Motorcycle Survival Tips

I have always wanted to be a biker. However, I am a tad scared of the bike (motorcycle). What if I fall and scrape half my face off? What if I run into a wall or a truck or fall off a cliff? My parents have a lot of friends who ride Harleys and they have had some bad accidents, some resulting in death. I have that in the back of my mind every time I consider getting on a bike. When I lived in San Francisco, I heard a crash and a scream and I ran outside to see what had happened. A girl on a bike had been sideswiped and flew about 30 feet in the air before landing in a very weird position.

So, as you can see, I have some fears. However, when I was a kid my dad taught me to ride a Honda 70 and I loved it. But one time it fell over on me and I think my Mom wouldn't let me ride anymore after that.

So, since I was 15, I haven't ridden a motorcycle.

Today, I decided to buck up and try again. Luckily in Thailand, it only costs about 5 dollars to rent a bike for the day, so if I hated it, no harm, no foul and barely any money. Everyone here rides them. If a Thai lady and her three kids (and dog) can ride a scooter, so can I! And that's what these are. They are not "motorcycles"; they are "scooters". I think mine was 100cc. Tiny and not too fast. Perfect.

It's easy enough: gas on the right, back brake on the left, front brake on the right. Easy, right? Mostly it was, except one time when I was trying to park the bike and it almost fell over and so I grabbed the right handle and WHOOPS, gave it gas and it jumped a curb and almost went into a restaurant window. Other than that, it's no problem.

Also there were steep downhills and uphills with curves and that was a little hard to maneuver. Especially since at the same time two cars AND the Thai lady with her kids and dog are trying pass you while traffic is coming the other way. Other than that, it was simple.

So, it really wasn't that bad. But I don't think I am quite ready to get a Harley yet. 


In a Sunburned Body

I am white. Okay, I don't mean this in a "check your ethnicity in the box" kind of way. I mean it in a "you can almost see through my skin in the winter time" kind of way. A few days ago, we arrived on Thailand's Koh Chang island, which is about 7 hours from Bangkok by bus.

After being in Beijing, where the average temperature was about 10 degrees, it was a nice change to be on the beach in 85 degree weather, with the sun shining down upon my upturned face.

I KNOW that I am white; I KNOW I sunburn easily, especially on the first couple of days. So I did everything right. First, I strip down naked. Yes, this is the best way to put on sunscreen. Then you don't miss any parts where there are straps or watches or whatever. Then I apply a thick layer of sunscreen over my entire body, rubbing it in all the way, just like the directions state. I never buy sunscreen that is not waterproof. However, I reapply after going in the water, toweling etc. I KNOW the rules. However, somewhere, somehow there was a glitch. I don't know how, but I am so very red now! You can call me Rudolph.

I think I may have figured it out. While usually I would swear by Target's home brand, Up and Up, this time they fell flat. I always buy their Aveeno copy lotion, tissues, face-wipes and more. However, this sunscreen, which was supposed to be like Banana Boat's Sport line, does not work as well. I did everything right. It let me down.

So, I will be staying (mostly) out of the sun for the next couple of days, perfecting my reading instead of my tan! But a word to the wise, don't buy the Up and Up Banana Boat copy sunscreen unless you want to look like a lobster, like I do! 


Ten on Tuesday (5) (on Wednesday...or Thursday)

1. Do you decorate for Valentine’s Day? 
Valentines what? 

2. Does your desktop have a picture or a computer graphic? Is it organized? 
It has a photo I took of a place I love near my family's house. It is organized -- I have absolutely NO icons on my desktop.

3. Do you use a paper planner, electronic planner, or no planner at all?
Paper AND electronic. But I love my paper planner the best. 

4. Do you change purses or bags often, or stick with a good thing? 
 One purse. Only. Why switch? Then I will forget something!!

