlier at the church came back and I decided to leave early for bed. My brothers decided to stay the whole time and when the party ended at midnight they merely moved to the bar with a few others of the younger generation. They were not too happy in the morning when they needed to drive a few hours to drop one off at the airport and the other was driving on to Minneapolis. Oh well, they survived and we got brunch at Perkins before going to the bride's parent's house to watch them open presents. It was mid afternoon before we headed for home, stopping for supper at Culver's, the last food place on my list of must haves. I wrote all the way home and only had a few lines to finish when we pulled in the driveway. I didn't sleep that night, other than about an hour after laundry and the last of my errands were done. We left the house about five in the morning Monday and I finally got back to my room in Yokosuka about nine at night on Tuesday.
I had an awesome time in the US but would like to say this. To those I don't see every day, it takes me time to warm up to them. My parents and the two younger brothers are kind of an exception because I call my parents almost every week and me and my brothers are always picking on each other over Facebook so it's easy to do the same in person. To other people, like cousins or the people at church, it takes me time to talk to people and I hope no one during this trip thought I didn't like them. I know I probably seemed to ignore my brother-in-law and possibly a few cousins I don't know well anymore, maybe even some of the bride's family, but that was not the intent. I'm not good with people and have only a few friends over here who actually hear what's on my mind. Often I just don't talk because I don't know if my sense of humor will insult or cause an awkward silence. Anyways, I hope that made sense, it was a worry for me on the way home.
Well, this is Li'l B wishing you all a lovely day and signing off.

The Japanese Imperial Palace

First off, I realize I haven't blogged in a while and I apologize. This was meant to be a travel journal and I don't travel by boat all year long. When I'm in Yokosuka it is often just easier to stay indoors online or with a good book then to decide on a place to go and what to do. I need to work on that. I also haven't been doing much on my projects although I have finally finished a very rough draft of the book I hope to send out to publishers by the end of the year. Now I have set that aside while we travel again and need to catch up on my blogging. The first blog is my trip to the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.
Although, to be more accurate, I should say the grounds of the Palace. Nobody other than workers get beyond the moat except for on two days of each year: New Year's Day and the Emperor's birthday. However, outside the moat is a large park used mostly by runners, bikers, and tourists. I got a lovely picture of Tokyo skyline over a river as I left the subway station and got pictures of a number of gatehouses but nothing really of the stuff inside the high walls.
I also got a picture of a bridge over the moat and noticed that there is a wire just out of the water on short black poles on the grassy shore that is used to sense if people jump in the moat and try to climb the grassy bank under the bridge. Definitely a sign of the modern era. Another thing I noticed was that one of the gaurdhouses seemed to have a gaurd where the street was cordaned off and statues of gaurds by the gate itself that I thought amusing and very detailed. As I watched, the statues ddn't seem to move. It wasn't until a few minutes later when I was looking from the side that I realized they were actually real gaurds!! the one on the right seemed to be going up and down from heel to toe of his feet to aleviate the pains of standing for so long. It wasn't obvious but if I stared at the gaurd long enough I could see the movement. Next I sat down on one of the benches to eat my lunch. One of the things I love about Japan is its convienience stores, like the gas station stores in America. They sell things like sushi rolls or salads, all sorts of native dishes that were made that morning or that afternoon and just ready to be unwrapped and eaten as well as selling drinks. I can get a whole meal, enough to fill me for hours, for under five dollars easy. One of my favorite things, and one I have only found in such stores, are triangles of sticky rice stuck together so I can hold it in my hand by a corner and not really have it crumble. there are two types of rice cakes I've seen, the type where the flavor maker is mixed in with the rice, like my favorite version with tuna mixed throughout the cake, or the tyupe where the flavor was only in the middle, such as the version I had that day which was seaweed. I've also found some awesome drinks such as the peach mango tea that I can only find at the stores. The rice cakes are wrapped in plastic to keep them moist and the plastic is wrapped around a flat sheet of seaweed I'm supposed to eat the rice cake with but I rarely do that, I prefer the rice without the dry seaweed flavor Anyways, my breakfast had been a roll of the sushi with rice wrapped in seaweed that Americans are so familiar with and my lunch was a rice cake while I sipped from a few drinks all day. It turned out rather nice.
After lunch I went through the East Gardens. There I saw a number of green trees and bushes that all looked alike. I definitely came in the wrong season but I was also getting grumpy. The day had not statred out lovely, a friend had kept me talking a number of hours after I had planned to start out, by then I had probably walked well over two miles in flipflops, and I had a backpack on that must have weighed at least thirty pounds that I had been carrying for going on four hours by then. Also, I was sightseeing alone, it was hot and sunny, and my mind barely registered the music coming in from my I-pod any longer. It was time to head back and relax so the Gardens were not all that interesting for me. I did manage to see two long gaurd houses the old samuris used to live in to keep an eye on all the old courtiers travelling through the East Gardens to or from the Palace. I also saw a break in the wall that showed into the Palace grounds but all I saw was a modern looking street. Above one of the gaurd houses I saw satellites so the royal family or their servants apparently get satellite and dish hook ups. Other than that I decided was too much so I headed back to the subway station. On the way I stopped at a square area of fountains. There was one fountain near me that sprayed water high into the air from a number of sprouts and one on the other side that rained down water in a sheer wall or a light mist above a fountain that formed a ball of water. Each fountain worked in harmony so each one was the focus at a different time and created quite the show.I sat down and rested my bag on a seat for about a half hour watching the fountains and a pigeon that had no fear of humans. After that I managed my way through the subway and finally got to my bed for a welcomed shower and rest.
And that was my day in Tokyo so this is Li'l B signing off until the next post.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

