Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Olympic Dream

Today is my last day in Shanghai and I have so much to tell.

My first day in the office (Friday) I was told that the Olympic torch relay was passing the office at exciting!!! So my co-worker Mandy and I headed down to the street for a closer look. The street was packed and let me tell you nothing is more frightening than a group of really excited Chinese people. I felt like I was at a rock concert and on the edge of the mosh pit! They were chanting, waving the Chinese flag and jockeying for the best places, traditionally not the tallest people..they are quite strong! Being the only western face that I could see, I quickly grabbed a flag and began to wave so to fit in..Jennib always the follower! Within 10 minutes there was a big surge in the crowd and I witnessed the flame pass me by. Now being 5'3” (actually 5’5” in my Manolos which made me tallest in the crowd) and being the only western face has its advantages as I was suddenly whisked away and the touch handed to me...

Ok, ok, obviously kidding about the last part but I did see the torch and it was a pretty cool experience.

So after coming as close to the Olympics as I will probably ever get, it was time to start the weekend and time for Phil to arrive. We were staying at the Grand Hyatt. This is where I stayed last time, the one with the really annoying technology but the building is beautiful, has a great bar and it really tall! We stayed in the 77th floor!!

Can I just tell you again how much I love Shanghai?? What a great city! It is such a great mix of history, interesting architecture, culture, awesome neighborhoods, grittiness, amazing food and restaurants. Let me repeat that...AMAZING FOOD AND RESTUARANTS. Phil and I basically ate our way through the city. Boy can we eat.

We had a good mix of touristy pricey, trendy/innovative and traditional Shanghainese cuisine. It was a toss up between trendy/innovative and traditional but I am going for the traditional Shanghainese meal. OH MY GOD! One of my favorite moments of the evening was when (in between chopsticks full of food) I commented on how much I loved the noodles. Phil, knowing my phobia of carbs, commented on how he never thought he would hear those words form JenniB’s lips. Shortly thereafter Phil commented on how much he loved the fried beef...Phil is slowly weaning himself off vegetarianism...never thought I would hear that from his lips. What type of influence are we on each other????

In between our feeding sessions we did manage to work off the food by doing a bit of site seeing.

Here we are at the Shanghai Museum (we did go in)

At The Bund opposite the skyline (terrible pic)

Me and some fish in a garden. Shortly after this photo was taken Phil dropped our map into the water to the shock and dismay of the people around us. I pretended I didn’t know him!

Image from the meat market.
That is an actual pig face…give a whole new meaning to pressed ham huh Jeff??

Oh wait one bad thing did happen to me….I was given a counterfeit $50RMB bill. Yup..I was given the shocking news at the cafĂ© in the museum (don’t worry we were not eating there too..just a beverage). I really didn’t believe the guy so later that afternoon we stopped for ice coffee and I tried to pass it off on Starbucks (hey they have enough money) only to be told..sorry no good. The words “that guy was right” just about left my lips but I quickly regained my “passing counterfeit money” composure and acted shocked and amazed but could feel my face being red as a tomato.

If there is one phrase that will always remind me of Shanghai it would have to be…..”you want handbag, watch, t-shirt…Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton…the knockoffs are endless and the salespeople..lets just say annoying is an understatement.

Bangkok this weekend then a vacation hiatus.

Hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend! What did you do?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

(Un) Tick the Box

Mother Nature is trying to send me a message and the message is JenniB is not supposed to be adventurous! Let’s think about my scuba diving experiences (on more than one occasion)…near death experience, rain, rain, rain, choppy water and weather so bad they had to call off the dive. Now to my first climb, cold, rain, mist…yup that about sums up the weather…weather so bad that we were informed that climbers had not reached the peak for the last 10 days! I was determined to remain positive even upon hearing this bad news.

Ok I am getting a little ahead of myself so let me start of the beginning…..

It was Thursday afternoon, Phil and I were getting picked up from the office at 3pm and heading to Malaysia to catch a flight to Kota Kinabalu. P was still in total work mode so the hour long car ride consisted mostly of cheesy Malaysian music and the click, click, sound of blackberry keys. I, on the other hand, had left work behind and was dreaming of a nice glass of wine at the airport to start off the vacation.

Rude awakening #1: Once we got to the airport and got ourselves all checked in, we went on the hunt for a vacation starting beverage only to remember that we were in an Islamic country so no bars or alcohol sold in the food outlets..sorry but a latte is not how I like to kick off my vacation.

Disappointed and feeling like two people who should be headed for the Betty Ford clinic as opposed to vacation, we sulked and waited to board the flight. Being the one that booked the flight, I assured P that Air Asia’s website was full of Asian faces and would certainly serve booze (not sure of my rational here but oh well).

Rude awakening #2: You guessed it fruit juices and soft drinks only! This made us both laugh as we kept catching each other examining the menu is hopes that we missed the booze section (mom and dad I really don’t have a problem I swear).