5. What’s your favorite YouTube video? 
I dont watch YouTube.

6. Do you use Turbo Tax or a real person to pay your taxes? 
Turbotax. It's so easy!

7. How many states have you stepped foot (or tire) into? Which ones? 
We have rules. If you drove through, it doesn't count. You have to eat or sleep in the place for it to count as a state that you actually WENT to. I've been to CA, NV, WA, OR, AZ, NM, CO, UT, IA, IL, WY, KS, NE, MA, ME, FL, LA, MS, AL, CT, VT, NH, MD, PA, NY, TX, VA, TN....I think that's 27, maybe I missed or added one...

8. How many countries have you been in? Which ones?
I am not going to list this. You can read my blog. On the side there are tags...check them out.

9. How many pillows are in your house? (Sleeping or decorative) 
I sleep with two.  The end.

10. How cold is too cold for flip-flops? 
I pretty much wear them all the time. Well not when it's snowing. But otherwise, bring it on!

*Hosted by Chelsea


Flat Stanley Climbs the Wall

Have any of you ever heard of Flat Stanley? Me neither. Until a little while ago. Mr. Lovely's very lovely niece is doing a project in school where you have to draw a person (aka Stanley), color him in and then send him to your relatives and friends. Then they take him somewhere, Disneyland or the Golden Gate Bridge, and take a photo of him living it up in said place.

We took Stanley to the Great Wall. He complained about the cold and the 4 mile hike the entire time, but he was still smiling in all the photos! Of course we had to go with him. I mean, I didn't really want to go, but since Stanley was insisting, I finally gave in. We went to a town called Jinshanling and hiked 6 km (roughly 4 miles) to the town of Simatai along the wall. It was about 15 degrees and windy, although it was sunny so it wasn't too bad. This is a great way to see a lot of the wall, instead of just getting dropped at one town and going to the wall, taking photos and leaving. You really get a nice feel for the wall. It was great, no pun intended!!!

So, did you know the wall is actually 8800 km (about 5000 miles) long? That's pretty long. So we only covered a fraction of a percentage of it! Several walls have been built since the 5th century BC that are referred to collectively as the Great Wall, which has been rebuilt and maintained from the 5th century BC through the 16th century. One of the most famous is the wall built between 220–206 BC by the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. Little of that wall remains; the majority of the existing wall was built during the Ming Dynasty.

Okay so that concludes my history portion. The dynasties of China are confusing enough!

PS Just for fun I googled "flat stanley" and there is a website!! haha. You can read more about it HERE. I am SOOOO out of the loop!


Notes On China

I am going to have to do a few China recaps, since I couldn't get onto blogger, I didnt really post too much. However, today I am short of time, so I will leave you with a few random facts about China.

- % of population under the poverty line (US$1/day) in 1979: 64%

-% of population under the poverty line in 2007: 10%

-Average annual income in Shanghai 2007: US$3090

- Average annual income in urban areas 2007: $1819

- Average annual income in rural areas 2007: $545

And my favorite:

Number of fingers lost in factory accidents in the Pearl River Delta in 2004: 40,000


Book Review: Blink

Right from the beginning, this book caught my attention. In the first chapter, he talks about relationships and how a psychologist named Gottman can predict the success or failure of a couple's relationship just by listening to them for mere seconds. I found myself going down the list of reasons why he states couples fail and trying to see if my boyfriend and I have done any of the things on it.

Watching a normal conversation such as "should we get a dog or not?" he interprets the couple's facial movements during the conversation and gives them each a code. Disgust for example is a 1. He then translates EVERY second into a number, which then is translated yet again to a complex equation. His success rate is usually above 90%.

The premise of this book is that people can actually make very rational decisions in a very short amount of time. Gladwell believes that you should go with your first instinct, which he calls "thin slicing". He states that sometimes when you over think things, you can actually come up with the wrong decision more likely that you would have if you used snap judgment. 

I found this book very interesting, as even though I consider myself a rational over thinker (I am almost never spontaneous), I realize that even I too make snap decisions. I have picked a book from the shelf without knowing why (the packaging); I have decided I like Coke better than Pepsi (flavor, marketing, packaging); I have decided in the blink of the eye whether I like a new coworker (a certain facial expression, a hidden sneer). There are many things we do without even realizing it.

I would recommend this book and give it a 3 out of 5.