My weekend

Well, it sorta worked. I got about 18 pages writen in my story about SC since Friday night (it is now Sunday afternoon) and 6 pages done in my story to get published. Unfortunately I've hit a writer's block in my story to get published but I think I know how to get around that, it's just gonna take time. I got no beading done, but I plan to organize my room and work on my spider so I should feel kinda accomplished tonight. Well, that's all for now, this is Li'l B signing off and wishing you all a lovely week.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Random thoughts

Well, it's been a few weeks and I have nothing to report. I bought my plane ticket home for my brother's wedding. Hopefully this time it sticks. That will be a very busy two weeks but I will hopefully get together with at least one of my old school friends before departing for my sister's play and my brother's wedding. However, I've accomplished nothing since I pulled in and it kinda has me feeling lazy. Although I started the blog story, I really haven't done anything with it. I need to at least get some sort of idea of the plot or at least the problem in the land that they need to solve. All I know is that it will hopefully involve her guiding humans into the Forest for clues or to solve the problem. I started one entry but am unsure if she is dealing with a dragon or a witch and if she's fighting it or merely enchanting it again. Also, in the story I want to try to publish this year I finished the first part, or Act as I think of them, and know the last Act as well as what I want to do emotionally to characters, now I just have to figure out some sort of plot line for the second Act. (No, I'm not writing a script but I think of it as a three Act novel so I know where I am in the emotional structure. Did I mention writing emotion is hard for me? All my romances are so corny...) Plus, I have so many other stories started that I need to decide what is going on with them. Some are merely a scene I had in my head that I needed to write down or merely designed to be experiments, things to help me write differently, but they do no good just sitting on my harddrive...
Also, I should get back to my beading. My spider has a frame and the beads are beyond his eyes, but that's about it. Also, I have a gift I want to make someone that finally came so I need to start that. So many projects that I haven't even touched in close to a month now.
So, I have decided to play hermit all weekend and try not to leave my room except for my nightly run and for a quick bite this weekend. I need to reconnect with my inner muse again. Let's see how much of a productive weekend I can get, shall we?
Well, this is Li'l B signing off and wishing you all a lovely weekend.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Final update

Okay, now that you are all up to date on my travels, I thought I should update you on my latest doings. I mentioned that in Thailand I decided to redo a necklace I left home. Well, that is still on the list, but my current project is actually going to be a beaded spider. It will be black with red accents. I've already got about half the head done and am quite happy with it. True, it won't be perfect but it should be enough to get a second look or two when I bring it into work. Hehehe...
Also, some of you have been wanting to read my stories, or maybe that is people who don't know I have a blog... Anyways, if you want to click on my profile on the side of this blog, I have started another blog. It is completely fake as the setting is barely connected with Earth of any type. The "journal" is a way for me to create a world that has been floating around in my head begging to be heard. So come along for the trip if you want and explore a new world as SC learns her place in it.
Also, if you have any ideas as to places for me to visit while I'm out here in Japan, let me know and I'll see if I can get there.
For now this is Li'l B signing off and wishing you all a lovely day.

Mother Russia





Our last stop was Vladavostok, Russia for Victory Day there. Unfortunately we all had to go out in uniform so that was a pain in itself. The first day out I went with B2 again and her photographer friend. Yeah, apparently she likes pictures of grimy back alleys so I got some interesting pictures of the poorer parts of the small area we were allowed to walk around in but we had fun teasing her about her habit so it evened out. :) We also found a Russian Orthodox church that B2 wanted to go in. I stopped her because I seem to remember that at least females need to have their hair covered in that religion. I’m not positive but she didn’t know either way so she decided to stay outside rather than offend people. She also joked that the only reason she brings me along is to stop her from doing religious/cultural snafus, or at least informing her of them and letting her decide. I love being useful. :) They both decided to buy Russian Bibles and we carried on. We wound up eating at a food court on the top floor of an expensive mall but the food was good. Buffet style but good. We managed to walk our way down to the beach and look at some gorgeous views but then we headed back and she spent at least a half hour trying to barter/trade stuff with a local vendor. It was amusing watching them trying to balance what each person wanted with feeling they themselves got the better deal. I’ve never been good at bartering, I usually just pay the marked price. That is why I bring others along. :)
The next day I went out with J, whom I went out with in Hakata, and another photographers. Unfortunately, since I had been out the day before and they hadn’t been out yet, they expected me to lead. Um, if any of you have been out with me in groups, you know I tend to stay a step or two behind people. That habit quite annoyed them. I don’t really do it consciously, I realized it was my way of having a shield against the crowd in front of me. Why make a path when I have other people ahead of me who can part the crowd for me? Not a bad habit since I’m usually the follower, not so good when they wanted me to lead. (One on one I tend to stay next to the person pretty well, but I also tend to wander…Opps). Anyways, that led to some amusing conversations… We also saw inside a Russian sub. The first part was just gray pictures of the old crew with captions in Russian and a tour in Russian. However, we ditched the tour and continued on our own to see the captain’s stateroom, much smaller than normal staterooms with the bed being little more than a couch with no back. We also saw the engineering room, which was cool. (Their chartroom was a mere desk with locked drawers.) The beds were literally next to and around the cut off warheads. There was absolutely no such thing as privacy. Yeah, I like my job and time slightly more now. Well, due to my amazing job of leading we saw the boardwalk, got to go to a restaurant called Steak that had no steak that night, and tried three bars before we found one that sold a shot of vodka AND a beer. Yeah, the no-steak steak house was amusing. All day on the second day the Russians kept stopping us for photo ops so our key phase all afternoon was, “Okay, photo time, again”. By the time it got dark, the Russians had started drinking and making jokes about us in their language so that annoyed the photographer and he refused to be in any more pictures. By the time we hit the third bar, still without any alcohol in us since the no-steak steak house had no beer either, the now three guys were making sure us two girls were in the middle of the pack thanks to an incident with a possibly drunk Russian trying to talk to me through an interpreter that looked like he wanted more than a photo. Yeah, he went to find the interpreter and me and the other girl ran to get with the rest of the group and stayed there.
All in all, our trip to Russia was fun and definitely a good break from work and memories to remember forever, even if we were only allowed a small area to explore. Well, this is Li’l B signing off and wishing you all a delightful week.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Hakata, Japan



