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Adventures with Aunt Mac

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Adventures with Aunt Mac

As you know, any visit that involves us must involve a lot of good eating. We can’t help but want to share all the amazing flavors we have discovered in this region with those that come for a visit.

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Aunt Mac again:

Food was a big adventure and I have to say there was not one thing put in front of me that I would not eat again.  From Chili and Black Pepper Crab to Peking Duck – I loved it.  I also learned to use chop sticks with some proficiency.

Aunt Mac comes to town #NiHaoYall

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Aunt Mac comes to town #NiHaoYall

Whew! What a whirlwind month March was. Quit my job, found a job, went to Bora Bora, and then had a awesome visit from my Aunt Mac and we went to Beijing for a week.  What a hoot it turned out to be! We had so much fun, showing her around, exploring Beijing, trying new foods, and just making some awesome memories. I made a hashtag called #NiHaoYall for all out photos, so if you search Instagram you well all our adventures ;)

I’m going to turn things over for a bit to my Aunt who was kind enough to write out a few things from her visit.

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First I have to say how excited, and proud I was to have Ryan and Paul invite me to tag along with them to Bejing.  (China – I was really in China!!)  My friends were all telling me how blessed I was to have nephews invite me for such a trip, and all I could say was I know.

As you may know I flew to Singapore first (all by myself for the first time) and Ryan and Paul already had a tour set up for me on my first day (they still had a couple days to work before vacation started for them.  With directions in hand – I was off to meet the tour guide.  It was a wonderful experience going through Little India and learning so much about Singapore and yes seeing the sights.  We toured the Buddist Temple and I learned so much.  I was especially enthralled by the story the guide told of Ganesh – the elephant headed boy. There was a huge fish in the wet market, one of Ryan and Paul’s favorite places, that had another large fish sticking out of its mouth like a tongue.

On the way home, even with directions I got turned around in the subway.  As I was looking at my directions, a lovely young Singapore lady asked if I needed help.  She looked at my map and the map on the wall and said she knew which exit I should take and she was going that way.  She held my elbow up the steps and across the street putting her umbrella over me to protect from the sun and insisted on walking with me almost to the front door of the apartment building. I was very impressed with the friendliness of the Singaporeans.

The next day I was off to the Gardens by the Bay and to explore the MBS (Hotel that looked like 3 towers with a ship on top).  The Gardens were exquisite with tulips in full bloom.  Off to the MBS to the top to see the infinity pool and the breathtaking view.  I explored the waterfront, of course, saw Merlion where an Indonesian lady asked (with hand motions and camera) to take a picture of me.  Guess it was old white haired white lady that was so strange to her!!  I saw the line of people waiting to pass the body of LPK the former, much loved and respected prime minister of Singapore.  The guys had recommended taking a taxi back but I saw the bus stop first and figured out to get back.  Off I went – no problem but Ryan and Paul  were amazed that I had done it.

Ryan had taken the day off on Friday to personally be my tour guide.  Off  we went to Little India and as we crossed the street the first thing I saw was a big circle with “ALBERT” on it.  Ryan took my picture and it made me both sad and happy knowing that my much loved husband, and Ryan’s Uncle Al could not laugh with us, but he was indeed with us.

New job, AKA, I’m being paid to do this!?

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So I have a new job. After 3 yrs at my current place, it was time for a change. In a way my job had been a real blessing. After the disaster that was my first job in Singapore, this was a safe harbor away from drama and stress, with some decent work and trips to India, and a small but friendly staff and office environment. But over the last year I’ve felt I was starting to just ‘tread water’ Our work was tapering off some, my big project was wrapping up and it seemed like there was not much on the horizon that tempted me to stay. About this time Paul and I had been discussing leaving Singapore to explore a new part of Asia, or even move back to USA. I thought I would stay on thru 2015 and then in 2016 we might make a change. So I asked for a raise, I figured with a little bump (I had not had an increase since I started there) I could hang out a bit longer and be happy. But that was not to be. No raise was granted and I told the boss on the spot I could no longer stay if that was the case and it was time for me to go. No, I did not have a new job lined up at this point. No, the resume and portfolio was not assembled yet. And No, I did not have any job leads. Paul was away in China, and this was the first bit of news he got when he came back. Yes, that went over about as well as you might expect. :)

But fear not, I have landed on my feet and found a new job. I’ve joined a new firm here in Singapore and I start the first week of April. The new job found me via LinkedIn, and after a Skype interview, followed by a brief meet and greet, terms were agreed and new job was obtained. In fact the email with the offer came thru while we were swimming with the Whale Sharks.But there was a catch…. it seems that they needed someone rather quickly for an upcoming meeting that would overlap with my 4 week notice period at the old job. It seems they needed me to go for one week to….Bora Bora for site meetings!! I mean really! Are you kidding me?

Well, luckily my old boss was a nice guy and had no hard feelings about me leaving. He gave me a 1 week off to go with the new job, and thus our hero finds himself in freaking Bora Bora! for a week to do meet and greet with new client and start getting up to speed on my new project. #blessed is an understatement.

So, there you have it. New job obtained, first project is in Bora Bora, my week with the new boss went well, and I am off on a new adventure. I look forward to seeing what the future holds as always.

A few pics from my trip. It’s an amazing place.

Whalesharks! #omg #bucketlist #squeals

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So, remember when this happened?

https://singaporeadventures.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/no-whalesharks-no-gallbladder-no-worries/

We at last made out fateful trip to the whale sharks, this time going to Oslob in Cebu over Chinese New Year break. Oslob is a tiny little spot on the southern part of Cebu and it’s about 3.5-4 hour drive from Cebu City. Since it’s best to get there early, we opted to head to a small “resort” (really a motel to be honest, but it had indoor plumbing and a surprisingly comfy bed, so no complaints) that was closer to the whalesharks and avoid a 4AM wake up call to drive down there from the main city area. This proved to be a very good decision on our part.