Kung Fu Fighting

Have you ever taken the subway in a big city? Have you done it during rush hour? With your next 6 months worth of clothing on your back? We usually try to avoid the subways during rush hour times and sometimes if we do have our luggage, we will walk or even spring for a cab rather than bashing people with our items.

However, when you live in a country with approximately 1.5 billion people, you get bumped around no matter what. The subways are always full; people are rushing on and off and up and down the stairs. It is quite a sight. But the best was today, when we HAD to ride during rush hour. We were smashed into the car (luckily without bags!) with about oh, maybe 1.4 billion other people. You can't move or hold on to anything; you just hope that if the train stops the other 1.39 billion people will hold you up.

This has happened to me before. In San Francisco coming home on the MUNI after a Giants game is a pretty tight squeeze. I have ridden a non-air conditioned packed full (smelly) subway in Paris. In Japan, they have an attendant with a cattle prod who keeps pushing more and more (and more!) people into the train. However, I think China tops them all. Not only were we smashed in so tightly, but if someone in the middle wants to get out they just squirm their way to the edge. Even better was something else I saw today; it was basically a mosh pit of subway riders. When the train stopped, people were trying to run off the train; others were trying to run on…It was like they were fighting. Everyone was shifting and leaning and pushing and jumping and swaying and GWWWWARRRR! I felt like body slamming someone. Everyone else seemed to be having fun doing it.

As funny as this is when you are only doing it once in a while, the sheer excess of people in China has also caused us a little problem. February 3rd is Chinese New Year. That and the (basically) two week period before that are called the Spring Festival. This means: starting Wednesday the 19th and going until February 3rd, people are on vacation. Kids are out of school; people in the cities go home to visit their families; EVERYONE travels somewhere. What does this mean for us? This means we cannot get a train, bus, boat OR car out of Beijing. It's like a bad movie.

Our plan was to go from Beijing south, eventually ending up in Macau, where we would celebrate the New Year and then go to Vietnam. CHANGE IN PLANS!!! We can't get out. Even if we do get out somehow, we won't be able to go anywhere from there. So we have decided to, unfortunately, leave China early. Bangkok (and about a 70 degree raise in temperature) here we come!!! Instead of heading south from China to Vietnam, we will head north from Thailand to Vietnam. Crisis (and cold weather) averted. Phew.

Have you ever been stuck somewhere? Was it because of weather…or…? Did it ruin your trip? Are you a calm traveler or do you freak out in situations like this?


Summer Palace in Winter

Near Beijing, there is a palace that the royals used to use in the summertime. it is called the Summer Palace.  It gets really hot in the summertime in the city, so they enlarged Kunming lake and built a palace on the hill next to it, where they went to swim and relax. Today we went to see this marvelous place. However, as you may be aware, it is not summertime (in fact, it's downright freezing here!) You may think this may make it worse, but it actually is a sight to be seen. The entire lake is frozen over, along with all of the little channels that run through the property. People ice skate and sled on the ice.

The architecture is gorgeous. The roofs are all hip and gable and have jade statues of dragons and different sorts of other animals on the peaks. There are arched stone bridges across the channels. The interiors of the buildings are all carved woodwork, meticulously painted. The palace sits on a hill where you can see for miles and has a great view of the frozen lake with all the little skaters on it.

However, even though all of this was great, my favorite (or maybe the thing that amused me the most) was the names of things. Here are a few examples. See if you can guess what kind of structure these are.

The Realm of Multitudinous Fragrance: If your answer was "a stone and brick archway", you are right! Apparently it was thought that it resembled the holy land of the Buddha, hence the name.

Hall of Dispelling Clouds: Yup, it's a hall. It was built to celebrate the Empress' birthday.

Garden of Harmonious Interests: Yup, it's a garden. I guess you can't go there with anyone you don't agree with? P.S. Mr. Lovely and I did not go there.

Okay the last two weren't that difficult. But isn't that fun? Don't you want to visit those places? Doesn't it seem like nothing but good could come to you here? Have you read Anne of Green Gables? Don't those names sound like something she would make up? There are also names such as The Hall of Benevolence and Longevity, The Hill of Longevity, The Temple of the Sea of Wisdom and many more.