Our next stop was Hakata, Japan. It was a nice city, not much different from other cities here. At least it was where we got dropped off. There were bars and restaurants, shopping centers and the multilevel department stores, as well as at least one club that a lot of people I work with found and brought back some interesting stories from.
My first day we went to a mall called Canal City where I spent way too much at Claire’s and an awesome bead shop. We went back early since honestly, there is only so much time one can spend at a mall before there just is nothing more to see.
The next day we started at the other stop our bus had and found a pair of what I call “training heels” for less than $20. They’re wedge sandals with about a two or three inch heel that are rather comfortable, for the first three hours or so. Seven hours later, I wasn’t so happy. Anyways, after buying the sandals and changing into them, we headed back to Canal City for supper and a show. The supper wound up being in a restaurant that specialized in garlic and I had noodles.
The show turned out to be three shows me and my partner had already seen the day before and two new shows. The first show was a probably famous mime in the area but his makeup annoyed me as did his show. (Maybe it’s just the fact that mime acts last so long…) The first show was a rope swing high above the crowd ( generally swinging about level with the third and fourth floor.) and the mime played while they prepared for the next act. The girl changed quickly to twirl around five feet off the stage on a hula hoop. The next show was a comedic act where two guys held/played with a bouncy balance beam that bounced a girl high in the air. The third act was a trio of Asian guys walking in two hamster wheels connected by an axle in the middle. One guy walked blindfolded, another juggled bowling pins, and the other jump roped. Although the Asians weren’t perfect, the night show was rather impressive. But by then it was late and since neither of us were in the mood to drink the night away we headed back.

Thailand, Day 1

As a note, this trip is in three posts so if the next one doesn't show up, just go back in the archive. They're in order.

Well, it’s my first day out in Thailand and nothing has gone right. My first night here I was planning to head out in Pattaya with someone I was looking forward to getting to know more about. Unfortunately, we never finalized plans so they went with their friends. Oh well, maybe next time. Instead I went through my bead magazines and decided on my next project. I’m gonna remake a piece I left home since it was so delicate but I’ll make it slightly differently. I haven’t decided how yet, maybe a different color scheme or a pendant inside the webbing. I’m not sure but I don’t need two necklaces the same color and design. I haven’t really done any good jewelry since I got out here, even though I continually buy beads and pendants.
Before I start on my delightful day, I should explain that my job requires all of us to go out by twos in each place we go. Well, I basically have two “buddies” at the moment and they never go out together so I can only go out with one at a time. I go out with the one I work with and I wind up going out with too many of her coworkers (which are technically mine too but I’m rarely in that space these days so I don’t really know them and what I do know isn’t very inspiring, not that I’ve looked too hard). Those guys seem to have no friends outside work so my buddy winds up making plans with them and would prefer it if I came along so she’s not the only girl in the group. When I hang out with my other buddy, I leave my coworker alone with them or on the internet at work all day and I feel guilty. I wound up leaving her to them for the whole Hong Kong trip and although I had fun with a friend I’d like to hang out with more, they barely went anywhere except to get food she wasn’t really thrilled with. She never saw any of the attractions because the guys didn’t want to. Needless to say, I hang out with my coworker a lot lately. When I hang out with my other buddy, it’s usually one on one and we go shopping and eating American stuff. I have fun with both of them but was really hoping the outing the first night would work so I could have another person to hang out with, someone kinda different and that my buddies couldn’t really be angry about.
Anyways, I had plans with my coworker to get a suite in a hotel with two of her coworkers for cheap (hotels are cheap here for good stuff but it’s still cheaper to go in groups than to pay full price). I only agreed because it was a twenty dollar a night payment for two bedrooms, a kitchenette, lounge, and bathroom. Sounds like a really good deal and I’d never have to see the guys as me and the girl could do our own stuff and the boys would be in the other closed off bedroom. If they got annoying (and one of them is REALLY annoying) I could go to our room, close the door, and not be bothered by them. That’s how it should have worked.
She decided she didn’t want to come back to where I was staying so I could leave my place with my buddy so I pretended I was buddied up with a bunch of guys I work with that are really funny and we left on the bus to Pattaya. As we passed an over thirty minute ride passing what I think was the worst extended stretch of third world country I’ve seen yet, I realized exactly why they say anything can be had in Thailand for enough money, and I do mean ANYTHING. Anyways, we arrived near the end of their New Year’s celebration (today is the last day) and the way they celebrate is to douse every passerby in water using anything from water guns to Super Soakers to hoses to buckets or pails filled from barrels of water they congrate around or mount on pickup trucks to travel with and they pat paste on faces, especially female faces. Well, my coworker went through that the first day and they soaked her computer and all her clothes so she wasn’t going to meet me. Understandable, I’d just put my stuff in a trash bag inside my backpack and walk the few blocks she showed me on a map from the bus stop. Easy plan, right? Wait and see.
Anyways, the bus stopped at Hard Rock Café so I went with guys for brunch (15 bucks and awesome orange juice. Hmmm…) then they took a taxi to their place and I started walking. The hotel that was supposed to be a few blocks away was nowhere to be found and I was drenched and stuff was coating my cheeks. I was in such a good mood when I finally headed back to the Hard Rock for a taxi. Turns out taxis are rare commodities on holidays when traffic is sporadic. Half hour later I was willing to try again, trying another way to the street. Maybe the hotel could only be reached by one road, not the main road. Another half hour later my fake smile is now a constant conscious effort as streams of water hit me, some cold, some warm, from all directions, including moving vehicles, I’m getting buckets of water poured over my shoulders and head, and strangers are patting me on the face with paste that doesn’t have time to harden before the next person pats me.
It’s now two days later and I’m not as frustrated. My computer died and I never got back to the hotel to finish writing this yesterday so you may see a slight change in mood but I’ll try to keep it detailed.
Where was I? Oh yes, the second walk to the hotel. I walked until the road turned and I saw that it was much longer than it looked on the map. I stood there for a moment before giving up and walking back through the drenched and drenching crowds with my fake smile painfully in place and headed back to the Hard Rock. I got there feeling like something the cat dragged in and told the attendant with a little humor that I would wait for a taxi. Hoping that no one I knew was around, I sat down on the stairs to wait. At least twenty minutes later a taxi finally pulled up but by then there were three groups waiting and we’d all realized that taxis were really rare so although I was next in line, the other two were trying to figure out who got the taxi and how we could all use the one. Too bad we were all going in separate directions. Finally the third group backed down and decided to wait so I would get dropped off at my hotel and the second group would then take the taxi back to our work which in that traffic would be a few hours away. (Normal traffic put it at a little over 45 minutes.) The taxi driver wound up going all the way outside of the town to take roads back to the street I’d walked to. Turns out my hotel was about another half mile beyond where I’d turned around. I finally got there to find out the hotel was a multi-building structure and our room was in the back building on the fourth floor. When I knocked on the door, my coworker greeted me with a smile. I thought she was smiling since she was happy to see me. Nope, it was an I-know-something-you-don’t-and-you-won’t-like-it smile. When I realized why she was smiling, it got bigger. They had decided to wait to check-in in person because they hadn’t wanted to fax a copy of their credit card. Perfectly understandable. However, by the time they got there, all the suites were gone so my coworker was sharing a room with the really annoying guy and the other guy had gotten his own room. The room was actually pretty nice. It had a king sized bed, a twin bed, a window nook that doubled as a bed if needed, a small kitchenette, and a nice bathroom. I got there and she had the twin bed and the guy (who to be fair was paying the most) was sleeping in the king bed with his Thai “girlfriend”. Luckily my coworker had yelled at the guy enough that he didn’t bother us at all on our visit. Needless to say, I was not in the mood to be around people when I got to the room so I changed into my swimsuit immediately (after I arranged what little had gotten wet to dry) and hurried down to the nearly empty pool. A few of the chairs had sunbathers in them but the only people that were actually there for the pool were a business man, his wife, and their quiet five or six year old. While I was in two sisters moved out of the sun to sit on the steps into the pool and talk quietly but all in all the area was quiet. I did maybe a half hour of slow water aerobics and swimming before I just laid my head back on the ledge between the baby area and adult area so my ears were in the water but my face wasn’t, closed my eyes, and just blocked out the world for another half hour or so. The only things that entered my head were those that originated there. Hmm…Heavenly. However, eventually a family with many kids came and put an end to the peace so I went upstairs and took a shower. When I came out my coworker was sleeping and the guy and his girlfriend were gone so I took my laptop out on the small porch (that was strewn with drying clothes from the last few days to which I added my swimsuit) and started this blog. I was out there until after twilight typing in the faint breeze as my hair dried until my computer died and I had trouble finding an open power switch. That out of the question now, I read a few more pages on my Kindle until my buddy woke up and we ordered room service and played on internet until we decided to go to sleep. I also finally called home, I hadn’t done that for over a week so that was cool. The next day should have been better.

