Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Finally a housewife! :)

It’s been some six weeks now. After all the orientation activities, life is kind of reaching steady state.

I’ve been cooking quite a bit, of course taking reference from various recipes online since I can cook only a few items... Used to eat just these dishes even though I was cooking almost everyday in Oxford :p But now, it isn’t just mf, so I can’t just have pancakes or aglio olio fusili every day! :p

And I'm also packing lunch for Sito on some days. He isn't going to do any microwaving so I'm very glad to have found a website with recipes that need no reheating :)

Anyway, some of my favourite dishes so far:

This was my second attempt at nikujaga - the first time I added too much water so made that a soup instead :p This, was yummy :)


And this is a pseudo braised tofu - replaced cabbage with broccoli, fatty pork with sausages :p


Miso pork turned out to be easy and super yummy! Packed it for our lunch - delicious even when it was not hot :)


I realise that a housewife doesn’t have a lot of time. Just thinking of whipping up yummy and nutritious meals – especially those that can be packed into a bento – takes a few hours every week! I go to the supermarket twice a week; Sito comes along during the weekend to carry heavy staples.

Then there’s the cleaning.. The kitchen is always full of food splatter and stains, which are so difficult to remove!! Our room is filled with food smells after cooking so we open the window, but that always brings in a layer of dust.. The toilet is another story – there is no sewage hole in the floor so I can’t just rinse the toilet bowl and the floor with water! Bought chlorox wipes and a magic mop instead.. And then there’s the usual thousand strands of hair on the floor, but the hoover on loan at the lobby is simply useless...

Overall? Hmmm, I like this, heh :p

Oh, and I’ve also been watching dramas on You Tube.. *sheepish* And trying to spend some time in the gym, on the treadmill..

But from next month onwards, I’ll have less leisure time.. MONTESSORI EXAMS ARE COMING UP! =( And, I should really get down to improving myself – learn pilates and Spanish, catch up on some reading, read newspapers regularly..

More on being a housewife later :)

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

CIM Ball

The CIM Ball last Saturday kind of spelt the end of orientation. We had a pre-pre-party at a friend’s place, and a pre-party on a party trolley to Venue One@Chicago! Plenty of booze and music :p

Our KWEST group used the 1920s theme again, and this time, we were better prepared – randomly bought a fedora and long gloves at a costume shop when we went shopping for winter coats at an outlet mall:


Ok, wasn’t wearing my gloves here but you can see Sito’s fedora and his beng beng chain he got a few years ago :)

Was my hairdo nice? :)

And our trolley!


With all the pre-parties, some chaps were already drunk by the time CIM Ball started *.* And Mr Sito was all red by then too :p

I only had a little bit to drink...


That's Dave - he decided to drink with me when he saw me with the bottle. Me, who usually doesn't drink with them!

And, to redeem myself, there were only about two tablespoons of champagne left when I took it :p

Update 22 Oct 2010

Suddenly realised that I didn't talk about CIM Ball itself :) Well, I guess it was just an extension of the trolley but with more people and in a much bigger space.. When Sito went out for air, I went into the dance floor, talked to a few JVs, and finally plonked my ass on a chair just before the lights came on.. Um, not very happening since I didn't drink *.*

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Universal Studios Singapore!

Going to USS was the only fun thing we did between work and Evanston.. After I started clearing leave, I was still archiving work stuff almost every weekday morning. Sito fell ill in his last week at work and I caught it from him after that – so for almost two weeks, we had bland food and stayed in lots.. And after some massive of packing, USS was especially wonderful :)

Went to Far Far Away first to catch a glimpse of...


Psst, more ogre to come later :p

And Princess Fiona! See, we were wearing the same colour :)

Egypt was next but we found that we had deposit our bag… We couldn’t get a locker somehow so Sito held the bag while I went for the single rider queue.

The ride was fantastic! It was my favourite ride in USS :)

When I came out, Sito found another set of lockers so we went in together – it was still as good!! :)

The queue for the ride at Jurassic Park was the longest for us but it was just about 30 min. That gave me time to take more pictures..

We were still wondering about the getting wet part...


By this point, we have seen people coming out wet!


But we realised that only about half the people would get wet. So it was a matter of where you were at the drop. And we knew exactly where that was *.*

Well, thanks to Na who told me about it, we didn’t wear our Birkenstocks, and the rest just dried off very quickly..

Oooh, my frog prince :)


Sito loves these penguins from Madagascar..


And I love the giraffe! (forgot his name...)


This is very cute:

And so is this!


I think by then we had gone through all the rides already.. Went to explore the shops etc, and took the picture at the top of this page – mf with "poor thing" look :)

And then we stumbled upon the Donkey Show.. Not knowing what it was, we just went ahead anyway and it turned out really fun...