I guess what I am trying to say is, even if you come to Beijing in the winter time, don't let the name fool you; the Summer Palace is just as fun in the wintertime!!

What is your favorite place to go in the summer/winter? What is your favorite fun(ny) name of a place near you? (P.S. Near my parents' house are the towns of Cool, CA and Maybe, CA.)


Ten on Tuesday (4)

Another set of questions from Chelsea of Roots and Rings!

1. Is there a band/artist that you HATE?
Nickleback....he is so whiny and annoying.

2. What do you do when you get a gift that you do not like? How do you react?
I try to pretend I like it, although I am not very good at pretending.

3. How is your work office/cubicle decorated?
I had a calendar from my aunt and a photo that a friend of mine took of the French Quarter. I have an anal retentive calendar of my own with days marked in different colors depending on category of the item.

4. Do you use all of your vacation every year?
Yes. And then I take more unpaid vacation. I like vacation.

5. Did you have a real or fake Christmas tree?
Real...when I have one. They smell so good! We even go and chop them down ourselves. That's half the fun.

6. If you could have anything for dinner tonight, what would it be?
Pizza. REAL pizza, thin crust. MMmmmm...

7. Do you bite your fingernails?
Never. I keep them cut really short.

8. How many cups of coffee do you drink each day?
1 - infinity, depending on where I am and what I am doing. I can easily drink a pot without realizing it.

9. Do you have a nervous tick?
I don't think so.

10. How often do you vacuum?
Never. Well, when you are on the road/staying in hotels and hostels all the time, you dont have to!


Blocked! and other China randoms

- Not only is Blogger blocked in China, but also these sites as well: Facebook, Goodreads, Wordpress. I am sure there are many more; I won't find out until I try to use them. At least Flickr works.

- The number one MUST HAVE item in China -- a shiny poofy jacket with a fur lined hood. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE has one. Old, young, boys, girls and everything in between. EVERYONE has one. Except me. THIS is a good example of what I am talking about. Are people wearing these at home? I am so behind in the fashion world.

- I am happy to report that ALL BOOTS are now in style. I have seen short ones, tall ones, brown, black, slipper style, high heel, low heel, no heel, furry, pointed, round, square....etc. No matter your boot style, all is good!! Now would be a good time to stock up on all of your favorites. Maybe I need a bigger backpack. Or a Chinese Lady Bag. I guess I am in the right place for that.

- Best thing about China? Meat on sticks. Pork buns on the street. Dumplings on the street. So I guess what I mean to say is...street food. For about a dollar, you can get 2 chicken on a stick, 6 pork bun or 6 dumpling. I have eaten about 100 of each already.

- NOT cheap? Coffee!!!! Darn it. I tried to live without it for a few days and had a huge headache. So, I am living on Nescafe instant coffee for now (and supplementing with a treat of a mocha from time to time)

- A couple of Chinese words (and totally butchered spelling I am sure) I have learned: Thank you = Xiexie (pronounced shay-shay), Hello = ni how

- Price of a beer = .50 cents
- Price of a Starbucks coffee = $4.50
- Price of a clean room, with heat and a hot shower = $12
- Price of a clean room, without heat and who knows if the shower was hot because I wasn't about to try it = $7
- Price of a sleeper bed on a train from Shanghai to Beijing (~650 miles) = $50

That's it for now! I am still emailing posts in and am going to try to hopefully have a couple pictures included here! Please let me know if they don't show up! The round door is in Little Likeng, Wuyuan Province. The tower is the Oriental Pearl in Shanghai.


El Willy Food Review

When we are traveling, we generally eat a lot of top ramen. For less than 50 cents a meal, or $1.50 a day, this is how we can afford to travel. Seriously. By saving on food, we gain an extra day  here or there to do the things we want to do. SO… top ramen is my friend.

However, once every blue moon we like to go out for a "real shebang" and eat at a nice restaurant, if one is available. January's pick of the month was El Willy, in Shanghai. El Willy is a tapas joint and we saw it on the ONE English channel in China that we get, CCTV. We decided to see if it was any good.