Thailand, Day 2

Unfortunately, it started out badly and I didn’t shake the mood. It started out normally. I had slept in the window nook so I hadn’t slept well and basically woke up with the sun. I read some more of my book while I waited for her to wake up. As we prepared to head out, she asked what I wanted to do. I replied that I wanted to hit the markets some (I’d heard that the clothes were cheap but good and I had been feeling my wardrobe was lacking thanks to a few comments so I thought Thailand would be a good place to pick up some stuff.) Her reply was basically: “I’ve been waiting for three days to do these things so we may be able to do the shopping you want to do if we have time.” Yeah, needless to say, I was so happy the rest of the day. Next on the agenda was to go to the guy’s hotel (other guys she works with that I’ve never been inclined to hang out with but apparently we would be spending the next two days with them. Yay) Yeah, an hour later she finally gives up following our crappy map of the city and finds an internet café to tell him to come get us. Another half hour later they ask the hotel attendant about local tours and was told a tour could pick them up in an hour and a half so they paid the money for all four of us and told me the plans. The guys were just going to go back to their computers upstairs but as us girls hadn’t eaten yet we headed to a pub for brunch. (We are in Thailand and we go to an Irish pub for food? We had planned on stopping at a native restaurant.) The pub was good, I had a fried rice dish. (Thankfully they had a local menu so I wasn’t too annoyed.) However, I assumed that at the table for five I would be seated next to the girl and the guys would basically be across from us. Nope. One of the guys pulled out the seat I was planning on while the other guy was already seated. Basically I had to sit next to one of the guys and the empty seat. Yep, I had a delightfully silent supper as I listened to them talk about comics and stuff I never really got into. (I’ll refer to the guy who took my seat as G1 and the other guy as G2) I thought that was just an accident that he took my seat. As became obvious all through that day and the next, he was doing what girls refer to as “cockblocking” only reverse. Usually cockblocking is when a guy is trying to get with a girl who doesn’t want him and her friends stick to her side to help her avoid him. This time G1 was sticking to her side all the time and monopolizing her time so I couldn’t talk to her in hopes of getting lucky. Grrr. She didn’t seem to mind by then (previously she’d said she wasn’t interesting and he was really annoying. My, how minds change.) as she didn’t seem in any hurry to avoid him and talk to me. At all. That left me with G2 for two days, which was fine. He was married so he wasn’t someone I may have to fend off. He just didn’t speak a lot.
Anyways, the day wasn’t bad. We went to a tiger sanctuary and got pictures with doped up tigers, saw an elephant show, saw a girl stand still with more than ten scorpions moving around on her shirt, got pictures with a couple of bored orangutans, saw a pig race followed by a cool tiger show and an alligator show, and got pictures feeding a bottle to a baby tiger. It was cute but very rushed trip as it all happened on schedule in two hours. That’s a lot for two hours and I was not really in the mood to smile.
Anyways, we got back about 6 pm and we didn’t have any plans until 9 or so. Cool we can go back to the hotel, change quickly into night clothes and makeup and get back in time to meet the guys and get supper before going to bars with other people. What? Walk the mile walk to the hotel when what she had on was fine? Nope. Another of the things I had looked forward to and planned was shot down because she was lazy. Instead of me wearing my cute black v-neck and black jewelry and some makeup as I had planned when I learned I might actually get out to bars or clubs, I listened to my ipod while she played with the computer and he slept so I showed up at the night scene with no jewelry, no makeup but old sunscreen, and in a tshirt designed to not burn much skin. Hasn’t she learned that half the fun of going out for a girl is the dress up part? Oh yeah, and they all decided to skip supper because they weren’t hungry. The plan was to drink…a lot… Why the heck did they think skipping food since brunch was a good idea? Finally about 9 I said “You are waiting for people here. Across the street is a bar/ restaurant. I’m going there. We can still see here. You can come if you want but I will eat before I drink.” So I went and got a deli sandwich and fries. They weren’t awesome but it was food and I was hungry. So then the fun on Walking Street began, which is the place in Pattaya with the most bars and clubs in one area. What happens on Walking Street, stays on Walking Street. (I will admit to some gloating priveldges as I was merely happily tipsy while my coworker got wasted and I was the only one the next morning without a hangover. I do love when things work out my way.  )