So they had an emcee among the audience, who bantered with the donkey on stage. Emcee got a kid to ask the donkey questions etc… He wanted to find an ogre...

Ta-da!


And Donkey made Sito take an ogre pledge that went something like, “I promise to pass gas loudly in public...”

Oh, my ogre :)

Wait, does that make me Princess Fiona? :))

Went walking some more and chanced upon a dinosaur! So cute! :)


Then we went for a slow little ride – we took number MF 007 :)


USS is small compared to other theme parks we’ve been. We walked the entire place within a few short hours, including queuing for the rides. But I guess it was a weekday, so the queues were very manageable. In fact, we went back to Egypt again! Third time for me and second for Sito :p

And before we left, we found Betty Boop!




Ah, we were happy :)

Ring ring!

My love-hate relationship with the telephone started in kindergarten, when Yan and I would call each other after school to talk about baby things and sing what we called 小人歌 (e.g. 客人来,看爸爸.. so cute) and 大人歌 (e.g. 曾经是对你说过这是个无言的结局.. omg, that's ANCIENT) :p We really enjoyed that :)

Don't remember using the phone much throughout primary and secondary but in JC, there was this trend of chatting 300 hours on the phone at one go. At the time, only a handful had pagers, old gadgets you seldom see these days! The first mobile phone among my friends emerged only after JC; by university, almost everyone had one. These days, primary school kids carry them around too - do they really need them??

Anyway...

In the past few years, my list of recent numbers for call and text had only the few usual suspects - Sito for sure, CY, Kel... And my bosses made it to the top 10, or even top five! But that went down quite a bit since 2009..

I got so used to a relatively silent phone that it always struck me odd - and even irritated me - to hear mobile phones going off all the time - on the trains (hate those who sound out their 100 ringtones on trains!), in restaurants, in cinemas (that's really irritating!), and in the office (especially if I was very busy). Suddenly remember an ex-colleague from six-seven years ago who commented that before XX joined us, no mobile phone had ever rung like that in the office - guess that formed my first perception of mobile phones being a public nuisance..

And, that pig of a brother always sleeps like he's hibernating and when his friends cannot get him on his mobile cos he's sleeping, they would call the house and ask whoever picks up to wake him.. That tended to be me on weekends before I moved out.. Hello, I'm not your maid, and in case you forget, we've never had a maid..

After Sito and I moved in together, my phone usage dropped by half - I hardly utilised all my 100 free minutes each month in the past 10 months. And here, mobile plans are significantly more expensive - actually not quite cos there are 500 free minutes and free nights etc but well, we don't use that much and our landline is free so.. Still, we can't go without a mobile - in fact, I often feel quite lost without my trusty Pinky II *.*

My feet got really cold from the aircon halfway through this - so I wore these :)

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

嫦儿姐姐 & 玉兔妹妹

That’s mf and CY :p

I realised that we had a lot of fun together but I seldom had the chance to talk about it all..

Like our favourite mooncake festival* - we like to go downstairs with our lanterns, arrange lighted candles, savour some mooncakes (yup, a lot of cholesterol!) and sip from our YHS packets!

* Mid-autumn! But we like to say it’s 月饼节 :)

Some memorable moments..

Us in Bishan Park in 2005:


Us at, I think, the pavilion at her void deck in 2007:
(Wa, 大眼睛!)

In 2008, we had this cute 嫦儿姐姐 & 玉兔妹妹 picture :)


Can tell how we have changed over the years? :)

This year, the day would have passed by unnoticed if not for the vibrant Chinese community here. Somehow got involved in organising a dinner get-together for a club here – small role but it was fun; got to meet a lot of people.. But I need to brush up on my Mandarin *.*

Monday, 20 September 2010

Timid, paranoid mf..

I was taken aback by the moving shadows of my own fingers on the keyboard!!

Thought it was some creepy crawlie...

*.*

I tend to freak out easily, very often the fault of no one but myself.. Sometimes, I would look into the mirror and get a shock if my eye make-up runs.. Sometimes, it's a blurred reflection of my long-haired self in a window at night... Sometimes, especially when jogging, I would somehow see an insect on my arm and try to sweep it off - it always turns out to be a very forgettable mole!

But the worst is in the mind - like when Sito said he would be gone for a short while but came back really late or did not reply my text, I couldn't rest. I'd wonder if he was lying drunk on some couch, or stranded in a foreign town without a cab home.. I know I know - I'm paranoid, and I should give him more credit than that...

Need to learn to be more zen... Ohmmm..

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Old clip of us dancing :)

Oh my, this was when we were thin, back in 2006..