By the way, if any of these are spelled wrong, its because this computer doesn't know any Spanish or Italian, and I am not good at spelling. I apologize in advance.

What we ordered:
Pickled anchovies
Octopus with Iberian Ham and garlic aioli (photo at bottom)
Crispy suckling pig, cooked 12 hours
Seared Fois Gras
Pork Loin with arugula and parmesan
Layered Fois Gras pate with croustini

Our Ratings, out of 10:  (*=Mr Lovely, & = me)

Food Quality and Taste: *9, &8 (great food, some dishes were small)
Ambiance: *9, &9 (very open space, warm and friendly)
Service: *7, &8 (waiter was very nice, coffee and wine were a little slow to arrive)
Price: *7, &6 (it was a little too expensive for the size of the plate)
Location: *6, &6m (could walk easily to restaurant, however, it had no view whatsoever)

Total: 75  Average = 7.5/10

I would recommend this place to anyone if they are ever in Shanghai and want a nice Spanish meal. My favorite dish sways between the crispy pork and the first fois gras dish. However, if you are looking for a water view, this is not the place for you. If you want huge portions, this is also not where you should go. Stick with the traditional Chinese, family style portions. Mr Lovely had to get a hamburger after eating here.

Please let me know, as I am emailing due to blogger issues: Is there a picture below? Are there any links? I have no idea if anything is working and will be in China with problems for another few weeks.

The photo below should be of the Iberian ham wrapped Octopus. Yum! Hopefully the photo, if it is there, is not super huge.

Big Trouble in Little China

If you ever wondered, and I know you did, why I am not blogging so much lately, I will tell you why.

Did you know that in China they DO NOT LIKE BLOGGER. In fact, they block it. You cannot get on any blogspot sites (sorry guys, but I am still checking you out in Reader); you cannot get onto blogger.com to post your blogs. So, I am going to try to post by email; hopefully the formatting isn't totally messed up because I have had that experience before when emailing. We shall see. The saddest part is that I can't even access my blog to make sure it posted okay and I can't access anyone else's to comment!!!! This sucks.

I guess you can help me. Is my format messed up? Do you know how to get around the blogger ban in China? I am sorry I am not commenting on anyone's posts!!

Besides that, being in China is interesting. First of all, barely anything is in English; barely anyone speaks English. We always pretty much do all our travel on our own; we don't use tours. Here it is a little bit difficult. You should have seen us when we first arrived at the Guangzhou train station and ALL THE INFORMATION was in Chinese. With kanji (Chinese characters), NOT Latin letters. To top it off, it is almost Chinese New Years, so we arrived and there were 17 mile lines at all the ticket booths. We sat and scratched our heads for a while, let me tell you.  We are using a lot of pointing, sign language and nodding etc.

We finally figured it out, paid too much for our train ticket, and were on our way. Next we wanted to do a tour of an area where there were a lot of little towns and ancient architecture. We got our tour, complete with an overpriced driver who didn't speak ANY English! Its been an interesting adventure! Ordering food is a lot of grunting and pointing at pictures, if there are any. Luckily I know how to say Chow Mien (fried noodles) so that is my fall back plan. Hopefully I don't hurt myself, because asking for the hospital would be downright impossible.

To top it off, it is winter. I mean, snowing and freezing cold winter. Many of the places where we, gung ho as we were, thought we would "go hiking", are frozen solid. You can't get in or out and the locals don't have any water or electricity. But it is beautiful all the same. We are in Shanghai now, more on that later, and heading for Beijing in a few days, more on that later as well.

I hope it is warmer where you are than it is here! Please let me know if anyone has any tech savvy Chinese blogger evasion tips!!!

I am attempting to post a photo below. Please let me know if there isn't one!!! It is Shanghai at night.