Thailand, day 3

So, due to the fact that all my companions were hung over, we left the hotel on the last day at 11, checkout time , with our stuff. Luckily by then we’d ordered breakfast and I’d had a good night so I was ready to see what was happening and in a good mood. Yeah, we waited until 2 to get a cab to the Sanctuary of Truth, a new Buddhist temple still being built. We got the full package which meant first was the horse drawn carriage ride, then the elephant ride around the temple. I was surprisingly blasé about riding an elephant. I was surprised by how normal I felt. Next was the horseback riding and I thought that would be normal too. Horseback riding is something that happens daily in the US. However, once I got on the horse, I couldn’t stop grinning. Yes, we were going at a walk and the horse was being led but I WAS ON A HORSE!!!!! I blame my sister’s love of horses. You see, the bookshelf in our room was filled with horse books and I read pretty much every one of them as I child. I always dreamed of getting on a horse’s back and riding like them. This trip was the third time I’d tried to ride a horse and I was finally on one. (The other two had fallen through, kinda at the last minute.  ) Anyways, that kinda made the trip. After that we had a good lunch while we watched some girls do native dances and then headed back to the guy’s hotel to try and get our stuff before getting on the bus to leave. We had supper at the Hard Rock Café and it was soo good to have a good cheeseburger again.
So, in review, I never did get to go shopping, but I ran out of money doing the other stuff and food. However, I got to sleep in an awesome hotel, have room service, swim, and ride a horse as well as getting pictures I will likely never get again. I also learned to pick my buddies better next time, but hey, you live and learn, huh?
Well, this is Li’l B signing off and wishing you all a lovely day. Stay tuned for my trip to Hakata, Japan and Vladavostok, Russia, hopefully up tomorrow. Bye for now.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