One other strange experience worth mentioning from this flight was that they sold Air Asia merchandise (hats, t-shirts, keychains) on the flight. I have never seen this before and people were actually buying them! The guy next to me as a matter of fact (not Phil but could you image …I would die) purchased a bright red baseball hat with Air Asia in big white letters written across it. You have got to be kidding me! Now, (some of you know) that one of my pet peeves are people who purchase and wear concert t-shirts at the actual concert…this experience has taken that pet peeve to a whole new level.

We get to KK and are met by our driver who then informs us of the inclement weather on the mountain. Here is where I started to get nervous…perhaps I really was cursed by Mother Nature! We checked into our “boutique” hotel (don’t get me started) and set out for some food and DRINK along the KK waterfront. We stumbled across this cute little Indian place with outdoor seating, ordered proper beverages, made a toast to a great vacation and before the sweet taste of wine could touch my lips, we heard a huge crack of thunder and without a warning the skies opened and it started to POUR … like torrential rain! We had a good laugh and enjoyed the rest of the evening inside without much incident.

Phil's first vacation drink

Next day, day 1 of hike. We are up at 6 for our 6:30am pick-up. I put on my carefully put together hiking outfit. You had to look sporty but nice and not like you are trying too hard…cargo shorts, short sleeve safari-like shirt and long sleeve shirt tied around my waist in case I get cold (ornamental really). We wait outside and it was quite cold so I had to put on the ornamental shirt which really didn’t look good.

Rude Awakening #3: Carefully crafted hiking outfit….losing it’s style.

As we make our way up the mountain to the starting gate the weather starts to get colder and colder, wetter and wetter and cloudier and cloudier. Not good for hiking business.
This is when I realize that I will have to wear Phil’s water proof jacket the whole hike totally ruining the outfit.

Rude Awakening #4: I look like a total man is various shades of green/brown (Why didn’t I buy my own waterproof jacket??)

Is that a man...nope its me

Day 1 of the climb, other than being wet and cold, was uneventful, fun and challenging. We had to give ourselves a pat on the back as we were told that it takes hikers 5-6 hours to do the first part (approx. 10,000 ft)…we did it in 3 ½.

Here I am displaying my serious moutineering skills..NOT! I was upright shortly after this photo

Favorite part of hike

By the time we reached the lodge I was an ice cube and being inside the lodge did not make things much better. The heat is not turned on until 8pm…it was 2pm. It was so windy and cloudy that it actually looked like it was snowing outside. We sat around wearing all the dry clothes we had with us, hats, gloves and numerous pairs of socks. Seriously, I don’t think I had ever been that cold.

Next morning (2am) we get up to the sounds of howling wind for the hike to the peak. Phil comments on my lack of moodiness…impressive!

Rude Awakening #5: 3:00am…we are advised that it is too windy and cold to go to the summit. We went all that way and could not complete the climb. I was so upset and I felt really bad for Phil as he loves this kind of stuff. I surprised myself by how disappointed I was!

Nothing else to do but head back to bed and wait to climb down around 8am. The climb down was much of the same…rain and wind. Oddly enough the climb down was so much harder and I was dead by the time we finished.

Finally it was time to head to the Shangri-La for some relaxing beach time with Val & Alex. This time Mother Nature was on my side and the weather was absolutely beautiful. It was unbelievable that we were in the same country.

We slept all the way to the resort and made quite an entrance upon arrival. We were both still so cold that we walked into the lobby in all of our fleece which by this time was caked with mud. Val is a Shangri-La VIP so we were treated the same way…there we were at the VIP check-in: unshowered, in fleece & hiking boots, wet and muddy. They were bringing us iced tea and cooling hand clothes which surprised me as I am pretty sure we looked homeless.

Sunset at Shangri-La

Won’t bore you anymore about the rest of the weekend but it was great. I sailed my first boat and went parasailing or is it paragliding??for the first time…Mother Nature cooperating the whole time.

Finally…Rude Awakening #6: I can barely walk! No joke. I cringe at the site of stairs! I am hoping some restorative yoga does the trick this evening.

I WILL climb that mountain!!

Love Me.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Yuck Mouth

Do any of you guys remember this guy?? He used to be on those little educational “commercials” on ABC between the Saturday morning cartoons. He would sing a little ditty “They call me Yuck Mouth ‘cause I don’t brush” Any recollection?

Well you can call me yuck mouth and I DO brush (3 times a day to be exact). I went to the dentist yesterday for the first time in Singapore and the results were NOT GOOD. Now I would not mind had I not made a dentist visit in years but I was an every 6 months visitor in NYC. Especially with my hillbilly bonding constantly falling out (this should have tipped me off that my dentist was a total quack).