Best iPhone Apps

Do you own an iPhone? Even if you don’t, you may love these apps (on your own phone) as much as I love them (on mine)!!! By the way, these are all free. **even if you don't have a phone, you can use many of these on your computers!**

Voice Memos: Did you forget something? Did you want to blog about something? Did you finally think of something cool to give your brother for Christmas? This is your savior, especially if you are driving and don’t have time to use the notes feature. I was actually going to buy a digital voice recorder from Target for Eighty dollars, and then they came up with this app. I am so glad.

Pandora: Do you like music? Have you used this on your computer? Well, it’s even better on your phone; you can make your own music stations; you can listen in the car, on the go, at work…wherever! And it’s free: both the app AND the program on your computer, so even if you don’t use it on your phone, do it on your computer!! You can listen to Cyndi Lauper! Metallica! Whatever you want and MORE!

Yelp: Do you want to find a place to….rent a bike? Eat Mexican food? A new gym? A place to buy a pair of shorts? Yelp is your friend! It is reviewed by your peers and can tell you where the closest place to you NOW is (this is what I use the most…I am HUNGRY…where can I eat within walking distance?)

Lose It: Are you trying to lose weight? Track your eating habits?  Do you want to know how many calories is in a 6 oz glass of white wine (or a 14 oz oneI? Lose It can tell you all of that. You enter in what you are eating and what exercise you are doing and VOILA it tells you your deficit and how many calories you can have per day if you want to lose X amount of pounds (or just stay healthy!!)

Flickr: I use this on my computer, but it is really nice on my phone. I can easily upload a photo from my phone, tag it, add it to a group and then blog about it. This has been a GODSEND for my 365 project.

Stanza: This, before I found out about the free Kindle download, was a way I downloaded a bunch of public domain books (ones that no longer have a copyright) FOR FREE!!! It is a little bit hard to read on my phone, but when you are in a pinch, it is great.

Kindle: And then I found out about the iPhone Kindle download and I now have both this and Stanza and have still not figured out what I like best, so I thought I would mention both. I got a bunch of FREE books from the Kindle website, which are also on the public domain (think: Sense and Sensibility, A Christmas Carol etc) I won’t tell you which I like better; you can decide on your own and then let ME know!!!

Shazam: Have you ever heard a song on the radio and said, “oh my god this is Journey!!!” and your boyfriend says, “NO it’s not; this is Flock of Seagulls!!!” and you get into a stupid argument about it? Enter: Shazam. You hear the song on the radio, you push the “listen now” button, Shazam says, “Journey: Don’t Stop Believing” and you say, “BOO YAH!!!” and then your boyfriend buys you a scoop of vanilla ice cream with almonds. You just can’t go wrong with this app. It will settle ALL BETS.

OpenTable: So, you are in New York City on a Friday night and you just got in from La Guardia and you are starving. You check OpenTable for restaurants within walking distance that have an available reservation in a half an hour. No problem! OpenTable to the rescue. They tell you who has space, what kind of food they have and when to show up. They make the reservation for you. Not only that, but you get “points” so if you make a certain amount of reservations with OpenTable you get dining dollars for your next trip out. Even if you go out once a year, it can add up eventually.

Bump: Does your friend have an address or phone number of a friend that you want? No problem, just use bump and literally bump your phones together to get the information from her phone to yours. Easy as pie.

ShakeItPhoto: So you took a cool photo with your phone. Now you want to see what it would look like as a Polaroid. Pick the photo; shake your phone and you are set! It creates a cool effect and is fun to boot!

Which ones are your favorites and why? 


Ten on Tuesday (4)

I am linking up with Chelsea at Roots and Rings for Ten on Tuesday! Unfortunately, her list this week was all about the home and as you know, I have none, so I am using an old version instead. This one is from Dec 14.

1. What is your favorite kind of cheese?
I like all cheese. My favorite is probably bucheron.

2. Do you prefer fudge with or without nuts?
Neither. It is too sweet.

3. How do you feel about cats?
They are better than dogs, but animals are just too much work usually.

4. Meg Ryan or Julia Roberts?
Meg. There is something about Julia that bugs me.

5. Do you wear a watch?
Always. And I check it more than I realize because if I don't have it on, I drive myself crazy checking.