KK and Indy

Okay, so that was a rather disrespectful way to name Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia and Jakarta, Indonesia but I thought it was more catchy and it made me smile. (Are you noticing I do a lot of things merely because they make me smile? Good) Anyways, both ports were small so they fit on the same blog.
My first impression of Kota Kinabalu was the dirty water. To my memory I have never seen so much stuff floating in the water as I did entering KK. However, the welcoming party was nice. They danced for us in native regalia and then dragged some of us into the dance(I was carefully in the back of my group).
The day we arrived I really didn't want to go out. It had been a long week and I hadn't gotten much sleep. I told my friend days before that my plan was to relax/sleep in the afternoon and then find someone to go out with for supper and that was it for the first day. She tells me when we were allowed to leave to be ready in a half hour. Wait, What? Basically if I didn't go out with her shopping in the afternoon immediately she'd get stuck all afternoon with Doc (his name, not job) that no one liked because he was taking her/us to Clash of the Titans later. Grumble, grumble, grumble. I was ready 45 minutes later and didn't really perk up until the movie late that night. (Awesome movie and the only time I have ever said anything nice (or willingly) to Doc since he paid the three dollar ticket) Anyways, we went shopping and I got some dvds that had rather bad quality. (I picked up Race to Witch Mountain on Blue Ray and put it in my laptop. It skipped some but was easy enough to follow, until two chapters from the end when it stopped. grr. Oh well, it was cheap.) We also ate supper at an outdoor restaraunt that was pretty good. I ate what looked like Klingon golash (but dead) but tasted rather good and had some watermelon juice. (think the watermelon equivalant of fresh orange juice and you have a heavenly drink I always look for.) Well, that was that day.
The next day was more fun because I had helped plan it and knew it was coming. We got on the bus early in order to hit the markets but for some reason I wasn't in the mood to buy anything. We saw plenty of sparkly jewelry but I don't wear that type of sparkle, I like the subtle stuff that enhances, not out shines. Maybe it was just that stuff or the bright sun that day but I wasn't in the mood for that jewelry. I did buy a small "jade" round pendant I may play with and a sparkly green bracelet I'll likely take apart and use the pieces in a more subtle piece or two. I also picked up two bracelets of magnetized pearls. Yes, you read correctly: magnatized pearls. At that price I rather doubt that they were real and the magnetic clasp made the whole bracelet stick together but I found the idea amusing and decided to pick up two. (It made me smile. :D ) I made a video of the market which I'll try to get online. Basically the market we hit sold everything from religious stuff to bunnies, rats, kittens, puppies, pet birds, and turtles to purses and scarves as well as food and readymade jewelry.
Next up on the agenda was a massage. I like those. I'd gotten a neck and shoulder one the day before as we waited for the bus and liked that so I let my friend talk me into getting a foot massage and full body massage with her. Um, yeah. The foot massage was okay although it was odd as I'm not big on people touching my feet. She later said that the foot massage was rather odd for her as well, who loves that massage, and not to judge by that one. Lovely. Next came the full body massage. Hm, I'm basically naked and I had a man masseuse. Lovely way to start a massage. Anyway, I tried to relax and when he was working on my back he suggested something. I didnt hear him well but I heard something about a candle. um, no. A few minutes later, my friend, who was next to me getting her massage (by a girl grrr) asked me if I wanted it too, said the lady had suggested a lotion that was good for the back. Um, okay, my back could always use help, it's always tense. Nope, turns out we agreed to what is called cupping. basically they light a tiny tiny canble, put it on my skin, and put a glass cup on top of it. the candle quickly burns out, but it creates a suction that pulls the skin under the lip of the cup up. I think it's supposed to releave deep knots but it was uncomfortable, especailly on both shoulder blades where he did it wrong so it pinched. Needless to say, I was unable to wear anything with any type of open back for a week or so. grr. Well, that basically ruined our day but we still wanted to get to some islands nearby that had tropical forests on them and other cool stuff to do. We never figured out how to get there but we walked through the most smelly fresh market I've ever gone through. The smell of meat and possibly not so fresh fruit and vegetables permeated the air we tried hard not to notice in a market by the water I doubt got cleaned much. Yep, we were in such good moods when we decuded to eat at McDonalds and head back for the night.
The next night I went out for supper with a friend. The supper was okay, not quite amazing, the sunse was lovely but not as awesome as they claim to be famous for, and the night market was a disappointment. Oh well, the company was good and I got a few trinkets but have no real desire to go there again unless it's as part of a tour. There were plenty of things for tourists to do, including lovely resorts but not so much for people who want to walk around and do things themselves.
And now for Jakarta. We needed a large group in order to get off the ship so it wound up with me, my work buddy, Doc :( , and a few other people from work. Hm, two girls, three or four guys, and a massive mall of expensive fashionable clothes I doubt I'd ever wear. Sounds like a recipe for a lovely day. Yeah, I rarely speak around Doc because my momma taught me not to say anything if I have nothing nice to say. (Granted, sarcasm is my main language but it's usually said in joke. With Doc it would have been said out of spite and that just isn't right so my mouth stayed shut.) Doc decided he wanted to find a coffee called Kopi Luwak that is the most expensive drink in the world, or should be. An ounce of it in the US is about a hundred dollars, I think. If you remember Bucket List, it's the drink the rich man always drank. It's created by a type of cat eating the seed, then when it comes out the other end changed by their digestive juices, it's picked up, rinsed off, and shipped out to be ground and fed to people. Sounds appetizing, huh? It's said to be the best coffee anywhere and only comes from Indonesia. I had a sip from my friend's cup, it tasted like coffee which I can't stand but I can now say I tried. I ordered a delighful blueberry shake a laughed as they added sugar to their Kopi Luwak. We spent a few hours in that mall, much to my delight, :( and I got a Crispy Kreme, had a kind spicy supper folowed by a mint ice cream from Baskin Robbins, and found and bought a beading magizine in English. All in all, the trip picked up near the end but I was glad it was over.
And now I must go for lunch so this is Li'l B signing off and wishing you all a lovely day.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hong Kong Day 2 and 3

So day two wound up just being me and my friend, I'll call her B2. She was also the person who took us around the day before and took us to Modern Toilet, but I didn't give her a name there. Anyways, it was just the two of us all day and calling her B2 makes me smile. :)
Anyways... We started out walking through town taking more pictures and going where she was leading. We did wind up meeting a most likely fake monk. (We had been warned before leaving our ship that there was a tendency in Hong Kong for people to walk around in Buddhist monk clothing and ask for money but there is no real charity.) I did what I always do with pesky street vendors. (I did it often in Vietnam and whenever people walk near me asking for money or to sell stuff.) I looked straight ahead and kept walking. B2 wasn't as smart, she wound up "buying" some small bookmark or something from him before he walked on. Finally we got to the trolley up to Victoria's Peak, which I expected to be a lovely viewpoint. Turned out to be a lovely terrace... on top of an expensive mall. Oh well, we went into a wax museum and I got pictures of me posing with Nicole Kidman at the Oscars and me fawning over Elvis and editing Shakespeare's writing over his shoulder as well as a number of other fun stuff before we headed up to the terrace to get pictures over Hong Kong and Victoria's Harbor. Lovely pictures, too many people and a place set up to pose you for a price. Sorry, but that is why you bring a friend. Why pay to have the original on someone else's camera when you can have someone take it on yours for free? After the lo-o-ong line for the trolley down, we headed toward what was called a craft market to look for stuff for my beading. Nope, craft there means sewing. However, they had a rather large variety of Halloween costumes for the beginning of spring. I'll have to remember that next time I come and plan my Halloween ahead of time.... :) After the caft market we headed through a fresh food market and B2 found a butcher stall that had animal hearts hanging outside and she got pictures of them.
The next place we stopped was called something like The Golden Chicken and it was pretty good. I would definitely recommend it. I had a seafood fried rice dish and B2 had a fried pork over rice dish that she had been craving so we both left happy and headed to the fabric store that was rather the main part of our trip. Turns out the fabric store/market is a level of a store dedicated to stores brimming with fabric of all types and prices. I decided to buy a black fabric whith red flowers on it to practice stitching with beads. (Hmm, still haven't started that...) After that we headed for Temple Street Night market that seemed to sell everything but the clothes I was looking for or jewelry I might actually wear. Oh well, plenty of electronics and no reason to spend money. Not bad all in all and I returned to the ship happy.
The next day I went out with two different friends and we headed for Lady's Market. First on my friend's agenda was a massage, that lasted nearly two hours and the short shoulder massage I got was painful and left me uncomfortable for that day and the next. Maybe I should look into taking care of my posture so massages don't hurt as much... Anyways, Lady's Market had clothes and lots and lots of sparklies of all types from jewelry to sparkly shirts to cute gem animals that turned out to be boxes. They also had clothes and I bought a lovely Chinese style light blue dress with a peacock on it. No clue when or where I'll wear it but it was gorgeous. We wound up having supper at Pizza Hut and I had a noodle dish and helped them eat their pizzas before we went back to shopping and ended for the day.
Hmm, it was a good trip and I cannot wait to go back but there are other places to visit and other things to see, so until next time, this is Li'l B signing off and wishing you all the best.