Review of mf-ism

Just realised last night that when geocities died, so did the links to my old photos inside *.* Spent a few hours matching my archived photos to the right posts and uploading them to picassa - got my shoulders in a knot with no SGD28 massage therapist in sight..

But that gave me an opportunity to look through some old posts, and I marvelled at myself: where did my inspiration come from? Interesting encounters with friends and family, I believe, the frequency of which had dwindled significantly in the past two to three years, replaced by workload.

I tried to jot down my thoughts even though I had not much time to blog properly. But now when I look at that word document, I couldn't remember what I was thinking back then.. Hopefully, with time on my hands now, I can get more done..

And, I'm thinking of revamping my blog design.. It's been a while.. Shall see what blogger has to offer...

Update a couple of hours later..

Well, I've "revamped" my blog design..

CAN'T TELL, RIGHT?!

Kind of screwed up the entire thing for a scary 2 minute using the design template and format options etc so I kept the changes to a minimum:

a) blog title is no longer in super large font and split uglily into three lines on the left..
b) picture is updated from 26-year-old mf to 30-year-old (and cuter) mf :p
c) old fluff is listed on page instead of drop-down - I noticed a significant drop in volume in 2007 when work got real busy..
d) removed "where mf wanders" cos of too many dead links! Saved active links in my bookmarks instead..
e) comments are now known as fluff balls :)

Wanted to rephrase the two links under "about mf" but couldn't! I vaguely remember writing them (and "says mf") directly into html some four years ago before blogger introduced the templates for page elements.. Now I can't find it in the html template *.*

Well, when I feel like it, I may consider a real revamp..

First trip to downtown Chicago

Yeah!



Jeff organised a trip to downtown Chicago the Sunday after CIM week – some 20 odd Chinese students trotted into Phoenix at Chinatown for push cart dim sum!

We then took a walk starting from Millennium Park all the way to Hancock Tower.

At Millennium Park, we spent some time having fun at the Cloud Gate – see our reflections!





The troupe:



A lot of kids were playing at the Crown Fountain – like in Sg! :p


(We bought instant noodles from Chinatown, heh...)

The walk to Hancock Tower was uneventful and some of us left the group cos we weren’t keen to go up the observatory level.. Sito and I went window shopping for winter gear. The actual shopping would happen the next day, which was Labour Day, when we went to Gurnee Mills with Jeff and Yvette – we bought a lot of clothes! But all wintry stuff; need to buy more regular clothes :p

Anyway, digressing..

After the window shopping, we had dinner with Wenhong who was in town for his e-MBA. The steakhouses were all full so we settled for Mexican :) The portion was manageable so we continued with ice cream at Ghirardelli!

Next we go downtown, we will have Morton’s! :)

CIM week and a little beyond..

CIM, Complete Immersion in Management, is nothing like you would imagine it to be based on the term.

It is like, but not exactly, a continuation of KWEST. It’s part of the orientation and pre-term programme. So there’s work to be done. And there’s also the beer.

29 Aug 2010, Sunday

So we got back from Costa Rica on Saturday night to find that there was iCIM for international students the next day at the Allen Centre Center*.

* Still can’t get used to the spelling!

Our brown bag lunch was from Potbelly :) And I had diet coke *.* It’s very sad that there’s a limited selection of non-carbonated drinks here. And when I had teh-o kosong beng, it just didn’t taste the same…

Anyway, we had some speakers, including an alumnus on his experience, an etiquette consultant on American norms, second-years on their recruitment experience and Kellogg life as internationals.

And that night, we had our first home-cooked meal! Um, pasta :p (picture in earlier post)

30 Aug 2010, Monday

CIM week for everyone!

Went for breakfast at Jacobs Center – the Atrium was packed with a lot of students and their SOs. I was there for only a short while cos guess what, JVs had their CIM programme too!

There must have been some 100 JVs, and some 15-15 kids. We were seated according to our students’ sections. Sito’s a Poet so I’m poetic too :p

The programme was run by the JV Club, which ran through some daily info and how JVs could volunteer, find work or participate in various activities and even classes! We also signed up for more CIM activities an volunteering opportunities on this sheet of paper:



We then broke up into our sections to get to know a smaller group of people and have lunch. We had a little name game – I still remember half the people :p I think I went home after that but headed out in the late afternoon for the welcome BBQ.

That was where I saw many students walking around with paint on their faces. Was loitering outside Jacobs with some other JVs when dear Sito finally came out of the building – with red paint stains on his face!



Learnt that they just had a cheering contest and the Poets won! Cos their rival section is the Highlanders, they had this line:

What is mightier than the sword?
Pen is! Pen is!

:p

The sections were competing against one another during CIM. Took a picture of the scoreboard – wondering what it looks like now...