6. What are a few of your favorite songs from the 90′s?
Well, I was into Alice and Chains and other similar bands at the time. I would probably say...something by Pearl Jam -- Footsteps, maybe.

7. Do you like scented candles?
The expensive ones. But nothing that smells too perfumey. Vanilla or spices are good.

8. What do you like on your hamburger?
Bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, mustard, ketchup.

9. How often do you cut your fingernails?
Every other week maybe.

10. Do you sleep in socks?
Pretty much never. I hate the feeling. I like to feel sheets on my feet.


Where I Live

The Muses are doing a Where I Live series and I liked the idea, so I thought I would do a post of my own (yup, I am taking their idea and running with it). I may even make this a reoccurring theme.

Where I live seems like an easy thing to explain. Most people live in one place for months, if not years. In the last 15 years, I have lived in no less than 13 places. Between most of these places have been stints of travel, where I “live” in a hostel or a guesthouse, usually only for about 1 day at a time, sometimes five at most. So I really don’t stay in one place for very long.

However, between all these moves, different job locations and travels, the place I always go back to remains the same. This is where the love is; this is my family; this is “where I live”. 


Rock Creek


The Feather River

Grizzly Dome

Pacific Crest Trail

Lupines and Mountains

Snowy Bridge

 Sorry about the heavy picture post but I think in this case, a picture IS worth a thousand words!


Year End Review

I know I am jumping on the bandwagon here, as everyone else is also doing lists of goals, highlights and resolutions, but I just love lists too much to not join in. I am always making lists of things I want to accomplish, places I want to go and things I want to try. So this is not “always” a New Year thing. However, since it is the beginning of a new year, here is a list of my favorite things, places, foods, accomplishments and momentous occasions from 2010.

- Learning a lot about photography. I have found unbeatable resources online and met some great photographers that I couldn't have done without. I did not finish my 365 project, but it was more about lack of computer access than it was about lack of photographs. I had a great time trying and can’t wait to learn more in 2011.

- Running the Jackson Day Race in New Orleans. I have gone back and forth on my running; I like to do it but I admit: I sometimes do not make the necessary time for it. However after barely training, I ran the race on a cold January day in NOLA, by myself. And it was fun. And I didn’t totally suck. My running career is not over. I know I still have more in me.

- Riding a bike around San Diego. There were more hills than I had expected, but I made it all the way from downtown to Castillo point and did not die. Plus, the weather was perfect and I got to see my favorite ocean, the Pacific.

- Participating in the Bay to Breakers. Most of it. I met up with some friends in San Francisco for one of my favorite races and one that I have never run because it is just way too much fun to walk it instead. That way you get to ogle the naked people and laugh at all the drunks and to take photos with the buffalo in the park.  We cut out a half a mile before the finish to go have Pho at 9th and Irving.

- Going to one of my best friend’s weddings in Sacramento. She looked beautiful, it was a nice spring day and I really like her new husband. Triple happiness.

- Getting a chance to read a lot of books. I love to read. Fortunately, I HAVE managed to fit it in this year. I started off in a Meetup group in New Orleans and loved it. I also got some great tips on new books to read! I also polled my friends for some of their favorite books. I also took the list from the Busy Bookworm, but I didn’t read ANY from that list. However, I have plenty of books on my TO READ list. Traveling is great; it gives you plenty of down time (translation: LONG bus rides) in order to work on your reading list. The only drawback is that it is sometimes hard to find books in English, so you read what you can, which is not always good. I need a Kindle.

- Learning how to say “thank you” in a few new languages! A few examples: Arabic - Shokran, Albanian - Falam Nderit, Afrikaans - Dankie.

- Hiking the Himalayas. We had to cut our trip a little short, from 21 days to 12. I loved every minute of the hike and WILL go back to complete the hike. It is beautiful, the food is good and the people are nice. What more can you ask for, except to actually set foot on Mt. Everest, which I DO plan on doing someday.

Okay so really I could list about 100 more things. As I worked on this list I realized I had a great year in 2010. I have learned a lot, traveled to some great places and had a lot of fun in the past year. Here's to 2011!