Hong Kong Day 1

"Where East meets West", that is the motto of Hong Kong and it describes it pretty well. One of my lifelong goals was to visit China so I was pretty excited to learn I'd be visiting Hong Kong this trip, although I'm not sure it actually counts as being in China...
My first view of Hong Kong was at night and there were so many lights that it looked like one long haze as far as I could see along the island. The next morning I saw why. The island contains over 7700 skyscrapers of varying sizes, shapes, and colors to form a multicolored collage under a red sun that morning. Gorgeous welcome to the tiny island city.
Okay, my first day out I went with a not so amature photographer and one just getting into the hobby full time. Basically they kept stopping every few minutes to get another picture or another angle and occasionally I'd take a picture too. (I have at least one set of them taking a picture at the same time and then comparing the pictures. It made me laugh.) Eventually we ate at a lovely French place that wasn't as good as the girl had remembered. (It tasted good but the servings were small and were rather like air.) From there we caught the subway to an island on the outskirts of the main island to see the giant Buddha. Once we left the train station, we stood in the long line for the tram up there. (If we decided to take the Trail of Wisdom or something like that up, we would not have wanted to see anything as it would have taken all day just to get to the shops. I may like hiking, but only when the hiking is the trip, not a long and tiring way to a destination. So we got in the tram and set out. Now by "tram" you may be thinking something on ground that would take us beside the trail. Nope, this tram was a sky tram, like one I was on at the Minnesota State Fair last time I was home that took me over the Fair. This one took the three of us over the trail after it had taken us over a lake. The tram we got I could see all the way around and got some amazing pictures of tree formations, the ocean and islands beyond the trees, the trail below is and the gentle Buddha sitting on top of the island as we approached the hill it sat on. Amazing trip. Well, once we got there we started walking up to the Buddha. Of course, one of them had to stop and buy the massive "sugar floss" as they called it (otherwise known as a two or three foot mass of cotton candy, diameter wise). I took pictures while they devoured it. Unfortunately I took them all on their cameras (before keeping them all while I ate mine. Fewer blackmail/goofy pictures that way... :) ) When we finally got to the Buddha, I must admit it was massive. Unfortunately, it was built as a tourist attraction, not a sanctuary. The museum inside the Buddha had some cultural/religious paintings one of my partners was able to explain about and the focus of the museum was a winding staircase up to a room housing a bone part of one of the Buddhas, another relic I wasn't fascinated by. Anyways, we got done with the museum and got some pictures next to massive statues of people and lotuses and awesome views over trees before heading down the two floor long outdoor steps and heading to the temple. As much as I love the type of art they have out here, this temple was more of a showcase of color than a sanctuary for me, although I now know what a real lotus plant looks like. I also had a bite of some sort of lotus cake that felt like I was eating silicone, you know that jiggly rubber that has a weird texture when you bite it? (Okay, so I don't eat silicone but that was what I told my friends when I set it down.) Those things done, we hit the shops as we headed down to wait in the long line for the tram down. Here I should explain something about the people in Hong Kong. They have no concept of personal space. It makes sense when you think about how many people live on the small island that make up Hong Kong, but it was really annoying to literally have a lady's front rubbing my back while in the line down. Literally. I could feel the chest and stomach of the lady behind me and she had no problem standing like that for a few minutes until I could step away. Was I ever happy to get in that tram.
We took the tram back down to the train station and headed to a restaurant my friend had seen advertised called The Modern Toilet. It was rather cool. We sat on empty toilets not bolted to the floor and our table was a sink with a glass pane over it. Our cold drinks came in small urinals and the ice cream came in a small tub on top of ice shaving flavored like chocolate, the hot drinks were served in "toilets". The room we were sitting in had shower heads of various types tastefully lining the walls and my friend said each section had different wall decorations. The food was also very good so we had a good time.
However, that was the end of that day as the night had come and our curfew was drawing near. )Yes, I'm twenty-one years old and my job has me on a curfew. we grumble all the time.)
And now I must sign off for to day and wish you all a lovely day until tomorrow.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Korea part 2

Sorry about this. It's been so long since I was at Korea that I really can't think of anything amazing that happened there. I found an awesome cream soda called Milkis that I think is actually made of some type of carbonated milk. It was good, just be sure to drink it shortly after opening it as it goes sorta sour. I also got to the international market which was huge. Apparently indoor stores are over rated there as all the local stores(from appliances to linens to jewelry to clothes) were small stores that spilled out into the streets to sell their wares. I was happy to find a beading store I will definitely keep in mind. (I got a strand of pearls for $9US. Not sure they're real, but they look nice. Now I just have to string them and find an outfit to wear them with.) I also picked up some jewelry, which is rare, but made me smile. While, that's all for now, this is Li'l B wishing you all the best and signing off.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Korea, part 1