So picture it, I am off to the dentist ready for an easy check-up and cleaning only to be told I have not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4 BUT 5 cavities!!! F-I-V-E! This was quite embarrassing as the conversation went something like this upon our first meeting:

Hello Miss….
Me: You can call me Jennifer
Dentist: Ok Hello Miss Jennifer
Me: [inside my head] actually just Jennifer…oh just let it go
Dentist: What can I do for you today?
Me: I am just here for a cleaning. My last dentist visit was in September (I must admit this was said with kind of an attitude)
Dentist: Ok lets have a look.
Dentist: oh…oh….oh… umm oh I just don’t know what to tell you.
Me: About?
Dentist: You need a lot of work. You have many problems
Me: Chuckle I don’t think so. I have never had a problem with my teeth
Dentist: these problems could not have developed since September.
Me: I swear that was my last visit..I promise (I actually had my hands clenched in a pleading position…all while wearing some protective tinted goggles..not a good look)
Dentist: (mirror in hand) Let me show you.

Sure enough I was able to see the “shadow of decay” she pointed out on each of the 5 teeth. As soon as I realized she was right I started to freak out. I thought I was going to be on the receiving end of 5 silver fillings and that my mouth would look like railroad tracks when I opened it. I was quickly assured that the fillings would match my teeth. WHEW! So 3 fillings later and $250 (actually not that bad) poorer. I walked out without a cleaning, two more appointments and a new nickname for myself…yuck mouth.

How could this have slipped through the cracks (no pun intended) with the other dentist???

NYer’s: STAY AWAY FROM CENTRAL PARK WEST DENTAL!! JennRob I think you go there too….find another dentist!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Tokyo Technology

I have said it once and I will say it again…technology scares me!

TOKYO - Cigarette vending machines in Japan may soon start counting wrinkles, crow's feet and skin sags to see if the customer is old enough to smoke.
The legal age for smoking in Japan is 20 and as the country's 570,000 tobacco vending machines prepare for a July regulation requiring them to ensure buyers are not underage, a company has developed a system to identify age by studying facial features.
By having the customer look into a digital camera attached to the machine, Fujitaka Co's system will compare facial characteristics, such as wrinkles surrounding the eyes, bone structure and skin sags, to the facial data of over 100,000 people, Hajime Yamamoto, a company spokesman said. With face recognition, so long as you've got some change and you are an adult, you can buy cigarettes like before.

Seriously, I would like to go, put my face in the digital camera and have them tell me how old my face is (that would be my real face not my other face).


For once in my life I am actually accomplishing a new years resolution…I am climbing a mountain.

When I returned to Singapore after the holidays, many conversations revolved around setting those pesky resolutions. Many years ago I just gave up on setting them as I never really followed through leaving me feeling like a loser. So my M.O. became “how can you fail when you don’t set out to do it in the first place???” I know, not much of a “winners attitude” but hey it made me feel better about myself.

Ok I am babbling…so on to this year. I kind of felt like a loser not setting some and after reaching the goal of scuba certification I thought what the hell I have always wanted to climb something so that will be my resolution and as of this Saturday I will be able to put a big TICK in that box!

Phil and I are climbing Mount Kinabalu on the island of Borneo. The total climb is 4,095 meters (13,435 ft) above sea level and its one of the 4 tallest peaks in S.E. Asia. You really don’t need fancy climbing equipment just some trekking boots (which I am not a proud owner of and which make my legs look like a professional football players) a backpack and some warm clothes. The hike itinerary goes like this:

Friday: 6:30am pick-up at the hotel
7:30am Hike begins
8:30am I start to get cranky (just kidding)
2:30pm Check in to the hotel mid-climb for the night.

Saturday: 2:30AM (yes you read that correctly AM) get ready to head for the summit.
2:31AM Me: F*ck resolutions
5:30AM (I think) arrive at summit and watch the sunrise
6:00AM me: God I hope I look good in these sunrise pictures. Note to self, must come up with “first mountain climbed pose” for pictures!
7:00 – 1:00pm descent
1:30pm Transfer to the Shangri-La Rasa Ria hotel to meet our friends Val & Alex.
1:45pm Wine in hand
2:00pm Sleep or spa. Not sure if my leg will want to be touched at that point.

Monday: Fly back to Singapore.

So there you have it. Keep your fingers crossed that I avoid killing myself!

Jeff I will make sure to take many photos of the indigenous plant life.

Yodel lay he hoo!

Thursday, May 8, 2008


I have been all about work lately and you know the saying all work and no play..yes makes Jenn a very dull girl. All this not having fun makes me think about NYC, you guys and all the fun I might be missing.

I got an email the other days from JennRob telling me that she was getting ready for the HealthCare conference and all the memories came flooding back! OH MY GOD! How much fun did we all have at that conference! The girls + booze +vegas = TONS of fun. Yes we worked our butts off but partied just as hard!

So many memories were made over the years

- bachorlette parties
- David/Todd/Will
- Niko – po-po-zow
- Late night incidents with trash cans
- Jeans
- All night drinking at the casino bar
- Post-conference pool with bloody mary’s and water aerobics
- The birth of big D and little D
- The introduction of Larry
- Event planners for strippers

God there are so many.

Here’s to the B girls! Miss you and JennRob good luck this year!