After the BBQ, we went to a JV reception at the Allen Center, and immediately regretted the burgers – the reception was swanky! Too bad we were full by then so had only a small bite of food for the heck of it!

It was the students’ section night out, at various pubs around town, but my nose wasn’t too good so I gave it a miss. Heard that in the end, many converged at The Keg… Here’s a shot of our KWEST group at The Keg – check out the huge pint (or more?) of beer in their hands!



And Sito told me they played flip cup and beer pong.. I couldn’t understand until I finally saw it the following week...

31 Aug 2010, Tuesday

Sito’s activities continued. Heard they had some diversity workshop that was really boring – it didn’t help that the video was like filmed in the 1980s!

I had a breakfast social at the café right across from McManus. There were some eight of us JVs and we were exchanging stories of our KWEST and relocation to Evanston. It felt like a tai tai lifestyle man! :p

Took a walk to Jacobs in the afternoon and found many students running about cos they were having the amazing race! I didn’t volunteer at any station cos I was slack :p Just wanted to go find Sito cos he said he wasn’t going to run about outside but couldn’t get into contact.. Oh well, good weather for a walk anyway :)

We had dinner at Mt Everest with some Poets – Indian food, with leftovers for the next day! – before heading to the Cahn Auditorium for a Second City show! It was hilarious! Especially the portion where they got two from the audience to inject random words in the performance – one of the two Avi was trying to talk at every opportunity! He became famous overnight!

1 Sep 2010, Wednesday

Went for breakfast with Sito and learnt from Tanya W that the campus tour was cancelled due to the rain! Oh well.. We headed for the Norris Center to check out the mini courses instead..

And it was community impact day! Sito painted a school while I attempted to do gardening but failed :p So I went back indoors with Danielle to count ducks instead – some ducks were missing after a carnival so we had to find out their numbers and replaced them.. Carolina joined us after her arm swelled up from a mozzie bite!

That’s us with Michelle who’s working at the Ecology Center:



The gardeners were still hard at work after we were done so we went into the animal room to help with feeding. But in the end, we did nothing but watch :p When Michelle asked me to take out a worm to feed another animal, I was just staring at her – I thought I heard wrongly! Um, sorry but I’m not about to touch a worm *.*

But I touched a snake!



There were also a tarantula and colourful geckos in the room, and of course cuter ones like rabbits!

Group photo at the end of the day:



2 Sep 2010, Thursday

I think pre-term started for Sito, i.e. homework soon! But it was still fun for me – ice cream social in the afternoon!

We took up almost the entire place. I had chocolate frozen yogurt with mango, M&M’s and nuts while most of the JVs had healthier options like plain yogurt and fruity toppings.. Oops :p

Met more JVs and was surprised to see Robert – wasn’t he supposed to be in school? Turned out that he skipped the boring thing! And he saw me a text message from Sito that it was boring… Damn, Sito did not text me *jealous*

Went across the street to Urban Outfitters with Tanya W – I desperately needed some clothes! But I didn’t get any in the end, sighs.. Headed for TG after that.. TG as in TGIF, just that, it was a Thursday :p And in case anyone’s wondering, yes, we had beer! This was the first TG. After this, TG will be EVERY Friday! Guess that’s where part of our tuition goes to…



3 Sep 2010, Friday

Spent the day lazing around – it was such a wonderful feeling! Even when I was on leave, I didn’t feel this way :)

This evening was the section showcase for which the students spent a lot of time this week preparing. By the time I got to the OLC in Jacobs, most seats were already taken but Sito got me a seat :)

The Poets were the first of eight sections to present their showcase. Sito’s role was to come out and shout :p Can see him, a little, in this shot – he’s the one with the red headband :p



Oh well, a clearer shot :)



Now I cannot really remember much except for the Poets’ three "saints" (Cim Past, Cim Present and Cim Future :p), the Bullfrogs’ frog in the box (diversity – different frogs in the box; KWEST – throwing up in the box!!!), and the Big Dogs’ big dog millionaire where they got Avi the chap at Second City to be the contestant and the super memorable commercial! Click on those links!

The booze cruise that followed was our first. Many many yellow school buses ferried hundreds of us to the ferry terminal. Given the boarding queue, we headed for Macs :p By the time we got to the ferry, we heard that they ran out of drinks coupons! So we got the namecards of the cruise managers instead – they counted as drinks coupons :p

There was some food on board but mostly, it was beer. And music. We boogied for a while, and stepped out onto the deck as well. The view was great but it was freaking windy!



Got home at 2+ in the morning. Heard that some people missed the school bus and headed to downtown to catch a cab back!