Well, my first trip into the lovely country of Korea was a day trip to Osan. That was a good four hour drive, which put me in a lovely mood since I couldn't sleep and wasn't in the mood to read. However, the scenery was amazing. I'm a midwestern girl so I grew up mostly on flat ground. Rolling hills in the distance misted with faint fog or high green hills nearby breaking up the monotomy of the faintly colored towns would have held me in awe had I been in a better mood. As it was I enjoyed the views but not as well as I should have and I didn't take pictures either. (There was more to my annoyance than just a four hour bus ride. We were told last minute we needed some stuff some of us didn't have so we had to run around figuring that out and I hate running around last minute because someone else screwed up. So fun.) Needless to say, by the time we got there, I was not in a good mood and I had skipped breakfast to get on the bus so I was also hungry. Finally after one in the afternoon I'd had enough and basically yelled at my buddy that we were going to eat NOW. For those of you who know me, having me in a mood where I basically yell at a person takes a lot and quite shocked her. However, we walked straight into McDonalds and ate. (She was surprised but not really upset that I'd snapped at her as she gets the same way over food, just more often.) I had a shrimp patty sandwich that was surprisingly good. I'd ordered it because I was in a different country and wasn't in the mood to eat the usual American fast food. However, the food quickly disappeared and we continued shopping. One of the big things to get in Osan are mink blankets. I originally thought they were the animal pellets but when we got there I found out they looked like fleece with all their dyed patterns of animals or scenes. I remember my friend was debating getting a Dora the Explorer blanket or a Disney Princess one for her daughter. She decided instead to pick up two blankets with different colored small dragon patterns for her aunts. Next door there was a store that sold Korean paper art so I walked around in there looking at the origami set up in delightful frames showing typical Korean scenes such as little girls in fancy dress and kids playing around or couples looking lovingly at each other. It was quite lovely. Anyways, my friend got her blankets for under a hundred dollars together and we continued. I was still hungry so I stopped at a street stall and picked up _____ mando. (I forget the first word) It was basically an egg roll but instead of being rolled in a tube, it's put on one side of a circle of dough and the other side is pressed on to it before it is fried on order and handed to the buyer super hot. Hmm... that was good although not a smart buy right after McDonalds. I could only eat about half of it before I was too full to stuff more in. However, for $4 it wasn't bad. of course that was before everyone told me to absolutely never buy food from a street vender, which sucks. Half the fun of visiting these countries is the food and it's easiest to get multipul types of food from the venders instead of from the restarauntes that only sell one type of food. (spicy, Korean BBQ (which I still have not gotten :( ), noodles, Chinese...)
Well, that was all for that trip. Korea had awesome shopping, I also picked up a large suitcase to put all my trinkets in for this trip for under 50 dollars. not bad.
Well, this is Li'l B signing off and wishing you all a lovely Holy Week and Happy Easter.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Valentine's Day in Japan

Yes, I know this is very out of date and I apologize. I have been feeling lazy lately and computers have been full whenever I did get in the mood to write in the past three weeks.
Now for those of you in the States, you may not know about the Japanese (I think the started it although I saw it in Korea as well) tradition of V-Day and White day. Valentine's day is the day that women give the guys stuff, often chocolate, and White Day is the day men are supposed to give the women a gift three times as expensive. One "tradition" I found amusing when I learned of White Day was that daughters often spent a lot on their dads in hopes of getting jewelry or an expensive handbag. Another thing is that men supposedly aren't big on chocolate. Wives present the chocolate to husbands and then eat it all "secretly". Anyways, White Day was March 14th for those curious and I wasn't in Japan then so this is more about how I spent V-day, (or as my brother called it once: Gimme-chocolate-or-be-in-the-doghouse-for-weeks Day, or something like that.)
One of the aspects of Valentine's Day gifts in Japan is that handmade gifts mean stronger emotions. I was excited to discover that the idea included handmade chocolates. For those of you who know my family, you probably know my mom is what is called a "chocolatier" (I think that's spelled right). That means she makes her own chocolate candies, usually by hand. (I don't know if people who use machines to help make their chocolates still count as chocolatiers, which is where the "usually" came in. My mom always makes her candies by hand.) She's done her candies every year since before I was born, or so it seems, and every year I was home I used to watch her or help her make them. My help usually consisted of moving trays and keeping her company (or watching tv until she needed a tray moved). This year I spent all Christmas away from home and missed the typical mess (and candy) that accompanied the process. (yes, they sent me some of the product from the annual batch but I realized I missed the process itself.) So I went to the mall and picked up three different types of milk chocolate and two accompanying types of dark chocolate as well as some candies to nibble on as I worked and some glass bowls to work with and utensils to play with in the chocolate. Then I went to the grocery store for some things to dip before heading to my friend's hotel room to use her stove. On V-Day I made dipped banana slices, the ones already dried, and dipped dried apricots as well as dipped raisens and peanuts, even a few small molds. The milk chocolate I used that day was a little too sour for my taste, thinking back it either had more cacao than I prefer or was baking chocolate. Either way they were liked. I tried to make barks but the chocolate didn't want to set so it ended up weird. Oh well, the point of the attempts was to play with the chocolate, not to make something to give anyone specail. I wound up bringing the candies into work to find out most of my coworkers are on perpetual diets. Yay. Three pleople eating a few dozen small pieces of chocolate dipped fruit was why I brought the box in. I love people who look fine but want to be perfect forever. Well, enough of that rant, the next weekend I tried a type of chocolate called Ghana that made exellent dipped candies and we ate it all up. Well, that was my Valentine's Day and I need to run for food now so I'll tell you about Korea another time. Stay tuned. :)
This is Li'l B wishing you all a fun day and signing off.