We arrived in Cebu on Thursday around 4AM and headed straight to Alcoy where the resort was. After a much needed power nap we spent the day lazing about and relaxing by the pool, playing words with friends on the iPad and just decompressing.

Friday morning at 7AM we departed for  Oslob which was about 45 mins way from the resort. There we received a very brief information session (5 mins) about keeping our distance from the sharks, no flash photography, ect and then handed over 1,000PHP for snorkel gear before being led to out boat. The interesting thing about Oslob is that here they feed the sharks from about 6AM to 1PM and it’s really close to the shore. They load you up in a small boat (Paul and I were lucky, just the to of us in ours) and two guys paddle you out to the sharks. There, a few other boats paddle up and down tossing out Whale Shark food (smelt like pulped shrimp, but who knows, the sharks are filter eaters, so they eat plankton and krill) and the sharks swim back and both enjoying the buffet.

We’ve done some snorkeling before and I often forgot my life vest. I can float with the best of them and am a decent swimmer. Wanting to have some freedom of movement I opted to skip the vest this time as well. Alas the sea as very choppy that day and thru a combination of that, what I suspect was a not so great snorkel, and my lack of a life vest, the waves kept coming over my snorkel and I kept sucking in salt water. bleh! Between that and the sheer excitement of seeing the HUGE beasts swimming before me I was a little overwhelmed in the sensory department. Should I focus on the sharks? focus on breathing without sucking in sea water? focus on getting ‘that photo’ that I was ever desperate to get because you know, whale sharks. So I was trying to tread water, see the sharks, take photos, and not drown, which is a lot to multi task quite frankly when you are very excited. ;)

But we did a good job. I remembered to put away my camera some and just be ‘in the moment’ as best I could and then spent part of the time being the touristy tourist I can be at times. By the end of the 30mins we were both tired and ready to head back to shore. One thing they don’t mention is that you are swimming in the whale sharks buffet so by the end, you smell like whale shark food. Luckily there is a shower nearby to wash the sea/food off of you.

That aside, it was amazing! They are huge and we had maybe 4-6 around us at the time, swimming by at different times, one of them was really big, and that’s saying something. They swim really close in fact I get hit by a tail twice as they made their way along.

We headed back after that and reflected on the experience. The sharks were amazing, but the choppy seas made it hard to enjoy and even I  was feeling a little sea sick after 30 mins of bouncing around out there. Of course all the salt water I sucked in might have been a cause for that as well…

We still had two more days in Cebu and since our resort was kinda in the middle of nowhere, there was not much to do. I realized I wanted to go back and try again because really, I had been dreaming about this experience for years. There are not many things on my bucket list, but this was really something I wanted to do. It was a short drive away and really cheap to do (1000PHP = 22USD) so I thought why not? Let’s go back.

Paul decided he had seen enough and did not like he choppy seas, so he opted to stay behind.

I got a car for myself, left at 6:30 on Saturday and went back for more.

Great decision on my part! The sun was out, the seas were much calmer and I had a good snorkel. Whether is was the snorkel, the sea, or just that I was prepared this time, everything went smoother. Instead of chasing the sharks and tiring myself out, I stayed near the boat and let them come and go past me. I was able to see them up close and really ‘breathe’ thru the snorkel and enjoy the experience.

Most of the time the sharks are near the surface at eye level with you, but twice I had one swim right below me which was really awesome because you could see the spots and markings on top of it.

So all in all, an amazing trip and I am very glad we made it there at last!

 

Bevis Bawa

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Post ant attack, we toured the garden and home of Bevis Bawa.  This proved to be a real treat. Not only was the garden a nice stroll, his home was fully open to the public and it was nice to see inside. There was quite a bit of nice art and sculpture around the home and the design had a ‘they don’t make them like this anymore’ quality to it. It was not overly fancy and extravagant, but in it’s simplicity there was a definite charm to it.

 

Geoffrey Bawa

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Geoffrey Bawa

Geoffrey Bawa is a very famous Architect from Sri Lanka. One of his homes nera Bentoa beach where we stayed has been preserved and is now used as a guesthouse and also for tours to learn more about him and his work. We took a tour of the grounds and structures, but could not go in because all the rooms were booked.

Two things, the grounds were lovely and it was great to see it. However, due to the heavy rains, it seems the grounds were infested with the most  horrible, angry, mean, no-good, dirty rotten, big as a house, stark raving mad….Ants!!!! OMG. It was horrible. I don’t think they had stingers, thank god!, but they did have mandibles, and the bit!!! I mean, really went to town. They would swarm onto our shoes and ankles and go to town. I assume they just bit, because there were no welts afterwards, but there was sharp pain. Needless to say it made it practically impossible to enjoy the tour because we had to keep hopping and jumping to avoid standing still for too long. Our guide said it was because of the rains, their nests are in the trees, but they got knocked down in the rain. I don’t know why they were so angry, but I wish they had not taken it out on me!!

Anyway, the grounds were great and it was nice to take the tour. But only seeing his house from the outside was a bit of a let down.

Later we tours his brother, Bevis’s home and we found that to be much nicer in many ways (first among them, NO ants!) Also, yes, his brother’s name is Bevis….

Stupa

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Another Stupa, but I loved the lines of these structures, one in foreground is brick with the lichen growing on it, in the background another in plaster with the more common white paint.

 

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