4 Sep 2010, Saturday

We went to Long Field for the CIM Olympics. Sports feature quite a bit here. We were supposed to have a beach Olympics during KWEST but we were slack :p

The thing was supposed to start at two pm but it didn’t until 3.30 pm! As I didn’t volunteer to do timing etc, I didn’t get a tee until the end but those remaining were all XL.. Oh well, got one anyway for souvenir :)

Went around taking pictures and talking to some JVs here and there..

That’s Sito after throwing a ball into a hoop (unsuccessfully)



The next game was tug-of-war, which didn’t involve every one. The next was the dreaded dizzy bat! Sito was the 39th or 40th to go but by the 38th, the other sections had all 40 and so the game stopped.. I waited at the dizzy bat hoping to take photos! *pout* But got a cute shot of some kids of the JVs:



Us at the BBQ queue later!



Oh, a word on the BBQ – it’s not the BBQ we’re used to, cooking and eating and chatting all at the same time. Given the number of people, they had people cooking the food in a smaller field and bringing them in trays to a few lines of buffet tables! So it was over pretty quickly…

After CIM week..

Well, such activities ceased but the drinking continues!

On Tuesday, the Poets went out to Cubby Bears pub near Wrigley Field, supposedly cos there was a game going on but within minutes of us reaching there, we found that it was never about the game!! Every one (but me :p) was drinking and no one was watching the telecast!

Something funny happened though.. When we just got out of the station, a baseball came hurling towards us! It came from the direction of the field so naturally we were like wow! But it turned out that some kids were playing around us *.*

We left the pub with Kaaha and Tanya R just as the game ended to avoid crowded trains. When we got back to Evanston, we headed for The Keg! And there was where I first saw flip cup and beer pong for myself...

Headed over to Bar Louie next door to have $1 burger! Hungry :p

And the next day, Mike organised a wings and beer session at Merle’s, where wings were $0.25 on Wednesdays. Um, we had a lot of wings :p

Had lunch at Sashimi Sashimi with some JVs on Friday. The week had been quiet for the JVs so I thought I’d do a lunch with some! The udon I had was quite good but it was spicy for some reason… I’ll make udon one day too :)

That Saturday, we went to BDubs with our Kwest group. Despite having had dinner, we couldn’t resist ordering onion rings! :) Some of us were watching the football games on TV and some of us were playing the pub quiz. Um, I couldn’t understand the game but the trivials were beyond me except for one on the oldie The Locomotion *.* And Sito got Kermit the Frog *.*
I guess we were pretty cute :)

And last night, I went partying without Sito – it was Thirsty Thursday for the JVs! I didn’t go for the one during CIM week so thought I would go for this one. Didn’t drink, just sat around and chatted with the usual group. Many of the internationals from Japan, Korea and Chile are taking English lessons but I want to learn Spanish! And I was reminded to email the lecturers if I wanted to sit in some of the Kellogg classes! I almost forgot *.*

So, so far, so good. Been keeping myself busy with activities. We have a BBQ at McManus tomorrow, and we’re involved in planning a mid-autumn festival party next Wednesday for the Chinese community! And I’m spending a lot of time on the Mac as well – the KWEST entry took forever! And I’ve been searching for food supplies, cleansers and even Berocca! Oh, and check out this website – great for packing lunch for Sito :)

Thursday, 16 September 2010

KWEST - Costa Rica!

We learnt on the first day in Evanston that KWEST reads “quest”, and not “k-west”. It stands for Kellogg Worldwide Experiences and Service Trips.

Having registered a few days after registration started, we did not get any of our top 10 choices (out of some 40 options); the trips were that popular! We were asked to choose from Australia, Costa Rica and Turkey. For various reasons, we chose Costa Rica and it turned out to be great fun!

The leaders rated Costa Rica 3 for activities, 4 for comfort, 4 for nightlife and 2 for culture. Well, we shall see...

21 Aug 2010, Saturday
Here we go!


We met at McManus at five am – thank goodness we live right there! Spent most of the day traveling – US Airways took us from Chicago to San Jose via Charlotte. Then we took a comfortable three-hour coach ride to Hotel Manoa, near Arenal. In fact, we could see the volcano from our hotel!

The hotel did not give us enough beds for this first night so some of us had to share a bed.. That seemed to pose an issue for the guys... Sito and his room-mates pushed the bed together – common misery! That provided material for some interesting shots later on…

There was some time before dinner so we went into the hot tub, which had a bar, to relax and rest after all that traveling. But with just Macs for breakfast and practically no lunch, we were glad when dinner time came round! Don Rufino at the town of La Fortuna offered plenty of options, although my steak was overcooked... Look at Sito’s meat platter!



There was a funny episode when one of the leaders Ken commented that he knew I wasn’t American from the way I held my utensils. That got everyone on our table confused for a while. I mean, I had my fork in my left hand and my knife on the right – so did everyone else! Turned out that he was the only one who held his fork differently, with it pointing up like a spoon, and turned his arm when spearing food! Gaaar!

The baton, which was introduced at the hot tub, was used at dinner. If someone put the baton over your beer, you would have to drain it! We had the firsts of many beers to come…

Some trivials:
a) Found amazing toilet seats at O’ Hare airport – the disposable seat covers replace themselves automatically! They were almost comparable to the Japanese washlet :)
b) Many of us asked the lady at the information counter at San Jose airport whether the tap water was potable. She replied, “In Costa Rica, it is ok to drink tap water. I don’t know why you people from America always ask that!” :p

Update some time in October 2010

I came across an old photo of me:


!!!

Party trumpet, the totally unrelated predecessor of the baton!


22 Aug 2010, Sunday
So packed it was like two days


We started early in the morning with canyoning, including three abseils, or rappels. The first was a short 50-foot, 45-degree slope. That wasn’t too fun. And it was really short. The guides splashed and poured water on us on our descent so that we got quite wet at the end of it. Yes, they weren’t kidding when they said we would get all wet..

The next one was better, 100 feet. In fact, it was the best of the three! I volunteered to go first for my group – or maybe I was the first girl? Don’t remember :p But it was great! I latched on, turned around so that my back was facing the ground, and I stepped off! I remember someone saying that I didn’t even look scared – cos I wasn’t! It was fun! There was a vertical wall beneath so I managed to kick off the wall and slide down nicely. After the wall, it was just emptiness so I let go and slid the rest of the way!

As we continued to walk through streams and rocky steps, we came across a guide lying across a stream - he was a dam! After going down behind him, the other guide told us to sit on the steps and hang on tight. The first guide then got up and torrents of water fell upon us! It was cold but quite fun, heh…

Finally, we reached the last abseil – 250 feet. There was a small waterfall! But due to safety reason – you couldn’t hear while going through the water -, we would abseil in front of the waterfall. This meant free slide for me! I just let go and slid all the way down!

This is Sito..


And this is mf!


After that, it was just a lot of walking and climbing of stairs to reach where we started. Had a quick breakfast and we were scooted off for white water rafting!

The Balsa river was rated class 2 to 4 at different parts. Sito and I were in the same raft. It was really fun except when I was in the river… No, I didn’t fall overboard but there was a stretch where the guide said was good for drifting downstream. So Sito and I went! But while Sito drifted back to the raft quite quickly, I could hardly move! I was eventually hauled into another raft and caught up with my raft.

Hmmm, too light? :p

Check out our great expressions!


It was amazing that we spent some two hours rafting, including a stop to have some pineapple and strawberry – a welcomed treat for the weather! We also learnt a new phrase: pura vida! (yes, with the exclamation mark!)

Lunch happened at 4+, after we took some time to pass a town where a parade was going on. The troop went to the hot tub after that but I needed to sleep, again! :p Woke just in time to prepare for the evening activity – a murder mystery night! Sito and I didn’t prepare any costumes, but he had beng beng necklace to go with a Hawaiian shirt while I chose a lian lian outfit. But roommate lent me her pink feather boa and so, here we are!



My ID was Vanessa Crooner, a slut entertainer from the late 1800s. Sito was Cash Steal. And no, we were not husband and wife that evening! :p We had to solve the murder mystery. Otherwise, it was just another booze party in a different setting :p

See my son-in-law’s mum, my daughter, me and my daughter’s step-daughter!



Many went back to the hot tub after that but I chose my bed :) I heard they did chicken fighting *.* Sito was there but sat out the fight, thankfully.. I mean, chicken fighting! For a 30-year-old?! *appalled* :p

23 Aug 2010, Monday
Sore...


I could hardly get out of bed. It was bad.. My quads were giving up on me.. Lats were stiff. And my abs were killing me…

But more activities were waiting..

Did ziplining in the morning – thankfully not much effort required, just lie back and enjoy the great views of the area :)

Somewhere in the rainforest, we had the opportunity to do a tarzan swing. It was optional and I was tempted to skip. But, oh well, I’m probably never going to do any of these any more so…

Sito went first, promising to scream like a girl but he didn’t; he roared!


From Day3-8/23/10-Ecoglide Videos

But I did!!!! It was something like bungee but a couple of guides were down there to pull us to a stop on the ground. My eyes were closed as I bounced up and down but when I heard someone say “open your eyes”, I did as I went up. And I screamed again as I came down! I couldn’t help it!!

From Day3-8/23/10-Ecoglide Videos

Turned out that it was Sito who told me to open my eyes, bah!!

We had some time before the volcano hike so we went to the cold pool, where we waited a long time for lunch… But it was good fun! The volcano was in the background. Huge black birds were flying in the foreground – hmm, that was rather creepy :p

We split up for the volcano hike. Our guide was really, really boring! He must be a new chap – he kept thinking of things to say, or deferring to his guide book… Anyway, I thought we were hiking up the volcano and in the end, it was only a short hike to..I don’t know where! But the view was good :)



And where we stopped, we formed “KELLOGG”!

Um, not the best angle...


Now that’s all the culture we’re getting from this entire trip :p

After that, we went for some hot spring park! We went from pool to pool to soak in different temperatures. There was one with slides. Sito went for it and scrapped a bit of skin off his elbow =( I didn’t cos the drop was rather deep – mf cannot swim :(

During dinner, I forgot how but we got Sito started on a series of trivials, starting with how hair could be straightened!

That night was hot tub night again, but near the cold pool. I just sat on the edge but got sleepy in no time – my KWEST-mates were really quite something after all our activities and all the late nights!!

24 Aug 2010, Tuesday
Big Reveal!


We set out early for our next stop, Tamarindo! Took us less than four hours but we were pretty hungry by the time we checked in so we had Pizza Hut for lunch :p And for $2 each!

It was free and easy after that until dinner so we just lazed by the pool despite a small drizzle… Think Sito had some drinks in the pool – not sure cos I went for a short walk in town with the girls.. Ahhh, holiday :)

Anyway, this was the day for the Big Reveal! In the past few days, we did not mention anything about where we went for college or our work. For couples, some did not even know who the student or the JV* was! The Big Reveal was supposed to be the next day but there were so many speculations on our past that our leaders brought it forward.

* The SO of the student is called a Joint Venture! :p

Sito and I could not guess the past of the rest since we were (still are) not familiar with the various collegiate stereotypes. But it wasn’t difficult for some of them to guess that we were from Singapore! But somehow, Sito was a software engineer *.*

After that was the worst dinner we had all trip. We waited a long time for our food when we were so hungry! I ordered a mango juice but it turned out to be nothing like mango. In fact, Sito said it was like some dead fish! And some of the beer came half-full! Someone had one that couldn’t be poured out! Then Robert’s main dish arrived and the steak was so overcooked it was hard. We returned these items. My main dish turned out fine, fortunately..

There was a lot of talk – we learnt something new, which came up throughout dinner between Steve and Elliott: maybe this, maybe that, maybe go fuck yourself!!

After dinner, we went to a salsa bar where Sito and I did a couple of rounds of salsa! We haven’t done that for a long time! In fact, we haven’t danced for a long time! Happy :)

Trivial:
Wrist tags are popular – we had one for the hotel stay, we had one for ziplining, and even the salsa bar!

25 Aug 2010, Wednesday
Day by the beaches


Today was the day we regretted not having enough protection…

We spent the morning picking rubbish along the beach – that was our community service part of the trip :p We were each given a glove and a bag, and we set off!

It was low tide, and there were cute crab marks and pretty seaweed marks on the sand. There were also some fish and tadpoles in the tide pools :) I picked up a metal rod (!) and one slipper while Sito picked up a used condom – yucks!

With time to spare, we had a sand castle competition – see our creations!

Sito’s team made an imprint of two persons being iced.. Um, you have to read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icing_(drinking_game)



My team recreated Arenal! Our presentation was to have one guy blowing out water to signify an eruption! Using the trusty baton, no doubt… We even poured a huge bag of sea water into the moat!



Another team wanted to recreate Arenal but of course, they couldn’t match our size :p so they recreated the fat lady statue from the hot spring place – mighty ugly but supposedly anatomically correct :p

The winning team buried Elliott in the sand to form a bottle of Smirnoff Ice! At the presentation, Sito blurted out, “Wait, something is missing…” And he drew out a can of Smirnoff Ice and placed in on the “bottle”! He obviously couldn’t kneel down so someone poured the drink into his mouth… And then he had his own surprise when he sprang up holding a can in each hand and throwing them to two chaps in front of him! We were very amused :)



We headed to Playa Brasilita for lunch and an afternoon at a white sand beach. The beach was a distance away from where the bus dropped us. And we had to face a rising tide and wade through a knee-high stream to get there! It turned out to be a quiet little beach that wasn’t totally white. But it was a lot more deserted than the one behind our hotel.

Many were playing in the sea etc but a bunch of us were lazing in the shade, reading, talking, sleeping... At the end, we formed “KELLOGG” on the beach. There, Sito had his “first crotch” – he had to lean back against Mike! Oh well, it’s a male issue, like sharing beds :p

When we got back to the hotel, we formed another “KELLOGG” on the beach, this time against the sunset – pretty? :)



By dinner time, however, the terrible impact of the lack of protection started to be felt – we should have used insect repellant!! :(

I was scratching my legs like mad during dinner, distracted by only a black cat in the restaurant. It was a lovely place with good (and fast!) service and yummy yummy food! I loved those quesadillas! And there was this funny waiter who had a lot of fun watching how we used the baton – in fact, he helped us deliver the baton quite a few times!

All was well but it started raining really heavily… The group started partying there instead of heading for another place. That was when I realised that the American style of karaoke was quite different.. They just turned on the juke box and sang with a mike! No moving lyrics on the screen! A lot of boogie-ing!

A cab came by and four of us took the chance to hop in and go back to bed..

The next day, we heard two things – the group cleaned out their stock of beer (!) and when they went to another place, the waiters cleared up and joined them (!!)

It began to dawn on me that the b in b-school never stood for business; it was beer (among other drinks)!

26 Aug 2010, Thursday
Catamaran cruise!


We had a late breakfast and lazed by the pool until it was time for our catamaran cruise!

We took a motor boat to get to the catamaran. And we took a crazy photo of the room-mates...



Gaaar!! What did they do in the previous hotel…?! :p

Apparently, they slept in this order, called the Sito Sandwich!!



I got motion sickness quite immediately *.* Didn’t recover until I took two Dramamine pills.. Sito was better but took the pills too. He went into the sea with the rest while I took pictures of them taking their pool activity into the sea – drinking beer!

Those snorkelling saw only one turtle and the guide brought it to the catamaran! Although it was only for a short while, I think the poor creature must be terrified =(

We had a late lunch at 4+, just simple sandwiches prepared by the crew. Then they brought out some temporary tattoos! These were the tattoo gang!



See the butt?! Ya, crazy bunch :p

We were then hanging around for the sunset. Pretty right?



And to be fair, I gave Sito a peck too! That should give him some balance over the kiss from Robert! :p



Dinner was very near the hotel. Had pumpkin soup again – it was way better than the last one! :) And something funny happened at dinner… Robert said that he wanted to be the godfather of our unborn (in fact, unconceived!) child! I mean, sure! And we took a picture with him pointing at my stomach for proof! Then we got Sito over to tell him! Haha!

27 Aug 2010, Friday
R&R


There was no planned activity in the morning so a whole bunch of them found someone to take them out fishing! I was supposed to go but did not after the seasick episode the day before…

So I slacked the whole morning away, mostly in the pool cos that soothes the itching, with some of the girls who did not go fishing. Some went for a massage but I waited for Sito to go together :)

There was a surf lesson at 1 pm but Sito’s fishing boat just returned and he was hungry – hunger won over interest in surfing so we went to lunch with Janet instead. At lunch, we saw this sign :p



After that was our $30 (or $35? :p) massage. At first I thought the woman’s hands were very rough. Then I realised it was sand! Cos we were on the beach :p By then my aches were mostly gone, but it was still good to give our muscles a good knead!

We took a short nap by the beach. Rather, Sito took a nap while I took photos again :p

I like this – it reminds me of the song 《你的倒影》:)



We had drinks before departing for our final dinner, and I thought I might as well have beer on my own since it was the last day! Dinner was nice. Each set of utensils was tied together with a friendship band that we took home!

My table wanted to take a picture of me doing the Sito face – um, Sito’s expression when he concentrates or makes a lot of effort :) So cute right? :))

But of course I didn’t want my impersonation on polaroid!

And another funny thing – Amy said that Robert has thought of a name for our unborn kid, being so enthusiastic about being a godfather. And the name was Robert… *.* I laughed when I should have cried! It was so funny! Thanks but I think we will think of another name :p

Went to Crazy Monkey where we did more salsa – with pictures!



But we left pretty early to rest before a long day of travel the next day…

28 Aug 2010, Saturday
End of holiday but the itch continues…


It was a five-hour bus journey from Tamarindo to San Jose. Our first surprise was a departure tax of $26 – used up most of our colones for that. Our second surprise – actually, shock – was the cost of our lunch. A salad cost $8! Of course we weren’t so healthy… But our calzone and fried chicken were just slightly cheaper…

When we got to Charlotte, we had to go through customs. It was funny that the visitors’ line was shorter though each check was longer. We ended up faster than some of our group! By then, we had only a little time to dash for more fried chicken at Bojangles’ :p Ate on board our domestic flight :)

So there, our holiday to Costa Rica – my first in Central America – was over.. And life resumes to normal… More on life later :)

Found a video on happiness – apparently, Costa Ricans are the happiest people on earth (and friendly to earth too)!

http://www.ted.com/talks/nic_marks_the_happy_planet_index.html
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